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Sewstern Lane 1



A noble green highway follows the Leicestershire-Lincolnshire border down towards London.  Used by the Scottish drovers, it is called variously “Sewstern Lane”, “Viking Way” and “The Drift” on OS Explorer 247 (Grantham).

 

Bits are roughly metalled and the southern stretch below Sewstern Village is properly  tarmacked, but much of the central section from Sewstern up to Woolsthorp is green lane.  I was surprised and delighted by the beauty of a piece of England I had never visited before.  It is a land of big skies and wide horizons, unlike the cosy piece of Northamptonshire where I live.

 

W.G. Hoskins writes (in The Making of the English Landscape):

       “For many miles….there runs a green lane known as Sewstern Lane or The Drift.  The road has a continuous history from the Bronze Age onwards.  After it had been superseded in the seventeenth century by the Great North Road, which runs to the east of it through more inhabited country, Sewstern Lane became a recognised route by which cattle from Scotland and the North of England reached the Midland pastures and London: hence its later name of The Drift.  Parts of it have been taken over for a secondary road, but much of it remains remote and quiet, rarely disturbed by a human voice.”

 

WGH goes on to say that by using The Drift, drovers would have avoided the tolls on the Great North Road.  (The hard surface and continuous traffic would have been absent too.)

 

As for the absence of a human voice – so true.  We saw one walker in two days, and he was monosyllabic.  Other surprises were the hills around Belvoir Castle – see pics. – and the monuments to the Manners family in Bottesford Church. 

 

Finally there is Grantham’s splendid spire, which apparently caused Ruskin to swoon!


Pictures: 1 & 2 start at SK 839419 (Thackson's Well Fm.), going south.  3, 4 & 5 start at the water tower (SK 889238), going north.