Explore the home of the Coritani tribe

OCCASIONALLY readers may, for various reasons, be unable to tackle our usual five or six mile walks.

And occasionally, too, there can be as much interest in a short walk as a long one. This is certainly true of our October walk for it is a mere 1.75 miles (three kilometres), though an extension adds a further 2.5 miles.

We begin from a small parking area just north of Bottom Bridge, South Kyme (grid ref 178498) at the Sleaford Navigation bi-centenary memorial.

For maps (though they're not really needed) see OS Landranger 130 (Grantham) or Explorer 261.

The going is easy underfoot on level canal side paths, meadow and a country lane. And for refreshments the Hume Arms in the village has recently re-opened.

South Kyme is the only village beside the River Slea between Sleaford and the Witham at Chapel Hill.

The lower reaches of the Slea have, for centuries, been known as the Kyme Eau, a name still shown on OS maps.

South Kyme developed on an area of raised ground among undrained fens (the five metre contour on modern maps) and the earliest inhabitants were probably the Coritani tribe, who also settled at Old Sleaford.

Next came the Romans when building the nearby Car Dyke, their canal cum drainage system that linked the Rivers Nene and Witham.

South Kyme's recorded history begins around AD1100 with the village assuming increased importance when the de Kyme family became lords of the manor, then 'Barons of Kyme', and eventually Sheriffs of Lincolnshire.

Sometime around 1170 Philip de Kyme founded a small Augustinian priory (the monks who wore black robes were known as Black Canons) where St Mary's Church now stands.

The priory, which was enlarged by Simon de Kyme, and subsequently by the Tailboys family, survived until the Dissolution in 1536.

Only fragments of the early priory and church masonry remain, the building being much reduced following the Dissolution, and again during rebuilding in 1805, though in 1890 a new chancel was added.

During the 14th century the manor passed to Gilbert de Umfraville who had a fortified house built around 1340, of which only the Kyme Tower now remains. That was, in turn, demolished around 1725, the stone being re-used to build the present Manor House.

There are some earthwork remains of the original manor house moat and the gardens of the C18th house to the south of the church.

Our walk partly follows the Kyme Eau. For centuries before the Sleaford Navigation was constructed this had been navigable to a point some 2.5 miles west of South Kyme.

We know this because in 1343 Gilbert de Umfraville petitioned King Edward III for the right to charge tolls to pay for embanking and maintenance.

We know, too, that building materials for Tattershall Castle, begun in 1434, were transported along it.

Amongst all this history modern artwork is to be seen too.

Between the High Street and the navigation stands a large wooden carving of a kingfisher by Simon Todd, and near the start, an ornamental arch commemorates the bi-centenary of the Sleaford Navigation in 1994.

My suggested extension to the walk follows the Kyme Eau northwest to Ferry Bridge, known locally as "Ha'penny Hatch".

The 'halfpenny' part of the name may refer to the passenger charge when there was a ferry here, and later a toll bridge.

However, another explanation says local children received a halfpenny to lie on boatloads of hay, flattening it so it didn't catch against this bridge or Town Bridge in South Kyme.

Approaching Ferry Bridge the navigation is conspicuously straight because it uses a short section of the Roman Car Dyke.

THE WALK: Cross Bottom Bridge to a signposted footpath on the right.

Walk beside the navigation, and you'll soon see the kingfisher sculpture on far bank, until you reach a road bridge (Town Bridge).

Turn right across this to join High Street and cross to the pavement opposite.

Now turn left.

Just after the road bends right, cross again (with care!) when you see a footpath sign by twin kissing gates.

A partially surfaced path now crosses a meadow towards St Mary and All Saints Church to join a lane at a second pair of kissing gates opposite the churchyard.

Turn left past the church and the Kyme Tower to reach, and cross, a 'Bailey' style bridge over the navigation.

(For the extended walk turn right. A good grass path leads to Ferry Bridge and along the way there are views of Asgarby and Ewerby churches on the skyline. Return the same way.)

Otherwise go left beside the navigation, following it until you get back to Town Bridge again.

Here choose between keeping ahead (retracing the outward route) or return along High Street for a close up view of the kingfisher sculpture.