The quiet village of Belchford is the perfect springboard for exploring the southern reaches of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The sprawling countryside that surrounds the village is interlinked by a network of public footpaths meandering among the hills, fields, lakes and woodlands that typify this area of outstanding natural beauty. Most conveniently of all, Belchford is home to the Blue Bell Inn, where you can tuck into some hearty Lincolnshire pub grub and a well earned pint after a satisfying walk! In this article we detail a lovely 12-kilometre loop trail that incorporates Belchford, Fulletby, Salmonby and Tetford.
Belchford circular walk: the basics
This trail is a variation of the Lincolnshire Wolds Romans and Vikings circular on AllTrails. It follows the same route, but our version begins and ends in Belchford rather than Fulletby. There are two main reasons for this: it’s a bit easier to park in Belchford, and – more importantly – Belchford has a pub!
Wherever you choose to set off from, it’s useful to download the AllTrails app to your phone so you can keep track of the map while you’re on the trail.
The route is a tad short of 12 kilometres. It pivots between the villages of Belchford, Fulletby, Salmonby and Tetford, weaving through the farmland scattered in between. At a gentle pace it takes perhaps 3–4 hours.
Fulletby is the second-highest village in the Lincolnshire Wolds, and so there are some gorgeous elevated views around here, punctuated with storybook countryside scenes of rolling fields, solitary farmhouses and sleepy lakes.
There are one or two steep sections, but overall it’s not a difficult walk. If you do need a break, there are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way among picturesque surroundings.
What to know when bringing dogs
Lisa was away on a holiday with her two best friends when I tried this walk, so it was just me and our dog Regan! Very much our kind of lads’ day out. He was fine with the distance, but it might be a bit much for smaller dogs.
We did hit an obstruction just after Fulletby with an awkwardly tall stile and a livestock-filled field that forced us to take a minor detour – more will be explained below!
Don’t forget to bring plenty of water, both for you and your furry friends.
Timing the walk to perfection
The Lincolnshire Wolds are most spectacular at the first light of day. On crisp, cold mornings the early mist clings to the hills and fields, with the sunrise sometimes glowing orange through its eerie filter.
So, the beauty of this walk is that if you set off around 8am on an autumn morning, you can witness the glory of a Lincolnshire Wolds sunrise, and arrive back just in time for lunch at the pub!
Getting started from Belchford
If you’re driving from Lincoln it takes about 40 minutes to get to Belchford. The journey is eastwards, which means you get the added benefit of driving towards the rising sun – a beautiful sight even through a windscreen as you approach the Wolds.
You can park on the roadside in a few places around the village. I found a spot on Chapel Lane near the Main Road; you can also park by or opposite the church.
Once you’re all parked and ready to go, head off down Dams Lane opposite the Blue Bell Inn. (The sign says “Dams Lane leading to South Wold Close”). The road narrows as it emerges into the countryside, and soon you will see a gateway on your left leading to a public footpath.
From Belchford, the route passes through some fields and rises up into the hills, following a section of the Viking Way (a long-distance walking route named after Norse invaders) towards Fulletby.
This is the highest section of the route. There are some truly wonderful vantage points here for looking out onto the Wolds, made all the more captivating by the fresh morning air.
Take care to follow the footpath signs and keep an eye on the AllTrails map. There are a couple of places where it’s quite easy to veer off course! At one point I realised we had wandered off into a farmer’s field, and had to double back to rejoin the footpath.
Passing through Fulletby
About three kilometres after leaving Belchford the footpath descends into Fulletby. There’s not a huge amount to see here; on the right is a church, which is the starting point for the AllTrails route.
Keep following School Lane until it veers off to the left and becomes Paradise Lane. You will then emerge left onto the High Street, and then out onto a busier road. Cross over, and a few paces to the left you’ll find a stile leading over to a public footpath along a field’s edge. And this is where we hit a snag…
An unexpected detour
When first approaching this stile, I could see it would be difficult to get Regan over it. He’s a gangly lad and can jump high, but this was too much of an ask, even for him. I climbed over and tried to entice him with some treats, but after a couple of unsuccessful scrambling attempts, he started to whine.
I was just about to attempt to left him over when I noticed a group of cows at the far end of the field. Oops! Walking dogs close to cows is not a good idea – especially a lurcher like Regan with a high prey drive. It can get dangerous if they have calves and feel threatened.
So, I decided to take us on a little detour instead. And it didn’t turn out too badly! If we had been able to stay on route, the path would have taken us straight up to a fishing lake in Salmonby. We managed to double back around to the lake via some backlanes, first following the main road towards Belchford and then turning off right towards Salmonby.
The problematic stile turned out to be the only one we would encounter on the whole route. Gates were in place everywhere else.
Onwards to Tetford
The section of the trail between Salmonby and Tetford flows through open countryside, following country lanes and tracing across the edge of open fields.
When heading out of Salmonby, follow the lane signposted towards Fulletby and Belchford. After a little while there is a public footpath veering off into the fields on the right. It turns off just before the road curves past two big trees. Turn onto this footpath and you’re on the trail towards Tetford.
Keep following the footpath as it cuts across the fields. Just before you reach Tetford the trail passes through some fishing ponds, and then the path turns right into the village.
Tetford is another pleasant countryside village. If you’re ready for a stop, though, it may be better to press on until you get back out into the open fields, where you’ll have some nicer views.
To find the path back towards Belchford, follow West Road around the village, which then becomes White Gate and bends to the left. Just after the national speed limit signs as you exit the village, you will see a gate ahead that leads into a big farmer’s field, with a wide path heading straight onwards.
Back to Belchford and the Blue Bell Inn
The final section of the trail criss-crosses along public footpaths navigating cultivated fields that sprawl across the landscape like a giant green, golden and brown patchwork blanket.
A few sparse farm buildings, country manors and stacked bales of hay punctuate the scenery. We stopped for a breather in one of the many ample open spaces to enjoy the views and rehydrate.
These agricultural scenes continue for about two and a half kilometres until you eventually emerge onto Lowfield Lane, the main road heading back into Belchford. A short distance ahead, a colourful sign welcomes you back into the village.
A hearty lunch at the Blue Bell Inn, Belchford
On this blog we often wax lyrical about Lincolnshire countryside pubs and how wonderful they are. The Blue Bell Inn in Belchford is another absolute gem to add to our growing list of favourites.
You can’t miss the pub walking along Belchford’s Main Road. The giant blue bell sculpture standing proudly in front of the bright white building is a welcoming sight indeed after a fulfilling morning’s hike.
Dogs are welcome in the bar area, where a brick-lined open fire exudes a warm, homely charm under the beamed ceiling. It must be lovely to cosy up in here on colder days, but when I arrived with Regan the sun was shining, and so I decided to make the most of the last gasps of summery weather and take one of the benches outside.
Note: the Blue Bell Inn is a very popular pub, especially at weekend lunchtimes, so it’s advisable to book in advance! Our forced detour meant we arrived slightly later than our booking time. When I rang ahead to the pub to let them know, the staff were very friendly, understanding and accommodating.
Lincolnshire ale and simply superb food
There’s nothing quite like a pint of ale when you’ve finished a good hike. The Blue Bell Inn serves Bateman’s XB, a classic Lincolnshire pale ale, which was just what I needed as I rested my sore feet.
As I sat supping my beer and enjoying the sunshine, more walkers and cyclists arrived, taking off their muddy boots before stepping inside. You get a sense that this pub is a real hub for explorers and adventurers.
The Lincolnshire Wolds is one of the most farm-intensive areas of the UK. Some 20% of the country’s food is produced in our beautiful county, and much of it comes from around these parts. This means that pubs like the Blue Bell Inn can source their ingredients from experienced and high-quality local producers.
The menu is stacked with hearty and wholesome classic British pub dishes, as well as a few slightly more exotic curveballs. I was seriously tempted by the chef’s special roast partridge with wild mushroom sauce! But in the end I opted for the steak, stilton and Guinness pie.
First, though, I decided to try one of those exotic curveballs: a Chinese bang bang chicken salad starter. It was utterly delicious, riddled with spicy flavours and a pang of nuttiness. It’s a great feeling when you order a starter and it hits the spot, as you know it’s a sign of more great food to come.
What I am about to say is not an exaggeration – the pie at the Blue Bell Inn might just be the best I’ve ever had. I messaged Lisa excitedly to tell her this as soon as I’d finished eating it! Needless to say we’ll be returning together soon.
The puff pastry topping had a perfect crispy texture. Most importantly, the chunks of steak were juicy and succulent, drenched in the flavoursome stilton and Guinness sauce, which was also great for dipping the chips. This was a big pie, too – there was so much steak packed inside, more than enough to satisfy my sizeable appetite, which was well and truly stoked after a morning of walking.
More walks to try in the Lincolnshire Wolds
For another scenic loop walk nearby with lunch at a Lincolnshire village pub, check out our guide to the Lindsay Trail North Route. This 16-kilometre circuit near Market Rasen explores the northern end of the Wolds, and conveniently passes by the Kings Head Tealby, Lincolnshire’s oldest thatched pub, and another great place for local food and drink.
Have you taken a circular walk from Belchford before? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.
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