The Lincolnshire Wolds are rife with spots of natural beauty for exploring the countryside. Hubbard’s Hills, perched next to the old market town of Louth on the eastern edge of the Wolds, is one of the area’s prettiest quirks of nature. This charming miniature valley, intersected by the River Lud, was formed by melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age. Today it is a scene of sloping fields, woodland trails and riverside paths, perfect for a family picnic or leisurely afternoon dog walk. In this quick guide to Hubbard’s Hills, we put together everything you need to know for an enjoyable visit.
What is Hubbard’s Hills?
Hubbard’s Hills is a small area of natural beauty in the Lincolnshire Wolds, just to the west of Louth. It has been open to the public since 1907, but its natural roots reach back thousands of years into the past.
During the last ice age, which began some 115,000 years ago, glacial sheets formed along the Lincolnshire coast. Meanwhile, the Wolds stood raised above the ice. As temperatures rose over the years, glacial meltwater became trapped between the ice sheets and the Wolds, and began to cut down into the rock below, forming dry valleys.
Hubbard’s Hills was one of the valleys formed by this process around 40,000 years ago. Over a period of two or three hundred years, the meltwater cut down into the chalk ridge to gradually carve a steep-sided glacial valley into the countryside, 40 metres deep.
Today, the site resembles a wide gorge with the gentle River Lud trickling peacefully through it, surrounded by woodland and open grass on the valley floor.
The legacy of Auguste and Annie Pahud
Auguste Alphonse Pahud, an adventurous young man from Switzerland, arrived in Louth in 1875 to make his home in the town and teach languages at a local school. He fell for a local girl, Annie Grant, the daughter of a wealthy farming family. The couple married and began building a life of exploration.
But just before the turn of the century, tragedy struck. Annie died suddenly in London while en route to seek medical care on the continent. Auguste was stricken with grief, which he would never overcome – he sadly took his own life in 1902.
Auguste left his enormous fortune of £25,000 – worth around £3 million in today’s money – to a small team of trustees, tasked with spending it in honour of Annie’s memory. The group used £2,000 of the money to buy the land at Hubbard’s Hills as a celebration of Annie’s legacy. After devoting more funds over the following years to its careful restoration, the site was given over to the people of Louth in August 1907, and opened up to the public.
When is the best time to visit?
Hubbard’s Hills is open all year round and is free to enter. We found it refreshing visiting in October recently – the scenery was beautiful in autumnal colours, and it’s less busy outside of peak season. The summer sunshine is great for picnicking of course, but it does bring the crowds out!
We like to arrive early to beat the crowds. It’s not a huge site (as you will see below), so you only need to allow a couple of hours to have a good stroll around and unwind. Mid afternoon is also a good shout for a picnic on sunny days, as you avoid the midday peak.
Arriving at Hubbard’s Hills
Hubbard’s Hills has two entrances – one at either end of the site. The main entrance is located at the end of Crowtree Lane, on the Louth side, while a smaller entrance is situated on Halfpenny Lane at the other side.
The main entrance is just 20 minutes’ walk from Louth town centre. If you are arriving by car, come off the A16 at the Elkington roundabout (where it crosses the A157 and B1200). Turn off towards Louth town centre, turn right onto Love Lane, and then right again onto Crowtree Lane. At the end of the road you will reach the main entrance and car park.
Note there is a £1 fee to park at the main entrance. The smaller car park on Halfpenny Lane is free, but you will need to get there early as spaces fill up quickly, especially when the sun is out! This entrance is easy to reach from the A16 – turn off onto Horncastle Road, and then left onto Halfpenny Lane. Keep your eyes out on the right for the car park.
Walking routes in Hubbard’s Hills
The distance across Hubbard’s Hills from one entrance to the other is about half a mile, making it an easy one-mile return walk to go through and back. However, there are slightly different routes you can take to mix up the scenery.
We like to start at the smaller car park. When you enter through the gate, you can immediately turn right and climb up the path to the top of the ridge. This path then follows along the top, with some gorgeous views down into the valley. It then descends onto Crowtree Lane by the main entrance, and you can walk back through the main path.
Alternatively, if you continue ahead from the gate after entering from the small car park, you can turn left over a small bridge and emerge into an open grassy area surrounded by trees. This is a nice spot for a picnic, or letting your dog stretch their legs a bit (our boy Regan loves it here!). Keep following the field and you will eventually rejoin the main path as it trundles alongside the river.
At the point where you rejoin the river, another bridge leads over to a raised stretch of grass on the far side. This is another lovely picnic spot with views back across the river. You can also continue from here up to the path at top of the valley (but be careful with your footing!).
Back across the river, the main path continues on the water’s edge all the way to the main entrance. And of course, if you’re starting at this point, everything above applies, but in reverse.
If you’re bringing dogs with you, there are some restricted areas where you need to keep leads on at peak times of year, so look out for the signs.
See the memorial to Annie Pahud
As you are passing through Hubbard’s Hills, keep your eyes peeled for the Pahud Memorial Fountain. Nestling at the heart of the valley, this old stone pillared structure was built to commemorate Annie Pahud.
The memorial is in clear view when walking through from the main entrance. However, it’s quite easy to miss rom the Halfpenny Road side, as it’s almost hidden behind the trees. It stands on the far side of the river as you walk along the path.
Grab a pub lunch in town afterwards
In normal times, the main entrance at Crowtree Lane has a café that serves refreshments. For a more substantial meal and a pint of the good stuff – a must for us after a satisfying walk – you can head into Louth and try one of the local pubs. The Greyhound Inn and Mason’s Arms are both excellent options.
Plan more activities around the county with our resources on day trips from Lincoln. If you’re in the area, also check out the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, Lincolnshire’s only heritage locomotive railway.