Before visiting Lincoln on a bank holiday daytrip, I knew very little about the place other than it being associated with low property prices and sausages. But over the course of my day there, I fell for its charms and was gutted not to be staying the night. It really deserves a higher profile – read on to find out why.
1. Brayford Pool
Other cities develop their riversides and canal banks, but Lincoln’s waterfront development is actually a lake. Bars and restaurants (think Wagamama, Zizzi, Prezzo) occupy the new buildings facing Brayford Pool, and their terraces are ideal when the sun is shining for some boozy people-watching.
The Brayford Belle leaves here for 50-minute boat-trips (£6.50) along the River Witham, or you can hire Lincoln’s equivalent of the Boris Bike (free for 30 minutes, £1 per hour thereafter) if you fancy some sight-seeing at your own pace.
Lincoln’s showpiece is its huge gothic cathedral, high on a hill on the edge of the city-centre. It was once the tallest building in the world for over two hundred years, and you’ll be able to see it miles before your approach to town. There’s a fee to enter the cathedral, but it looks more impressive from the outside – it stood in as Westminster Abbey when The Da Vinci Code was filmed.
Grab a seat outside the Magna Carta pub on Castle Square and drink in the magnificent views. You can’t leave without trying to spot the famous Lincoln Imp, a mischievous creature sent by the devil to cause havoc, but turned to stone by an angel and now stuck to the cathedral’s front.
The cathedral quarter boasts a castle too, although we chose not to enter because of renovations. There are supposed to be awesome views of the surrounding countryside from its ramparts, although I guess I’ll have to wait until next time to find out.
4. Steep Hill
I’d always assumed it was pretty flat in these parts, but I soon discovered that I was very wrong. The imaginatively named Steep Hill is a cobbled street on a very steep hill which connects the modern High Street to the Cathedral Quarter.
Lined with independent shops, it’s proud to show off a plaque proclaiming “Britain’s Great Street 2012 Winner”. If you manage the ascent, you’ll deserve a drink and a slice of Dandelion and Burdock cake at Bunty’s Tea Room (number 18).
5. High Street
Lincoln’s main shopping street is an oddball. The usual high street stores are interspersed with bars – we spotted a Walkabout, Slug and Lettuce and Carluccios alongside House of Fraser, River Island and Paperchase. There’s also a level-crossing (the first I’ve seen for years) in the city-centre itself as the train station is just off High Street.
And finally, the standard of the Lincoln buskers is excellent. We saw a classical guitarist in the Cathedral Quarter and a covers band off the High Street, both of whom would get far on Britain’s Got Talent.