The Viking Way - A Review
What is the Viking Way?
The Viking Way is a 147 mile trail that was established in 1976. It runs between Oakham in Rutland to Humber Bridge in North Lincolnshire, and follows a route that is said to be similar to the route the Vikings took when they came to conquer England. The Viking Way passes through charming towns and cities, very close to several airfields and former RAF bases, alongside rivers and through vast areas of agricultural land. The terrain is fairly flat and the whole route is clearly marked with Viking helmet symbols, so is easy to navigate. If you would like to see the route in full detail, the guidebook can be downloaded from here.
Points of Interest along the Trail
The Kesteven Uplands is mostly farmland, but has been recognised as a National Character Area due to the diversity of wildlife and the limestone geology. Several rare species of butterfly and moth inhabit the area, along with lizards and adders. Most of the land is rural, with very few urban areas. The villages are small and quaint, with houses built from local limestone and slate, giving them a warm honey-colour. Once inhabited by the Romans, the area still has some Roman ruins and ancient monuments that you can visit.
City of Lincoln
Lincoln is a very aesthetic city with cobbled streets and old brick buildings. Home to a University, Cathedral and Castle, the city of Lincoln is full of culture and history. Lincoln has an abundance of bars and restaurants, as well as the usual high-street shops.
An ancient woodland full of archaeological sites and rich in wildlife, the Lincolnshire Limewoods receives funding from local wildlife conservation groups and Lincolnshire Council to help protect the species of animals and plants within the area.
Horncastle was a Roman market town and still has some ancient buildings and features, including the canal, which was built in 1792. The river Bain, which runs through the town, is susceptible to flooding, so this part of the Viking Way could be under water if there has been a lot of heavy rain.
Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
A beautiful landscape of chalk, limestone and sandstone rocks marking the hillsides. The Wolds AONB is the highest point in Eastern England between Kent and Yorkshire and offers lovely views for miles around.
How does the Viking Way compare with other UK long-distance trails?
The Viking Way is certainly one of the easier long-distance trails in terms of terrain; most of the route is fairly flat and a lot of it uses well-trodden tracks and bridleways. Well marked throughout its entirety, the Viking Way is also very easy to navigate; guidebooks and maps aren't necessary to complete the hike. When it comes to the scenery though, I wouldn't say it's the most beautiful, wild or inspiring of the long-distance trails. Certainly not in comparison to Scotland's hikes, or to neighbouring Yorkshire.
How about day hiking?
I personally find it difficult to hike a long trail where the scenery is pretty similar throughout because I get bored, so I'd struggle to hike the whole Viking Way in one go. We have hiked many sections of the trail though and enjoy the landscape in short bursts. The Viking Way can be split into many different sections, depending which bit you'd like to hike. Some parts pass through attractive woodlands and fields, others travel down long flat tracks. There are many great dog-walking sections where dogs can run off-lead, and there are some excellent trail-running, biking or horse-riding sections.
Would we recommend the Viking Way to others?
As a long-distance trail, probably not, unless you are trying to complete all of the UK's long-distance trails and this is one on your bucket list. If you are trying to find a hiking route for a holiday, or for a challenge, we would recommend one of the more rugged, wild routes like the Pennine Way, the West Highland Way or the Welsh Coastal Path.
However, If you just want to find nice day hikes in the East Midlands, then yes definitely. With plentiful picturesque villages and rural areas along the Viking Way, there are copious opportunities to take pictures, relax with a picnic and enjoy a nice day walking in the countryside.