Whilst Sheffield is a brilliant place to live and study, we can all benefit from an escape once in a while. But if you have done the obvious options – Chatsworth, Bakewell, Castleton, maybe even a foray to York- where else makes a good value, student-friendly day out? For somewhere that ticks all the boxes and absolutely brims with art, history, culture and quirky shops – look to Lincoln!
Surprisingly few people seem to make the trip to this historic town, despite it being only a little over an hour from Sheffield by train, with advance tickets as low as £3.30 each way with a student railcard. The main attraction of course is the stunning Gothic Cathedral, perched on top of the hill that dominates the main town. It’s certainly worth climbing up the aptly named ‘Steep Hill’ – deservedly voted Britain’s best high street – for a visit. Despite the steep incline, each side of this cobbled street is jammed with craft stores, bespoke cafes, second hand book shops – even a Venetian Gelateria. Once inside the Cathedral ( entry is free for students – take your UCard!) gaze in awe at the dizzyingly high roof and intricate stained glass windows. You can even take a tour right to the top of the tower – see the website for more details.
In December, the Medieval courtyard surrounding the Cathedral comes alive with the famous Christmas market, bursting with artisan craft and food stalls. There are also regular farmers and craft markets on throughout the year, perfect if you enjoy browsing for unusual presents or bargains.
The second main attraction is Lincoln Castle, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. It’s now the home of one of only four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta: the first document to challenge the extent of the Monarch’s powers, thus providing the foundation for our modern UK Parliament. You can also take a tour of the Medieval castle walls, visit the Victorian prison, or just enjoy strolling in the picturesque grounds.
If you have a fascination for social history, or perhaps want to see how your great-grandparents lived, the Museum of Lincolnshire Life is a must. At this brilliant, volunteer-run attraction you can explore a series of period rooms and shops, authentic to the tiniest detail; kitchen, parlour, blacksmith, laundry, drawers, print works and countless more! You can also crouch in a reconstructed First World War trench; learn how our ancestors lived off the land before tractors; have a go at hand cranking a car and even admire Daphne – a genuine WW1 tank. If you go on a Saturday, do pay a visit to the nearby Ellis Mill, a restored working windmill. Enthusiastic volunteers will take you through the whole process of turning rough wheat grains into silky fine flour. You will never look at bread the same way again!
There’s plenty more history and culture to explore ( for free! ) in The Collection, an archaeology museum and art gallery, with a sumptuous café that specialises in waffles. You’ll find this in the Temple Gardens; a perfect place to have a picnic lunch or to take a moments rest while admiring the flowers and sculptures.
All that sightseeing will make you hungry; fortunately Lincoln has something for every taste. For afternoon tea or a traditional pub, Steep Hill has countless offerings but for more conventional options head to the hip Brayford Quays, where you will find chain restaurants such as Nandos, ASK and Wagamama.
I could go on about the host of other attractions here – the Medieval Bishops Palace, the Guildhall, the indoor market to name a few – but you should have the idea by now. Lincoln makes a great escape from your studies in Sheffield… your only problem may be deciding how to spend your time there. But as it’s so easy to get to, there’s always the option of a return visit.
Don’t delay – go before everyone else discovers it!