Delicacies from the food basket of England

Venue: East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
Date: 24 Sep 2013 - 26 Sep 2013


Pictured: Our first stop was a tour of Butlins in Skegness where we viewed the variety of facilities.

Rachel Bailey and a group of our readers headed to the district of East Lindsey in Lincolnshire to find out what the region, famous for its sausages and freshly grown produce, has to offer to groups.

Having been to Lincolnshire on a family holiday when I was a child, there was only so much I could remember of the area and its offerings. A two day excursion jam-packed with visits to a multitude of attractions had me sold by the end of the trip; my overall impression is that whatever your group’s interest, Lincolnshire literally has something for everybody to enjoy. A welcoming dinner and introductory talk the night we arrived were most appreciated; delicious local food and a ton of helpful information were two things we were about to become very used to. 

Is Butlins your cup of tea?

Butlins at Skegness was the first visit on our agenda. Located in Ingoldmells near Skegness, this particular Butlins site is huge and able to accommodate up to 6,000 people during peak season. Welcomed by Redcoats wearing traditional attire, we proceeded to tour the facilities.

If you’re after a quiet break, this holiday resort probably isn’t for you. However, if you like a bit of hustle and bustle, there’s plenty to occupy you throughout your stay. A tour of the renovated swimming pool with flumes and slides immediately made me want to go for a swim, and the spa area with its many treatments for guests was also very enticing. Further highlights include a variety of entertainment, plenty of eating options, and accommodation including chalets, apartments and caravans, with prices to appease everyone’s budget.

Take note that Butlins is an extremely family-friendly resort, so be aware that there will be children everywhere during peak season. However, there are adult-only music breaks available on selected weekends throughout the year. Group discounts are available for parties of 12 or more people.


Pictured: St James’ Parish Church in Louth, where we enjoyed a spread of local produce for lunch.

Community spirit and sausage rolls

Our next stop was the traditional Georgian market town of Louth, and feedback from our readers suggested to me that this was one of, if not the highlight of our trip to Lincolnshire. With a market taking place three days a week, regular craft markets throughout the year, and the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival, the town has more to offer than its size suggests.

“I love the history of Louth - the church especially. The market square, the buildings - it’s nice that it’s kept its character. I’m seriously considering adding it to our programme; I didn’t know Louth at all. It would really appeal to my group.” Eileen Clark, RB Travel

St James’ Parish Church seems to be the centre of the community, with tours taking place on request from local guides. An informative talk and a beautiful spread for lunch (kindly provided from a local delicatessen) within the church really engaged us with Louth’s community spirit and culture.

Jill Makinson-Sanders, last year’s mayor of Louth, said: “Louth is a lovely place to come for the day; it was voted BBC Country File’s favourite market town last year and it really is special. We’ve got lots of independent shops, everybody’s really friendly here and we’ve got lots of things to go out and enjoy.” An hour of free time to wander the market stalls, manned by friendly locals, and quaint shops selling trinkets and great present ideas proved her words true; Louth is a lovely spot on the map and worth a visit if you’re in the area.

A vegetable garden of Eden

National Trust property Gunby Hall and Gardens was next on our agenda, and was also well received by everyone. Entering the gates by coach was a tight squeeze, although still manageable. We embarked on a self-guided tour of the house and gardens, where representatives in each room shared historical information and a live pianist accompanied our wanderings of the house.


Pictured: Enjoying a few samples of ale at Bateman's Brewery in Wainfleet.

The gardens were especially notable; well-cared for and organised. I took a lone mosey around the grounds and enjoyed late displays of roses and other heavily perfumed flowers which made for a lovely experience. The vegetable gardens were magnificent and really helped Lincolnshire live up to its reputation of the ‘food basket of England’. Tea and homemade cake in the cafe were also fully enjoyed by all.

Beer brewing and steak and ale pie

Bateman’s Brewery in Wainfleet concluded our first day’s trip. A tour of the family-run business and dinner were in order, and we eagerly entered the cosy bar to be met by Mr Bateman and some of the five generations of his family.

The working brewery has been open since 1874, and offers visitors an insight into the mechanics of the mill, through the process of ale brewing from start to finish, with highlights including the tasting of various barley grains and smelling the fermenting beer. Alien terms such as ‘mashing’, ‘rollicking’ and ‘worting’ were thrown around, but our guide David Phillips patiently explained everything with enthusiasm and obvious passion for the job - one GTO even described David as the ‘best tour guide she’d ever had’. The tour was followed by free ale tasting back in the bar, and a dinner of the tastiest steak and ale pie I have ever had (again, made with local produce).

“I have to say I have enjoyed the entire trip, but I think Bateman’s Brewery was my favourite part. They were so welcoming; it was interesting, and just so enjoyable. I’d definitely consider taking my group there.” Linda Hubbard, Bexley Civic Society.

A tour of the brewery is a bargain at £4.95 for adults, £3.95 for concessions and only £2 for those who are younger than 17. Under 12s go free, and there are quizzes with prizes to keep younger visitors entertained. Tours take place between 12.30pm and 2.30pm, lasting around 40-50 minutes, and a present of a goodie bag of ales at the end of the tour makes for a pleasant ending. If you do take a visit, make sure you ask to sample the mocha-flavour ale that Bateman’s produce – it’s really opened my eyes to how nice ale can be.


Pictured: The Blue Flag accredited beach at Skegness, where we enjoyed a walk of the seafront.

A taste of Skegness

The following day we headed down to the seafront of Skegness, where we walked round the seaside town and along the beach. The sun was shining and we enjoyed views of the Blue Flag beach - local towns Mablethorpe and Sutton-on-Sea are also Blue Flag accredited. The beach itself was beautiful, with long stretches of sand and panoramic views out to sea. The area is cleaned every day during peak season, and made a great spot for a group photograph.

Skegness town boasts a wide range of attractions, including the Fantasy Island theme park, crazy golf, shops and a wide range of restaurants. The Embassy Theatre offers a year round programme and renovations have introduced an art gallery too.

We were lucky to be able to see a short example of the lighting tools used on the stage, plus a dance performance. The theatre’s 2014 season will open with Colour My World in January.

An o-fish-ally superb attraction

My own favourite part of the trip was Natureland Seal Sanctuary, situated on the northern side of the Wash at Skegness. Animal-lover that I am, I completely fell in love with all inhabitants of the sanctuary from the moment we walked through the doors. Natureland is a family-run enterprise and objectives include entertaining visitors, providing education to children and adults alike, and preserving conservation for local seals, plus other coastal wildlife.

Feeding time at half past eleven was very entertaining and definitely worth a watch; the adult seals (including Pixie, Victoria and Eve) had a few tricks to perform, and the talk that accompanied the spectacle was very informative. The sanctuary isn’t only seals; meerkats, penguins, a reptile house with crocodiles and a farm area with some very noisy goats are also part of the package. At £7.80 for an adult ticket with group rates available on request, it’s not an expensive day out and suitable for all ages. I really recommend going, if only to ‘ahhh’ over the baby seals.

Seal sanctuary

Pictured: We also enjoyed a visit to Natureland Seal Sanctuary, situated on the northern side of the Wash at Skegness.

“My favourite parts of this trip have been Louth which was very good, with the church and market town. The seal sanctuary has come a good second, and I loved Gunby Hall and Gardens which was very nice. I also really liked the Embassy Theatre, and would like to go back.” Ken Marston, Friends of Tamworth Castle.

Get a flavour of Lincolnshire’s natural surroundings

Our final visit was to the Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, also in Skegness and set in the heart of 1,000 acres of unspoilt coastline. The visitor centre boasts a study centre for groups and school students, accommodation for both educational and adult groups, plus a restaurant and gift shop. Of course, the highlight of the attraction is the natural surroundings, where you can take a long walk through various areas of creeks, sandy beaches, rivers and saltmarshes. You can also opt to create your own walks of each area where visitor points offer information and viewing seats to enhance your experience.

The representatives of the nature reserve were really passionate about countryside and coastal reservation, and were extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife and birds that inhabit the environment. Don’t be deceived into thinking that this is only suitable for nature lovers; the beautiful area makes this an ideal location for walking groups and those who want to experience the attractiveness of the Lincolnshire Wolds first-hand.

Our hotel – the cherry on top

I should also add that we stayed in the Southview Park Hotel, situated just on the outskirts of Skegness which made for a delightful stay during our trip. A coach driven by the cheery Terry was provided by local coach operator, Hunts, and the whole expedition ran smoothly with no flaws.

Overall the tip was a real eye-opener for those who had never considered East Lindsey as a holiday destination before, and with a variety of specialist group travel organisers on the trip there was enough for everyone to find at least one thing they’d consider coming back to experience with their own group.

Word of warning: be prepared to eat your fill. The food everywhere we went was delicious, and there will be lots of local treats that’ll you’ll want to try on your travels.

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