Sleaford Historic Riverside Walk

Leaving Norwich behind the next stage of our journey was northwards to Lincoln where we would stay a couple of nights and explore the Cathedral area. As the journey was quite short and we couldn’t check in until after 3 pm I decided to make a couple of detours en route.

Driving through the flat landscape with polytunnels stretching far on either side of the road, you realise that this is the agricultural heart of England. The distinct whiff of cabbages was all too familiar.


The first stop was to see the windmill at Heckington. The second stop was in nearby Sleaford to have a look at the Navigation Wharf and have a bite to eat. We parked up in the market place where you find an imposing church and a large war memorial. Being a Sunday there was no market and the parking was free. Always good.


I haven’t been to Lincolnshire for a long while. But the red brick houses and quiet streets and even the market place, immediately took me back to my childhood when I lived in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire before returning to the county of my birth when I was ten.


Slipping around the corner we made our way to the Navigation Wharf, originally the terminus of the Sleaford Navigation. Goods shipped on the Navigation were stored at Quayside House to await collection or dispatch. Navigation House was the Sleaford Navigation Company office, built in 1838 and now is now a small museum explaining the early development of the River Slea and the story of the Navigation. We had a quick look inside and then went to the National Centre for Craft and Design to have a look at the exhibitions.

A pretty chair – this would look nice in my bedroom

And also the view over the town from the roof-top gallery.


A short walk takes you on a circular route along a section of the River Slea to Cogglesford Mill and back to Navigation Wharf. We were hoping to get a coffee and sandwich at the Mill, but were sadly disappointed.

After crossing the footbridge (originally built in 1962) replaced in 2008 the path follows alongside the East Banks towards the Leisure Centre. Three interesting mosaics have been laid in the pathway.

Just past the Leisure Centre is a footbridge and a sluice gate which marks the splitting of the river into two channels; the New Slea and the Old Slea which used to be the most important channel but is now mostly used as an overflow. Original Iron Age and Roman settlements at Old Sleaford were founded on a ford at this point.  The New Slea was straightened when it became the Navigation in 1790 and it may have been the site of several Anglo-Saxon watermills.

Sluice Gate

We continued along the East Banks until we reached the mill pond and tilting weir (1961) where we turned left over the lock and mill headrace to Cogglesford Watermill.

The mill dates back to Saxon times and is thought to be the only Sheriff’s watermill still in operation in England. The present mill was built in the early †18C and still produces flour on milling days which take place from April to December.

Cogglesford Watermill

We were disappointed not to find a tea-room here, only a vending machine, and since we weren’t in the market to buy any flour, continued to head back to town on the opposite bank.


On the right-hand side of the river is Lollycocks Field, a 5.5 acre nature reserve. The unusual name is thought to derive from the fact that it was once used for raising turkeys (lollycocks). The pond was added in 1960 and is a lovely quiet spot for local fishermen.


Crossing the footbridge near the sluice gate we returned to the Navigation Wharf via the East Banks and were pleased to find a proper coffee machine in the licensed café in the National Centre for Design and Craft where we sat in the sunshine, enjoying a piece of cake and a decent flat white. Always nice to end a walk with cake!

Footbridge across to the Barge and Bottle Pub

Source: Sleaford Riverside Historic Heritage Trail leaflet and Cogglesford Watermill leaflet.


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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

29 thoughts on “Sleaford Historic Riverside Walk”

  1. Sleaford was once first on our list to move to when we were planning to leave London, so I know it well. (The much smaller Ruskington was favoured too) House prices were incredibly low (2010) and there was everything we might have needed in that nice town. However, work opportunities for Julie dictated the choice of Norfolk instead.
    Otherwise, my blog might be called ‘sleafordpete’!
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. We got it in the end! The pub was busy, but when you are driving it’s not much fun. I preferred the coffee and cake 🙂

  2. Wonderful! 🙂 It is beautifully gentle countryside, isn’t it? Driven past but never been into Sleaford, so now I know! No cafe at mill 🙂 You never know which ones will have one, do you, but you might well expect them to sell a good cake! Lollycocks, indeed! Who knew? I’m going to have to fight you for that chair, Jude!
    Bit hectic here this morning. The prodigal son was briefly here but departed for an interview in Leeds this afternoon. Another in Preston on Wednesday 🙂
    Thank you for the lovely walk.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Jo. I know you love a walk near the water. Plenty of that here today! Hope all goes well with J 🙂

        1. It rushed up the country and got us last night! I’m in a foul mood (ish 🙂 ) and if I had some wellies I’d go out and jump in puddles 🙂 🙂

  3. What a lovely walk to take on such a grey, cold winter day … all that lush green-ness and a windmill! It doesn’t get much better … especially with cake at the end 🙂

  4. Lucky you’ve taken us to Sleaford Jude, because now Jo knows cake is hard to come by she won’t be walking there! Seriously though, what a pretty place. My dream adventure would be to have a campervan and just tootle our way around England, stopping when and where we wanted and exploring like this.

  5. Love your clear and excellent photos of the area. Everything is clean and inviting.
    I’d love to walk there in the sunshine. Thank you for sharing. I always enjoy your walks. 😛 ❤

    1. Thanks Tess – walking in the sunshine is always a pleasure. I’m afraid I am somewhat of a fair weather walker 🙂

  6. Phew, I was getting worried about your lack of refreshments! Love the mosaics and that chair is pretty dazzling, you sure it wouldn’t keep you awake?

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