Monthly Walk: Follow in Flinders’ footsteps

Explorers' park: Visit the scenic Matthew Flinders park.
Explorers' park: Visit the scenic Matthew Flinders park.

2014 sees the 240th anniversary of the birth of Matthew Flinders the explorer and navigator born in Donington so prompting this month’s walk.

The house on the site where he was born on March 16, 1774 – near the Black Bull – bears a commemorative plaque and there is a statue of him in the Market Place where our walk begins.

Matthew Flinders joined the navy aged sixteen and in 1800 made his earliest voyage to Australia, then known as New South Wales; it was Flinders who later gave it the name Australia.

Back in England he married before setting sail for Australia a second time in July 1801 and becoming the first to circumnavigate the entire continent. Arriving at Mauritius – a French colony – during his voyage home he was arrested as a spy (England and France being at war) and held captive until 1810. At home again he wrote accounts of his voyages and explorations but now seriously ill only saw his finished book a few days before dying on July 19, 1814.

Donington itself was once an important centre of the hemp and flax trade with important twice-yearly horse fairs and still has several old buildings including the C17th Black Bull. St Mary and the Holy Rood church is mainly C13th and C14th and unusually its spire is offset to form the south porch. Our walk also passes close to Wykes Manor dating back to at least 1280AD.

The undulating area of the Eaudykes is the former mediaeval coastline of ‘Bicker Haven’ a tidal creek from the Wash. Beyond the Eaudykes a short detour visits a memorial to six airmen who perished when their Avro-Lancaster crashed in April 1944.


START: Flinders statue, Market Place, Donington.

OS MAPS: Landranger 131 (Boston & Spalding) : Explorer 249.

DISTANCES: six miles / 9.5 kilometres.

REFRESHMENTS: Donington : Black Bull, chip shops and Chinese takeaways.

The route:
From Flinders statue cross the zebra crossing then turn left. Opposite Costcutters go right down into Flinders Park. (There’s a woodland walk to your left after the bandstand) and continue at the far end by houses toTown Dam Lane. Turn left, pass the school, to open fields, continuing to a junction with the A152. Cross into Pinder Lane and follow a path and grass tracks to the next lane near Wykes Manor. Turn left and in 200 yards at a T junction go right. This bears left - ignore the bridleway ahead! The area is called the Eaudykes. Keep ahead at another junction then take the signed track on the right. (To visit the Avro-Lancaster crash site keep ahead for 150 yards and return. This track bends to meet the A52. Cross and turn left. In 300 yards there’s a choice of routes. You may continue along the pavement by the main road until opposite Donington church and rejoin the main route. For the full route turn right along Days Lane to reach a T junction, turn right, take the field path on the left.This leads to a footbridge and past the cemetery to the A52. Cross and turn right through the churchyard onto a field path. At the road turn left. At the second junction go left again into Donington Market Place.