The Opposite of Train Spotting

The last two days I’ve been on a last-minute business trip with work to Leeds, West Yorkshire (the West is important apparently) which meant getting the train from London Oop North to Leeds. This particularly train line takes me approximately 16 miles (25km – as the crow flies) away from the cathedral city of Lincoln where I was born.

While I have never been ever so fond of the place in which I grew up, it does have one extremely redeeming feature, and one that I find myself becoming more and more proud of as the years wear on.

Think you’ve never seen Lincoln cathedral? Think again. If you’ve ever seen Tom Hanks in the film adaptation of Dan Brown’sThe Da Vinci Code, then you’ve seen inside it at least. The cathedral was used for filming when officials at Westminster Abbey refused permission to film in the London Minster.

While the inside is pretty spectacular, it is the outside that always amazes me. As a child, we would play a game called “I Can See the Cathedral”, which is very similar to being the first to spot the sea whenever you got anywhere near the coast. Lincoln cathedral is perched high on top of a hill, called Steep Hill to be precise, and if you’ve ever tried to walk up it sober, well you’ll know it’s certainly not advised to do it after a few pints. While Lincoln’s alcohol consuming population curse its location, back in the 11th Century, its siting on top of the hill had the ideal defensive location. In the modern age, when floodlit at night or on a clear day, the cathedral can easily be seen from around 20-odd miles away, proving that the Normans knew what they were doing.

To add to its fame, between 1311 and 1549, the medieval cathedral was the tallest building in the world.

A number of years ago, on the train home back to Lincoln, I spotted the cathedral on the horizon, some 20-something miles away to the South. I was in awe of the fact that it could be seen from that location. I often travelled with my family to visit my Grandmother to the East of the county, where the Minster was always very visible, but I hadn’t realised it could be seen, albeit not so easily, from just past Grantham. It was that sighting, combined with the view I had as I entered the city from the South by car on another visit home, that really cemented it into my heart.

On the outbound train to Leeds I once again spotted it, quite painstakingly by staring out into the horizon. Whilst I did the same on the return train, the glare on the windows and the pure blackness outside prevented any beautiful vision.

As I head back down South, I think of the family and friends I have not had time to visit during this emergency work-related visit to the North of England. I also think of my beautiful cathedral upon the hill. While I don’t miss too many things about my home city, the cathedral is one of those that I do yearn for. Its beauty and spellbinding powers yield far more admiration from me than any London landmark ever will.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Angel
    Dec 15, 2014 @ 11:19:37

    no posts for 20 days – you ok


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