Many of you will be travelling from Europe, the US and other countries to decend upon Europe’s Toughest Mudder in August this year taking on 12 hours of mud and obstacles in the glorious grounds of Belvoir Castle. For me, the best part of travelling to another country for obstacle races is being able to explore the local area and take in some of the culture.
I was born in Grantham and lived locally in Newark whilst growing up, so I’m best placed to recommend some attractions you should visit whilst in the area. For instance, did you know the Isaac Newton grew up just a few miles from Grantham? Or that Stilton cheese is made just 15 miles away? Alton Towers, the UK’s best theme park is just over an hour’s travel?
Here are a selection of “local” tourist attractions that you should take some time to visit whilst you’re in the area for Europe’s Toughest Mudder. I’ve deliberatly stayed away from London and the major cities as there are a ton of blog posts about them. Everything is within 90 minutes travel of Belvoir Castle / Grantham. Grantham has great transport connections so whether you drive or take public transport everything is within easy reach. As the lockdown is set to end in June, all the attractions (some are paid for, others are free) should be open (fingers crossed!)
Where to visit
- Woolsthorpe Manor – the childhood home of Isaac Newton. I have not been there for about 30 years, but you can visit the infamous apple tree whilst taking in the life and science of one of the world’s most renowned scientists.
- Stilton Cheese & Pork Pies – Ok, so these two are for the foodies! The world renowned Stilton Cheese can only be made in a small area of the UK (European protected status like Champagne, Cornish Pasties and Feta Cheese). Colston Bassett is one such village (around 10 miles from Grantham) where there are a number of Stilton Dairies for you to buy the best blue cheese in the world! As a bonus, just down the A52 is Melton Mowbray, home to Pork Pies – Not sure if this is a “thing” anywhere else, but it is a staple for any picnics and “Ploughmans Lunches” across the UK. The real thing tastes much better than the cheap nasty stuff you get from the supermarkets
- Sherwood Forest – Home of the legendary Robin Hood – Over the years, the visitor centre has grown and in the summer, there are many medieval style fayres and festivals. Around 45 minutes away near the town of Mansfield. The Major Oak is now fenced off but the huge tree is still quite a sight to behold.
- Lincoln – Around 30 minutes drive, this cathedral city is absolutely beautiful and well worth a visit for shopping, eating or the numerous visitor attractions. The one major attraction is at Lincoln Castle – one of four original copies of the Magna Carta – the document which is the basis of law and the rights of individuals in the UK, the Commonwealth and USA
- Skegness – My summer holidays as a child were always on the east coast, whether it was Skegness, nearby Ingoldmells or Mablethorpe. Skegness is the largest resort town in the area and also home to a beautiful golden beach. A ton of stuff to do for a day trip including visiting the pleasure beach, the seal sanctury, taking a paddle in the sea or trying to win a teddy bear in one of the many arcades. Ingoldmells is home to a number of large roller-coasters so for the thrill seekers, just travel the extra few miles along the coast and enjoy “Fantasty Island”
- Alton Towers – However, for the major thrill seekers, take the trip to the UK’s best theme park. The big 7 include Nemesis (my personal favourite) Wicker Man and Smiler. For the real medal addicts, you can collect 7 medals for each of the thrill rides. TOP TIP – there are usually a lot of 2 for 1 deals with various partners (usually some form of snack or newspaper) so if you want to go, just look out for the deals before shelling out full price.
- Peak District – For those looking for a different type of adventure! The Peak District is a beautiful national park which starts around 70 minutes away in Derbyshire. Lots of hills, forests and trails for the hiking, cycling or running. The town of Bakewell is home to the Bakewell Pudding and the Monsal Trail (personal favourite) with walks through disused railway tunnels and leads to Monsal Head
- York – Probably the furthest “visitor attraction” away. About 90 minutes by car and around 70 minutes by train from Grantham. The city is one of the oldest in the UK and home to the Jorvik viking museum, an awesome train museum and the York Castle Museum, with a recreation of a Victorian Street. This museum was a staple for all school trips. However, the big attraction for tourists is the street named “The Shambles” which was the artistic inspiration of Daigon Alley in Harry Potter.
These are my top tips for you to go visit whilst you’re in the area before or after racing Europe’s Toughest Mudder. Maybe you should carb up with a pork pie before hand and then take some time in Skegness after to decompress. Enjoy ETM and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Midlands and beyond.