The Chequers Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, NG32 1LU
The personal touch
Hard-working Jo and Justin Chad have been perfecting the art of the village pub here since 2003. They escaped to the Belvoir Estate for a breather after life in the high-octane world of Nottinghamshire nightclubs, but they’re always on the go, always evolving – in addition to the striking party venue at the back of the inn they have created more stylish rooms at the Chequers sister pub, The Gregory at Harlaxton. However, what drives this place is the Chads’ unstinting commitment to top-class food and drink – just look at the collection of classy menus decorating the inn’s passageways from the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Alain Ducasse, Gauthier Soho and Morston Hall. Although the Chequers Woolsthorpe is primarily about destination dining in lovely Lincolnshire countryside, you’re perfectly welcome to drop by for lunch and a pint after a ramble up to hilltop Belvoir Castle (less than a mile away). And the village cricket team plays on the pub lawn on summer Sundays.
Little ones are welcome throughout, and they have their own mini-menu offering the likes of chargrilled chicken with vegetables as well as sausages and pizza. It’s £20 a night for offspring to share a bedroom with their parents (breakfast included).
It’s rare not to find a pooch or two in the toasty main bar here. The landlords love them so much that they get their own page on the Chequers website – though if you want to eat in the bar, book early because there are just a couple of long communal tables specially designated for dog owners. Dogs aren’t allowed in the restaurant, although two of the bedrooms accept four-legged friends (£5 per night surcharge).
The sun-trap courtyard out front is bright with parasols in summer: squint and you can see Belvoir Castle up on the hill. There’s also a pretty garden at the back, with lawns and a chicken coop housing Black Copper and Cuckoo Maran hens (a big hit with the youngsters). The neighbouring cricket pitch also belongs to the inn.
The Chequers’ function room opening onto the garden is spectacular, so weddings and parties are big business here – but it doesn’t dent the attention given to everyday drinkers and diners.
The Chequers Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, NG32 1LU
Do not disturb
What’s for breakfast?
The Chequers Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, NG32 1LU
Mastering the menu
On the menu
Time to eat
Local, local, local
Behind the bar
Time at the bar
Take it back home
Tour the brewery that brewed your favourite pint, visit the shop on the farm that reared your delicious Sunday roast beef, and seek out the roadside stalls selling the local crab and samphire on the inn’s menu, the Food Trail features the local artisan producers and suppliers where you can buy to enjoy at home.
Change of scenery
Looking for a pub for lunch following a country walk, a different venue for dinner, or a good café for coffee, light lunch or afternoon tea, then the best in the area are listed below. If you find a new and exciting eatery in the area that’s worthy of a mention on the Food Trail, then please to do let us know – firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Inn Location - The Chequers
Seven miles from Oakham, this award-winning pub is well positioned for walkers exploring the nearby Wymondham Heritage Trail. As well as sandwiches and light meals served in the bar, the restaurant serves a full a la carte menu.
The shop at Jan McCourt's award-winning farm stocks a diverse range, from their award-winning meat, to honey, jams and sloe gin and damson whisky, which is made on the farm. Other alcoholic treats include Bitter, Mild & IPA from The Grainstore Brewery in Oakham, while a variety of cow, goat and sheep's cheeses can be found here, along with pork pies, pickles and preserves.
Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Grainstore Brewery has won several awards for beers like Rutland Bitter and GB Best, as well as its ciders. Enjoy them in the brewery tap, which hosts regular live music and beer festivals. Brewery tours also available.
Here you can find over 150 different varieties of cheese, many of which are sourced locally from Leicester and the surrounding counties. Included among them are White Stilton, Beauvale, Bosworth Field and Smooth Blue.
Open since the early 1970s, this traditional butcher supplies many of the region's pubs, including The Chequers, and specialises in Lincolnshire sausages, haslet and meat pies. The shop also sells locally baked bread, Bailey's pork pies, local Stilton and fruit and vegetables.
Founded in 1911, the award-winning cheese made at Long Clawson follow the same traditional methods. The factory shop is open two days each month selling a selection of the dairy's speciality cheeses including Blue Stilton, Blue Shropshire and Aged Leicestershire Red.
Sister pub to The Chequers, this friendly village pub close to the A1 serves excellent food and local ales as well as hosting regular jazz nights and live music.
An ale house since 1700, this former Elizabethan farmhouse oozes country-house charm with period furnishings and crackling fires in Jacobean fireplaces. Local ales, fine wines, seasonal menus using local ingredients, and landscaped gardens.
1 Inn Location - The Chequers
Choose from two challenging Championship 18-hole courses and a nine-hole course (the ninth hole on the Lakes Course is one of the longest in Europe). The Woodside is an inland links-style course.
Four floors of vintage and antiques, including restored record players and homeware and accessories from the 1950s to 1980s.
The Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair is probably the ultimate place to hunt for that elusive item - it's the largest event of its kind in Europe - and it really needs to be experienced to be believed. The Newark and Nottinghamshire Showground is an enormous 84-acre site, with up to 2,500 stands attracting thousands of dealers and buyers every other month.
Rather wonderful shop selling vintage-inspired handmade frocks, including wedding dresses, off the rail or made-to-measure.
An eclectic mix of design-led greeting cards, lifestyle accessories, gifts, china and homewares.
Nottingham has everything you'd expect from a city, heritage and history, all the high street names and lots of independent shops.
A treasure chest of delightfully unique and original things, Le Chien et Moi offers an ever-changing collection of antique, vintage and recycled pieces, carefully sourced from around the world. Even the shop fittings are beautiful, and the perfect backdrop for this selection of Portuguese stationery, handmade ceramics, fragrances from Europe, jewellery produced in Nottingham, and Japanese cards. The website is lovely, too.
Retaining the facade of the George Hotel, this little shopping centre has a mixture of independent and high street shops.
Stocking ladies’ clothes and accessories from all over the world, including unique and unusual pieces.
Stamford, sometimes described as ‘the finest stone town in England’, has some great buildings and plenty of independent shops.
Places to visit
Pronounced 'Beaver', the castle occupies a romantic hilltop setting. It has been the home of the Manners family for 500 years and seat of the Dukes of Rutland for more than three centuries. The castle's splendid staterooms are open to the public and include many fine works of art.
One of the most scenic features of this corner of the country, Rutland Water is home to an internationally famous nature reserve, one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in Britain, regularly accommodating over 20,000 waterfowl.
Lincolnshire's nationally acclaimed 'lost gardens' are a must for all serious horticulturalists as well as those who simply like to visit grand gardens to admire all the hard work done by other people. Here, 400 years of gardening have produced stunning results - carpets of snowdrops in February, for example - and a tranquil atmosphere.
Burghley House, Stamford PE9 3JY
With appearances in highly successful movies such as The Da Vinci Code and Pride & Prejudice, Burghley House at Stamford is one of the region's most famous visitor attractions. It's also one of the largest and grandest houses of the first Elizabethan era.
Sir Isaac Newton, born here in 1642, made many of his most important discoveries about light and gravity here during the plague years of 1666-7. The manor house is furnished as a 17th-century farmhouse, and you can still see, from the bedroom window, the famous apple tree that inspired his thoughts on gravity. The Science Discovery Centre allows you to explore some of his ideas for yourself.
Considered to be the most complete example of an English country house, despite its relatively small size, Belton was always designed to impress. Set in 36 acres of formal gardens and 1,300 acres of deer park, it was begun in 1685 with each subsequent generation of the Brownlow family leaving their creative mark on the building. The work of leading designers, artists and craftsmen can be seen throughout, with Grinling Gibbons carvings, Edward Goudge plasterwork and one of the most significant historic silver collections in the country.
In the beautiful setting of Navigation Wharf in Sleaford, this former seed warehouse is a surprising home for British craft and design. This is the largest venue in England entirely dedicated to the exhibition, celebration, support and promotion of national and international contemporary craft and design. The five gallery spaces showcase up to 20 world-class exhibitions every year, and there's a great shop as well.
It might not look like a traditional castle, but that's what it's been called for about 800 years, since the first castle was built during the reign of King John (1199-1216). The original defensive tower still forms part of the building. It was enlarged in the 1540s to host a visit from Henry VIII and, although there have been many structural changes to the house since then, the footprint of the building is largely unchanged. The collection includes tapestries, furniture, ceramics and paintings.
Geoff Hamilton, known to many from the BBC's Gardeners' World, created 39 individual gardens on this eight-acre site, so there's plenty to see and take inspiration from. Geoff was a pioneer of organic gardening and Barnsdale was his 'great experiment' in peat-free and chemical-free growing.
First used as a cricket ground in the 1830s, Trent Bridge held its first Test match in 1899. It is considered by many to be one of the best grounds in the world to watch cricket and is home to Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
The BBMF is the RAF's aerial display group comprising an Avro Lancaster (one of the only two that remain airworthy - the other is in Canada), a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane.The visitor centre is an opportunity to see these amazing and historic aircraft at close quarters and see the RAF BBMF technicians working to maintain them in airworthy condition. Access to the hangar is by guided tour only, led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteer guides.
Stamford PE9 2DL
Stamford, sometimes described as 'the finest stone town in England', has some great buildings and plenty of independent shops.
Lincolnshire is a great county for walking, with wide-open spaces and big skies. You might expect it all to be flat, but it isn’t – the Fens may be, but the Wolds and Vales offer an alternative. The county has over 2,500 miles of public rights of way, so there’s plenty of opportunity to explore; the County Council offer a series of leaflets. The area around Woolsthorpe by Belvoir is rural, with plenty of quiet, unspoilt countryside, as well as pretty villages and lovely churches. For something more challenging, try the Viking Way, a long distance path, which starts on the banks of the Humber in the north and winds its way through Lincolnshire to finish on the shores of Rutland Water, a total of 235km (147 miles). It passes through the Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the market town of Horncastle, the Lincolnshire Limewoods, Lincoln itself, the southern Lincolnshire Edge and the Kesteven Uplands before entering Leicestershire and Rutland. There’s also a nice circular walk from Woolsthorpe by Belvoir that takes in the Grantham Canal.
There’s a good selection of gentle routes, with flat country lanes and ancient bridleways. Further east, the Spa Trail follows the mid-section of the old Horncastle to Woodhall Junction railway line and part of the Horncastle Canal, so that’s pretty flat, and is suitable for horses and pushchairs as well as bikes. The traffic-free Water Rail Way takes the route of the former Lincoln to Boston railway. Nottinghamshire is the home of Raleigh cycles, so you might expect it to pay attention to its two-wheeled heritage, and you won’t be disappointed. Sherwood Forest is perfect for off-roading. This vast and beautiful area has many bridleways and cycle paths and no roads to worry about. The Ancient Sherwood Route takes you through the National Nature Reserve, and the Ancient Pine Route takes you on the edge of the forest and up to Sherwood Pines
In March, the Lincolnshire Horse Trials take place, followed by the Shire Horse Society’s annual show. The Nottinghamshire County Show in May features livestock competitions, dog agility displays and show jumping. The Gate to Southwell Folk Festival also takes place in May and consists of four days and nights of international roots and acoustic music. June’s Brocklesby Country Fair has dog show, stalls, country pursuits and equestrian events, with the month also featuring a 1940s weekend at Thorpe Camp – living history with re-enactors from all over the country, military and civilian vehicles, and lots of vintage things to buy. In August, Sherwood Forest Country Park is the venue for the Robin Hood Festival, which has been going for more than 30 years. Medieval re-enactors provide displays of fighting with quarter staffs and swords, archery, and traditional crafts, singing, dancing and storytelling. The East Midlands Chilli Festival, Newark, also takes place in August. The D. H. Lawrence Literary Festival in the author’s home town of Eastwood is in August/September, and includes talks, exhibitions, readings and workshops.
Location, Location, Location
Note that there are two Woolsthorpes hereabouts: the Chequers is in Woolsthorpe by Belvoir, three miles west of the A1 at Grantham; get there via the A607, turning right when you reach Denton village.
The nearest train station is Grantham (6 miles) – just over one hour from London King’s Cross.
Main Street,Woolsthorpe by Belvoir, Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, NG32 1LU
Lincolnshire Echo, March 2014
‘Quintessentially English, with the cricket pitch to prove it, The Chequers Inn at Woolsthorpe offers award-winning cuisine, a well-stocked bar and unspoilt views to keep diners, drinkers and dog walkers happy for hours. The Vale of Belvoir is where you’ll find this little gem. And while the drive may take you further afield, if it is an experience you’re after, you’ll definitely get one here. Open fires and plenty of character features make you feel at home in this 17th century pub.’