I like going on holiday in England but as I get older and fuel gets more expensive I find driving tedious and frustrating. East Yorkshire has everything I need, the roads aren’t busy and it is only fifty miles away.
I have written about it before so just pictures this time.
Growing weary of the tedium of the lock-down and with holiday plans to Sicily in tatters we decided to meet with our friends and spend an evening together for a meal in a nearby pub. Kim tracked down an excellent deal of only £50 each for bed, breakfast and evening meal at a well recommended place with a two star AA rosette. Unlikely as it sounds owned by chef Colin McGurran who was a winner one time on ‘Great British Menu’.
It turned out to be a very good deal, placed on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, comfortable rooms, good views and an excellent meal. Kim had posh burger and I had East coast mussels.
The Hope and Anchor (above) is in the unfortunately named hamlet of Ferriby Sluice and is at the point where the River Ancholme drains into the Humber Estuary via a sluice gate and a set of locks. A hundred years or so ago it was a busy marina and a departure and return point for the leisure and packet boats that regularly used the Humber.
Boats have always left Ferriby (the clue is in the name). The Romans stopped here in Lincolnshire at the end of their great road, Ermine Street which linked London and Lincoln before continuing to the Humber and then crossed the river to the north bank to continue into Yorkshire. The Romans were famous for straight roads and the section from Lincoln to the Humber, a distance of thirty-five miles is one of the straightest in England.
Ferries on the Humber continued to be important until the construction of the Humber Bridge in 1981.
After breakfast we walked for a while along the banks of the River Ancholme butI have to say that it is not an especially thrilling or picturesque sort of place, a carpet of smelly algae on the river (thank goodness for coronavirus masks), a redundant cement works and a marine breakers yard. It does however have a National Historic Ship – The Amy Howson, a sloop that once worked the Humber and the Rivers and tributaries along the way to towns and cities as far apart as Grimsby and Sheffield.
It was rather chilly so we didn’t stay long this morning before driving across the River Ancholme and away along the south bank of the Humber.
This was a day for crossing rivers and driving west we crossed the Trent and then turning north the Ouse, the third and fourth longest rivers in England (after the Severn and the Thames). We were more or less at the point where they converge to form the River Humber. Other rivers contribute as well, principally the Don and the Aire and we crossed those as well.
Actually, the Humber isn’t really a river at all because for its entire length of only forty miles or so it is tidal so technically it is an estuary (I only mention this here in case someone challenges me on this important point of detail).
It may be one of the shortest rivers in England but it is also one of the most important as it deals with natural drainage from everything on the east side of the Pennines, the North Midlands and the Yorkshire Moors.
We rather rudely passed through Goole, Britain’s furthest inland port without stopping, I must go back and visit one day, but today we continued to the market town of Howden, a place that I have wanted to visit for some time.
Howden is a small historic market town lying in the Vale of York in the East Riding of Yorkshire, three miles north of the port town of Goole, it regularly features in lists of desirable places to live and is high up on a standard of living index. I liked it immediately and not just for the fact that it has free car parking.
All roads in Howden lead to the attractive Market Place next to the ruins of the sixteenth century Abbey and Minster, one of thirteen in the county of Yorkshire. Here is a curious fact, Howden was granted to the Bishop of Durham by William the Conqueror in 1080 and the town remained an enclave of Durham until 1846.
I imagine the Minster was once a fine building but it lost its status during the Reformation, was vandalised by Parliamentary soldiers in the English Civil War, the roof collapsed in 1696 and over the next hundred years or so the site was looted for its stone for alternative construction projects in and about the town and whilst the Minster lies in ruins the town has a network of streets with very fine Georgian buildings.
The Minster is currently undergoing restoration and we found it closed today which may have been due to the work or alternatively the dreaded coronavirus.
We found the town very agreeable and liked it very much so we walked the streets of the historic centre before stopping for coffee and cake at a town centre tea shop. We left in mid-afternoon and followed a route along the north bank of the estuary before crossing over the Humber Bridge back to North Lincolnshire which completed our quest of crossing all major rivers of the area.
While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.
On 26th July 2019 I was in Skipsea in Yorkshire just a few miles north of where I live…
Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…
The advance of the sea is relentless.
Every year along the Holderness coast nearly two metres of coastline is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there where they don’t want it whilst it takes it away from here where they do.
Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).
The minster is famous for its carvings of medieval musical instruments. There are over 70 such carvings, illustrating instruments that are familiar to modern viewers, but also a variety of unusual medieval instruments. Among the carvings are depictions of bagpipes, flutes, pipes, organs, tambourines, shawms, cymbals, trumpets, lutes, and more.
I have mentioned before that when I was a boy I used to collect I-Spy books which were small paperback volumes that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Each book covered a subject such as I-SPY Cars, I-SPY on the Pavement, I-SPY on a Train Journey, and so on and so on.
The object was to be vigilant and spot objects such as animals, trees, policemen, fire engines, sea shells etc. etc. and they were recorded in the relevant book, and this gained points. More points were available for the more difficult spots. Once you had spotted everything and the book was complete, it could be sent to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and an order of merit.
Why do I mention this here you ask? Well, I-Spy books may well have been a bit of trivial pastime but I actually think that they were useful in developing an enquiring mind and even now I am always looking to I-Spy something interesting or different.
I spotted this at Flamborough Head – the face of a lady in the white chalk cliffs. Can you see her?
This post is going to be about a retraction and an apology and a very large slice of Humble Pie!
I first visited the East Coast seaside town of Bridlington in October 2015 and I didn’t enjoy it one single bit and ever since I have been rather harsh and scathing about the place. It wasn’t an especially nice day with no sunshine and at the harbour the tide was fully out leaving it a horrible muddy mess with boats stranded on the clay and silt. Three children pestering to visit the beach front amusements didn’t help either so we had a very poor portion of fish and chips and an overpriced ice cream and then promptly left and moved on to nearby Filey which as I recall was a lot better.
I vowed that I would never ever return to Bridlington and ever since I have shared my unflattering reviews about the town and warned friends about going there – even those just thinking about going there.
Now I was in nearby Skipsea Sands and looking for something to do for the morning before inevitable beach time in the afternoon and I suggested to Kim that we take a ride to nearby Bridlington so that she could see for herself just what a dirty, ugly place it is. Based on what I had said about the place she thought that I was crazy but agreed anyway. It took about thirty minutes to drive there and then another thirty to find a car park with spaces available and I wondered why so many people would visit this place which from memory was somewhere to be avoided at all costs.
Anyway, we parked up and walked to the harbour and I was shocked to discover a really charming waterside, the tide was in and the boats were lolling in the water, children were crabbing and people were strolling around the walls in the sunshine. Kim wondered if I had ever been to Bridlington before as it certainly didn’t match my unfavourable review of the place. It helped that the sun was shining, the tide was fully in and the children are older now and weren’t too bothered about visiting the funfair.
So we spent an enjoyable hour around the harbour, had an ice cream (still expensive but I was ready for it this time), watched the boats coming and going, rows of unsuccessful fishermen optimistically casting their lines and people avoiding the seagulls plotting attacks and looking to thieve fish and chips from unwary seafront diners and then we moved on.
The Old Town is about a mile away inland and I didn’t even go there on my last visit so we went there now. Free Parking! Where can you find Free Parking these days? Answer – Bridlington Old Town and by now I was feeling so guilty about what I had said previously.
The historical centre of Bridlington is absolutely wonderful.
A cobbled street of rapid decay locked into a bygone age, the shop windows are grubby, the displays are many decades out of date, the window frames are flaking and pock-marked, no wonder then that they choose this location for filming the remake of the comedy series ‘Dad’s Army’ in 2014. Being a huge ‘Dad’s Army’ fan I was really happy about wandering along this special street and made a note to watch the film when I was back at home. And I did!
At the end of the High Street in the historical centre we found ourselves at Bridlington Priory soaring high into the blue sky and my burden of guilt got a whole lot heavier. What a wonderful place this was with a patient guide that helped the children with a hunt for difficult to spot mouse carvings, a prize even though they didn’t find them all themselves and a free cup of tea for Kim and me and lemonade for the girls.
In the days of its medieval glory, Bridlington Priory was one of the great monastic houses of England. Its wealth and possessions made it a key monastery in the North, one of the largest and richest of the Augustinian order.
The Priory is just a church now and a fraction of its previous size courtesy of the insistence of Henry VIII that it should be demolished in 1537 to remove the potential Catholic pilgrimage site of Saint John of Bridlington. St John enjoyed a reputation for great holiness and for miraculous powers and was the last English saint to be canonised before the English Reformation and Henry didn’t like that.
We eventually left Bridlington and made our way to nearby Flamborough Head which, where it happens, is where the final scenes of the ‘Dad’s Army’ film were set. The fictional Home Guard platoon is based in the South of England and Flamborough Head provided a good alternative because it has the only ridge of chalk cliffs in the north of England. We spent an hour or so there down on the beach and climbing the cliffs before leaving and returning to the holiday park.
As I started this post I finish it with an apology to Bridlington, it is a fine place and I was completely wrong in my first assessment four years previously.
I mentioned previously that there was no direct access to the beach from the caravan park at Skipsea Sands because coastal erosion has washed away the cliffs and the road and the pathways so the only way to get to the sand and the water was down a set of muddy steps that local residents have helpfully cut into the clay.
It is unlikely that these will be there next year because the village of Skipsea sits precariously on Yorkshire’s East Riding coast which is said to be the fastest eroding coastline in Europe. Since the Doomsday Book was completed in 1086 twenty-six villages along this stretch of coast have been lost to the sea. Cutting new steps to the beach is an annual job.
The advance of the sea is relentless. Every year along the Holderness coast nearly two metres of coastline is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there whilst it takes it away here.
Local residents persistently call for the local authorities to erect and maintain sea defences but this is just not financially viable (after all, it isn’t in the south of England), the area is officially designated as a zone of ‘no active intervention’ and it is inevitable that another twenty houses and a fish and chip shop will soon be lost to the waves. The Local Council is like King Canute and cannot control the sea.
These are houses that were built as recently as 1985 and at that time had long gardens and a road running the front but that seems rather foolish now. There were once houses on the other side of the road too but they had already gone which should perhaps have acted as a warning to the people who bought these properties as holiday homes. An especially violent storm in the winter of 2008 took the road away and the waves have gnawed away at the soft clay cliffs every year since.
Erosion is a problem along the east coast of England. When I was a boy we used to have family holidays in a chalet at a place called Walcott-on-Sea in the county of Norfolk. Every year that we went there were a few cottages missing as they had fallen over the cliff into the sea during the winter storms. Luckily ours, which was owned by a man called Mr Bean was furthest away from the cliff edge so each year before we left mum and dad could always book a week there the following year with some degree of confidence that it would still be there and they wouldn’t lose their deposit.
This is Walcott-on-Sea…
I came across an official looking man in a hard hat and a high visibility jacket who was taking photographs and making notes. His name was Brian and I asked him about the erosion. He explained to me that the problem is that this coastline really shouldn’t be here at all because it is made up of unconsolidated soft clay and small stones called glacial till that were scooped up from the sea bed by a glacier during the last ice age and dumped here as the ice eventually melted and receded north about ten thousand years ago. It is just soft clay with the consistency and the look of a crumbly Christmas Cake that simply cannot resist the power of the waves. In that that time an area of land twelve miles wide has been eroded away and returned to the sea bed where it came from.
He pointed north to Flamborough Head about fifteen miles away where there is an exposed coastline of white chalk cliffs and explained that that was the real coastline of East Yorkshire but where we were standing it was buried under several feet of the boulder clay.
At the bottom of the steps were the remains of Second-World-War coastal defences, concrete pill-boxes that seventy years ago were on top of the cliffs but are now on the shore-line.
As we walked along the beach we searched the base of the cliffs for any fossils and the children were delighted to discover a rock which easily split in two and revealed the remains of sea shells that had been left here by the glacier all of those years ago. I couldn’t help wondering what this beach might look like in another fifty years time and I suggested to the children that they remember to come back at that time to see how different it might be then. One thing for sure the caravan that was our temporary home this week is most unlikely to still be there.
Skipsea is only a small village in East Yorkshire but there is more to it than just the beach so after we had tidied ourselves up and shaken the sand from our sandals we walked out now towards the village with a promise to the girls of some ice cream. Funny how a simple incentive like that can convince them to go for a long walk!
We didn’t take the direct route but instead took a coastal path through a cornfield and dangerously close to the severely eroded cliffs.
Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…
After a rather circuitous route we made our way into the village and after some helpful advice from local children found the church and the castle.
The church was closed of course. I remember when I was a boy on holiday with my family that churches were always open and my Dad would stop and visit them all, but it is a sad state of affairs now and a reflection on modern society that churches are mostly locked to protect themselves against theft and vandalism.
The children were beginning to nag now about when they would get their ice cream so after a quick circumnavigation of the churchyard we carried on to the castle.
Not much of a castle it has to be said, just a huge grassy mound in a farmer’s field because it was demolished over seven hundred years ago on account of having no strategic or military value. The children were not impressed and neither I suspect was Kim.
Close by was the village shop where the girls got their ice cream and next door was a pub where I got a glass of beer.