Tag Archives: River Trent

Staycation 2020 – North and South of the Humber

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.

 

The River Humber Suspension Bridge

Hull Humber Bridge

So we left the charming East Yorkshire town of Beverley and made our way back south for the return journey to Lincolnshire on the opposite side of the Humber but before crossing the bridge we called in at the visitor centre on the north side.

At a little over 2,220 metres long the Humber Suspension Bridge is the seventh largest of its type in the World.  This statistic used to be even more impressive because when it was first opened in 1981 it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the World for the next sixteen years and the distance by road between Hull and Grimsby was reduced by nearly fifty miles as a consequence of the construction.

The longest single span suspension bridge is currently the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan.

Humber Facts

A sad fact about the bridge is that it is a favourite jumping place for people committing or attempting suicide. More than two hundred incidents of people jumping or falling from the bridge have taken place since it was opened and only five have survived so it is a fairly reliable way of doing yourself in!  And it is surprisingly easy.   There is a footpath across the bridge, there is no barrier, the railings are no more than a metre high and there is no net to catch jumpers*.

As a result, plans were announced in December 2009 to construct a suicide barrier along the walkways of the bridge but this was never implemented with design constraints being cited as the reason but it probably had something to do with cost and now there is talk of installing a Samaritan’s Hot line on the bridge instead.

In 2010 a Samaritan’s Counsellor committed suicide by jumping off the bridge.

Humber Bridge

There is a visitor centre at the bridge but it is in urgent need of a bit of updating.  It is built in the Communist Brutalist style, aggressive and concrete but there are big plans and The Humber Bridge Board has submitted a planning notice to East Riding Council outlining details of the proposed new visitor attraction for the iconic landmark.

It includes a glass elevator and viewing platform designed to take tourists to the top of the bridge’s north tower, as well as a new visitor centre and hotel in the viewing area car parks.  Whether it will come to anything we will have to wait and see.

There was a pleasant walk from the car park down steep steps made muddy and slippery following a few days of rain so we carefully followed the well worn track down to the foreshore where we could fully appreciate the majesty of the bridge spanning the river.  Actually, the Humber isn’t really a river at all because for its entire length of only forty miles or so  after it originates at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Trent it is technically an estuary (I only mention this in case someone challenges me on this important point of detail).

River Humber

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.  That is a lot of water and the reason why if you jump off the bridge then you are going to die!

Eventually we left the visitor area and made for the toll booths and crossed the river for the second time and then made our way back to Grimsby past the port of Immingham to the north which handles the largest quantity of goods by weight in the UK and by day is an untidy, grimy place dominated by ugly petro-chemical works and soulless grey industrial buildings but by night is transformed into a glittering Manhattan skyline of tall buildings and bright lights and occasional dancing plumes of flames burning off excess gases which actually makes it all look rather attractive.

*According to Wikipedia the three biggest suicide black spots in the World are:

  • Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing, China
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
  • Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The three most popular suicide spots in England are the two hundred and fifty miles of London Underground, the one hundred and sixty metre high cliffs at Beachy Head in Sussex and the Humber Bridge.