Tag Archives: village walks

Village Walks – Blow Wells and Watercress Beds

Old Watercress Beds 01

One of the positives of the lockdown is exploring discovering and researching our own local area.  We have lived in the village of Healing in North Lincolnshire for over two years but have really seen very little of it but with wider restrictions on travel we have been exploring the lanes and bridlepaths nearby.

Today we walked in a different direction because I wanted to find the redundant watercress beds which I had read were once numerous here and about.

Cress Cottage

The area was perfect for watercress production on account of the many underlying aquifers which brought spring water with a slight alkalinity, perfect for watercress from the chalk layers in the nearby Lincolnshire Wolds, just a few miles to the south. As well as the natural ‘blow wells’ bore holes were sunk to bring this pure alkaline water to the surface.

‘Blow wells’ are a type of groundwater spring and are a unique feature of North Lincolnshire. A blow well is a type of groundwater spring, which is seldom (if at all) found across the British Isles except for the coastal margins of Lincolnshire.

This a simple geological explanation (simple because I am not a real geologist).

Rain falling and percolating through the chalk of the Lincolnshire Wolds creates underground streams that flow under the marshland towards the Humber Estuary and becomes covered by impermeable compressed clay.  Under this heavy boulder clay the groundwater is under great pressure (artesian) and in certain conditions, where there is an opening in the clays from the chalk to the surface and there is sufficient downward pressure from the heavy soil above, the groundwater emerges – a ‘Blow well’.

Blow Wells Diagram

Today Anglian Water Company supplies water to North Lincolnshire by sinking bore holes several hundred feet deep to release the water from the chalk below (abstraction) before it flows away into the Humber and out into the North Sea.  Water here is not provided from surface reservoirs.

The watercress beds were built with a slight gradient and water was directed through a channel into the highest end and then allowed flow gently down the length of the bed before leaving through a narrow opening at the lower end. The watercress was gathered by hand and put onto wooden trays before being taken to a packing shed where it was divided into bundles, labelled and then the roots cut off. The bunches were then packed into wooden baskets, known as chips and transported by away for delivery to customers. The severed roots were returned to the watercress bed where they were replanted.

Healing Station

The site is near Healing Station, and much of the watercress produced was transported by train to towns throughout the North of England. However, as British Rail cut back on their freight services in the 1960s, the watercress trade at Healing was badly affected as it was much more difficult to get the cress to the town markets early enough by road (there was no motorway link until 1983) so commercial production of watercress at Healing finally came to an end in 1970.

Healing Station today is a village stop with infrequent trains but a hundred years ago was a busy commercial station with a goods yard  and a steady turnover of freight.  All gone now of course.

There is no watercress farming now either and the site is a nature reserve but watercress continues to grow in the dykes and drainage ditches that drain the land.  Kim challenged me to pick some for our salad but the ditches are steep sided and challenging and the water a little dirty so I got some from the supermarket the next day instead.

Water Cress in Dyke

Bagged watercress

Village Walks, My Latest Post

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Same Walk, New Pictures

A lovely Spring morning today so took a walk around the village Bridle Paths and saw …

A Woodland Path

A Pointless Gate

A Yellow Tree

A Dock Leaf, No Nettles (for Derrick)

A Hoof Print

A lonely Tree

A Drainage Ditch

A Wind Turbine

A Tractor Track

A Path and a Church

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Staying Closer to Home and Making Discoveries

Trees 001

The current lock down may be inconvenient but it does have some positives.

We have lived in the village of Healing for over two years but have really seen very little of it but with wider restrictions on travel we have been exploring the lanes and paths nearby.

There is good network of footpaths and bridle ways and there seems to no conflict with the local farmers about easy access even when they cut directly across farmland and crops. It is easy walking because much of the landscape of the parish is low-lying agricultural land and the sea level is just around fifteen feet and is drained by man-made drains.

Tree 004

We walked south today and covered a distance of almost eight miles, five miles across the fields and then three more back to the village along Wells Road.  In the Victorian period two mineral springs were discovered in the parish, one was fresh water, the other chalybeate (salts of iron) which were said to be effective in curing skin disorders.  The site of the springs, which still flow, is on Wells Road and the village is called Healing as a consequence.

The current spell of fine weather has encouraged Spring to accelerate and all along the trail the trees were beginning to burst into leaf…

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery…

The farmers around here take good care of the land and everywhere is mostly clean and tidy but someone always has to spoil it…

Fly Tipping

In the afternoon we sat in the garden and watched the seedlings growing.  Isolation is such good fun…

Seedlings 01

Later as afternoon tipped over into evening we followed the progress of the Pink Supermoon…

Full Moon

Amusing to think that fifty years ago man flew a quarter of a million miles to the moon but right now can’t leave the end of the road!