Thursday 30th November 2023
RIVER ANCHOLME & SOUTH FERRIBY
South Ferriby, Middlegate Lane, Horkstow Hall, River Ancholme, Ferriby Sluice, A1077, River Path, South Ferriby Hall, South Ferriby (Nelthorpe Arms) (5.5 miles).
Members; John, Paul, Chris and Keith.
On this cold and icy morning, we were heading for the Humber Bridge and into North Lincolnshire. Admittedly, we’d only be a few miles into North Lincolnshire—South Ferriby, to be exact—but it’s still in Yeller Belly country. It took us a while to negotiate our way through the morning rush hour, but once clear of the Humber Bridge, it was plain sailing.
Our pub of choice today would be the Nelthorpe Arms in South Ferriby, and luckily it has a large car park that is also used by the local residents, so we knew parking wasn’t going to be an issue. Just before 8.30, we were ready for the off on this wintry day. John seemed to be struggling to get his his rucksack on until it was pointed out that it was actually Paul’s rucksack he was wrestling with. As Chris remarked, “There’s the first paragraph written already.”
It was very icy underfoot, so we gingerly made our way from the pub car park up to Horkstow Road. As seems to have been the pattern recently, the first climb of the day would be the steepest. Although relatively short in distance, it soon gets the blood flowing, and by the time we reached the Viking Way footpath on Middlegate Lane, we were all glowing inwardly.
On this cold but very clear day, the views across the flatlands towards the rivers Trent and Humber, the Yorkshire Wolds to the north of us, and the distant Drax power station near Selby, were quite impressive. The rising sun behind us cast a golden glow over the surrounding countryside to the west and north of us. Perhaps not as spectacular as some Lakeland peak, but for North Lincolnshire, it counts as pretty good.
We followed the Viking Way (Oakham in Rutland to the Humber Bridge; 147 miles) for almost a mile before turning west and downhill to Horkstow Hall. Downhill is good most of the time, but when you’re on tarmac and it’s icy and steep, then it isn’t so good. Fortunately, there was a grass verge to the left of us, which at least gave us some grip to help keep us upright on this slippery road. Happily, we made it down to Horkstow Hall with no one coming a cropper.
After passing the hall with its impressive front entrance, we turned down Bridge Lane, heading for Horkstow Bridge and the River Ancholme. By now, the sun had disappeared behind a bank of threatening grey clouds, and not far down Bridge Lane, it began to snow, the first for us this winter. It wasn’t snowing heavily, but it was enough to quickly cover our path and surrounding fields. Once at Horkstow Bridge, it was decided it might be prudent to shelter under the bridge and have our break there. Knowing the walk of old, we knew it would be the best place for a bit of shelter, as there was really nothing else between here and Ferriby Sluice, a mile and a half distant.
It was cold but relatively dry, apart from the large drops of water dripping down between the gaps in the wooden decking above us. But, on a day like this, it was as good as it was going to get. As we were sat on a concrete embankment Keith didn’t need his portable seat, but he did discover another use for it as a makeshift table. All we needed was a passing wine waiter and we’d have been set up for the day.
By the time we’d finished our welcome brew and a bite to eat, the snow had just about stopped. Paul decided to put his rucksacks weatherproof cover to good use in an attempt to keep the worst of the wet out. It’s accessed by a zip, but no matter how many zips he unzipped, he couldn’t locate it. On the plus side, he did find a brush for cleaning the mud off boots, which he looked for in vain a fortnight ago. Perhaps his rucksack should have come with instructions.
From Horkstow Bridge, we followed the east bank of the River Ancholme. As we approached Ferriby Sluice, we passed by what is laughingly called a marina. Looking at the state of most of the river craft, all of which have been hoisted out of the river, if indeed they’ve ever been in it, a boat graveyard would be a more apt description. Many were on wooden blocks, looking forlorn and neglected, none more so than the old Scarborough Lifeboat. It may have been someone’s preservation project at one time, but it’s way past that point now. If that ever got put back in the water, you’d quickly need another lifeboat to rescue anyone foolish enough to try and sail on it.
From Ferriby Sluice, there used to be a footpath that ran from the back of the Hope & Anchor pub and along the south bank of the River Humber. Since the completion of the extensive flood prevention works in this area a couple of years ago, this section of the path has been closed. Now you have to walk alongside the busy A1077 for about half a mile before you can access the riverside path, not quite as pleasant as the river path route once was.
The cold wind blowing off the river certainly had a bite to it as we approached the riverside path. It definitely wasn’t a day to stop and admire the view across the river or to try and spot the wading birds that populate this part of the river. All that remained was for us to follow the path behind South Ferriby Hall and then re-join the Viking Way, which took us back into South Ferriby.
We arrived back at the pub car park with about 20 minutes to go before beer o’clock. We had a very pleasant hour or so in the Nelthorpe Arms before setting off home. It was a typical winter’s day walk—cold and icy at times and hardly conducive to hanging around for too long admiring the scenery. But for all that, it was still a great day out with good friends and plenty of banter and laughs. So, see you back here in a fortnight?