Work began on cutting the straight canalised, man-made New River Ancholme in the 17th century as part of a scheme to improve the drainage of the Ancholme Valley and to provide a navigable waterway. It took 200 years to complete. Once a proud river, you can see the original River Ancholme – a tributary of the Humber Estuary – meandering along the valley, although for most of its length it is now a simple field drain. Like its predecessor, the New River Ancholme has maintained a distinctly rural character, dominated by arable cultivation, isolated farms and woodlands.
Alight the bus at South Ferriby and walk along Sluice Road to Ferriby Sluice, a scheduled ancient monument. Built in 1842-4 by engineer Sir John Rennie as part of his improvement scheme for the Ancholme, it is a complex structure of drainage sluices with a sea lock for boats.
Turn left and pass the moored pleasure craft along the east side of the river. Many species of wild flowers find sanctuary around the mooring stages, including several locally scarce species such as marsh woundwort, meadow rue and hemp agrimony.
As you approach Horkstow Bridge, overhanging hawthorn trees flank the narrow path. Dating from 1834, the bridge is one of the earliest intact suspension bridges in the country, and it the only one known to have been designed by Sir John Rennie.
1 TWO MILES
A field path now leads to the wrought iron single span Saxby Bridge which is surrounded by carr land, an ancient term once used to describe semi-wooded, low-lying land, liable to flooding.
The route leads you back by the river’s edge. The bankside cover of scrub and reedbed hosts nesting mallards, great crested grebes, coots, waterhens, reed buntings, and sedge and reed warblers. Pass under a railway bridge and the first of two pumping stations where you may see lapwings and buzzards.
2 SIX MILES
From the railway bridge, note the woods that dominate the western skyline, forming part of the largest woodland complex in north Lincolnshire. The route passes by Broughton Bridge, an inverted suspension bridge with the wooded deck suspended on wrought iron rods from the pair of arched iron ribs spanning the river. From here to Castlethorpe Bridge, small, shallow bays have been excavated along the west bank as part of a conservation scheme to create wildlife habitats. The pleasing solitude here is shattered by the sound of traffic as you approach the concrete flyover that carries the M180 over the river.
3 NINE MILES
Photograph: © Copyright Ashley Lightfoot and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Beyond the flyover the river splits in two. Follow the footpath left by the original River Ancholme on its original course through the centre of Brigg. The New River Ancholme flows almost straight through some of the former industrial areas of the town. The two rivers create an island in the centre of Brigg, known locally as Island Carr. At the County Bridge, turn left into Market Place. Straight ahead is the tourist information centre. Turn left through Coney Court, back to
the car park.
This linear walk follows level, grassed stretches of riverside path, field boundaries
HOW TO GET THERE
BY CAR: Brigg is easily accessible off the M180, west of the A15 to Humber Bridge.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Stagecoach 450 service leaves Brigg at 0905 and various other staggered times from Brigg Cary Lane, at the back of the Old Courts Road car park.
10 College Yard, Brigg
Brigg Deli Diner
13 Wrawby Street, Brigg
Elsham Hall Gardens and Country Park, Brigg
Open weekends Easter-Sept, including bank holidays; every day during school holidays and for groups by appointment.
FIND OUT MORE
Brigg Tourist Information Centre
The Buttercross, Market Place, Brigg DN20 8ER