Humber Estuary, Lincolnshire

See how one of the largest tidal estuaries in Britain provides a vital food source for migrating birds

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The Humber is one of the largest river estuaries in England. The diverse natural history of this dynamic landscape can be seen today with waterways, woodlands, grassland and wetlands providing a haven for wildlife.

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A Bridging the gap
Park at the Waters’ Edge Country Park, and cross the bridge over Barton Haven. Upon reaching the Humber, turn left, passing beneath the Humber Bridge. The fourth largest single-span suspension bridge in the world was designed to cross the last major non-bridged estuary in Britain. This section of the walk follows the Viking Way, which covers 147 miles from Barton to Oakham near Rutland Water. On the left, note an old tile yard. Immediately beyond is Far Ings National Nature Reserve.

B On the tiles
The complex of lakes and reedbeds forms part of a string of lakes – a result of the tile and cement making industry, which flourished between 1850 and 1950. Many abandoned tile yards left old clay workings bare, which then filled naturally with freshwater. Specialist species such as bittern, bearded tit and many invertebrates need these extensive reedbeds to survive.

C Hide and seek
After a walk around the reedbeds, rejoin the bank path. Just beyond the Reeds Hotel, join the path that drops down to your left and enter the Far Ings reserve. Follow the path to Ness End Farm Regional Office. A detour across the road takes you to Blow Wells Pits, dug in 2001 for the restoration of a former industrial site in Barton. Water voles are often seen in the surrounding streams and drains. Return to Ness End Farm car park, go through the gate and cross the field to Ness Hide, an ideal location for spotting kingfishers, great crested grebes and marsh harriers.

D Right on Target
Continue in a clockwise direction to Target Lake. In early spring, swallows, martins and swifts congregate, feeding on insects over this sheltered pit. Upon reaching the Humber bank, continue westerly to the Chowder Ness Managed Realignment Site. The sea wall of this 50-acre site was breached in August 2006 to create saltmarsh and mudflat habitats, attracting spring migrants such as avocets, greenshanks and whimbrels.
Head back in an easterly direction. After a few hundred metres, take the path, right, that drops down into the reserve. Continue through the North Meadows and the path will lead you back to the Humber bank, where you left it originally. Retrace your steps to the charming market town of Barton.

Useful Information

HOW TO GET THERE
Barton-upon-Humber lies on the south side of the Humber Bridge, off the A15. The town has a train station.

FIND OUT MORE
Far Ings National Nature Reserve & Visitor Centre
01652 637055

EAT
The Honey Pot
Waters’ Edge Visitor Centre, Maltkiln Road, Barton-upon-Humber DN18 5JR
01652 635252
Serves locally sourced organic produce.

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STAY
West Wold Farm House
Deepdale, Barton-upon-Humber DN18 6ED
01652 633293