Moored craft at Glanford Boat Club on the ‘Old Ancholme’.
The White Hart at Brigg.
Although there is no constant towpath, walkers and cyclists will find many opportunities to explore the surrounding countryside. For those interested in long distance walking, the Viking Way starts near the Humber Bridge and follows the Ancholme Valley escarpment, affording excellent views of the flat lands of Lincolnshire. In the past this area has been a favourite spot for birdwatchers to observe Common Cranes and the Environment Agency has also reported sightings of otters close by. You don’t have to be too observant to realise this isolated waterway is a haven for all kinds of flora and fauna, and fishing is also very popular on the Ancholme. The long straight stretches continue, passing beneath the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway before reaching a water pipe bridge and the beautiful Broughton Bridge, which is open to traffic for Broughton Carrs Farm. The name ‘Carrs’ features prominently in the area and is given to land liable to flooding which, before the extensive drainage works, was a frequent occurrence. From the iron lattice girder style Castlethorpe Bridge, it is a short distance to the M180 motorway bridge and Brigg, where the water divides between the man-made section of the Ancholme and its old, natural route. The straightened section flows through much of the town’s former industrial areas, while the old Ancholme heads east around the town in a meandering navigable loop. The small island this creates is known as Island Carr and is home to Glanford Boat Club, formed in 1934. Public moorings can be found before the pretty rusticated stone County Bridge, which has public houses standing on both sides: the 200-yearold White Hart and the Nelthorpe Arms. Look out
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A former warehouse on the route of the ‘Old Ancholme’ at Brigg.
for the display board depicting former toll costs for using the bridge, which makes interesting reading and gives a glimpse into the sort of businesses that operated locally. The small market town of Brigg, once known as Glanford Brigg, was, before construction of Ferriby Sluice, one of the Humber fishing villages and a vital crossing point on the Ancholme. Ancient forms of dugout craft have been discovered here and one of these, dating from 900BC, forms the centre piece of the Brigg Heritage Centre. Based in a former coaching inn, there are displays relating to the history of the town and the Ancholme Valley, and admission is free. Brigg is a pleasant market town and is famous for its annual horse fair held on the first Saturday of August, which attracts vast crowds of Romany and Irish travellers to the town.
View north of the Ancholme’s straight course taken from Hibaldstow Bridge.
Brigg to Brandy Wharf Navigation beyond Brigg may be tricky in deeper drafted vessels and weed can also cause problems during summer, so this should be taken into consideration before proceeding. With the two navigable routes merged back together, the waterway passes close to Newstead Priory, once home to the Gilbertine Monks. Further along is Hibaldstow Bridge, which stands alongside the former RAF Hibaldstow, a satellite airfield for RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey. In 1941 this was home to No 255 Squadron and its Defiant night fighters. A parachute centre took over the base in 1992 and it is not unusual to see small aircraft releasing sky-divers from a great height, their colourful canopies swaying across the vast Lincolnshire skies. Summer 2017 19/04/2017 16:04