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River Ancholme

End of the road: Harlam Hill Lock and footbridge.

Snitterby Bridge.

Further south the Ancholme passes the remains of the Caistor Canal. William Jessop carried out a survey for the route in 1792 and Robert Dickenson was the engineer during construction in 1795. Opening in 1800, the route ran for 4 miles towards the town of Caistor passing through six locks; the remains of five can still be seen today. Not long after opening, proposals were sought for an extension to Market Rasen but not executed. The Caistor Canal was finally abandoned in 1936 and is no longer navigable. However, it is maintained by the Environment Agency to aid flood defences around the South Kelsey district. Brandy Wharf is often a hive of activity along this otherwise quiet waterway. A public slipway allowing launch and recovery of small craft can be found within the grounds of the Brandy Wharf Leisure Park. A small charge is made for its use, along with a modern facilities block. As well as good camping facilities, the leisure park also provides limited moorings and, during the summer, operates a trip-boat.

Brandy Wharf to Bishopbridge The last of Rennie’s impressive iron bridges is at Snitterby, though unfortunately this cannot be used by the general public as it allows private access to a farm. However, there is a towpath on this section offering good views of the structure. A short distance upstream is Harlam Hill Lock and the by-pass weir, constructed to allow the fast flowing flood waters from the River Rase, which join the Ancholme at this point, to disperse. In 2004 Harlam Hill Lock, formally known as Snitterby Carr Lock, was reopened to navigation following 25 years of dereliction. Sadly, the lock Summer 2017 016 river ancholme SH.indd 19

was closed again, on safety grounds, in 2012. As such, boating the top 2 miles to the head of navigation at Bishopbridge is now impossible. The name of this small hamlet derives from a former medieval bridge constructed for the Bishop of Lincoln. Previously, 48-hour visitor moorings were available on a quay with grassy banks and interpretation boards, making this a pleasant spot. Beyond here the Old Ancholme resembles no more than a ditch winding its way through the countryside towards Spridlington. There were once grand plans to connect it with the River Witham by way of a 14-mile long navigation but, despite the route being authorised, it was never constructed. The River Ancholme’s waters may be limited, the flood banks high and, in parts, the depth shallow, but if you give this out-on-a-limb waterway a chance you will discover one of rural Lincolnshire’s hidden gems. The joys are not so much in navigating the straight waters but in the surroundings and, to quote the famous phrase, “it is not the destination but how you get there that counts”.

Navigation Authorities Associated British Ports www.humber.com, 01482 327 171 The Environment Agency www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Further Reading

• Cruising Guide to the North East Waterways, The Ripon Motor Boat Club • Northeast Waterways, Derek Bowskill • Tidal Havens of The Wash & The Humber, Henry Irving

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IWA Waterways Magazine - Summer 2017  
IWA Waterways Magazine - Summer 2017