The morning weather girls on both main channels painted a dismal picture for today, I sat there at 07.30hrs and shook my head, the gods were against me and the bike today. The weather picture was really atrocious if riding a motorbike, which is just what my pal Barry and I had planned to do today the destination was going to be Tan Hill, the highest pub in England up there in North Yorkshire. So atrocious was the weather that Leeds Bradford airport was shut due to high winds as was part of the M62 due to high winds even the Humber bridge was shut to high sided vehicles and to cap it off there was heavy horizontal rain showers. I was about to ring my mate Barry to discuss conditions when the phone rang, it was himself ringing me! He painted an equally piss poor picture of the conditions especially from where he was stood in Keighley, reluctantly we agreed to cancel, he disappeared into his garage for the day to tinker with his Landi and I sat twiddling my thumbs for half an hour deciding what to do with myself. I sat looking out of the window at the big truck and said to myself..”Looks like its me and thee again”! I ate my banana bagel and coffee, got washed and dressed sorted a camera..phone.. wallet ..map book..glasses and locked the door behind me, Julie had already gone for the day, she had some pampering sessions planned.
I head towards Normanby Park just south of the Humber estuary and in some really nice empty countryside. The big dirty clouds moved quickly from west to east and the howling winds still blew strong as had done all night. I turned off the main road near Gunnes and picked a little road following the Trent River to Flixborough. I paused on the upside of the ridge line for a couple of minutes, this ridge ran from here at the Humber right down to Lincoln. The photo above shows me just climbing the ridge with Scunthorpe away to the left out of picture and spot the M180 is in the distance. To rub it in the sun came out for long spells now, in fact if it wasnt for the wind it would have been quite warm.
I turned down little back road going nowhere in particular, Julie and I do this all the time, it’s the best way to explore, one can happen upon little gems frequently. I remembered a hamlet near the Humber estuary and decided to meander in its direction, a little place called Whitton.
The Humber Estuary at Whitton.
The estuary and the marsh land is a haven for wildlife, many years ago it was drained and farmed, back in the 1800 century I believe. Whitton is at the very end of this tiny road, it actually ends at the above photo. The village is thought to be on the sight of an old Roman fort and old remains from a Roman burial ground was found in someone garden a while ago.
The Church in Whitton is thought to be very Romanesque with touches of the Norman about it and was rebuilt around 1797 so god only knows how old the original was, not even the 166 folk of Whitton know either I bet!
The villages and hamlets are very pretty and worth exploring, I turned around and head towards Winteringham and Alkborough. It was here that there was a commanding view over the estuary and its here that three rivers meet..The Humber..Trent and Ouse, you can just make out The Wolds over 60 miles away and of course the 3 power stations, Drax , Ferry Bridge and Eggborough, they stick out like sore thumbs over the huge flat landscape over in that part of Yorkshire.
The area around below me is known as The Flats, its been made into a huge floodplain in recent years with a man-made break in the defences to help stem the flooding miles inland along all three rivers. On the photo you can see at my feet a small and unusual turf maze, this is called Julians Bower, it’s really a Labyrinth if one was being pedantic! Nobody is too sure about putting a date to it, but they range from Medieval to Saxon to Roman, I guess the earlier they say it is the more important and the higher the status of the village, but hey thats just the cynical part of me seeping through again! Nobody seems to know for certain is the bottom line.
The houses in the villages and hamlets here are all so very different and quirky, bits of old stone, brick and boulder are cobbled together with newer buildings to give interesting looks. Alkborough like the rest of these villages and hamlets hasn’t got a shop but does have a pub even if it’s the Conservative club. Not bad for a place of less than 455 inhabitants!
Next stop is the very pretty village of Burton Upon Staithes, a much large village with plenty of newer houses on the outskirts and a population of 2737, it was so at the last count in 2001 has a couple of shops and several pubs! During the war they tested Duplex drive tanks in the Trent river, these were the Sherman tanks fitted with a huge sealed rubber skirt that allowed them to drive into the sea from the landing ships and float!
A Sherman Tank with the rubber skirt in the lowered position.
The engine drive switched to two propellers ( hence the name duplex drive) this allowed them to sail and drive up the beaches on D-Day. Less than 30 miles away the first ever tanks were made in Gainsborough and probably why they chose here to test the new invention.
Shermans with skirts raised crossing the Rhine river in Germany
The two photos Ive added from the internet to show you Im not making it up! 50 ton battle tanks really could float in the right conditions!!
I was heading towards Keadby now and intended to follow the River Trent along the narrow road all the way up to Gainsborough. The sun had been out more than in and made for a surprisingly pleasant morning in spite of the strong winds.
The is the road and rail bridge at near Gunness that spans the River Trent, it’s the A18 Doncaster to Scunthorpe road. The bridge is a Grade II listed building and was built-in 1916. It’s a Schurzer Rolling lift Bridge, you knew that anyway right?! The right hand span was the section that used to go up and down it, which it hasn’t done since 1956 and is now locked in the down position.
Wave after wave of heavy vicious showers swept across me now, I couldn’t dodge anymore on these super straight back roads, the Landi really rocked as the winds hit me. I’m glad I’m not on the bike today after all its far too strong and would have been very dangerous.