Reporter Peter Thompson takes a look at one of the North Lincolnshire area’s best natural amenities
Messing about on the river! A pleasant summer pastime, whether it be on a boat from Glanford Boat Club, sticking your oar in at the rowing club, taking a dip on a hot day, angling or running in a nationally recognised triathlon.
The Market Rasen Mail’s circulation area covers much of the Ancholme’s course from Bishopbridge on the A631 in the south to Castlethorpe Bridge north of Brigg.
In a month when flooding has become a major issue nationally it has to be stated the Ancholme is a river where flooding dangers are greatly reduced by controls through Ferriby Sluicegates where the river enters the Humber. Thanks be for that!
The Ancholme is not a Thames or a Severn, no great length and about 20 miles from Harlam Lock to Ferriby Sluicegates.
The best known tributary is the River Rase, which flows from Market Rasen to join near ‘The Bell Inn’ at Bishopbridge. But any number of dykes join up with the main river.
The Ancholme ends its course as it feeds the Humber at South Ferriby.
The sluice gates are used to control the water discharge and when this happens the Ancholme can experience strong flows and large variations in water level.
When ‘Strong Streams Advice’ is in force, boat users are informed and advised about whether to navigate. Signs and flags can warn river users.
Waterborne transport has long been a feature of the Ancholme.
In the past, this was used to transport wool, wood, grain and coal and barges were once a familiar sight.
Today though the boats are mainly pleasure craft.
Much of the course of the Ancholme has been canalised and the straight stretch past the Ancholme Leisure Centre is one such location.
Coal Dyke End enabled boats in times past to unload their cargo at Cake Mills Bridge.
Growing up yards from the Ancholme’s banks, I have never ceased to be fascinated by the river.
It provides habitats for wildlife both water and land born creatures.
It has always been a popular river for fishing and today the Scunthorpe and District Angling Association seeks to ensure fishermen respect the river and its surrounds in where and how they catch their fish.
Boat users berth at such locations as Brandy Wharf Marina and Glanford Boat Club.
One missing facility on the river is a mooring point by the historic County Bridge in Brigg town centre.
What new opportunities would be opened up if this facility is created – to river leisure users and local businesses alike?
There are two locks on the Ancholme, at South Ferriby and more locally at Harlam Hill upstream of Brandy Wharf.
Special navigation keys are required to control the latter lock which has been stuck for a year.
There is a speed limit on the river of 7 miles an hour for boats, however from Glanford Boat Club to Bishopbridge that limit is 4 mph.
The Ancholme Rowing Club is one of Brigg’s oldest clubs and the blue and white club vest is a fantastic sight as rowers practice or take part in the Head of the River Race - sadly cancelled due to extreme weather conditions in 2013.
One leisure facility about to be developed is the creation of an official cycle path between the County Bridge and Castlethorpe Bridge.
In recent years the Environment Agency has concentrated their financial and manpower resources on key issues such as flood prevention.
There has been criticism locally at the failure to control duck weed on the river in mid summer and to cut back weed growth in the river and on the bank.
But the statutory and voluntary groups represented on the Ancholme Users Group, as well as the new River Trust, are keen improvements take place.
As 2014 dawns, the Ancholme has, I feel, a brighter future as a recreational facility, be it for the casual walker or cyclist, boat owner or angler, rower or canoeist, and the hundreds of lovers of wildlife.
There is after all nothing better than messing about on the river.