Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Driffield Navigation by Kayak - Brigham

Driffield Navigation (Part 8)
August 2011

This post brings us to the end of our exploration of the upper reaches of the Driffield Navigation. We left Snakeholm Lock with its endless straight channel and then just as tedium set in the character of the navigation changed. Gone were the high banks and ruler straight lines and it their place came tree lines sweeping bends - much more interesting.

Upstream from Brigham

This "river section" brought us into the hamlet of Brigham, complete with its brand spanking new swing bridge. This is also the main mooring site in the area for small pleasure cruisers and the local sailing club with their distinctive punt like boats which race each Sunday on the two mile pound downstream.

Moorings downstream from Brigham

As we had pretty much run out of drinking water I wandered off up the lane to where a cottage was being rebuilt and, finding a standpipe in the garden, begged a couple of pints. I got talking and discovered that there is a bit of a tale to the bridge, which was installed at great expense in 2003. The bridge replaced a fixed bridge with replaced the older swivel bridge in 1970. The new bridge was built and located on its swivel only for one of the locals to stride up armed with a tape measure and declare that it was too narrow to accommodate the combine harvester. 

Thinking caps were applied and the sides were removed and then splayed out on six inch cantilevers on each side which provided the necessary clearance - just! 

Brigham's new swingbridge

After the reinstatement of a swing bridge at Brigham and the refurbishment of Wansford Lock the restoration team must have felt that they were on the home straight. The project is oh so nearly there with just Wansford Bridge standing between the boats and Riverhead - I am sure it will get there in the end.

Canalside cottages

Downstream there are more non tidal waters to explore - a couple of miles to Struncheon Hill Lock, a mile or so up Frodingham Beck and a couple of miles up West Beck. Plenty to explore another time and a decent gravel slipway at Brigham - perfect for kayaks or trailboats.

Of course, even when fully restored, accessing this lovely little navigation will be a challenge. I know some narrowboats have made the tricky Humber crossing, but its not a route for the faint hearted. 

You can find a short history and contact details re navigating this waterway here.

In the words of Arnie - "I'll be back".

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