To the North

There is a lot of argument as to where “the North” is in England, but I think everyone agrees that Yorkshire definitely is the North. In 1978 and 1979, I had a job at Hull University working on the birds of the Humber Estuary. I moved to the small town of Hedon, just east of Hull and today’s ride took me there. First though was to enjoy myself pedalling through north Lincolnshire. The lanes here as everywhere are picturesque and beautiful.

A lane in Lincolnshire
The route today
Not many know there is oil under them there wolds. I did wonder about the economics of continuing to run these small wells – they pump the oil into a holding tank which is then taken away by road tanker presumably to the nearby Killingholme refinery, but in the background to this a generator was running, presumably to power this “nodding donkey” pump.
I seemed to be crossing the railway line all morning
Who knew that they grew grapes in north Lincolnshire?
A view from the top of the Lincolnshire wolds – Lincoln cathedral was clearly visible even after I had pedalled 53 km
Many roads were obviously much wider when they were used for droving livestock

Eventually the Humber Bridge came into view. This was at one time the longest single span suspension bridge in the world at a little over 2 km. It was being built at the time that I lived in Hedon, and if we wanted to visit the south bank of the Humber, we took the ferry. I know at least one person who was sea-sick on that ferry. The bridge was partly built with an eye to bringing more trade to Hull from the south of England, but the mooted motorway link southwards was never built. It was also built to try to unite the two sides of the Humber into the then county of Humberside. This creation of a county did not go down well north of the river where the east riding of Yorkshire did not want to be detached from their fellow Yorkshire tykes. I am not certain what the Lincolnshire “yellow-bellies” thought of the deal. Yorkshire has a greater population than Scotland – in other words it could be a country on its own. some of its proud citizens would prefer this to the sort of bureaucracy that created Humberside!

Approaching the bridge
Crossing the bridge – there is a good cycle/foot path on either side of the main carriageways. Many folk were out for a walk across the bridge, with some runners and a good number of cyclists

Hull is also fairly independently- minded – perhaps its most obvious feature to the external eye are the cream-coloured phone-boxes. These are because the then Hull (strictly Kingston-Upon-Hull) city council had set up its own telephone company and decided not to join the UK wide company (now BT) when it was formed, so never adopted the red colour for telephone boxes.

Hull’s distinctive phone boxes are cream-coloured

Although I did not travel further east than Hedon on this visit, the lands there where I worked were very like the flatlands of the fens, having also been claimed from the sea.

Mudflats at Saltend, 1978
My task was to count the birds out on the mud!
When the tide was in
It was cold in winter 1978-79
Shortly after I took this picture, I lost access to the area due to an even bigger dump of snow
The soil is good for all sorts of crop
My wading bird/ shore bird pictures from then are rubbish, but I liked this whinchat

The lasting highlight of my stay in Hedon has been the friends that I made. I had rented a terraced house in the grandly-named “The Boulevard” and my nearest pub was the Station run by a very friendly man called Dick Hargreaves. His style had attracted a group of very friendly locals who were kind enough to adopt a slightly odd ornithologist who enjoyed getting cold while staring through binoculars and telescope at remote dots on the mudflats. Even though I only lived here for a short while, several are still friends (sadly some have passed away) and Dave and Pauline kindly invited me to stay for the night. A reunion at the Station seemed appropriate. It was great to see them, and we were sad that a few others could not join us for good reason.

Meeting up at the Station, 40 years on: John, Barry, me Jayne, Dave and Sarah (younger than 40!)
Once this was home

Today’s statistics: 98 km, 1369 km overall. Ascent: 474 m, 12463 m overall. 5 tubs in fields, one new bird species – yellow wagtail, and I forgot to mention yesterday’s peregrine at Lincoln cathedral.

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