This time it’s about the Humber

A river, an estuary

Home to a great dragon.

Wight of the mud thick waters, danger hidden in the depths,

Taker of fools, unwise enough to not read the signs 

(they clearly say the tide comes in fast).

Your waters rise above the land.

Bringer of prosperity, gateway to the kingdom.

Deep water and open seas to the east, where once great fleets roamed.

Fresh water rivers to the west, lazy with silt and weeds.

Banks hemmed in by human need, 

filling you with filth, the by-products of human greed.

Sickened, the river dragon hides, and thrashes in the depths,

Waiting for the day 

when they can break the walls and cover again the land reclaimed.

I told you it was terrible.

The Humber is a large estuary that forms the northern border of Lincolnshire; it is home to the UK’s largest port – Immingham and Grimsby – and along it’s banks are several chemical factories and two refineries. When I was young the river was terribly polluted, then environmental legislation forced the factories to clean up their output – they dumped straight in to the river. In recent years, the strong tide on the river has lead to research in tidal and wave energy generation and the south bank has plans to be a centre of off shore wind farming. I’m not sure how the policies of the current government will effect those plans.

Cleethorpes carnival 002Cleethorpes beach in summer, pier in the distance 2012 Copyright R.Cawkwell

The banks of the Humber are solidified with sea walls until it gets to Cleethorpes, where the beach takes over. This is a SSSI area, which means no bait digging for the fishermen. Cleethorpes gets a lot of tourists in the summer; they don’t read the warning signs or watch the tide and every few years someone dies. During winter storms people sometimes go to the sea front to watch the big waves, which is horrendously dangerous. I’ve been fishing on the seafront when a small storm has come in, we backed away as the tide came in and the waves started to get higher, finally covering the spot we’d started in. We were on the promenade, not on the beach, and the waves reached the top of it. When there’s a major storm the only place you should be watching from is one of the flats on the sea front, above the chippys.

3834485_5f16daa1   The River Trent and Alkborough Flats

Alkborough Flats are deliberately flooded to relieve pressure further up the Trent and Ouse. 2014
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Jonathan Thacker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

At the other end of the Humber is the confluence of the Ouse and Trent, tidal rivers that enter the Humber near the Alkborough Flats. The Humber is more correctly called an estuary, but is commonly referred to as the River Humber. I’ve been to Alkborough; it was quite affecting. There is a footpath along the high ground, overlooking the rivers. There are some interesting archaeological sites, including Julian’s Bower. This is an earth cut labyrinth. There is also Countess Close (National Monument No. 32622; North Lincolnshire Sites and Monuments Record (NLSMR) No. 44), an earthwork further along that was originally thought to be a Roman fortification, but is now thought to be the remains of a mediaeval fortified manor house.

River Dragon UPG

I called the river a dragon in my poem because I feel the wight, or spirit, of the river is a dragon. iridescent blue with red tips to their ears and wings. They are sometimes ‘she’, sometimes ‘he’ but most often ‘they’. They’re pretty friendly to humans, at the minute although their patience isn’t endless and about thirty years ago they were very angry. Right now they have decided to see how things fall out, given the improvement in water quality. They would like the walls taking down in places though, they feel imprisoned.


Random Humber bits

The name Humber is so old nobody knows what language it comes from.

According to Harald Hardrada’s Saga, when his fleet approached the Humber to invade in 1066 a seer warned Harald of a dragon and an old woman who guarded the river and the land.


So, that’s my river, who gets offerings along side the gods, because they are important to the area. To give you some idea of how Humber looks to me, I’ve found the most marvellous picture, on Deviant Art. Copyright of course belongs to the artist Ruth Taylor.

For Humber, their horns  need to be red, but other than that, it’s quite close.