It is a gloomy day, although not too cold and the forecast was for rain all morning, however, for most of the walk it was dry. West Beck (the local name for the river Hull here) at this stage is still only about 14 m over the sea level, and its waters will only rise another 10-15 m in the springs around the village of Kirkburn, west of Driffield forming Eastburn and Southburn becks, which merge into Driffield Trout stream. Another set of springs arising between 20-30 m, NW of Driffield form around Elmswell Beck and after the Keld become Driffield Beck. Geologically, these springs sit at the base of the Yorkshire Wolds, in the interface between the porous Cretaceous chalk that forms the backbone of the Wolds and the impermeable Kimmeridge and Speeton clays that sit underneath it. The springs themselves and the becks described above are not public right of way.
I walk around River Head, with listed warehouses and mills witnesses of an era when Driffield flourished due to the canal traffic. Some of these are now converted into flats.
View from Riverhead, which is in fact the start of Driffield Navigation. The canal is fed by one of the river Hull tributaries, simply called 'The Beck', which runs across the middle of Driffield.
The Beck, upstream of Riverhead.
View of one of the listed warehouses by Riverhead. The crane to the left of the photo in the background is also listed.
Information panel on the Driffield Canal.
The canal is broad and shallow here, with transparent water and abundant aquatic vegetation. I spot several large Brown Trout in it. A male Muscovy duck displays to an indifferent Mute Swan on the canal.
Muscovy duck in hot pursuit of the Mute Swan.
Cormorant showing its good balancing skills on wires.Once the canal leaves town, the towpath on the side of the river is lined by fences and hedges, but occasionally I can get a glimpse of the river. The area, of riverside grassland, fen and swamp is called The Bottoms and the chalk stream is fished for Brown Trout and Grayling.
A bend of the river Hull (west Beck) visible from the towpath.
I see at least five Little Grebes between the canal and the river in this stretch. Here, one with a Mute Swan.
Little Grebe on the side of the canal.
A group of Fieldfares and Redwing.
I quickly arrive at Whinhill Farm, opposite to the end of last stage and turn round. It has started to drizzle. After the lock I count three Little Grebes in the canal. A Kingfisher flies past, settling just on the opposite bank and giving me some photo opportunities while it fishes.
A bull Highland cattle.
Loafing Black-headed gulls by the canal.
A Little Egret at River Head.
Pair of Mute Swans with Bell Mills island on the background.
A shallow chalk stream by the mills
Another view of West Beck near the Mills.
Bell Mills island on the right.
Bell Mills, which used to be a water mill. Now Bradshaw Flour Mill.
Bell Mills outflow
The end of the public right of way by Bell Mills island.
River Hull Headwaters. SSSI information.