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Can You Walk Across the River Humber ?

Can You Walk Across the Humber ?
Is it possible to walk across the River Humber at low tide . . . ?

If you live in Yorkshire and gaze longingly across the Humber Estuary to the Golden Shire of Lincolnshire you could be forgiven for being so desperate to escape and find cultural shelter you’d even consider trying to get across on foot :)
The question is can it be done ?
Well, it can indeed . .. but please do not try this at home !

In 1953 Lord Noel-Buxton walked from Yorkshire to Lincolnshire at low tide, it was a 1¾-mile journey took him 70 minutes during which time he was never more than waist deep in water.

Here’s me checking to make sure there are no stray Yorkshire men trying to illegally enter God’s Own County . . .

can you walk across the river Humber

Lord Noel-Buxton wasn’t an eccentric, indeed a sensible man, you’ll note in which direction he chose to make his historic journey, a man after our own heart really - he did it in the name of history.
His idea was to prove that the Romans could have forded the River Humber making the movement of troops very much easier n the area and he remained convinced that there was an accepted ford path from Lincolnshire to Yorkshire.
“I think this is the way Ermine Street carried on and this was the fording place for the Roman legions between Lincoln and York.” Lord Noel-Buxton said at the time.

So there you go, another burning question of the day answered - can you walk across the River Humber . . . Yes, you can !

Yours, already on the right side ;)

PS. In the interest of Health & Safety we should stress that under no circumstances should Yorkshiremen try to walk across the Humber in an attempt to save the bridge toll :)

See also:
Defence of the Humber ~ Humber Forts ~ Etymology Ancient Name ~ Humber Barrel ~ Fort Halton ~ Newsham Booths ~ Old Map ~ Sharks


  1. History Hunter said,

    January 6, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    It was done on Top Gear a few years ago. A man forded the Humber in a race against James May driving the long way round. Lets put it this way, James lost!!!!

    So unfortunately those ‘north o’watter’ not wanting to pay the toll have another reason to try walking across because its quicker and cheaper than other alternatives.

  2. Hamish said,

    January 6, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

    Yes Rod, it’s possible on a few favourable days. The Romans weren’t stupid though, so they wouldn’t risk their military personnel like that. They used a ferry !

    The clever bit is that the major Roman settlements at Old Winteringham and Brough were not directly opposite. This offset allowed the ferry to use the incoming and outgoing tides as a way to expend less energy on the crossing.

  3. pikey pete said,

    January 6, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

    i do believe a man cycled across the humber on a bicycle in year 1934 ? is name was frank hawkin it took him 3 hour ten minutes a grimsby chap lived over on the west marsh worked on the fish docks there is 16mm film footage of this venture somewhere he could make a [ grimsby worthy ] he called is bicycle the cuckoo

  4. Billy Bob said,

    January 6, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

    I enjoyed this post, and its tongue-in-cheek Yorkshire/Lincolnshire rivalry. Brought up just the other side of the Humber Bridge, in East Yorkshire, I remember watching it being built. As a kid I could climb to the top of a tall tree in my garden, near Beverley, and see the bridge towers. I remember too the pre-bridge crossing, on the paddle steamer from Hull Pier to New Holland. Now a Lincoln resident (and no, I wouldn’t go back to Yorkshire, I love Lincolnshire) I still regularly use that bridge, two or three times a month. And I still get a thrill from its beauty and the beauty of the view, the sweep of the Humber, the often uplifting light on the estuary and the clouds, particularly looking West. Flying in to Humberside Airport likewise often gives a brilliant view of Humber and the bridge, as does sailing to Europe from Hull. The Humber Bridge is one of England’s best kept architectural secrets.

    In fact, there’s only one other man-made construction that regularly lifts my spirits in this way, and that’s Lincoln Cathedral.

    By the way, have you noted the carved tree trunk near the information centre in the Humber Bridge car park on the north bank? On the north of the trunk is carved the White Rose of Yorkshire, and on its south-facing side is carved the Lincoln Imp.

    In fact, the only thing to dampen my spirits about my regular trek from Lincoln to Hull and back is returning down the A15 to see a sign some 20 miles after crossing the Humber Bridge, somewhere around Kirton Lindsay, saying ‘Welcome to Lincolnshire’. That sign should be planted on the A15 at Barton, as any traditionalist will tell you.

  5. Nick M said,

    January 6, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

    Billy Bob said “In fact, the only thing to dampen my spirits about my regular trek from Lincoln to Hull and back is returning down the A15 to see a sign some 20 miles after crossing the Humber Bridge, somewhere around Kirton Lindsay, saying ‘Welcome to Lincolnshire’. That sign should be planted on the A15 at Barton, as any traditionalist will tell you.”

    Nick M says: “Give that man a knighthood!”

  6. Rod said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 8:05 am

    Billy Bob,
    thanks for the great comment and for enjoying the humour in it - wecome to the site.
    I’m very much in favour of moving signs - there’s one near me that needs moving in fact

  7. Rod said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 8:08 am

    I wonder how many people have done this, I suspect some years ago quite a few may have.
    As PP and HH have listed a couple of famous examples I’d imagine it’s been done quite a few times

  8. Rod said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 8:10 am

    I’m in agreement with you there.. I could see them fording it if they needed to, and possibly did, but if it was part of a regular route, his Lordship suggested part of the Ermine Way I believe, then I’m sure they’d have used transport as well

  9. v said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    It doesnt look nearly two miles across in that picture. I shall not be attempting it of course. If the water was upto his waist at times , then it would be up to my chin :)

    Someone did cycle over the Humber. I have it on a history video somewhere in the office.

    and ….still a shame about that Motorhead bag being in the way……. ;) maybe LB can a shot ‘’sans-bag'’
    A…. h well…sigh …..

  10. pikey pete said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

    didnt a hull man walk across the humber in the year 2005 period graham boanas aged 42 . this crossing was for charity he started is walk at brough successfully reaching the other side in lincolnshire .This crossing was attemped at a time of year when the tide was low . .,,,,,,however didnt lord buxton use a boat for half of is crossing ? there are accounts in circa 52 that he used an aid of a boat. to make this dangerous crossing

  11. Faing (Rep of Ireland) said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    It was done in the 70’s or early 80’s by a couple of ;lads from GY, ones name ,as I recall, was Martin Brown and he worked at Cooper Kawasaki on Cleethorpe rd next door to St.Johns. Sorry I can’t remember more (Maybe a lot of water has gone under the bridge sin’ then) Although I do remember it appearing to be more of a mud crawl than a walk…..

  12. pikey pete said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    The lord noel buxtons attempt of crossing the humber by walking can be read in the [ lincolnshire life magazine ] feb 1966 vol5

  13. minnie said,

    January 7, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

    when I was at college (that would make it 82-84) I can remember somebody from the college attempting it

  14. pikey pete said,

    January 8, 2013 @ 7:17 am

    didnt someone attempt to try ride a bicycle across the humber in 1984 fifty years after the grimsby man [frank hawkin ] this attempt was unsuccessful due to the chain snapping on the bike. midway across. This venture was televised by the guiness book of records film crew.and the local grimsby press etc the crossing attempt was attended by cleethorpes famous swimmer brenda fisher and hundreds of town folk and i think the town mayor

  15. Karl Brackenbury said,

    August 2, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

    Yes it is possible some one has correctly said Mr Boanas did do it in 205 but as another person correctly said it was done by Martin Brown, Karl Brackenbury (ME) and my father Ken Brackenbury in1985 despite many requests to the BBC etc newspapers they refused to put the record straight calling Mr Boanas to be the first person, we were actually the first 30 hers before him and we have all the press clippings and video evidence to prove it an yes the last bit over the mud was very hard work .

    Karl Brackenbury

  16. Les WABY said,

    August 9, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

    I am checking the records to get them recorded correctly—right is right.
    I can remember quite clearly (born 1931) that
    1953 Lord Noel Buxton walked across the Humber
    1985 Ken Brackenborough with Karl and Martin Brown walked across the Humber
    Ken worked at Immingham school
    2005 Graham Boanas walked across the Humber.
    Congratulations to them all, but please help me to get all the records correct.

    Equally exceptional, or even more so is the record that PETE WINCHESTER has swimmed across the Humber 50 (FIFTY ) times.That will never be beaten— unless the Humber dries up. Well done Pete.

  17. Rod said,

    August 9, 2014 @ 4:47 pm

    thanks for the great comment and welcome to the site
    All the best

  18. Les Waby said,

    August 9, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

    Rod, Can you copy and add Ermine Street from Wikipedia— The course of Ermine Street and The Alternative
    Course of Ermine Street,.That explains a lot
    Les Waby. Genuine Yellowbelly— getting near to being accepted in Pocklington - Hopefully.

  19. Les WABY said,

    August 24, 2014 @ 11:46 am

    Rod, can you give me contact details of Karl Brackenbury or ask him to contact me
    I have obtained proof,with newspaper copies, of the Humber crossings and want to put the records straight.
    Les Waby 01759 307585

  20. Rod said,

    August 24, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

    I don’t have contact details I’m afraid, nor could I give people’s details out if I had them, sorry about that

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