Looking north (upstream) along the River Hull from Hempholme Lock
Looking north (upstream) along the River Hull from Hempholme Lock

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| 2013 walks | 2014 walks | 2015 walks | 2016 walks |
| 2017 walks | 1993-2000 library | Find a Route |
| A few Routes to print out | Request a Route... |

Route No. 313 - Wednesday 16 September 2009
Top Hill Low (water treatment works)
Nature Reserve, River Hull circuit - 7km
near Driffield, East Yorkshire . . .

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base.
View the route in Google Earth

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 295 Bridlington, Driffield & Hornsea at 1:25000


Large hide by the visitor centre car park overlooking the 'D' shaped reservoir
Large hide by the visitor centre car park overlooking the 'D' shaped reservoir

This large site is a nature reserve with a great variety of water fowl and other birds. We parked at the visitor center car park at map ref. TA073485. There is a ticket machine where you have to buy a permit to enter the site. It's only £1 for people as old as we are.

Today my neighbour, Jim, and I drove to a large water treatment works called Top Hill Low. It's on the River Hull about 6km east of the village of Watton on the Driffield to Beverley road (A164). Be careful, the A614 Driffield to Goole road is close by.

Concrete access road between the reservoir and the Beverley & Barmston Drain
Concrete access road between the reservoir and the Beverley & Barmston Drain

Valve chamber at the corner of the 'D' shaped reservoir
Valve chamber at the corner of the 'D' shaped reservoir

There is a large substantial hide within 50m of the car park which we climbed into to see what we could see. It was quite windy today and the surface of the reservoir was quite choppy. At first we did not notice any wild fowl at all.

We planned to walk a meandering circuit of the site, stopping at the observation hides along the way. We had our binoculars and a bird book, so at about 10.15am we set off heading north east out of the car park just a few metres to the large 'D' shaped reservoir .

Huge tracked tractor harrowing  near the access road
Huge tracked tractor harrowing near the access road

Approaching the hide at the northern end of the reservoir
Approaching the hide at the northern end of the reservoir

They were continually diving so we never knew just how many there were. After a while we decided to move on and walked about 150m to a concrete access road running the length of the site from the south west corner to the north east corner.

Then as we looked there were in fact many small groups of birds bobbing up & down in the waves. With the help of the bird book we identified a group of tufted duck, all black at this time of year, and several red necked grebe.

A great crested grebe at the northern end of the reservoir
A great crested grebe at the northern end of the reservoir

Spider on the floor of the hide. Wild life close enough to photograph
Spider on the floor of the hide. Wild life close enough to photograph

From there we followed the edge of the reservoir round to another large hide at map ref. TA077494. We climbed the steps into the hide and settled down again. The wind was blowing from this end of the reservoir and the water was sheltered by the high concrete perimeter wall.

There is a public right of way along the access road. A wide drainage canal called the Beverley and Barmston drain runs along side the access road to the river Hull at the northern tip of the site. We walked along this access road to the north east corner of the 'D' shaped reservoir.

Small pond by the hide
Small pond by the hide

Bat box on one of the hide legs
Bat box on one of the hide legs

We returned to the concrete access road where there was a huge tractor harrowing one of the massive fields in this area. The tractor was driven by tracks, like a tank, not wheels and a large flock of gulls was following it to swoop on the tasty morsels it turned up. We continued on the access road to the corner of the site at map ref. TA078499.

At this sheltered end there were hundreds of birds. There were a great many grebes diving for food, groups of tufted duck and flotillas of several other ducks that we were not confident enough to positively identify including some with brown heads that we thought were widgeon. The hides had been well positioned with a good view and we could see the birds clearly with our binoculars, but they were too far away for my little snapshot camera.

Heading along the access road to the northern tip of the site
Heading along the access road to the northern tip of the site

Public right of way across the Beverley & Barmston Drain
Public right of way across the Beverley & Barmston Drain

A good crop of conkers by the access road
A good crop of conkers by the access road

We turned right to the River Hull at Hempholme lock. The river and its floodbank are outside the nature reserve site.

Here the right of way along the access road turned left to cross the drainage canal on a wooden footbridge.

Hempholme Lock on the River Hull
Hempholme Lock on the River Hull

View across the ponds from our lunch stop on the R.Hull floodbank
View across the ponds from our lunch stop on the R.Hull floodbank
Following the R.Hull along the floodbank
Following the R.Hull along the floodbank

The Beverley & Barmston Drain
The Beverley & Barmston Drain

Here at the southern tip of the site we joined the right of way alongside the Beverley & Barmston drain and followed the track around the boundary of the site. After a few hundred metres there were some large ponds on our left on the far side of the drainage canal, with large flocks of geese and cormorants. Inside the Top Hill Low site there is a hide overlooking these ponds but the only official route too it is along the side of the drainage canal to the main gate of the site and then back down the paths inside the reserve to the hide.

There is no official way back into the reserve from the floodbank. After we had walked about 2km along the floodbank we came to a spot with a pleasant view over two large ponds in the reserve where we sat for our lunch. It was very peaceful watching the swans on the pond. After our break we continued along the floodbank until we had walked a total of just over 3km around the boundary of the waterworks/nature reserve site to map ref. TA064474.

Scanning the ponds from the comfort of a hide
Scanning the ponds from the comfort of a hide

Flocks of geese, swans and cormorants on a pond near the southern end of the site
Flocks of geese, swans and cormorants on a pond near the southern end of the site. The structure on the right is an artificial nesting site for sand martins

Valve chamber on the round reservoir
Valve chamber on the round reservoir

We got back to the car park at about 2.30pm after a walk of only 7km but many long stops in the various hides. It had been a different and very interesting day. We headed for home and stopped at three cafes before we found one that would serve us a bacon roll to round off our day out.

When we reached the hide we settled down to scan the flocks of birds, greylag geese, some Canada geese, swans and a large group of cormorants. Eventually we made our way back along the paths through the reserve towards the visitor centre car park and stopped at two more hides along the way. These both looked out over the two ponds we had seen from the floodbank when we stopped for lunch.

We watched this swan bathing and preening from a hide
We watched this swan bathing and preening from a hide

Looking across the ponds from a hide to the R.Hull floodbank where we had stopped for our lunch
Looking across the ponds from a hide to the R.Hull floodbank where we had stopped for our lunch