Source of the mighty Humber

In which I discover (and get to name) an overlooked tributary of the Humber.

Storm Clodagh is clobbaghing the side of our house as I type these words. Water is seeping through our newly plastered living room walls. The wind is howling down the chimney like a cliché possessed. As adventurous as ever, Jen and I have already agreed we're going nowhere today.

Whenever it rains heavily around here, our driveway becomes a stream. A spring emerges between the brick cobbles outside the garage. An elderly neighbour tells us there's an old well buried somewhere beneath our back lawn, but I suspect our temporary spring is caused by a broken drainage pipe. Water fairly gushes out of the ground, undermining the surrounding brickwork, sending water and sediment flowing down the drive.

As the stream leaves the drive, it turns right, downhill, towards Hebden Bridge. If the grid outside the gate is blocked by leaves, as it often is at this time of year, the water can end up flowing all the way down the hill into Hebden Bridge town centre—sometimes spectacularly so. But, as we returned home from a walk earlier in the week, Jen had the presence of mind to clear away some of the leaves from the grid. Miraculously, it hasn't backed-up yet, so our stream currently disappears back underground as soon as it leaves the drive.

Driveway spring
The spring and stream in our driveway.

I have no idea where the local road-drains jettison their loads, but they must surely end up in the River Calder way down in the valley below. From there, the water will head east, through Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge, where the Calder becomes the Calder and Hebble Navigation. This eventually feeds into the River Aire near Castleford, which joins the River Ouse at Airmyn, which goes on to join the Trent near Faxfleet, thereby forming the Humber Estuary, whose collected waters flow out under the Humber Bridge into the North Sea.

Which I guess makes the spring in our driveway a previously unknown source of the mighty Humber.

Our driveway stream isn't marked on any maps. Indeed, it didn't exist when we moved here. Jen and I first discovered it after a major downpour a few years back. Which means, I suppose, we get to name it. I'm sorely tempted to call it the River Carter, but that might sound immodest. So why not name it after our house? Nell Carr Beck has a certain ring to it, I reckon.

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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