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Ed Peppitt (aka The Beacon Bike)

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100 days 3,500 miles 327 lighthouses

Day 83: Hull to Goole, Whitgift and back to Hull

by | Jan 28, 2023

I walked down to Hull Marina first thing in the morning to see the Spurn Lightvessel (LV No. 12), currently anchored there. The marina was opened in 1983, and created berths for 270 pleasure boats on the site of the former Humber and Railway Docks. The lightvessel itself was built in 1927, and was stationed offshore, east of Spurn Point, for nearly fifty years.

I had always thought of light vessels in bright red livery, but this one was painted black, apparently its original colour. It was also substantially larger than I had imagined, and dominated the corner of the marina where it was moored. Following decommissioning in 1975, it was acquired by Hull City Council in 1983, and has been moored here since 1987.

Back on the bike, the next day or so required careful planning. About halfway between Hull and Goole, the Humber estuary divides into two rivers, the Trent, which heads south, and the Ouse, which continues on to Goole. There is a modern light at Trent Falls, the confluence of the two rivers, which is quite difficult to reach by bike. There is also a lighthouse on the south bank of the River Ouse, near Whitgift. And lastly, the original light from Trent Falls has been restored and put on display at the Yorkshire Waterways Museum in Goole. Reaching all three would involve following the Ouse and crossing it at Goole, or following the Trent and crossing at Scunthorpe. Goole sounded like the better option, given that I could stop at the Yorkshire Waterways Museum while I was there.

Goole Trent Falls

Goole Trent Falls

Goole’s docks and industrial area seemed a bit run down to me, and felt like an odd place for a museum, even one focused on the town’s industrial heritage. There were numerous signs for the museum, and I understood why. I don’t believe it would attract many visitors otherwise, because they simply wouldn’t know the museum was there. I found the museum closed, which was unfortunate, but the exhibit I had come to see, the former light from Trent Falls, was clearly visible from the roadside. I managed to poke my camera through the wire mesh fence and take a handful of decent shots. It looked a little neglected, and needed a fresh coat of red paint, something I was pleased to discover it was given just a few weeks after my visit.

I mentioned that there were three lighthouses along the Rivers Ouse and Trent. In fact, there are dozens of small beacons and marker lights along the rivers, as well as the Humber Estuary, that together guide shipping into and out of the ports at Hull and Goole. However, only the three mentioned could reasonably be defined as a lighthouse, although naturally my recently discovered German website lists, plots and photographs them all.

Even of my three, there is only one that has a traditional lighthouse tower, and that is the one at Whitgift. I could see it from the road leading out of the village easily enough, but reaching it involved hiding the bike behind what I took to be a disused chapel, and striding across a muddy field of peas. It’s a handsome lighthouse, right on the riverbank, and was in a decent state of repair.




The lighthouse was built just north of Whitgift village in the late nineteenth century, and was designed to guide vessels going to and from Goole, and out to the North Sea on the River Humber.

It has a five-storey, white-painted tapering tower, forty-six feet tall, mounted on a circular stone base, with a metal domed lantern room on top. It is still active, and displays a red light, flashing twice every four seconds, which is visible for five miles.

I wasn’t sure how close I would be able to get to the modern light at Trent Falls, the one that replaced the light I had seen in Goole. The lane I was cycling along turned ninety degrees inland before reaching the Trent, with considerable marshland and wetlands standing between me and the lighthouse. After Ousefleet, I came across the nature reserve and RSBP centre at Blacktoft Sands, and thought I’d ask there for help. For such an out-of-the-way place, the car park was remarkably full, and the place was teeming with birdwatchers. The tidal reed bed alongside the estuary is the largest in England, and is renowned for a number of star species, including marsh harriers, bitterns, bearded tits and avocets.

If the warden I spoke to was disappointed in my relative lack of interest in the birdlife, he certainly didn’t show it. If anything, he seemed pleased to have his local knowledge put to the test. When I explained what I was looking for, he walked me over to one of the floor-mounted telescopes looking out onto the wetlands, and lined up an excellent view of the lighthouse. I say ‘lighthouse’, but that might be overstating it a little. It is really just a light mounted on a white steel pole, with a small gallery around the top. In ranking terms, it certainly beat a number of the Avon and Severn lights, but if it hadn’t been mentioned in my guidebook then I probably wouldn’t have sought it out.

As it was, I had seen it, but still needed a photograph. A couple of attempts to take a picture through the telescope’s lens failed spectacularly, so I set off on foot along a path that pointed in the direction of the river’s edge. I didn’t reach it, but I got close enough to see it properly, without the aid of a telescope or zoom lens. That was plenty good enough for me.

Trent Falls Apex

Apex Trent Falls

Apex Trent Falls

At the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Trent, three miles east of Whitgift, a red circular steel lighthouse was built in 1933. It was forty feet tall, and mounted to a square wooden base. It was known as the Trent Falls lighthouse, and had flashing red and white sector lights, powered by electricity, which marked the entrances to the two rivers.

Early in the present century, the 1933 tower was removed and relocated to the Yorkshire Waterways Museum, where it was restored, repainted and put on permanent display. A new white-painted steel pole light, with gallery, was installed at Trent Falls, which displays a simple green flashing light.

Satisfied with my day’s work, I hoped I might be able to cross the Trent by bridge or ferry. My map showed a jetty, alongside a pub called the Ferry House Inn at Burton Stather, which gave me some hope. But a quick search online confirmed that no ferry had run for decades. So it was either on to Scunthorpe, making tomorrow’s lights at Killingholme a little awkward, or retrace my route back towards Hull. It was the £29 room at the Travelodge in Hull that swung it.


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