BRADFORD Beck caused consternation throughout the district and beyond as it turned bright orange due to a strange freak of nature.

As dawn broke today, residents and walkers along the watercourse's banks in Shipley marvelled at the ochre water flowing through the town.

Many took to social media to discuss what they had seen, with one resident tweeting "Ooh the Mucky Beck."

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency began an investigation to find the source of the eye-catching discolouration.

One walker, who did not wish to be named, joked that it could be a mark of divine anger at TV's refusal to broadcast live coverage of Bradford City's next FA Cup tie.

In reality, the peculiar phenomenon has a much less thrilling explanation.

And importantly, there is no threat to human health.

Ferrous oxide trapped in underground mineworkings is occasionally swept to the surface and colours water courses bright orangey red - including even the mighty Ouse now and again.

Mark West, environment management team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “The Environment Agency is investigating a discolouration in Bradford Beck at Shipley, following reports that the water has turned orange.

“The discolouration has occurred because of a discharge of water from old mineworkings in the area. This is a naturally-occurring process that happens sporadically, and the water poses no health risk to the public.

“Our officers have been mobilised to assess the impact on the watercourse, and to look for the source of the discharge.

“We are thankful to the public for informing us about the discolouration.

"Anyone who sees an abnormal colour or substance in a watercourse is advised to report the matter to our incident hotline, on 0800 807060.”

The Clean Rivers Trust, which has been involved in river improvements across the UK since 1991, says on its website that the natural colour of water coming from the old abandoned mines is a shade of ochre, the basic constituent being the most common mineral; iron.

It said: "The iron in the minewater is not poisonous in itself but will cause streams and rivers to become biologically dead very quickly. "The accumulation of the metal on the bed of a watercourse will deprive the aquatic insect larva and microbial life of oxygen and light so depriving the creatures: fish and the like to move away or starve.