Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Tidal Ouse from Barmby to Naburn and on to York

Last Thursday afternoon we left Barmby Barrage where the River Derwent joins the tidal River Ouse and travelled up to Naburn.  This time we had sensibly chosen a neap tide and the journey was much more comfortable.  It is about 6 miles to Selby and then another 14 miles up to Naburn and it took us about 3 hours in total on the tide.
The forecast was for heavy showers but we were lucky and they missed us.  There are three lights on the lock pontoon which are normally red. When they turn green it means the lock is ready and it is time to set out round the corner into the lock which is what Leo is doing here.

 We have now been through this lock in both directions and have gone down both times!  Tides are fun.  Here the radial gates are opening onto the Ouse, so it is out of the lock and then turn right with the flood tide behind us.

The tall spire of Hemingbrough Church is clearly seen from the river.  We had meant to walk into this village but somehow did not get round to it.  Maybe next time.

It took us less than an hour to reach Selby.  The first of three bridges is the swing bridge for the by-pass.  No need to swing this for us and it is an easy bridge to navigate with only one large arch for boats.

A lttle further on we came into the town and passed Selby Lock shown here.  On the way back we will be coming off the tidal river here onto the Selby Canal.

We could just about see Selby Abbey from the water.

Even on a neap tide going through Selby is quite a challenge.  The river through the town is narrow and therefore faster, there are two swing bridges to negotiate and then a tight bend follows.  This is the Railway Swing Bridge and just round a slight right hand bend is the Road Swing Bridge.  Fortunately we missed them both.

Here we are passing under the Rail Bridge.  You can see the current tearing past the bridge supports.  

And here is the Road Swing Bridge.  The idea is to go through the middle arch which we did.  The tall building behind is a flour mill.

The Ouse always seems to have lots of debris going up and down with the tide.  You do need to keep a sharp eye open for tree trunks as following the channel up the river entails crossing the stream of debris.  The green is only duck weed and no impediment to the propellor.  We caught some sticks round the prop but fortunately a quick dose of reverse shook them off.

After going through Selby the river seems to calm down and there are no great difficulties.  This is Cawood Bridge a few miles upstream from Selby.  We waved to the bridge operator.

Approaching both Naburn and high tide the river looks placid and there are no longer mud banks alongside.  It did not really look like a tidal river at all.

At about a couple of miles from Naburn we passed several boats going downstream.  These will be pushing against the last of the flood tide and will then have the benefit of the ebb for most of their journey to Selby or wherever they are going.  Narrowboat to Holland anyone?

After a mostly calm and peaceful ride up the river we came to Naburn which is the tidal limit of the Ouse.  You can see the weir to the left of the picture and a pontoon with a couple of cruisers moored on it.  There are two locks at Naburn.  The right hand one is not now used but the later and bigger one in the middle is the one we needed.  However a group of cruisers and a narrowboat were already in the lock having come up from Goole and Selby.  Because the other cruisers were on the pontoon below the lock we messed around below the lock for 20 minutes while they sorted themselves out and allowed us to use the lock.  We were glad it was not windy!

Here is Leo in the evening safely through the lock and no longer on tidal water.  It seemed quite odd arriving at Naburn by boat because we come here by car every fortnight in the winter to help with a group of CRT volunteers.

With the volunteers we've done quite a bit of work on the lock island including making this grass sofa out of turves we took from elsewhere.  The building behind is an old workshop and forge.

The rockery we've worked on during the winter was looking lovely.

We stayed at Naburn for a few days as we didn't really want to go into York at the weekend.  On Friday this huge barge, Tony, came through the lock with a tug pushing it.  Tug and barge together completely filled the lock which is134 feet long.  The bags of building sand on the bow were there to weight the barge down to fit under Heck bridge between Knottingley and Goole.

Seeing Tony as it passed Leo showed just how large it was.  Tony was being taken up to York where it is being fitted out as an art gallery and studio.  We saw it later moored just above Skeldergate Bridge.

We delayed our trip into York until Sunday.  This is King's Staithe in the city.  We cruised right through the city hoping to find a mooring by Museum Gardens.

Here we are approaching Lendal Bridge.  The moorings are just on the right beyond the bridge but this chap in the little inflatable came up and told us that we would have to wait because Dragon Boat Racing was occupying the river.  So we paused.  Then a trip boat beside us asked for room to turn.  Since it was fairly clear that the moorings were all full and it was very noisy with the racing, we decided to turn round and moor elsewhere.  We had already spoken to some narrowboaters moored below Skeldergate Bridge so we went back there.

We've not moored below Skeldergate Bridge before.  We were told that some 'gypsy' boats used to be here.  It proved to be a very pleasant and relatively quiet mooring.  We did however follow others advice and example and made sure Leo was chained and padlocked to the bank.  Apparently boats have been cast adrift in York in the middle of the night.

In the afternoon we climbed Clifford's Tower and enjoyed the view of the city including of the Minster seen here behind another church spire.  The rather fine building in the foreground is Fairfax House which you can also visit.  Just below Clifford's Tower a reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre has been built temporarily out of scaffolding.  It is called the Rose Theatre which of course was another Shakespearian Theatre.  We booked to go and see 'Henry V' which was on that evening.  Next to this Rose Theatre a 'Shakespeare Village' has been built and we enjoyed sitting eating Yorkshire Pudding Pies while watching an excerpt from Twelfth Night performed by the cast.
This is the view from the Scarborough Rail Bridge (there is also a pedestrian and cycle path across it) looking towards Lendal Bridge.  It was the stretch between these two bridges that was being used for the Dragon Boat Racing.  As we had suspected all the boat moorings on the left in the photo were full.  There just aren't enough moorings for boats in York.

We managed to see the grand final of the Dragon Boat Racing as we walked around.

We are quite close to home at York so on Monday we arranged for a couple of our neighbours, Heather and Cis, to join us for a boat trip for the day.  Cis is in the picture steering a narrowboat for the first time in her life.  And doing it very well too!  We went back downstream with them having lunch at York Marina and then visiting Naburn before cruising right through York to finally moor at Museum Gardens where the packed moorings had a few vacant spaces.  We managed to squeeze in between a big cruiser and a rather nice wooden motor boat with just a few inches to spare.  And this mooring was a lot closer to the station for our visitors to go home too.  It was good to see them both and to catch up on news from home.

The trip boats go faster than Leo so this one has just overtaken us.
From York we intend to go further up the River Ouse which then magically turns into the River Ure and then up the Ripon Canal to its terminus at ...... wait for it ....... Ripon.  As well as scoring another silver propellor point we will enjoy visiting this lovely city before we turn round to head back to Naburn.  Longer term the plan is to cruise the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.  It is our favourite way over the Pennines.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

River Derwent and the Pocklington Canal

In our last update we had reached Barmby Barrage on the River Derwent and this posting describes our adventures on the little visited waterways of the Derwent and the Pocklington Canal.  We really enjoyed our time here and the people we met were very friendly and helpful.  The canal is not without its challenges, chiefly of weed in the water and lack of places to moor but is well worth a visit.  It is wonderfully peaceful and visiting boats are so few that you feel like a pioneer!
From Barmby to the junction with the Pocklington is about 12 miles of the delightful and placid River Derwent.  You can contrive a mooring in a few places but it is not easy to stop along this length and the level of the river can change without warning.  The river used to be tidal but the tide is now blocked by the Barrage where it meets the Ouse.  However at low tide the Derwent can be allowed to escape and Yorkshire Water can extract large amounts of water which can also affect the level.  The picture here is of Wressle Castle built in 1390 by the Percy family.

We also passed the village of Bubwith and its church nestling among trees.  We have moored before below the bridge at Bubwith in a field of cows, but went straight through this time.

This is the dividing of the ways.  Left in the trees is all that remains of the once navigable River Derwent which used to take boats all the way to Stamford Bridge.  Now alas the lock at Sutton can no longer be navigated and the channel to that point has become completely overgrown.  There are boats higher up but they are now cut off.  Don't be tempted to carry on.  We went a short way when we came here 5 years ago, zig-zagging between the trees which was OK going up but much more difficult backing down in quite a strong current.  To the right is a shallow channel which leads to the Pocklington Canal.  It can be very shallow.  We heard of one boat recently stranded on the mud for 3 hours!  While the Barrage keepers can close the Barrage and allow the water to build up, the barrage is 12 miles away and it takes awhile.  We managed to crawl along and used our pole to turn at the bend.


Here we are creeping slowly forward in a mixture of water and mud up the channel to the first lock on the canal.

After about a quarter of a mile Cottingwith Lock comes into view and lifts boats up to the Canal.  Like all the locks on this canal it works fine but the locks are short.  Leo is 57 foot long and there was not a lot to spare, though we did hear of a 60 foot boat that has come up, though it had to go down the shortest lock backwards.

This view is looking back down the channel called 'the beck' which took us from the Derwent to Cottingwith Lock.

The locks on the Pocklington have distinctive wheel operated paddle gear.

This is the first of several swing bridges.  You begin to see the problem with the weed growth in this picture.

This is Hagg Bridge.  Last time we came here we managed to moor next to the bridge but it looked even more overgrown this time.  Some of the worst of the weed was in this early section of the canal, but it depends where the weed cutter boat has been active most recently.  The canal runs through several SSSI's and weed cutting is restricted by an agreement with Natural England.

Here is a swan family in the lily pond, sorry, Canal.

And here is Leo moored in Melbourne Basin.  Until last year this was as far as you could go, but now a further 2 miles and 2 locks has been opened up.  The boat behind Leo is New Horizons, a trip boat raising money to restore the rest of the canal.

On Monday we cycled the rest of the canal, including the parts which remain un-navigable up to Canal Head and then the extra mile or so of road into the town of Pocklington.  One day this will be much more accessible to boaters.  The new bit of navigable canal runs to the Bielby Arm where boats can turn.  This picture is of the end of the Bielby Arm which would need dredging to allow boats down to this village.  There used to be a turning hole at the end of the Arm.

Ian was having problems with slipping gears on his Brompton.  Here he is looking for advice.  After vain attempts to correct the problem by adjusting the gears it proved to be sticking pawls in the freewheel and seemed to cure itself later on the ride.  Helen then found she had a slow puncture, so we almost did not get to Pocklington, but I'm glad we persevered.

This is Giles Lock, one of the three that has not yet been restored.

And this is Silburn Lock, another one ready for restoration.

At the end of the canal at Canal Head (where else?) there is water and a restored top lock.  Also this wicker barge horse made for the 200th anniversary of the canal last year.

The town of Pocklington is attractive in itself, but there is also Burnby Hall Museum and Gardens which are well worth a visit.  The museum contains the collection of an eccentric explorer who did 8 worldwide trips in the early 1900s.  The gardens contain a National collection of water lilies in two ponds.

This is the lower lake with a rockery behind.

This is a sample of the many water lilies.

In a stumpery at the end of the garden were some wonderful animals made of wire netting.  This panther looks ghostly with the sun shining through.

After a pleasant excursion to Pocklington with lunch in a cafe in town and tea and cake in the gardens, we cycled back.  This is Top Lock which would be quite usable but for the weed filled ditch below.

And this one is Coates Lock which has also been restored (note the characteristic wheel paddles on the gates).  Only three locks of the nine on the canal remain to be restored, so perhaps on a future visit we may be able to take Leo to Canal Head.

Having spent Monday (8th July) cycling, On Tuesday we took Leo to the new navigable limit at Bielby.  This picture is of Church Bridge a little way up the canal from Melbourne.

Thornton Lock lies just beyond the bridge.  Like several of the locks on the canal it is a bit tight for our 57 foot boat.

You can see here that Leo is resting on the cill at the bow.

And at the stern you have to keep an eye open to make sure that the swan neck of the tiller does not get caught under the walkways on the bottom gates as the lock fills.

Soon Walbut Bridge and Lock appear ahead taking the boat up to the top level currently navigable.

Again there was a fair bit of weed but it didn't prove too difficult to drive the boat through here.

At Swing Bridge no 8, a team of volunteers were working and kindly opened the bridge for us.

Soon after this swing bridge we came to the Bielby Arm which has been dredged just a short way down to allow boats to use the Arm to turn.  The yellow notice just visible to the left of the farm buildings marks the current end of the navigation.

Here is the sign at close quarters.

This view is taken looking down the Bielby Arm.

Turning at Bielby did not prove to be too difficult.  The current along the canal is slight and there was little wind and adequate depth.

By the time we got back to the Swing Bridge the volunteer numbers had been swelled by a group of walkers who stayed with us down the locks back to Melbourne.

We didn't stay at Melbourne but carried on back down the canal to Gardham Lock where we spent the night moored on the lock mooring (this is common practice here where moorings are so few).  During the evening there were quite a few boats passing which is exceptional here.  Above shows the Canal Society trip boat, New Horizons, mooring alongside us to clear its prop of weed.

We spotted this flowering rush along the canal the following day.  It is not that common in the north of England.

And we loved these old posts each with its own garden along the River Derwent as we returned to Barmby for our passage on the tidal Ouse up to Naburn.
But more about that passage another time.