Saturday, 20 July 2019

York to Ripon

We are now in the canal basin at Ripon on the Ripon canal which is nearly as far north as we can go on the connected canal network (the furthest north is at Tewitfield on the Lancaster Canal).  So here is the story of travelling from York to Ripon.
We saw this strange vessel several times going up and down the Ouse at York.  On the ground floor was a bar.  Doesn't look very stable but it seemed to go down well with its young crew and friends.

On Tuesday we left York and cruised up the river to Newton on Ouse.  At Nun Monkton, we passed the mouth of the River Nidd seen here.  The Nidd flows through Knaresborough where we live but sadly it is not navigable, so this is about as close as we can get to home.

Here we are moored on the pontoon for patrons of the Dawnay Arms at Newton-on-Ouse.  Time for lunch and an excellent one too with fine food and well kept beer.  Highly recommended and not too expensive either.  We stayed on the pontoon overnight and later in the afternoon we saw the river rise about 8 inches and then go down again.  We had had a fair bit of rain when we were in Naburn but somewhere up in the Dales there must have been a heavy rain storm.

These planes, probably from RAF Linton-on-Ouse nearby, flew over us.  We weren't sure if they were Hurricanes or Spitfires but some research has convinced us that the answer is neither. Alf in his comment below has educated us so I can now tell you that the planes are Tucano T1's which are training planes for pilots.
This is Aldwark Toll Bridge.  The bridge deck consists of wooden planks and vehicles crossing make a loud noise as the planks move.

It is probably getting a bit late in the breeding season, but we did see sand martins flying in and out of holes in the sand banks by the river where they have their nests.

Further up the river on Wednesday we passed the mouth of the River Swale shown here on the right.  This is said to be navigable for a mile or so but we haven't investigated whether there is space to turn round so we stayed on the River Ure which goes left.  By this point we had passed the Ouse Beck and to the north of where as that beck joins the river (you can't actually make out the mouth of the  beck in the trees) the River Ouse becomes the River Ure.

Here is the view looking up the River Swale.  Even if it is technically navigable there would clearly be a lot of dodging the trees to take a 57 foot narrowboat up there.

We saw quite a lot of Giant Hogweed beside the Ure.  This grows up to 10 feet tall and has a corrosive sap which can burn the skin.  We have seen warning signs about it elsewhere but these Yorkshire folk are obviously tough.

This is a view of Milby Lock on the approach to Boroughbridge.  The walls of the Ouse and Ure locks are said to be 'battered' meaning they lean outwards so that the lock is markedly wider when full than when empty. 

We stayed overnight in Boroughbridge and thought the town was very attractive.  There are some fine buildings and interesting shops.  This is the market cross.

We walked into Aldborough on Wednesday afternoon intending to visit the Roman remains but sadly these are only open at weekends.  On the village green we came across this memorial which records which records the crash of a Lancaster bomber near here in February 1944.

On Thursday we carried on up the river passing Newby Hall seen here with its lovely gardens right by the river. It was here that Charles Slingsby (from a famous Knaresborough family) drowned along with six others whilst fox hunting. The fox swam across the river and Sir Charles and friends followed it using a punt as a ferryboat. Sir Charles's horse panicked and overturned the boat. The horse survived.

A short way after Newby Hall we turned off the River Ure onto the Ripon Canal for the last two miles into the city.  You can see the sign ahead of us pointing to the correct route.  The Ure above still looks navigable but there may well be shallows.

Oxclose Lock took us up onto the canal where the scenery changes back to proper canal with little brick arched bridges like this one at Renton's Bridge. 

We moored above Renton's Bridge which was a lovely quiet spot almost beside a path which led down to a bird hide on the newly opened Ripon City Wetlands run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.  We walked round the reserve later in the afternoon.

The top gates on the locks on the Ripon Canal leak quite badly giving waterfalls like this one at Rhodesfield Lock.  The locks are only just long enough for Leo's 57 feet so we had no choice but to stick the bow in the waterfall.  Coming down is going to be worse because the bow can ride over the cill but the rudder can't do that.

Friday was a day of rain so we came into the basin at the end of the canal shown here and turned in the rain.  This is another location that scores Silver Propellor points under the IWA's scheme to encourage more boaters to visit remote locations on the canal network.  It seems to be working.  When we came to Ripon five years ago we were the only boat on the moorings but this evening there are four.

Here we are having turned round and moored close to the canal basin.  Though the rain has stopped it came down quite heavily later in the afternoon.  So we went to see the new film of the Lion King which we both enjoyed.

Before we went to the cinema we visited the Cathedral shown here.  It is a very impressive building.

The carvings on the end of the choir stalls are really fine.  The elephant above is holding someone in its trunk and below is a centaur.

And the carving here on one of the misericords (tip up seats in the choir stalls) shows a griffin catching a rabbit.  One rabbit has escaped though and is seen on the right fleeing down a burrow. Lewis Carroll's father worked here and it is thought the young Lewis saw this and it later inspired the opening to his story of Alice.
Today (Saturday) we met up with our friend Richard and walked with him from the city to the edge of the Fountains Abbey estate along the valley of the River Skell.  Richard also gave us a splendid tour of the Workhouse Museum before we finished off the day with an excellent pint in the 'One Eyed Rat'.

Tomorrow we will set off in the only direction possible from here, south back down the Ure and the Ouse to York and Naburn to catch the tide back to Selby.  From there our way will lie to Castleford and Leeds.


  1. Hi Helen, tomorrow, Sunday 21st July we will be at Newby Hall when you sail past. Guess we won't see you but never mind. It all sounds great fun! ... Andrew Willoughby.

  2. Tucano T1 - see -

    1. Thanks Alf for explaining that the planes from RAF Linton were Tocano T1 trainers.


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