Incidental Cruises – York & Ripon

To Ripon or Bust

No cruise to York or Ripon was ever scheduled; it simply developed out of the time available to move from our Liverpool visit in June to the Wash Crossing at the end of July. Like many impromtu ideas the suggestion of an excursion to York, breaking off from the run across the Pennines and down to Boston, spread quickly. The result has been a most rewarding trip.

Four club boats made the journey: Lucky ‘B’ (Margaret and Bruce Paul); Aquarigo 2 (Lesley and Peter Taylor); Cormorant II – thats two not eleven – (Lynn and Bob Hallam); and Time Out (Angela and John Cheesbrough).

Club boats at York

Club boats at York

Time Out and Cormorant went ahead from Liverpool, making a fairly speedy run to Leeds because of domestic commitments, whilst Lucky ‘B’ and Aquarigo followed at a far more sane and leisurely pace enjoying the scenery and sites over the heights of the Pennine hills, though this despite the forty odd swing bridges!

Highlight of the cruise from Leeds to York is the tidal river run on the Yorkshire Ouze, from Selby to Naburn Lock just south of York. Leaving Selby Lock at right angles to the river the boat swings itself smartly upstream in the fast running flood tide and is propelled rapidly under the massive swing bridges of Selby, out into open countryside. A mass of wood and debris, the flotsam of Goole and Hull, gives a simple indication of the line to follow for the fastest run. The river banks are high and generally wooded with only occasional views of the fields and riverside hamlets. After some two and a half hours and on the last of the tide the voice of the Naburn Lockkeeper is heard guiding us straight into the massive lock.

By pure coincidence Cormorant and Time Out arrived in York as Lucky ‘B’ and Aquarigo arrived in Leeds on the weekend of the Yorkshire Tour de France cycle race. Both cities were bedecked with yellow flags, shirts and bunting, and packed out. Crews were able to watch the starts of the race in Leeds on the Saturday or York on the Sunday.

Pimms O'Clock Whatever the weather!

Pimms O’Clock Whatever the weather!

By Monday evening all four boats were in York and reasonably well moored alongside Abbey Gardens. Two days of exploring the centre of the city followed, but with an enjoyable excursion by bus to the Yorkshire Air Museum five miles out of town at Elvington airfield. Travelling as a bunch of oldies, all with our bus passes except young Lynn, (whom I hope to goodness will forgive me for this!) we explained to the bus driver that we were let out for the day and that Lynn was our “carer”. The joke backfired; the driver took one look at us, took pity on Lynn and gave her a free ride.

The suggestion of going on to Ripon, the head of navigation, had been mooted some time ago. At least one boat, Time Out, is officially too long at 60 ft for some of the locks, but there has always been a strong feeling that if we get as far as York we must try to get to Ripon; so on Thursday morning the Four “Mustgettheres” set off upstream.

Another stunning Lynn Hallam picture

Another stunning Lynn Hallam picture

The river above York is at first very similar to that below, though the current decreases steadily as each of the tributary rivers is passed. Later as the banks reduce, more of the open scenery of Yorkshire appears. The first lock, Linton, appears suddenly on a wide sweeping bend and this presented the first of the short-lock problems. A technique already developed coming over the Pennines proved successful in squeezing Time Out in with inches to spare; followed as you would expect by a celebratory visit to the lockside pub.

A mile or two above Linton the river Ouze suddenly and for no appararent reason changes its name from Ouze to Ure. Only a signpost marks the spot.

An overnight stop at Boroughbridge by the original Great North Road bridge, and up to Ripon on the second day. The Ripon Canal leaves the river (Ure) a few miles south of Ripon and rises about 27 feet through three locks to reach the town basin. These locks proved to be the shortest of the trip, the last one squeezing fenders at both ends. But no, the Four Mustgettheres finally Got There.

Ripon, which stands on neither the Ouze nor the Ure but on its own small river, the Skell, is full of interest. Some of the crews spent a day exploring the town and the cathedral whilst others dug out their bus passes again and headed off for a tour around the famous Fountains Abbey.

The intention on the return trip was to head straight through York on the second day and down to Naburn Lock ready for a morning exit into the tidal section. However, in York we managed to intercept Geoff and Beryl Smith on Minimum Momentum which resulted in one more overnight stop in York. Spring tides greeted us in Naburn next morning ensuring a high speed run back to Selby and the interesting business of swinging boats ninety degrees out of the tide into Selby tidal lock. All in a days work for such crack teams.

As I write, all four crews are at Keadby, waiting to begin another tidal run, this time up the Trent. We hope Minimo will have made it to Ripon, and wonder also if Lord Toulouse is still headed that way. All that remains for myself is to thank the crews of Lucky ‘B’, Aquarigo 2 and Cormorant II (2 !!) for all their efforts, without which we may never have visited Ripon, and to hope they enjoyed our little excursion half as much as we did.

Next stop: the Wash.