Balaclavas At The Ready. 13th August

Selby Swing Bridge to Naburn Lock, River Ouse

As Mick opened a kitchen window this morning a wonderful cool breeze spread through the boat, air at last.


Our delivery arrived a little after 10am. The address given had been for the recycling centre, so as the van arrived and turned down the road opposite us I could see Mick running after the driver. The van turned round and parked up, the layby by us being full.

Fresh produce was sorted from that that could be quarantined, the only problem where to quarantine things? Normally they sit in the well deck under the cratch for a few days, whilst on canals this has worked fine, but today I’d be wanting a touch more space should we need to deploy the anchor on tidal waters, it may also rain so some things just couldn’t be stored there.

Why is there a forest in here?

A rearrangement was needed, the plants, hose, ash can etc all came inside, the shower tray making for a green house for the afternoon. With everything now in a place it could stay we moved off, through the swing bridge towards Selby Basin. Tilly sat in the window and waved to her admirers as Oleanna passed through.

Boats on the visitor moorings were haphazardly positioned meaning we couldn’t get to the water point without sitting on the pump out mooring. We’d happily move should someone need it. Rubbish, water tank, yellow water all dealt with. The boat swept through, bathroom the once over then the final job of preparation, zipping together Tilly’s Escape Pod.

Escape Pod!!

The excitement was great, she even tried to climb inside before I’d zipped the bottom to the sides. The top went on and she was the happiest cat in the whole wide world.

Ready to go

The Lock Keeper arrived and opened up his hut, so we walked over to say hello, check that he knew it would be NB Oleanna not NB Pollyanna heading up to Naburn today. We were accompanied by the chap who was in two minds, although he’d made his mind up now. Recently he’d had a bowthruster installed and there seems to be a leak from his water tank into where the motor sits, he needs to do some work to sort this.

In the lock and about to go down

We talked of return tides at the end of the month, our chosen day not so good so we may have to stay in York a day or two longer. I’m sure we’ll keep ourselves busy. We were warned about the amount of debris floating about on the river, normally on neep tides this isn’t such a problem.

Final checks, life jackets on, anchor easy to deploy. The bottom gates of the lock were unlocked, top gates opened, we headed in for our descent onto the incoming tide. We were to be the only boat heading upstream today from Selby, nothing big would be about as the rail bridge doesn’t swing in hot weather.

Bye bye Selby

The lock emptied. The Lockie warned us of a passing tree, then we were free to head out into the flow. Oleanna rocked as she met the sideways force, pushing the bow round to face upstream. We were on our way.

Bloomin tree!

However the tree that had just gone past was taking it’s time. We were moving faster than it! Mick slowed us right down, even a burst of reverse to try to get the tree from our bow. We sat stationary with the tree as the tide moved onwards around us! Gradually it moved and we were able to nudge it to one side. It accompanied us through Selby Railway Bridge. We really didn’t want it with us at the Toll Bridge where the arches are narrower and the water is faster flowing. More reverse and gentle nudging, then a burst of power and we were free at last!

The muddy banks surrounded us, trees and wharfs as we made our way round the first couple of bends.

A muddy log flume

‘Forest off the Port bow!’ Blimey it was like a log flume out there, so many branches and trees joining the flow. ‘Spiney to the starboard side’. Chicanes of wood accompanied us upstream for a good few miles. I put a flag on my map to mark the position of a very large tree, next week the tides will be very high so it will be interesting to see if it moves.

Mick checked our speed, 7mph, we were speeding! A few revs less. The tide carries you along, but you still need to power to be able to steer. Our first trip up the Ouse was with a stronger tide and more boats. The currents and confused water a new thing to us then, pushing us right out on bends and slowing us when not expected. In the last six years we’ve crossed the Douglas and Ribble, cruised the Trent several times and been up to York twice. Our last time on tidal waters was the Trent early last year when we wore balaclavas, today t-shirts and shorts were more appropriate.

Cawood Swing Bridge

After 8 miles we rounded a bend, the first houses visible on the bank above, Cawood. Mick lined us up for the bridge, we were ready to wave at the bridge keeper, but he had his head down as we sped past.

A couple of Kingfishers if you look closely

The banks gradually become lower, gaps in trees, but with the tide still coming in there are no views really to be had. The river gets narrower, the flow still with us for some way. We’d already seen a couple of Kingfishers, I’d pointed my camera to where I thought they’d landed and got lucky. Now on the higher reaches of the river Herons fished and more Kingfishers showed themselves. Today turned into a Kingfisher record day, nine seen darting along the river brightening up the grey day no end.

Our VHF radio crackled away chatting to Selby Toll Bridge. It sounded like we were being followed, most probably a cruiser who would fit under the bridge without too much of a problem with the tide coming in.

At Acaster Selby a barn looked like it’s roof had been rolled back and the farm house showed it’s roof beams to the world.

Now on Moreby Reach we met the boats heading downstream, first three cruisers all in a line. Then a couple of narrowboats, we all waved to each other.

Moreby Hall

High up on the east bank sat a building we’ve not noticed before, Moreby Hall a Grade 2* 19th Century manor house. There seemed to be building work going on, skips and a couple of containers outside. It seems like it is now a hotel. I can find details of it being 3 star but also 5 star. Maybe it is going to be relaunched. Some photos available here of the interior when it was last on the market.

A more obliging Kingfisher

The VHF radio came to life. Something about turning back, we weren’t quite sure what was being said, our reception a bit crackly. Then Naburn Lock was talking to someone else, a cruiser, they were being asked to wait. Another conversation in which we heard that the lock was in someone’s favour, presumably a boat that had turned back, presumably one of the boats we’d passed.

Naburn Lock

Mick decided to let the Lock Keeper know we were close, to which we were told to pull into the lock on the port side. This we did, the Lockie suggesting which riser to use at the bow. We took our time, passing a rope round at the bow, then Mick had threw the stern lineup which was tied to the top of a lock ladder, the lock too deep to pass it back down to Mick to hold. We then had a wait.

After about ten minutes the second cruiser we’d passed appeared, limping into the lock. It was their first trip onto tidal water and had been following their friends boat after leaving the lock. Something had hit his prop, the whole thing was juddering if he went above tickover. Obviously he wasn’t happy to continue down the river to Selby with the tide which was about to turn. With no weed hatch he wasn’t able to have a look, he’d need to come out of the water.

A happy Oleanna to be in Naburn

With them safely in the lock the gates were closed and we gently rose up to Naburn height. The semi detached lock keepers cottage looking over the lock cut. The square building that when we were last here had been empty, now looks like it may be a cafe, plenty of gongoozlers, some of whom were waiting to go down onto the river in their big cruisers.

Moored at the end

We pulled out of the lock first and headed to the far end of the visitor moorings. Tilly was let out and a game of Pechow! was played up on the bank. Here was a timetable for the river bus which runs on Saturdays, we’d not seen anything saying not to moor where we were on the moorings.

What’s up here

Of course then about half an hour after we’d settled the river bus arrived! Winding right alongside us, there was plenty of space behind us for them to pull in. Mick chatted to the skipper asking if we were in their way. We were.

Good t

Mick pointed out that there was no notice reserving the mooring when you arrive by boat. The visitor mooring signs currently hidden behind long grass actually suggest that where we were moored would be a 14 day mooring. At least there would be no more river bus trips until Saturday, when we’ll be long gone.

Are we in the way?

2 locks, 14.15 miles, 14 on tidal water, 1 swing bridge holding up 7, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 2 many floating trees, 3 cruisers, 2 narrowboats, 1 returning cruiser, 5 herons, 9 kingfishers, 1 coconut, 1 boat in the way.

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