Linton Lock to Oxclose Lock, Ripon Canal
We timed our departure this morning with the Geraghty Zoom so that we had some amusement whilst cruising the nine mile reach of the river. Topics today included, A levels, Theatre and quarantine exemptions in New York. As we cruised along up river we gave the family a forward view of the willow trees. We missed where the River Ouse becomes the River Ure, a small stream coming in from the west marks the point, so small it wasn’t spotted.
The most exciting part of our cruise, going under Aldwark Bridge sadly was missed by them all, as our connection kept being lost, this also meant we missed out on some of the conversations. Sitting inside with the laptop is much better as you get to see everyone, rather than just the person who is talking. But it helped us while away an hour.
Today was most certainly jeans and jumper weather, the temperature having plummeted from the heights of a few days ago and the sun had put itself into quarantine.
Some golfers crossed high above the river going from one hole to another and herds of cows stopped what they were doing to have a look at us and only one Kingfisher made the effort to amuse us today.
Milby Lock came into view. We’ve only been up this way once before, six years ago, and I’d forgotten how imposing this lock looks from below. It also is not our favourite lock. A cruiser (first boat seen today) pulled away from below which made us think the lock would be empty, but it wasn’t.
Canoeists sat by the lock having a brunch of noodles, whilst others lifted their boats out of the water to leapfrog the lock. I wound the paddles up and had a good look at the lock as it emptied.
Back in 2014 we’d roped up in the lock, I’d headed to wind the same side paddle, which in most canal locks means your boat gets held against that side. Not being able to see anything in the lock I’d given my windlass two turns and headed over to check on things. Before I got there there was an almighty crash, chinkling of glass as the bow had launched at speed across the lock. Nothing obvious to us from outside we very slowly continued to fill the lock. Once we were up and out of the lock I headed inside to be greeted by Houdini (our second mate at the time) rushing towards me. She was desperate to let me know it wasn’t her fault! It turns out somehow our crash had dislodged the hopper half of a porthole which had jumped off the boat and smashed, now sitting at the bottom of the lock!
So not wanting to repeat this my observations were important. There are risers on the starboard side of the lock, these are protected by timber rails either side, the one nearest the top gates stops some two three foot from the water level a possible place where your boat can get caught as it rises. Also here and on the other side are bowl shaped holes, presumably from where boats have time and time again hit the walls as the lock has filled. But the most important thing I did note was where the water would come into the lock, because the river level is a touch low at the moment I could see that it would be perfectly positioned to catch the bow of a narrowboat and push it across the lock.
With this knowledge Mick brought Oleanna in moved her stern across behind the starboard side gate, he roped up onto one of the risers and I gently lifted the port side paddle. Two chaps arrived to come down the lock, locals who I asked for confirmation that I was doing the right thing. At first I wound the paddle with one of the chaps keeping an eye on Oleanna, but then we swapped. Water was swilling across Oleanna’s well deck through the drain holes, so we lowered the paddle a bit until things calmed down. She gradually rose with no bumping, a touch of paddle adjustment was needed but we did it without loosing any windows. Phew!
Along the tree lined cut to Boroughbridge we must have passed three more cruisers, everyone having set off at a similar time. We pulled in on the off side to top up with diesel, Canal Garage has a pump just in view and a hose that swings out on an arm. The mooring is high so fine for most cruisers, but positioning a narrowboat facing upstream for the hose to reach is a touch problematical. In the end I had to untie the bow rope and push out. The hose just reached and we topped up with the garages best red at 64p a litre.
It was easier for us to push over to the other side to tie up before Mick headed back across the bridge to pay, he then headed into the town for our Saturday newspaper, the Spa shop having a big queue outside so a newsagent got our money.
After lunch we moved off again another three and a half mile reach of willow trees to keep us amused. Under the A1, more cows watching our progress then the bow of a narrowboat came into view.
The cratch looked familiar, I zoomed in, yep NB Billy. Clare picked up her binoculars to check us out, we both waved. Last seen on the curley wurlys of the Leeds Liverpool just over three weeks ago, we’d been wondering if our paths would cross again or had our slow progress meant they would be miles away by now.
There was time for a quick chat as our bows crossed, they’d had a good time up in Ripon including a visit to Fountains Abbey. Glad they enjoyed it. I suspect this will be the last time our paths cross this year, not sure which way they are heading now. Which ever way it is enjoy it and see you somewhere again.
A large creation sat on the river bank. More like an aircraft hanger than a boat with tarpaulined roof, admittedly with a few bits of timber and windows visible. We wondered if this was a house boat, boat or shanty town. As we got to the upstream end we discovered it was No 9 with a very natty bicycle rack on it’s roof.
Below Westwick Lock a widebeam was manoeuvring. Had they come down the lock backwards? Had they been picking people up? We weren’t sure but they pulled off up towards the weir stream and hung back for us to approach. They actually had right of way as facing upstream we can hold our position easier.
We worked our way up the lock opening the top paddles as I had done at Milby and it worked a treat.
Around the first bend we could see apple trees full of natures bounty. This is the orchard of Newby Hall. We wondered if they would notice a few missing for a crumble but soon realised we could hear people, so wouldn’t pull into their mooring to help ourselves. The Hall and grounds are open, people climbing on board the mini railway and trip boats were running upstream.
During World War 2 the Hall was reserved for the Royal Family should they have needed to be evacuated from London. There are gardens, orchards and a very fine house, originally built in 1690 by Sir Christopher Wren the house was then enlarged and adapted by John Carr and subsequently Robert Adam. The interior is a very fine example of 18th Century design, well worth a visit.
As the hall disappeared behind us our way forward was sign posted. Left into an almost invisible cut whilst the river headed off looking far more inviting to our right. We followed the sign and soon arrived at Oxclose Lock the start of the Ripon Canal.
We worked up the lock, lifting the panels in the upper walkway to open the gate as they slot neatly round the paddle gear. Above two boats were moored on the visitor moorings. Was there space for us?
The Ripon Canal is renowned for being well looked after, the Lock Keeper keeping everything smart and clean. Yes the grass around the lock could do with a cut, but the flower beds and shrubs looked neat and tidy. There were some new posts that the boats were moored to. A sign on the offside suggested that was the lock landing, so were these posts right up to the lock for mooring? We decided that yes they were, we’d also be leaving enough space behind us should anyone else need it.
It took Tilly a while to find a gap in the chicken mesh hidden in the sideways trees, but then she was off away from pesky woofers, shouting and climbing the trees, she took a little bit of persuasion to come in for her dingding when the time came.
The cruisers that had been down on the river returned along with the widebeam. We soon realised it was better if the lock was full as it was very noisy when empty. Then early evening the two boats ahead of us winded and headed up towards Ripon leaving us on our own. Soon we were left listening to rain falling for the first time in weeks.
3 locks, 14.93 miles, 1 river but 2, 1 canal, 1 hour off and on of zoom, 1 horrid lock, 107 litres, 64p, 1 newspaper, 1 Billy, 2 waving boaters, 2 trip boats, 4 apples wouldn’t go amiss, 3 hours shore leave, 1 tiny cat sized hole, 27 trees, 1 kingfisher, 1 helicopter.