Oxclose Lock to Ripon Canal Basin
Rain. We’ve not had much of that of late, our mooring last night meant we heard the best of it being under trees. I do remember a boat here before that moored on the offside so as to avoid the added noise. Six years ago we waited to see the effect of a passing storm, not wanting to be caught out in York if the river rose. The added water passed through a day after the storm so we weren’t held up too long.
Today we decided that as we’d only got a couple of hours cruise up the canal to do before tomorrow afternoon then Tilly could decide when we left. Typical letting me out when it was raining! I made the most of it, taking my time.
Julie the Lock Keeper walked down to check the bywash and give things a once over. Mick popped out for a chat and to see if she knew if there would be space up at the basin. There might be a couple of boats but there should be space for us. Mooring is limited up here, about ten visiting boats can be accommodated on the canal, but then it is only just over 2 miles long.
It had stopped raining so I gave Tilly a call, just as Julie was heading back up the towpath. We had a chat about all things cat and she hoped Tilly would return soon. Just as she walked away I could hear Tilly’s bell deep in the friendly cover behind the sideways trees.
Tilly wasn’t coming in, she’d found a friend. After a while I could hear her bell again and encouraged her to come home, picking her up and plonking her through the side hatch to make sure we wouldn’t be stuck any longer.
Setting off we had over a mile to cover before arriving at our first lock. The towpath was busy. People stopping to look at birds, there are several large lakes just to the east of the canal and they seemed to be filled with noisy geese today. There also seemed to be some activity at the racecourse, but from our low level on the canal we couldn’t see what was happening, even standing on the stern lockers didn’t get me high enough to see over the hedge.
The two locks up to the basin had been a tight squeeze on Lillian but today we knew we had an extra foot to play with, we still needed to enter the locks and tuck Oleanna behind a gate to close the other side. Bell Furrows Lock top gates were leaking like a right b**ger and as Mick brought Oleanna in he exclaimed, ‘Oh Eck!’ Glad I had removed the quarantined flour from the well deck.
The top paddles on the locks have C&RT padlocks on them, I’d forgotten to take a key with me, but one was soon passed up. Oleanna stayed on a diagonal until she’d risen well past the cill, plenty of gongoozlers about to watch her slow ascent. One chap at Rhodesfield Lock wanted to help me with the lock beam, but that would have been too close for comfort, it wasn’t that heavy anyway.
I made sure I closed up the paddles fully and that all gates were closed, not many boats about, but those that sat on moorings would appreciate not finding themselves on the bottom in the morning.
The lock cottage is currently up for sale. In need of a lick of paint on the exterior it is a nice looking Grade 2 house, just a shame about the road so close behind it.
We pulled in at the services, another boat NB Otter sitting on the 48hr mooring here making it a touch awkward to pull in for a water point. When the canal was restored I suspect they didn’t expect boats of our length to visit so none of the three sides available to moor up to are quite long enough for us. Mick brought us in at a jaunty angle, I was ready at the bow to hop off with a rope.
Once we’d cut the corner we needed to pull back to make sure the canal in front of us was clear, should a widebeam have been heading down the canal we’d have blocked its way. All settled we connected the hose. Now if you think the water point at Hillmorton Locks is slow, here is a serious contender to being even slower! Once a minute of flow had come through the pipe the dribble started to fill up our water tank. Bins were sorted, then we waited and waited. Good job the tank was 1/2 full to start with. We waited, then gave up at 3/4 full, we could always top up again on our return.
Not far to the visitor moorings where we had the stretch to ourselves, we pulled up at the far end.
This looked good, plenty of sideways trees. But she said what lay behind those sideways trees was death! I didn’t like the sound of that so went to sleep instead.
It must have been quite peaceful here during lockdown with the lack of traffic, but as the evening progressed it quietened down. A chap sat on one of the benches and chatted away loudly on his phone. Tilly sat bolt up right, was she earwigging the chap? She jumped onto the Houdini shelf and looked out of the window, we’d seen no ducks, just what was keeping her attention?
I opened up the hatch to see a brown slithering body arch and dive back into the water infront of me, 10 to 12 foot away. An otter!
We watched as the bubbles moved around, the otter resurfacing for it’s next lung full of air, then letting it gradually go as it swam around under the water.
Wow! So close. Understandably our evening meal could wait as we watched for bubbles and for it to resurface.
It gradually moved it’s way down the canal towards the locks, the chap on the bench started talking again, he’d been waiting for it too.
2 locks, 2.08 miles, 4 hours shore leave, 1 Lock Keeper, 1 extreamly slow tap, 0 rubbish, 1 otter boat, 2 boaters watching the levels, 1 cat watching her new friend, 1 friend a touch too big to play with!