The Other Side Of The Sideways Trees. 18th August

Ripon Basin to Oxclose Lock

The next few days we’ll be on the river again and staying in places not so cat friendly so today we decided to move back to Oxclose Lock and give Tilly a few hours of freedom, but first we waited for the rain to subside. Six years ago it also rained as we left Ripon.

Wet day

By 11:30 it looked like it was drying up, time to roll the covers up and make our move, with chores to do it would be a stop start journey. First up to the very end of the Ripon Canal, the trip boat not going anywhere today, here we winded and headed back to the otherside of a cruiser that had joined us yesterday.

Jaunty angle for water

The yellow water tank was emptied the container left on the bow to be emptied at the services which was our next port of call. Here we cut the corner again, NB Otter having moved on meant we had more room to play with today. Facing downstream we used the other tap and were surprised that this tap had much better pressure than the other one. The tank would be full by the time we’d done our other chores.

The service block built to match the lock cottage

Tilly got a clean pooh box, Mick dealt with rubbish and the yellow water, the tank was full and we could move on, now in the rain!

Going down diagonally but forwards

Six years ago on Lillian we’d squeezed into the two locks on the way up. Mick hadn’t been confident at missing the cill on our way back down, so after topping up with water we’d winded and then reversed through the locks, giving us that bit of comfort knowing that the bow could overhang the cill if needs be. This is one of the reasons we had Oleanna built a foot shorter, we knew she’d fit even if we still had to go behind a bottom gate on a slight diagonal.

Much more space today

Pulling out of Bell Furrows Lock I managed to take a photo of the top gate. On facebook groups there are often people complaining of leaking gates, people expecting them to be watertight.


Well this gate is by far the worst we’ve seen in a long time and being a touch long for the lock Mick hid behind closed doors as the lock emptied, keeping his legs dry.

Very Leaky

Lillian’s back deck had no gaps in the surround, so leaks like this would only have one way to go and that was through the engine board drains or down into the engine bay itself, another reason for going down backwards.

Peaking through

I then elected to walk down to Oxclose Lock, this was so I could see what lay behind the sideways trees.


First there was a lake, here a few cormorants sat whilst others dived, the occasional swan added a touch of variety.

Then the lake in the middle of the race course. Here a fisherman had erected a green tent and was hoping for a bite.

The last lake was a totally different matter. This is Ripon City Wetlands Reserve. It was filled with thousands of geese, mostly greylags from what I could see. The lakes have been formed from sand and gravel quarries and this last lake is by far the most popular of them all.


Clouds of gaggeling geese flew over trying to find gaps in which to land. The noise was colossal! Glimpses through the sideways trees made me wonder if any more birds could fit!

Not much room left

On the other side of me Mick pootled along, looking a little bit superimposed in my photo here as the bank is so high.

Superimposed or real?

Reaching Oxclose Mick pulled in at the end furthest away from the lock whilst I walked round over the lock gates. Two volunteers were hard at work with a pump and jet wash giving the lock landings a good clean.

The Jet Wash Boys

Tilly was given five hours and came and went all afternoon. Returning for some Dreamies every hour and then off again to find friends.

Ooo, Himalayan Balsam!

At cat curfew time I heard a very loud hiss from the sideways trees and peered into them to see what was happening. Tilly had the biggest mohican back and bushy tail ever and seemed to be having a stand off with something. With back up from me she headed straight for Oleanna, had a good chomp at her evening ding ding and then fell asleep.

Still reflections

2 locks, 2.04 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 1 farewell to Ripon and it’s otter, 1 damp day, 3 lakes, 1 fisherman, 4578432 geese, 2 volunteers, 1 exhausted cat, 2 soaked trainers, 2 boaters watching the levels.