Naburn to Burn Bridge, Selby Canal
The voice of Houdini woke us at 6:20, we were up and dressed leaving Tilly to have a lie in. Cuppas were brewed and put in insulated mugs ready for the off. Yesterday Kenny (Lock Keeper) had changed the penning down time from 8am to 7:30am, not sure why. Maybe the amount of fresh water would help us on our way downstream against the incoming tide? Or because we were penning down with two cruisers heading for Goole this was a better time for all?
The covers were rolled back, last check of the weedhatch and we were ready to push off at 7:15. Blimey it was chilly, I was glad I’d put intermediate thermal socks on this morning and hoped that my hand warmer had some charge left in it. Our ropes being silty from the flooding, York always gives you gritty ropes, gave us muddy hands as we pulled them through the rings, the water now a good few inches lower than when we’d arrived last night.
Kenny stood in the misty sunlight, life jacket on awaiting the first boat, us, into the lock. As we approached I heard a chirp, then a flash of blue as a Kingfisher darted the full length of the lock, swooping up over the bottom gate and vanishing down to the river bank.
We thanked Kenny for looking after us and handed over a couple of bottles of beer. Soon we were followed into the lock by a big smoky cruiser, Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, then bringing up the rear another cruiser, these two had been sitting out the high water on the pontoon by the weir.
Oleanna smiled at us as the water drained out of the lock a marked difference in height from above the lock today. The gates opened and the two cruisers headed out first, they’d be quicker than us narrowboats anyway. With our ropes back on board we pushed off heading into the incoming tide, we’d be pushing against this for a while.
Tilly had made herself comfortable on one of my tops and planned on snoozing away the morning until shore leave was granted again. The dishwasher was switched on as I came through the boat, best make use of the engine working.
What a glorious morning. Blue skies, a chill in the air, the water higher than when we’d come upstream giving us different views all round.
Mick and Richard had discussed plans of our tidal tansit yesterday. This was to be their first experience of tidal water and Selby Lock would be their second ever lock, Naburn being their first this morning. They certainly had done their homework. We led the way for the most part and kept an ear on the VHF radio. Phone numbers had been exchanged, but for some reason Micks phone rang silently. We were pushing along at our speed but Richard was having difficulty in keeping up, Isabella’s engine a touch smaller than Oleannas. When we got the message we slowed our speed.
Ahead we could hear the cruisers radioing the bridge keeper at Cawood. They needed something like 5 meters plus of air draught and with the tide coming in the bridge would need to be swung for them. When they reached certain landmarks they had to radio again for the bridge keeper to open it to the river.
Mick rang the keeper to check we had enough head height. We almost certainly would, but we should check again when we were closer. As we went under there must have been another meter spare above our heads. Just a shame we didn’t get to see the bridge swing.
We zoomed past where the large tree trunk had been on our way up, no sign of it today. Maybe it was submerged or had been washed away downstream by the flood water. There were fewer trees to negotiate today, infact I think we only passed a couple of branches.
Ahead we could hear the cruisers approaching Selby. Air draughts checked, the bridges would need to swing. In Selby there is the Toll Bridge and the Rail Bridge. So not just a case of opening when the boats were close, there were trains to consider too. The Rail Bridge Keeper had to check with the signal box, there would be a train in 9 minutes then a window of 10. We’re not sure if this meant the cruisers needed to speed up or slow down. More messages between boats and the two bridges, hopefully the following boat would catch the first one up. The last we heard was that Selby Rail bridge was open to the river!
We called Selby Lock as we passed the Turnhead Reach sign. No need for us to check with the bridges, high water had passed we’d have plenty of room. Mick explained that Isabella would head for the lock first and that it was their first time, we would hold back and stem the tide. Once round the big bend to the north of Barlby we slowed right down. This was so that Richard and Heather could overtake us and head to the lock before us.
The reason for this was they would then have the lock to themselves, no trying to negotiate around another boat and with more experience of both tidal waters and our boat we’d be more confident at holding our position and keeping out of the way.
Another call to the Lock Keeper when we reached the long straight before the last bend and bridges, he asked if we had a radio, he’d contact us by this when Isabella was in the lock.
At the final bend we could see Richard zoom out of view, the current round here has been a touch fierce before and then you have to negotiate the bridges. All we could do was wish them luck around the bend.
Straightening up for us took a bit of umph, but we cleared both bridges fine.
Up ahead we could see Isabella quite far over to the south bank. Had they gone past the lock? Yes they had. Mick slowed right down. I moved to the bow before we made any manoeuvre ourselves. Once Mick could see I was in the well deck he pushed the tiller over, the tide pushing us sideways until Oleanna got the better of the current and faced upstream into the out going tide.
Meanwhile Richard had successfully managed to swing Isabella round and we could see them heading for the lock. They they vanished behind the bushes.
We took our time gradually drifting backwards to the lock. Our manoeuvre had been early giving Richard as much space as he might need. So it took a while for us to drift backwards to the lock. The Lockie chirped up on the radio that we were good to go and that Isabella was on the port side of the lock. Time for me to sort my rope to the right side in the well deck as we carried on drifting back.
Once in a good position we headed for the lock, making sure we didn’t cut the corner, the Lockie signalling when to go for it in towards the lock. Mick swung us in at speed, avoiding the stern being pushed towards the port side, tucked us in next to Isabella without touching a thing. Phew!
Smiles all round. Only their second ever lock and one of the hardest to get into. With ropes carefully round risers we rose up to the Selby Canal. Job done, we’d escaped, time for breakfast.
After a bowl of cereal and a cuppa we pushed off again with the aim of finding somewhere suitable for Tilly. We waved goodbye to Richard and Heather, we’ll most probably see them in a couple of days time when we return for a supermarket delivery.
Under one of the bridges there was a group of young people filming something. When they spotted us they quickly changed their angle, those being filmed sat on railings so as to have us going past in the background. Wonder if we’ll be on telly?
The first mooring we came across at Burn Bridge was empty, should we stop or carry on? Tilly had been patient for ever such a long time, time to stop. We pulled in, tucked the bow under the willow tree and opened the doors.
With tail held high we had a happy cat again. She got busy very quickly.
With the sun being out I thought hard to see what we could stick on the barbecue. A pack of turkey sausages and some veg halloumi kebabs. I just hoped the sausages would defrost in time! A batch of gf bread rolls were made, cycling watched and Mick got a grade three haircut. A productive afternoon.
I had to make up for lost time. A friend for each day I’d been STUCK inside. Then a couple to celebrate the outside being tied up correctly again.
It turns out that four years ago we’d moored in the same spot with Alison and Laura from NB Large Marge. A barbecue had been enjoyed then too.
2 locks, 16.62 miles, 1 swing bridge, 6 cars 7 pedestrians held up, 3 bridges swung out of view, 1 kingfisher, 2 bottles beer, 1 mooring to ourselves, 7 hours shore leave, 8 friends, 1 over full cat, 0 otters, 4 kebabs, 4 sausages too many, 2 boaters escaped from the Ouse. Just a big shame we hardly did anything we’d wanted to do whilst there, we’ll just have to go back soon.
PS We won’t be setting a course for intermediate.thermal.socks as it’s in the North of Peru. We don’t think we’d be allowed passage through the Panama Canal, our C&RT licence doesn’t cover South America.