The Goole Escape, Scaling The Wall. 21st May

Goole to ……

Can you see us?

The River Ouse is so vast in Goole you just have to keep looking forwards so as not to be swallowed up by the expanse of water.

That Mick he’s always been a speed merchant!

With a choice of charts, Ripon or the Boating Association, we decided to follow the red line on the later. Popped in a plastic folder the book wouldn’t stay dry if it rained but it would have some protection. We’d rather these got damp than the useful book from Ripon, so that stayed on the Nicholson’s shelf by the back door in case we wanted it for reference.

Tucked away behind the flood bank

However we were close enough to Sea Maiden to see what course to follow, David having produced the Ripon book should know his way along the river.

Goole Railway Swing Bridge

First landmark was Goole Railway Swing Bridge. With wharfs further upstream the bridge swings to let big ships through, no need for that today. David did take a different span of the bridge than our red line suggested, as Sea Maiden is deeper droughted than Oleanna we had no problem following.

The bridge is also known as Hook Bridge,  it is a large viaducted hogback plate girder bridge with a swing span that was built to connect Kingston Upon Hull to South Yorkshire in 1869. There are four fixed spans crossing from the western bank then the two that swing on the east bank. The pivot point is vast.

Lulabelle following

At Howden Dyke large wharfs stand with their bucket cranes ready to off load. We looked out for green markers here, but then realised these were actually quite small and are lights rather than big posts with brushes on the top as they are on the Trent.

The second wharf is where you change course quite dramatically. Straight ahead would seem to make sense, taking the shorter route round Howden Dyke Island.

But this course is shallow and the channel heads off at a right angle to the south of the island. Paul from Waterway Routes had mentioned this in an email a day ago, we stuck to our red line and followed Sea Maiden up ahead.

Here they come

Looking behind us, would Lulabelle see which course to take? They came into view and took the sharp left following at quite a distance now.


As we finished rounding the island Mick’s phone rang. It was Nigel at Selby asking on our progress. We’d only been out on the river for about half an hour. Maybe he thought we’d been let out earlier from the docks, but he’d hoped we’d be further on and not still south of the M62 bridge.

At Selby there hadn’t been a noticeable change of tide this morning due to the amount of fresh coming down. He was concerned that we’d soon be loosing the effect of the incoming tide and then struggle against tide and fresh water to make headway. The river appeared to be peaking a day earlier than expected. All we could do was continue, we seemed to be doing 6mph which we thought was reasonable.

We messaged up ahead to David, Oleanna could go faster, but could Lulabelle who seemed to be keeping up but a long way behind. Did their engine have enough umph to push on upstream.


Nebo showed us doing between 5 to 10 knots only slowing to below 5 knots when changing direction around Howden Dyke and as we approached the M62 Bridge, well we had to have chance to have a good look.

Wonder if anyone saw us?

Just how many times have we been over this huge spanning bridge which opened in 1976. This is our preferred route south from Scarborough and at times it was too from York. On crossing the bridge we always look out for boats and comment on the state of the tide. Today the tide was still coming in and there were three boats pushing their way upstream.

Boothferry Bridge

Next Boothferry Bridge. A landmark of Micks childhood, long before the M62 bridge was built! Living in London and grandparents living in Hessle near Hull they would make the journey northwards by car. Crossing the bridge was a sign that they were nearly there! Excitement would build on the back seat of the Humber Hawk.

Another for good measure

To the south of the Ouse the River Aire joins shortly before a bend. Now up ahead the cooling towers of Drax Power Station rose, new wind turbines in the foreground. Was there a faint whiff of wood smoke in the air? Drax burns biomass to generate power now, just like wooden cat litter.

New and old power generating

I had wondered if we’d be able to see Eggborough Power Station too along this stretch. The thought of a photo with Drax, Eggborough and the depleted cooling towers of Ferrybridge a goal of mine, but sadly this wasn’t to be.

Lulabelle still there

Next time we cross the Wolds on a clear day we’ll have to stop the car to get all three power stations in one photo.

Is this Barmby?

Round another bend and Barmby Barrage came into view. The River Derwent heads off north east from here. A while ago we’d considered stopping here to save the full journey up to Selby. Maybe our progress was starting to slow now the effect of the incoming tide was waning against the amount of fresh coming down, we’d been on the river now for an hour and a half. Was this where we should be?

It is

Mick called Nigel at Selby to give him an update on our location. Thankfully he was happy with our progress, he wouldn’t be sat at Selby waiting for us until 9pm as he’d once thought.

Next year

Barmby Barrage has to be booked with the Environment Agency 24 hours in advance. Heading up the Derwent and onto the Pocklington Canal is one trip we want to do, but for now it will have to wait for another year, maybe next year.


The red line on our charts was now becoming intermediate. Keeping to the outside of bends, but not too far over as the flow pushes you even further out as we’d discovered on our first trip up to York seven years ago. As we reached Hemingbrough our speed was certainly dropping, Nebo showing it now under 5 knots.

24 to where?

We’d been wondering where all the debris was that usually accompanies you from Selby up to York. Last year it had been like a log flume. Our first tree came into sight bobbing along, a browning Christmas tree. Was this all there was going to be?


Sea Maiden up ahead was slowing. The river getting narrower the flow coming towards us stronger. This is where the floating debris started, no wonder David had slowed down. We’d lost sight of Lulabelle a while earlier, but with each of us on Nebo we could see where each boat was. Martin and Wendy were maybe ten, fifteen minutes behind, but they were still moving.

How now

Red markers on the western bank counted upwards. 26 being called Brown Cow on our charts was surrounded by sheep grazing the river bank. From here it was only 5km to the swing bridges of Selby, channel 9 to contact the bridge keepers, but we’d not need them to swing for us, we’d only one to go under Selby Bypass Swing Bridge.

A large tree lay on the bank, was this the tree we’d seen last year on our way up to York? At Roscarrs the river narrows and we could see the water bubbling away, lumpy water. We pushed hard against the flow here and up to the next bend where things calmed down somewhat.

Lumpy water

As Sea Maiden passed under the Bypass Bridge we heard David contacting the lock keeper on the radio. Nigel asked if all the boats were together, there was no reply from David. We waited for him to answer but none came. So Mick radioed our position as we passed under the bridge. Sea Maiden would be penned up the lock on her own, Nigel would then drop the lock ready for us. Mick reduced our speed, a gradual approach to the lock better than having to tread water nearer it. Martin on Lulabelle then followed on the radio with their position, still about ten minutes behind us.

Selby Bypass Bridge

But where was the lock? If this was your first time on the river you’d need guidance as all you can see is trees along the banks and Selby Rail Swing Bridge up ahead. Sea Maiden carried on ahead, then just disappeared out of view.

Finally the red brick flats came into view, these are just after the lock so we slowed our progress even more. The water could be seen dropping from the lock. I made my way to the bow before any manoeuvring by us was needed.

Nigel at the lock

Nigel stood by the lock mouth, handy hand signals as to our position on our approach. The temptation to turn in as you would on a canal is great, especially as we were facing the flow. But holding our course upstream meant we’d not get swept into the bank or the lock walls. Stay out, stay out, NOW!

Approaching the lock

Mick swung the tiller hard over and Oleanna responded nicely straight into the lock. Phew!

Thank you Karl for the footage.

Safe in the lock

No need for ropes as we’d be on our own in the lock. Nigel opened up paddles bringing us in towards the wall where we stayed as we raised up to the Selby Canal.

Two of us up

Sea Maiden was already moored. We winded and pulled in behind them. The lock already being reset for Lulabelle. More hand signals and Martin and Wendy turned faultlessly into the lock, big grins all round.

Keep coming!

All three boats safely in Selby. In the last twenty minutes it had started to rain, but other than that we’d had a pretty dry cruise. We’d found the gap in the weather, pushed against the fresh water. David’s original calculations had had us arriving at Selby around 16:30. We’d arrived at 17:30 after pushing against the increasing amount of fresh coming down stream. So we’d not done too badly and had a pleasant cruise up the river.

Three of us up

All that’s left to do now is head back the way we’ve come. Turn up the Trent, using the tide to help us upstream. Passage is currently booked for Sunday at 06:30.

Can I go out yet?

2 locks, 15.84 miles, 1 wind, 3 lefts, 1 straight on, 0 ships, 38 litres, 2 fenders, 3 boat flotilla, 12 knots maximum wind speed, 3 hours 10 minutes on the river, 1 worried Lockie, M62 and Boothferry Bridge gone under, 1st stage of the escape achieved, phew!

3 thoughts on “The Goole Escape, Scaling The Wall. 21st May

  1. Adam

    I’m frankly amazed that you managed this on Friday — down here, it was blowing an absolute hooley, and I was sure you’d have to postpone!

    1. Pip Post author

      We were lucky finding a window in the wind. Now we just need more luck to come our way!

  2. Anonymous

    Excellent great post Pip glad stage one is complete, fingers crossed for Sunday 06.30!

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