Oxclose Lock to Linton Lock, River Ouse
A quick check of levels, still in the green below Oxclose Lock time to make our move, we’ve got places to be!
The amount of water going over the top of the gates meant it was a two person job to get the lock open. Then we were off on our way downstream.
The day started grey and misty, Newby Hall soon passed, our progress a touch quicker heading downstream along with the recent rainfall. A chap stood waiting for the first people to arrive wanting a boat trip. We then turned into Westwick Lock cut. Six years ago I’d had to clamber over moored work boats to get to the lock, but today there were no boats in sight, infact we only saw three boats moving all day.
Where we rejoined the main channel of river frothy icebergs floated in to join us. Cows slid down the banks to the river, one a touch too far, it was up to it’s neck with it’s mates huddled round above mooing encouragement to get out.
Gradually as the miles ticked off the sun started to show it’s face, we knew this wouldn’t last all day and hoped we’d be moored up long before it started to rain.
No 9 was moored up in Boroughbridge opposite the red diesel pump. We didn’t stop carrying straight on to Milby Lock. Going down is far easier than going up, you just have to make sure you will miss the cill.
Oleanna descended on a diagonal, I open the other gate and Mick steers her out with a little bit of help of the bowthruster to get the bow past the closed gate. Extensions have been added to most lock gates round here. At Westwick there are metal bars that pull out and here at Milby extra wooden arms have been added, meaning all your effort on pushing and pulling is made easier, or just possible. I’d hate to think what they were like before the extensions were added.
Now we were down on the long reach to Linton. The River Swale came in to join the Ure from the north. Golfers crossed the river to reach their next hole, paddle boarders headed upstream, we slowed down for these guys.
Under Aldwark Bridge, only a couple of cyclists making the wooden planks rumble today. A gang of goats tasted the juiciest bits of grass on the river bank, far more nimble than cows or sheep.
Then where the almost unnoticeable Ouse Gill Beck joins the River Ure the river becomes the Ouse, a finger post pointing each way to mark the spot. Blink and you’d miss it, well we did on the way upstream!
A farmer was spreading muck in a field filling the air with a pungent aroma, we were glad to eventually get upwind of him. Then the moored boats of Linton came into view along with the spire of the church.
There was space on the visitor moorings even though the broken down cruiser was still moored in the middle. We pulled in decided to stay here for the night. Below the lock we would have a couple of choices, the hard edge costing us £6 or head on hoping that the pontoon mooring at the Dawnay Arms would be free. We decided to stay put, the level below the lock looking higher than we’d thought it would be.
Gaugemap had shown a rise of maybe 18 inches in York and we tried to work out where that would be compared to the moorings at the bottom of Museum Gardens, possibly nearly level. Had the river started to drop or was it staying on a level? Would the forecast rain mean it would rise more?
During our cruise I’d been keeping a look out for news from Chipping Norton regarding Panto. Sure enough this morning the postponement was announced on their website, the news gradually spread across their social media through the day.
A week ago John, their Artistic Director, had called to break the expected news to me. They had been holding on hoping that things would improve regarding the pandemic, that social distancing would be reduced, that guidance from the government would improve the possibility of mounting panto. But try as they might and I’m sure they have tried every single scenario of mounting panto, none would be viable and could end up being financial suicide. So Rapunzel is postponed to next year. They plan on doing a Christmas show on the back of a wagon in town, nowhere near their normal panto, but something to keep the locals amused. All very sad, but I had just been waiting for the phone call.
Then a ray of light for theatre came through the clouds regarding the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. They are planning an autumn season as well as starting to show films again. A new play by John Godber, the cast being his family who have all been in a bubble since day one of lockdown. The Round auditorium will be socially distanced, reducing the 400 + capacity to 85, if the 2m rule is reduced then they will be able to seat another 100. Their Christmas show has been rewritten as a one woman show. All good news and I’m so glad that some theatres are finding ways to produce work.
We had a walk around the lock, with no river level board below it is was hard to see how high the level has risen since we headed upstream a few days ago. We both made note of where it was sitting on lock gates and railings.
The widebeam that had been on the paid mooring had moved to the floating pontoon, both lock landing and water point. We watched as a narrowboat pulled up alongside. They breasted up and started filling with water, then the lady walked up to the lock and looked for space.
There was the space where we’d been before, but we’d already seen one boat use the slipway today. We offered for them to breast up to us.
Only one thing for it but to gongoozle and lend a bit of umph to open the top gates when the time came. NB Gandja pulled up alongside, gocart tyres between us, all settled for the night.
We still had somewhere to go. The Dawnay Arms. Kerry who runs the pub with her husband used to work at the Stephen Joseph Theatre restaurant in the early days, they have been running the pub for about ten years. I’d messaged ahead to see if their pontoon was empty, it turned out it was, but being on a bend of the river with the levels up I’d not fancied moving from the safety of the lock cut. This however meant we had a much longer walk to get there, in the rain!
I’d booked our table ten days ago and was glad I had as with the Eat Out To Help Out deal they are now fully booked for the remainder of the month on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the rest of the week is pretty healthy too. The pub has plenty of space although they have had to reduce the number of covers they do, but they can still accommodate 40 inside and plenty more in the garden if the weather is nice.
It was lovely to see Kerry again, six years since we last visited. Despite them being busy she still had time to catch up with us. During lockdown they had started doing takeaways, frozen meals and became a village shop with meat, fish, fresh fruit and veg. I suspect they looked after the village very well.
The menu was tempting and as expected the waiting staff knew exactly what I could eat without having to check in the kitchen, most things could be made gluten free. First thing was to check what puddings I could have, only one choice, but that sounded very tasty so we opted for main courses and puddings.
But was it to be a steak, they are very very good here, Yorkshire Dales Lamb or Beef Fillet. It had to be the beef fillet from the specials menu, with a side order of triple cooked chips to share between us. Normally we’d have shied away from the most expensive thing on the menu, but as Rishi would be paying £10 towards it we just had to. Another way of justifying it was that we’d not been able to go out for Mick’s birthday 3 months ago, so it was a belated Happy Birthday and we only come this way once every six years.
Wild mushrooms, spinach, red wine sauce and some exceptionally tasty smoked sweet potato puree accompanied the melt in your mouth fillet of beef. Yum.
Puddings, Mick had a white chocolate cheese cake with raspberry sorbet and I had double chocolate delice with raspberry ripple chilled medication. All exceptionally yummy. Well worth saving up over the next six years to visit again.
Our walk back to Oleanna was drier, just as well as our jeans had only just dried out. We checked the river level, but by now it was getting dark and a thick layer of froth covered the river below the lock. Here’s hoping things look better in the morning.
3 locks, 14.85 miles, 9 icebergs,15 goats, 1 possible otter, 1 speedy cruise, 1 rising river, 0 panto, 85 audience, 1 belated birthday treat, 2 fillets, 9 chips between 2, 2 puddings, £20 assistance from Rishi, 6 years, 2 boaters watching levels.