Saturday, May 17, 2008
To the Northernmost Point – Almost!
After our short stay in York, we set out again on Monday morning, heading up the Ouse and into much more remote countryside. We would not go under any more bridges for more than nine miles! Lovely as it is cruising up the river, mooring is much more limited than on the canals; we can't just 'stop anywhere'. Not only are the banks private, but they are also very difficult to get close to, so we are pretty much restricted to stopping at recognised moorings. This has not been a problem, as there are some great places to stay for a night or two. When we stayed just below Linton Lock, we found that we had terns and oystercatchers for neighbours – normally seabirds, but obviously attracted by the fish and aquatic invertebrates. Word is that a seal has been this far up the river, but we haven't seen it yet! Not far upstream from here, a tiny insignificant stream joins the river. This is the Ouse Gill Beck and amazingly it gives its name to the river, as downstream from here it is the Ouse and upstream it is the River Ure. A little further on, and we passed the first bridge since York – a wonderfully primitive toll bridge whose wooden planks rattled as cars drove over it! As you can also see from the picture, we had a little company from another boat. We continue to be surprised by how few boats we have met. Once again, we are enjoying some of the hidden gems of the waterways! We have enjoyed seeing swallows and martins wheeling around us as we chug upstream, and it is good to see the sand martin colonies in the sandy banks of the river, especially as this sort of habitat is becoming increasingly rare and is vulnerable to damage by river flooding. The old town of Boroughbridge made a pleasant overnight stop as we headed on. Just two miles before Ripon, the 'navigation' branches off the River Ure and we found ourselves back on canal again, leading us to this little city that feels much more like a country town. The canal basin seems empty and perhaps a little forlorn, with apparently only one small boat available for day hire and no other canal-based business here. Yet again, we have been the only boat visiting – hard to understand why. This is as far north as we can go on this part of the waterways and, until a few years ago, was the northernmost point on the 'joined-up' waterways system. Since the Millenium Ribble Link joined the Lancaster Canal back onto the system, it has has been possible to get a little further north than Ripon, but not by many miles! We aim to be there a little later in the year. After this weekend, we expect to start back downstream again, aiming to meet David and Mary just south of York, then turn around again and revisit some the highlights with them for a few days. Then back down to Selby, on to Leeds and over the Pennines again, this time on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.