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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Monday, 16 August 2010



Some consideration as to the route of our continuing journey south had been taken. The return in to Selby Lock was a little cause of concern and we had thought that maybe we would continue down the River Ouse to Goole but following phone calls to Associated British Ports and to the Goole Boat Club we decided to come off at Selby. Unless we arrived at exactly the right time at Ocean Lock, before or after high tide there would be substantial charge for locking through and if we had to moor against the pontoon whilst waiting for the right state of tide we would incur additional charges. Also the very helpful chap at the Boat Club pointed out that it was very easy to run aground and on an ebbing tide which would mean having to wait until the tide turned and floated you off, his belated suggestion was that we should have gone to York via Goole as that was a much easier passage for a narrow boat, too late for that now,

The lock keeper at Naburn lock had previously advised us that 1.15pm was the time to lock through so we had plenty of time before leaving York. While we were having a late breakfast a flotilla of large river cruisers arrived and moored up nearby. They had had a difficult passage coming upstream from Goole because of the amount of debris in the river. My immediate reaction was ‘whimpy plastic boat owners’ as when we came upstream whilst the river was still in flood, there was hardy anything in the water, anyway we would soon see for ourselves.

Just over an hour later and having passed under a disused railway bridge which supported a remarkable wire sculpture of a fisherman with a train on the end of his hook we cruised into the cut for Naburn Lock. I almost missed the turn and had to back up a bit, but fortunately there was no sign of the weir. As usual, right on the dot of 1.15 we were in the lock along with a BW work boat, several small river cruisers and one other narrow boat and a few minutes later we were on our way downstream.

Well, those cruiser owners were right, the river was absolutely full of rubbish, from clumps of weed to full size tree trunks, the workboat and cruisers soon left the two narrow boats behind as we weaved our way between the obstructions. For the first hour or so the current was still against us and at one point where the river narrowed it really slowed us down, although I had the engine revs at the fastest that I have ever cruised at 1,800 rpm. Gradually the flow slackened and with hardly any delay it started to flow the other way and our speed past the river banks and the obstructions rapidly quickened. At one point we passed a floating inflated bull and on the bank a herd of cows looked on, possible mourning the loss of ‘big daddy bull’.

As we approached the last turn in the river before Selby, I called the lock keeper on the VHF and was assured that by the time we got there the lock would be ready. I passed under the left hand arches of the two swing bridges and as the lock came into view I reduced the revs to tick over and keeping to the left side initiated the 180 deg turn. For a moment I thought I might have been able to sweep straight into the lock, but the current continued to swing the stern around and just like last year on the Thames, SKYY slowly started to move back upstream and gradually the bow entered the entrance to the lock and we were in.

Safely tied up in Selby basin we were concerned to hear that the swing bridge at Keadby was broken and unless repaired fairly soon, our only way onto the River Trent would be at Trent Falls which is where the rivers Trent and Ouse meet on their way down the Humber to the North Sea, not a journey that I would willing contemplate. However we decided to stay put for the time being, so there probably won’t be much blogging for a while, but normal blogging service will resume as soon as possible.

Sunday, 15 August 2010



Jacquie attacked the shops whilst I strolled up to and over the combined pedestrian/railway bridge and along to the National Railway Museum. No entry fee required, but a donation was requested, I have no problem with that.

I started in the main engine shed where displayed close together is the first practicable steam locomotive, Stephenson’s Rocket and one of the fastest streamlined locomotives to be built, alongside a streamlined Chrysler car from the same period, sadly The Mallard, which actually holds the speed record at a 126 mph was not on display. Of course every period of train development is represented right up to a section of the Channel Tunnel and a Euro Train and the only example of the Japanese Bullet Train outside Japan.

For the real steam enthusiast a full size locomotive and tender, has been sliced open, exposing all their innards and at various times during the day the huge wheels are turned by electric rollers and the movement of the pistons and cranks are explained by a young but very knowledgeable chap.

Three hours later I felt that I had had my donations worth, but I could have easily spent at least another couple of hours, just wandering around the ‘warehouse’ where train ephemera is stacked high, with everything from bath chairs to station clocks. Of course this museum is really for the chaps but there is plenty for everyone especially the royal carriages, from Queen Victoria through to Elizabeth 11.

On Sunday we visited the Minster, Brian and Ann had been there the previous weekend and had ‘Gift Aided’ which allows unlimited entry for up to a year. We took advantage of their ticket as even the OAP price is £7 each. The museum in the crypt is fascinating, showing Roman foundations of a secular basilica and also those of an earlier Norman church. These remains were discovered when urgent work in the late 1960’s was undertaken to support the central tower which was found to be in imminent danger of collapsing and massive concrete collars were placed around the base of the four supporting columns.

Much wiser we returned to SKYY to mentally prepare for the return tomorrow down the tidal Ouse and the interesting 180 deg. turn upstream into the entrance to Selby lock, no problem, I don’t expect it will be any different to our entry to Limehouse Basin on the tidal Thames last year.



Whilst Jacquie did some shopping I manoeuvred the boat over to the water point on the other side and filled her up. On Jacquie’s return we shoved of and almost immediately worked our way through Milby Lock. The journey down to Linton Lock was uneventful but fortunately we had the help of several people to help open the top gates, as there was more water leaking out at the bottom than coming in via the paddles at the top. Replacement gates and repairs to the cill are scheduled for September, but in the meantime it was brute force that was required.

After a few more hours of cruising we were back in York, but the only mooring spaces left were reserved for a charity boat and a cafe boat. There was just one other spot, but a concrete shelf extended out just under the surface which prevented us from snugging up to edge, but the stern was close enough for Duggie to jump on and off, so that was fine and we decided to stay there for the weekend.

Saturday, 14 August 2010



Our 48 allowed hours at Ripon were up and it was time to start our return journey from this Northernmost point on the canals. The last of the three locks let us back onto the River Ure and only a little further on and Newby Hall once again came into view, there was no other boat tied up at one of the three wooden staithes, so there was plenty of room to come alongside.

We walked though the gardens and play areas and admired the black swans with their curly feathers with no hindrance on this crowded sunny day. We did buy tickets for house and garden at the entrance pavilion, not cheap at £11 per person and that was the concession price. The house was superb, Robert Adams input was beautifully evident and our guide was very informative and we concluded that the entrance price was good value.

After the essential ice cream and a game of 'chase the fallen apple' with Duggie we continued our return to Boroughbridge and sneaked back into our previous mooring spot, I even managed to use the same hole for my pin albeit that SKYY faced the other way this time.



A pleasant day in Ripon culminating in a Sainsbury shopping trip and an evening drink in the Black Bull. The reason for the lateness of the visit was to combine it with the blowing of the Wakeman's horn at 9pm in the city square.

This custom that has taken place without missing a single day for over eleven hundred years. King Alfred, he of the burnt cakes, presented a horn to Ripon in lieu of a charter and a Wakeman was appointed to blow the horn from the four corners of the market square at nine pm. and from then until daylight the town was under his protection.

George Pickles is the incumbent hornblower and a fine figure he cut in his coat and tricorn hat, but he now blows the fourth horn, the original one is on display in the town hall. After carrying out his horn blowing duties George gave a humurous and informative talk in a typical Northern manner and then handed out lucky wooden pennies with a promise that riches should fall our way. Obviously Jacquie is still a sucker for a man in uniform, I've never seen her move so fast when George offered to have his photo taken with anybody. A great ending to a lovely day.

Monday, 2 August 2010



Ripon had always been our intended destination today, but the anticipation of meeting up again with Julie and that free pumpout spurred us on and the seven miles and four locks whizzed by. Not quite true, the gates at Westwick lock were incredible hard to open and close, but fortunately some fit young Environment Agency guys gave Jacquie a hand, in opening the gates, obviously.

A little while later we passed the mooring staithes for Newby Hall and then the hall itself came into view. We hooted and waved back at the passengers on the little train that trundled around the grounds and along the river side, this looked and sounded well worth a visit, hopefully we would find time on the way back.

Previously the two bit miles of the Rippon Canal had only been open between ten and two o’clock but the extra rain had lifted the restriction, as it was we arrived at the immaculately kept white Sanitary Station at 2.30 and Julie was waiting for us and kept her word and pumped us out. Julie is one of the last ‘Lengths-persons’ with BW and the smartness and fresh paint on all the locks and bridges are a testimony to her love of the job.

The final entrance into the little basin at the end of the canal is delightful, with new and restored building fitting together very well. SKYY was turned around in the basin and was the only boat to tie up at the road side mooring, a little noisy, but not too much of a problem. Weh Hey, we had finally reached the most Northern point directly accessible on the English canal network, we would leave The Ribble Link and the Lancaster Canal for another time.

The evening sunshine warmed us as we wandered around this tiny City dominated by its Cathedral, but we would have all of the morrow to investigate.



A bus route had been worked out to return Brian & Ann to Wakefield, Boroughbridge to York, York to Leeds and Leeds to Wakefield, all of this for free with their bus pass, leaving just a short taxi ride to Stanley Ferry and their car. We waved them goodbye at exactly 10.45 having had a laughter filled week with them.

On our return to SKYY we moved her over to the other side of the cut and got the diesel tank filled up via the swinging boom that supported the hose from the conveniently placed Canal Garage. Water from the water point filled the water tank and a ten pound card got the BW pumpout equipment working or so I thought until I opened the valve and nothing happened. There I was hopping up and down with annoyance, frustration and a full to the brim loo tank, when ‘RIPON’ a BW workboat moored up in the space that I had just vacated. Julie and her colleague came over and hung an ‘out of action’ sign on the door to the equipment, although Julie bless her promised to meet us tomorrow at the Sanitary Station just before Ripon and give us a free pumpout.

I moved SKYY back to the other side and found a space further down, in the meantime we would get a little more exercise than expected as we would have to walk over the bridge and use the BW facilities every time we needed the loo, but that’s boating life. The rest of the day we tided up SKYY and relaxed.

Sunday, 1 August 2010



We wanted to maximise the cruising time with Ann & Brian, having lost a couple of days at Selby and as we would be coming back through York we pushed of. Our destination was Boroughbridge, twenty miles and two locks upstream, this seems a long way in canal terms, but travel on the river is much faster, no slowing down for moored boats and averaging five mph. with a stop for lunch at Linton Lock we arrived within five hours. No hazards at all provided you keep well to the right of the red markers at Linton Lock as silt deposited from the weir has built a substantial sand bar.

We did pass a boat that had come to grieve, obviously got stranded by a flood, a reminder as to just how unpredictable rivers can be and the lonely signpost that indicated when the River Ouse became the Ure

We moored in the long cut of Milby lock next to small market town of Boroughbridge. The Great North Road used to pass through here and there was thirty inns providing horses and accommodation for travellers, now the A1 passes half a mile to the west of the town. Another useless piece of information is that the handsome well in the centre of the square is 256ft. deep and as you might expect their was a Battle of Boroughbridge.

We checked out the bus stops as Brian and Ann would be leaving us tomorrow and after a drink in the The Anchor, returned to SKYY for dinner and a sing along to the Mamma Mia DVD, sad or what!