Beningbrough Hall

One of the nice things about visitors is that they usually have a car, and if we ask nicely we can go exploring a little further afield. As luck would have it Mum was also loves a trip out, so I hopped into their camper van and the was whisked a few miles up the road to Bedingbrough Hall, a magnificent Georgian Mansion owned by the National Trust.

But it was the gardens we really wanted to see.

Mum under the Apple arch
Why don’t my herbaceous borders look like this

Perhaps because I didn’t have Andy Stugeon, the gold medal winner at Chelsea, design it, with an army of volunteers to maintain it.

The Andy Sturgeon garden

But even some of the flowers still have trouble with snails

Nestled inside the purple alium

Of course all good NT properties have somewhere for a cup of tea and a scone

A big house needs a big teapot.

We couldn’t leave without going inside, Bedingbrough hall has chosen to use its grandeur to house some of the National Portrait collection and it’s more of an art gallery than a home now. However to keep the younger visitors attention there is a floor of interactive ‘amusements’ including a dressing up box

Not very practical for narrowboat living

And of course all those grand clothes needed to be kept clean, so a house this size had a whole laundry block full of boiling vats and mangles,

I wonder if the Laundry maids saw the beauty of this mangle

But I couldn’t see a tumble drier anywhere.

But that all looked like hard work, we these little fellas had the right idea

Counting the goldfish

Overwhelmed by York

York doesn’t need much promotion, it knows how to welcome it’s visitors, first there where the Romans and then the Anglo Saxons, the Vikings, the Norman’s where various kings benefitted, or not from the cities prosperity, the Georgians weren’t all that interested in York, and then the Victorians arrived with the railway. All have helped create a beautiful vibrant multifaceted and very interesting place, that can’t be summed up in my litte blog. Nowadays school trips coach trips, Japanese and the racing fraternity all grace the streets. But despite there hardly being an inch of space to spare we cruised past the trip boats under Lendel Bridge

Lendel Bridge

and were able to moor up along side the museum gardens to enjoy the sites and sounds of this amazing place.

Museum gardens visitor mooring

I couldn’t wait to leap off Firecrest and run up the steps to be greeted by our first view of the Minster such a magnificent building that dominates York.

York Minster

We couldn’t go exploring straight away as We had to welcome our own visitors, Anne and Richard were still in yorkshire and came see us and arrived an hour after we moored up.

Friends forever

With only few hours together, we decided to start by walking the walk but it was just too hot to do the whole circumference. But we got lovely views of the Minster and some of the rather fancy restaurants

Champagne view from the wall

We wanted to end our afternoon together with an ice cream but the fancy bar on the river front had tempting cool beer.

Low cal icecream

And then we settled down for the evening to contemplate all the lovely things we were going to see in York, if we could afford them.

Lendel Bridge In the evening.

Slowly into Selby and out again

It took a while to come back down to earth after the thrill of our gliding experience, so probably a good job we were so close to Selby. The canal was thick with duck weed, making cruising feel like a chore, but we were welcomed by a beautiful sculpture celebrating both old and new landmarks. Selby’s heritage is dominated by the River Ouse and the canal. The canal was completed in 1779 to the sounds of the Abbey bells and canons. The local landscape was not only rich in coal and the but also good for growing wheat, So Selby became a hub for milling and baking, using grain brought in by the barges from Hull and Goole. Hovis had a large imput to the towns economies.

The canal terminates in Selby as the waterway enters/exits the River Ouse via the lock. There is a large basin, which I presume was a wharf at some time, now its home to several residential moorers and 48 hour visitor moorings. The weed had thinned when we moored up, along side the trendy flats built for the canal side regeneration.

Selby basin in the clear

What took us by surprise, was that whilst we were talking to the lock keeper, and watching a couple of boats in off the river, the entire basin filled with weed.

Is this an alien invasion

Unfortunately the weather broke as we arrived in Selby so it rather curtailed my explorations. But I saw enough of a pretty town with an attractive centre and a small market on Mondays, to know it would be worth exploring on our return trip. The most striking feature has to be the Abbey.

Selby Abbey in the rain

I wasn’t able to go into the Abbey but I couldn’t resist looking at the doors.

Passage through the lock has to be booked 24 hours in advance. Our journey was timed so that the incoming tide would assist us travelling upstream to Naburn Lock a few miles south of York. Tidal rivers mean, VHF radio, life jackets, and anchor at the ready. We have to remove the table in our “conservstory” bow set out the anchor. The rope is looped onto T Bar and carefully coiled so that if we needed to deploy the anchor I wouldn’t get hooked up and be deployed to the depths with it. We are extremely envious of the Dutch barge style boats that have anchors with chain winches. We are resigned to having to abandon the anchor because it might be too difficult to get it back on board if it’s ever used. However if it does get used it would be a real emergency and an acceptable loss.

Fingers crossed the anchors’s not needed.

We were called into the lock first, along with 2 other narrowboats and a bucket load of pea soup

Not the most pleasant experience descending.

Glad I was safely inside

Always a pleasant surprise to be let out onto the river.

Here we go, turning right, heading north towards York.

Bye bye Selby we’ll see you again in a week or so.

Taking narrowboating to new heights

Having diverted to Goole, we realised we were in an ideal location to deviate from our plan to cross the Pennines and cruise up to York. So on Saturday afternoon we left the Aire and Calder canal and joined the Selby Canal. As luck would have it, there wasn’t space for us to moor at our prefered destination so we soldiered on through thick duck weed and hot sunshine, until we got to Burn Bridge less than an hour’s cruise from Selby.

Burn Bridge visitor mooring

Having checked my trusty map, we realised that we were within 10 minutes walk of the Burn Gliding club. We’d seen several gliders in the sky during our cruise and looked up in envy. We nudged each other childishly, daring each other to see if we were really prepared to tick off another goal on the bucket list. I phoned the number on the website and was greeted by a friendly “come along and we’ll see if we can fit you in”. Did I say 10 minute walk? I’m sure we were there in 5.

That doesn’t look very high tech

We were collected at the gate and taken across the field to the flight control, which looked more like an old caravan and social club. Several middle aged men and women milling around looking up to the clouds, discussing the lack of thermals. But they were keen to encourage us and we were soon offered a choice of winch launch or aerotow. I opted for the winch which is more or less a giant elastic band style catapult. As soon as the next available glider was free we were led over to meet Mike our pilot. And to be strapped into a parachute. “No one’s ever had to bail out from this airfield ” we were reassured.

Parachute on

Gliding is a comparatively low tech hobby. No fancy equipement to manouver onto the runway, whoever was hanging around, pushed us onto the narrow strip on repaired tarmac.

I was to fly first. Mike ran though a check list with me and explained where the pedals and steering were, but gliding wasn’t something on my list of things to learn, I was happy just to experience being up in the air.

Calm and relaxed

I sat and contemplated while they set up the winch and elastic band.

Attaching the giant elastic band

I was warned that the winch would catapult me into the air at 45 degrees travelling from 0 to 60 faster than a Ferrari, I was allowed to scream if I wanted…

Up up and away

Oh boy was that fun, I didn’t know which way to look, so I kept an unknowledgeable eye on the instruments

Wonder what the red lever is for

Unfortunately for me the heat of the day had vanished along with the thermals and I’m not sure we even managed to climb to 1000feet. Mike knew where the canal was, so circled over where we were moored.

Looking down on firecrest

Firecrest is moored just above the bridge, the canal is running west (top of photo) to east. Looking to the east I could see the Drax power station (in the header photo) and north east I could see Selby in the distance.

Looking towrards Selby

That roundabout and covered crop were useful landmarks for me to see Firecrest

We’re down there somewhere

The lack of thermals and consequently lack of height meant that I only got about 5 minutes in the air and all too soon I was heading for the runway.

Coming into land

However they only needed to take one look at my face to realise how much I’d enjoyed the experience. And much to my surprise they offered to take me up again with no extra cost.

Unfortunately the thermals were still avoiding us so it was a similar 5 minute low level flight. Then it was Eric’s turn. He was happily strapped in, I’m not sure what Mike the pilot was thinking

Should I be worried?

Eric opted for an Aerotow. His glider was attached to the clubs motorised glider and towed to approx 2000feet. when the cord was released Mike took over circling until he found a thermal .

I lost sight of them as they reached over 2500 feet and circled wider than I’d been able to do. He was in the air for over half an hour.

Yes, there’s a glider in that photo

Eric had a go at taking the controls but Mike brought him home safely

A smooth landing, despite the crumbling runway

What the instructors hadn’t warned us about, is the indignity of getting out of a glider- they dont build these things for comfort.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

And so that was another amazing day, one that we had no idea what we would end up doing, we will never take it for granted just how lucky we are to be living on a narrowboat. Good job tomorrow is just a short cruise into Selby.

Going to Goole

Much to the amusement of Amanda, who couldn’t think why we’d want to go to Goole, we decided to turn right where the New Junction canal meets the Aire and Calder canal. It marks the end of the South Yorkshire Navigation and becomes the North Yorkshire Navigation.

The New Junction Junction

But as we are true Coddiwomplers without a timescale, Goole is on the map and accessible so we shall go and explore. The landscape is very flat and at first we thought there had been a flood but no, it is the Southfield Resevoir that runs parallel with the canal.

Southfield Resevoir

It’s a waterfowl haven and home to sailors and fishermen alike.


It was a quick and easy 2 hour journey into Goole with hardly any other boaters on the water. Although once we passed under the bridge marking the start of the port, both sides were chocka block with old fishing boats and commercial barges now being used to live in. There wasn’t a huge amount of visitor mooring but we found a nice space outside the marina.

Visitor moorings outside the Goole boat house

Goole itself is a small town built upon the confluence of the River Don and the River Ouse. It is an inland shipping port and in 1820 the Aire and Calder canal was completed to carry coal from the mines at Knottingley by barge where it was transfered to larger vessels to be carried the 45 miles down the Humber Estuary to the North Sea. While we were moored, there were 3 big ships in port from Denmark, Amsterdam and The Philippines. I suspect as ports go it is very quiet and small but never the less we found it interesting peering through the chain link security fence, to see the waterways being used commercially. One of the ingenious devices we saw was the “Tom Pudding system”. Where specialised barges with container boats where used to move the coal in the 1850s, the barges were hoisted up out of the water and the coal was tipped straight into the awaiting ship. I suspect it was a bit like a freight train.

The Tom Pudding Hoist

We would have loved to have seen it in action. The green hoist remains but the large ship in the background was being loaded by modern crane and forklift truck.

After we had walked around the perimeter, we walked the mile into town. Admittedly the shopping area wasn’t somewhere you’d go for a pleasant afternoon out. There’s obviously a lot of deprivation in this area, but we saw some mighty fine buildings from the ports heyday

The Goods Office

And as Electric boaters we enjoyed seeing Yorkshire Electric Power company building

Goole has been home to some prestigious people, the local artist Reuben Chappell, was a pierhead painter and his work is celebrated with paintings displayed in a trail around the town and docks. I liked this one, of ths good ship the George Kilner, named after the George Kilner himself, a Rotherham who invented the Kilner jar.

The George Kilner

Unfortunately the Waterways Museum that is still advertised on most canal literature closed it’s doors permanently in early June, but we still walked down the lane overlooking the Dutch River. the Dutch man Cornelius Vermuyden who engineered the flood plain, drains and waterways around here in 1600s. Tidal rivers never look their prettiest at low tide,

The Dutch River at Goole

We only stayed one night in Goole and low and behold when we left, who should we meet under the bridge…. yes our leviathon the Exol Pride.

And to make us chuckle even more, when we had talked to one of the Dockers about the ships in port and said we’d seen the pride in Rotherham he said, with complete sincerity, “oh, the little one”…

So despite the amusement it caused, we did enjoy our little diversion into Goole. And despite my typing still being auto corrected to a certain search engine the name Goole comes from the middle English “goule” which means stream.

Safe Haven

Barnby Dun provided us with safe haven for a few days whilst we sat out the worst of the heavy rain. It’s a nice little place, big enough to have a co-op and a chippy, but sadly no pub. We weren’t very happy not being able to cruise, but were actually quite grateful for the amount of rain as it would help fill some of the reservoirs struggling to keep the northern canals running over the summer. I took great pleasure in our view, the cattle and their very young calves came calling every day on the opposite bank

The Barnby Dun herd

Not all our visitors were cows as friends from Suffolk had tracked us down in an effort to find a rainy day activity whikst they were on holiday.

And the sheep in the next field were most interested in me when I went walking.

The Barnby Dun flock

I wonder if they knew what I was thinking when I eyed them up. I was able to catch a train back into Sheffield to attend a huge fibre festival called the Wool Monty

Tempted though I was, I only bought a fraction of this treasure. Even so, Eric thought it wise that we should move on immediately in case I decided to go back for the second day of the fayre. About a mile north of Barnby Dun, the canal divides. Having travelled down the right hand side when we came south, this time we veered left

Think we’ll go left

And onto the New junction canal heading towards Leeds and Goole.


And over the Don Aquaduct with its impressive guillotine flood gates.

Looking back over the Don Aquaduct

It looks quite impressive from up here, but looking down onto the River itself showed a different side, as the gathering debris meets the pillars for the Aquaduct.

The New Junction Canal is a perfectly straight “modern” highway. It was built in 1905 to carry freight to and from North Yorkshire. We thought it would be a quick journey being only 5.5miles long and having only 1 lock but it actually has 5 swing/lift bridges and took us about 3 hours. I doubt it takes the Exol Pride oil tanker that long, but they have a team of lock keepers running ahead to operate the bridges. I had to leap out do the hard work myself.

Storehouse lift bridge

We moored at the end of the New Junction whilst we debated left or right, looking back for as far as the eye could see, marvelling at how different canals can be.

Looking back along the New Junction.

And I just had to share this little brood that came to see us.

Spot the ugly duckling