7th August 2022 – Ripon to Boroughbridge – 8.8m
Typically, the one day this week I actually felt like I could have had a lie in, I kinda needed to be up and out early. I stirred at 5am (I could hear the distant chimes of the cathedral bells counting the hour) and turned over and went back to sleep. This is my last day on the walk and I wanted to be out by 7am at the latest, in order to get home at a reasonable time to see my grand-daughter. They didn’t wake me as such, but I heard the bells chime again at 6am and I could easily have turned over again and got another hour, but I forced myself up and out of bed. My legs were feeling a bit stiff and I shuffled painfully around the room collecting my bits and pieces until they loosened up. Neither the pub nor Greggs was open at this time in the morning, so I had a couple of breads of the chocolate washed down by hot chocolate, from a sachet provided with the room.
It’s dead easy, and quick to pack up when you’re carrying so little gear and I was squared away and ready to leave by 6.40am. The square outside the hotel was blissfully quiet and empty, the sun was shining and it was already beginning to warm up nicely. I walked down to the cathedral and tried to get a couple of decent shots, but it’s a huge building and it doesn’t fit easily into frame. I dropped down through a couple more quiet streets to meet the River Skell. I’d selected a new route out of Ripon for this section of the walk, which rejoins the Ure more quickly that the traditional route and it was peaceful through the woods and then out along the embankment that protects the fields beside the river. The views weren’t great as the Ure is screened by trees almost all the way to the Ripon City Wetlands, which I was going to try and use to cut across to the Ripon canal again, and the only footpaths that lead back to the Ure. The route looks promising and I was soon back on the traditional route, admiring the water lilies in the cut.
At Ox Close lock I was back beside the Ure and the path was now through pastures beside the river. The long dew-laden grass soon had my feet soaking wet and the sections where the undergrowth was deep had my trousers wet to the knee. The river was like a sheet of glass beside the path, it’s wide a slow along this section and perfectly reflected the wispy clouds from the sky above.
The Newby Hall estate has done some clearing of the path at Holbeck Wood and what used to be a thin little track through deep vegetation is now a dual carriage way wide swathe of devastation through the undergrowth, complete with new gates and stiles. The problem is, in a year or two this will be back to a tiny track, unless they are going to keep it clear – so how do I describe this in the guide book?
Like yesterday, but for different reasons, I found myself keeping up a good pace all morning and I’d not really stopped so far other than to take photos and to review the notes from the current version of the guide book to check for changes. I figured I could rest in the car on the way home, so I just pushed on. The Ure is a wonderful river and over the next couple of miles it’s mostly uninterrupted by vegetation so I enjoyed it while it lasted. I think I’ve said this before, but of the three Rivers Trilogy walks, the Ure is my favourite, by a long stretch. You spend more time beside the Ure than you do beside the Eden and the Swale and it’s almost all on good paths, with very little tarmac outside the towns and villages. The three miles from yesterday was the longest paved section and there’s no cars, so it almost doesn’t count. The quality of the river is something special too, it’s wide and smooth here, but it’s incredibly varies along it’s length and there are some lovely remote-feeling sections where you feel like you could be the first person to see it. I love this walk!
The next section of woodland caused me real problems last time I walked the route in 2019 – the stile into the woods was flooded and I had to climb the fence to enter it and then all along it I was slipping and slithering in the mud. Today it was easier in some ways, but more difficult in others. The stile wasn’t under three feet of water of course, so I gained entry easily enough, but the path was very overgrown. I doubt many people use it and the plants take advantage and soon it’s more like jungle than woodland. For the most part, the plants are tall green shrubs with pale purple flowers at their tops, but then I came across a section of what looked like ferns – at least seven feet tall – that I pushed my way through and I felt like an explorer of old, searching for the Lost City of Z. Shortly after this and I was saying goodbye the Ure and heading for the village of Roecliffe.
The path here cuts across the village green and then goes directly though someone’s back garden (which I kinda like, I suppose it gives me a sense of entitlement to just plough through their private property). They don’t like it though, that’s clear from the fact that they had hidden the exit stile from their garden. They’ve moved it into the corner and then planted tall bushes around it so unless you know where to look it appears like there’s no exit. I had to squeeze under the bushes and peel brambles away from the stile and then I was out into the field beyond.
A short while later and I was in Boroughbridge, heading for the car park and (hopefully) my car. It was still where I’d left it and I changed out of my sweaty gear for the drive home. On the way I stopped at a shop and bought some cold drinks and chugged half of them down. I was delayed slightly on the M62 where there had been a huge crash, but the two outside lanes remained open, so I was home for about noon.
I still feel pretty tired, I’m writing this up on Monday, my legs are stiff and my feet are sore. I will retire the Inov-8 Roclites to my local ‘dog walks’ and I think I need to start losing some weight again – I didn’t feel this knackered after my long walks last year and the only thing that’s really changed (other than being a year older, which obviously doesn’t help) is I’ve gained weight again.