The battle to Stamford Bridge

The navigable bit of the River Derwent starts at Barmby Barrage where the river joins the tidal Ouse.


Barmby Barrage on a lovely sunny bank holiday Monday (rare event that, sun on a bank holiday!)


Substantial barrage gates


Lock keeper’s crow’s nest looking out over the Ouse.

When we arrived at Barmby, Rob, the duty lock keeper let us know that it might not be possible to make it up to Stamford Bridge due to a couple of trees blocking the navigation. As we’d planned to go up the Pocklington first and the blockage was after that we put the decision in the ‘think about that later’ box.

Below the Pocklington Canal the Derwent, although fairly narrow, doesn’t seem to present any navigation challenges. It meanders its way past the ruins of  Wressle Castle….


Wressle Castle – not open for public viewing but you can catch glimpses of it from the river or the road

and a few pretty villages….


The church at Bubwith

the inevitable curious cows…..


and the entrance to the Pocklington Canal.


…and then it all starts to get a touch tricky.

The first challenge is Broken Bridge. It’s a bit of a squeeze and we grounded on an obstacle just under the surface. With the current flowing quite strongly against us we weren’t sure that we could make it through but just about managed it.


Then there’s Sutton Lock where the top sluice gate is under the control of the EA and the bottom wooden gates belong to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Unfortunately they leak like a seive as the Trust just doesn’t have the funds to maintain them. Martin, the EA lockkeeper operates the lock for you although he needs assistance to close the gates. Apparently the bottom gates are bound to fail at some point, becoming so leaky that the lock cannot be filled and making navigation beyond this point impossible.

Sutton Lock

Martin, Gordon and the bloke who lives by the lock having a gossip while Sutton Lock does its best to fill.

This is the last point at which you can wind before Stamford Bridge so we were a little apprehensive about carrying on as the trees I mentioned earlier hadn’t been cleared. We’d had a chat to a bloke on the Pocklington towpath who’d been up to Stamford Bridge in a plastic cruiser and reckoned we’d probably make it through so we decided to give it a go. This is what we encountered.

BlockageEwn Ha Cul now has a few more battle scars but we did manage to make it through!

There is room there for one or two boats in a disused lock in the middle of the town – no sanitary facilities though so no chance of a long stay! We decided to brave the risk of stuff being chucked at us from the bridge above and moored on the outside of the lock rather than round the corner. Easier to get on and off the boat and MUCH easier to reverse back out!


The journey back down was fairly uneventful. There had been a bit of rain so there was a bit more water in the river and the obstacles weren’t quite as fearsome. Martin, the lock-keeper was incredibly helpful. He even offered to take us shopping when we got down to Barmby just in case we’d run out of provisions – that is customer service!

At Barmby we again met up with Sue and Greg accompanied this time by Greg’s daughter Gabrielle and had a lovely Sunday carvery in The Kings Head. The pub is well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area.


Gordon looks like he’s strangling Sue rather than hugging her but they both look happy so that’s OK.

Despite the extra scratches and dings we collected along the way we’re glad we managed to reach Stamford Bridge. With the state of the lock gates at Sutton and the fact that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust doesn’t seem to have the funds to fix them, I don’t think this journey is going to be possible for all that much longer.


Saying goodbye to Martin as we leave Barmby Barrage and head off down the Ouse

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2 Responses to The battle to Stamford Bridge

  1. Steve says:

    It’s looking very much like I’m going to have to sell the wife and kids into white slavery and get myself a canal boat thingy.

    • ewnhacul says:

      Lord I hope Irene doesn’t read the blog Steve, she’ll be thinking we’re leading you astray! Mind you, you’re always welcome to visit if you want a spot of R & R.

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