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Moorings on the River Ouse upstream of Bishopthorpe
Moorings on the River Ouse upstream of Bishopthorpe

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Route No. 383 - Wednesday 5 January 2011
"The New Walk", Millennium Bridge,
Rowntree Park, River Ouse circuit - 5km
City of York . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS explorer 290 York


Skeldergate Bridge over the River Ouse in York
Skeldergate Bridge over the River Ouse in York

Clifford's Tower from the park by the Davey Tower
Clifford's Tower from the park by the Davey Tower

We walked downstream to the point where the New Walk starts at the Davey Tower. It was named after John Davey who lived there in the 1420's. The tower was used along with the now vanished Hynsbrig Tower to protect the City of York from invaders. The gardens around the tower are said to be York's first public park. Just down stream of the Davey Tower we reached Skeldergate Bridge. It was built in 1881 to open to let boats pass but the mechanism was long since removed. The bridge is made of cast iron and was designed by Thomas Page who had designed Westminster Bridge in London and Lendal Bridge in York.

My decrepit knees are still restricting my walking so today my mate, Jim, and I took the "Park & Ride" bus into York and followed the route of "The New Walk" by the River Ouse. In the 1730's the tree-lined "New Walk" was laid out where fashionable people could stroll and socialise by the River Ouse.
All the background information that I have included about this walk is taken from a public information board erected by York City Council near the Blue Bridge over the River Foss on the route of the walk.
We began our walk at the Museum Gardens where the Park & Ride bus from Rawcliffe Bar stops, map ref. SE600519. We walked through the city to Ouse Bridge and took the steps from the bridge down onto the river side at the Kings Arms.

Looking back to Skeldergate Bridge
Looking back to Skeldergate Bridge

One of many blocks of riverside flats in York
One of many blocks of riverside flats in York

Just beyond St. George's Field car park we came to the Blue Bridge over the River Foss at its confluence with the Ouse. The Blue Bridge was first erected in 1738 and has been rebuilt four times since then. The present structure was built in 1929.

We continued downstream along the river bank with the St. George's Field car park on our left. (Public toilets available there) The ghost of Dick Turpin, the highway man, is said to haunt St. George's Field car park where St. George's Chapel once stood.

Grey squirrel drinking from a puddle
Grey squirrel drinking from a puddle

The Blue Bridge over the River Foss
The Blue Bridge over the River Foss

When the River Ouse is in flood, the barrier is closed to prevent flood water from the Ouse from flowing up the River Foss. Water from the Foss is then pumped into the Ouse.

Looking up the River Foss from the Blue Bridge we could see the River Foss Flood Barrier. The Foss Barrier was built after the floods of 1972 and 1982.

The River Foss flood barrier
The River Foss flood barrier

The well head over the Pikeing Well
The well head over the Pikeing Well

The well head over the Pikeing Well was designed by John Carr in 1752. The waters of the well were believed to have healing properties.

From the River Foss we continued along the path and cycle track by the river Ouse to the Pikeing Well.

The water in the Pikeing Well
The water in the Pikeing Well

Looking upstream along the River Ouse
Looking upstream along the River Ouse

We followed the riverside path towards the millennium bridge and came to the remains of a Tramway, visible on the river bank. The tramway was used to transport stores from a wharf, built in 1888, on the River Ouse into the Fulford Army depot.

Apparently in the summer there are clumps of the tansy plant on the river bank near the Pikeing Well. Nationally this plant is in decline and along with it the now rare tansy beetle which depends on the plant. This shimmering green beetle can now only be found along the banks of the River Ouse.

The New Walk near the Millennium Bridge
The New Walk near the Millennium Bridge

Remains of the military tramway
Remains of the military tramway

The bridge carries a foot path and cycleway over the river and the arch of the bridge and its suspension cables are apparently to represent the rim and spokes of a bicycle wheel.

Just beyond the tramway tracks we reached the millennium bridge, which provides a link from the New Walk to Rowntree Park.

The millennium footbridge & cycleway
The millennium footbridge & cycleway

The millennium footbridge & cycleway over the River Ouse
The millennium footbridge & cycleway over the River Ouse

River cruiser moorings below the millennium bridge
River cruiser moorings below the millennium bridge

Entrance to Rowntree Park by the millennium bridge
Entrance to Rowntree Park by the millennium bridge

At the end of the access ramp from the bridge at map ref. SE602503, we entered Rowntree Park. It's a large park with ducks and geese on the ponds which were still frozen after our December cold spell. We followed a path through the park to return to the riverside at map ref. SE605509. At the riverside we turned left to follow the narrow road upstream back to Skeldergate Bridge where the "New Walk" ends. We continued along Skeldergate and across Ouse Bridge. Then we walked along Coney Street and back to the Museum Gardens where we caught the park and ride bus back to Rawcliffe Bar to drive home.

Once across the bridge we turned left to continue downstream along the river bank for about 300m following the tarmac footpath and cycleway to map ref. SE601498. We the path turned right to lead us out to Bishopthorpe Road. At the road we turned right again to follow the road back towards the centre of York, past the old Terry's chocolate factory entrance. After about 200m we turned right into Reginald Grove. Where this road turned right after about 100m we took the pedestrian path straight ahead back onto the river bank and made our way back to the millennium bridge.

Injured rook resting on a getepost
Injured rook resting on a gatepost

Frozen pond in Roiwantree Park
Frozen pond in Rowntree Park

Returning to Skeldergate Bridge
Returning to Skeldergate Bridge