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A flooded gravel pit forming part of the Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve at Ripon Racecourse
A flooded gravel pit forming part of the Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve at Ripon Racecourse

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Route No. 782 - Thursday 25 July 2019
Ripon Canal, Ripon City Wetlands, River Ure,
Ripon Racecourse circuit - 4km
Ripon . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 299 Ripon & Boroughbridge


Setting off from the Canal Users Car Park at the start of our walk
Setting off from the Canal Users Car Park at the start of our walk

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The tow path by the Ripon Canal
The tow path by the Ripon Canal

The tow path near the marina entrance
The tow path near the marina entrance

We set off from the car park through the gate on to the canal tow path and turned left to walk along the tow path heading generally southwards away from the centre of Ripon. It was a good start along the pretty path shaded by the mature trees alongside the canal. On our left there was a marina where every bay seemed to hold its allotted canal narrow boat. We crossed the footbridge over the canal boat entrance to the marina and continued along the tow path.

Today was forecast to be the hottest on record and the forecasters were right! At home the car thermometer showed over 30 degrees C this afternoon. This morning my friend, Jim, and I made an early start and drove to Ripon. We parked in the "Canal Users" (I assume this includes tow path walkers) car park off the B6265, Boroughbridge Road at map ref. SE 323 704.


Rhodes Field Lock near the car park

Entrance to the marina seen from the footbridge
Entrance to the marina seen from the footbridge

Looking back across the marina entrance from the tow path
Looking back across the marina entrance from the tow path

Continuing along the tow path from the marina
Continuing along the tow path from the marina

A very quiet scene on the lake in the hot sun
A very quiet scene on the lake in the hot sun

About 100m further on there was a second hide overlooking the same lake. About 250 metres past the second hide we came to Nicholsons Bridge over the canal.

On our left now there was a lake next to the Ripon Racecourse which I believe is called the Canal Reed Bed Lagoon. At the side of the tow path there was a bird watching hide with a bench to view the lake and its residents.

One of the two hides looking out over the lake by the canal
One of the two hides looking out over the lake by the canal

A few ducks on the lake seen from the hide
A few ducks on the lake seen from the hide

About to pass Nicholsons Bridge
About to pass Nicholsons Bridge

Small crane on the quay at the Ripon Motor Boat Club marina
Small crane on the quay at the Ripon Motor Boat Club marina

Knapweed beside the tow path
Knapweed beside the tow path

Tow path opposite the Ripon Motor Boat Club marina
Tow path opposite the Ripon Motor Boat Club marina

We passed the end of the white fenced race track on Ripon Racecourse on our left and about 100m further on we came to a new galvanised iron kissing gate on our left at the entrance to the Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Just past Nicholsons Bridge on the far side of the canal there was the marina of the Ripon Motor Boat Club. We continued along the canal tow path with the club marina on the opposite side of the canal. There were numerous white water lily flowers floating on the canal.

Continuing along the tow path
Continuing along the tow path

The water lily beds along the canal were in full bloom
The water lily beds along the canal were in full bloom

Passing the white fence at the end of the racecourse
Passing the white fence at the end of the racecourse

Kissing gate from the tow path to the new gravel path to the Ripon City Wetlands nature Reserve
Kissing gate from the tow path to the new gravel path to the Ripon City Wetlands nature Reserve

Way-mark on the fenced path through the nature reserve
Way-mark on the fenced path through the nature reserve

The first flooded gravel pit we passed on the nature reserve
The first flooded gravel pit we passed on the nature reserve

The gravel path leading into the nature reserve
The gravel path leading into the nature reserve

There was a lake on our right, one of the former gravel pits, and I managed a photo of a shoveler duck. Generally it was all very quiet in the oppressive heat. The forecasters were right about record temperatures. About 200m from the canal tow path the fenced gravel path bent sharply to our left and then bent gently right to a fork in the track at the corner of another gravel pit lake. We followed the right hand fork along the edge of the lake on our right.

The Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve is on the site of a former gravel pit and was opened to the public on 1 May 2019. Here we turned left through the kissing gate to follow a straight wide gravel path to the nature reserve. The whole way through the reserve is along fenced gravel tracks with green arrows on a white background at intervals along the way.

Passing the first flooded gravel pit on the nature reserve
Passing the first flooded gravel pit on the nature reserve

A female shoveler duck on the lake
A female shoveler duck on the lake

Right fork in the path to the hide
Right fork in the path to the hide

Large flock of greylag geese on the lake seen from the hide
Large flock of greylag geese on the lake seen from the hide

The hide on the lake side
The hide on the lake side

Another group of greylag geese on the lake
Another group of greylag geese on the lake

The bird was buzzard sized but the wings were more falcon shaped. Anyway it was too far away and it disappeared in the haze. We continued along the path to a hide overlooking the lake. I took a couple of photos of the geese and we returned from the hide to the fork in the track.

There was a large flock of greylag geese on the banks of this lake and some on the water. High in the sky over the far end of the lake there was the unmistakable shape of a large bird of prey but I couldn't identify it.

More greylag geese next to the lake
More greylag geese next to the lake

Nesting site for sand martins at the edge of the lake
Nesting site for sand martins at the edge of the lake

Following the gravel path towards the nature reserve car park
Following the gravel path towards the nature reserve car park

Poppies by the path
Poppies by the path

Ripon Cathedral just visible over the trees across the racecourse
Ripon Cathedral just visible over the trees across the racecourse

About 500m from the fork in the track we came to a gate across the track and some buildings ahead. We passed through the gate and turned right following the gravel path round the buildings into a huge empty gravel surfaced car park.

Approaching the fork in the track from the hide we took the right hand fork heading northwards to the nature reserve car park. There was a glimpse of Ripon Cathedral over the tree tops across the racecourse as we made our way towards the car park.

Pond full of reeds by the path
Pond full of reeds by the path

Gate across the track as we approached the car park
Gate across the track as we approached the car park

Large empty gravel car park at the entrance to the Ripon City Wetland nature reserve
Large empty gravel car park at the entrance to the Ripon City Wetland nature reserve

The access road out of the nature reserve
The access road out of the nature reserve

Racecourse buildings seen from the access road
Racecourse buildings seen from the access road

About 50m before we reached the road we turned left along the access road around the northern end of the racecourse.

In the nature reserve car park we turned left and headed northwards to follow the access track away from the nature reserve towards the B6265.

Sign at the entrance to the nature reserve
Sign at the entrance to the nature reserve

Following the access road towards the B6265
Following the access road towards the B6265

Turning left about 50m before the B6265 to follow the racecourse access road past the racecourse buildings
Turning left about 50m before the B6265 to follow the racecourse access road past the racecourse buildings

The access road passing the racecourse buildings
The access road passing the racecourse buildings

Access road heading towards the marina and the canal
Access road heading towards the marina and the canal

We walked along the racecourse access road towards the marina next to the canal. Close to the marina the racecourse access road forks and we took the right hand fork.

The racecourse access road was very quiet today and there was no problem. It would be a different story on race days but then the Nature Reserve is closed.

The access road passing the racecourse buildings
The access road passing the racecourse buildings


Access road heading towards the marina and the canal

Following the access road to our right towards the canal
Following the access road to our right towards the canal

About to turn left off the access road
About to turn left off the access road

Tow path past Rhodes Field Lock near the car park
Tow path past Rhodes Field Lock near the car park

The whole route had been a little over 4km and it had taken me about two and a half hours to walk. That was plenty on such a hot day. At home the car thermometer was over 30 deg C in the early afternoon.

After about 100m from this fork in the access road we turned left along a short path, about 10m from the access road through the hedge to the canal tow path. At the tow path we turned right and walked along the tow path past a canal lock to the entrance to the 'Canal Users' car park and the end of our walk.

Our left turn off the access road to the canal tow path
Our left turn off the access road to the canal tow path

About to turn right off the tow path to the car park
About to turn right off the tow path to the car park

Gate from the tow path to the car park at the end of our walk
Gate from the tow path to the car park at the end of our walk

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