AccessTOG was asked by The Canal & River Trust to film a section of the Ripon canal walk, promoting wheelchair accessibility. Debbie North, AccessTOG’s Outdoor Ambassador was up for the project!
This was my first proper visit to Ripon. Although I have passed through the area on several occasions, I have never stopped to explore this small but beautiful medieval city, situated in North Yorkshire.
Already well known for its cathedral and racecourse, Ripon is a very popular destination for tourists, helped further by its proximity to Studley Royal Parkand Fountains Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our walk began at the canal basin, just outside of the city centre. It is a beautiful little area, with a café and carefully restored houses. There is a carpark, but no toilet facilities. From here river cruises run along the two and half mile stretch of canal.
I am told that the river cruise boat is wheelchair accessible but sadly it was closed when we visited. There are winter and summer opening times.
According to The Canal and River Trust, the canal was built by engineer John Smith, in 1769, to link the city of Ripon with the River Ure at Oxclose Lock giving access to both York and the seaport of Hull.
By the 1900’s the canal was left neglected when transporting goods by water fell into terminal decline. But in September 1996, the Ripon Canal Society, with funding from English Partnerships, set to work on a restoration project and the canal was officially reopened.
It is a short gentle walk from the canal basin to the first lock beneath shaded by lovely lime trees. Just before the first lock – Rhodesfield Lock – there is the pretty whitewashed former lock-keeper’s house. The path is wide enough for wheelchairs, making it perfectly accessible.
From here the countryside opens out before you. Along the canal there are mooring spots for boats and wheelchair accessible platforms for fishing. We stopped a while to watch some canoeist and fishermen. It is a tranquil spot, a contrast from the busy city centre and also noted for its birdlife – cormorants, kestrels and owls have all been spotted. Plenty of areas for picnicking or just boat and nature watching.
Ripon is a really beautiful area and I am looking forward to a return visit, perhaps in the Spring, to see the new life that grows along this lovely stretch of canal.
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