Saturday 12 September 2015

Selby – abyss and abbey

Selby Lock looks attractive from some angles, especially with its twin cottages on the far side.

But when you walk to the bottom gates to see where you're going to go, you stop thinking about how attractive it all is in the sun.

It would clearly be impossible to get into or out of the lock when the river is low, because of the mud flats.

Looking upstream is the same – what the photo can't show is how fast the current is moving, and it will certainly require some nifty steering when we return from York later in the week. This section of the River Ouse is tidal, even though we're 16 miles upstream from Goole, which is where it runs into the Humber estuary. So we rely on the lock keepers to tell us when to exit the lock (7.30 tomorrow morning) and when to leave the one upstream at Naburn on the return journey, so that we arrive here with a reasonable depth of water for the turn, but with the current not running too fast, so that we can turn back into it as we approach and make the junction.

Locks this deep are scary enough at the best of times, let alone under these conditions. Having to work out how to balance the flow of the river with the effect of the tide has been taxing my brain all day long. 

So to calm our (my) nerves, we went for a walk into Selby to visit the Abbey. It's a striking building (in fact, if Selby will forgive me for a comment based on extremely limited experience, about the only thing of note in the town, apart from the Olives & Grill restaurant, which looked as though it could be a good place to eat sometime). It was apparently started in Norman times and finished in 1935! It was full of interesting bits and pieces and features (if you like that sort of thing). It was just a little short on space set aside for sitting still and reflecting quietly.

The bell ringers were high up in the central tower, about 80 steps high, I think. This afternoon they were giving it all they could, doing a peal in honour of the Queen becoming the longest-reigning British monarch. It was a pretty splendid sound, and it went on for a long time, and to my untutored ear it seemed as if they were doing it extremely well.

So tonight we are back on Erin Mae, enjoying the quiet of this spot – a bit of calm before the turbulence of tomorrow.


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