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River Ouse in York

River Ouse

The magnificent York Minster stands sentinel as the River Ouse flows for 60 miles through fertile land and centuries of history on its way towards Goole and the mighty River Humber.

River Ouse

Length60.8 miles

Maximum boat dimensions

Length17.5m 57ft 4"
Width4.66m 15ft 2"
Headroom5.94m 19ft 5" 

Walking along York's river

Take a walk along the River Ouse and see the city of York from a whole new perspective. Escape the hustle and bustle for the tranquil towpath and discover how walking by water can make you feel happier and healthier.

The picturesque Yorkshire River Ouse is rich in nature, edged in many places by expansive water meadows, which provide a home for a wide variety of wildlife. In York, the Millennium Bridge creates an interesting circular walk from the city centre via the tree-lined Georgian avenue of New Walk. The riverside Rowntree Park has woodland walks, an ornamental lake and sports facilities.

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Boating on the River Ouse

Boaters should note that the river becomes tidal below Naburn Locks, and the waterway downstream of Selby is not recommended for novices. The lower reaches of the river are only suitable for seaworthy craft. So before you travel, you may want to check our guidance information below:

The history

The Viking settlement discovered deep below the streets of modern York harks back to when the city was known as Jorvik. But the River Ouse was already carrying visitors long before the arrival of the Vikings, and has been used as a commercial navigation since the time of the Romans.

The fertile land around York produced lush agricultural produce, and the River Ouse was once the conduit for exports - as well as for the import of raw materials into the city. Nowadays the port of Goole handles most of the remaining commercial traffic.

At York, the River Ouse is met by the River Foss. Opened as a navigation in the early 19th century, the Foss was never particularly profitable but was nonetheless busy and was being used for large-scale transport of newsprint up to 1997.

Upstream of York the River Ouse changes its name to the River Ure at Ouse Gill Beck. At Swale Nab it is met by the Swale Navigation which, together with navigational work along the adjoining Cod Beck, was never completed. The Ripon Canal extends the navigation a further 2.5 miles into Ripon.

photo of a location on the canals
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