Beginning at the dock basin overlooked by Ripon Cathedral, this is one of the shortest waterways in Yorkshire, being 2.3 miles in length, but it’s also one of the prettiest.
It opened in 1773, the engineer being John Seaton of Leeds, who is better known for building the Eddystone lighthouse. Beyond the canal the waterway continues as the River Ure Navigation, and carried flax for the Knaresborough linen industry as well as timber and coal. The walk follows the canal almost to the junction with the Ure then visits peaceful Bishop Monkton, which has an attractive stream running through it, and returns by the small village of Littlethorpe before rejoining the canal back into Ripon. Look out for cormorants, kestrels and barn owls.
1. If starting from the Market Place go to the south east corner and follow Kirkgate to Ripon Cathedral, turn right on Bedern Bank and go left at the roundabout. Over a bridge, the canal basin is on the right. Beginning the walk, continue to the left of the basin and follow the path as it runs parallel with the B6265.
2. Past Rhodesfield Lock Ripon Racecourse appears on the left. Continue past Nicholsons Bridge to Rentons Bridge. Cross to the other side of the canal and turn left on a narrow lane. At a timber gate find a pedestrian pass to the right and walk ahead with the canal on your left.
3. At Oxclose Lock the canal soon joins the River Ure. Through a kissing gate branch right to a field handgate. Walk past a large farm building to turn left on a fenced-off path. At a concreted yard go right - the footpath is diverted here - and follow the track ahead then left between fences. Rejoin the path by going left at a T junction and using a stile on the right. The path crosses a field, passes Ashbrook Farm and follows its access road ahead.
4. Turn right at the end of the farm road and walk along the main street of Bishop Monkton. Continue ahead to find refreshments. To resume the walk take a public footpath next to a 30mph sign and follow the fenced-off right of way. Cross a stile at the end and follow waymark arrows across a small field and at a larger field aim to the right of a large gap in trees to pick up a rough track.
5. Just before the large poultry farm at Fairfield the footpath is diverted to the right but loops round to a gate on the north-east side of the building. Walk ahead a short distance then go right to walk out to Pottery Lane. Follow the quiet tarmac road through Littlethorpe to a junction next to St. Michael’s Church.
6. Turn right and walk to a bend at Grange Farm. Continue ahead on a track and at the gate to Ripon Motor Boat Club continue on a track to the left. Cross Nicholsons Bridge, passed on the outward leg, and turn left on the canal towpath to return to the dock basin.
Difficulty Rating: 1 star
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 6 1/2 miles
Maps: OS Explorer (1:25000) 298 Nidderdale.
Parking: The Canal Basin, Bondgate Green (on B6265), Ripon. Satnav HG4 1AQ.
Public transport: Ripon is served by 36 bus from Leeds & Harrogate; 56 from Knaresborough; 142/143 from York; 159 from Richmond; 70 from Northallerton; plus local services. Details on 0871 2002233 or www.traveline.info
Refreshments: Ripon, Bishop Monkton (restricted hours)