Posted: 6/6/2007


    Ripon Racecourse is in an idyllic setting, just over a mile out of town on the B 6265 to York, a dozen miles away. For good reason its called The Garden Racecourse, and was founded  way back in 1664.    In Ripon market square For the last 900 years, The Wakeman has blown his horn at 9.00pm to assure the residents that all is well.

    I avoided the traffic and wandered along the Ripon Canal from the heart of this ancient town in North Yorkshire: Stay Awhile Amid Its Ancient Charm, past thirteen hundred year old Ripon Cathedral, where construction started in AD 672  when St. Wilfred brought stonemasons, plasterers and glaziers from France and Italy. I strolled past  The Forge Farm Shop, The Navigation, a canal side pub, over a hump back bridge and a sign 'Please Drive Carefully:Frogs Crossing' (I am sure most of them didn't make it and Croaked)!! and along the towpath with narrow barges tied up and lots of fishermen looking for roach, dace, chub, gudgeon and more on this lazy summer's day, and a pretty whitewashed cottage called Lock House with its red,pink, yellow, and white rose bushes and a sign that announced the Ripon Piscatorian Society (Anglers, I guess). I gave up most of my home made sandwiches to the ducks swimming amongst the reed beds, daffodils, buttercups and daisies.  The canal was constructed in 1676 by John Smeaton to carry flax to the linen mills of Knaresborough and connects with the River Ure and then the River Ouse. It got into disrepair until 1996 when it was renovated for 10 miles.

    It meanders past the racecourse where there is a huge marina with 150 or so barges and other craft tied up and next to it a wetlands for wildlife. At the entrance to the racecourse, which was having an afternoon flat meeting today and an evening one tomorrow, I looked at the reserved car spaces. Viscount Allenbey ( a Honda); Brigadier J J Gaskell (VW Passat). I wonder if he was very brave in battle or a paper pusher in Whitehall?; Noel Hetherington Esq (Rover), probably a big landowner; Mrs D G Price (Saab) possibly married old money; Commentator (BMW); Official Vet (Mercedes). Parked by a hedge was a new silver Audi  with neat signeage all over it in black-Paul Mulrennan :Official Jockey for the Woodford Group PLC. (I looked inside at the driver's seat, but didn't see a big cushion, so Paul probably sat in the back).