The River Ouse, flowing through York along with the Foss, has aided the city’s progress – and occasionally its periodic demise from unwanted and fearful ‘travellers’ such as the Black Death and the Danish invaders. Nowadays it provides leisure amenities: fishing, canoeing and rowing, boat trips, strolls by its banks and pleasant scenery for the observer from many of its wonderful bridges, and every July the York Rivers Festival. The Ouse, 52 miles long, is formed from the River Ure in North Yorkshire and flows around 13 miles through York. Roman York founded at the confluence of the Ouse and the Foss made good defence from the surrounding marshy areas. The Vikings captured York in 866 bringing advanced shipbuilding and seafaring knowledge which together with the Ouse and Humber’s North Sea access enabled York to import and export increasing its commercial status. The city enjoyed diverse geographical trading.
Early Norman York had remained a vital trading port and by the 14th century became England’s second richest city.
The River Ouse was essential for the establishment of the chocolate producers such as Rowntree’s and Terry’s, bringing in raw ingredients and machinery to riverside factories.
Photos courtesy of New York National Boat ShowTwiggy the water-skiing squirrel will perform during the New York National Boat Show at the Jacob K.

Boat owners, contrary to what some folks might believe, come from the middle class, says Duffy.
Among the pit stops show-goers can make is the Green Boating Zone, where they can pick up environment-friendly boating tips and enter a contest to win two vessels. For many the flooding potential of the Ouse holds fear; York’s centre has seen this realised many times, in spite of flood defences, bringing major disruption for roads and businesses. Its transportation routes advanced York as a river port; originally tidal it was reachable to sea-going ships of the period.
Although the Vikings established further trade routes for York, the constant threat of their river incursions via the Humber and the Ouse lasted until the mid-11th century. York was exporting goods such as wool and grain to Northern Europe while importing fruits from Spain. Naburn Lock, downstream of York, was built to aid navigation in 1757, deflecting the Ouse’s tidal powers; this brought a new wave of shipbuilding to the city. Eventually the railways’ arrival heralded in the industrial age of the 19th century though barges transported freight on the Ouse between York and Hull right up to the end of the 20th century.

The river drains a considerable area of Northern England including large expanses of the Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors; its many tributaries include the Swale, Aire, Wharfe, and Nidd. Roman jetties, wharves and warehouses have been uncovered on both the Foss and the Ouse’s banks, indicating the early York traders’ wide use of water-borne transport. The Black Death partly introduced from trading ships on the Humber in 1349 swiftly reduced both York’s population and its wealth. In addition to the water-skiing squirrel Twiggy and the WWE's Diva Maria, the annual event showcases more than 1,000 luxury motor and sailing yachts, sailboats and personal water craft, plus fishing gear, nautical gifts and kids activities. Celeb captains John and Andy Hillstrand from the Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch," wash up, too.

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