River Ouse, Yorkshire

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For other rivers named "Ouse", see Ouse (disambiguation).
Coordinates: 53°42′8″N 0°41′46″W / 53.70222°N 0.69611°W / 53.70222; -0.69611

River Ouse
Ouse York.jpg
The River Ouse in York
Country England
County Yorkshire
Source River Ure
 - location Cuddy Shaw Reach, near Linton-on-Ouse
 - elevation 10 m (33 ft)
 - coordinates 54°2′4″N 1°16′30″W / 54.03444°N 1.27500°W / 54.03444; -1.27500
Mouth Humber Estuary
 - location Trent Falls
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 53°42′8″N 0°41′46″W / 53.70222°N 0.69611°W / 53.70222; -0.69611
Length 84 km (52 mi)
Basin 10,704 km2 (4,133 sq mi)
Discharge for Skelton
 - average 51.2 m3/s (1,808 cu ft/s)
River Ouse catchment
Wikimedia Commons: River Ouse, Yorkshire
River Ouse, Yorkshire
River Ure
Cuddy Shaw Reach
Linton Lock
Beningbrough Hall
River Nidd
Skelton BridgeECML
Clifton Bridge
Scarborough Bridge
Lendal Bridge
Ouse Bridge
Skeldergate Bridge
River Foss
Millennium Bridge
Naburn Swing Bridge
Naburn Marina
Naburn Lock
River Wharfe
Cawood Bridge
Selby Swing Bridge
Selby Canal
River Derwent
River Aire
A14Boothferry Bridge
Howden Dyke Island
Goole Bridge
Goole Docks
Dutch River
River Trent
Trent Falls
River Humber

The River Ouse (/ˈz/ OOZ) is a river in North Yorkshire, England. The river is formed from the River Ure at Cuddy Shaw Reach near Linton-on-Ouse, about six miles downstream of the confluence of the River Swale with the River Ure. It then flows through the city of York and the towns of Selby and Goole before joining with the River Trent at Trent Falls, near the village of Faxfleet, to form the Humber Estuary. The length of the Ouse is about 84 km (52 mi) and the combined Ure/Ouse river is about 208 km (129 mi) making it the sixth longest river in the UK.

The Ouse's system of tributaries (which includes the Derwent, Aire, Don, Wharfe, Rother, Nidd, Swale, Ure, and Foss) drains a large upland area of northern England, including much of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

The Ouse valley is a wide, flat plain; heavy rainfall in the river's catchment area can bring severe flooding to nearby settlements. In recent years both York and Selby, and villages in between, have been very badly hit. The river has two weirs with locks, at Linton-on-Ouse and Naburn, so that boats of 45.7 m length and 4.6 m beam can reach York. The Ouse is tidal up to Naburn Locks; the resultant tidal bore is known locally as "the Aegir".[1][2]

In the 18th and 19th centuries there was considerable commercial traffic on the river, mainly from Selby, which then had a custom house, downstream. After the 1826 opening of the Aire and Calder Navigation, most traffic became concentrated on the port of Goole. This continues, although the coal trade which formed the backbone of the river trade has ceased.


The word 'ouse' is a very common name for rivers in England; it derives from the Celtic word 'Usa', from *udso-, which simply means 'water'. 'River Ouse' therefore means 'River Water', etymologically.[3]

It has been suggested that the 'Ouse' was once known as the 'Ure', but there seems to be no supporting evidence for this claim. More credence is given to the assertion that the name derives from the Old Celtic word for 'Ure', 'Isara', which over time evolved into 'Isure', 'Isurium', 'Isis' and finally the Saxon 'Ouse'. This linguistic evolution also goes some way to explaining how the little tributary 'Ouse Gill Beck,' which enters at Linton-on-Ouse, usurps the name of the much larger river 'Ure'.[4]


Boats on the River Ouse at Lendal Bridge in York
The River Ouse in the city of York, viewed from Skeldergate Bridge with Ouse Bridge in the background

(From the confluence of Swale and Ure)

(Joins Trent to form Humber)[clarification needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Szyca, G. (2011). Comprehensive Methods of the Minimum Safe Under Keel Clearance Valuation to the Restricted Tidal Waters. In: Weintrit, A. and Neumann, T. (Eds.) Methods and Algorithms in Navigation: Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation. London: Taylor and Francis Group, p.51-56.
  2. ^ Broadhead, I.E. (1982). Portrait of the Yorkshire Ouse. London: Hale, p.126.
  3. ^ A. Room (ed.) 1992: Brewer's Dictionary of Names, Oxford: Helicon, p. 396-7.
  4. ^ Ekwall, E. English River Names (Oxford University Press: 1928). Waite, Alice. Exploring the Yorkshire Ouse (Countryside Productions: 1988)

External links[edit]