We recently wrote an article about York’s most famous River, the River Ouse which is synonymous with York. However, some people don’t realise that York has a second river, the River Foss, which joins the Ouse close to the centre of York, downriver of Skeldergate Bridge, the two rivers join here (shown on Google Maps). This is actually the point at which the Foss ends too, after that it is the River Ouse for many more miles.
This location is infamous in York, not only because of the two rivers joining, but also because it is close to the location of the River Foss Flood Barrier (more on that later) which is associated very much with the Boxing Day floods in York, in 2015 (more on that later too!). We mention this in our Christmas Flooding tips.
The River Foss map below shows the river in more detail than can be seen on our River Ouse Map and Yorkshire Rivers Map we have produced previously. This time the Foss get’s the spotlight of attention in our report.
Here is a video of the source of the River Foss:
Firstly, a quick guide to the River Foss;
River Foss in York: Guide
- Overview – known as York’s second River, the Foss is often overshadowed by York’s other River, the Ouse which is more prominent in the city centre and around but the Foss is an interesting river in its own right. Like the River Ouse, it is also somewhat infamous for flooding, in particular causing flood damage in York.
- The Source of the River Foss– the source of the River Foss is located close to Yearsley in North Yorkshire, as we will see in more detail later. It rises from the ground in Yearsley Woods.
- The End of the River Foss– as shown earlier, the Foss ends in York City Centre, close to the Foss flood barrier and not too far from Clifford’s Tower and the Castle Museum in York.
- Locations on the River Foss– other than York, other places close to the River Foss include, Oulston Reservoir, Crayke, Marton Abbey, Stillington, Strensall, Haxby. Plus, in York, New Earswick, Huntington and Heworth.
- The River Foss Length – is 31 kilometres or 19.5 miles long from start to finish
- River Foss Waterfalls – interestingly, although the Foss is not know for waterfalls, the word ‘Foss’ comes from the old Norse word for waterfall or ‘Fos’. This can be seen in countries such as Iceland with its famous waterfalls of Dettifoss, Gullfoss amd Scogafoss, to name but a few.
- The River Foss Catchment Area – according to wikipedia, the Foss Basin is 118 square km or 46 square miles
Where is the Source of the River Foss?
The source of the River Foss is slightly North West of the village of Yearsley in North Yorkshire. You can see the exact point here on Google Maps. Below is a selection of photos from the area:
You can see in the top left image where the water comes out of the ground at the source of the River Foss, humble beginnings for what becomes a bigger river as it approaches York. Along the route, which we will look at next, the Foss is joined by lots of other streams and becks, growing as it nears York.
River Foss Map and Route
Let’s take a look at some of the other places along the River Foss, with some pictures too.
River Foss – Ford Crossing (near Brandsby)
This picture is taken here as shown on Google Maps.
River Foss – Bridge at Strensall
This picture is taken from here on Google Maps
River Foss End – in York City Centre
As we mentioned earlier, the River Foss ends at York City Centre, where it joins and becomes the River Ouse. It is close to this location that the Foss Flood Barrier is placed, which was opened in the mid to late 1980s. The area is fairly accessible from riverside walkways. As always, do please take care near water.
Interestingly, the ‘Foss’ barrier is not really there to stop flooding from the River Foss water coming from upstream, it is to stop water from the River Ouse flowing back up the River Foss at the confluence of the two rivers or stopping the Foss from draining itself. Over the years it has helped massively with York flood prevention measures, alongside other work that has been carried out over many years. This is one of the places featured in our article about 7 Yorkshire River confluences and in our article about York Bridges.
The end of the River Foss is close to many of the top 5 things to do in York, which we collated based on our local knowledge of working and living in the area. Take a look.
River Foss Flood Barrier
Over the years, it has gone through some improvements and modifications, especially after the York Boxing Day floods of 2015. In fact, the pictures below were taken as work was taking place too:
There are a number of River Foss monitoring stations in this area, which you can find out more about in our article about the Viking Recorder station in York, perhaps the most famous one in the area. On the subject of flood on the River Ouse in York, checkout our article showing York Flood Maps
York Boxing Day Flood 2015
Interestingly, the York Boxing Day floods are sometimes misunderstood. This is especially the case with the River Foss Flood Barrier. Some people say that the barrier ‘failed’ but in actual fact that is not quite right, measures were taken to stop it failing as, otherwise, the workings (including the all-important electrics) of the barrier may have become flooded stopping it working altogether.
That would have been a much worse outcome and, as flooding was seen as inevitable, it was deemed preferential to have fewer properties at the time vs the many more which would have flooded otherwise. Not an easy decision for the Environment Agency to make.
Since that time the barrier has been upgraded and improved to make a similar incident less likely. If you want to read more about what happened at the time there is a good article from York Press on York Floods 2015.
At Rainbow Restoration in York, we remember the Boxing Day Floods very well. As you might expect, our team was very busy helping local people with the River Foss flooding at their properties across the city centre in particular. A lot of houses were affected badly but, our experienced team was glad to help them get through it.
We are experts in dealing with flood water damage for people in the York and Yorkshire Coast area, so if you have been flooded, please contact our friendly team to arrange for help and guidance. We also deal with water leaks in Yorkshire homes and businesses. As you might expect, many of our customers get their water supply from Yorkshire Water who collects, treats and supplies water from some of the rivers of Yorkshire above to supply to their network of customers across Yorkshire. Here are the local areas we cover.
At Rainbow Restoration – York & Yorkshire Coast we are experts in Leak Detection and Water Damage Restoration, so if you need help finding a water leak or getting your property back to normal after a leak or flood, get in touch with our friendly local team who will be happy to help you with this.
Is the River Foss navigable?
There are some parts of the River Foss that could be navigable (depending on what vessel you might be considering) but at the same time, there are obstructions along the way, including Castle Mills Lock and the Blue Bridge etc (amongst other things), plus there are narrow and bendy parts of the river too. The other things to consider is that, at the point from the River Ouse, the Foss Barrier is there too. All thee things considered are likely why the River Ouse is more commonly navigated in York. Always check the latest guidance and information sources too for safety reasons.
Can you walk along the River Foss?
Although there are walkways along side the route of the River Foss in York, in comparison to the River Ouse it is generally less accessible. This is especially the case in the city centre where it is built up around it. This is less of an issue further North heading towards the source of the river upstream as it is less built up. There are footpaths along the way. Check local guides, the latest safety information and online / walking books etc.