The Ure is particularly close to my heart - as I write this I'm looking at it through my office window so I see its daily rise and fall, and the many animals that live or rest on the river bank.
Just before I started to write this I saw my first oystercatcher of the year. I nipped outside to take a couple of pictures, and disturbed the heron who most days stands sentry over the choicest fishing spots. As I tried to take a picture, it startled and flew up, and I noticed a flash of blue - the kingfisher was also looking for its lunch. They're not the only ones who enjoy fishing in the River Ure. I'll never forget the first time I saw an otter from my window, nor the magical early morning moment when I thought my spaniels were playing in the river only to realise it was a family of three otters in front of me.
The River Ure is much loved by angling clubs and fly fishers. The Ure Salmon Trust has done a sterling job in rebuilding salmon numbers in the Ure, and their numbers seem to be growing quite rapidly.
Living at close proximity to a river such as the Ure is wonderful, but it definitely teaches respect for nature. We sometimes watch anxiously as The Environment Agency's river level monitor shows the water level rising perilously fast. Much of the time the river level near us is around 0.5 metres but we've known it rise as high as almost 6.0 metres astoundingly quickly. Levels sink again just as fast, leaving 'interesting' debris behind that shows the extreme power of the river. My office is warmed by logs chopped from mighty trees that have fallen upstream and been carried down the river to be caught on our river bank: a free, environmentally-friendly but unpredictable log delivery service. A very dead Swaledale sheep arrived in the same way last month.
In the summer children love to paddle in the Ure. There are some stretches that are so calm, with sandbanks so soft, it feels silly to drive off to the coast in search of a beach. We've got a secret spot where the river widens as it goes round a bend (reminding me of painstakingly colouring in diagrams of oxbow lakes in school). It's broad and deep enough to swim very comfortably, much to the delight of the dogs. Some pay a fortune to swim with dolphins. We take a dip with our dogs. But the river idyll can be deceptive. A few years ago we heard panicked cries and discovered some one way out of their depth, drowning. Luckily we were able to rescue them.
The River Ure is about 75 miles long from Ure Head on Abbotside Common to the point where it becomes the Ouse. Along its route are many well-known beauty spots and waterfalls such as Aysgarth Falls and plenty of beautiful paths to walk.