Monday, October 05, 2015

Ah, Autumn…

…Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Or at least it was. Now it’s the season of damp and humid sogginess…
Certainly a change for the worse, but I suppose we’ve been spoilt by the pleasant but all-too brief Indian Summer.
Yesterday was OK, not much in the way of sun, but at least it stayed dry. The Countryfile forecast was right for today, though. A little rain in the early hours, a foretaste of things to come.

It came on properly about 08:30, just as Meg and I set off for our morning stroll. And from then until about 1 o’clock it was fairly continuous, sometimes no more than drizzle, other times quiet heavy.

No rush to get going…

It seemed to be easing off around half-ten so we decided to give it a go.

Gloomy as we head off.

We had two swing bridges to pass before the triple staircase Field Locks, the first just 10 minutes away, the second giving access to a large sewage treatment plant sandwiched between the canal and river.

Sewage Works Strangford Swing BridgeIMG_7606

Shortly after this we arrived at the staircase locks. I was hoping but not expecting to see a lockie or two on duty; my expectations were met so I set them up by emptying the bottom chamber and filling the top. The middle was already full.

Mags in the bottom chamber, taken from the top.IMG_7607
I didn’t get much in the way of pictures, the rain had started again…

Instructions at the top.
The complementary sign is at the bottom.

We decided to call it a (short) day above the locks. The rain was steady and looked to be set in for the afternoon. So we put the kettle on, put up the dish (TV on the aerial is non-existent here) and had lunch while watching the news. Of course, as soon as we’d got nicely settled the rain stopped… We did toy with the idea of pulling pins again, but in the end inertia set in.

I think the rest of the week is pretty much the same, so we’ll have to play it by ear.

Locks 3, miles 1¼

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Even Less!

If yesterday was not a lot, today was very little! I’d decided that it would be a nice spot to stop just above Dobson’s staircase locks, and that’s where we finished up.

I was just untying, Mags was on the tiller, when a chap shouted across the canal – “Are you going through the bridge?” When I told him yes he offered to do it for us. What a pleasant man. He’s from the marina, apparently.

I stayed off anyway, it’s one of those half-and-half bridges; swung under power but with manually operated road barriers.

Here comes Mags…

The 2-rise staircase is only a couple of hundred yards above the bridge.

In the lower chamber…IMG_7597

…it leaks a lot!
The cratch cover got a good wash!

Mags often attracts a crowd…IMG_7599

We made use of the sanitary station above the locks, then pulled in just 50 yards further on. It’s nice and open here, and it should be quiet tonight, although there’s a lot of cycle and foot traffic during the day.
There are a couple of circular walks from the village along the towpath, and a tea-rooms at a farm just up a bit. But it’ll do for tomorrow.

Opposite is a small group of horses. I guess flies must be a problem for them…

… the latest fashion in fly-repellent head-gear!IMG_7601

And last year’s more understated styles.

Now, I’m not a big rugby fan, but I’ve heard that tonight’s match is pretty important?
Locks 2, miles ½

Hi Mike. I guess he’s not using it any more. It was chained up in the open position yesterday.
Hiya Carol. I’ve got one on order. I’ll let you know how it performs…

Friday, October 02, 2015

Not a lot…

After yesterday’s busy trip we decided not to do much today. In fact we toyed with the idea of staying over at Rodley, but in the end the beautiful sunny day beckoned…
But it was nearly mid-day when I swung Rodley Bridge open for Mags to pass. Just the other side of the bridge was a boat with an unusual colour scheme..

You don’t see too many white narrowboats…IMG_7575
It wasn’t just the colour that roused the interest, we inspected this boat way back in 2006 when we were looking to get on the water. It’s not been painted since. Then it was at Red Bull Basin near Hardings Wood Junction on the Trent and Mersey.

We had three of those swing bridges to deal with before our planned stop at Apperley Bridge. The first was at Rodley, the second a little further on, Owl, and the third was Calverley Lodge.

Owl Swing BridgeIMG_7577

The last one we expected to do was already open, officially so I guess as it was chained back.

Calverley Lodge Swing BridgeIMG_7580

The canal has risen up above the Aire valley now, cut into the rising ground on the south of the river.
It alternately crosses open, rolling pastures, and sections of woodland.IMG_7584


The difference in temperature between the sunny and shady sections was very noticeable.

I think that’s a bit of Bradford…

Every so often there’s a ramp to allow errant boat horses to climb back out of the canal…IMG_7586
…Meg likes these too when we’re walking!

Apperley Bridge seems to be spreading it’s boundaries, new housing springing up around the edges.IMG_7588

Some is nicely in keeping with the canal environment.IMG_7589

We stopped at Apperley Bridge Marina for a gas bottle and some loo-blue, then moved around the corner to moor just before the next swing bridge.

I counted them up today. There are 52 on the main line and a further 6 on the Rufford Branch. Then there’s the lift bridge at Plank Lane. We won’t be passing all 52, by turning off onto the Leigh Branch at Wigan we’ll miss the last half-dozen. Shame.

The L&L is also the longest continuous canal in England. By continuous I mean built by one company. The Grand Union from London to Birmingham is longer by 10 miles but is an amalgam of different canals built at different times by different canal companies.
The Leeds and Liverpool also sports several broad staircase locks, the most famous of which is the Bingley Five Rise. We’ll be there next week…

I’ve recently been looking at my mobile wifi. I’ve a contract with 3, and the wireless modem is a Huawei 5573, capable of 4G or LTE speeds. It has two TS9 antenna ports, and I’d plugged my roof antenna into one, but with no speed benefit.

It turns out that to get the full benefit of the MIMO technology of LTE you need to use both, each from separate aerials. But one solution is a unit incorporating two antennae in one case. Each antenna has it’s own cable. One such is the Simplytech Omni, available from ebay. I think I’ll give it a go… There’s an excellent article on the subject here.

Tomorrow I think we’ll move out to find a rural mooring for the weekend.

Locks 0, miles 2½

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Up, up out of Leeds.

We had a great day yesterday. Arthur and Wendy drove across from York and helped support the city’s finances by parking on the multi-story car-park near the Royal Armouries, then we three headed into the museum for a look around. Mags wasn’t interested so stayed on board with Meg.
The museum is well worth a visit, a fascinating insight into the development of ways in which we can kill and maim each other! And ways in which damage can be avoided…
It’s limited it’s exhibits to small arms, the largest item is probably the armoured coat designed for an elephant.
Throughout the day there are informal talks by staff members on various subjects.
And best of all it’s free!
I didn’t take any pictures, go and look at the website for a flavour.

We had free power too for most of our stay. Someone had kindly left 40p credit on the meter!

So, with a bit of a hike to do today we were on our way at half past nine.

A mortar menaces the entrance to Clarence Dock.IMG_7526

Out on the river again and under Crown Point BridgeIMG_7530

We’d just ¾ of a mile on the river before leaving it for the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Leeds waterfront, Leeds Bridge in the distance.IMG_7534

Leeds Bridge carries the city coat of arms.

The sheep represents the wool trade, upon which the city was built. Three stars are from the coat of arms of Sir Thomas Danby, the first Mayor of Leeds; the three owls come from the coat of arms of Sir John Saville, the first Alderman. The Latin motto reads “For King and Law”

Victoria Bridge is the last crossing before the river is left behind, River Lock is visible beyond
The yellow boat is the water taxi which runs between Clarence Dock and River Lock. Twelve hours a day…

This area of the city, at the start (end?) of the canal is being developed at a rapid pace. New apartment blocks have appeared along the canal between River Lock and Office Lock, replacing the demolition and building site we saw when we last came this way.

At River Lock we also come across the first examples of the paddle gear typical of the L&L.

Gate paddle – “clough”

Vertical screw operated ground paddleIMG_7540One of the annoying handcuff locks can also be seen. 

Mags in Office Lock

The locks come steadily as the canal clings to the south bank of the Aire. We’ll be following the river valley almost all the way to the summit level, to the west of Gargrave.
We’re not going that far…

We’re starting to leave the city behind at Spring Garden LockIMG_7548

There’s a 2 mile pound above Spring Garden, ending at Kirkstall Lock. At Kirkstall village there are moorings for those who want to split the climb up to Rodley, but they’re a bit gloomy. A supermarket is just up the hill, though.

In fact we passed three today! It’s pretty quiet up here.

The remains of Kirkstall Abbey is just visible across the valley from Kirkstall LockIMG_7560
The Abbey became another victim of Henry VIII’s need for ready cash in 1539 during The Dissolution.

We’d already dealt with the two-rise staircase locks at Oddy’s, but now we had the pair of three-rise staircases of Forge and Newlay coming up.

Approaching Forge 3.IMG_7561
We were waved in by the lockie. Unsought and unasked for, but these two staircases are manned. I suppose there’s too much that can go wrong…

It’s a long way down… and quite wet if you’re going the other way.IMG_7563


Mags looked after the tiller on this set, but she was starting to feel the strain so I stayed aboard for Newlay 3.

Tiller-eye viewIMG_7567

Looking back

No more locks for a bit once we’d got up these, but now we start with the swing bridges…

Ross Mill Swing Bridge, the first of many.IMG_7572

The canal was built to a budget, so swing bridges were installed instead of more expensive fixed bridges. There’s a lot of them, too.

The Gnomes of Dulwich Rodley

Today’s journey’s end, Rodley Visitor Moorings.IMG_7574

Once again, a cool start has turned into a beautiful sunny day.

Just a short trip tomorrow, up to Apperley bridge.

Locks 13, miles 6

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Up to town.

Another chilly night, another misty morning. But not quite so chilly, nor quite so misty today.

Lemonroyd Weir this morning

We got off a little earlier today. I wanted to arrive at Leeds Lock at lunchtime to give us the best shot at a mooring in Clarence Dock. So it was 09:30 when we set off towards Woodlesford and our first lock, about a mile upstream.

Disused oil terminal at Fleet Bridge

Woodlesford Lock is very pretty, and popular with a car park alongside. The keeper here won the Best Kept Lock and Bridge Award in 2000 and something. And it’s still well kept now.IMG_7485

We were just getting ready to leave the lock when another couple of boats turned up. You can’t remove your key from the control panel until the gates are shut and paddles closed, so the standard procedure is to swap keys.IMG_7487

There are good moorings above the lock.IMG_7492

And an elephant in the bushes.

Fishpond Lock was next, the locks coming a bit closer together now as we approach Leeds. I was pleased to see the warning lights in operation, indicating a keeper in residence.IMG_7494

Our ascent was rather quicker than when the locks are on boater operation!IMG_7495
The lock house, on the right, is for sale. It comes with about 1½ acres of land and is valued at £335,000.
The house is nothing special, but, as they say, location is everything!

We had time for a brew before Knostrop Falls Lock, about 2½ miles of very pleasant cruising. IMG_7496

The concrete bowstring bridge is called, pragmatically, Concrete Bridge.IMG_7497
Beyond is the newer bridge carrying the A1/M1 Link road.

We’re approaching Leeds now, a long length of commercial-sized moorings on the right mark the waiting area for boats delivering to and from the Yorkshire Copper Works and Vulcan Foundry on the opposite side of the navigation.IMG_7499

Both works have now been demolished.

The canal at Knostrop Falls Lock is right alongside the river, and a lot of bank improvements are going on there. I think it’s for this reason that there was a lockie on here as well. They wouldn’t want unnecessary pedestrians wandering about!IMG_7506

In fact we rejoined the river just above the main lock at the single-gated Knostrop Falls Flood Lock.


From here to Leeds Lock is only around a mile, passing the sanitary station pontoon on the way. We pulled in here to empty a loo tank before heading around the corner to the lock.

Orange light – DIY this time.IMG_7516

The large barge locks are behind us now. This last river lock will only take boats up to about 65 feet long unless the downstream extension is used.IMG_7517

A sharp left immediately after the lock takes you under the bridge…IMG_7519

… and into Clarence DockIMG_7520
Lots of space on the visitor moorings on the left, although they’ve filled up now.

That’s us settled for two nights.20150929_124141
We’ve friends coming tomorrow, a visit to the Royal Armouries Museum right alongside is on the cards.

Hi Steve. Hey, that’s a fine boating pedigree!

Locks 4, miles 6