Friday, August 10, 2018

Looks like we’re screwed…

We were planning to be down on the Soar by mid-September to enjoy my brother Andy’s wedding, but following on from the canal closure to the west of us, from Gargrave to Wigan, CRT have now made the decision to close the eastern descent down into Leeds too.

Notice Alert

Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Starts At: Lock 29, Bingley 5 Rise Top Lock
Ends At: Lock 1, River Lock

Friday 17 August 2018 08:00 until further notice
Type: Navigation Closure
Reason: Water resources

Original message:
Due to the continued drawdown of the river levels, the prolonged low rainfall and with the forecast for further dry weather, the Trust will be implementing temporary closures to navigation between Bingley 5 Rise Top Lock(Lock 29) to River Lock (Lock 1) at the beginning of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, commencing on Friday 17th August.
The main lock flights will be padlocked closed at Bingley Three and Five Rise (Locks 22-29), Field (Locks 16-18), Newlay (Locks 11-13), Forge (Locks 8-10) and the gates will be ashed up to reduce leakage.  Additionally to prevent unauthorised use, measures will be taken to make all the locks inoperable within this section. 
It’s not clear how long the closure will last for but it’s likely to be throughout August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall. While the closure will prevent use of that stretch of canal by boats the towpath will remain open for visitors and the local community alike to enjoy.

Although it’s only four or five long days down to Leeds from here, we’ve a family gathering up here tomorrow, a funeral to attend over Blackpool way on Monday, and Meg has to make a return visit to the vet here on Tuesday morning. There’s no way we could do the trip in 2½ days. So it looks like we’ll be hanging around up here in God’s country a little longer…
Incidently, in case your wondering what “the gates will be ashed up” means, traditionally, to stem leaks between the gates, boatmen used to pour the ash from their fires into the joint at the upstream side. The ash would be drawn into the joint, form a paste and a temporary seal. I assume the method used now is a little more high-tech, but you never know…

So, last Tuesday we headed further east from Bradley, through a couple of swing bridges to turn around at Farnhill Bridge and head back. We really did time it well. With so many day boats and longer term hire boats out from Skipton and Silsden, we only had to open three out of the four ourselves.

A fine sunset on Monday night…

…and a misty Tuesday morning.
The sun made short work of clearing the mist, by mid-morning we were into another bright, sunny day.

Returning the favour at Hamblethorpe Swing Bridge, after being invited through that at Bradley.DSCF4735
Up on the fell near here, in 1943, a Wellington bomber on a training flight crashed here following a catastrophic airframe failure. The seven crew members, all Polish were killed. The aircraft was on a routine flight and was returning to it’s base in Cumbria when the accident occurred.


A memorial to the young men, mainly funded by local businesses, was unveiled in 2007 by the widow of one of the crew. They’d been married only three weeks when the tragedy happened…

Heading back towards Bradley, alongside the busy Keighley Road.DSCF4740

A view from the east side of Bradley this time…DSCF4742

We thought we’d missed the opportunity here, we recently passed two pairs of boats that must have only just come through the swing bridge. But no, there was another couple of day boats just getting the bridge open again, so we snuck through.DSCF4743

We pulled in on the same spot we’d left a little earlier, once again with the stern well out to avoid the shallow bottom.DSCF4745
Even on this 20-mile pound the water is 2 or three inches lower than normal.

Meg had an appointment at the vet this morning so we set off yesterday, hoping to moor opposite the bus station again. But although we had a lucky break once again at Snaygill Bridge, it had run out when we arrived in Skipton. Our preferred moorings were all full, so we filled up with water, dropped the rubbish, turned around at the Springs Branch junction and pulled in nearer Tin Bridge. It’s OK here, but with buildings pretty well both sides there’s no chance of sun. Not that we’re going to see much anyway for the next few days.

We’re still struggling to sort Meg out. She’s listless and has no appetite, and this morning’s visit showed that even after 10 days of antibiotics she’s still got a temperature and has blood in her wee. After the consultation I left her there for an ultrasound scan, which has showed up some abnormality in her bladder, so further tests are scheduled for Tuesday.
I think she was pleased when I went to pick her up, but she was more interested in getting out of the door. After suffering the indignity of having her belly and flanks shaved she just wanted to be out of there!

I suppose the stoppage is a mixed blessing. At least we’ve got to stay up here now, so we can pop back to the vet regularly. We’ll get her sorted.

Locks 0, miles 5½

Friday, August 03, 2018

A few days in Skipton, then back to Bradley

We actually sneaked an extra half-day on the Gallows Bridge moorings, Meg's Tuesday appointment at the vets resulted in another one this morning, so we held on  another night.

Val and John came across on Wednesday, bringing a cake, a selection of vegetables from John’s veggie patch, and a bottle of an unusual Welsh whisky.

It certainly has character… A special occasion tipple, I reckon. Then again, it is my birthday today!
Penderyn Single Malt is distilled in Penderyn, in the Brecon Beacons of South Wales, and at 46% ABV has a considerable kick.

There’s a family of swans that patrol this length of moorings, you can’t go near an open hatch without Cyd, Eric and the three kids appearing with open beaks. Val had great fun feeding them pieces of brown bread…DSCF4699

The youngsters are already tame enough for hand-feeding.DSCF4697

Little Harry wanted to see what the commotion was, but Cyd wasn’t impressed.DSCF4704

They take their territorial boundaries seriously – that’s Eric all fluffed up heading off to have a word with another family that have drifted through Belmont Bridge onto his patch.

Honour satisfied, and relax.

The interloping pen and cygnets headed off back towards the junction, but the cob hung around under the bridge for a while, getting his own back by taking his frustration out on passing walkers.
He’s a big chap!

Meg’s visit to the vet was inconclusive. A urine sample on Tuesday indicated an infection, so she’s been on antibiotics. But today’s sample showed no improvement, and she’s still eating very little. A bit worrying. She’s still got several days of the medication left, so we’ll review after the weekend. They might have kicked in by then. If she’s feeling better I’ll probably bike a wee sample back to Skipton for them to check.

On another subject, I’ve started work on tidying up the front doors. One has had a cracked glass for some time, not too noticeable with it being laminated and decorated with a stained glass design. So I got a replacement pane from a glaziers in town, fitted it and stripped the paint and lead strip from the other. We were sort of art deco, with straight lines and geometric shapes. I think we’re going all art nouveau this time… Watch this space…

This morning then, after Meg’s doggy-doctor visit and a grocery top-up from Tesco, we were away back down the cut to Bradley. First we had to push across to fill with water and dispose of the rubbish, then go up through Belmont Bridge to turn around at the Springs Branch junction.

Winding at the junction
I was thinking about topping up the fuel tank as well, but the wharf was very busy. We’ll last another couple of weeks.

On the way back under Gallows Bridge we encountered the wide Endeavour, the SCAD (Skipton and Craven Action for Disability) boat. One of the half-hour trip boats from Pennine Cruisers nipped through the gap as the skipper held Endeavour back.DSCF4719

A bit further on, and it was a bit odd watching a boat seemingly disappear into a solid wall…DSCF4721

…but he was going into Pennine Cruisers dry dock.DSCF4722

We were lucky at Snaygill Swing Bridge, the charity boat Adams Ark had arrived at the other side moments before, and a party of energetic teenagers soon had the bridge open and waved us through.DSCF4723

The sky had been grey most of the morning, and a fine drizzle started to fall but only lasted 10 minutes.
By the time we reached Bradley I was dry again.

Moored at Bradley
We’ll be here for a few days again.

Carol (Still Rockin’) rang this morning to wish me happy birthday, but also to point out that I’d not published any comments for the last couple of weeks. I rely on email notifications of pending comments, and I‘d not been receiving any, so assumed that there were none outstanding. After all, I’ve not been posting much recently, and what I have written has been pretty inane stuff. Anyway it turns out that there are 17, going back a couple of months! They are all published now, apologies to all of you to whom I’ve not replied. I‘ll check my email settings, but meanwhile I’ll keep an eye on the comments section of the blogger dashboard menu.

Locks 0, miles 2¾

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A bit of a cock-up on the catering front…

Recognise the quote? Geoffrey Palmer as Reggie’s brother in law Jimmy. Of course, it was the incomparable “Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin” with another great, Leonard Rossiter, in the title role. Sadly, both of these brilliant comic actors are no longer with us.

My cock-up was in the water supply department, I thought we’d just about have enough to last until we returned to Skipton today, but when the water pump started sucking air during the washing machine’s final rinse cycle at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, I realised that I was wrong.
 The only option was to up sticks and head back half a day earlier. Not a big problem, through Bradley Swing Bridge, turn around, back through the swing bridge then about three miles with another bridge at Snaygill to get back to town.
Apart from the rain, that is. After a fine, breezy day, as soon as we set off it started to rain, and it came down like stair-rods at one point.

Mags coming back through Bradley Swing Bridge after turning around.DSCF4685  

Heading off towards Skipton

By the time we’d got to Snaygill the rain had stopped and there was just a glimmer of brightness back in the sky. Bad timing, I guess.

Coming into Skipton, the conical hill on the horizon is Haw Park. Extensive quarrying has changed it’s shape, and it’s height.DSCF4688
It’s lost about 50 foot off the top. That’s a lot of stone…

We filled with water at the services alongside the bus station, then pulled in right at the end of the 3-day moorings opposite, almost up to Belmont Bridge. Not ideal, but beggars can’t be choosers. Only one night anyway.

This morning we were keeping an eye on two hire boats moored further back, and as soon as they left we were off, reversing back to occupy one of the spots. Better here, not overlooked by the apartments and if it comes out we’ll have sun all day.

This afternoon Meg and I headed off to the vet again. We saw Nisha again, but then also Sam to make sure that all bases are covered. They believe she has a bladder infection which is making her miserable and off her food, and possibly the Metacam she takes for her arthritis is irritating her tummy with her not eating much.
So she’s off the Metacam for a few days, with a paracetamol-based painkiller to manage her joint pain and anti-biotics for the infection. We’ll go back again Friday morning, by which time she should be on the mend. Hope so.

Locks 0, miles 2¾

Friday, July 27, 2018

A productive few days…

With us not moving and, apart from heavy, thundery showers last evening, the weather being kind, I got on with a job I‘ve been putting off. There’s been a leak around the rear slide frame for a while now, the evidence of stained woodwork and even drips inside during particularly heavy rain was obvious. And the slide had started to tighten up on it’s brass runners as rust behind them pushed them out of position.
The slide itself is very heavy, I’ve only had it completely off once, and it was a huge struggle getting it back on again, so the first job was to raise it on battens to lift it clear of the runners so they could be removed.

Top and side runners removed, the rust behind scraped off and treated with rust killer ready for priming, undercoat and two finish coats.DSCF4664

All painted, that’s the steelwork mostly done, now to start on the woodwork…DSCF4665

With the frame surround removed the water damage to the timber backing and more rust is revealed…DSCF4681

So, out with the rust treatment, primer undercoat and gloss once again. A new piece of timber replaced the stained back board, thoroughly varnished, and while it was out the rest got rubbed down and treated to a couple of coats as well. With everything dry it was time to put it all back together, with a good seam of sealant under the brass runners and between the steelwork and the hardwood frame.DSCF4682 
Hopefully that should keep the rainwater out for the next 12 years…

With the cants on the counter painted gloss black and the deck painted raddle red it’s looking quite smart now.DSCF4683

Apart from this we’ve been chilling, trying to keep cool with limited success. The storm last night freshened the air temporarily, but we were back to warm, humid conditions again today.

Meg isn’t happy with the weather, she’s not eating much, is listless and stiff with arthritis. We’re heading back into Skipton early next week and we’ll be going back to the vet while we’re there, in case there’s something else we’ve not spotted yet.

We had a bit of light relief when a small cruiser was lifted out of the water on the moorings a little further up. I was convinced that it would slide out of the slings…

…but it didn’t.

Even the cows came across for a closer look…DSCF4676

…and had to be shooed out of the way while they moved the boat to a spot around the corner.DSCF4677

We’ll be here for the weekend, moving back to Skipton Monday or Tuesday. Meg’s appointment is for Tuesday afternoon, and we’ll be needing water and essential supplies by then.

Locks 0, miles 0.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A few days in Skipton, then out into the country.

We had visitors last Thursday. In the morning friend Wendy and her sister Helen turned up for a brew and a chat, then later on in the day Paul Balmer and family arrived on NB Waterway Routes, on their way towards Liverpool.

WR coming under Tin Bridge
That’s Paul on the roof filming, daughter Susan on the tiller and wife Christine relaxing. Paul is the producer of the excellent series of canal maps, published on DVD in formats for Memory Map and Acrobat.

They’re filming an update to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal cruising map, but unfortunately will not be able to finish it this year, the breach on the western end, not far from Liverpool, will prevent them from filming all the way into the docks.
They don’t leave any stretch of water untouched though…

Heading up the Springs Branch

The branch was opened in 1797 to move stone from quarries at the end of the half-mile stretch, and doesn’t see much traffic now. Apart from moorings at the junction end, the only regular visitors are the small trip boats running from the wharf.
Paul wasn’t sure how far they’d get, and it didn’t seem that it’d be very far when they ran aground passing trip boat Sam.
But Susan managed to pull back off the mud, and they actually got almost to the end, finally being beaten more by the overhanging trees than water depth. Of course, then they had to reverse back out…
They moored between Gallows and Belmont Bridges before walking around to see us. Chris brought a fine ginger cake, and I’d knocked up a banana cake and a batch of chocolate chip cookies, so we didn’t go hungry.

On Friday, after the early boats had got away, we pulled around and joined them, stopping to fill with water on the way. Skipton is well furnished with water points, apart from the service wharf opposite the Gallows Bridge moorings there’re taps near Brewery Bridge and Gawflat Bridge too.

Moored on the Gallows bridge moorings.

We pottered about over the weekend, just doing this and that. The Waterway Routes crew left to continue their journey on Saturday…DSCF4648

…and we were visited by Mags’ son Howard on Sunday and the local cob on several occasions. Howard only wanted a cup of tea, but the swan was a lot greedier. Not content with the odd bit of bread (I know, not good for them, but it was a seeded batch loaf…), he tried to take a bite out of the camera!

With things to do I didn’t get to walk around the town this time, but the near the canal are some gems…

The Liberal Club Building, Craven House.


Town Wharf

Alongside the towpath, the other side of the stone wall from where we’d moored, was the town gas works, with an ironworks a bit further over. The gaps where gates once hung allowing coal to be moved from boats into the works are now closed up, but still clear to see.

On the opposite side of the canal was an area of run-down slum tenements, with the odd cottage business mixed in.    

This morning we pushed across to fill and empty as required at the wharf, then set off to get out of town for a few days.DSCF4649
The gas works was to the left, now a car park, and the terraces to the right were demolished in the 1950s to make way for the bus station.

Typical mill town; stone-built terraces with the moors rising beyond.DSCF4653

We moved just four miles, mooring near Bradley.

Clever use of coir matting rolls to reinforce the edge of the new towpath.DSCF4654
They’ll slowly be absorbed by the vegetation, stabilising the edge of the path.

Snaygill Swing Bridge, the only one today.DSCF4655

Snaygill Boats

Moored near Bradley

On the opposite side of the canal a pair of isolated gate posts stand close to the water’s edge.
I wonder how old they are? If you look closely you can see a slight dip in the field where the drystone wall that connected to them once stood.

We’ll stay here for a few days before heading back into town. We’re just killing time at the moment.

Locks 0, miles 4½