Monday, April 21, 2008

A long but enjoyable day... and a sad loss.

Well we had a bit of a mixed bag of weather over the weekend. Mostly grey and damp, though. I got in a couple of good runs, and we had some long walks. Carol and Sonja took both dogs for a walk last evening. You can see how much they enjoyed themselves by the state Meg was in when they got back!

Mucky (and smelly) Meg with Sonja

We had a fairly early start today, at least by our standards; we were under way by 09:20!

It’s been an enjoyable day, long but fine and dry, with a mixture of canal and river, some built up bits and rural stretches and even some post-industrial that is being reclaimed by nature.

We passed the visitor moorings at Horbury Bridge and spotted NB Alice. We nearly bought this boat in June 2006 when it was for sale. But the interior layout, although superbly constructed, didn’t meet our needs.

NB Alice
The first locks were Figure of 3 Locks, just 2 of them to go through, with the third now blocked, dropping down to the river. More evidence of the damage caused by the January flooding can be seen on the towpath.

Figure of 3 Bottom Lock
Flood Damage. The River Calder is on the left. It overflowed into the canal at this point, washing out the towpath.

At Mill Bank Lock we had the chance to try out the Mk II Handspike. It does the job….

On to Thornhill Double Locks, with today’s SBDA winner on the visitor moorings below the locks.

Sunken Cruiser. A bit of a hazard to navigation…..
This was not the first, nor the last, casualty seen today.

Thornhill Double Locks. The Dewsbury Arm leads off on the right.

The old Thornhill Power Station has been completely demolished, leaving large tracts of open land now being covered by birch and brambles. A pair of swans are taking advantage of the lack of business at the coal wharf which supplied the site.

Nesting Swans
Shepley Bridge Lock gave us a bit of a problem. With the boats both in side by side, we couldn’t shut the bottom gate past Seyella’s stern. So we locked the boats up individually so we could slot the longer boat in crosswise.

Not much room to spare in Shepley Bridge Lock
According to Nicholsons the maximum length is 57’6”. Even with fenders up we didn’t fit though. So maybe I should put a tape measure on Seyella and confirm she is the rated 57’….

We passed Coopers Bridge Junction where the Huddersfield Canal heads off on it’s route over the pennines. It starts off with broad locks, then goes narrow and disappears under Standedge through the 3 mile 418 yard long tunnel, before finishing up at Aston-Under-Lyne and connecting with the Ashton Canal through Manchester.

Coopers Bridge Junction and Bottomley and Sons mill.
We ended the day just above Kirklees Top Lock. It’s a pleasant spot, the only downside is the constant mutter of traffic from the M62 which crosses over the canal a little way ahead.

Kirklees Bottom Lock
I'm afraid we lost Donald the plastic duck today. After several months of being perched on the bow fender since being rescued from a lock on the T&M he was getting a little fragile. Alas, a stream of water from a leaky top gate saw his demise. RIP, Donald.
Locks 11, miles 10

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