Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the edge of the Dales.

A bit of a catch up post, this. We’ve had a couple of long days, and I lost the urge to spend a couple of hours in front of my laptop in such fine weather.

Since Wednesday, we’ve been making good progress, heading up to Gargrave.

On Thursday we swapped the wide open spaces of the River Aire for the more restricted waters of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The river at Knostrop Falls

Into Leeds

Contrast of architectural styles and sizes.
Onto the L&L and the windlass comes into use again.

Unusual gear, a capstan for the ground paddles, and a rack and pinion for swinging gate paddles.

River Lock top gates.
The built up section of Leeds City Centre is soon left behind as the canal climbs up a series of locks, singles, and double and triple staircases.

Double staircase at Oddys.

Looking back at the city from Spring Gardens.
Forge 3 Locks – Meg sitting on the path waiting.
Finally Newlay 3 Locks lifts the canal the final 27’ of the 87’ climb up from the river.

Cooling the feet on another hot day.
We pulled over at Apperley Bridge for the night, after filling the diesel tank and getting a few bits and pieces at the marina.

Neil and Val at Apperley Bridge.
We had a later start than usual on Friday; before we left I had to replace the bilge pump. The bilge is always dry, any odd drips that come through the stern tube seal (where the propshaft goes through the hull) are caught in a plastic tupperware dish and tipped over the side as needed. So when the manual overide switch was accidently flicked on, the pump went into meltdown. A bilge pump is not something you want to do without on a boat.

That done we were off, joined by NB Kestrel who had moored behind us for the night.
The first locks of the day were Dobsons, a 2 rise staircase. As we arrived there was a boat waiting to come down, and we were able to practice the “Bunbury Shuffle”, crossing over the 3 boats in the middle of the locks.

Bunbury Dobsons Shuffle
We filled with water at the top of the locks, but with an extremely low pressure it took over an hour, and our locking companions had long gone.
So we were solo through the next triple staircase, at Field 3 Locks.
The gates here are very leaky!

Boat wash at Field Locks.
The swing bridges that the L&L is notorious for now come thick and fast. Some connect industrial units to main roads on opposite side of the canal, while others are out in the country and carry farm tracks or footpaths.

Rural setting at Buck Hill Swing Bridge.
Saltaire, with it’s mills overlooking the canal is a useful stop off for supplies. There are handy offside moorings near Bridge 207b, and the market square and a handy Asda are just 5 minutes up the hill.

Through Saltaire
We stopped just after ascending the 2 rise at Dowly Gap. It seemed to have been a long day, but we were now just 20 minutes from Bingley, and the 2 staircase locks that complete the climb out of Leeds.

Dowley Gap 2 Locks
We got a better start this morning, and were at the bottom of the 3 rise at 09:40.

Bingley 3 rise, in the shadow of the Damart Mill.

In the locks.

The first 3 lift the canal 30’, then there’s a short gap before hitting the 5 rise, to go up another 60’.
Every canal has it’s signature landmark. On the Llangollen it’s the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, on the Leeds and Liverpool it’s the Bingley 5 Rise.

Bingley 5 Rise

Especially at the weekend it’s a gongoozlers paradise. The lock keepers who control boat movements up and down both sets of locks must have the patience of Job and nerves of steel. Not only do they have to chaperone crews, many of whom have never seen a lock before, up and down, but they also have to keep an eye out for pedestrians straying too near the deep locks chambers, answering questions from curious tourists, and calming irritated boaters after telling them it’ll be a while because there’s a queue.
Still, on a day like today, I suppose there’s worse jobs….

Out at the top after just an hour and 40 minutes, and we’re on the long 17 mile pound to Gargrave. No more locks for a bit, but plenty of swing bridges still to come.

Black swan above the locks.
And a heron, stalking.

Leaving Bingley the canal hangs on the hillside an the NW flank of the Aire valley.

Looking over the Aire
Although Keighley and it’s suburb is not far away, most of the canal runs through open country. And splendid country it is too.

Cruising near Silsden.
On holiday or what?

Those swing bridges still punctuate the trip….

Cowling Swing Bridge

But not all have to be opened, or in fact close any more!

Woodside Swing Bridge
We pulled in just before Kildwick, after a very enjoyable day. I’m glad we got through Bingley early though. The queues would have been pretty long by lunchtime, the number of boats we’ve seen today.

Locks 32, miles 28. (In 3 days)

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