Saturday, October 06, 2012

Pastures new….

With the river falling again, although still just in the red, we decided to move on today. I went up into the town to do a bit of shopping, and was back in time to spot the tanker Humber Pride head upstream.

Tank Barge Humber PrideSAM_3643 Humber Pride
She’ll be carrying fuel oil to the oil terminal at Fleet, near Lemonroyd Lock. I’ve heard that this will be one of the last trips; the terminal owners are switching to road transport.
I find it difficult to believe that putting 5 tanker lorries on the already congested roads makes better sense than using a barge. Fuel consumption will be higher, wages too. And a vessel like this lasts an awful lot longer than a truck. So there’s less depreciation in the transport. OK, there’s the argument that water transport is less reliable, vulnerable to flood and ice, but the cargo isn’t exactly perishable and doesn’t need a JIT (just in time) solution. Ah well.

We toddled down to the lock an hour or so later, pulling in just above to fill the water tank and empty the other. Chris and his wife and dogs had arrived yesterday on NB Amy, they were moored just above the lock. We’d met about 18 months ago on the River Weaver, when we were moored at Vale Royal. Chris had already been down to see us for a natter, and he offered to operate the lock for us to save me getting on and off.

Castlefield LockSAM_3647 Castleford lock

Chris and Mrs Chris (sorry…) in the backgroundSAM_3648 Chris an wife
He’s not keen on having his picture taken…
Thanks both. See you again somewhere. Have a good winter.

There was a bit of flow coming down from Leeds, but not enough to cause any problems as we motored across the junction onto the River Calder. The waterway we’re on is based on the rivers Aire and Calder, hence the name Aire and Calder Navigation.
Up to now we’ve been on the section using the Aire, from Castleford Junction we’ll be heading upstream in the Calder Valley. At Fall Ings Lock at Wakefield we make an end-on connection with the next navigation, this time the Calder and Hebble. I’ll leave you to work out which rivers that one is based on…

Crossing Castlefield Junction….SAM_3649 Castleford lock

Onto the River CalderSAM_3650 On the Calder

At Methley Bridge there’s a fair old assortment of boats tied up, Yorkshire and Humber keels, river cruisers and narrowboats. They’re breasted up three or four deep, it must be a challenge to get to the outer ones…
SAM_3654 Methley Bridge
…and what do you do if yours is closest to the bank and you want to get out? My guess is not many of these move.

Whitwood Wharf is where the gravel barges come to unload. Humber Renown must be stopping for the weekend.

Whitwood WharfSAM_3657 Whitwood Wharf

Until the navigation was improved to take larger vessels, there were two locks just past the wharf. The delightfully named Fairies Hill Lock led to a short cut and Altofts Lock, above which the channel is artificial for the next four miles.

Fairies Hill LockSAM_3658 Fairies Hill Lock
Rather than enlarge both of these lock chambers, a new, 13 foot deep lock was built just upstream, bypassing the old cut. Above Fairies Hill the old line is now used for moorings.

There were four locks to do today, all large and all mechanised. For a change I had the easiest job today, no heaving on recalcitrant gates or winding stiff paddle gear. Just press the appropriate button.

Woodnook Lock, replacing both Fairies Hill and AltoftsSAM_3660 Woodnook Lock

Moored above the lock is the preserved tug Wheldale, with three compartment boats. It passed us in Castleford the other day.

Tug WheldaleSAM_3663 Tug Wheldale
Compartment boats or “Tom Puddings”SAM_3665 Tug Wheldale
A better shot of the artificial fore-end or jebus, normally chained to the first of a string of compartments boats if they were being moved by a push tug.SAM_3664 Tug Wheldale
There are good moorings above King’s Road Lock, then the canal runs fairly straight to Birkwood Lock.

Moorings above King’s Road LockSAM_3672 Kings Road Moorings
The river, meanwhile, tries to wrap itself in knots as it performs extravagant meanders just to the right.

Birkwood Lock was our last today, and the only one that was in our favour.

Birkwood LockSAM_3674 Birkwood Lock
The mound rising in the background is a reclaimed spoil heap. Much of the landscape around has been modified by coal mining, and the canal owes it’s success to the transport of “Black Gold”. All gone now, of course.

Our destination for today was Stanley Ferry. A marina, pubs, maintenance yard (which makes lock gates), extensive moorings and two aqueducts make this an interesting place to stop.

Approaching Stanley FerrySAM_3677 Stanley Ferry
Directly ahead is the old aqueduct, opened in 1839 and consisting of an iron trough held up by riveted iron suspension supports. The later, concrete construction lies to the left, and was built in 1981, amid fears that the older structure might not withstand punishment from the large barges after the waterway upgrade.

BW C&RT maintenance and lock-gate workshopSAM_3679 Stanley Ferry

On the “old” aqueductSAM_3681 Stanley Ferry

We moored a little further on, before Ramsden’s Bridge. We’ve friends who moor here, Joan and Bob on NB Caroline. They’ll come for a drink this evening.

This “weather window” doesn’t look set to last. Today’s paper is warning of more heavy rain due Sunday night, so we might be stuck here for a few days. C’est la vie. I’m getting quite philosophical about it all, now.

Locks 4, miles 5¾


Alf said...

Did you do the "full tour" at Stanley Ferry ? You know through the old bridge turn left through the new bridge, the U turn again !! If not, why not ? No fun, are you !!



Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Alf
You know it didn't even cross my mind! Must be getting old...
If we can get turned around up here we might give it a go in the morning... watch this space!