Today was another day like Sunday, sunny and dry from the get-go. The difference was we took advantage of it and got some cruising in.
We got a good start, on the move by 09:30. Under Horbury Bridge, then past Horbury Basin under the towpath arch.
The basin led through to a lock down onto the river, and is now home to residential moorings.
Figure of Three Locks were about 20 minutes away, a pair sporting the unique handspike-operated paddle gear for which the navigation is known.
Figure of Three Locks
Handspike Gear on lock paddle
There’s another derelict lock chamber dropping down to the river just above the two locks.
Old lock chamber
The locks start to come with regularity as the Calder Valley climbs towards the Pennines. The next is Mill Bank Lock, both of the ground paddles are the handspike type so I got to use my homemade implement here.
I made it on the lockside at Figure of Three Locks the last time we came this way. Despite what it says in the guide, a handspike is not essential for the Calder and Hebble locks, there’s always at least one paddle on a lock that’ll take a conventional windlass. But having one makes life so much easier.
Handspike in use at Mill Bank
There’s a short arm into Dewsbury just below Thornhill Double Locks, but we set off up the locks instead of detouring to the town. There’s a boatyard and winding hole up there.
The Double Locks are in an attractive, wooded area, followed by a deep cutting before the navigation opens out again towards the next river section.
Thornhill Double Locks
The 5½ mile Long Cut ends at Thornhill Flood Lock, but just before the channel passes under Long Cut End Railway Bridge. A bit of an elaborate name, much like it’s cast iron support frames.
That railway bridge
After Thornhill there’s a ¾ mile river section, a ½ mile canal, then a couple of hundred yards of river again before Shepley Bridge Lock.
There’s a marina and boatyard here, and we hoped to fill with diesel, but apparently they no longer sell the red stuff. Amendment in guide book required…
Shepley Bridge Marina
The Mirfield Cut runs for about a mile before Ledgard Flood Lock and the river once again. There are good moorings next to a supermarket at Bull Bridge.
Shopping moorings opposite Mirfield Boatyard (they don’t sell diesel, either)
Each river section has a flood lock and weir at the downstream end. With the water levels now back to normal all the flood locks are open.
Weir at Ledgard Flood Gates
We had to wait a bit at Battyeford Lock for two boats to come down. Wow, boats! It’s been very quite up here, but today we’ve actually seen six!
Battyeford Cut is home to the South Pennine Boat Club. There’s a smart clubhouse and a recently built dry-dock just above the lock.
A short bit of river followed Battyeford Flood Lock, under a pair of railway bridges where we met boat no. 6, a community boat out of Shepley Bridge Marina.
Our last lock was at Cooper Bridge, and then we had a few hundred yards of cut before mooring just down from the flood lock. Beyond the flood lock is the river, of course.
Upstream is Brighouse, Sowerby Bridge and the Rochdale Canal, a left turn downstream leads to the entrance to the Huddersfield Broad Canal and our route for tomorrow.
Cooper Bridge Junction
Meg and I had a short walk up the first three locks of the Huddersfield, to see what's in store. Although the channel looks a bit overgrown in places and the water is weedy, the locks look to be in good condition.
Lock 1, Huddersfield Broad Canal
The fencing on the left keeps people away from the major reconstruction of Cooper Bridge Weir.
So tomorrow we leave the rivers and head south and west for the Pennine crossing. We intend to be in Huddersfield for shopping in the afternoon, so we’ll have done the broad locks to Aspley Wharf.
The Huddersfield Narrow, of notorious reputation, then beckons.
Locks 9, miles 7½