Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Wide waters, big boats.

I had trouble sleeping last night. After a week in Selby, it was just too quiet at West Haddlesey!
This morning Meg and I attempted to go and have a look at where the old lock used to be, below West Haddlesey, when the river was navigable down to the Ouse near Boothferry. This was made redundant when the Selby Canal was built in 1778.
We failed, although looking at the map afterwards we weren’t far away when we gave up. The problem being that there is no discernable path alongside the river at the village of Chapel Haddlesey. It does, however, have an unusual neo-gothic church.

St' John the Baptist Church, Chapel HaddleseySAM_3521 Chapel Haddlesey
And a couple of fine Shaggy InkcapsSAM_3522 Shaggy Inkcaps
They’re edible, you know, so long as you pick them young enough. Now there’s the rub – how do you age them?

We penned down through Haddlesey Lock shortly after half-ten, heading upstream on the River Aire. The level had dropped another three or four inches overnight, but was still in the amber zone.

Back on the riverSAM_3523 River Aire
There was still a bit of current coming down as last week’s heavy rain still heads out to sea, but with a bit of throttle on we were able to maintain a comfortable 4 mph.

Beale Lock is about half-way, and evidence of the height of the flood water is still hanging on the paddle gear.

Flood DebrisSAM_3533 Beale Lock
That’s a good bit higher than today’s level!SAM_3532 Beale Lock

Anyone for cormorant on a stick?SAM_3526 Cormorant

It was a bit slower going between Beale and Bank Dole Locks; the channel is narrower and twistier, speeding up the downstream flow. On the inside of the bends the silt has built up in layers.

Silt sandwichSAM_3536 Silt
I thought Bank Dole would be a bit of a problem. The landing pontoon is alongside the lock, in the main flow of the river. To get into the lock you have to back off to turn in. Not easy when there’s a flow on, but in the end it wasn’t too bad.

Approaching Bank Dole LockSAM_3540 Bank Dole Lock

There was mud drying on the lockside, showing that the river had been high enough to completely inundate the chamber.

Coming up Bank DoleSAM_3544 Bank Dole Lock

We rejoined the Aire and Calder Navigation at Knottingley Junction, but we hadn’t seen the last of the river.

Knottingley JunctionSAM_3546 Knottingley Junction
On the way to Ripon we’d arrived from the left. Today we went straight on, heading towards Castleford.
Just around the corner we spied a blue stern ahead, going slowly through the narrow bridges. Narrow that is for a boat of his size. It was Fossdale H, fully loaded with gravel from Besthorpe on the Trent and heading for Whitwood to discharge.

Fossdale HSAM_3550 Fossdale H

It’s only 1½ miles from Knottingley to Ferrybridge and the lock there, so we held well back. We wouldn’t be able to share anyway – not that we’d want to!

Approaching Ferrybridge, the cooling towers of Ferrybridge C dominating the view.SAM_3555

After having to hold back on the narrow, shallow channel through Knottingley, he opened up on the river above the lock and we only caught a glimpse of him disappearing ahead as we followed him up.

Fossdale H pulling out of Ferrybridge lockSAM_3557

Our turn, with a bit more room to manoeuvre….SAM_3559 Our turn
When the commercial boats are due the locks are manned, at other times you have to take pot luck. You may get lucky, as we did today. When the river is at normal levels this lock is usually open, today it was a two foot rise.

The lockie gave us a shout on the way out – “ There’s another gravel boat on the way down”. Oh goodie! I love to see these canals being used for their original purpose.

Just as we were passing the disused coal wharf at Ferrybridge power station, Farndale H came steaming around the corner.

Farndale H and the tub-boat wharfSAM_3563 Ferrybridge Wharf and Farndale H
SAM_3564 Ferrybridge Wharf and Farndale H
Coal used to be brought here by canal, a push-tug shoving a train of tub-boats up from Kellingley Pit. The wharf was designed to handle the compartment boats, known as Tom Puddings, lifting them from the water, tipping them to empty the coal, then dropping them back into the water. The empties were then reconnected in a string and pushed back to the colliery for another load. It’s all moved by rail, now.

The offloading wharf, from where the coal was conveyored to the power station.SAM_3567 Ferrybridge Wharf
There used to be a few of the Tom Puddings tied to the wharf here, but they seem to have gone.
There’s an unusual view here….

This river section is just over 6 miles, ending at Bulholme Lock onto Castleford Cut. I thought we’d lucked out here; the indicator lights were on amber, boater operation.

Bulholme LockSAM_3574 Bulholme Lock

But as we got nearer they switched to red and green, lock being prepared, then green, come on in! It would have been churlish to refuse, wouldn’t it?

SAM_3575 Bulholme Lock

There was another pair of boats waiting above as we came out, one old-timer pushing another. It’s probably a good job they were going downstream….
SAM_3576  Bulholme Lock

We pulled in on the visitor moorings about half-way along the cut. The ropes started creaking as we were enjoying a cup of tea, something large coming. I got the side hatch open in time to get a blurry shot of Easedale H cruising past.

Easedale HSAM_3577 Easedale H I’m not sure what route this vessel is on, she may be with the other four on the sand and gravel run. She’s an odd one out though. All the others (Fusedale, Fossdale, Farndale [all H] and Battlestone) were built at Harkers yard in Knottingley in the mid-sixties. This one is an older boat, built in Beverley in 1952. All were built initially as tankers, but have been converted for dry cargo.
There’s a whole load more barge pics here

The day started fine, but showers moved in this afternoon. It was dampish all the way from Ferrybridge. Much the same tomorrow, I fear. Never mind. So long as the rivers stay sane…

Locks 5, miles 12

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