We had two of the large Aire and Calder locks to do today. Both have been substantially extended of the years since the canal was built, as the commercial craft got bigger.
Pollington actually consists of three chambers divided by four pairs of gates.
So one third, two thirds or the whole 457 feet from top to bottom gates with the intermediate ones left open.
The 600 tonne Euro-barge standard boats use the lower two chambers, trains of compartment boats and associated tug use the whole length, and us insignificant leisure boats fit comfortably in just the lower one.
This chamber is also the only one that can be self operated.
Fantastic sunset last night.
By the time we filled with water this morning at the handy tap alongside the lower moorings it was 11:00. We were joined by another narrowboat, a single-hander, so he and Mags handled the boats while I pushed the buttons.
They’re quite quick to fill, so we were soon on our way.
The wide and deep Aire and Calder
It’s actually a bit boring, long straights with gentle curves, relieved by the occasional bridge.
A couple of kestrels hunting along the banks diverted my attention for a few minutes.
It’s about an hour from Pollington to Whitley Lock. There are pleasant moorings here below the lock, that is if you can put up with the constant drone of traffic on the M62 crossing just above.
Whitley Lock, the leisure craft bit is at the far end of the long main chamber.
We were on our own in this one, our single-handed companion had moored up below. With the lock full and no-one else waiting we drifted across the chamber and tied up, giving me easier access for rubbish and elsan disposal. Then we were out of the lock so I could close the gates and retrieve my key.
Another ¾ of an hour of wide cut took us to Knottingley.
On the right is Kellingley Colliery, once using the canal to ship coal to Ferry bridge Power Station just visible ahead.
The trains of compartment boats that used to do the 2¾ mile trip down onto the River Aire are now no more, coal is now moved by rail.
Derelict loading conveyors loom over the disused wharf
The channel narrows considerably under Skew Bridge on the approach to Knottingley Junction.
The plan was to turn to the right and moor on the “island” formed in the angle of the junction. But it looked like we were going to be unlucky…
A rather large boat had beaten us to it!
But no, there was just room to squeeze in front.
It seems like our trip onto the Ouse may be delayed a little. The river is currently in flood, according to the lockie. I rang to book for Saturday, but he suggested an 06:00 penning down, so I put it back to Sunday when at least it’s 45 minutes later. The problem is that it’s an early tide at the moment, high water at Naburn is around mid-morning and we want to use that water to push us up against the fresh coming down.
In fact I’ll have to check the level board down on the Aire below Bank Dole Lock in the morning. We might not even get on the Selby Cut if that’s up too!
Locks 2, miles 8