Monday, August 24, 2015

Stainforth and Keadby, New Junction and Aire and Calder.

I didn’t get to post over the weekend; I was busy and the interweb was a bit dodgy. So here we have two days cruising and one day on the bank.

Right then, Friday. We filled and emptied at the Thorne services. It seemed daft not to, being as we were moored right outside! Then we reversed off the pontoon and around onto the Thorne Boat Services wharf to fill with diesel.

Topped up and emptied, we set off, around the corner to Thorne Lock. This was the one that was out of action for a couple of days earlier in the month, a problem with the swing bridge at the head of the lock.

Thorne Lock and swing bridgeIMG_7003
You have to open the bridge to get out of the lock.

Someone’s busy in Staniland Marina’s dry dockIMG_7005
There’s an awful lot of these Humber keels around, some converted for residential use, some just as they were when they were still in commercial use.

The S&K is wide and deep (most of the canals up here are…), so good progress can be made.

Under the M18.IMG_7006

Stainforth is the next village after Thorne, mainly just to the south of the waterway.IMG_7011
There’re good moorings either side of the pub here, on the left.

A few barges have scraped the sides of Stainforth Bridge!IMG_7013

One other swing bridge to do before getting to Branwith Lock and the welcome sight of a lock-keeper waving us in to the chamber.

Approaching Bramwith LockIMG_7016

Unlike Thorne Lock, this one is all manually operated. There are three pairs of gates, so that different sizes of craft can be accommodated with minimal water use. We fitted into the smallest chamber.

Off we go again, just a quarter mile to Bramwith Junction and our mooring spot for the rest of the weekend.IMG_7017

Wide open spaces at Bramwith Junction.IMG_7020
Directly beyond us is the Stainforth and Keadby, now part of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. It continues on behind the camera, another 27 miles to Sheffield, passing Doncaster on route.
The white cruiser off to the left is emerging from the New Junction Canal, the dead straight 5½ mile link to the Aire and Calder Navigation. Our route today.

Having got tied up on a moderately low bank, I set to rubbing down the primer on the left side gunwale. It’s been on there a while… Rubbed down, cleaned up and degreased, I got a coat of black paint on too before the heavy rain appeared. Luckily it had tacked off before it got wet. And it certainly did put some water down, fairly short-lived but intense.IMG_7022

I got the second and final coat of matt black on yesterday morning, between my long run and the Belgian Grand Prix. So that’s a job out of the way. But I’ve got another now.
When we stopped on Saturday I noticed a smell of anti-freeze from below the engine boards. Yesterday afternoon I investigated, finding a couple of cupfulls of blue water in the sump below the engine. The temporary repair I‘d effected on the top hose connection to the header tank has started to dribble again. It’s been alright for a while, but I guess the extended higher speed running on the Trent has caused it to fail. It was never intended to be permanent, but I was hoping it’d last till we got to Ripon. So I’ve got replacement top and bottom hoses going to Selby, and I’ll get them fitted before we venture onto the Ouse.  More standing on the head, then… With the pressure cap loosened there’s very little loss, so I can manage till then.
It was a misty start to the day today, after a clear but nippy night.

Bramwith Lock, the lower chamber

The steamer Whistle Down the Wind headed off down the New Junction ahead of us.IMG_7026

We were away soon after 10 o’clock, onto the New Junction. The canal was built in 1905, making it the last commercial waterway to be constructed in the UK. It enabled trains of compartment boats, then in common use on the Aire and Calder, to head down onto the Don Navigation to Doncaster.

Crossing flat land, the bridges are all either swing or lift, six of them including the one crossing the main chamber of Sykehouse Lock.

But the first structure encountered is the Don Aqueduct, the canal passing over the river in a steel trough. At either end a guillotine gate can be lowered to close off the canal from the river in flood conditions to protect the surrounding farmland from inundation.

The Don Doors, a bit daunting at first sight…IMG_7030

Looking back, our wash slops over the edge of the aqueduct.IMG_7032

The lift or swing bridges come in a regular procession…

Low Lane…

…Top Lane.IMG_7035

Sykehouse Lock is the only one on the 5½ mile canal, and I was pleased to see the lights turn from amber to green as we approached, indicating a lock-keeper in attendance.

Sykehouse Lock, manned too!IMG_7038
It didn’t take long to drop down, I’d stayed on the lockside to hold the centre rope, then walked down to the next bridge at Kirk Lane. That negotiated I hopped back on board for the short trip to the last, carrying Sykehouse Road.
As we approached we saw the bridge deck rise, and then two narrowboats and a cruiser came under. IMG_7042
We were then waved through by the kind lady crew-member looking after the bridge. Result!

In the distance you can see the footbridge crossing the canal at the aqueduct at the far end of the canal. This aqueduct crosses the River Went, considerably smaller than the Don.IMG_7045

Sykehouse Junction, where the New Junction joins the Aire and Calder.IMG_7047
Opposite is Southfield Reservoir, on the same level as the A&C and much used for sailing.
There’s good mooring on the right bank here.

To the right is Goole Docks, about 6½ miles away…IMG_7048

…while to the left Knottingley and Castleford beckon.IMG_7049

There used to be a swing bridge here.

We pulled in below Pollington Lock, pleasant moorings we’ve used before. In fact Mags got a little inebriated on Pimms here once… It was during the same trip she fell in Cromwell Lock, an incident totally unrelated…

Tomorrow we’ll be at Knottingley, I reckon. We can’t do long days, I need to keep an eye on the coolant level in case the leak suddenly gets worse.

Locks 3, miles 12½ (two days)

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