Saturday, October 31, 2015

A decision made and a change of scenery.

Following on from our finding that our route to the Midlands will be closed till March (see last post) we had a long discussion about what to do. Four long days would have taken us back to Leeds and clear of the stoppages in that direction, due to start on Monday. But we still wouldn’t be able to go much further south till the third week in December, stoppages on the River Trent, and the Huddersfield and Rochdale Canals prevent that. The last couple of day’s weather would have made for miserable cruising, too….
So we’ve chosen to stay up here, Up North. At least for a while.

We’ll still have all of the western side of the L&L to go at, and if we get fed up the route south via Leeds will be available again by the the back end of December, so we don’t really need to stay north of Manchester till March. And you never know, Peel Holdings may cancel or postpone their planned work on the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley…

Consequently we’ll be spending more time than normal tied up, and the blog posts will become a little more infrequent.
A case in point is the fact that we’ve spent over a week local to Gargrave. A splendid place to tie up for a few days, but we needed a change. The weather looks set to improve so we took the opportunity to shove off.

Unfortunately we weren’t quite ready to go when the boat behind us set off, or we could have shared the locks. But another was coming down Anchor Lock when we arrived, so that and Scarland were set for us anyway.

In Anchor Lock, named for the pub alongside.20151031_105050
The busy A65 crosses just below.

Yarn Bombing    

Autumn sun through the almost leafless trees20151031_105400

The three locks out of Gargrave are close together, so I walked between while Mags brought the boat up.

Scarland Lock20151031_110345

Stegneck Lock was the last, and we moored up just above.20151031_115533
The Settle to Keighley line crosses just ahead, but it’s quiet, only local trains about every hour through the day.
 We’re only here for the one night, tomorrow we’re heading out into the hills…

Just up the canal the River Aire is crossed on a three-arch stone aqueduct. 20151031_160901

This is the last we’ll see of the river unless we come back this way. It rises around 5½ miles further north, above the village of Malham. We’ve followed the Aire Valley all the way from West Hadsley, where we joined the river from the Selby Canal.

The river heading east to Leeds and finally joining the Yorkshire Ouse.20151031_160539

We’re now heading south and west, although we’re not yet on the summit level of the canal.

I wonder how long the little stone slab bridge has been there, crossing a little beck that feeds into the river?20151031_161412
Meg doesn’t care, the beck is good for a paddle!

Locks 3, miles ¾

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I thought I’d better put pen to paper…

…Although fingers to keyboard is probably more appropriate.

We’re still here in Gargrave, although we have moved twice since I last posted! A total of a mile, but it did include 2 locks…

We’d planned to move just around the corner to below Eshton Road Lock, but couldn’t find anywhere to moor that was deep enough, so pushed on up the lock, picking up half a dozen bags of Excel from Fred Green’s on the way. He brought it on a fork-lift truck to the lock while we were waiting.
We know from experience that there’s no chance of mooring below Higherland Lock, so we went up that one too, using the sanitary station at the top and mooring on the 3 day moorings beyond.

Topping up the tank above Higherland LockIMG_7789

Lever-operated ground paddles – “Cloughs”IMG_7790

It wasn’t our planned scenario. We were off to Mag’s grandson’s wedding on Friday, and wanted to stay in the Gargrave area for a week or so, so didn’t want to be on the time-restricted moorings till after the weekend. As it was, it turned out OK though.

Meg would rather paddle than use the stepping stones over the River AireIMG_7785

The wedding went off without a hitch, then we had a visit from Howard on the Sunday. Monday morning saw us pull back to top up the water, then we moved on a couple of hundred yards to where the mooring restriction ends, tying up alongside the school playing fields. We can stop here for another few days before pushing on. But not forward, as it turns out…

George and Margaret came to see us today, and we’re expecting more guests tomorrow. All go, isn’t it!

In between weddings and visitors I’ve been getting on with my little projects. The hole in the floor (wine cellar/priest’s hole) is all but finished. I just need a recessed handle to fit in the lid.


The new 4G internet antenna arrived as well, so that’s installed on the roof and the cables fed through to the cabin.
It’s not connected up yet though. There was some confusion as to the pigtails required to go from the antenna leads to the WiFi dongle, but that’s cleared up now and they’re on their way.

Missing links…

Yesterday and today I’ve been stitching the tensioning straps onto the top corners of the cratch canopy. It’s tough going through three layers of the cover material and two of the webbing. I’ve broken four needles and I’ve lost count how many holes I’ve got in my thumbs and fingertips from the head of the needle coming through my leather gloves! One side is done, the other just requires a little more attention.

And I‘ve cocked up. Our planned route back into the Midlands was via the Leigh Branch of the L&L and the Bridgewater Canal to the Trent and Mersey. I’d failed to check for any stoppages on the Bridgewater. It not being under the jurisdiction of C&RT I don’t get automatic notification of any problems on the “Duke’s Cut”, and I hadn’t realised that this was happening -


Notice is hereby given that due to the installation of safety gates into the Bridgewater Canal at Worsley the Canal will be closed to all navigation during the course of the works.

From: Monday 02nd November 2015 at 08.00am
To: Monday 29th February 2016 at 12.00 noon.
Location of closure: Approximately 400m West of the M60 motorway bridge and 1300m East of Bridgewater Marina.

The canal towpath is planned to remain open during the works, however please remain vigilant and obey any instructions posted locally.
Works to install the safety gates are programmed to be completed within the specified period of time. However, due to the nature of the work the Company cannot guarantee completion on the published date.
For further information or updates concerning progress of the works please visit the Bridgewater Canal website during the period of the closure.
The Bridgewater Canal Company regrets and apologises for any inconvenience that these necessary works may cause.

Notice 24/2015 dated 23rd September 2015

I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for Dot and Gordon on NB Ewn Ha Cul. Without them posting a comment on the blog we would have toddled all the way down there, only to be stuck in Leigh till the end of February!
Thanks guys, I hope you get through all right. Have a good winter. 

So now we’re rethinking our strategy…

Locks 2, miles 1.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

More DIY and another short cruise.

We spent a few days near Thorleby before moving on towards Gargrave. The time wasn’t wasted, however. First I made a bracket to mount the new 3G / 4G internet antenna, who’s imminent arrival is eagerly anticipated. It’ll be fitted onto the end of the top box on the roof, and the cables will feed through an adjacent mushroom vent.

Then I got two bridge pieces fitted to the top front corners of the cabin. These will attach to adjustable straps by which the top edge of the cratch cover can be tensioned. The attachment is currently on short bungees, and the cover can blow in in a strong wind. The straps have yet to be fitted to the canopy.

Finally I cut a hole in the galley floor. After carefully locating the cross-bearers for the floor, double and triple checking my measurements, I got out my circular saw and cut the sides of a 500 x 500mm hole.


I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, but couldn’t pluck up the courage… We’ve now got a cold store in the floor for beer, wine, and maybe even vegetables! With the removal of the brick ballast (relocated to improve the side-to-side trim) there’s a 125mm deep chamber. The lid is supported on a framework which closes off the sides, vented to allow the passage of air. The edges of the hole and hatch are yet to be trimmed.

I chose a good day to get my Workmate out on the bank, Tuesday was a cracking day, right from the start.IMG_7764


Yesterday, under greyer skies, we decided to move on a bit towards Gargrave.

Through Thorleby Swing BridgeIMG_7771

The day started to brighten up as we approached Holme LockIMG_7774

“Super High Way, Super Wet Way – Super Slow Way, Super Low Way”IMG_7776
What does it mean? I think I’d have preferred a bit of dredging…

We’d been passed by a Silsden hire boat before we were ready to set off, I tried to catch up for Highgate Swing Bridge but failed, but we did manage to share the lock.IMG_7777
I think they were disappointed when I told them we were only going around the corner, but then another boat turned up below the lock, so they would be able to share the next two up into Gargrave after all.

Moored just past Eshton Beck aqueduct.IMG_7778
Mags’ grand-daughter Melanie dropped in for tea on her way home from Skipton. She acts as our postmistress, so brought the mail, along with that afore-mentioned antenna. But more on that later.

After a chilly blustery night, I realised that this isn’t an ideal autumn mooring…IMG_7781
The roof is worse!

It’s damp and cool today, so we’ll stay here, moving on a little further tomorrow.

Locks 1, miles 2¼

Friday, October 16, 2015

A few days R&R in Skipton

We’ve had a bit of an idle few days, a few minor maintenance tasks needed to be done, the grocery cupboards needed topping up, I had my roof aerial cables to re-route. In between Meg and I had some good mooches around Skipton and the area.
One trip took us up the Springs Branch to Skipton Woods…

Walking along the branch, looking back to the junction with the L&L main line.IMG_7739
Airton is one of the Skipton Boats hire fleet. There is a length of long-term moorings along here as well, but they have to reverse in or out, there being no winding-hole.

Mill BridgeIMG_7741


It gets a bit overgrown above Mill BridgeIMG_7743
That’s the corn mill on the right. It was water powered, using water from Eller Beck which runs alongside (and supplies) the Springs Branch.
The short canal was built in 1797 by the owner of Skipton Castle, the Earl of Thanet. He needed a way to get stone from his quarries up on Park Hill, so had the channel cut, to just beyond the rear walls of the castle. Limestone was brought by tramway to meet the boats.

At the end of the branch.Panorama
Skipton Castle is to the right, to the left can be seen the supporting brickwork for the chutes down which the boats were loaded.
The loading system was revised due to damage to the boats from the height through which the stone was dropped. A lower terrace, 10 feet or so above the water, was constructed, and the boats loaded from here instead.

Having seen the back, Meg and I went to have a look at the front…

The impressive gatehouse

And the front walls of the castle.IMG_7754
I only got the one picture before I was shooed out by a warden. I hadn’t paid, you see…

Skipton Castle is one of the best preserved Medieval castles in the country. Built around the early 14th century, it replaced an earlier timber motte-and-bailey Norman fortress. Following “slighting”, partial dismantlement during the Civil War, it was rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford in the mid 17th century.

It was market day in the town as we walked back to the boatIMG_7755


We were moored above the Eller Beck aqueduct, alongside the tall chimney that used to serve the boiler house of Victoria Mill.

Looking down on Eller Beck, the mill, now flats, to the left.IMG_7756
It’s the best town mooring; you get a bit of sun between the buildings and the “spot in the sky” is over the beck. TV on the aerial is dire…

We decided to shove on a bit today. There’s no posted time limit on this bit, but I suspect it’s 72 hours. We’ve been here four days. But we’re not the longest stayers…

Just 50 yards up we had to deal with Brewery Swing Bridge. It’s busy with traffic morning and evening, using it as a short cut, but fairly quiet mid-morning. We filled with water and were just tidying up when a boat appeared and his crew opened Gawflat Bridge and waved us through too.

Gawflat Bridge

This bridge connects to Aireville Park, where Meg and I have had several ball-chucking sessions while we’ve been here.

Past typical Victorian worker's back-to-backs…IMG_7760

…and another disused mill chimney

We weren’t intending to go far, just somewhere past Niffany Swing Bridge. We’re in no rush, our route back to the Midlands will be closed from early November till the end of the month. There’s no way we’ll get past the scheduled stoppage before then, so we’re taking our time.

I like this…

We tried in several spots to get in to the bank, but the Leeds and Liverpool along here isn’t very co-operative in that respect. We did eventually moor just before Thorleby Swing Bridge.IMG_7763
Meg’s pleased. Lots of grass.

Since mid-afternoon there’s been a steady stream of hire boats going past, both from Skipton and Silsden. I guess they’ll be Friday pick-ups. It’ll be busy in Gargrave tonight.

Locks 0, miles 2¼

Monday, October 12, 2015

Brrr – first frost of the Autumn!

Out temperature sensor on the roof recorded 0.3°C in the early hours. Easily low enough for a ground frost. But we had a beautiful start to the morning.IMG_7699



By the time we were prepared to move off, the blue skies had started to cloud over, the wind had picked up and it was quite chilly. I really will have to think about swapping my shorts for long trousers soon!

We had to cruise through Silsden before getting out into the countryside again.
The town’s origins are in agriculture, but with the coming of the canal industry started to appear.
None of the mills and warehouses still perform their original function, now housing light industry, offices or apartments.

The wharf is home to Silsden Boats’ hire fleet.IMG_7706


We were looking at passing 10 swing bridges today between Silsden and Skipton, the first just on the edge of the town. We were lucky, meeting a boat coming the other way who already had it open and was waving us through.


The next two were even easier, chained back in the open position.

Lanehouse Swing Bridge, the second of the open ones.IMG_7712

Looking up the Aire valley

The river is a little smaller this far up compared to down in Leeds!IMG_7715

Bridges came and went, some mechanised, some semi-mechanised but most manually operated.

Warehouse Swing Bridge at Kildwick

The busy A629 Keighley to Skipton turnpike runs alongside the canal most of the way to Skipton, the canal only moving away to perform a loop towards the village of Low Bradley. It was still following the contour, but it brought industry here too.

Low Bradley Mill, built as a spinning mill but now redeveloped into apartmentsIMG_7726

Just before the village, at Hamblethorpe Swing Bridge, is a memorial to seven Polish aircrew who died when their Wellington bomber crashed near here in 1943.IMG_7724


The accident occurred when the aircraft, on a routine training flight and returning to base in Cumbria, suffered a catastrophic airframe failure. There was nothing the crew could do. The oldest was 31, an instructor, the youngest just 21.

After the mechanised Bradley Swing Bridge the canal links up with the road again, passing through a pretty wooded section before reaching Skipton.

Into SkiptonIMG_7728 

Craven Hall, alongside Pinder Bridge, is typical of the Victorian buildings in the town, built when prosperity from the wool trade was at it’s height.IMG_7730

We topped off the water ands emptied the loos at the sanitary station, then passed the end of the Springs Branch, mooring up around the corner.

Springs Branch on the right.IMG_7732
The branch was built to collect limestone from the quarry up on the hill beyond the castle. It’s only navigable by small craft.

We’ll probably stay put tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 7½