The distinctive warbling, bubbly call of the curlew is always the sign, in high moorland areas, that spring is just around the corner. Having spent the winter on coastal mudflats and tidal estuaries they head inland in late March and early April to breed. They nest on the ground, in rough tussocky grasses and have a preference for boggy areas. It’s drainage of these high peaty bogs that has led to a serious decline in the numbers of these beautiful birds.
Pic from www.rspb.org.uk
When we lived in Ingleton, within sight of two of the Three Peaks, the curlew’s call always sent a shiver down my spine as I walked the hills with Bruno, our lab/collie. Yesterday it brought back those fond memories.
We left Skipton mid-morning, through two bridges taking us out of the town.
Mags showing off her new jacket…
The canal wiggles a bit, hanging onto the contour, under the bypass bridge and then to Niffany Swing Bridge.
Under the by-pass
Niffany Swing Bridge
This was scheduled for replacement this winter, by C&RT couldn’t reach agreement with the farmer about access, so it’s still a “shove it” bridge.
The dredgers are still busy on this stretch between Skipton and Gargrave.
Silt deposited behind new fabric edging
Fences are being erected to keep livestock off the deep soft mud until it consolidates.
Still at it a bit further on.
Mags coming through Highgate Swing Bridge.
With the five swing bridges out of the way there was just Holme Bridge Lock to deal with, then we moored up just past the aqueduct over Eshton Beck, a regular spot recently.
We had a very pleasant afternoon catching up with Margaret and Terry who came over from Settle to see us. They are friends from our caravanning days and we’d not seen them for over 10 years, so there was a lot to talk about!
There were a few boats about in the afternoon, mainly hirers though out of Silsden and Skipton.
Today we set off again, after Meg had had her constitutional and I’d had a mosey up to the Co-op for a paper. I’d also dropped in at the coal yard and arranged for some solid fuel to be left for us to collect at Eshton Road Lock.
Six bags of Excel collected at the coal yard.
It’s not just the curlews telling us that spring is in the air!
Mags cruising between Eston Road and Higherland Locks
Out of Higherland Lock and heading for a mooring
It’s effectively taken us 10 weeks to cover that 33¾ miles!
The weather has turned gloomy and chilly again for the last couple of days, but at least it’s stayed dry.
We’re staying put here tomorrow, more visitors due, but will be toddling on again on Monday.
Locks 1, miles 5 (2 days)