Shipley was surprisingly and unexpectedly quiet last night. With the moorings only 5 minutes from the town centre and it being Friday night we expected some noise, but it was as quiet as the grave. Even the traffic was inaudible.
We woke to bright sunshine, but clouds soon rolled in leaving us with a mild, dry but overcast day. We were in no rush to get going, finally shoving off at a quarter to eleven.
Leaving the Shipley moorings
The canal heads to Saltaire, soon passing through the canyon formed by Salt’s Mill on the left and New Mill on the right.
Salt’s was opened on Titus Salt’s 50th birthday, 20 September 1853. New Mill was built in 1868 to produce yarn to increase the supply for Salt’s Mill. It (Salt’s) could produce 18 miles of worsted cloth per day! I guess the canal would have been busy then. The moorings on the right are daytime only, no overnight stays, for visitors to Saltaire Village and Salt’s Mill.
Just beyond the mills is another building built for the benefit of the workforce. The United Reform Church (formerly the Congregational Church) sits on the south bank of the canal. It was opened in April 1859.
Not visible, on the opposite side of the building, is the later addition of a mausoleum, where Titus, his wife Caroline, and their children were laid to rest.
Not content with providing for his workforce’s spiritual and accommodation needs, Titus also had a large area between the river and canal cleared and levelled for sports. It’s still well used now.
At the far end of the sports fields we came to Hirst Mill Lock. A single but deep chamber, this, followed immediately by a swing bridge.
Hirst Mill Lock…
…and swing bridge
After just under a mile with the river down on the right and the valley side rising on the left, the canal does a gentle right bend and crosses the Aire on a substantial stone aqueduct.
Under a changeline/snake/roving bridge and the bottom of the Dowley Gap Locks comes into view. And what’s that??? My word, a boat coming down!
We’ve not seen many of those in the last weeks!
I had a chat with the crew while we were emptying the lower chamber. They are hoping to head south out of Leeds, but I feel they may be disappointed…
The top set of gates are equipped with rack and pinion clough-type paddles.
Dowley Gap is the passage between Gilstead and Baildon Moors to the north and Cottingley Moor and Norr Hill to the south. It’s a natural route, carrying the river, but also now takes the canal, railway and busy A650 dual carriageway. (I think it’s called the Aire Valley Way at this point).
We moored a little further on, past The Fisherman’s pub. It was boarded up when we came down, but it’s open again now.
Later in the afternoon Meg and I walked back to the aqueduct, dropped down to the river and followed it back to Hirst Mill, returning back along the canal.
The Aire aqueduct looks better from below…
Another steady start tomorrow, we’re booked for Bingley Locks at 11:00, and the bottom of the three-rise is only 20 minutes away.
Locks 3, miles 2