The New Junction Canal runs straight as an arrow from New Junction (we’ll call it that in the absence of any other ideas…) and Bramwith Junction, 5½ miles with 6 moveable bridges and one lock. There’s no reason for it to deviate, the land across which it passes is as flat as a pancake. That’s why they installed moving bridges rather than fixed, I guess. Cost too, probably.
Opened in 1905 it provided a better route for craft coming from Goole Docks and heading for the South Yorkshire towns and cities of Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.
Previously vessels had to head down the Ouse to Trent Falls, then up the Trent to Keadby to pick up the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. And the size of the locks on the S&K restricted overall length to 60 feet. Not only did the New Junction provide a quicker, safer route, but much larger barges could use it, up to 200 feet long to Rotherham.
Before we set off this morning Meg and I had a short walk up the towpath towards Goole.
The Southfield Reservoir stretches for a couple of hundred yards along the north bank of the canal.
It’s not what I’d expect from a reservoir. Instead of a deep body of water in a valley with a feeder running to the canal, constrained by the nature of the land, it’s just a shallow extension on the canal, bounded by banks. You can see an original hedge line still thriving from before the fields were flooded.
Five miles away, the cooling towers of Drax power station steam in the cool morning air.
Another lazy start today to give the frost a chance to burn off. No bright sunshine, just a hazy disc behind the thin clouds.
Crossing the aqueduct over the River Went
The bridges come regularly, a mixture of swing and lift.
Sykehouse Lift Bridge is the first
There’s a swing bridge carrying Kirk Lane next, before the only lock on the canal, Sykehouse Lock, is reached. I was surprised to see the traffic lights in use, red means wait, amber means DIY and green means proceed.
It started out red and switched to green as we approached. Two CRT chaps were operating the lock, although I didn’t get the chance to ask why. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, eh!
This is the only lock we've ascended since the Gargrave locks about 6 weeks ago. Since then we've been heading downhill, and this is the exception, it's all downhill again now until we get to Sawley Locks near Nottingham.
This takes a little while on boater operation as there’s a swing bridge crossing the chamber which has to be moved first.
Two more lift bridges and one swing took us to the southern end of the short canal.
Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge
All of the bridges had permanent bridge-keepers in houses alongside, an indication of how busy the waterway once was. That at Low Lane has been very nicely extended and improved.
Low Lane Swing Bridge and bridge house
This is the last to negotiate before Bramwith Junction, but there’s still the Don Doors to duck under.
These guillotine gates, installed at either end of the aqueduct over the River Don, protect the canal if the river rises to the same level.
It’s only another 5 minutes or so from the aqueduct to the junction, where we turned left onto the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. We often moor on the south bank, just inside the entrance, but today pulled a bit further in and tied up on the north side. It’s less windy here. It had started out still first thing, but by late morning that brisk breeze had sprung up again.
Off to Thorne in the morning.
Hi Carol, yes it did look good. That was the best of several tries... If you look closely there's a kestrel stooping on something, just to the right of the setting sun.
Hiya Chas, Ann. Food's not a problem, and I'm keeping an eye out for wood but not much luck yet. Have to break out the wallet and buy some more solid fuel tomorrow!
Locks 1, miles 5½