Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On to Castleford and an appointment with the Doggy Doctor.

Meg has developed a lump in her groin, hard and obviously irritating judging by the way she keeps licking at it. Castleford has a couple of vets, the nearest a mile from the canal and having pretty good reviews so I made an appointment for her last evening.

So we were away at around half past nine, leaving the moorings above Pollington Lock, heading generally west. People generally have the impression that Yorkshire is hilly, but here, down in the Aire valley, it’s anything but!IMG_1643

Improvement work seems to have been going on for an awfully long time below Whitley Lock…

But we’re now on Phase III!
I wonder how many phases there are?

Whitley Lock was on self-service and against us, but didn’t take long to get through.

Whitley Lock emptying.

The bywash weir with Seyella in the background

Cormorant having a chuckle to itself…

…and a kestrel on a wire.
It looked away just as I pressed the button.

Towards Knottingley we passed the now closed Kellingley Colliery. The last deep pit in the country, it closed just before last Christmas.IMG_1670
At it’s production height the colliery employed around 2,000 men and produced about 900 tonnes of coal per hour, most going to local power stations.

The sign on the long-disused loading wharf is a little ironic…IMG_1674

The canal now runs into Knottingley, getting narrower and tree-fringed before coming under Skew Bridge and arriving at Bank Dole Junction.IMG_1677

Bank Dole Junction, we’ve come from the right, to the left is Bank Dole Lock down onto the Aire and the route to the Selby Canal.IMG_1679
Good moorings on the junction, if you can find a space between the anglers!

The canal winds it’s way through the town, now a lot narrower, before opening out beyond Kings Mill and the approach to Ferrybridge Lock.

Ferrybridge Power Station dominates the view.

I was hoping that the lock would be open at both ends, it is sometimes when the river is at the right level. But not today.

Mags coming in to the 450 foot long chamber at Ferrybridge LockIMG_1688
Back in 2009 when we came this way we had to wait for the gravel barge Fusedale H to exit the lock before being waved in by the lockie. Like today there was only 4 or 5 inches to rise up onto the river. The lock-keeper closed the bottom gates behind us, and by the time we’d cruised the length of the chamber the top gates were open!
Boater operation yesterday, though, so it took a little longer.

Out on the river above Ferrybridge

We’re passing under the “new” A1 road bridge, the old Great North Road bridge is just ahead.

Brotherton Railway Bridge with Brotherton church rising above the trees.IMG_1692

Past the coal wharf at the power station, where compartments boats, each holding around 170 tonnes, were unloaded. Trains of 3 of these “Tom Puddings” were brought up from Kellingley by push-tug.

Leaving the coal terminal behind the river winds it’s way down from Castleford, trees on the banks obscuring any sign of habitation.

But this is all quite recent. On the left, south, bank were Old Fryston and Old Wheldale collieries, with their own loading basins off the river.

The Old Wheldale Loading Basin is just to the left of the oncoming boat.IMG_1702

The Bulholme Railway Bridge carried a line to Allerton Bywater. Bulholme Lock is just visible.

I had to empty the lock before we could use it, then Mags came in. I glanced back before I closed the gates and spotted a motor cruiser just coming under the bridge, then another! We’d hardly seen a boat all day!

Of course, they joined us in the lock, taking advantage of a temporary volunteer lockie – me!IMG_1705
They do fuss, though. They had to rope up just so before I could start to fill. Mags was quite happy just to float about…

We filled with water just above the lock, then pulled in on the left bank a little way up. We’re now off the river again, on Castleford Cut.

Meg’s appointment was at 5 o’clock, so at half four we toddled off up into town, not sure what to expect. A hard, immobile lump under the skin could be anything; we feared for the worse but hoped for the best.
After a very thorough examination, some of which made my eyes water (Meg was OK, she had a local anesthetic), the vet said that it was an infection, probably caused by a grass seed penetrating the skin, or a scratch or bite. So hope paid off.
A course of antibiotics and regular bathing with a saline solution should sort it out, and we’re going back on Friday to review progress. All being well we’ll be OK to press on to Leeds.

Locks 3, miles 14  

Monday, August 29, 2016

Big locks, wide canals, but few boats.

We decided to move on today, with a fine day forecast. I want to be in Castleford tomorrow afternoon.
We had a wide loop to make across the meeting of the three canals, to head off down the dead straight New Junction Canal.IMG_1601

Under the Don Doors…

…and over the Don.

The New Junction Canal was opened in 1905, making it one of last canals to be built in England. Running from Sykehouse Junction on the Aire and Calder to join the Don Navigation at Bramwith, it’s 5½ mile length is bookended by aqueducts. At this end it crosses the Don, the far end crosses the River Went.
On the way there’s only one large lock to deal with, but 6 swing or lift bridges, one of which crosses Sykehouse Lock.
Before the canal was opened, craft coming from the Humber had to negotiate the lower end of the tidal Trent, offloading at Keadby onto barges. The port of Keadby was busy at this time, wharves and boatbuilders thriving. But the New Junction put paid to it’s success, large vessels now were able to go to Goole Docks instead, an easier trip a short way up the Ouse. The Aire and Calder and New Junction offered a faster route to Bramwith, with bigger barges.
Keadby dwindled, Goole expanded.

Top Lane Lift Bridge
These bridges have sensible landings, dropping you off on the same side as the controls. They’re all push-button.

We picked up something heavy on the prop at the next one, so pulled in just past to investigate.

Oh look, we’ve our own colony of Stainforth and Keadby duckweed living in the weed-hatch!

The culprit, a heavy rubber fender still attached to the broken hanger that caused it to be lost – and found!
The rope and hanger went in the rubbish bag, the fender in my fender box.

As we got close to Sykehouse Lock I could see a red light on.IMG_1613
A pleasant surprise, a lock-keeper on duty! He wasn’t exactly rushed off his feet, we’d only seen one other boat by this time.

The swing bridge runs across the chamber and has to be opened before the lock is used.IMG_1614

Two more movable bridges and we were heading towards Sykehouse Junction, crossing the Went Aqueduct.IMG_1617
No fancy flood-control doors here, I guess the Went doesn’t carry enough water to make it a problem.

Sykehouse Junction, we turned left for Wakefield and LeedsIMG_1622

There are good moorings on both sides just before the junction, and some pleasant spots on the Aire and Calder too.

You couldn’t have considered mooring here while the canal was busy with gravel barges, but now it’s OK as the barges and their wash are no more.

Approaching Cow Croft Bridge and Pollington Lock there used to be two more crossings, a swing bridge at Balne Croft and a tipping bridge carrying a branch line of the LNER.

Site of Balne Croft Swing Bridge

Masonry just visible in the trees marks the position of the railway bridgeIMG_1631

Long and short-term moorings just below Pollington LockIMG_1632

Amber lights at the lock indicated DIY use, so I hopped off and emptied the lock so Mags could come in.IMG_1637

Four sets of gates give a lot of flexibility to accommodate different lengths of craft.IMG_1639  
The “lollipops” are there for the barge skippers, so they know where the gates are!

We were intending to push on to moor above Whitley Lock, another hour or so. But with such a lovely afternoon, and Meg needing a bit of a brushing, we pulled in above Pollington.
Meg got groomed, then I decided to investigate the contents of the top box. The new one was about ready, so it was time for a clear out. I got carried away, the upshot of which is that now the new one is in place and loaded, the old one is firewood!IMG_1641

Locks 2,  miles 8

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Three canals, three-quarters of an hour.

It was fine first thing this morning, so Meg and I took a walk around the canals that meet here.

A beautiful sunset yesterday.

First off, I’ve a couple of errors to correct. On Thursday, coming into Thorne, I mentioned that our shell was built here, at Jonathon Wilson’s. In 2006, when it was built, Wilson’s was still at the workshop in Sheffield, not here.
And yesterday’s talk of Bramwith Lock being made up with three sets of gates was right, but the sizes were wrong. The lower chamber is almost twice as long as the upper. Coal from Hatfield Colliery on the south bank of the canal below Stainforth was loaded at a wharf, and the lock extended in 1932 to allow the use of compartment boats.

OK. Meg and I walked back to Bramwith Lock this morning, crossing over the lock and continuing on the north bank of the Stainforth and Keadby for a short distance.

Bramwith Lock. The top section is considerably shorter than the bottom!IMG_1585

We followed a path across the narrow peninsula between this and the New Junction Canal, arriving at the aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Don.
The aqueduct is flanked by large guillotine gates that are closed when the Don floods, protecting the canal from the excess water.IMG_1588

Looking east towards the Aire and Calder


We walked back along the north bank past the junction, crossing over the River Don Navigation at Northfield Road Bridge and returning home.

Bramwith Junction, you can see Seyella in the centre. IMG_1595

It’s awfully wide for a canal!

I was looking forward to getting some good blackberrys along here, we have in the past. But this year’s crop are poor, wizened little things.
Leave them for the birds.

I got a coat of gloss on the new top box this morning as soon as the dew had dried off. The forecast was for rain after mid-afternoon, so it should have been tacked-off by then. But it came early, starting at half-eleven, so I’m not sure whether I’ve got away with it or not. More showers tomorrow, so we’ll be staying here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Somewhere for the weekend…

We wanted to get somewhere peaceful and out of the way for the weekend, let the mad crowd have the water for the next couple of days. We knew just the place…

We were later away from Thorne than planned, chatting to neighbouring boaters takes up some time, doesn’t it! It had turned half-ten by the time we reversed away from the moorings and headed up to Thorne Lock.

Off from Thorne, we’d filled with water before we pulled out.IMG_1560

Thorne Lock, just 5 minutes into today’s trip
We’re waiting for NB Shugley, moored near us overnight and almost ready to leave as we did. And there they are in the distance.
This lock is mechanised, all push-button, but the swing bridge just above has to opened and closed manually.

Top side of Thorne Lock and swing bridge

We had about 4 miles to go to the next swing bridge at Kirk Bramwith, and our locking partners set off while I closed up, they would deal with the bridge. A complication arose; a boat pulled out between us and was going slower than our friends, so they were getting further and further ahead.

It’s very pleasant along here, the River Don runs alongside and the banks are pleasantly wooded.IMG_1567

It looks like the local joy-riders have been busy.  IMG_1565
It must be a popular dumping spot here, another time we passed a car was still smouldering from the night before. There’s a track running to the canal from the main road.

Stainforth is a place we’ve never stopped at before; we should really. It looks worth a visit.

Converted Humber keels at Thorne Boat Club

The New Inn and a row of cottages at Stainforth

Stainforth Bridge has taken some punishment…

A motor boat was coming through Bramwith Swing bridge as the first boat of our strung-out convoy approached, so they held it open for them. But our middle boat was too far back to leave it that long so they closed up. But Derek on NB Shugley, good as his word, pulled in beyond then came back to open it for us.

We motored down to the lock and I jumped off to open the gates while Mags waited to come in. I expected us to be joined by the “interloper” but she (turned out to a female single-hander) waved Shugley in to join us.

Bramwith Lock
The lock has three sets of gates, so can be used as a 65 x 17 foot single chamber, or with the extreme end gates in use, double the length. Probably for towed strings of barges, I would think. We just used the top end, of course. It’s all manual operation as well, and the gates are heavy.

After leaving the lock Shugley set off towards Doncaster, we pulled onto the water point just above and I did the gentlemanly thing and fetched the lady single-hander up. She set off, turning right at Bramwith Junction and Goole. She’ll have fun with the barge locks on the New Junction and Aire and Calder…

We cruised to the end of the Stainforth and Keadby, and pulled in at the junction. It’s a fine spot here. Not to much in the way of pedestrians, but wide open views of the junction and passing boats.

Bramwith Junction
Behind us the the Stainforth and Keadby, to the left is the New Junction Canal leading to Sykehouse Junction and the Aire and Calder, and behind me is the Don Navigation to Doncaster and Sheffield.

I took advantage of the fine afternoon to get the second undercoat on the new top box. I might get the first top coat on tomorrow, although there’s rain forecast for later in the day. We’ll see.

Locks 2, miles 5