Monday, July 16, 2018

The best laid plans…

Well, we’d intended to drop down Greenberfield Locks today and moor at the bottom. Then tomorrow move out to the pleasant, open spot near the TV mast for a few days, heading into Gargrave on Friday. The first part went OK, better than expected in fact.

Arriving at Greenberfield Top Lock, with a pair of boats just coming out.DSCF4591

The same happened at each of the three locks, with a string of boats coming up. We were moored at the bottom by just before midday. We dropped lucky too, we hit a window between the showers.

Meg has been listless and off her food for several days now. I put it down to the very warm weather, she never has enjoyed too much heat. But I’d noticed that she was drooling a bit and her breath was a bit off. So after she’d had a bit of sausage I had a look at her teeth while giving her her regular dose of Metacam. The gums above her upper canines are both swollen and red, it looks like there’s an infection there. No wonder she’s been feeling sorry for herself.
 When we’re up here she has a regular vet in Skipton and we really do need to get her there sooner rather than later. So at 6 o’clock we untied and set off for an evening cruise, the trip we intended to do tomorrow. Then tomorrow we’ll head into Gargrave and sort out some transport, hopefully we‘ll get an appointment for her in the afternoon.

Off we go, looking a bit overcast but dry.

The Double Arch Bridge at East Marton, for the last time this year.DSCF4595

We were tied up again by about twenty-five past seven, with cloud started to build and an ominous rumble of thunder echoing across the valley.DSCF4597

A few minutes later on came the rain, a short-lived but heavy shower.DSCF4598
So glad we stopped when we did…

Our girl, looking a bit more comfortable after her Metacam.DSCF4596

On the subject of dogs, about three weeks ago a good friend’s miniature wire-haired dachshund was savagely attacked by three uncontrolled dogs on Crosby beach while the owner (of the three) looked on and made no effort to intervene. Daily Mail article here. Carol, Jeffrey’s owner, and a group of youngsters on the beach managed to get them off Jeffrey, Carol also getting bitten. But the little dog was in a bad way, finally succumbing to his severe injuries a couple of days later. Carol is understandably heartbroken, and the Police are involved and it’s likely the owner of the viscous dogs will be prosecuted under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
However, penalties for these offenses never seem to be harsh enough for the distress and loss of the victim’s owner. Because of this, an online petition has been set up at
The petition needs 100,000 signatures before it can be presented to Parliament for consideration, and it’s almost halfway there. Please add yours, and pass the word around. Let’s try to stop this happening again.

Locks 3, miles 5½

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Back to Barlick…

We were ready to go by half-nine this morning, just as soon as the padlocks on the gates of bottom lock at Greenberfield were removed. Another boat had turned up as well, a hire boat operated by Bear Boating, who use Lower Park Marina at Barnoldswick and Appley Bridge Marina at Appley Bridge as bases. This allows them the flexibility to offer one-way hires as well as the more conventional out and back. This family, on Jessica Boo, had been down to Kildwick and back, though.

Coming up Greenberfield Locks with Keith and crew on Jessica BooDSCF4584

The restrictions on lock operation times do work to save water to a degree. Without them Jessica Boo would have gone up last night and we’d have had to go up alone this morning, wasting water. But two boats moored at the top didn’t see it that way and came down independently.

The first boat down this morning at the middle lockDSCF4585

We queued for water above the locks, then set off into Barnoldswick to Lower Park Marina for diesel.

Greenberfield Top Lock and the service wharfDSCF4586
From here, it was proposed in 1769, a canal should be built connecting to the market town of Settle, about 20 miles away. Originally intended to be a branch of the Leeds and Liverpool, it was finally promoted independently, probably to save money for the financially embarrassed larger company. The chief cargos would have been stone from the quarries in the Settle/Giggleswick area, and finished goods currently carried on the turnpike from Kendal to Leeds. The proposal got as far as a Bill submitted to Parliament, but failed due to lack of support from the local landowners. Shame. That would have been a good trip.

We topped up the fuel at the marina, then carried on to turn just beyond The Anchor at Salterforth and returned to moor up within sight of long Ing Bridge. We’ll be here till Monday, before dropping down the locks again to head back to our quiet spot above Bank Newton.

Locks 3. miles 1½ 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Change of plan…

Although we’d decided to stay put on what looked like being a rainy day, the cloud lifted a bit after lunch, the rain stopped, and we pulled pins and got off anyway.

A bit brighter…


Back under East Marton’s Double Arch BridgeDSCF4577

Push-me, pull-you poultry style…

We pulled in below Greenberfield Locks, after a dry trip. It did rain a little soon after we’d stopped, though.
These moorings used to be long-term, but the signs have been removed so I guess they’re ok for overnight moorings now. It’s a nice spot…DSCF4580

Cranes-foot and clover on the towpath

We’ll go up the locks and into Barnoldswick tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 5¼

Taking advantage of the fine weather.

While we’ve been moored out in the sticks I’ve been busy. The right side gunwale is now repainted, as are the counter bands.DSCF4571
I’ve also worked my way around the cabin, scraping out the few rust pockets that have appeared, rust-curing and repainting.
Inside I’ve removed and refitted the splashbacks in the galley.

It’s been fairly quiet here, 6 or 8 boats going past each day, mostly hire boats out of Skipton or Silsden. A few towpath walkers, runners and cyclists too. The swans are insistent, I had my arm resting on the edge of the open hatch at the dinette and got pecked. Needless to say they didn’t get fed! The ducks did well out of the swan’s bad behaviour.

So today, with everything back together, we intended to turn around half a mile further on and head back to Barnoldswick. That was until we woke at 7, saw the rain, and decided to stay put instead! A month ago it wouldn’t have bothered us, I guess we’ve been spoiled…DSCF4572
Shouldn’t complain though. Everywhere is desperately in need of it. Fields, gardens and the reservoirs are all going to benefit.

CRT have issued a couple of new updates regarding the locks around the summit level where we are. There are already restrictions on lock opening hours, but from Monday these will be tightened still further to attempt to save water. Barrowford, Greenberfield, Bank Newton and Gargrave Locks will only be usable between 10:00 and 16:00, and from the end of the month, if nothing changes, the locks above Wigan all the way to Skipton will be padlocked for the foreseeable future, effectively closing the canal up here. And from today boat movements will be limited at Bingley Five Rise too, normally well supplied with water. Downhill boats will be able to use the locks in the morning, uphill in the afternoon.

This is going to affect our plans somewhat, we’ll no longer be able to hang around here for the next three weeks. But it’s likely to be a worse problem for the hire bases at Skipton and Silsden.

It’s supposed to be dry again over the weekend, but turning more unsettled through next week.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Out in the sticks for a few days.

We pulled pins and left Barnoldswick yesterday, aiming to arrive at the top of Greenberfield Locks for around ten o’clock. This is one of those flights that are currently being padlocked overnight in an effort to save water. Arriving at 10 and filling the water tank at the top, we thought that there would be a good chance of another boat arriving to share the three locks with. But it didn’t quite work out that way…

Just up from where we’d moored there used to be a half-mile long branch to the Rainhall Rock limestone quarry. Passing through two short tunnels and a deep cutting, it terminated in a small basin.

The branch ran just the other side of the hedge line…DSCF4536

…along here.

The canal companies made use of whatever materials they came across during the initial surveys. Quarried stone from cuttings went into bridge and lock construction, clay supplied brickworks purpose built close to the canal, and limestone was shipped to limekilns that sprung up along the navigation to produce slaked lime, an essential ingredient in the lime mortar used to hold everything together.
This quarry closed in the middle of the last century, and little remains of it and the short branch. Between the 1960s and 1980 they were used as a tip for landfill by the local council. That explains the tarmac track in the foreground.

Two major employers in Barnoldswick now. Silent Night Beds sits on the site of an old cotton mill, and Rolls Royce Aerospace have a large factory near Bridge  154a

I’ve always thought that building a terrace on a slope must come with unique challenges.DSCF4540

Not least that the floor and ceiling joists have to be offset for each house. Unless they follow the slope… Nah, that’d be silly!

Under Bridge 156 to the top of the locks
And there’s a boat there! I love it when a plan comes together… or not.
When asked if he was going down he told me no, he broken down. Ah well, plenty of time while we fill with water for someone else to arrive. And they did… two boats and we were still filling. So I gave them hand down the top lock, then took my camera for a short walk to see if anyone else was coming up.

NBs Whistle Down The Wind (steam powered) and conventional No Rush

When the canal was first opened this was a triple staircase, but they were fairly quickly replaced by the three individual chambers we have now. Staircases are good for a rapid change in elevation over a short distance, but are inefficient and wasteful of water. Not a commodity in abundance up here…

The original line left just above the current top lock, and immediately started to drop down the 29 feet. It passed under a bridge that is almost completely buried under landscaping.

Looking back the bridge is clearer to see.

The canal, having dropped through the locks, followed the weedy course alongside the field, and rejoined the new line below Lock 42.

No boats coming up, unfortunately, so I returned to the boat and we had a brew while waiting for a bit.

The water from Winterburn Reservoir comes under the building housing the metering system.DSCF4544

We left it until about 11:15, but with no-one else arriving we bit the bullet, filled the top lock, and set off down.

Down Greenberfield Locks


Out of the bottom, and we’re now in Yorkshire.DSCF4553

Between here and Bank Newton and the next set of locks of this the eastern side of the summit, the canal has to traverse an area full of low hills and shallow valleys. This forces it into a succession of switchbacks as it holds onto the 450 foot contour.

Bendy bits.

DSCF4559Approaching East Marton the canal towpath becomes part of the Pennine Way, the long distance footpath that runs from Edale in Derbyshire up the backbone of England to finish just over the border into Scotland.

It was almost 41 years ago that a friend and I passed along here, carrying 35 lb rucksacks with a mission to complete the 268 mile trip in 12 days. We did it in 10½…

The unusual Double Arch Bridge at East MartonDSCF4561

We wound back and forth for the next 1½ miles through the lumps and bumps of the landscape, twice as far as the proverbial crow would have to fly, and moored up in one of our favourite spots.

Wooden rollers mounted on the tight corners to guide the towrope for horse-boats.DSCF4565

Lovely spot on “The Wigglies”

Today I’ve been busy. The right side gunwale has been prepped and primed…DSCF4570

…And Meg has had a haircut!

2018-04-05 07.54.38

…and after!

She’s looking somewhat underwhelmed by the whole procedure, but at least she’s cooler. And guess what, the weather is cooling down now too!
She was suffering in the hot weather though. I’d ordered dog clippers online delivered to Val and John’s in Wales. They brought them across when they visited the other day. I took a good carrier-bag full of fur off her. Not bad for a first attempt, I reckon.

We’ll be up here for a few days now.

Locks 3, miles 5½

Saturday, July 07, 2018

A bit of to-ing and fro-ing

We’ve not got so far over the last few days. We left the moorings above Barrowford Locks on Wednesday morning, heading across the summit level to Foulridge Tunnel. Surplus water up here is diverted by a sluice with manually-operated slackers to run down into Barrowford Reservoir, and from there to be used further down the canal.
There’s precious little surplus available though, this year.

A little further in the feeder one of several feeders from Foulridge Reservoir and local streams joins the canal, providing it’s essential supply of water.DSCF4491

Foulridge Tunnel is about a mile from the top of Barrowford Locks, and entry is controlled by traffic lights.DSCF4494
It’s actually wide enough for two narrowboats to pass, but there are also many wide-beams up here, and you wouldn’t want to meet one of those under the hill. At just under a mile long it takes 15 to 20 minutes to go through, but is high and wide. A good job too. We‘d got a couple of boat lengths in, and I was starting to think that it was a bit dark… You expect to be struggling to see after passing from bright sunshine until your eyes adapt, but this was different.
Flicking the tunnel lamp switch on and off made no difference, the light wasn’t working! Luckily I keep another lamp ready, mounted on a bracket and fitted with a cigar lighter plug to use in long tunnels where it’s handy to have a light at the back too.

So I stopped the boat, and fitted this one to the hatch slide while we drifted.

Much enlightened we were able to carry on, and with the tunnel lit I could avoid the worst of the showers of water coming through the ceiling. The water does form rather pretty flowstone drips on the walls and delicate stalactites on the ceiling.DSCF4503


It was pleasantly cool underground, but we had to emerge into bright sunlight again at Foulridge Wharf. I wasn’t the only one suffering from light problems, the traffic lights weren’t working at the north end…DSCF4507
I reported it to a CRT chap who called it in. I could envisage a few altercations, at two boat-length’s distance and 60 feet underground!

We pulled in at the wharf to have a bite of lunch and for me to investigate the tunnel lamp. A broken connection was easy to fix, so we’re lit up again.DSCF4508

We were tempted to stay here, but instead decided to push on to Barnoldswick. We were in need of provisions anyway. As it turns out, we should have done…

Not far from Salterforth is another feeder, this one from Whitemoor Reservoir. The beck must have been interrupted on it’s route down into the valley and into Earby Beck to provide water for the navigation.  There’s also a sign indicating the county boundary…DSCF4533
I’m not quite sure why it’s here. The county border is actually the other side of Barnoldswick, below Greenberfield Locks. Boundary changes? Turn of the century maps (around 1900) show the Lancashire/Yorkshire boundary here though, so  guess that's the explanation.

The beck, now canal feeder, was utilised to supply water for a waterwheel at County Brook Mill, originally Hey Mill, for grinding corn, but producing fabrics since 1907. The waterwheel still powered the earlier 18th century mill building until the 1960s.DSCF4524

We passed the Anchor Inn  at Salterforth, then the line of permanent moorings past Salterforth Bridge and the old wharf.

From here it’s only a short distance to Barnoldswick, passing Lower Park Marina on the left.DSCF4514

We moored up halfway between the marina and Long Ing Bridge, about 20 minutes walk from the shops in the town.DSCF4517

I’d been up for some fresh food and a couple of bits from the hardware store when we got a phone call from friends Val and John. They wanted to come and see us, and, rather than have them park near the bridge and trek along the towpath, we decided to turn around and head back to Foulridge in the morning.

So Thursday lunchtime saw us turning around at the winding hole at Foulridge Wharf. But, unlike Wednesday, the mooring pontoon was full so we finished up moored, stern away from the bank and on the bottom, on the grass a little further along. I kept a close eye on passing boats though, and by mid-afternoon we were able to reverse to a recently vacated spot on the pontoon where our visitors could park right alongside. Then I thought – if they can park alongside, so can a Tesco van, so I organised a delivery for last evening.

We had a good catch up, we’d not seen Val and John for a few weeks, after all, then they left to head home. Phil the Tesco man arrived nice and early, so we got the cupboards topped up too.

Rubbish and recycling disposed of, we set off this morning, arriving back in Barnoldswick just before lunchtime. A quick walk up to the shops for a paper and what I‘d forgotten to order (there’s always something) and I was back in plenty of time to watch Lewis Hamilton race to pole position for tomorrow’s Silverstone GP, then England cruise to a victory over Sweden in the quarter finals over in Russia. All in all a good day.

Off out into the country for a few days tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 10.