Yesterday we dropped down Bank Newton and the top half of the Gargrave locks with an Austrian couple; today we shared the lower Gargrave Locks and the swing bridges on the way to Skipton with a couple from the US. There’s lots of boats about at the moment.
We left the countryside moorings yesterday at 09:20, aiming to arrive at Bank Newton Top Lock in plenty of time for the padlocks on the flight to be removed at 10:00. After heavy overnight rain it was a brighter day…
…although the cows weren’t confident.
We couldn’t have timed it better; waiting at the locks was one other boat, and the CRT chappie had checked the pounds for levels before setting the first lock for us. So we were off at just before ten, sharing with Herbert and Andrea from Austria on a Sowerby Bridge hire boat.
A happy couple, novices but quick to catch on and careful.
Working well together, and with two CRT chaps on hand, we made short work of the 6 lock flight, leaving the bottom lock just 50 minutes after setting off.
It got a bit slower on the final three locks into Gargrave, we came up behind a boat that had turned around and headed back down after the second lock. But we were still dropping out of Anchor Lock by 20 past twelve. Then disaster struck. My aluminium windlass that has been a faithful companion through many, many locks slipped out of my belt and dropped into the canal below Anchor Bridge. I quickly rooted out the Sea Searcher magnet and tried fishing about in the murky water, but to no avail. (In case you’re wondering how an aluminium windlass can be attracted to a magnet, well, it can’t. But the three jubilee clips fitted just under the head for just such an eventuality can…) But it was a needle in a haystack attempt. We’d drifted a bit, so the chances of me finding it were remote.
After 5 minutes of trying I gave up, and we motored on to moor opposite the school playing fields.
Howard, Mags’ son, turned up at half-three to take Meg and I to the vet in Skipton. She had a good going over, the inflammation on her upper gums isn’t an infection, more an irritation caused by gingivitis from a bit of plaque build-up on her canines. Her lungs are a bit noisy, but that’s a legacy from the severe infection she had last November and will probably be with her for the rest of her life. But her heart is strong and the results from the blood sample taken show that her liver and kidney functions are normal. That’s a relief. I’ve some antobacterial gel to collect from the vet later to rub on her gums twice a day which should reduce the soreness there.
So now we’re in Skipton, having left Gargrave this morning at around half-ten, picking up the previously mentioned American couple on a Silsden hire boat at Higherland Lock.
I'd had a half-hour dabble with the magnet again this morning before boats started moving, and picked up a selection of cutlery, cans and assorted rusty ironmongery, but no windlass.
We struck lucky again; although we were following another two boats there was traffic coming up so the locks were set for us and we could leave the bottom gates open.
Waiting above Higherland Lock for two boats going down and one to come up.
Approaching Eshton Road Lock…
…and in the last for a while, Holme Bridge Lock.
At the end of the month this lock and that at the bottom of the Wigan 21 will be chained up, effectively closing this 55 mile stretch of canal to through traffic. Unless water levels in the reservoirs improve the closure will remain in place till after August.
We’re now on the long Skipton pound, 16½ miles of lock-free cruising to Bingley. But it’s not plain sailing. There are 23 lift or swing bridges to negotiate instead!
Pleasant countryside up here.
The first of the first batch of swing bridges, Highgate.
The sky is looking threatening, but the weather gods must have read the same forecast as us. No rain today!
We toddled steadily on, leapfrogging each other at the bridges, until Gawflat Swing Bridge at the edge of Skipton. It was a bit chaotic here, with boats moored approaching the bridge, our two and two more ahead of us maneuvering, and Cobbydale, the wide-beam trip boat coming the other way. It all got sorted out in the end with no tantrums, but the people wanting to cross had a bit of a wait!
It’s very busy here, so, rather than chance not finding a mooring further on, we dropped onto the first available space. Meg doesn’t have to go back to the vet yet so the fact that we’re about as far away as we can get and still be in the town isn’t a problem!
Locks 3, miles 5