Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A short hop back to our previous mooring spot. We’re now facing the other way though, so I can concentrate on repainting the right hand side of the hull. The weather may not be helpful, though. The forecast is dull and damp.
I think we may have a duff battery. 1 cell on no. 3 is not gassing under charging, and the whole bank doesn’t seem to be lasting as well as it should. I’ll keep an eye on it over the next week, and if I have to change it I’ll do it when we’ve got a car for the weekend, so I can dispose of the old one properly.

Locks 0, miles 1½.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nearly out of essential supplies, and we need to water and empty the loos, so we set off today to Barnoldswick.

We’ve had a splendid few days here, warm and dry. Long walks with Meg, and using the time to get one side of the boat repainted below the gunwhale. This is the area that takes most of the knocks in locks or when mooring, so is frequently scratched.

Damage repairs in progress…
.. And finished
Even though it was a Bank Holiday last weekend, it wasn’t too busy on the towpath.
The canal here bends sharply backward and forward around the low hills. Some of the bends are sharp enough to justify a roller to guide the tow-rope around the corner.

Corner Roller
The weather has changed again today, though. Back to cool and showery, with a breeze. Up to Greenberfield locks, another flight in a very attractive setting. There are only 3 locks here, and then the BW service point at the top. We are now on the summit level, the highest point on the canal. The locks both ahead and behind us all lead downhill.

Another 20 minutes and we were moored near bridge 154A, and I set off into “Barlick”, bound for the Co-op. Essentials restocked, I then took Meg on a walk down the towpath to the boatyard at bridge 152. At Apperly Bridge I’d forgotten to get Elsan Blue for the loos, and this was the only chance for the next couple of weeks.

Looking down on Barnoldswick
So it was nearly 16:00 when we set off back to Greenberfield and our out-of-the-way mooring. Had a couple of abortive attempts to moor not far after the locks, but we didn’t get tied up till nearly 19:00, near East Marton.

Double-arch bridge near East Marton
Seems like quite a long day, but the batteries are fully charged.

Locks 6, miles 7

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Made sure that we’ve plenty of supplies, then watered and emptied as required before getting off from Gargrave today. The weather is much improved, dry and bright. Up through the last 3 locks in Gargrave, and through the 6 at Bank Newton. No opportunity to share any of them, so quite hard work.

Scarland Lock
The Bank Newton flight is very pretty, with a lock-keepers cottage at the bottom of the flight. The date stone above the door reads “LLCC 1791” (Leeds and Liverpool Canal Co).

Lock Cottage, Bank Newton
Bank Newton locks
Another mile above the locks and we moored, looking out over fields and hills. We’ll stay here for a few days, we’re well out of the way; it’s 20 minutes each way to a road.

Mooring in the wilds
Locks 9, miles 2½.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Helped a couple of novice boating crews up through the first lock, then followed them up into Gargrave. Through the 2 remaining locks and stopped on the visitor moorings near the centre of the village. Handy for everything, shops and visitors. The weather has been a little better, drier though still cool.

Gargrave Visitor Moorings
An old work colleague, Fred, lives nearby, so I gave him a call. He and Mary, (his wife) called in to see us as they were passing, then picked us up on the way back and took us home for tea. Meg enjoyed running around the garden, then getting lost in all the different rooms. A pleasant evening, then Fred dropped us back at the boat. We’ll try to get together for a day trip on the boat while we’re still here.

On a related subject, Mags has sweet-talked the docs into changing the dates for her tests. We’ve now got appointments for the 6th and 11th September. This fits in well, as I’ve got to hire a car for the 9th to get me to Sheffield for the 10k, so I can get it for a little longer.

It’s pleasant here in Gargrave, we’ll stay here for 3 days then move out into the wilds for a few days.

Ducks fighting over bread
Locks 3, miles 1. No more swing bridges now till near Wigan!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We decided to stay here in Skipton last night. The weather was still pretty manky, and we’d stayed in the centre of Manchester and Leeds with no bother, so what could happen in Skipton?

Well, apart from the drunken oafs yorping and arguing till the early hours, some scroat nicked our boat-hook! Another boater found an old disreputable one floating next to his boat this morning, and was walking down the line of moorers checking if it was missing off any of the boats. When I realised ours was missing I adopted the old one. Mags has a theory that a boater took ours and left his old one in the canal. I’m not quite so cynical, preferring to think that both were taken and thrown in by local louts. Ours must have floated further away than I looked. It’s like on touring caravan sites. There’s got to be an element of trust between moorers, else where are you?

Anyway, Howard, Melanie and Laura arrived late morning for a visit, so we caught up with the news. Howard is moving to S Ireland! He's been out there a few times recently, and he’s not been really settled since he lost his wife, Barbara. Good luck to him, but he will be missed in Ingleton.

Howard had to go to Settle to deal with something for work, so, as we were moving anyway, I suggested that we take Mel and Laura to Gargrave by boat, and he could pick them up there.
So we set off soon after lunch, and had a damp and breezy passage to just before Holme Bridge lock, the first of the Gargrave 6.

Howard picked up the passengers, then Val and Johnny turned up on their way home from Skipton. She’d made me a belated birthday cake! Good, too. It didn’t last very long. They stayed for about an hour, then left us to our own devices.

Locks 0, miles 4, bridges 5.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Just a short run into Skipton today, though with 6 swing bridges to deal with, it took a little time. The weather has been poor again, overcast and showery. It’s still pleasant scenery though, even with the A65 shadowing the canal for much of the way.

Near Skipton
Into Skipton and found a mooring near Gallows Bridge (No 179).

Into Skipton
George and Christine came over this afternoon, mail and a new phone to replace the one in Zouch lock. BAD NEWS. Mags’ 2 appointments for her annual MOT were arranged for the 24th August and the 6th of September. Some administrative cock-up has meant they are having the re-arrange appointments, the new dates they’ve got for us are 6th and 27th September! This means we’ll have to hang around here for another 6 weeks! Nothing wrong with the area at all, but it'll get a little tedious. Mags is going to ring the surgery on Monday to see if we can re-rearrange.

Locks 0, miles 4½, bridges 6.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A short day after yesterday, we didn’t get off till nearly 11. There’s no rush now anyway, we need to be around Gargrave next Wednesday, so we’ve plenty of time.

Had a look around Riddlesden before we left. Not a bad spot, unfortunately with the main road running through. But useful for top up shopping with a Co-op, Post Office and a chippie.

Out of the village and we were into countryside, but with the edge of Keighley visible down in the valley. More swing bridges took us to Silsden, one of the main hire bases in this neck of the woods.

It must be change-over day today. We’ve seen several of their boats heading for either Leeds or Skipton.

Cowling Swing Bridge
Near Silsden
We pulled over for the night near Grange swing bridge, about halfway between Silsden and Kildwick.

It’s been a poor day weatherwise again. The odd shower, but predominately the cool breeze from the NW.

Locks none, miles 5, bridges 6.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Away this morning just before 10 o’clock, in a blustery morning with the odd spot of rain. The weather stayed the same all day, with just the occasional sunny spell to brighten things up. The rain became heavier in the afternoon, and the blustery wind gave Mags some problems holding the boat on station while waiting for me to open the bridges.

3 swing bridges took us to Shipley, then on to Saltaire and Hirst Lock. Through a heavy shower to the 2 rise locks at Dowley Gap, then another 25 minutes to the bottom of Bingley 3 rise, the little brother of the famous 5 rise. These are situated in the shadow of the Damart Mill.

Saltaire Mills
Damart from below Bingley 3 Rise
We had a bit of a wait here, the L&L short boat SEVERN was coming down, and then the lockie was in need of lunch.

Short boat SEVERN, built on the Weaver in 1936
Into the locks just after 14:00, and then at the 5 rise by 10 to 3. No delays here, straight in and out at the top an hour later. Mags said she felt like a goldfish in a bowl, with all the gongoozlers looking down at her in the lock.

In Bingley 5 Rise
My paranoia kicked in again, as the next 4 swing bridges carry busy roads, and the rush hour was upon us, so we pulled over (it had started raining again anyway) and waited till just after 6 when the rain and the traffic abated. The last 45 minutes of the day took us to the visitor moorings in Riddlesden.

Shipley and Bingley are very pleasant from the water, with lots of redevelopment going on, but the buildings in Saltaire are something else again. Titus Salt, the mill owner who was responsible for building the town, certainly knew how to inspire. I am always delighted to see the embellishments on Victorian buildings, even the utilitarian ones like the mills.

Locks 9, miles 8, bridges 9.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poor weather yesterday decided us to stay in Rodley for another day. It’s about time we had a day off anyway, we’d cruised everyday since leaving Mountsorrel on the Soar on the 1st! Must be some kind of record for us. Had a walk around the village, but there’s not much here.

Moored at Rodley
Moved off today, but only planning a short trip, as I’d arranged for the engine to have a service at Apperly Bridge Marina (Calder Valley Marine). We got off early though, so we could get there by 9, as Paul the engineer had rearranged his workload to fit us in.

While he was busy I had a walk up the hill to Sainsburys, and then we got under way again not much before 12. An expensive couple of hours, but we’ve got a full tank of diesel, a new gas bottle and a top box for the roof, for all those items that won’t fit in the boat. You’ll see it on the next batch of photos. We had to trial fit it to make sure Mags could see over the top! It just needs painting now. Probably blue to match the boat.

I’m a bit paranoid about swing or lift bridges on busy roads, so was glad to be past Millman swing bridge, then up through Dobson 2 rise locks, a couple of minor swing bridges and then Field locks, a 3 rise staircase. We moored soon after the locks, in a wooded section with the Aire in the valley below and calves grazing in the field opposite.

Locks 5, miles 4, bridges 3.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Apart from 3 youths on loud motorcycles passing on the towpath at 10:30, we had a quiet night. An early start this morning saw us arrive at the first lock of the day at 08:30. Threatening grey clouds saw us out of the city, 2 or 3 times breaking into heavy showers. But it was still warm.

We carried on up to Oddy Locks, a 2 rise staircase, and met Paddy, one of the BW team assisting boats up the 3 staircase flights in the next 5 miles.

Paddy and Oddy locks
A short pound saw us at Spring Garden Lock, followed by a 45 minute cruise to the 3 rise staircase of Forge Locks.

Now we’re out of the city, we’re following a green corridor along the Aire valley. It’s really quite attractive, and I imagine popular walking at the weekends.

Near Kirkstall
Forge Locks
After Forge comes Newlay 3 Locks, the last of the locks for today.

Newlay 3 locks
The staircases are in need of some TLC, with some gate replacement scheduled for this winter. Even with the help of the BW team assigned to the locks, passage is slow.

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is notorious for its swing bridges, and we came across 4 of these after the locks. Nothing too difficult, though.

It’s been an interesting few days, with the Trent, the South Yorkshire Navigations, Aire & Calder and Leeds. But we’re glad to be back on a narrowboat sized waterway, even though it has heavy broad locks and lots of difficult swing bridges. We’re also looking forward to a few nights moored out in the wilds, an opportunity we’ve not had since leaving the Soar.

Locks 11, miles 6, swing bridges 4

I’m recording the bridges as well on the L&L.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We said our goodbyes to Dave and Barbara at 08:15 this morning and set off for Leeds. A dull start to the day as we passed through Castleford Flood Lock (with a quick visit to the Sanitary Station) and turned right on the last 9 or so miles up to the city.

The first and deepest lock of the day was the delightfully named Lemonroyd Lock. Unfortunately we had a bit of a hold up here with faulty hydraulics on one of the top gates, but he was able to pen us through the one gate that worked as these locks are 20 feet wide and 140 feet long. It’s a bit lonely being the only boat in the chamber!

In Lemonroyd Lock
The next lock is Woodlesford, no lockie on this one (or the rest for that matter), so it was a do-it-yourself job. Easy though, just push the right buttons at the right time. No such luxury after today when we get on the L & L!

Woodlesford lock
The run from Castleford to the edge of the city is quite pleasant, with the spoil heaps from the now defunct pits being reclaimed by nature. The towpaths are in excellent condition, encouraging lots of walkers and cyclists.

Fishpond and Knostrop Falls locks takes us into Leeds and Leeds Lock, the last on the Aire and Calder Navigation.

Nearing Leeds
Leeds Lock. Nobody about when I took this picture, but by the time Seyella was in the lock the railings were lined with gongoozlers.
Through the redeveloped city centre, with apartment blocks towering over the river.
And past Asda House, where I was part of the team that fitted all the guttering and downspouts several years ago!
Lock 1, River Lock, on the Leeds and Liverpool, was a bit of a contrast to those we’d been used to for the last week or so. No mechanisation of course, and even the paddle gear looks a bit primitive! One good thing though. At 60 feet long and 14 feet 3 inches wide they are now narrowboat size!

Gear on River Lock
We finally moored for the night just above Office Lock (lock 2) at around 14:00. We’d intended to pull into the canal basin below the lock, but this is currently closed for another apartment block construction. It seems everyone wants to live near the canal these days!

Above Office Lock
Its been a dull day, but with a few sunny intervals and a couple of heavy showers. An early start again tomorrow should see us clear of Leeds and heading for Bingley.

Locks 7, miles 10½

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A fairly uneventful day today. We got off from Pollington at around half-past ten. Followed “Fusedale H”, loaded with sand, up the lock.

“Fusedale H” and Pollington Lock
Through the lock looking puny by comparison, and on along the long straight sections of this waterway to Whitley Lock
The canal continues it’s fairly straight run westwards to Knottingley, where there is a bit more interest in the form of the Aire going off to the right towards Selby and York. There are a fair few large barges moored around the junction.

River Aire off to the left
From Ferrybridge Flood Lock we were on the river, enjoying wooded banks and it’s winding course to Castleford.

River Aire
Bulholme Lock takes the navigation back onto canal again, through Castleford to Castleford Junction, where the Calder goes straight on and the Aire goes right up to Leeds. Our route for tomorrow.

In Bulholme Lock
We stopped just short of the flood lock for the night. The day has been warm and mostly sunny. The forecast is for changes next week though.

Castleford Mooring
In the morning we part company with Dave and Barbara. They are going on to Wakefield, following the Calder, while we head for Leeds. It’s been good having traveling companions these last 5 days. I hope they've enjoyed our company as much as we've enjoyed theirs. I’ve no doubt we’ll keep in touch and meet again at some point.

Locks 3, miles 14.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A later start today, after shopping up in Thorne. It’s a nice town, with a pedestrianised centre and just about every shop you could want, including 4 butchers and 3 bakers!

Got away at 10:55, just 5 minutes to Thorne Lock. We were followed by a charity trip boat working out of Blue Water Marina, so locked them through first so they could keep to schedule.

Locking Through Thorne Lock
On down the Stainforth & Keadby, through Bramwith Lock, the only one we had to manually open today. The rest are mechanised, as are most of the 8 swing or lift bridges we passed.

Swung north round the tight bend at Bramwith Junction onto the New Junction Canal.

Going round the bend? Bramwith Junction.
The 5½ mile length of this linking canal is dead straight, starting and ending with aqueducts over the rivers Don and Went

Guillotine Gates at the Don Aqueduct
Aqueduct over the River Went
About ⅔ along, the navigation falls about 7 feet through the large Sykehouse Lock, with a swing bridge strategically sited across the middle of the chamber.

Sykehouse Lock, room for a few more boats! You can only see part of the lock, there is a lot more behind the camera!

20 minutes from the lock we turned left onto the Aire and Calder Navigation, a major commercial artery from South and West Yorkshire to Goole Docks.

Aire and Calder
We got moored up just below Pollington Lock,at around 15:45, after a very warm day, so a cold beer on the towpath was very welcome!

Mags, with Barbara and Dave, NB LIBERTY BELL
A message for Mags at Thorne Lock?
Locks 3, miles 12

Thursday, August 09, 2007

We’ve decided to travel in company with Dave and Barbara on NB LIBERTY BELL, at least as far as Castleford. There they’ll turn left to Wakefield, and we’ll go right up into Leeds. They are good company, and have more local knowledge than us (which is none!).

We got off at 10:00, and had a steady run down through 6 lift or swing bridges to Thorne. We got onto the visitor moorings here, as D & B are having friends visiting tonight.

There is an interesting railway bridge just this side of Keadby, where the whole trackbed slides sideways to clear the navigation.

Keadby Railway Bridge
Godnow Swing Bridge, typical of those on this stretch.
As we come through Thorne, the visitor moorings are just on the right after a road bridge. What we didn’t expect was ANOTHER swing bridge, this time for pedestrians, just next to the road bridge. Apparently it’s only been built in last 18 months, and doesn’t appear in the guide books.

New Footbridge
Thorne Moorings
Locks 0, miles 10½