Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Frank’s soundtrack

For the last 12 hours the backgound sound to our moors here at Granary Wharf hasn’t been the faint hum of traffic or the rumble of a train coming into Leeds station. No, Frank has made his prescence felt in the splash and slop, gloop and gurgle of waves around and under the counter, the wind whistling in the roof vents and the creak and groan of mooring ropes and fenders.IMG_8254
So the poor old half-submerged north of England is now taking a battering from gale-force winds. We not seen the rain yet…

The river here has gone down quite a bit, in fact this morning the level marker below River Lock, although twisted out of shape, is just showing amber.IMG_8255
But we’re still not going to moving for a few days…

From Canal and River Trust -

Notice Alert

Aire & Calder Navigation Main Line
Location: Aire & Calder Navigation Leeds to Ferrybridge Flood Lock

Monday 28 December 2015 14:00 until further notice
Type: Advice
Reason: Information

Update on 29/12/2015:
The original notice and instructions issued on the 28th Dec remain unchanged. This notice will be further updated 31st Dec at 15:30hrs or sooner if required.  
Original message:
Due to extensive damage caused by recent extreme weather conditions all vessels are advised not to travel on the Aire Navigation Calder Navigation between Leeds and Ferrybridge unless instructed by CRT staff.
The towpaths are in places covered with silt and mud extra care is required when using the towpaths.
CRT staff are on site making emergency repairs and assessing the situation. This notice will be updated 29th Dec at 15:30hrs
You can view this notice and its map online here:
You can find all notices at the url below:
The height of the river in the early hours of Sunday morning is indicated by the debris left behind in trees and clinging to railings.20151228_093546

Where the towpath surface hasn’t been stripped down to it’s base layer…20151228_093334

…it’s covered in several inches of mud and silt.

The service pontoon didn’t fare as badly as I’d at first thought, only the upstream end has stayed buckled, the rest has dropped back down as the water receded. Thankfully the sanitary station’s plumbing also survived, although there’s no power in the building and the floor is covered by a half-inch layer of mud. 

Lock landing below River Lock, with flood debris decoration…20151228_101029
The river had topped the wall on the left, flooding into the adjacent carpark.
These last four pictures from Monday morning.

With a breach from the canal into the river at Knostrop, south of Leeds, to be repaired, there’s not much chance of our moving till at least next week. The Calder and Hebble and Rochdale Canals have also suffered, the C&H probably being the worst affected, with boats left high and dry on the bank and a road bridge damaged after the water went down. Report in the local newspaper here.
Then there’s the historic Tadcaster Bridge…

The effects of these floods are going to be felt for months.
I think there’s a lot of questions to be answered when Parliament reconvenes in the New Year.

Sorry that video on the previous post doesn't work, I'll try to sort it out. It's here, meanwhile.

Mike, I can't find any trace of a sluice here at Granary Wharf, I guess we must have lost it when the area was redeveloped. But, Carol, the river services still work. Just a shame they're a mile away... A long way with 20kg of poo...
Hi KevinTOO. Yeah, we're fine here. Just getting a bit bored...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Not going anywhere soon…

We’re quite safe in Granary Wharf, situated as we are between Office and River Locks, and with C&RT chaps visiting regularly to manage the water levels here to prevent flooding into the hotel and apartments alongside.20151227_094315
Although they were called out at 2 o’clock this morning. The hotel evacuated their guests as the water rose above the copings towards their walls. The River Aire above Office Lock was flowing into the canal. Unneccesary disruption as it turned out, opening sluices on both locks dropped the levels down to where they are now in an hour. Of course, securely lashed to our floating pontoon, we slept through the drama.

But it’s not so peaceful below River Lock…

I took Meg upstream this morning, to have a look at the river coming into Leeds. By this time the river had dropped a foot from the 2 AM high, no longer running into the canal, and the canal itself was dropping with the lock sluices open.

Office Lock had been flooded at one point…

The Aire is running fast and wide.

After breakfast I set off to have a look downstream. Most of the waterside footpaths are under water, so it meant walking along the road. Although they were damp in places, too.
If you look closely you can see where someone tried, and failed, to get through.

I wanted to have a look at Clarence Dock, next to the Royal Armouries. About a mile downstream, the sanitary station on the other side of the dock will be needed soon for elsan disposal…

This is the scene at Clarence Dock and Leeds Lock…

Sorry, panned a bit fast...

The flood gates are closed, protecting Clarence Dock from the river water. 20151227_095949

Below the lock the water had backed up into Armouries Square, leaving a film of silt on the paving stones…
…although I was told that the Royal Armouries Museum wasn’t affected and was open as usual.

Bad news for us, and those moored in Clarence Dock…20151227_101127
…the sanitary station is flooded. As the water has been a couple of feet higher than at present, I guess there’ll be some damage.
The mooring pontoon and access ramp are both twisted out of shape.

Coming back I took a picture of the Asda head office on Waterside. It’s not flooded, but I was part of the team that put all that guttering and atrium cladding up.

Back at River Lock just below where we’re moored… and it’s a bit wild!20151227_104613

It’s going to take a while before the river is back to navigable condition, I guess. And even then a close eye will be needed on the weather forecast. With everything so soggy, even fairly light rain will probably have an impact on the levels.
Still, it’s sunny today.

Locks 0, miles 0

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


So, here we are, in the middle of Leeds. It’s always a bit of a long day, Leeds to Rodley or vice-versa, but there’s no real option. The moorings at Kirkstall are OK, but the grafitti-smeared sign and the tall buildings either side don’t commend them.

On Monday evening, after mooring near Calverley Bridge, I unlimbered the sack-barrow and made three trips back to another stack of logs on the towpath that I couldn’t get near enough with the boat. That’s the roof full, now. I decided not to saw it up, burning wood in Leeds City Centre is probably not a good idea, and it’s more compact in log form.

Yesterday we moved the mile to Rodley, mooring just before the swing bridge. So just one bridge to negotiate, which was perhaps as well in the gusty wind.

This morning Meg and I took a walk back along the canal then down to the river, crossing on the stone packhorse bridge.

The river’s a bit full, not looking promising for later… IMG_8212

We were off this morning at 09:15, needing to be at the top of Newlay Locks to meet our C&RT “elf” at 10:30. Just 3 more swing bridges, the first just 100 yards away…

Rodley Swing Bridge

...the last at Ross Mill.

Ross Mill Swing Bridge

We arrived at the top of Newlay Three-Rise at a quarter past ten, time for a walk around with Meg. I’d have started setting up but the paddle gear is all padlocked.

Waiting for the lockie.

It was Barry again, the chap who brought us down Bingley the other day. He was a little late as he’d been down into Leeds to sort out an over-plentiful supply of water at Granary Wharf. They were worried about flooding into the new Hilton Hotel!

Out of the bottom of Newlay and yes, there is plenty of water about!IMG_8225

Forge three are just a quarter mile further down.

The two triple staircases are out of the way and the next was a single, opposite Kirkstall Abbey
The abbey was another victim of Henry VIII’s desperate grab for cash during the Dissolution.

Kirkstall Lock

This was where we lost Barry, who set off to walk back up. From here we were on our own.

Spring Garden Lock was followed in short order by Oddys, a two-rise staircase, and by this time the Leeds fringes were becoming apparent.

Suburbia in the Aire valley at Spring Garden

Castleton Mill below Oddys two.

New footbridge over the river at Holbeck

Last lock of the day, Office Lock

We would have dropped down River Lock and made for Clarence Dock but the river is up as expected, and running rapidly. So we pulled into Granary Wharf instead. We’ll move downstream when conditions improve. Could be in the New Year, then!

Moored at Granary Wharf

Unless anything extraordinary happens, this will be my last post before the big event. So here’s wishing all our friends a very Happy Christmas!!
Locks 12, miles 6¼

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another crew member takes a dunking, but we’re back on schedule.

This time it was Meg, overestimating how far she could jump between the boat and the bank as we moored this afternoon. Not that she got much wetter; after a couple of hours of rain she was pretty well drenched anyway!
So, back to yesterday with us at the top of Bingley Five-Rise Locks. I was out with Meg at just before eight, and caught Barry the lockie coming on duty. I explained the situation, us waiting in vain on Saturday morning, and he agreed to send us down as soon as he’d got the staircase locks set up.

Dawn over the Damart factory

Eight forty-five and we’re on our way down.
IMG_8164It’s barely light!

Most of the gates on the “five” are snug with very little leakage. It’s a bit daunting when you remember that they’re holding back around a quarter of a million litres of water!

This dove didn’t seem worried…

Below the five-rise there’s the three-rise, only 400 yards away. These top gates don’t fit so snugly.
One set of gates here was due for replacement this winter, but C&RT couldn’t get permission to bring the necessary plant across from the main road.

The sun starts to light up the opposite side of the Aire valley as we leave the bottom of the three. IMG_8175
Ninety minutes for the eight locks, thanks to Barry.

Just a mile to Dowley Gap and the two-rise staircase there. No lockie here, strictly self-service!
The last lock of the day was Hirst Mill, with a swing bridge immediately above.

Hirst Mill Lock.
Being a fine, sunny Sunday morning there were a lot of people about. There’s a garden centre here, too.

It’s a bit leaky…

It was breezy but the sun was bright as we cruised through Saltaire, past Titus Salt’s mill.IMG_8189

We interrupted an angling match between Saltaire and Shipley. A good cross-section of canal fishermen, some grumpy avoiding eye-contact, some happy to reply to a cheery good-morning.

Junction Mills stands opposite the junction to the old Bradford CanalIMG_8193

Bradford Canal Junction

Another couple of bridges to negotiate took us out of the built up area and into the wooded pound between the river on one side and the rising ground of Buck Hill on the other.

We pulled up just above Field Locks, another three-rise we dealt with this morning.IMG_8195

Today dawned dry and bright, and stayed that way as we dropped down Field Locks. But cloud was moving in, and we had a few drops of rain before we got to Dobson’s Locks

Dropping down the Field Three.

Dobson’s two-rise – in the rain

I couldn’t make out what this odd looking structure was…IMG_8200
…Then I realised it’s the railway bridge over the Aire wrapped up while it’s being repainted. 

Millman Swing Bridge, below the locks, carries a busy minor road. I’d normally wait for a gap in the traffic, but it’s not really an option here, even mid-morning. So I just pushed the button… We didn’t hold up too many cars…

One of the winter stoppages that has gone ahead is the renovation of a culvert under the canal at Calverley Embankment. The canal re-opened on Friday, and they're now removing the plant.

We were planning on getting to Rodley today, but it was raining heavily and I’d made a stop to pick up some logs on the towpath. So we called it a day a mile short of the village pulling in on the bridge landing for Calverley Lodge Swing Bridge. The bridge is unused so we’re not in anyone’s way. Not that we would be anyway, there’s no boats about. The wind was picking up as well.
Tomorrow we’ll make the short trip into Rodley.

Hi Carol. Oxalic acid, eh. Where can you get it?

Locks 16, miles 9. (2 days)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

At least one thing went right today…

Yep, Open Live Writer is compatible with Blogger! Hurray! No more fannying-about with cutting and pasting text and resizing photos before inserting them. Well done the development team.
Just in case you didn’t know, Microsoft pulled the plug on support for LiveWriter in 2012, then Google decided to change the authentication protocols in the excellent Blogger, so the two were no longer compatible. An outcry from users of both prompted Google to make a stay of execution, while Microsoft agreed to make LiveWriter Open Source. A team of software boffins have been working on the software, but didn’t get the mods done in time for Google’s postponement of the introduction of the new protocols to come to an end. So since December 5th it’s been necessary to write the blog text then copy and paste it into Blogger, format it, and then resize photos before inserting them. All which LiveWriter does for you (apart from the writing…)

Well, now we’re back, firing on all cylinders again. Wee-Hee.Screenshot
Well done guys!clip_image001

We moved down to Bingley yesterday, mooring just before Micklethwaite Swing Bridge, -ready to meet the lockie at the top of the Five-Rise at 0930 this morning.

Leaving Riddlesden, Granby Swing Bridge ahead, and the result of someone’s negligence in the foreground

We had an uneventful trip, the wind wasn’t anything like as strong, and we only had two swing bridges to contend with anyway.

Morton Swing Bridge.IMG_8154

So this morning we were up at daybreak, dog walked, paper collected and fast broken, ready for the off at just before nine.

Mags comes through Micklethwaite Swing Bridge.IMG_8155
This one’s a hybrid, the bridge swing is mechanised but the barriers have to be closed and opened manually. Being a Saturday we didn’t hold up too much traffic.
The Airedale Boat Club footbridge was half open, it’s normally fully open but the wind last night must have shoved it round, then we were at the top of the locks, surprised to see no-one on the moorings!

A bit empty…

It was 09:15, so I went to see if the lockie was setting up the 5-rise staircase for us.

Not a yellow jacket anywhere…IMG_8160


So we waited, and waited…

I tried ring C&RT at half-ten, knowing it was a futile exercise. The answerphone gave me an emergency number but it was hardly that. So I closed up the back hatch, tied us up properly and we’ve sat here all day. I was quite expecting to still be here on Monday morning, when I’d be able to get someone on the phone.
But mid-afternoon a chap knocked on the window, wanting to know if we were going down in the morning. He’s booked to come up tomorrow, so all being well there should be someone around in the morning. Having said that, there should have been someone here this morning…

I’d planned on three easy days to Rodley, then a day off before we tackle the long run into Leeds. Now I guess it’ll have to be two moderate days.

The booking isn’t the only thing to go wrong, manouevring for one of the bridges yesterday the prop was in reverse when there was a bang from under the stern deck. I thought we’d picked up a bag or a rope on the prop, and “chucking back” improved the situation but didn’t solve it. Once we’d stopped I lifted out the weed hatch and had a grope in the murky water, only to find the prop clear of debris but with two of the three blade’s tips badly bent. That’s why we’d lost a bit of thrust.
We’ll have to put up with it for a bit, it’s a dry-dock job. I may be able to straighten it… hopefully.

Hi Jaq, Les. Yes, bedding the brass rubbing strips on  mastic seems to have solved the problem. I've sanded back the varnish and scrubbed the panel with bleach on a scourer, and it's got rid of most of the staining. It just needs varnishing again now.
All the best for Christmas and the New Year, hope to catch up with you some time.

Locks 0 (should have been 8…), miles 3½