Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A bit of a cock-up on the catering front…

Recognise the quote? Geoffrey Palmer as Reggie’s brother in law Jimmy. Of course, it was the incomparable “Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin” with another great, Leonard Rossiter, in the title role. Sadly, both of these brilliant comic actors are no longer with us.

My cock-up was in the water supply department, I thought we’d just about have enough to last until we returned to Skipton today, but when the water pump started sucking air during the washing machine’s final rinse cycle at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, I realised that I was wrong.
 The only option was to up sticks and head back half a day earlier. Not a big problem, through Bradley Swing Bridge, turn around, back through the swing bridge then about three miles with another bridge at Snaygill to get back to town.
Apart from the rain, that is. After a fine, breezy day, as soon as we set off it started to rain, and it came down like stair-rods at one point.

Mags coming back through Bradley Swing Bridge after turning around.DSCF4685  

Heading off towards Skipton

By the time we’d got to Snaygill the rain had stopped and there was just a glimmer of brightness back in the sky. Bad timing, I guess.

Coming into Skipton, the conical hill on the horizon is Haw Park. Extensive quarrying has changed it’s shape, and it’s height.DSCF4688
It’s lost about 50 foot off the top. That’s a lot of stone…

We filled with water at the services alongside the bus station, then pulled in right at the end of the 3-day moorings opposite, almost up to Belmont Bridge. Not ideal, but beggars can’t be choosers. Only one night anyway.

This morning we were keeping an eye on two hire boats moored further back, and as soon as they left we were off, reversing back to occupy one of the spots. Better here, not overlooked by the apartments and if it comes out we’ll have sun all day.

This afternoon Meg and I headed off to the vet again. We saw Nisha again, but then also Sam to make sure that all bases are covered. They believe she has a bladder infection which is making her miserable and off her food, and possibly the Metacam she takes for her arthritis is irritating her tummy with her not eating much.
So she’s off the Metacam for a few days, with a paracetamol-based painkiller to manage her joint pain and anti-biotics for the infection. We’ll go back again Friday morning, by which time she should be on the mend. Hope so.

Locks 0, miles 2¾

Friday, July 27, 2018

A productive few days…

With us not moving and, apart from heavy, thundery showers last evening, the weather being kind, I got on with a job I‘ve been putting off. There’s been a leak around the rear slide frame for a while now, the evidence of stained woodwork and even drips inside during particularly heavy rain was obvious. And the slide had started to tighten up on it’s brass runners as rust behind them pushed them out of position.
The slide itself is very heavy, I’ve only had it completely off once, and it was a huge struggle getting it back on again, so the first job was to raise it on battens to lift it clear of the runners so they could be removed.

Top and side runners removed, the rust behind scraped off and treated with rust killer ready for priming, undercoat and two finish coats.DSCF4664

All painted, that’s the steelwork mostly done, now to start on the woodwork…DSCF4665

With the frame surround removed the water damage to the timber backing and more rust is revealed…DSCF4681

So, out with the rust treatment, primer undercoat and gloss once again. A new piece of timber replaced the stained back board, thoroughly varnished, and while it was out the rest got rubbed down and treated to a couple of coats as well. With everything dry it was time to put it all back together, with a good seam of sealant under the brass runners and between the steelwork and the hardwood frame.DSCF4682 
Hopefully that should keep the rainwater out for the next 12 years…

With the cants on the counter painted gloss black and the deck painted raddle red it’s looking quite smart now.DSCF4683

Apart from this we’ve been chilling, trying to keep cool with limited success. The storm last night freshened the air temporarily, but we were back to warm, humid conditions again today.

Meg isn’t happy with the weather, she’s not eating much, is listless and stiff with arthritis. We’re heading back into Skipton early next week and we’ll be going back to the vet while we’re there, in case there’s something else we’ve not spotted yet.

We had a bit of light relief when a small cruiser was lifted out of the water on the moorings a little further up. I was convinced that it would slide out of the slings…

…but it didn’t.

Even the cows came across for a closer look…DSCF4676

…and had to be shooed out of the way while they moved the boat to a spot around the corner.DSCF4677

We’ll be here for the weekend, moving back to Skipton Monday or Tuesday. Meg’s appointment is for Tuesday afternoon, and we’ll be needing water and essential supplies by then.

Locks 0, miles 0.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A few days in Skipton, then out into the country.

We had visitors last Thursday. In the morning friend Wendy and her sister Helen turned up for a brew and a chat, then later on in the day Paul Balmer and family arrived on NB Waterway Routes, on their way towards Liverpool.

WR coming under Tin Bridge
That’s Paul on the roof filming, daughter Susan on the tiller and wife Christine relaxing. Paul is the producer of the excellent series of canal maps, published on DVD in formats for Memory Map and Acrobat.

They’re filming an update to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal cruising map, but unfortunately will not be able to finish it this year, the breach on the western end, not far from Liverpool, will prevent them from filming all the way into the docks.
They don’t leave any stretch of water untouched though…

Heading up the Springs Branch

The branch was opened in 1797 to move stone from quarries at the end of the half-mile stretch, and doesn’t see much traffic now. Apart from moorings at the junction end, the only regular visitors are the small trip boats running from the wharf.
Paul wasn’t sure how far they’d get, and it didn’t seem that it’d be very far when they ran aground passing trip boat Sam.
But Susan managed to pull back off the mud, and they actually got almost to the end, finally being beaten more by the overhanging trees than water depth. Of course, then they had to reverse back out…
They moored between Gallows and Belmont Bridges before walking around to see us. Chris brought a fine ginger cake, and I’d knocked up a banana cake and a batch of chocolate chip cookies, so we didn’t go hungry.

On Friday, after the early boats had got away, we pulled around and joined them, stopping to fill with water on the way. Skipton is well furnished with water points, apart from the service wharf opposite the Gallows Bridge moorings there’re taps near Brewery Bridge and Gawflat Bridge too.

Moored on the Gallows bridge moorings.

We pottered about over the weekend, just doing this and that. The Waterway Routes crew left to continue their journey on Saturday…DSCF4648

…and we were visited by Mags’ son Howard on Sunday and the local cob on several occasions. Howard only wanted a cup of tea, but the swan was a lot greedier. Not content with the odd bit of bread (I know, not good for them, but it was a seeded batch loaf…), he tried to take a bite out of the camera!

With things to do I didn’t get to walk around the town this time, but the near the canal are some gems…

The Liberal Club Building, Craven House.


Town Wharf

Alongside the towpath, the other side of the stone wall from where we’d moored, was the town gas works, with an ironworks a bit further over. The gaps where gates once hung allowing coal to be moved from boats into the works are now closed up, but still clear to see.

On the opposite side of the canal was an area of run-down slum tenements, with the odd cottage business mixed in.    

This morning we pushed across to fill and empty as required at the wharf, then set off to get out of town for a few days.DSCF4649
The gas works was to the left, now a car park, and the terraces to the right were demolished in the 1950s to make way for the bus station.

Typical mill town; stone-built terraces with the moors rising beyond.DSCF4653

We moved just four miles, mooring near Bradley.

Clever use of coir matting rolls to reinforce the edge of the new towpath.DSCF4654
They’ll slowly be absorbed by the vegetation, stabilising the edge of the path.

Snaygill Swing Bridge, the only one today.DSCF4655

Snaygill Boats

Moored near Bradley

On the opposite side of the canal a pair of isolated gate posts stand close to the water’s edge.
I wonder how old they are? If you look closely you can see a slight dip in the field where the drystone wall that connected to them once stood.

We’ll stay here for a few days before heading back into town. We’re just killing time at the moment.

Locks 0, miles 4½

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

League of Nations as we head downhill to Skipton

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.DSCF4606

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.DSCF4617

Approaching Eshton Road Lock…

…and in the last for a while, Holme Bridge Lock.DSCF4621

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.DSCF4626

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

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 https://www.change.org/p/samantha-ward-smith-harsher-punishment-for-people-whose-dogs-are-dangerous-out-of-control-in-public-attack
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