Monday, December 31, 2018

The last day’s cruising for 2018

After a day off yesterday, during which I caught up with a few jobs, we were ready to move on again today.

Just a couple of hundred yards ahead was Woodlesford Lock, and we filled with water above as we were running a wash load. It’s always a good idea to keep the tank topped up at this time of year, you never know what’s going to happen…DSCF5216

It was another dull but dry day, with the breeze steadily increasing to nuisance value. Less than 1½ miles on we had to deal with Lemonroyd Lock, the deepest one on the navigation. We were joined by a chap on a small cruiser, who’d been hanging about in the hopes of catching a free ride down.

Since Knostrop Falls we’ve been on canal, albeit a very wide canal, with the river down on the left hand. But below Lemonroyd  the canal and river rejoin, although the course of the river has been much modified.DSCF5223
The most recent changes occurred after 1988, when, shortly after the confluence, the bank breached and flooded into the adjacent St. Aidans opencast coal pit. A massive project to empty the mine and re-route the navigation cost over £20m, took 10 years and an Act of Parliament for nearly 2 miles of new waterway. This is why Lemonroyd Lock, at 14’4” is almost twice the depth of the other chambers along here. The original Lemonroyd Lock, and Kippax Lock further downstream were both bypassed and replaced by this deep one.
The mine was exhausted in 2002 and the site is now a nature reserve, managed by the RSPB.

Heading downriver to Castleford, with the loading dock for Methley Saville Colliery on the right. There was also an entrance to a basin at the colliery, and on the north bank, a dry dock and small boatyard. All pre-breach, of course.

Good moorings on the old coal staithe at Allerton Bywater.

After 3½ miles of easy cruising downstream Castleford Lock appears on the left.DSCF5228

Straight across from the lock entrance, off picture to the right, is the entrance to the Wakefield Branch of the Aire & Calder, ahead is to be avoided as it leads to the large Castleford Weir.
(photo taken later as I crossed the footbridge)

The flood lock was open at both ends as the river is behaving itself at the moment, so we were able to cruise straight through and onto Castleford Cut.

We moored on the right, about halfway to Bulholme Lock in the distance. A day off tomorrow, then onwards, I guess.

2019 tomorrow. Lets hope it’s a little better than 2018…

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers for their support and kind comments over the last year, and we’re -
 Free Clipart Of A bell hourglass and happy new year banner

Locks 2, miles 5

Friday, December 28, 2018

Back out into the country

Above Office Lock, on the offside of the canal, there’s a new development being started, comprising residential and office premises. But rising over the building site are three Grade II listed structures, seemingly misplaced from the Mediterranean.DSCF5175  
The site used to be a factory producing steel items for the textile industry, and it’s founder, TR Harding, was a great fan of Italian architecture. The two in the centre of the picture were built at the same time as the factory and are the most ornate. The third, to the left is plainer and was constructed when the factory was extended in 1899. The two original towers were chimneys for smoke and dust-extraction.

Office Lock is named for the building which stands beside it…DSCF5176  
Seyella tucked between the Candle House on the left and the Hilton Double Tree on the right.DSCF5177

Granary Wharf was a complex of warehouses and a boatbuilder where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal meets the River Aire

Wet and dry docks used by the boatbuilder.DSCF5181

It was gloomy again as we backed out from the old wharf and headed for River Lock.

River Lock, Leeds and Liverpool Canal Lock 1DSCF5187
The warehouse alongside is the oldest still standing in the basin complex, contemporary with the canal.

I paused before opening the paddles to drain the lock, the water taxi had arrived to pick up a group of customers from the lock landing.DSCF5186
The rush of water as the lock emptied would have made life difficult for him…

Down the lock and it’s about three-quarters of a mile to the next, past old warehouses and under the city’s bridges.

Victoria Bridge.


The water taxi on his way back from Leeds Dock next to the Royal Armouries MuseumDSCF5192

Crown Point Bridge.

Below Crown Point the river heads off over a large weir, while the navigation channel swings to the right, past the entrance to Leeds Dock and under the impressive glass atrium of the museum.DSCF5195

Leeds Lock, the last of the short ones and the first of the mechanised ones.DSCF5196

We topped up the water tank at the service wharf around the corner, then set off down river, leaving the city behind.

There’s been a lot of investment in flood defenses mostly around the Knostrop Falls area. A new channel takes the navigation past, rather than through, the now-redundant Knostrop Falls Flood Lock.DSCF5201

The old flood lock is to the left of the island which is now studded with new trees.DSCF5203

Knostrop Falls Lock is the first of the large locks coming downstream out of Leeds, and a single narrowboat looks lost in a chamber that will take nine or ten.

New weirs and a footbridge alongside the lockDSCF5205

Mags coming in to pick me up.

Two and a half miles of easy cruising take us past the Thwaite Mills Industrial Museum with it’s busy moorings…

…and under the A1/M1 link road

Into Fishpond Lock
I couldn’t get the gates to open for a start, but going to the bottom end, dropping a foot of water out and then refilling it seemed to sort out the interlocks.

Coming in to moor above Woodlesford Lock, about a mile further on.DSCF5214

I reckon we’ll be here for the weekend unless anything changes. We’ve time to kill; we’re not due at Keadby Lock for penning out onto the tidal Trent until January 12th. Before then the tide times don’t fit into the daylight window. We could go upstream against the tide, but if there’s a lot of fresh coming down it’s a hard slog to Torksey. Better to wait and run with the flood.

Locks 4, miles 5½

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Another day, another set of staircase locks…

We dropped down into Leeds today, a long day by our standards, about 4¼ hours. It’s not the distance, it's the locks that take the time. Two triple staircases, one double and four singles.

Yesterday we moved through Rodley passing 4 swing bridges, to moor at the top of Newlay Locks so we were ready for the CRT chap this morning.

A gloomy sort of day…

Rodley Swing Bridge.

Lots of people taking advantage of the dry day were up and down the towpath.

Boats on the moorings near Newlay include one with a heroic history.DSCF5133
Abbey Pride was one of the “Little Ships” that crossed the channel to rescue the remains of the British Expeditionary Force and French and Belgian forces as part of Operation Dynamo.

Moored above Newlay Staircase Locks.
We moved down in the afternoon to avoid having to do the four bridges first thing this morning. The booking was for 09:00 so we’d have had to get going at a quarter to eight, in the dark! I wouldn’t recommend overnight mooring here in the summer though. To the right is Bramley Park, very popular with the residents of the housing estates which flank the canal. It can be very busy here in fine weather. Below the locks on the right is a meadow know locally as “Bramley Beach”, where the locals gather on warm evenings for barbecues and parties.

In Newlay Locks at 09:15.

In the wing-wall of the middle chamber there’s a series of holes in the pointing between the masonry blocks, each one surrounded by a mesh of cobwebs.

I’m only guessing, but I think it’s a wasp or hornet’s nest in the wall. The spiders have laid traps for those unfortunate insects that don’t make a clean entrance or exit.

Slightly leaky gates but not as bad as those at Bingley!

Below Newlay Locks, Darren the CRT man is just closing up behind us before setting off to meet us at Forge Three, half a mile further down.DSCF5141

“Bramley Beach” below the locks.

Darren dropped us down Forge Three, the second triple staircase, then we had another ½ mile to Kirkstall Lock where we met Darren for the final time. This top group of locks is padlocked to prevent tampering, so have to be booked in the winter.

Forge Three

Kirkstall Abbey, just visible through the mist hanging over the Aire ValleyDSCF5148

Waiting for Darren at Kirkstall Lock

The city starts to encroach upon the route of the canal below Kirkstall Lock.

Kirkstall Brewery, alongside the canal, is now student accommodation for Leeds University.DSCF5150 

There’s a 2½ mile break from the locks through Kirkstall and Armley, passing the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mill

Lots of rivets hold Armley Railway Bridge together as it crosses the canal at an angle.DSCF5154


Built around 1846 by the Leeds and Bradford Railway, it later became part of the Midland Railway network. It used to carry four tracks, reduced to two during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

There’s a single lock at Spring Gardens, Oddies Double Staircase Locks, St Ann Ings Lock alongside the residential development of City Island, then finally Office Lock just above Granary Wharf. All within the last mile.

We saw this floating shed up at Skipton a couple of years ago…DSCF5160

Oddies Double Staircase, lots of water in the canal here.DSCF5161

St. Ann Ing Lock with the high-rise City Island on the left.

Looking over at the Aire.

Almost exactly three years ago the river rose to the underside of the suspension footbridge, overtopped the towpath wall and flooded the canal. We were moored in Granary Wharf at the time…

Mags coming out of Office Lock.

If it wasn’t for help from the group of spectators on the lockside, I’d never had got the bottom gates open. So much water is coming over the top gates that it wouldn’t quite make a level.

Moored up in Granary Wharf

We’ll decide tomorrow whether to drop down out of Leeds or take a day off. It was a heavy day today…
Locks 12, miles 7