|Passing the Kellingley Colliery|
And so we made it to the
following the Aire & Calder navigation which at times becomes part of the
River Aire. Before we reached Castleford we had passed a couple of coal fired
electricity plants and the Kellingley Colliery. Mounds of coal and high barbed
wire fences were our view and I got camera snappy. How handy that a power plant
was next door to the coal mine. It made me think of power usage and how our
days of living without electricity, in Leeds & Liverpool Canal Portugal, made me mindful of how
much power gets wasted. I know I can be a pain (in many ways) and one of those
is always turning out lights when no-one is in a room where the lights are
turned on. On AM we charge up our leisure batteries when the engine is running
and these power our low voltage lighting and shoreline fridge, and by using the
inverter we can charge the mobile phones, computers, Twin Tub (not much thought
of using this these days!!) and the hand held vac and the super KARCHER. The
Karcher is my new essential gadget which sucks the condensation dripping down
the windows on a cold morning! It is amazing how much water it sucks up.
|M1 bridge over River Aire|
We spent a day and the rest cruising along the ‘Navigation’. Some of this is the River Aire and we were lucky we had done this prior to the last heavy rains which closed the river for several days while it was on red alert. Arriving on the outskirts of
exciting and we knew we would be able to get visitor moorings at the centrally
located Clarence Dock just after going through the final automated lock. We
headed for empty moorings and got caught by the wind as we were reversing
alongside a pontoon. It was a close call missing the contact sport with a moored
boat and big thanks to a fellow Moorer who took the ropes and helped to secure
us. Once tied up we found out we were in the Long term moorings and were
supposed to be on the other side tie up and double berth to another boat. There
was no way I wanted to move AM out in the wind and then not have easy access
for family we were expecting to visit us. Word had it to stay where we were and
if C&RT wanted us to move wait for them to come and tell us. We called into
C&RT’s plush office nearby and the 2 receptionists told us the computer
says “no” when we asked if we could pay for the mooring, or better still, speak
with the person who was responsible for the moorings. So we decided bah humbug
we’ll just squat! And so we did, perfect.
Next morning, with our Jayne aboard, we started our adventure on the
Journey planned was Leeds &
Liverpool Canal Leeds to Kirkstall. Rain
was in the air and we needed to get off the River Aire by going through River
Lock which is the start of the .
We went in the right direction but the Lock we saw didn’t look like it was in
operation, no signage to identify it and no welcome to the Canal. So we
continued on the Aire in the direction of the Railway station where the River
must flow into the darkness below. We quickly decided this is not right so reversed back to the
Lock and I alighted on to the smallest less bollarded platform I have seen and
went to inspect. Yes it was ‘our’ lock and I got on with winding up the gate
paddles to empty it. At the same time another Narrowboat came alongside AM, at
speed, and banged into the gates. I heard the bang and yelled out a fighting
response, in fright, to the boat I couldn’t see! L
& L Canal
So began numero uno experience of locks on this canal. We are on the up hill climb. All manual operation…. anti-vandal keys to unlock, ground paddles and gate paddles to be wound. I can do gate paddles, no problem. I have had some dealings with ground paddles but not the same variety of mechanisms that are on this canal. The ground paddles have different operational techniques. The first ones had no instructions and I realize, now, that I turn them clockwise to open. Anticlockwise to close. Der! It would be helpful if the lock came with written instructions particularly the first lock. Ground paddles are always opened first to fill the lock and as the name implies the water surges in at ground level. Once the level has reached the sluice level on the gate, then you open the gate paddles. If you want to have a water fight with the bow end of your boat then open the gate sluices early on. The lock fills fast but the water spurts out at pressure and will wash your Bow if you are not paying attention. Best practice is for the boat to be held close to the back gates. Once the lock water level is level with the canal level then the gates can be open and boat leaves. Some of the gates are a back breaker to open. Some of the paddles are extra hard to open. Always remember to close the paddles and the gates and to BREATHE! Later on along the Cut you get the ground paddles, wooden ones, that need to be lifted up in one swift motion. If you get halfway and it stops then you need to try and push it back down so you can lift it, again, in one swift motion. That you haven’t fallen in, in the process is always worth praise! Hard hard work!
|Bingley 5 Staircase Locks|
|Ground Paddles open & leaky gates|
|There's an AM on the rise|
|It's a long way up!|
The staircase locks are manned at the Bingley 3 rise and the Bingley 5 rise Locks and a couple of the 2 rise locks. Lock Keepers are a valued necessity at these locks. We really needed them at a couple of other 2 rise staircase locks. I lost any cool I might ever have had at the Newlay 2 staircase lock. This particular staircase was in flood when I got to it but I couldn’t identify the problem so I just set to and opened the lower lock so AM could get in. The top lock appeared too full but I emptied it into the bottom lock so AM would be raised to get into the top lock. The top lock wouldn’t totally empty and AM was now floating dangerously on top of the lower lock. The gongoozlers were totally in the way, the youth appeared on their pushbikes and got a mouthful from me! I had to walk through the flooded edges of the bottom lock and get the gate paddles open again. I was mortified! I swapped places with Chris and sat on AM with Della and phoned the emergency services. They told me a Lock Keeper was on his way and would be there in 40 mins! The only place I didn’t want to be was where I was!! Some time later Chris managed to get equilibrium between the 2 locks and I steered AM into the top lock. It turns out the ground paddles at the top lock had not been closed but the anti vandal keys had been secured. Not so confusing, now, but that was a learning curve for me in my risk management assessment (or lack of). Do not assume other boaters know what they are doing!
Then there are the swing bridges! We have had to deal with more than 40 swing bridges. Most are manually operated needing an anti vandal key and the power of your butt and then ‘swing out sister’! One bridge needed 3 more people to assist me. It was a rural property and I was pleased it was a multicultural experience! A couple were semi automated bridges, read the instructions. Flashing lights and bells doesn’t mean the bridge is always on an automated opening system. Nup your butt will be the power of movement! There was one fully operational bridge that I couldn’t find where to insert the key!! The C&RT emergency service was able to locate it for me over the phone!
Along the way we broke down. Fuel was not getting through and AM limped to a stop outside a Boat yard, luckily. We had John, the mechanic who worked with Chris to identify the problem. Chris walked about 5 miles to get spare parts and the next day AM was purring again. Our fuel tank was not properly cleaned after the fiasco earlier in the year. Probably bits of dirty diesel got stirred up along the way and …….. I better understand how to use the kitchen.
Oh how we needed some rest and aimed for Skipton as our holiday mooring. The day before Skipton, high in the Yorkshire Moors, we spent the night at Kildwick. The following morning we had a chat with the vicar at the impressive CoE St Andrews Church which had an amazing graveyard with many aged tombstones. Some of the tombstones were used on the paths and the graveyard had been documented. Some of Chris’s family is from this area and likely they have been buried here in the 1700’s!!
Then we got to Skipton and spent about 5 days in the 3 day visitor moorings. What a pretty town with a market 4 days a week. Beautiful walks but probably too pricey for us to consider living here. The charity shops had too much stuff overpriced, I thought.
It was really nice playing the we are on holiday game. We did have a long walk back along the canal on the muddy tow path. I slipped over but no injury sustained. (My favourite shoes with no tread had to be replaced the next day!!) When it started raining, Della had to wear her new raincoat! She absolutely does not think a raincoat is needed in her world! We think differently and she will be wearing it, and its thermal liner when necessary, you can be sure. We walked to the
, in the rain.
Located a couple of houses where the Laycock’s of the 17C have lived and then
popped into a local hostelry and were greeted with warmth. Della made a hit and
had to have her photo taken with an admirer. We got the train back to Skipton.
Sunday and a free ride!! village
We were ready to move along the canal as the forecast looked promising for a few days. More likelihood of sunshine than rain. We were moving towards the highest point in our journey so that meant a few more locks. We teamed up with another Nb (Narrowboat). I think matey thought we were newbies and he was very helpful, so helpful, I switched off! Next day his wife worked the locks with me and we all got on a treat. Really nice people and again makes me realize what affect over helpfulness can have. Note to myself, only be helpful when it is asked for Sarah!!!!
We moored the night at Wilkinson’s Farm. There is a Livery there. Happy young women giggling about the naughty horses. The horses have a mechanized walking roundabout, so they can be exercised. At night we got the light show from the heap of steaming straw manure that was in a heap. There was no smell blown in our direction!
The Yorkshire Moors are stunning and we were beside the towpath that is briefly a part of the
Way. A further 3 locks brought us into Lancashire. We refuelled, it is best to check out best
value for red diesel and I steered us towards Foulridge where there is the traffic
light operated tunnel. I am doing more steering these days. I think I am better
than, last year, and can now get under bridges with more speed. Well that’s
what I thought until Bridge 151. Bridge 151 is a sharp Left hand turn and
the speed I approached it was too fast and I was too late in thrusting the
lever into reverse and BANG I hit the Bow and BANG I hit the stern. We did take
a few crumbs of bridge with us and I left Cptn Faithful to sort out the
direction of AM. Still steel boat is OK and so are the glasses that got upturned in the cupboard.
We found excellent moorings at Foulridge.
We found excellent moorings at Foulridge.
In summary, a long blog, a physically exhausting canal, sore lower backs, more rain than sun, little traffic, radiators on board are working, beautiful countryside, friendly people and we are now on the down hill run.