Day 36 – Huddersfield to Slaithwaite

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As we rose from our slumbers the weather forecast seemed to have got it wrong as there was no sign of the threatened rain. We soon passed the Aspley Basin and aimed for an extremely narrow and low bridge hole. Our first narrow canal for several weeks! Safely through the bridge we soon rounded a corner by the University of Huddersfield and spied lock 1E. In addition to being numbered the locks on this canal are suffixed E or W depending on which side they are of the canal summit. On entering the lock it became apparent that we might encounter some difficulty because the water level was well below weir level. However we managed to exit the lock and proceeded onward. Approaching the recently constructed Bates Tunnel, it passes under Bates factory, we came across another boat that was already aground on the cill of of a now disused lock. BW had already been called and we promptly went aground on the approach to Commercial Street bridge. A BW lock-keeper and colleague arrived and arranged for more water to be sent down from the next lock. Both boats were refloated but the boat in front of us had battery problems and we overtook them to proceed through the tunnel and into the lock. It was double depth to replace two earlier locks that had been combined into one. As we left BW were arranging assistance for the other boat.

We passed through another new tunnel under another factory with the weather looking more and more threatening but at this stage restricted to the occasional light shower. We were quickly out into quite rural surroundings with the occasional Mill building for company. As we passed over the Golcar Aqueduct, which carries the canal over the River Colne, the weather took a distinct change for the worse and the clouds opened. we were still experiencing problems with low water levels but the judicious raising of a paddle to send down a little more water soon cured the problem.

Our reading of the information in the Nicholson guide made us think there were moorings above lock 20E but this was not the case and we navigated lock 21E to arrive in the centre of Slaithwaite where we found comfortable moorings with plenty of water. We have reached the halfway mark in our ascent to the summit level! The heavens opened again so we took refuge inside the boat and had our third late lunch in a row.

An Internet search showed there was a suitable Real Ale pub serving Copper Dragon ales. The pub is called the Wharfside, confusingly not adjacent to the canal but within easy reach and at about 6.00pm three of us set off in search of liquid sustenance. Our expectations were met and some very pleasant beer was consumed. The setting up of a stage for a “Jam” session persuaded us to go in search of a quieter venue and led us back to the centre of town where we found the Commercial Hotel with nine real ales on the bar. We were joined in the recently refurbished and pleasant bar by the fourth member of our crew and more ale or cider was consumed before we returned to the boat for dinner.

Menu: usual breakfasts; pork pie and salad; sausage casserole, plum and nectarine crumble with pudding wine.

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