Posts Tagged ‘aire & calder’

Day 32 – Castleford to Mirfield

Saturday 25 July, 2009

A much more leisurely start to the day today, and no rude awakening from large barges! We were moored close to Castleford Flood Lock which today had all gates open so we passed straight through, following two other boats including Aqua Roma who we had met in Hapton two weeks ago.

We were now on a stretch of the Aire and Calder that is new to Michael. He will be on new waterways all the way to Etruria in Stoke on Trent if all goes to plan. On rounding the bend at Fairies Hill we ran aground on a shoal of gravel, immediately opposite the gravel wharf. We were stuck for some time and despite the efforts of a passing boat at pulling us off we appeared to be stuck fast. Thankfully all the pulling and turning enabled Bernard to reverse off and we were on our way again.

Near Wakefield the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct carries the navigation over the the river.

At Wakefield the waterways almost pass the city by. Here the Aire and Calder becomes the Calder and Hebble along with its shorter locks and peculiar paddle gear. Many paddles do not require a windlass but a length of wood (see the photos below) to lift them. The locks are terrible with unpredictable currents from the various paddles, poorly maintained gear, and a tremendous weed problem.

At Dewsbury Bernard spotted a broken bolt on the alternator and further inspection showed that a weld had also given way. A short stop enabled him to make a temporary repair. We need to visit a boatyard, hopefully tomorrow, for some welding.

Menu: usual breakfasts; ham salad; roast breast of lamb stuffed with garlic, strawberries dipped in chocolate with Botrytis Semillon. Followed by port but no cheese.


Day 31 – Whitley to Castleford (via Selby)

Friday 24 July, 2009

We had a rude awakening at 6.45 this morning as Tardebigge started banging against the piling. This was slightly alarming given that we were moored against three tyres! In fact the lock keeper was draining the fullest extent of the lock to allow two large boats to pass through and the surge had caused us and our neighbours to bounce all over the place.

Since we were awake we got underway much earlier and headed off towards Selby. It’s late now so the blog will be brief. Suffice to say we reached Selby, shopped and left. The Ouse was ebbing at a frightening speed and is now in a spring tide cycle so passage to Naburn (for Ripon) would be dicey at the very least.

We saw a terrapin and there was a possible sighting of an otter.

The intention was to moor at Ferrybridge but the loo needed emptying so we had to carry on a further seven miles to Castleford. It was nearly 9.30pm by the time we tied up.

Menu: usual breakfasts, tuna mayonnaise salad, cottage pie with Lebanese wine, followed by cheese and port.

Day 30 – Sprotbrough to Whitley (via Goole)

Thursday 23 July, 2009

The weather was much better today. We started off down Sprotbrough Lock and were joined by a large boat called Ethel. By the time we reached Doncaster Lock we were joined by a third boat, but still there was plenty of room in this enormous banana-shaped lock.

Alex stepped off briefly to revisit Tesco. He returned carrying a Debenhams bag (since they still had no carriers) containing four bottles of alcohol. It was barely 11 o’clock…

We pressed on towards Bramwith Junction and beyond, along the length of the New Junction Canal. BW assisted us through Sykehouse Lock, with only Michael operating the gates on the swing bridge. Turning right at Southfield Junction we “sprinted” the six miles to Goole, used the facilities, and retraced our steps.

The question of where to moor for the night arose and Great Heck seemed like a good idea since the nearby pub was recommended by the Nicholson’s guide. Unfortunately, due to piling works, there was nowhere to moor and no access from the towpath. We continued to Whitley Lock and moored just below the lock, alongside a string of fairy lights. An on-site security guard has now started a generator to illuminate them, pollute the atmosphere with fumes, annoy the local boaters, and drown out the noise of the nearby M62. A nearby boat has now moved. I thought BW were short of money.

Menu: semi-full English breakfast or sausage sandwich; ham sandwiches; homemade chicken, leek and bacon pie followed by cheese (and port!) etc.

Day 27 – Woodlesford to Stainforth

Monday 20 July, 2009

First thing this morning Michael rang the lock keeper at Selby to see if the tidal passage to York would be possible. With the recent rain there was still a lot of “fresh” coming downstream and although he thought passage may be possible within the next couple of days, we decided to adjust our schedule and do the exploration of the South Yorkshire Navigations first, before heading to Ripon later.

The day dawned with beautiful sunshine and after breakfasting we headed off downstream through Woodlesford Lock towards the cavernous Lemonroyd Lock. Michael has memories of going upstream in this lock a few years ago, in a hire boat, in the dark! It’s still very intimidating with its over 13 foot drop.

At Castleford Junction the flood lock was in use. This was a lock grab for Michael since his previous trips through here had the lock fully open at both ends. The lock is a peculiar shape, and enormous. This proved to be the first of many assisted passages through locks today since various commercial craft were on the move.

We stopped for a shopping trip at Knottingley for various supplies including gluten-free items for Alex who is still waiting to hear from his doctor. Whilst moored we were passed by a huge barge, pushed by “Little Shuva”. The photo will best describe its vastness!

At Whitley Lock control was commandeered by the BW lock keeper before draining. A commercial craft was on its way downstream behind us. Thankfully we managed to clear Southfield Junction, onto the New Junction Canal, a few moments before it caught us up. We passed through several swing or lift bridges before traversing the Don Aqueduct and turning left onto the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Pubside moorings were found in Stainforth so we felt the need to oblige…

Menu: usual breakfasts; ham salad; steak with peppercorn and onion sauce, followed by cheese.

Day 26 – Oxford to Woodlesford (via Leeds)

Sunday 19 July, 2009

Alex left Michael’s bright and early this morning for his drive back to Durham. Michael and Bernard took the 10.00am train from Oxford and arrived safely back in Leeds at 2.00pm with another remarkably uneventful journey. Alex took the train from Durham and arrived less than an hour later.

We filled with water and then set off out of Clarence Dock and straight into Leeds lock. After a brief stop for the Elsan we carried on downstream to Woodlesford passing through a couple more locks. Below Leeds lock the locks are huge and the navigation wide. We moored up at 6.15pm with dinner preparations already underway and G ‘n’ Ts poured.

Menu: roast gammon with a white wine and parsley sauce, followed by cheese or fresh fruit.

Day 23 – Bingley to Leeds

Thursday 16 July, 2009

Despite a desperately early rise at 6.30am in order to make good progress today, we didn’t start down the Bingley Three Rise until 8.30 this morning. Michael was determined to make it to Newlay Locks before 3.00pm to enable us to reach Leeds. This meant he walked miles between locks and swing bridges in an attempt to ensure they were ready on Tardebigge’s approach.

If yesterday was the day of swing bridges then today has definitely been staircase day (not to say that there weren’t a lot of swing bridges too). After the trio at Bingley we proceeded through a pair, a one, a three, a pair, a three, a three, a one, a one, a two, and a trio of ones. I haven’t steered all day so have of course had quite a strenuous day. Michael is suffering too – ground paddles were getting neglected while he recovered.

This morning we weren’t sure whether we would make it as far as Leeds or have to stop in Rodley. With the assistance of numerous BW staff we fortunately we got to Newlay locks well ahead of closing time and so are now moored in Clarence Dock in the heart of Leeds. It’s raining. Having squeezed, to the approval of the local boaters, into a pontoon mooring beside a (friendly but rather wide) plastic boat we wandered up to the Palace (next to Leeds Parish Church) for a pint or three. Bernard is currently finishing off dinner while swearing profusely at pretty much anything. The Leeds Armouries Museum presents an excellent view from the back cabin although the cannon pointing in our direction is causing some concern [Robert Childs is nowhere to be seen].

According to an on-line canal journey spreadsheet we should have taken 12 hours and 53 minutes for our journey today – the reality was that the engine ran for exactly 9 hrs including the delays at the top of the Bingley Three Rise.

Today’s menus: bacon sandwiches or toast for breakfast, ham and cucumber sandwiches for lunch, lamb, potato and carrot hot pot with sugar snap peas and green beans followed by cheese and port for dinner.