We’ve left the city of
behind now and we are moving gradually towards the hills and beautiful scenery
of the Yorkshire Dales. I say gradually
because David and Victoria had to be in or around Leeds
by 1 July and we are now free to take our time as the retired folk we are.
We were fortunate to leave
on Thursday as the first part of the journey is along the River Aire. With the heavy rain on Friday all the flood
gates on the Aire are now closed again and we would have been stuck in Leeds if we had stayed another day. As it was, the current on the river was
pretty strong and it was difficult to come in to the bank to work the River
Lock that gives access to the Leeds and . Liverpool Canal
|Cruising through Leeds on the River Aire|
Leeds the Canal climbs
quite significantly following the valley of the River Aire, but often high up
on the side of the valley. We came upon
our first staircase of this canal at Oddy Locks within the city:
|Waterfalls over Oddy Lock Gates|
A staircase lock is where there is no intervening pound between locks so that the top gate of one lock is also the bottom gate of the next. This means that the canal can climb much more steeply up the hill. There seem to be quite a few staircase locks on this canal but we have seen few elsewhere. Another impediment to travel on this canal are frequent swing bridges. In each case you have to stop the boat, get off and swing the bridge to let the boat through, then swing the bridge back again and finally get back on the boat. That sounds fine but each bridge is different. Some need your waterways key, some need the anti-vandal key, some need a windlass to operate the bridge. Some are so stiff that you need to beg passers by for assistance, some move easily but then bounce back when they meet the end stop. But there is quite a sense of power in stopping the traffic to let your boat through.
The first night above
we moored with a fine view over the River Aire:
|River Aire from L&L Canal near Newlay|
By Friday evening with the pouring rain the River had risen considerably. During the day we visited Kirkstall Abbey, the ruins of an extensive 12th century Cistercian abbey. Like so many others It was sacked by Henry VIII.
|Nave of Kirkstall Abbey|
The nave of the ruins pictured here astonishingly was once the course of the main road from
Leeds to Skipton
(now the A65), but the road was diverted in Victorian times. Walking back to the boat from Kirkstall we
added to our tally of new wildlife with this fine chap:
|Leech crossing the towpath|
It is a leech and around 4 inches long. I’d no idea they could get so large. The water in the canal here is so clean that we have also seen freshwater mussels and freshwater sponges in the locks.
On Saturday we visited Saltaire. This mill town was built by Titus Salt, a Victorian philanthropist who decided to improve the appalling living conditions of mill workers by building a mill and a town with shops, houses, hospital and church, but no pub because he had seen the effect of alcohol on the populace. The village now has a pub called ‘Don’t tell Titus’.
|Salt's Mill at Saltaire|
|Houses built for workers at Saltaire|
|Italianate Church at Saltaire|
Today we have climbed the Bingley Three Rise and the Bingley Five Rise staircases. The latter is the steepest climb on the canal system with 5 locks each climbing 12 feet in a staircase.
|Bingley Five Rise Locks|
|Looking down to Leo coming into lock|
|Tiny Leo in huge lock|
The café at the top was fine for lunch and we had
and Lucy with us, so much of the afternoon was spent in chatting and catching
up with each other’s activities lately.
The view from the top of the locks is so good and conditions here are so
peaceful that we have not moved on but are spending the night here. David, Victoria
In the next few days we are moving gradually on towards Skipton, Gargrave and the Dales.