Friday, 20 July 2012

Over the Pennines Again!

We are now safely back on Leo and exploring the canals again after a few days at home for a family reunion.  Helen’s brother, Graham, has been with us from Skipton last Monday until today when he left us near Colne to visit other relatives.  We’ve enjoyed cruising with Graham and he has learned how to operate the locks and the swing bridges and to appreciate this year’s ‘summer’ weather.

Having a hire car meant that we ‘cheated’ on Tuesday and drove from the marina where we’d left Leo to Malham for a walk in the splendid limestone country.  I believe that the walk from Malham up Gordale Scar, across Malham Moor and back down the dry valley to Malham Cove is the finest short walk in the UK.  Added to which Ian’s mother’s ashes were sprinkled on Malham Cove so we visited her too.  Here are a couple of pictures of our walk:
Helen and Graham climbing Gordale Scar

Malham Cove
We finished our walk with a drink in the Buck in Malham village just as the rain was starting again.

On Wednesday we returned the hire car and set off through Skipton:
Canal Junction with Springs Branch at Skipton 
We climbed the locks through Gargrave encountering some new paddle gear:
You pull the lever up and this opens the paddle.  This is quite hard at first but it becomes easier to move the lever as the difference in water levels reduces and the pressure eases. 

On Wednesday evening we moored by an aqueduct over the River Aire.
A Swollen River Aire seen from the Canal Aqueduct
As we had Graham as our guest, Ian made his signature dish of Fish Pie.
Ian's Fish Pie
On Thursday we climbed the final 6 locks to the summit level of the Leeds and Liverpool:
Sharing Locks with Portus
On the summit level you pass through a region known as “The Bends” where the canal zig-zags back and forth around little valleys and hillocks managing to cover a mile to get 300 yards from where it started.  You can see other boats coming on more distant zig-zags but it is difficult to predict when you will meet them.
The Bends - can you see the canal boat that is coming towards us?
At East Marton we passed under a double arched bridge:
Double Bridge at East Marton
The bridge has two arches because the road was changed to avoid such a steep hill, so that the bridge had to be increased in height above the canal.

After a night on the summit with lovely views we came through Foulridge Tunnel (almost a mile long) and came to the first downhill locks into Lancashire.
Barrowford Top Lock
We are now moored to the West of Burnley with the background noise (fortunately distant) of the M65 which we have now crossed six times, most notably on an aqueduct:
Canal Aqueduct over the M65 Motorway
All day today we have had the distant view of Pendle Hill (famous for its witch trial in 1612) to keep us company.
Pendle Hill in the distance
The next few days will see us working our way through town and country to Wigan where we begin a descent of 23 locks down to the edge of Manchester.  We have booked to go into Liverpool but have yet to hear whether this will be possible.  Watch this space.

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