Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Rivers and Big Big Locks

One of the fun things about the waterways is their variety.  In the last few days we have come down from the hills of the Huddersfield Narrow to navigating the wide waters of the River Calder.  We've moved from narrow locks to wide but short locks to huge locks into which several Leos would fit.

Let's start with the Huddersfield Narrow.  From the summit you have to drop down 42 locks and 440 feet to reach the city of Huddersfield.



In Slaithwaite (pronounced 'Slawit') is this guillotine gate to lock 24E.  It is manually operated by windlass and takes a lot of energy (mostly Helen and a little at the end by Ian) to operate.


Before restoration the canal in Slaithwaite had been completely filled in and obliterated.  An entirely new channel has been dug but it is very narrow as shown here.  Thank goodness there are so few boats navigating this canal.

This mill, now converted to flats, at Linthwaite is called the Titanic Mill, chiefly because, like the ship, it is huge and was built in 1912.

Here we are coming down the last few locks into Huddersfield.

In the city a couple of industrial premises had been built over the old course of the canal.  This is a new lock, being the third lock 3 since the canal was opened.


This is the channel below the lock shown above.  It is a combination of old bridges and new tunnels, again only wide enough for one boat at a time.


Lock 2E is curious in that only boaters can access it. The boat we had been travelling with, Ryedale, was stopped just below this lock as we arrived because there was insufficient water below to get them to the final lock of the canal.  We had to let a lot of water down through Lock 2E to boost the levels below.  This picture shows the result with a sea of traffic cones exposed in the pound above.  Normally we would have gone back to let more through from above, but you simply can't here because there is no access.  We did of course tell CRT what we had done.


Below 2E there is another new channel which narrows here to go through the walls of an old lock, no longer used.  You may detect from the picture that it was simply pelting down with rain at this point.

Finally down to Huddersfield we reached the Huddersfield Broad Canal and went through this first bridge, called the Locomotive Bridge.  The bridge deck lifts vertically to let the boats through.










Once down to the city the Broad Canal takes you on through another 9 wide locks and 4 miles of canal to join the River Calder.
 Yes these are wide locks but they are not very long.  Though they are 57 feet long and so is Leo, the problem is getting the bottom gates open once the water has gone down.  You will see here that Leo is diagonal in the lock.  This is so that you can open the right gate.  Then Helen has to pull the bow of the boat over to the right so that Ian can drive the boat out through the open gate.


Once down on the Calder the navigation consists of river sections and artificial cuts with locks.  When you turn off the river onto a cut there are flood gates like these at Cooper Bridge.  Normally the gates are open, but in flood times they can be closed to keep the cut at a normal level.

Yesterday we went through Horbury Bridge.  Not a lot to look at in this village but its claim to fame is that the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" was written and first performed here.

The navigation here is called the Calder and Hebble.  Some of the paddle gear requires a length of wood called a spike.  We had made one of these from a branch of Sycamore two years ago when we came this way.  Here you can see Ian using our spike as a lever to turn a metal wheel that winds up the paddle.















And so yesterday we came to Wakefield.  We had a good evening meal at a local pub with our friend Ralph who then took us on to the 'Red Shed' which is literally what it says but is the home of the Wakefield Labour Club.  The Club has also won CAMRA awards for the quality of its beers, hence our visit.


We visited the Hepworth Gallery this morning.  This is a fine new building by the river which showcases displays of modern art, chiefly sculpture and other 'installations'.  We both find it hard to get our heads round appreciating modern art like this and Ian preferred this fine jolly sculpture in the local boatyard!

Wakefield is one of only four places in the UK with a chapel or church on a bridge.  This is on the old bridge over the Calder.  We have been to two of the other three places on Leo - Bradford on Avon and St Ives.  The missing one is in Rotherham, so we'll have to navigate there sometime to complete the quartet.






This afternoon we've moved just a few miles downstream through Stanley Ferry which is one of the three places where lock gates are made.  There was a fine collection of new gates outside waiting to be installed during the winter season.

After weeks of narrow canals it was quite a shock to cruise on the wide river.  In the distance in this picture you can see the entrance through one of the flood gates onto an artificial cut.


At Stanley Ferry the canal crosses an aqueduct over the River Calder.  This aqueduct is built in exactly the same way as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  You can certainly see the resemblance.


One pleasure of spending the summer on the boat is to watch the passing of the seasons.  Clearly it is time to consider going back to dry land with this signal that autumn is on its way.


We've had quite a bit of rain lately and indeed the River Calder has risen by 6 inches or so since we first joined it.  Never mind; Leo (the soft toy, not the boat) is prepared!!!

















In a few days time we have to go out on the tidal River Ouse on our way to York.  This will be a new venture for us and so today Ian rang the lock keeper at Selby to discuss the times of the tides.  Before we go towards our winter mooring on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal we aim to go up the Ouse and the Ure to Ripon and possibly to cruise the River Derwent.  Should be fun and radically different to cruising the narrow canals.

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