Saturday, 20 September 2014

Yorkshire Waterways

Since our last posting we have travelled quite a number of different waterways, visited a town and a city and we are now heading for the Pennines again.

Last Sunday we headed back down the River Derwent to moor on the floating pontoon by Barmby Barrage where boats can get out onto the tidal River Ouse.  We spent two nights here chiefly because we had to wait for the Spring Tides to recede but also so that we could repaint the gunwales of Leo which have taken a battering in the many locks we have used this year.  On Tuesday at 1.30 pm we went through Barmby Lock to catch the end of the flood tide for the six miles up to Selby.

Here is the view looking back from the tidal river to the lock at Barmby.

We covered the six miles to Selby in less than an hour but despite such a turn of speed we were overtaken by these two cruisers which had come from further down the river, perhaps Goole or Hull.  They carried on up river from Selby to Naburn so we didn't see them again.

Unlike our journey down, the sun shone and it was pretty warm.  Here are the shadows of both of us on the water.  Notice how brown and muddy the water is when stirred up by the tide.
The idea was to arrive at Selby at High Water when there is no flow in the river.  Unfortunately it is very hard to predict the precise time of slack high water, so the tide was still running strongly upstream.  We had to turn 180 degrees and 'stem' the tide before turning into the lock under nearly full throttle, narrowly missing the downstream wall.  Phew!  Here we are moored off the tide above Selby Lock.

On Tuesday afternoon we had a proper look round Selby Abbey.  This is a truly magnificent and huge Norman cathedral.  We were very impressed.

After the Abbey was built in the 1100s the tower subsided and you can see the effect of this on the right hand arch.

This ornate but not exceptional capital on a small column in the North Aisle hides a secret.

Inside the carvings you can see above, is this tiny carving of King Edward VII.  What he is doing inside and the story behind the carving we were unable to discover but it is rather fun.  A torch on a chain is provided so that visitors don't miss the carving.

Last year I found lots of fun epitaphs in graveyards.  I've struggled to find many this year, but I did like this one as a memorial to a gravedigger.

There are lots of new stone carvings around the Abbey mostly restoring what was there before.  However they have stayed right up to date as this is John Sentamu, the present Archbishop of York who was only enthroned in 2005.

After we'd looked round the Abbey we retired for tea and cakes to Weatheralls, a department store opposite.  Here is the view of the Abbey from our tea table.

A pleasant five mile potter along the Selby Canal on Wednesday took us to West Haddlesey where we made use of the lovely mooring we had seen on the way up.  We spent the afternoon out cycling around the local villages and had lunch in the Jug in Chapel Haddlesey.  We saw the narrow channel of the tidal River Aire below the weir at Chapel Haddlesey.  There was a small boat further down but it doesn't look very navigable for a 57 foot narrowboat.

On Thursday we retraced our steps to Castleford where the Rivers Aire and Calder join.  There is a saying about the girls of Castleford which runs like this:  "The lassies of Castleford are bonny and fair.  They wash in the Calder and rinse in the Aire"

It was a very grey and murky day on Thursday, so not many photos and the three power stations of Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge, were less obvious than they usually are.  Here is the view behind the modern bridge of the old bridge which carried the A1 at Ferrybridge.

Here is Leo moored at Castleford.  Please notice the brilliant black gunwale as a result of the two days at Barmby.

Yesterday we came up the River Aire and the Aire and Calder Navigation into the centre of Leeds.

The locks on this navigation are huge as there used to be significant commercial traffic up here.  Woodlesford Lock seen here is beautifully kept.  I'm not sure of the origin of the wooden donkey but clearly he has a habit of wandering as he is now chained to the lock sign.

This is like something from the Hitchcock film, The Birds.  I think they are starlings gathering to fly off for the winter.

Next to Clarence Dock where we moored is the National Armouries.  The stairs go round a central tower which is used to display swords and armour.  This is a wonderful display.  The Museum is free and really well worth a visit.

You can see Leo moored just behind the yellow water taxi.  The building behind is the Armouries.

The section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal going up through the outskirts of Leeds has a very poor reputation for disreputable youths causing trouble to boaters.  We followed advice and went through in the early morning.  So this morning we set off at 6.45 a.m. just as it was getting light, up the River Aire to River Lock where the Canal begins.

Leo here is coming up in River Lock (which is a deep one at more than 11 feet).  Behind Leo is Granary Wharf next to Leeds Central Station.

We've come up 13 locks today which includes one double staircase and two triples.  This picture is taken in the middle of the three locks in the staircase at Forge Locks.  Both Forge and Newlay Locks (both triples) had lock keepers.  Previously we have been on our own with these.

The Leeds and Liverpool is also famous for its many swing bridges.  Here was the first of four today, Ross Mill Swing Bridge.  Some of them are very difficult to open, so Helen is often on the look out for passers by to help.  A motorcyclist helped with a later one.

There are some strange folk in Yorkshire!!  These little people were down the bottom of a waterside garden in Rodley.

We are moored tonight out in much more open country beyond Rodley with views, unfortunately through the drizzle, of fields, cows and distant church spires.  Tomorrow and Monday we press on towards Skipton where we are leaving Leo for the winter, so our travels are nearly over for this year, sob, sob.  Still we have the delights of the Bingley Three and Five Rise Locks to look forward to before we get there.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

To Boldly Go ….

The end of the season this year is proving to be quite an adventure. On our way back from Ripon and before going through Leeds to our winter mooring, we decided to go up the River Derwent and explore the Pocklington Canal. There are very few boats that venture up here and we are beginning to understand why.
Last Saturday morning at 6 a.m. we went through Naburn Lock to catch the tide below. For the first hour we were going against the incoming tide and so it was quite slow going. Around the swing bridge at Cawood we noticed that the tide had turned and we were getting faster as the tide ebbed. One of the interesting features of the tideway is the logs and other debris that go up and down the river with the tide. It is difficult to steer clear of this material as you go round the bends at a speed of up to 7 mph. Coming back down we even passed the dead cow that some friends had passed a week before.
 This is a view of Naburn Lock from across the river.  This is where you go out onto the tidal river below the lock.

Some friends had told us about a dead cow in the River Ouse which was floating up and down on the tides.  Coming up we did not see it, but on our return we passed it.  Poor cow.
 A large Dutch Barge, Anja, came down the river and caught us up just before Selby.  Here you can see Anja coming under the Selby Railway Bridge.  Lest you should think that all our worries about tidal waters are unfounded we've heard this morning that a boat hit the road bridge at Selby yesterday and sank!!  Fortunately we don't have to go through the bridges on our way back.
We travelled over 20 miles down the tideway in four hours, passed Selby and six miles further on we turned against the current and slipped in surprisingly neatly into the lock at Barmby Barrage which leads to the River Derwent. The weather could have been kinder as it poured with rain, but we were pleased to make it without problems. 

Here is an early view of Barmby Barrrage.  There are two sluices to the right which let out the water from the River Derwent when the Ouse is lower and keep the tide out of the Derwent when the tide is higher.  Apparently 20% of Yorkshire's water comes from the Derwent so they don't want salty water coming out of the taps.

Having turned in the fast flowing tide here we are gently edging back against the ebb tide towards the lock at Barmby.  The lock keeper had warned us that there is slack water next to the lock and we controlled the boat carefully and avoided slamming into the upstream wall, as many do.

And here we are safely in the lock which has radial gates each end so that it can manage either side being higher than the other.

Having set off from Naburn at 6.20 am we arrived at Barmby by 10.30 and here we are moored on the pontoon just above the lock on the Derwent.  We spent the day here and had a good lunch at the King's Head in the village.

Drax Power Station which supplies 10% of the UK's needs, dominates the landscape around here.  It is coal fired and of course there used to be plenty of coal fields around here.

We both breathed a sigh of relief having left the tidal water and looked forward to a relaxing time on the Derwent, although we had been told that we could not navigate beyond Sutton Lock as this has been out of action for months.  

At first the river was peaceful and pretty though finding somewhere to moor a 57 foot boat was not easy.  On Sunday we managed to share a bank with some curious cows at Bubwith, just about close enough to the shore to jump on and off. 

The River Derwent is very peaceful and you rarely see any other boats on the move.

This is the view from our mooring by the cows at Bubwith, looking towards the road bridge.  In case you think the bridge looks a bit wonky on the right hand side of the arch, you're right.  A strengthening steel support has been inserted and you can just see this peeping over the top.

Here are the cows peering into our bedroom through the porthole.

The weather has been pretty good lately and here you can see the clouds reflected in the river.

We were just getting ready to leave on Monday when, astonishingly, another boat went past. Its skipper told us of a tree down just beyond the junction with the Pocklington Canal making further progress impossible. We followed him to the junction a few miles on. While there had been the odd tree making steering difficult, beyond the junction there was barely room to get a boat through between the trees. Fortunately there was a pub a hundred yards up so we stopped and spent the night moored to a very wobbly pontoon in quite a strong current. Our luck changed when we discovered that the pub was closed on a Monday! So we went for a bike ride instead. From a bridge further up the river it was apparent that this is not a navigation as we know it. The trees all overgrow the river leaving a narrow twisty channel which would allow a canoe but make it almost impossible to get a decent size boat through.

Here is the view looking up the Derwent beyond the junction with the canal.  There really isn't a lot of space between the trees.

Here is the fallen tree.  A canoe might just get through, but with one branch just under the water and others with limited headroom above, Leo would not fit through.

This is the pontoon we moored to by the pub.  Fortunately, although the river current was stronger here, it was not sufficient to pull Leo and the pontoon off its attachments to the land.

 On our bike ride we visited Thorganby and admired the church.  This window was made only in 2004 but we thought it was delightful with its representation of flora and fauna associated with the river.

On Tuesday we carefully reversed down the zig zag course between the trees back to the junction and set off up the beck which leads to the first lock of the Canal. The 300 yards to the lock took us two hours. It was so silted up that we had to continually drive forward and back to plough a channel in the silt to make very slow progress inch by inch to reach the lock. Once up the lock we were back on CRT water but sadly so few people use the canal that the weed growth is rampant, especially as the water is so clear. While it is good to be away from high flood banks and so to be able to see the views all round, it did take us an hour and a half to cover two miles. Again there was nowhere to moor so we contrived a mooring right by a bridge hole where we could get on and off fairly easily. If there were boats going to and fro there is no way we would moor in this way, partly blocking the bridge hole, but there is little alternative with the reeds and vegetation growing all along the sides of the canal.

The locks on the Pocklington Canal have this unusual paddle gear.  You don't need a windlass but, as they are locked, you do need an anti-vandal key to allow you to turn the wheel.

Here we are moored by Hagg Bridge.  Only by the bridges is there a chance of getting on and off without getting your feet wet.
In the afternoon we cycled to Sutton on Derwent and this is the lock which doesn't work at the moment and has not done so for several months.  The odd thing is that the top guillotine gate is owned and operated by the Environment Agency but the bottom gates are owned by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust who have no interest in boats navigating the river.

The lower lock gates were last replaced in the 1970s and apparently leak so badly that the lock cannot be used.  Someone really does need to get a grip of the issues on this navigation and resolve them.

On Wednesday we carried on up the weed filled Pocklington Canal to Melbourne Basin which is the present limit of navigation.  Above Gardham Lock the weed problem is much less as there is a trip boat that goes out from the basin and this bit has been cleared of weeds.

The Pocklington Canal is another sad story.  It is 9 miles long and has 9 locks.  Restoration made the section to Melbourne (5 miles and 2 locks) more or less navigable by 1983.  Since then nothing has happened to extend the navigation although three locks have been restored.  The gates on those locks are now rotting due to lack of use.  It is a crying shame.  We did cycle to the end of the canal but taking Leo was not an option.

On a lighter note, the basin at Melbourne was delightful and we spoke to several of the very friendly moorers there.  One even volunteered to come and operate Cottingwith Lock to 'flush' us down the shallow section back to the Derwent.

We've now come back onto the Derwent and are moored tonight at Breighton (pronounced 'Breeton').  The day before we went down Cottingwith Lock onto the shallow link from the river to the canal, we phoned Martin, the lock keeper at Barmby Barrage, who closed the sluices the night before.  As a result the river was a foot higher than before and we had no problems with shallow water.  We would strongly advise anyone travelling this stretch in summer water levels to do the same.  Martin has consistently been very helpful while we have been on these waters.

From here our way lies back to Selby and then on towards Leeds to join the Leeds and Liverpool canal to our winter moorings up in the hills.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Leo's Farthest North

I have not posted for some time, sorry.  Partly this was having a guest on board and partly lack of internet.  We've come to the end of the River Calder, down the Aire and up the Ouse and Ure to Ripon which is the furthest North we've ever been on Leo and almost as far North as you can get on the connected waterway system.  Teviotfield on the Lancaster Canal is a little further North.

Here are some pictures to bring us more up to date:

Here we are following another narrowboat, Naomi May down the River Calder under a railway viaduct and heading for the M62 whose bridge is beyond the railway.  The river is wide but was not flowing very fast.

We were not expecting to find much of interest in Castleford where the Calder meets the River Aire, but we were wrong.  To the North of the canal cut is an area of land that has sunk due to mining and is now a wetland area ideal for wildlife.  These Highland Cattle seemed to enjoy paddling and browsing on the water weed.
The town itself has some interesting bits and this amazing curved foot and cycle bridge spanning the river Aire just below the weir.  In the foreground is a fish ladder and behind that a sunken barge which presumably went over the weir.  The town has a good museum too, partly devoted to Henry Moore the sculptor who was born in the town.
This picture is taken from the stern of Leo sitting in Ferrybridge Flood Lock.  A dozen Leos would easily fit in the lock and it took Helen some minutes to walk from the top to the bottom gates.  Fortunately the lock is operated electrically.  The cooling towers are part of Ferrybridge Power Station.  As well as this one we could see Eggborough and Drax from the River Aire.

The cooling towers dominate the landscape in Ferrybridge. Further along the canal cut we came to the junction where we turned left towards Selby rather than right to Goole.

I like the appearance of the wake as you go round bends.  It can become mesmerising to watch the wake rather than concentrating on where you are going, especially on the wide rivers.

After six more miles on the River Aire you turn left onto the Selby Canal at West Haddlesey Flood Lock.  If you stay on the river you would soon come to the weir that marks the limit of the tide up the Aire.  The Flood Lock has huge upper gates which keep out the flood waters when the river is in spate.  The lower gates are remarkably small by comparison.  This is all the wrong way round compared with what we normally see.

Selby Canal was a delight after the huge rivers, running for five miles to Selby where a lock lets you down onto the tidal River Ouse. 

Selby Canal has lovely stone curved bridges which immediately let you know you are on a nice peaceful canal rather than a big scary river.

This is the Selby Lock Basin.  Just to the left of the house is the lock which goes down onto the tidal Ouse.  We booked to go down on Monday morning but later changed our minds and went out on Sunday morning.  We are coming to a period of high Spring Tides and were keen to get back before they arrive with their faster tidal flows.

Here we are on Sunday morning out on the tidal river heading upstream with the benefit of the incoming tide.  We are following another narrowboat, Mirean, which has been this way before.  The curious bridge is the railway swing bridge at Selby which is being repaired.

Two cruisers followed us onto the Ouse in a second lock full and, after an hour or so, they overtook us.  Leo hit 7 mph at times with the benefit of the tide.  Pretty fast for a narrowboat.  It took us two and a half hours to cover the fourteen miles to Naburn Lock.

You don't usually reckon on meeting waterskiers with a narrowboat, but on the Ouse anything is possible.
And here at last we are approaching Naburn Lock which marks the tidal limit of the Ouse.  The lock was set ready for us and we went up onto quieter waters above.

We cruised up to York, a further six miles or so from Naburn on Sunday afternoon.

This is Bishopthorpe Palace by the river.  It is the palace of the Archbishop of York.

And so into York.  The river in York on a sunny Sunday afternoon was extremely busy with big steamers, little motor boats for hire, canoeists, and private cruisers and narrowboats.

Here we are approaching Lendal Bridge with two trip boats in front of us.  The visitor moorings looked full and we cruised past slowly hoping someone was about to move on.  No such luck.  There really aren't enough visitor moorings in York.

Just beyond the visitor moorings and under the Scarborough Railway Bridge we managed to contrive a mooring by hammering our pins between the paving slabs and adding one in the sandy sloping bank.  It seemed to hold despite the steamers going up and down.  Ian took the train home to collect the post in the evening and bought take away pizzas to eat on Leo.  The advice is not to leave your boat in York.  Pranksters have been known to cast boats adrift.

From York we've come North to Boroughbridge.

This is our local river at Knaresborough, the Nidd, where it flows into the Ouse.  The floating buoys are to discourage you trying to take your boat up the Nidd which is not navigable.  The confluence is opposite Beningborough Hall which we had visited in March with Lucy.

For some reason the River Ure (upstream) becomes the River Ouse (downstream) at this point.  We've not found any proper explanation why there is a change of name.  Apparently the Great Ouse Beck comes in here but we were unable to spot it and it must be very tiny.

At Aldwark is a private toll bridge.  We have crossed this in the car.  It has wooden planks for the roadway and a passing car makes a clattering noise overhead as it crosses over the boat.  As you can see the roadway is well above any possible floodwater.  The River Ouse often rises 5 metres in flood conditions.  We are hoping for no rain!!

At Boroughbridge our friend Richard joined us for the cruise up to Ripon, his home town.

You can see that we put Richard to working his passage by helping us through the locks.  Here he is working the paddles at Westwick Lock on the river and there were three further locks on the Ripon canal too.

Just before the Canal turns off you pass Newby Hall which has a couple of splendid vistas down through wonderful gardens to the river.  The little signs either side of the steps say "Beware of Trains" as there is a ride-on model railway in the grounds.

Ian was too busy talking to Richard and nearly missed this left turn off the River Ure onto the Ripon Canal for the last two or three miles into Ripon.

Having turned round in the basin at the end of the canal (to applause from some passers by) we moored at the fine visitor moorings.  We were the only boat there overnight.  This canal definitely needs some more visiting boats.  Ripon is a great place to visit with museums, a Cathedral and loads of places to eat.

At 9 pm every evening in the square (apparently since 886) the Wakeman blows his horn, gives a bit of history and entertains visitors and residents alike.  We could not miss this.  Helen even got given a lucky wooden penny by the Wakeman.  It was noticeable that only the pretty girls got given these!

Here is the West Face of Ripon Cathedral by night as we made our way back to Leo afterwards.

So Ripon was the end of the line as there is no more navigable water beyond here.  Since Ripon we've come back down river to Linton on Ouse and we are booked to go back out on the tide at 6.15 am on Saturday.  Not our choice of timing of course, but 'time and tide wait for no man'.  We are planning to go beyond Selby to Barmby Barrage which is where the River Derwent (the Yorkshire Derwent, not the Derbyshire one) joins the Ouse.  We plan to spend some time on the Derwent and the Pocklington Canal before making our way back through Leeds to our winter mooring on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.  So the season is far from finished for us yet.

And here to close is a picture of a cultivated thistle flower which I took at Newby Hall which we visited by boat on our return down river.