Friday, 3 October 2014

The end of our cruise for 2014

Sadly we have now finished our long cruise for this year (though in fact we hope to do another short trip before Christmas).  It has taken me some time to finish the blog as, since coming off Leo, we've been to a family funeral in Swansea and then done a 'grand tour' of the South of England seeing friends and relatives.  It is intriguing that in the whole summer on Leo we have covered 950 miles.  In 8 days motoring down South we have managed to just exceed that total.  While covering the statistics it is worth adding that we have negotiated 787 locks this year which is a record for us.  No doubt the Huddersfield Narrow had a lot to do with this.

Our last three days boating were up the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from the fringes of Leeds into the lovely open Airedale scenery.

Leo is waiting to go up the Dobson Locks which is a double staircase.  You can just about make out Helen by the top lock, making sure that lock is full before starting our ascent.

For our last couple of days we shared locks and bridges with a hire boat called Jessica Boo.  The hirers were a nice American couple, Debbie and Ken, who had the benefit of an instructor from the boatyard at Apperley Bridge for their first day with us.  Helen here is swinging the bridge for Leo and Jessica Boo.

There is a magnificent pair of mills at Saltaire on opposite sides of the canal.  There were crowds of people here on Sunday partly because it was the last day of the Saltaire Festival.  The beat of the music pursued us out of Saltaire.
We stopped for the night above the Dowley Gap staircase and ate at the Fisherman's Arms.  The lockkeeper of the Bingley Three Rise Locks, Rick, was also there and we arranged a time to set off on Monday morning with Debbie and Ken from Jessica Boo to arrive at the Three Rise together.

Here you can see Leo with Jessica Boo in the first lock of the Three Rise.

Just a few hundred yards from the top of the Three Rise you come upon the Bingley Five Rise.  This is rightly regarded as a wonder of the waterways, rising 60 feet in five staircase locks.  Just walking up beside it is hard work and it does take some time to ascend by boat, with the assistance and under the watchful eye of Barry who has been lock keeper here for nearly forty years.  The top gates are pretty leaky and with a 57 foot boat in a 60 foot lock we washed the bow thoroughly.

Here we are in the first lock of the Five Rise with Helen temporarily holding Leo into the right to allow Jessica Boo to come alongside us.

Helen took this photo looking down from one of the bridges over the locks.  It does give a good impression of just how far down the boats are before the paddles are opened.

Above the Bingley locks there is around 20 miles of lock free cruising extending to Skipton and beyond.  You come out into the lovely Dales scenery which is the hallmark of the Leeds and Liverpool on the East side of the summit.








We moored overnight just beyond Silsden and the picture below shows the view from the window of Leo.  The odd shaped white post is a half mile marker along the canal.


We had deliberately left ourselves just a short cruise on Tuesday morning to reach our mooring near Skipton where Leo will spend the winter.

This is Kildwick where the canal goes over a minor road which ducks under the canal at an oblique angle.  The only obstruction on our final morning comprised 6 swing bridges, one of which  you can see behind the moored narrowboat.








The autumnal colours and short days emphasise that now is the time to give up boating for this year.  However with Leo much closer to our house we are hopeful that we will manage the odd cruise during the winter.  And of course we have quite a long list of things that need doing on the boat, particularly replacing the leaky water pump!

Winter is a time for making plans for next year.  The main parts of the canal system that we have not travelled are the Lancaster Canal and most of the River Trent.  So we are thinking that we might do two shorter trips on Leo next year in different directions.  Watch this space.

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