Sunday, 30 April 2017

Down to the Trent at Keadby

As I type this on Sunday evening we are ready at Keadby to go out on the tide tomorrow morning at 8.30 a.m. to go up the River Trent to Torksey.  But to bring you up to date here is an account of our travels after leaving Goole.

Last Thursday we left Goole, at first retracing our outward course but then turning left on the New Junction Canal.  This is a fairly recent addition to the canal network having been built in 1905.  It is five and a half miles long and dead straight with an aqueduct over a river at each end and a lock in the middle.  Not to mention quite a collection of swing and lift bridges.

The first aqueduct crosses the River Went and this is the view looking down from Leo to the river below.

Here is Sykes House lift bridge.  The rain on the lens is an indication of the weather today with intermittent showers.  Some of these lift bridges are huge, so it's just as well that they are powered.

The end of the canal is marked by the aqueduct over the River Don.  This has a guillotine gate each end and water spills over from the canal into the river below as the boat travels through.

Here is the view as we crossed the Don Aqueduct.  You can see how close the water level is to spilling over.

At the end of the New Junction Canal we turned left on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.  If you turn right you can reach Doncaster, Rotheram and Sheffield.  We moored for two nights just round the corner above Bramwith Lock which is a lovely spot and also where some friends of our daughter Lucy keep their boat.  So we chatted to Kerri and Sharon, did the washing, some boat painting and walked into Barnby Dun.  On Saturday we set off through Bramwith Lock and part way down towards Keadby.

Kerri and Sharon kindly offered to operate the lock for us which was kind of them.

The second lock is at Thorne, below which you can see that some children were rowing.  We stopped here for some shopping.  Amazingly all the visitor moorings were full but we managed to sneak Leo on the end of the moorings.  We then discovered there are some secure overnight moorings at the service station beyond.

As we approached Wykewell Lift Bridge we saw it raise and then start to lower.  A loud hoot from Leo ensured the chap working it took it up again and allowed us to pass.  You can see a small cruiser coming through.

We moored last night (Saturday) at Godnow Swing Bridge where the canal and the railway run alongside.  Here you have to speak nicely to the man in the railway signal box to close the gates on the level crossing before you swing the bridge.  This morning we walked a mile or so into Crowle to buy a Sunday paper.  The centre of the village is quite pretty but is surrounded by rather dull housing estates.  We then cruised on in quite strong winds to Keadby passing the amazing Vazon Sliding Railway Bridge.

As we cruised along we saw a couple of Roe deer in the field next to the canal.  Helen took this lovely picture of them running towards us.

The long straight stretches of the canal were right into the wind and this gives some idea of the waves that built up.  Glad we're not out on the Trent today.

The Vazon sliding railway bridge is one of only three such bridges in Europe.  The railway crosses the canal at an angle and the whole double track moves sideways to allow boats to pass.  This is controlled by the signalman who ensures that there is a sufficient gap in trains.

Here is the view as Leo is lining up to pass the bridge which is sliding out of the way.

Later we walked back to the bridge and saw it operate to allow this narrowboat to come through.  It really is one of the sights of the waterways and should be better known.  However few boats use this waterway.  We were told by the railwayman at Godnow that just five boats had passed in three days - and it's the Bank Holiday weekend.

We walked down to the River Trent to have a look at what is in store for us tomorrow morning:

Here is Helen sitting on the flood bank looking at the big river.  The bridge in the background used to lift but no longer does so.  It carries road and railway and is the first bridge we shall go under as we travel upriver with the tide.

So we are all set and going out with another narrowboat so we will have company up the river.  Turning left here takes you to Hull, the Humber and Denmark so we will make sure we turn right.  The lock keeper says this tide should take us the 30 miles to Torksey in three and a half to four hours which is pretty fast for a narrowboat.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Power Stations and Windy Flat Lands

Having come down the River Aire and into South Yorkshire, the hills have largely disappeared and today we have had strong and gusty winds just as we did last time we came this way in 2015.  The flurries of hail and snow we had yesterday are new though.

We are doing shorter distances than we usually do mainly because it will be about 29th or 30th April before the tides are suitable to go out on the Trent at a sensible time.  On Saturday we stayed at Woodlesford and cycled to Temple Newsam House nearby.

On our way cycling to Temple Newsam we passed a vineyard.  Is this the most northerly one in Britain?

And we also passed a wood carpeted with bluebells.

Temple Newsam has been described as the Hampton Court of the north and has a lot of splendid features including this oak staircase modelled on a similar one at Hatfield House in London.

We liked this bear carved on a fireplace;  he is carrying grapes in a pair of human like hands.

The picture gallery in the house occupies the whole of one wing of the house.  It was built to impress and certainly impressed us.

This tunnel of trained Laburnam trees is in the formal garden by the house which you can see through the trees which are coming into leaf.

On Sunday the lock had been repaired and we came down from Woodlesford stopping at lunch time at Castleford where the Rivers Calder and Aire join.  The famous rhyme comes to mind: "the lasses of Castleford are bonny and fair.  They wash in the Calder and rinse in the Aire".  In the afternoon we cycled round the bird reserve at Fairburn Ings which is on the site of old coal mine workings.

Lemonroyd Lock below Woodlesford is a huge lock both in width and length but also in depth as it replaces two locks.  It takes quite a while to fill and empty.

The new millenium bridge snaking over the Aire at Castleford Weir is a fine structure and saves pedestrians having to go out of their way to the road bridge.

This is the road bridge at Castleford below the new pedestrian bridge.

We saw lots of birds on Fairburn Ings including this Shelduck.  We're not sure why it appears to be low in the water at the front.

And here is an Avocet, a wonderful bird.  As well as the expected common birds we also saw Gadwall, Teal, and Tufted Ducks.

On Monday we left Castleford and had a brief conversation with Jim on Amelia.  We had met Jim last year when Leo and Amelia had crossed the Ribble Link together to reach the Lancaster Canal.  We moored overnight near Kellingley and carried on Tuesday to Pollington Lock.  It was very windy and we were glad to find some shelter below Pollington Lock.

Here is Leo out on the wide waters of the River Aire.  The arched bridge is a railway bridge and beyond is the newer road bridge which carries the A1.  We have crossed the A1 bridge by car many times.

There are three power stations which dominate the skyline around here.  This is the first at Ferrybridge which towers above the flood lock where we left the River Aire for the last time.

And here is the second power station, this one at Eggborough.

The Aire and Calder Canal round here is very wide and very straight.  The wind down the straight was producing waves that caused Leo to pitch noticeably, not usual in a narrowboat.

And here we are approaching Pollington Lock which has four chambers allowing boats of different lengths up to 200 feet to use it.

Beside our mooring were fields of sheep, many with two or even three lambs each.  This one was running as Ian took its picture.

Leo thought that it was a little chilly and so decided to wear Helen's fleecy hat.

As we have time in hand we have come to Goole today where, if you are brave enough, you can go out through Ocean Lock onto the tidal River Ouse.  We are not.  The water here is so deep that Leo travels quite fast.  It was 10 miles to Goole and we cruised the distance in 2 hours.

Keeping with the power  station theme of this posting, here is the last one -  Drax.  As you can see this one was working.  One of the stations on the site burns wood pellets and we have seen long goods trains filled with these pellets heading for Drax.

Down the final 4 mile straight into Goole we passed this yacht with its mast hinged down.

Here is Leo moored at Goole.  Look at the large freight vessels moored opposite.  Goole is still an active port for ocean going ships and makes an interesting place to visit.

Unless you've booked to go through Ocean Lock you're not allowed into the main dock but we cycled in to look at the ships in port.  The big blue ship is called Baltic Sailor and the smaller one is a tug called Wheldale which lives at the Waterways Museum where we are moored.

If you look through the huge crane you can see two towers which are known as the Salt and Pepper Pots and are iconic sights of Goole.

We cycled through town and down to the River Ouse where the tide was going out fast.  Glad we are not out on the River.

Here is another photo of the docks.  The dark shower clouds have been going over us today dropping rain or hail but clearing fast.  Two more ships are visible in the picture.  The gantry to the left is one of several hoists which were used to empty the compartment canal boats nicknamed Tom Puddings which were towed in long lines to shift coal and other goods to port.

Tomorrow we plan to go back about 8 miles and then turn south on the New Junction Canal which was built very late in canal terms in 1905.  This gives access to the South Yorkshire waterways which will lead us to Keadby and the tidal River Trent.  Must turn right there or else we'll finish up in Denmark.

Friday, 21 April 2017

A New Canal - on the Aire and Calder

After a few days doing tourist things in Leeds, we are once more on the move, having moved down the River Aire to Woodlesford this morning.

Our journey down into Leeds was thankfully uneventful in terms of interference by delinquents.  We rose early and started cruising at about 7.45 a.m.  We had problems with the first swing bridge but the second at Rodley was opened for us by Dougie from Yorkshire Rose which accompanied us through the 13 locks to the centre of Leeds.

It was a bit chilly overnight on Monday as this photo shows.  This is not the first time we've had frost on the roof at Rodley.  There must be a microclimate around here.

Our mooring on Monday evening was delightful as this view looking back as we left shows.  Earlier, by the wood, we had seen a couple of Roe Deer.

After the swing bridges we came to the first of two triple lock staircases.  Both of these have lock keepers and here you can see Yorkshire Rose following us out of the bottom of Newlay Locks.

We had fine weather on Tuesday and here is the view as we came into the city.  The tall tower on the right is Bridgwater Place which has a reputation for concentrating any winds and blowing pedestrians off their feet.

 Leo in this picture is coming out of Office Lock and passing Granary Wharf.  You can moor here but we decided to go through the last lock on the Leeds and Liverpool called River Lock as below you join the River Aire through the city.

Here we are on the River Aire looking back to the Bridgwater Tower.  Yorkshire Rose is following us.

Just before Leeds Lock a right turn leads into what is now called Leeds Dock.  It used to be called Clarence Dock.  The visitor moorings are on the left but these were full of visiting cruisers.  We were lucky to be invited onto the residential moorings on the right by Haydon who was very welcoming.

Having reached Leeds on Tuesday afternoon we stayed until Friday morning.

In the new Trinity Shopping Centre is a metal sculpture of a horse made by  Andy Scott who also made the Kelpies near Falkirk in Scotland.  The  Trinity Horse stands on a very small plinth on top of a pole and dominates the new shopping centre.
On Wednesday we visited the Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley.  The best bit here was a guide who demonstrated the process of making woollen cloth from carding to finishing.  The photo shows the spinning machine which is one of 8 such machines in a single room.  It must have been deafening!  The museum is well worth a visit and if anything there is too much to see.

The owl is the symbol of Leeds and this splendid gilded owl is one of two on tall plnths outside the Civic Hall.

While in the big city we took in a show - Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Grand Theatre.  This was truly excellent - comedy, drama, music and slapstick.

On Thursday evening we went to the cinema to see 'A sense of an ending' which was also very good.  The Everyman Cinema Screen 5 is full of sofas, a new experience for us in visiting the cinema.

Today (Friday) we left Leeds and headed down the Aire to Woodlesford.  We had to stop here because the lock is presently out of action.  It looks as if it will be repaired tomorrow.

Here is Leo leaving Leeds Lock next to the Armouries.   This lock has a short lock of about 65 feet long but another set of gates downstream allows the lock to take much bigger craft.  The little lock was fine for Leo of course.

The next lock is Knostrop Flood Lock which was obliterated by the floods in 2015.  The navigation for boats now goes along the weir stream and then crosses into the lock cut going over what was a wall that separated the two channels until 2015.  The original navigation went where the orange buoys are in the picture.

Our plan for tomorrow is to visit Temple Newsam House which is just to the North of here before carrying on towards Castleford on Sunday provided the lock is then working.  Longer term we are trying to time our arrival at Keadby for the most suitable tides on the River Trent.