Indigo Dreaming

The journeys of the Narrowboat Indigo Dream

  • Blog Index as a pull down

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta

  • Recent Comments

  • wordpress counter

Odds Blog: Sue’s Bake-a-thon Day 1 Report

Posted by indigodream on 29 July, 2015

That's over 650 dog biscuits :-)

That’s over 650 dog biscuits :-)

I’m delighted to report that Day 1 of my charity bake-a-thon has gone to plan – here’s the summary…

  • I started baking at 8.30am and downed tools at 6.30pm
  • I made 10 different types of dog treats:
    • Fish, chip and pea biscotti
    • Rice Crackers
    • Cheesy Dreams
    • Salmon and Sunflower Cookies
    • Sweet Potato Cookies (low protein)
    • Liver Sausage Biscuits
    • Tuna Triangles
    • Polenta Stars
    • Cheesy Chomps
    • Cheese and Cranberry Hearts
  • This adds up to 653 individual biscuits :-)

And this is just Day 1!

Cheer me on to day 2 by sponsoring one of my nominated charities:

Greyhoundhomer: a charity dear to my heart!

Pharmacist Support: because pharmacists need love too!

Quality Control by Ty :-)

Quality Control by Ty :-)

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Odds Blog: My Charity Bake-a-thon!

Posted by indigodream on 29 July, 2015

Wednesday July 29th

Getting ready to start baking!

Getting ready to start baking!

Tomorrow I will have been registered as a pharmacist for 30 years. I’ve been blessed with an interesting and fulfilling professional life. Pharmacy was a good choice for me, and, 30 years ago, I could never have imagined the opportunities that it would present.

I am celebratng with a fundraising event to support my favourite charities:

  • Greyhoundhomer – a branch of the Retired Greyhound Trust: When I was very young I didn’t want to be a pharmacist, I wanted to be “Julie the kennel maid” and dedicate my life to looking after dogs! My early ambition never really disappeared, so now I’m looking after my eighth rescue dog (my 6th greyhound!) and have dedicated my spare time to supporting the rescue and rehoming of retired greyhounds. Click Here to Sponsor me!
  • Pharmacy Support: a charity dedicated to supporting pharmacists and their families in times of need. Pharmacy Support offers a range of services from financial help though to specialist advice and a confidential “listening friends” helpline. Click Here to sponsor me!

How you can support my 30 years fundraiser?

Practice bake - expect more tempting photos later - all for dogs though!

Practice bake – expect more tempting photos later – all for dogs though!

Sponsor the Big Bake

I will be undertaking a bake-a-thon with a difference from Wednesday July 29th to Friday July 31st. The difference? I will be baking dog treats!

My target is to bake 30 different varieties of doggy treats in 30 hours of baking (10 hours per day) – that adds up to around 1,000 dog treats!

The Big Bake Sale

Saturday 1st August, 10am – 4pm

Nutfield Memorial Hall, High Street, Nutfield, Surrey RH1 4JJ

This is your big chance to buy:

  • Appetising home-baked dog treats
  • Delicious home-baked cakes and simple refreshments (for humans!! These have been donated by my talented baking friends.
  • A selection of bric-a-brac and jumble

My mum asked wh was going to be monitoring my progress – wll, YOU of course (if anyone is reading!). I’ll post some photos as the treats come out of the oven :-)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Boat Blog: Rochdale Photoblog 2

Posted by indigodream on 26 July, 2015

These photos are from the 25th May (day 8 of the Odyssey)…

Imposing old mill buildings wit that sooty deposit ont he walls - hard to imagine the industry that caused that level of pollution now...

Imposing old mill buildings with that sooty deposit on the walls – hard to imagine the industry that caused that level of pollution now…

Watch out for these signs - subsidence has narrowed some of these locks so that two boat cannot share -the narrowing is not obvous so best not to chance it!

Watch out for these signs – subsidence has narrowed some of these locks so that two boats cannot share -the narrowing is not obvious so best not to chance it!

These regular mounds lok like old spoil heaps - once a familiar sight in South Wales but rapidly being overtaken by development and landscaping.

These regular mounds look like old spoil heaps – once a familiar sight in South Wales but rapidly being overtaken by development and landscaping.

I saw a few of these half-houses - they're very curious - did they but up against a bulding that was demolished or were they built this way?

I saw a few of these half-houses – they’re very curious – did they butt up against a bulding that was demolished or were they built this way?

Hurrah!

Hurrah!

Cruising the summit- but as high as the canal is, the mountains still loom above us....

Cruising the summit- but as high as the canal is, the mountains still loom above us….

Sadly there's not enough water in the summit pound to allow for mooring...

Sadly there’s not enough water in the summit pound to allow for mooring…

Thhe summit weaves it's way through the pass, offering new views at every turn...

The summit weaves its way through the pass, offering new views at every turn…

"Lovely maned" gongoozler :-)

“Lovely maned” gongoozler :-)

Such an evocative landscape....

Such an evocative landscape….

Aaah, Longlees Lock, it's downhill all the way from now...

Aaah, Longlees Lock, it’s downhill all the way from now…

There are good 48-hour visitor moorings below Longlees Lock - a perfect place to explor the summit by foot (if you have the energy after locking up all that way)....

There are good 48-hour visitor moorings below Longlees Lock – a perfect place to explore the summit by foot (if you have the energy after locking up all that way)….

This is important! It wouldn't pay to get your county wrong....

This is important! It wouldn’t pay to get your county wrong….

The views just got better and better as we locked down from the summit...

The views just got better and better as we locked down from the summit…

A landscape hewn by wind and water...

A landscape hewn by wind and water…

Views....

Views….

Views....

Views….

Views....

Views….

Sooty terrace...

Sooty terrace…

Good advice....

Good advice….

All the water has ended up here for some strange reason - the pounds were overflowing allt he way down to Todmorden...

All the water has ended up here for some strange reason – the pounds were overflowing all the way down to Todmorden…

Dry stone walls....

Dry stone walls….

I places, the canal is far above the vallye floor, which has been carved deep by the fledgling river Calder

In places, the canal is far above the valley floor, which has been carved deep by the fledgling river Calder

Views..

Views..

Although Manchester is miserable, this end of the Rochdale is fabulous - come and visit - it's so worth it...

Although Manchester is miserable, this end of the Rochdale is fabulous – come and visit – it’s so worth it…

Views...

Views…

Views...

Views…

Views...

Views…

Approaching Todmorden...

Approaching Todmorden…

The great wall of Todmorden - a far cry from the meandering dry stone walls on the hills above...

The great wall of Todmorden – a far cry from the meandering dry stone walls on the hills above…

Gullotine lock at Todmorden...

Guillotine lock at Todmorden…

This mural says "welcome to our incredible town" - and Todmeorden IS incredible...

This mural says “welcome to our incredible town” – and Todmorden IS incredible…

An incredible edible herb bed in Todmorden...

An incredible help yourself edible herb bed in Todmorden…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Boat Blog: Rochdale Photoblog 1

Posted by indigodream on 21 July, 2015

We forgot to bring the camera home from the boat in May, so I have some photos that never made it as far as the blog – here are a few of my favourites from the 24th May (Day 7 of the Odyssey)…

This stub is the all that remains of the old course of the Rochdale Canal, obliterated by the M62. I'm so glad that a new way through was found...

This stub is the all that remains of the old course of the Rochdale Canal, obliterated by the M62. I’m so glad that a new way through was found…

This is classified as a broad canal, so when widebeams want to come through, CRT haul to towpath out of this bridge to let them through...

This is classified as a broad canal, so when widebeams want to come through, CRT have to haul this towpath out of this bridge to let them through…

Interesting variety of mechanism for opening the heavy gates...

Interesting variety of mechanism for opening the heavy gates…

Muh as I'm grateful fro the cana being allowed to pass under the new roads, aybe a little more though could have been put into the aesthetics!

Much as I’m grateful for the canal being allowed to pass under the new roads, maybe a little more though could have been put into the aesthetics!

Meh!

Meh!

The mountains to be conquered :-)

The mountains to be conquered :-)

Wind turbines - love them or loathe them??

Wind turbines – love them or loathe them??

The views speak of the sheer hard work involved in crossing the Pennnes with power, transport - you name it....

The views speak of the sheer hard work involved in crossing the Pennines with power, transport – you name it….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 17

Posted by indigodream on 16 July, 2015

Monday 6th July

Leeds to Rodley

Come on Ollie and Arcie, up you get - nah!

Come on Ollie and Archie, up you get – nah!

Today was a busy day so I didn’t take notes, but I have some very fond memories of our “boating buddies” cruise with four young ladies from Leeds CRT’s HR Department – Harriet, Jemma, Georgia and Debbie.

We had a very relaxed start to the day as we’d planned a departure time of 10am and we were moored right outside CRTs office, so no early morning manoeuvres to be done. The ladies arrived in good time, though I had thought the cruise might be cut short when we found out that Debbie is allergic to dogs! Luckily she thought she’d be ok if she stayed outside in the fresh air and she was very sweet, apologising to Archie for not giving him the fuss he was so obviously craving :-)

Once we’d got everyone on board and loaded with coffees, Richard went off to set the lock while I brought the boat round. I cast off at the front and was surprised by how quickly the bow swung out, I’d expected it to be pinned by the flow from the weir. By the time I’d got back to the helm, the wind, even though it didn’t feel that brisk, had turned the boat through 180 degrees. It took all sorts of shenanigans to get her moving forwards – at one time I though I’d have to just let the wind turn her through the 360 degrees and then try to correct, but eventually I got her moving in the right direction. Of course, once she was lined up, I had to do an immediate turn back on myself to get into the lock – now the wind came in handy!

On our way...

On our way…

The ladies on board said “wow, that was awesome” as I manoeuvred Indigo Dream into the lock; I caught Richard’s eye, only he and I knew what a pig’s ear of a move it had been in the unhandy wind!

I found out later that Leeds is notorious for rogue winds – apparently the newer tall buildings funnel wind in a dramatic fashion, creating vortices at pavement level that can affect cars and pedestrians – our flat-bottomed boat had no chance!

Today must rank as Archie Beanz’ best day on the water ever – Jemma, Georgia and Harriet lavished him with fuss and kisses; he got to schmooze passers-by during his frequent lockside rummages and, because we decided to drive home later in the day, there was the most almighty fridge clearance feast at dinnertime :-)

But I’m ahead of myself, once got past two boats moving out of Leeds Dock, it was time to make the CRT ladies work. Fair play to them, they all took turns on the helm and helped at the locks, even though some of the mechanisms are very hard work. Harriet was a natural driver and within minutes had fallen in love with boating (and greyhounds!).

Tutorial :-)

Tutorial :-)

The locks on the Leeds and Liverpool are still a bit short, but nothing like the Calder and Hebble. Locking up, I had to take Indigo Dream’s bow right up to the cill, but once the bottom gates were shut, I had room to reverse back into the “mitre” and had room to spare.

There are three great staircases coming out of Leeds, and we soon left the city far behind and below. Although I’d seen the staircases marked on the map, I hadn’t realised how huge they were. There were lock-keepers at the third staircase – a mixed blessing – it’s always nice to have some guidance when setting a staircase, but they were painfully cautious when opening the paddles and it took an age to get though.

With so many competent crew members on board, it was easy for me to duck off the helm and make lunch – our standard fajitas – easy to prepare and everyone can help themselves to what they want. Later on we stopped for a cream tea – with my home-made jam of course! Our guests were gobsmacked at the level of hospitality they were being offered, but I explained that we had to live up to the Herbie Special Award that we were privileged to receive a few years ago. Can you imagine the shame and disgrace if it were revoked!

Group photo...

Group photo…

Sadly the weather today was grim – it poured with rain for most of the day – the ladies had brought a degree of waterproofing but we were soon handing out rain hats. The weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits, the ladies really got involved, did really well and seemed to have an overwhelmingly positive experience of boating.

We’d spent the day in boat time, where the day lasted forever but went by so quickly – by 5pm we were in Rodley and decided to moor just beyond the swingbridge – a fine 14-day mooring with excellent access to the car parked in the adjacent road.

We said farewell to our guests – they were catching a cab back to Leeds. We then had a decision to make – stay overnight in Rodley and drive back in the morning or make a big effort to get home tonight.

We went for the latter and, as I mentioned, the hounds enjoyed a gargantuan fridge-end feast made up of all the meat that we’d failed to eat at lunchtime or had kept by for supper Even little Ollie, who’s not that excited by food, enjoyed it.

It was a long drive, though we shared the driving, which made it a bit easier. The hounds were flat out – they’d had a great weekend. We eventually got home around 12.30am – horribly late, but it gained us a useful day at home so we won’t complain :-)

Note: In the photos below, Ollie has a shaved area and small dressing – on Thursday night he had a scan and bone marrow biopsy to see if we could find a cause for his malaise over the last several months. We’ve had the results and the good news is that there are no signs of cancer, though they did find that he had two “slipped” discs in his neck and arthritis in his shoulders (this explains a lot of his pain). However the scan/biopsy didn’t give us an explanation for some very abnormal blood results and his continue bouts of malaise – back to the drawing board :-(

Photoblog:

Where the dogs could sleep...

Where the dogs could sleep…

Where the hounds actually sleep!

Where the hounds actually sleep!

Jemma was a natural on the helm :-)

Harriet was a natural on the helm :-)

Yet another type of paddle gear - canal builders were very inventive!

Yet another type of paddle gear – canal builders were very inventive!

It's such a shame that the rain set in...

It’s such a shame that the rain set in…

Still smiling - even though those paddle mechanisms are very hard work :-)

Still smiling – even though those paddle mechanisms are very hard work :-)

Eveyone had a go at the helm - they did really well :-)

Everyone had a go at the helm – they did really well :-)

The ladies were very petite but these beams are huge, and heavy...

The ladies were very petite but these beams are huge, and heavy…

Jemma calm and confident on the helm

Jemma calm and confident on the helm

Rummaging...

Rummaging…

Working hard..

Working hard..

Great view - we climbed quickly up the big staircase locks :-)

Great view – we climbed quickly up the big staircase locks :-)

The staircase locks fill nicely

The staircase locks fill nicely

Time for a nap :-)

Time for a nap :-)

IT's a wonder that the hounds didn't stick their tongues out too :-)

It’s a wonder that the hounds didn’t stick their tongues out too :-)

[image%255B4%255D.png]

Our treasured Herbie Special Award :-0

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 16

Posted by indigodream on 15 July, 2015

Sunday 5th July

Stanley Ferry to Leeds

The Stanley Ferry aqueducts - both seemed to be open to navigation but we chose the right so we could take photos of the iron aqueduct...

The Stanley Ferry aqueducts – both seemed to be open to navigation but we chose the right so we could take photos of the iron aqueduct…

We had very relaxed start to the day – Richard, Henry and Archie enjoyed an exploration of the nature reserve just upstream of the mooring. Richard reported that the reserve had wide mown footpaths, surrounded by lush vegetation just ready for rummaging. In the meantime, Ollie and I had a snuggly lie-in; this is precious time – Ollie can’t walk as far as the others but gets quite uppish about being left out of adventures, he doesn’t know he’s old!

We eventually cast off at 10am. We had moored the wrong way round and cruised upstream for a few boat lengths before turning around in the abundant width of the river. Coming downstream, we contemplated stopping for a pumpout, but the services were occupied by two little cruisers with their engine covers off. We decided not to wait and carried on. However, we didn’t get far, we just had to stop to photograph the fascinating Stanley Ferry aqueducts and wonder at the Stanley Ferry workshop, with giant lock gates at every stage of construction. As we were busy oggling, the two cruisers overtook us. We contemplated going back for our pump out but decided against it – the tank was far from full, just a bit whiffy after the prolonged spell of hot weather.

It wasn’t oppressively hot today – the sky was overcast, keeping the helm pleasantly warm, though the odd burst of sunshine took the temperature up by degrees in seconds.

The old aqueduct (1830s) - apparently built using the same principles as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but a 100 years earlier :-)

The old aqueduct (1830s) – apparently built using the same principles as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but a 100 years earlier :-)

There are lovely mooring places downstream of Stanley Ferry, but we had to keep moving – we had to get to Leeds today. I was a little sad, because the Aire and Calder deserves to be savoured – especially if you have dogs on board who’d enjoy the well-mown towpaths and surrounding countryside.

The locks here most closely resemble the Thames locks, large and electrically operated. There were no lock-keepers on duty, though later we saw a  CRT man who had been called out to check one lock which refused to equalise. The first lock made me laugh – two short narrowboats, two little cruisers and Indigo Dream fitted in with room to spare. But the lady on the controls worriedly said “I don’t think I could fit any more in”. It gave me a wry moment – if this had been a test for being a Thames lock-keeper she’d be hearing the words “you’re fired”, because the expert sardine packers there would have got at least four more boats in (not that there were any more waiting here!). As on the Thames, the “self-operated” settings on the electrical lock mechanisms seem to be set for a very safe but very slow flow of water so we descended with little fuss

It seemed strange to be sharing locks again – the Rochdale Canal and Calder and Hebble navigation were so very quiet, with hardly a boat on the move, and here were five of us sharing the river.

Stanley Ferry workshops - with timbers waiting to be turned into lok gates - it's a grand sight...

Stanley Ferry workshops – with absolutely massive timbers waiting to be turned into lock gates – it’s a grand sight but where do they find trees that big?

We shared several locks with our little flotilla – each lock seemingly bigger than the last. However, by the time we got to Castleford Junction, we were by ourselves and about to face the most gargantuan locks yet! We were now on the River Aire, which still has substantial commercial traffic, though it seems that we’d missed the huge barge that had gone downstream earlier in the day.

Lemonroyd lock is simply enormous – ridiculously so after our manoeuvres to get through the diminutive Salterhebble locks! We wouldn’t normally rope up in a lock, but the sheer scale, and the availability of “risers” (plastic coated cables on the lock walls) persuaded us that maybe we should. But we needn’t have worried – the lock must be over 200 feet long and with Indigo Dream moored near the bottom gates, she was in no danger of catching any turbulence from the top paddles. (Hmm must get that waterways routes CD running)

It took an age for the lock to fill, so I got chatting to a local man who had the sweetest little staffie who sat on my feet for a fuss. He recommended the “Midnight Bell” in Leeds for excellent local beers (especially bitters). Sadly we didn’t go there as it doesn’t do food on a Sunday, but we’ll keep it in mind for future trips.

Clapham Junction!

Clapham Junction!

We really enjoyed the next stretch – we had the river to ourselves and there is plenty of interest – the fuel wharf at Lemonroyd, the restored industrial buildings at Thwaite Wharf, the lush countryside and crossing under the M1. The M1 looked considerably more attractive from the water than it does from the carriageway with its endless roadworks!

We made good time and were soon approaching Leeds – we had several mooring options – there are visitor moorings, with a service block, well downstream of river lock, then there are more visitor moorings at the tail of the lock moorings and a pontoon on the upstream offside just below the weir. I stopped on the lock moorings briefly while Richard went to investigate the moorings at Leeds Dock (also called Clarence Dock); we’d heard that they were full earlier in the day but there might be a space there now. Alas, it was still full, but that actually worked in our favour…

We were uhmming and ahhing about where to moor when I pressed Richard for a quick decision as the sky had turned quite evil and there was obviously a storm on its way. We decided to go for the pontoon below the weir and to turn round and moor facing downstream. I’d hoped to get her moored before the storm arrived, but it broke just as I was turning the boat and suddenly we were moving too fast as the wind got hold of the cabin “sail” and pushed us along. Turning wasn’t an issue, the wind did that for me, but slowing the boat down enough to snag the pontoon was an adventure as torrential rain joined the high winds, and we later found out that I had a plastic bag round the prop.

After the storm - a strange and wonderful evening light on our mooring...

After the storm – a strange and wonderful evening light on our mooring…

I was able to get a stern rope round a cleat on the pontoon, but no way was the front coming in. Finally I had to secure the back and run along the pontoon to  grab the front rope from Richard and managed to pull the bow back and in – phew! The temperature had dropped to 16 degrees in the storm –  we were soaked and freezing in our t-shirts. Once we’d tied up securely, we got inside, turned the heating on, changed, dried off and sat the storm out for an hour!

Once the storm had passed, we were able to appreciate our mooring – a fine pontoon flanking, as it happens, the CRT office building – this would prove to be very handy, but that’s tomorrow’s tale. There was a locked gate at the top of the walkway (BW key) and the adjacent path was covered by CCTV so we felt very secure indeed.

It was late afternoon by the time the storm had passed – early enough for me to do the car shuffle, collecting the car from Wakefield and dropping it off at tomorrow’s destination, Rodley. It was a long walk from the boat to the train station, and by the time I found the ticket machines (in a corridor to one side of the main concourse) I’d missed my train to Wakefield. It was the start of a niggly journey back to the boat involving thoroughly incompetent cab drivers and a misunderstanding with the satnav!

I was grumpy by the time I got back to the boat, but Richard had had a fine time because he’s had a visitor from CRT – a lovely lady called Justine, who has been pivotal in coordinating a “boating buddies” cruise for some of her team members. It was a great opportunity to confirm who was coming tomorrow and let them know that our rendezvous was now right outside the office rather than across the bridge in Leeds Dock!

Urban rummaging...

Urban rummaging…

I was too weary and footsore to explore Leeds, so we just wandered over to Pizza Express in Leeds Dock – Richard had scouted out the nearest eateries while I was doing the car shufffle. The hounds looked smug, it seems as if just possibly he and the hounds had had a fine adventure, even in the concrete heart of Leeds!

A really delicious pizza lifted my spirits, but we were soon back on board and ready for bed. Although there were no human sounds, it took a while for me to get used to the rushing sound of the water over the weir and the drip from the storm drain adjacent to the pontoon. However, I didn’t resist the lure of sleep for long – after all, I was surrounded by sleeping males, Richard and the hounds being totally untroubled by the ambient noise!

Today’s Trivia: Boating Buddies

When the Canal and River Trust took over the care of a substantial number of our inland waterways, they acknowledged that many of their staff did not have a background in boating. The call went out to boaters who were willing to be “boating buddies” – boaters who could take CRT staff out for short cruises so that they could have an insight into boating life. We’ve been “boating buddies” since the scheme was first launched and have hosted a buddy cruise in London, though we haven’t done as many buddy cruises as we’d like because the random movements of our annual odyssey sometimes make it difficult to co-ordinate with local CRT staff.

We think it’s a great scheme and we’re delighted to welcome CRT staff on board – not with the intention of haranguing them, but to give them a real experience of the waterways, from handling the boat through to operating locks and swing bridges. It’s not an onerous commitment for us – we’re on an email list of “boating buddies” and we get a regular email from CRT asking where we are and what we could offer. They then pass the information to the relevant local office which can get in touch to arrange a buddy cruise as needed.

CRT is still committed to the scheme and it’s website states:  “We’re very keen to give as many members of staff as possible the opportunity to take a short cruise with a Boating Buddy. If you’d like to volunteer your time and your craft, please email us at enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk.”.

We’ve enjoyed being “boating buddies” and hope that more of our fellow boaters will take up the opportunity.

Photoblog:

Fine structures..

Fine structures..

There are some fine bridges across this navigation...

There are some fine bridges across this navigation…

R obviously needed some extra help on the helm :-)

R obviously needed some extra help on the helm :-)

We need to winter Indigo Dream a little closer to home this year but these moorings realy caught our fancy - the main basin is above the river, hence protected from flooding. www.fairies-hill-moorings.co.uk

We need to winter Indigo Dream a little closer to home this year but these moorings really caught our fancy – you lock up to the main basin above the river, so you’re protected from flooding. http://www.fairies-hill-moorings.co.uk

This wharf looks as if it's still working - the locks are certainly big enough for commercial traffic...

This wharf looks as if it’s still working – the locks are certainly big enough for commercial traffic…

Reflections...

Reflections…

You don't have to be an engineer to appreciate the craftsmanship of this skewed arch...

You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate the craftsmanship of this skewed arch…

Where the big boats live - sh a change in scale after the Calder and Hebble...

Where the big boats live – such a change in scale after the Calder and Hebble…

The lovely views went unnoticed by some..

The lovely views went unnoticed by some..

Henry wasn't impressed either...

Henry wasn’t impressed either…

Loving the big river...

Loving the big river…

Lemonroyd Lock - it's a big 'un!

Lemonroyd Lock – it’s a big ‘un!

A local told us that this is where the big barges come to fuel up - I wonder how long it would take them to fill us up with a few litres of red?

A local told us that this is where the big barges come to fuel up – I wonder how long it would take them to fill us up with a few litres of red?

A walking tour just starting out at the next lock - they weren't to know that the heavens would oper shortly after they set off!

A walking tour just starting out at the next lock – they weren’t to know that the heavens would open shortly after they set off!

Rain!

Rain!

Zoomies after the rain...

Zoomies after the rain…

Enjoying a bimble...

Enjoying a bimble…

I had to do a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at this lock so it was easier to tether the hounds as little Ollie took an age to walk from one end to the other....

I had to do a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at this lock so it was easier to tether the hounds as little Ollie took an age to walk from one end to the other….

Happy Beanz - the boating life suits them perfectly :-)

Happy Beanz – the boating life suits them perfectly :-)

Another interesting bridge - we discussed that reinforcement over the top for ages...

Another interesting bridge – we discussed that reinforcement over the top for ages…

The M1 looks so much better from here...

The M1 looks so much better from here…

Thwaite Mills - there re some fine visitor moorings here, but Im not sure how much they charge...

Thwaite Mills – there are some fine visitor moorings here, but I’m not sure how much they charge…

This massive pillar by Knostrop Fall Lock was built to support a railway swing bridge - it would have been massive but was never built...

This massive pillar by Knostrop Fall Lock was built to support the end of a railway swing bridge – it must have been massive but apparently was never swung as they never installed the motors…

This is the far pier - you can't imagine an enormous railway span here...

This is the central pier round which the bridge was meant to swing- you just can’t imagine an enormous railway span here…

The tiniest Indigo Dreamer?

The tiniest Indigo Dreamer?

After the storm...

After the storm…

A different light...

A different light…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 15

Posted by indigodream on 13 July, 2015

Saturday 4th July

Wakefield to Stanley Ferry

Approaching Fall Ing lock again - but this time with a working gearbox :-)

Approaching Fall Ing lock again – but this time with a working gearbox :-)

The engineer rang us on Tuesday to confirm that Indigo Dream was fixed – hurrah! Apparently, when he took the old gearbox apart, a small piece of metal fell out – we’re not sure where it came from but it was enough to jam the cogs!

Despite our excitement at Indigo Dream being cruise worthy again, we set out late from Surrey this morning and didn’t get to the boat until 3pm. When we arrived, we quickly loaded the boat and I left Richard to sort out our water supply and check the engine while I went off to Sainsbury’s for supplies.

We asked the kind folk at the residential moorings if we could fill a drinking water bottle, and they generously let Richard fill the bottles and our water tank. We were relieved, because we were about to go onto a new waterway and weren’t sure how many water points we’d encounter. As it happens, we needn’t have worried – there are abundant water points along the Aire and Calder navigation.

We did wonder about staying on the mooring for the night, but the obvious presence of three cats on the nearest residential boat made up our minds!

Definition of happiness...

Definition of happiness…

The first lock of the day was the gargantuan Fall Ing Lock – I don’t think we’ve seen one this big since our last trip on the Thames. It took an age to empty the lock and get onto the river. But I was just happy that the throttle was nicely free, making me wonder how long that piece of metal had been in the gearbox.

I picked Richard up on the lock landing and we cruised downriver – it’s still the River Calder here, but transformed from the shallow rill that sang through the Pennines to this dignified waterway that has seen its fair share of industrial traffic. The stretch below Fall Ing lock was lovely – wooded and tranquil, but past the flood lock it changed character. The woods gave way to a hard bank with fine moorings on both side of the river. At first, the moorings were sparsely populated but as we got closer to Stanley Ferry the moorings filled up – there are obviously residential moorings on one side, but the signs suggest that there are visitor moorings on the other.

The river was more than wide enough to turn Indigo Dream, so we ventured as far as the marina but turned before we crossed the aqueducts.

It's a long way down to the river - this is still the Calder, but now it's the Aire and Calder navigation...

It’s a long way down to the river – this is still the Calder, but now it’s the Aire and Calder navigation…

We cruised back upstream, despairing of a mooring by the pub – there was plenty of room available on the visitor moorings, but it was all in short sections between the widely spaced boats. We decided to squeeze into a space by the bridge, at that point, a moored cruiser got the message and kindly moved back a bit to make room for us.

The towpath was buzzing at Stanley Ferry – it was a lovely evening and the pub was an obvious attraction, as was the fine dog-walking available in the nature reserves flanking the river. We were preparing to go to the pub when a young couple with a husky/german shepherd cross strolled by. The man of the couple was a diesel mechanic giving out cards to the moored boaters – ah, where was he a fortnight ago when we broke down? :-)

Archie was impeccably behaved with their dog (his thing with husky types has been mercifully dormant on this trip), but we didn’t take any chances. The couple were very interested in boating life and were contemplating buying a small narrowboat, around 40′, for weekends and holidays. They couldn’t be liveaboards because of a commitment to their family farm. They were so pleasant we gave them a tour of the boat – they were very appreciative and, like many people, were surprised at the sheer levels of comfort available on a well-equipped narrowboat.

Lush....

Lush….

We eventually got to the pub, passing a large husky who evidently lived on a cruiser nearby. It’s very vexing when people leave their dogs loose on the towpath – “he’s very friendly” said the woman as we sidled past, the husky coming right up to the hounds, making it difficult to get past. Luckily, the hounds were very well-behaved, but Ollie is very frail and doesn’t need to be crowded by a strange dog.  I mean, I’m very friendly, but you wouldn’t want me to come right up to you and start leaning on you!

We’ll come back to this boat because the owners and their friends later showed that they were both inconsiderate and irresponsible…

But first we enjoyed a huge dinner at the Stanley Ferry pub – modern pub grub and plenty of it! The pub’s enormous, with a large patio area. Dogs are not allowed inside, but it was warm enough for us to sit outside.

Beautiful evening...

Beautiful evening…

I was feeling a bit weary on the way back to the boat, especially as we now had to sidle back past the big husky. By now the boat had loud music playing and a little towpath party going on. The husky came out again, but as we passed, I heard one of the party tell Richard to watch out for a dog along the towpath that was a “nasty piece of work”. We thought that she was warning us about a dog on an adjacent boat but no, IT WAS HER DOG – tethered to a bollard about a boat-length away. It was too far away for her to stop him from lunging at passing dogs but she seemed to think that giving people a warning was the same as her controlling the little beast. Fortunately the dog decided not to take on Henry and Archie, but it had a lunge at Ollie – I was so angry and swung the bag of sheepies to deflect it. No harm done but honestly…..

Of course, I did the British thing and had a rant to myself and on Facebook, reckoning that if the stupid woman couldn’t work out that leaving an aggressive dog tethered without supervision within reach of passersby on the towpath was a bad idea then no amount of telling  would make a difference. Later on, inevitably, there was the sound of two dogs having a right scrap :-(

For a while, there was the sound of passers-by on the towpath, but once the pub closed the mooring was quiet and we had a peaceful night….

Today’s Trivia

I thought that “Fall Ing” lock was an unusual name but I didn’t wonder about it until I saw the word “Ing” crop up on other road/lock signs. I wondered whether it was a Yorkshire dialect word and so it is! Apparently “Ing” or “Eng” is an ancient Viking word meaning “meadow near the water” – how apt:-)

Photoblog:

Is this a giant hogweed? If so, they have a real prolem along this river - they're growing abundantly and the sap causes serious phototoxic skin reactions...

Is this a giant hogweed? If so, they have a real problem along this river – they’re growing abundantly and the sap causes serious phototoxic skin reactions…

Conveyor to nowhere...

Conveyor to nowhere…

This bridge looked disused with its garnish of vegetation....

This bridge looked disused with its garnish of vegetation….

But there are trains to wave at....

But there are trains to wave at….

Broadreach Lock - a reminder that the river can be moody....

Broadreach Lock – a reminder that the river can be moody….

We wanted to get closer to the pub but these moorings just upstream from Stanley Ferry would be a hound-perfect place to stay...

We wanted to get closer to the pub but these moorings just upstream from Stanley Ferry would be a hound-perfect place to stay…

But it might be best to avoid cycling along this towpath...

But it might be best to avoid cycling along this towpath…

Stanley Ferry felt like Clapham Junction after the quiet waters that we've been cruising since May..

Stanley Ferry felt like Clapham Junction after the quiet waters that we’ve been cruising since May..

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 14

Posted by indigodream on 12 July, 2015

Tuesday 23th June

Wakefield to Wakefield

The Hepworth Gallery - impressive but Richard still can't decide whether he likes it...

The Hepworth Gallery – impressive but Richard still can’t decide whether he likes it…

What a day! I woke up sandy-eyed and weary – I’m not sure why, because we’d had a very quiet night on the moorings. Richard made a quick trip to Howarth Timber for a replacement lump of wood for a spike (£1.80). We then debated going to visit the Hepworth Gallery, which had caught Richard’s eye last night. But I wasn’t sure – Richard had been impressed, though not necessarily enamoured, by the exterior with its monumental, somewhat brutal architecture. But neither of us is an art buff and my previous gallery visits have involved wandering aimlessly saying “very nice” without a clue as to what I’m meant to be appreciating. We decided to cruise instead – an activity guaranteed our full appreciation!

We had three potential targets for the day – either Stanley Ferry (1 hour cruise), Castleford (2 -3 hours away) or Lemonroyd (5 hours away) – all places where we could potentially leave Indigo Dream for 10 days. Sadly we didn’t get to any of them!

As we set off I remarked to Richard that the throttle lever was very stiff – I had some difficulty getting into gear. I’d thought it was stiffer following the service at Sowerby Bridge, but that’s not unusual if they’ve tightened the throttle cable. I though no more about it until I got to the massive Fall Ing Lock. An upcoming boat had left a gate open for us, so I cruised into the lock and dropped Richard off. As I was manoeuvring into place so that I could shut the gate behind me, it was obvious that there was something going wrong with the throttle. After some to-ing and fro-ing of the throttle lever, it was evident that the lever was no longer operating the gearbox and we were jammed in reverse! Richard hastily told me to turn the engine off and I lassoed the lock gate before she reversed back to Wakefield!

A different architecture - Chantry Chapel of St Mary, built in the 1300's on the old bridge - the back protrudes over the river Calder and looks more like a fort than a place of worship :-)

A different architecture – Chantry Chapel of St Mary, built in the 1300’s on the old bridge – the back protrudes over the river Calder and looks more like a fort than a place of worship :-)

We got the boat tied up in the lock (luckily this is a very quiet waterway) and Richard got into the engine, expecting to find a broken throttle cable – it’s a common enough problem and one that he can fix. In the meantime, I took the hounds for a rummage around the lovely lockside paths.

After a few minutes or so, Richard realised that the throttle cable was fine but there seemed to be something drastically wrong with our gearbox. We rang River Canal Rescue and were wondering where/how to move her out of the lock when some locals from the residential moorings came to help. They took our ropes and helped us to tow Indigo Dream right back to the towpath across the wide canal (big push) to where we could tie up safely and wait for help. This meant two things – firstly, with a likely wait of  few hours for RCR, we weren’t going to be cruising anywhere today; secondly, I may as well get the train back to Sowerby Bridge to collect the car.

I set off rather despondently, it was dispiriting that Indigo Dream had broken down so soon after a service – we could only hope that it wasn’t anything too serious. I left Richard with the hounds – he was best placed to talk technical with the RCR engineers!

It took me almost 3 hours to collect the car – I had to catch a train to Leeds and there was a long wait for a connection (long enough for me to explore the station’s eateries!). But my timing was perfect – I got back to the boat just as RCR’s engineer arrived, they had called in Bronte Boats from Hebden Bridge to assist us. He gave us the bad news that we would need a new gearbox – luckily a reconditioned gearbox would do and they cost 75% less than a brand new gearbox. Luckily our RCR membership covers the cost of parts – well worth it as it would be at the £500 mark!

We weren’t too sure whether we were on a 14-day or  72-hour mooring so we rang CRT to ask permission to moor there for 10 days. They were very understanding so we packed up and drove home.

Although we were a bit despondent, we really had to count our blessings – she broke down before we started to drop down the lock – if the gearbox had gone 15 minutes later, she’d have been stuck in a VERY deep hole; 20 minutes later and we’d have been on the big river and throwing out the anchor! The locals were really helpful – we couldn’t have managed the tow back to a safe mooring without their help.

Fall Ing lock - we almost made it onto the Aire and Calder!

Fall Ing lock – we almost made it onto the Aire and Calder!

Note: How to influence the English weather….

When we set off on the Odyssey on the early May bank holiday I stocked the boat up with clothes – cotton trousers and t-shirts, with just a few “emergency” jumpers in case of cool evenings. Ha! Since then it’s been nothing but unseasonal chills and rain on every visit to the boat (fine at home in-between cruises of course!).  After this weekend I gave up – I took every last pair of summer trousers and t-shirts off the boat and decided I’d start again with my boating wardrobe and, you’ve guessed it, we’ve had a heat wave. With the heat wave being so intense, I packed the t-shirts back for our boating on 4th July and……torrential rain and cold! THIS is how you influence the cruising weather!

Henry and Ollie have been quite the pair on this trip - Archie has been showing exemplary recall - Ollie's being a bit senile and wandering randomly - Henry has been following him. Henry's trying to convince me that he's Ollie's carer so can't come back when called - I don't believe it!

Henry and Ollie have been quite the pair on this trip – Archie has been showing exemplary recall – Ollie’s being a bit senile and wandering randomly – Henry has been following him. Henry’s trying to convince me that he’s Ollie’s carer so can’t come back when called – I don’t believe it!

A few technical notes:

  • We change the oil in the gearbox at every service, rather than at every other, beats trying to remember which is which and only takes a few minutes. The oil has always come out looking clean. The last service had been only a few weeks ago and talking to the boatyard after our breakdown they remembered that the oil had been a bit mucky, unfortunately they did not mention it to us, perhaps assuming that we had not changed the oil in a while. If they had mentioned it we would not have been any wiser at that time but now we know more!
  • Our gearbox is a PRM 150D2, pretty standard on Isuzu engines, loads of them about but the question was do we go for a refurb or get a new one, particularly as the refurb is coming off an another engine and may not have been as well maintained as ours. It was a bit of a worry, I can check the oil, check all my fuel filters, check belts, check water levels, oil levels but I can’t look inside a gearbox, what happens if it breaks down on tidal waters or just above a weir on a river?
  • Talking to engine guru Neil Coventry he was very surprised that our gear box had failed but he said that they are easy to refurbish. Max Greyhound’s Dad has been repairing gear boxes for 38 years so we talked to him next and learnt loads. Firstly he confirmed that they are easy to refurbish, he thought Bronte Boats’ estimate of it taking 10 minutes to change a gear box was an exaggeration, it would take him 15. The PRM150D2 won’ t be worn out by an Isuzu 42 so absolutely nothing wrong with going for a refurb. More interestingly he said as soon as you see your oil is a bit mucky or a bit smelly then your gearbox is on its way out – great advice, add that to the engine checks.
  • River Canal Rescue were interesting to talk to. They are obviously slightly overwhelmed at the moment as still not back in a permanent office but that sounds like it is happening soon (and not next to a fireworks factory). They were happy to supply a new gearbox, we would need to pay the difference which would be around £500, possibly a bit less depending on who had a gearbox ready to deliver to us. Their experience of refurbished gearboxes has been good, no particularly noteworthy pattern of breakdowns. Oddly enough they are seeing a pattern in breakdowns of new PRM gearboxes, they don’t seem to be made as well or more probably engineered down to a more economic offering as they seem to be cheaper now then they were 10 years ago.
  • We have opted for the refurb. The other bit of great advice from RCR was carry out an extra first oil change after 25 hours or so as that flushes out any dirt after a refurb.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 13

Posted by indigodream on 8 July, 2015

Monday 22nd June

Ledgard to Wakefield – Some locks still only 57′ long but unlike yesterday at least we can go through forwards.

If the lock length is inconsistent, it's nothing compared to the variety of paddle gear! This is a gate paddle operated with a standard windlass...

If the lock length is inconsistent, it’s nothing compared to the variety of paddle gear! This is a gate paddle operated with a standard windlass…

There’s nothing better than a lie-in on a working day!

Except it wasn’t much of a lie-in – at 8am, Henry Beanz let me know that he was desperate, so I took him and Archie out for what was meant to be a brief pyjama walk. I hadn’t bargained with meeting another greyhound walker on the towpath! Rossi was his first greyhound, and they’d been together for a year – the owner was totally head over heels and besotted with his hound – we ended up chatting for over half an hour! Now I know that all greyhound owners are besotted, but there’s nothing like that flush of joy and amazement that you experience when you first adopt a hound :-)

By the time I got back on board I was rather chilly, but totally awake, so that was my lie-in finished! Nonetheless, we had a very relaxed start to the day – we’d done a large chunk of today’s cruising yesterday so we didn’t need to rush. Although we were well-stocked with food, we couldn’t resist the lure of Lidl and topped up on a few extras. The car park was surprisingly empty and despite being adjacent to a large store, the mooring had been very quiet.

Bt this is a ground paddle, operated by handspike...

But this is a ground paddle, operated by handspike…

As we were getting ready to leave we saw  a rare sight – boats on the move! Three community boats and a fibreglass cruiser – amazing! We hailed the community boats and wished them a good cruise – the helm dryly remarked “oh yes, a boat full of excited teenage girls – what could possibly go wrong?!”.

We eventually set out mid-morning, enjoying every aspect of the navigation. After the rush of community boats, we didn’t see anyone else on the move until the end of the day. These northern waterways are a gem :-)

We had to laugh above the Thornhill locks, some youths cycling along the towpath told us, in all seriousness, that the canal was closed  further on. We were a bit concerned until we reached the lock – it seems that the lads didn’t realise that you could move through a lock!

Just below the Thornhill locks is the turn into the Dewsbury Arm – we uhhmed and ahhed as to whether to explore it, especially when it proved to be impossible to turn straight into the arm from the lock (well, for a 60′ boat anyway). But it went against the grain to leave the arm unexplored, so I did an elaborate turn involving reversing Indigo Dream into the arm then doing a full 360 degree turn to get her in bow first! There is plenty of room to wind a boat here!

A weir and a sharp turn - this navigation has it all...

A weir and a sharp turn – this navigation has it all…

We were pleased that we’d taken a wander up the Dewsbury Arm – at first it’s reminiscent of the Slough Arm, quiet and slighty despondent – but there a nice surprise at the end – quite a large marina with short pontoon visitor moorings and very friendly staff at the marina office. There’s plenty of room to wind a 60 footer here so we turned and reversed onto one of the short pontoons. Richard checked with the marina office and we stopped here for lunch and a bimble with the hounds. We toyed with exploring the nearby town, but we decided to move on to Wakefield.

The trip to Wakefield was full of interest, short locks, long locks, disused locks, interesting bridges, river sections, canalised sections and some quiescent weirs – it’s got it all. The hounds enjoyed a great bimble at the “Figure of Three” locks, where an adjacent meadow gave Archie some splendid rummaging opportunities.

We’d had on and off weather all day – mainly cool and overcast with the odd shower; but as I opened up the

Steady on boys...

Steady on boys…

engine for the deep, wide river section leading to Wakefield, the heavens opened. I urged Richard to stay inside, it was torrential, and drips from my long waterproof coat soon filled my waterproof boots! Luckily it cleared as we came into Wakefield so we were able to assess the moorings. There are moorings just inside the flood lock, but the best moorings are between the second road bridge and Fall Ing lock. The nearer you get to Fall Ing lock, the nicer it is, but we moored closer to the town to shorten the walk to the shops and railway station. There are mooring rings all the way along this stretch.

It wasn’t late when we moored up, but I was very weary so we didn’t go to explore the town. However Richard did venture out to Homebase (it was further than he anticipated) to buy a length of wood to use as a handspike. Our lovely hardwood spike had unexpectedly snapped earlier in the day; the longest “broken length” still worked as a spike but we then managed to leave that behind at one of the later locks – d’oh! Homebase was a bit pathetic but as he walked back he discovered we were moored round the back of a timber yard – d’oh, somewhere to visit tomorrow.

I don’t recall what we did with the evening, only that the views across the meadows and the reflections in the still waters were lovely. The mooring was very quiet, with very few passersby – perfect for us and for the hounds :-)

Photoblog:

Rush hour on the Calder and Hebble..

Rush hour on the Calder and Hebble..

Sly acess to the towpath...

Sly access to the towpath…

Nice artwork...

Nice artwork…

More attractive artwork...

More attractive artwork…

This is one of several beautifully presented and maintained signboards at Shepley Bridge :-)

This is one of several beautifully presented and maintained signboards at Shepley Bridge :-)

Interactive sculpture - there as a few of these along the towpath in this area :-)

Interactive sculpture – there as a few of these along the towpath in this area :-)

Hmm, quite right Henry, I don't think we'll moor there!

Hmm, quite right Henry, I don’t think we’ll moor there!

There are some interesting bridges - a gret contrast between the functional pipe bridge and the ornate ironwork of the railway bridge...

There are some interesting bridges – a great contrast between the functional pipe bridge and the ornate ironwork of the railway bridge…

I liked the look of this stretch leading to Schofield Bridge - I think the hounds would have a good time here :-)

I liked the look of this stretch leading to Schofield Bridge – I think the hounds would have a good time here :-)

Everyone needs a comfy chair...

Everyone needs a comfy chair…

But poor Archie doesn't even have a sheepie to lie on (though the new padded decking is a big hit!)...

But poor Archie doesn’t even have a sheepie to lie on (though the new padded decking is a big hit!)…

Rummaging at the end of the Dewsbury Arm...

Rummaging at the end of the Dewsbury Arm…

Excellent rummaging at the "Figure of Three" locks

Excellent rummaging at the “Figure of Three” locks

But they were soon ready to get back to their beds :-)

But they were soon ready to get back to their beds :-)

Some industrial remnants - hard to visualise the boats that must have tied to those substantial bollards, let alone the industry that supported them...

Some industrial remnants – hard to visualise the boats that must have tied to those substantial bollards, let alone the industry that supported them…

WET!

WET!

The hounds were very sympathetic to my plight on the helm - NOT!

The hounds were very sympathetic to my plight on the helm – NOT!

The railway viaduct in Wakefiled is really grand - the iron span is very delicate compared to the castellated stone piers...

The railway viaduct in Wakefield is really grand – the iron span is very delicate compared to the castellated stone piers…

View back towards town at the Wakefield moorings..

View back towards town at the Wakefield moorings. We forgot to photograph the Hepworth monolith, that’s just a bit behind those flats.

Ths photo doesn't do the view justice, but there are lush meadows on the offside with some fine dog-walking by Fall Ing lock.

This photo doesn’t do the view justice, but there are lush meadows on the offside with some fine dog-walking by Fall Ing lock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 12

Posted by indigodream on 2 July, 2015

Sunday 21st June

Sowerby Bridge to Ledgard

And we're off - excited about exploring another new waterway...

And we’re off – excited about exploring another new waterway…

We woke up strangely early, disturbed by the sound of the rain drumming on the roof – curses! We persuaded ourselves that there was no rush, but we did need to be up and dressed by 9am as that’s the time we’d told our new dalmatian friends to turn up. We pottered around and I moved the car to the space allocated by Shire Cruisers – the hounds came with me, though having been driven around the wharf, they weren’t too impressed at having to walk back to the boat!

As we walked back, a little car stopped in the middle of the road – the driver leapt out to cuddle the greyhounds. She’d lost her old greyhound girl a while back and now had a complicated home life which meant she couldn’t have another. She takes every opportunity to cuddle other people’s hounds. It can’t be helped, greyhounds are addictive! The hounds accepted the fuss with aplomb – they are so very used to being adored :-)

By 9.45am we accepted that our new friends were not going to turn up – I can hardly blame them – we were total strangers, it was an early start for a Sunday and it was raining! It’s a shame though, they would have been very welcome.

Some locals that we spoke to last night were really surprised that the canal was navigable to the East of Sowerby Bridge. We assured them that there was a whole network available to the East, but only to some boats….

The impressive Copley Viaduct - we're not out of the hills yet :-)

The impressive Copley Mill Viaduct – we’re not out of the hills yet :-)

At 60′, Indigo Dream is at the very limit of the size of narrowboat that can traverse the Calder and Hebble, as many of the locks are only 57′ 6″, though they are doubles, so Indigo Dream could get through very carefully at a diagonal. There is a good write up of what to do here.

The two top locks at Salterhebble are the shortest of the lot, and research suggested that the way to get a 60 footer through was to go down backwards on the diagonal. This was the first of the heavy “handspike” operated locks. Earlier in the week my spellchecker had been a bit prophetic, changing “Salterhebble” to “unalterable”, so I was a bit underwhelmed at the prospect of being jammed at the bottom of a deep hole, but it made much more sense for Richard to do the grunt work.

We moored at Salterhebble top and went to investigate the lock layout and mechanisms. I was sufficiently worried about the boat to offload the hounds and tether them at the lockside (with their sheepies, of course) – if the boat were to get jammed then I didn’t want the job of hoicking them out of a deep lock. At this point, if we’d had any regular readers on board they’d have been running for the hills – people who’ve been on tideway adventures with us have commented “I knew I’d be safe because the dogs were on board and you’d never risk them”!

You can't help looking mean with a handspike :-)

You can’t help looking mean with a handspike :-)

When we felt sufficiently acquainted with the layout, I brought Indigo Dream in. Richard had commented “I’m not sure how you’re going to reverse her in” but I had a surreal moment of peace when I knew exactly what I was doing, could see the line and Indigo Dream obliged me by handling beautifully (she’s a pig to reverse normally). We spent some time getting properly positioned on the diagonal, even so it was a tight fit! Richard took the front rope – he was in charge of making sure that the bow didn’t catch on the cill on the way down. As we were getting ready, the heavens opened, I couldn’t leave the dogs to get soaked on shore so on board they came – now I HAD to make the descent work!

I needn’t have worried – we descended very slowly and with great vigilance, but she didn’t get caught on the cill – first challenge negotiated. The next challenge is getting out – with the stern firmly wedged against one bottom gate, the only way out is to open the opposite gate and tug her across, having calculated (to the millimetre) that we’d have just enough length get round and out. The benefit of reversing down the lock is firstly that you can poke your front into the middle of the cill and also that it’s your front deck that get a wash if the top gates are leaky! Indigo Dream came round nicely and I reversed her into the lock jaws while Richard set the next lock.

Sometimes things just go right!

Sometimes things just go right!

This time I needed to reverse a dog leg turn. As I turned, my wash closed one of the two top gates that Richard had obligingly opened for me. But I was in that surreal place again where I could see the turn and Indigo Dream supplied it – a clean lock entry through one gate in reverse round a dog-leg turn. I was euphoric – maybe I could do the whole canal in reverse! Again, we descended the second of the Salterhebble locks with great vigilance and it was all fine.

There’s a pleasant basin below the second lock with some permanent moorings – there’s plenty of room to turn here and I was a little disappointed to be going down the last Salterhebble lock facing front! The third lock is no longer than that first, so we still needed to be careful to avoid the cill, but it does have a flat guillotine bottom gate which made it a bit easier to use the space available and to get out.

With the three Salterhebble locks safely negotiated, we knew that we’d get through the rest of the navigation, though we needed great concentration at each one. In a “normal” lock I’d have 10 – 12 FEET to spare and never get much close to the cill than 6 feet. In these locks, I was positioning Indigo Dream diagonally, once water had dropped a bit Richard could pull my front under the gate walkway which gave a few precious inches. The stern then virtually sliding down the cill often with barely an inch to spare! Once the lock was empty Richard could throw the front rope over to the other side, open that gate and pull my front across whilst I wiggled the boat around at the back to find that bit of extra space so that the front would get round the closed gate. It all sounds complicated but we dropped down on one paddle and it all just worked smoothly.

But canal builders are as inconsistent as the weather – while the skies regaled us with every sort of sullen cloud and degrees of rain, with the odd burst of sunshine, the locks surprised us with their variability – some were as tight as could be, some gave me six inches to spare and a couple were full length 70′ plus!

So why take the trouble to cruise the Calder and Hebble? Partly because it’s there, partly because it’s a great transit to the waterways of the north-east, but mainly because it’s beautiful, particularly in the lush river sections. Although we didn’t see a single boater on the move, itself an attractive feature of the navigation, the towpaths were busy with walkers and cyclists, despite the weather. It’s possible that this is the busiest towpath I’ve seen since leaving London. Now, a busy towpath isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it shows that the waterway is appreciated and has a clear purpose which may keep it alive for years to come :-)

Because we’d anticipated taking our time in the locks, we’d planned a short day’s cruising. But we got into the groove and carried on to Ledgard, with its views the Pennines behind, giving us a poignant reminder of the epic Rochdale Canal which took us over the top.

There are useful visitor moorings next to Lidl in Ledgard – there is a pub, the Navigation Inn, opposite, but we didn’t fancy it. Instead we continued our exploration of the North’s Chinese takeaways – this time Kowloon. It was excellent with the usual Yorkshire portions – we watched totally brainless Marvel franchise film on DVD to finish a very satisfying day’s cruising.

Photoblog:

Serious retaining props on that wall - although the mountains seem to be behind us, Sowerby Bridge is still perched on steep slopes...

Serious retaining props on that wall as buttresses are re-built- although the mountains seem to be behind us, Sowerby Bridge is still perched on steep slopes…

There's a massive bit of infrastructure going in to the narrow gap between the canal and the river - Richard thinks it might be a new road...

There’s a massive bit of infrastructure going in to the narrow gap between the canal and the river – Richard thinks it might be a new road…

Abandoned! Don't worry - they were ack on board the minute it started raining!

Abandoned! Don’t worry – they were back on board the minute it started raining!

Salterhebble top - there's plenty of room to turn and reverse into the lock...

Salterhebble top – there’s plenty of room to turn and reverse into the lock…

The relationship between Salterhebble top and middle locks...

The relationship between Salterhebble top and middle locks…

Plenty of room :-)

Plenty of room :-)

This photo only looks odd if I tell you tht I'm reversing towards that lock!

This photo only looks odd if I tell you that I’m reversing towards that lock!

Oh yes!

Oh yes!

This is why it's worth going in backwards...

This is why it’s worth going in backwards…

and look, loads of room at the back!

and look, loads of room at the back!

Arhie and Henry just checking that I've got the boat in the right place....

Archie and Henry just checking that I’ve got the boat in the right place….

The automtic controls are nice and steady, so the boat descended slowly and gave us time to monitor the boat's position in relation to the cill...

The automatic controls are nice and steady, so the boat descended slowly and gave us time to monitor the boat’s position in relation to the cill…

Guilotine gates are always impressive...

Guillotine gates are always impressive…

but looks like they pinched the controls of a train

but looks like they pinched the controls off a train

This fine fellow passed us today - we didn't catch his racing name but he's very beautiful :-)

This fine fellow passed us today – we didn’t catch his racing name but he’s very beautiful :-)

Some of these old industrial buildings have fearsome cracks in their masonry with some massive reinforcement to keep them standing....

Some of these old industrial buildings have fearsome cracks in their masonry with some massive reinforcement to keep them standing….

Valley Mill - it looks so Victorian but I can't find much about its history - it's now been converted into up-market appartments...

Valley Mill – it looks so Victorian but I can’t find much about its history – it’s now been converted into up-market apartments…

Although we're out of the mountains, there are still views peeking round every corner...

Although we’re out of the mountains, there are still views peeking round every corner…

Brookfoot Lock Cottage - It's a Grade 2 listed structure - CRT want some development/funding ideas :-)

Brookfoot Lock Cottage – It’s a Grade 2 listed structure – CRT want some development/funding ideas :-)

Strangely decorative pipe bridge.

Strangely decorative pipe bridge.

Almost at river level :-)

Almost at river level :-)

A new industrial landscape...

A new industrial landscape…

On the river...

On the river…

Which means looking out for weirs...

Which means looking out for weirs…

The M62...

The M62…

Time for cuddles - precious time with ancient Ollie...

Time for cuddles – precious time with ancient Ollie…

Turn right for Huddersfield - but we turned left for Wakefield...

Turn right for Huddersfield – but we turned left for Wakefield…

This right turn is sharper than it looks - watch out for it, Richar was at the helm and did a heroic turn whch took a bit of effort even though there was minimal flow in the river...

This right turn is sharper than it looks – watch out for it, Richard was at the helm and did a heroic turn which took a bit of effort even though there was minimal loads of flow in the river, fierce it was, totally fierce…

Henry Beanz- worn out by the effort of having to concentrate at the locks!

Henry Beanz- worn out by the effort of having to concentrate at the locks!

The weirs didn't trouble us, but most are quite close to the locks along this navigation...

The weirs didn’t trouble us, but most are quite close to the locks along this navigation…

View back from our mooring at Ledgard - it felt as if we were nestling at the bottom of the hills, but we've still got a long way to descend...

View back from our mooring at Ledgard – it felt as if we were nestling at the bottom of the hills, but we’ve still got a long way to descend…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers