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Archive for July 15th, 2015

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…

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