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Archive for July, 2015

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 (ยฃ1.80). 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ofย  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 ยฃ500 mark!

We weren’t too sure whether we were on a 14-day orย  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!).ย  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 ยฃ500, 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.

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 sawย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

We had to laugh above the Thornhill locks, some youths cycling along the towpath told us, in all seriousness, that the canal was closedย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Strangely decorative pipe bridge.

Strangely decorative pipe bridge.

Almost at river level :-)

Almost at river level ๐Ÿ™‚

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…

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 11

Posted by indigodream on 1 July, 2015

Saturday 20th June

Sowerby Bridge

The wharf at Sowerby Bridge is very atmospherice by night....

The wharf at Sowerby Bridge is very atmospheric by night….

We had a change in personnel for this cruise – for very convoluted reasons, Herbie Hound would not be travelling with us, but we still had little Ollie, Archie and Henry.

We had a very good drive up to the boat today, after a welcome couple of weeks at home, giving Ty some home time and me the opportunity to make some jam for Greyhoundhomer to sell at their main show today. We’ve often fitted in a visit to their show on the way to the boat, but not this year. We’re now getting acquainted with the M1, which is showing its age with tired services, lacking the splendid dog-walking areas that more enlightened motorway services provide.

When we arrived, we had a long chat with the friendly folk at Shire Cruisers – we’d arranged for them to give our engine a service, do some work on the Tecma toilet and give the boat a valet. They’d done all the work in the time we were away and she was good to go.ย  They’d also moored her right on the wharf so that we could load the dogs on easily. We also arranged a few days parking with them. I have to say that Shire Cruisers has been helpfulness personified. We paid up for the work (though we still need to pay them for the new solenoid valve as Aquafax could not tell them how much they cost), put the world to rights and picked their brains about the navigation ahead of us. Nigel has a delightfully dry sense of humour – when we asked him about the passage through Salterhebble he advised us to wait and watch someone else going through first. We were surprised, were we likely to meet another boat? “You shouldn’t have to wait more than a couple of days” he replied with a straight face!

Indigo Dream looking fine - the crowd you can see across the water is Cobblestones, the bar/restaurant/nightclub which is THE place to be on a Saturday night.

Indigo Dream looking fine – the crowd you can see across the water is Cobblestones, the bar/restaurant/nightclub which is THE place to be on a Saturday night.

The boat was at the far end of the wharf, but there were parking spaces nearby for us to offload the hounds and a few other possessions. We toyed with the idea of cruising this evening, but neither of us wanted to try the passage through Salterhebble with tired brains, and the wharf at Sowerby Bridge is interesting enough to warrant a visit. With that decision made, I set off for Tesco and Dunelm Mills nearby, while Richard took our big fenders off the bow and stern, first time they’ve been off since we put the boat in the water, at first he thought he would need to cut them off but copious amounts of WD40 and some awkward balancing and stretching off our enclosed back deck eventually worked with only one bolt lost into the water ( 3 spare shackles bought from Shire Cruisers for 75p each). He also needed to investigate water in our cabin bilges – aaaaaargh! We sincerely hoped it was a bit of leakage from when Shire had taken the toilet’s solenoid valve apart for inspection and NOT the resumption of the mystery leak that has plagued us since last year.

With the boat stocked up, we decided to explore the eateries around the wharf – we took the hounds with us for a bimble. We started at Temujin, a Mongolian barbecue – we had hoped that they served food outside, but they don’t own the seating outside their door, though we could have bought a takeaway and eaten it outside, or on the boat.

We then tried the Moorings pub round the corner – that’s pleasant, served food and was dog friendly. We went in, but as we were getting the dogs settled a woman asked us to move – she was cradling her grandchild as if she was in a cave of dragons and said that the child was afraid of dogs. The exclusion zone that she specified would have essentially had us sitting in the canal so we left. I was cross, the hounds were quiet and minding their own business (as they do) and it would have been an opportunity for her to alleviate her grandchild’s fears rather than reinforcing them, probably for life, silly woman!

I was tired and vexed as we left the Moorings, but Richard persuaded me to try the Cobblestones restaurant and bar round the corner. Result! They made us very welcome indeed – dogs are allowed inside downstairs (I think there’s a nightclub upstairs). However, it was a nice evening, so we decided to sit on the terrace. The staff brought the dogs a bowl of water and some treats, I started to relax. The menu was interesting and delicious, and hard to describe! We went for a “tapas” style meal of little (make that large!) dishes or meat and vegetables. But the table next to ours went for the “hanging kebabs” which looked superb! The terrace was an excellent place for a bit of people watching, as “Cobblestones” is obviously THE place to be on a Saturday night. I was in my usual scruffy boater garb, but the women of the town were dressed in their best, having employed a plasterer to apply make-up. It’s a shame that they hadn’t kept the plasterer’s scaffolding though – 6 inch heels were de-rigour, but the restaurant is “cobblestones” by name and nature – just as well there was a big gap between the tottering heels and the canal!

The hounds had the best welcome from our fellow diners/drinkers and were immaculately behaved when a pair of dalmations (and their owners) came to sit at the adjacent table. That was the start of a very merry evening as we got chatting to Mark, David and their dalmatians – young Bertie and ancient girl – a rescue dalmatian, alas I don’t have a note of her name. The girl hound was a bit envious of the greyhounds’ sheepies, so when I went to the car to get Ollie a blanket, I got her a sheepie and a blanket too. She was very contented and David was delighted that I was caring for his cherished old girl. We invited them for a cruise the next day – we were sincere, but only time would tell if they would come.

Although you could hear the chatter from the night club across the water, our fatigue, and a few beers, made Indigo Dream a little haven of peace and we all had a quiet night’s sleep…

 

 

 

 

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