Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Gargrave to Dowley Gap.

Unfortunately there aren’t as many photos in this post as we’d like, this is because Dave has taken to using the camera on his new smart phone rather than carrying his Fuji around. This is a perfectly sensible decision, and all the time we had the ability to load the photos onto a computer it was unquestionably the right thing to do. Unfortunately we have recently lost that ability. Not, as you may think, through a software related issue, or even a hardware interface incompatibility. No, this is the direct result of the Catherine wheel of over-confidence landing in the wood pile of the ill equipped, or, to put it more plainly, a muppet not thinking about the consequences of his actions until it’s too late. More on this later!

Mooring in Skipton was very pleasant with nice weather and lots of folk milling around. Having loads of people watching when you’re mooring up or nipping through one of the hundreds of swing bridges that litter the canal round here is really good, as with a bit of practice you can make it look very slick and impressively easy. The real test comes when you’re backing out of an arm or winding round in a town centre. Narrowboats can be horribly unpredictable going backwards and you know very well that in a town with a canal running through the middle, a lot of the onlookers will be boaters themselves. Happily when we left Skipton, with Liz and Jim on board and after a slap-up lunch in the famous Pie and Mash Shop, it all went according to plan. Legend behaved impeccably as she backed out from under Fred Truman’s outstretched bowling arm, turned and slipped demurely under Belmont Bridge on her way towards Kildwick.

We stopped for one night just before Farnhill Bridge; the closest we could get to the Aire Cooled Alley Cats 2CV club camp at Cononley. The following night we moved into Kildwick which was a lot nicer and a bit away from the main road.
While we were there David & Kate came to stay on board so they could join us for the curry night at the camp. That was a fabulous evening and it was really lovely to meet up with a bunch of people we hadn’t seen for ages.
Hopefully, as they mostly live around here, we’ll see more of them as we meander down the Aire Valley.

From there we went to a very quiet off-side mooring right in the middle of Keighley golf course.
While we were there Dave decided to cut up all the fire-wood we’ve been collecting and stack it on the roof pallet under a tarpaulin. It looks tidier and it’ll be dry and seasoned when we come to lighting the fire again. He’d got it all logged and was on the outside gunnel taking the sheet off when the Catherine wheel of over-confidence bounced off his head. His sandal-clad foot slipped and because he was only holding the hand rail from underneath he couldn’t stop himself and in he went. Not too bad; it was warm, he didn’t hit anything or have lots of heavy clothes on and he got out quick enough. The only problem was that his new phone, the one with all the photos, was in his pocket. Oops.

After that we had a couple of nights on Riddlesden visitor moorings, but we weren’t on board much while Legend was there; we were mostly at David & Kate’s house, three miles away. Although they are our oldest and bestest friends and we’d have gone there anyway, and despite the attraction of yummy cake and a washing machine, our main reason for going this weekend was to service the Punto and help with a clutch change on their C1. As these jobs are obviously 100% blue, the girlies amused themselves with beading and going to the Skipton Day of Dance which was all very good.
The reason for our slow advancement along the cut to that point was because we were pacing ourselves in order to be just in the right place at the right time to go down the Bingley five and three rises on a summer Sunday in the sunshine.
And we did, and it was brilliant. We had six extra people on board; Matt & Emma with Elizabeth and Amelia, their two little girls, and Lucy & Bethan, none of whom had ever been on a narrowboat before. There is a resident lock keeper at each staircase and a couple of CRT volunteers as well, but Ann-Marie still managed to do her fair share of windlass winding. Between them the Bingley locks drop the canal 90’ in about a quarter of a mile. We left the sanitary station at the top at half past eleven and we were moored up at the bottom under the Damart chimney at one. In a staircase the bottom gate of the top lock is also the top gate of the next one and so on. Each lock is twelve feet deep which means that when you’re going down, the gate that is right behind you is towering twenty-four feet above your head.
And, as our boat only just fits in L&L locks, in order to get the bottom gates open, you have to back it right up to the cill, which sometimes has a small waterfall running down it. Dave had the back doors shut so the engine room stayed dry but he still got a bit damp round the edges.

The locky advised us not to stop overnight in Bingley, so we carried on to Dowley Gap which is lovely and has a car park and a pub.
We’ll be here for the rest of the week, then we’ll go through Saltaire and Shipley and probably stop at Apperley Bridge for a day or so.

Thankfully we got free insurance with the phone bundle so it’s gone back and we’re currently awaiting news, but popular opinion is that water damage is likely to be terminal so the photos on the internal memory will be lost. As will 79 levels of Candy Crush. Damn!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Leeds & Liverpool Canal. South Field Bridge to Gargrave.

We’ve done some actual proper boating to get here. Six miles and eight locks in fact.
Now we know that doesn’t sound a whole lot to anyone who’s ever hired a boat or gone on a summer cruise, or anyone else for that matter, but for us it’s good going. Especially as all the miles were bendy and all the locks were big.
These are just one of the many different ground paddles that you find on the L&L.
Ok, so we did it over two days, but they were consecutive days; we stopped for one night above Bank Newton locks because there’s a three day mooring restriction in Gargrave and we wanted to be there till Sunday. If there were any concerns about a shortage of water up here we didn't notice, in fact we had more of the stuff than we knew what to do with most of the time.


Before all this activity Legend was at South Field Bridge for a week although we weren’t on board. We were mostly driving around in the southern half of the country engaged in our second favorite hoby; visiting. First we went to Frankie & Harry’s in Hoddesden to help them pack all their remaining worldly belongings into a big white van and wave as it disappeared over the horizon towards France. They boarded a ferry and joined it about a week later to start their new life near Bordeaux. Good luck you two, we’ll miss you but we know you’re doing the right thing.

Then we went and got sunburned at the Trout Inn, near Lechlade-on-Thames, in the company of a gang of our old 2CV mates. We took our faithful dinghy with us and went for a paddle on the river past St Johns lock and up to Lechlade. Sometime in the future we’ll be back in Legend to do the same trip, although we doubt if we’ll be porting the boat round the lock on that occasion.

After that we had a lovely quiet couple of days at Chloe’s. We both had appointments nearby; Dave at the Dentist in Southam and Ann-Marie at the optician’s in Leamington Spa. It might seem to the casual observer that we just throw our lives together, wandering aimlessly hither and thither with not apparent plan. But look deeper, Dear Reader, and you’ll find that it is, in fact, a carefully orchestrated seamless coincidence of havoc. We usually leave the organisation to Karma; that seems to have more chance of working rather than trying to work it out using logic. Chloe came with us to Leamington Spa and we trudged about in the drizzle until it became obvious that we were only going to get wetter, whereupon she went home. It was lovely to see you Chloe. Chin up Chuck, Shandy will be back from Afghanistan next month.

Since we’ve been at Gargrave we’ve had a trek up to Malham, where we visited the village, the cove and the tarn, all of which are on the Pennine Way. Of course we’re getting to be old hands at the Pennine Way now, but nothing prepared us for this.
We managed to choose the day when a huge sponsored walk was going on. These guys are walking 100k in 30 hours and we got swept along with them for a very small portion of it. There was a staggering amount of technical clothing and more ski poles than you could shake a – well - stick at, but the ends justify the means. If we’re honest, we were quite humbled by their effort and determination, and all to raise money for people in a faraway country that they’ve never met and never will. If they’re willing to do that, then the least we can do is allow them the odd designer label and bit of carbon-fibre without sniggering.

Dave got the tiller swan-neck painted, something we’ve wanted to do for ages but never got round to, and the handle has now got some nice colourful Turk’s head knots on it, which disguises the fact that it’s a 3’ length of conduit.


We’re in the middle of a gorgeous sunny spell at the moment so we’re making the most of it. The visitor moorings here are very sociable with people walking past all the time. Our table and chairs are out on the towpath and everyone is really friendly. A newspaper photographer came along and asked if he could take some photos of us and our boat in “Relaxing-in-the-Sun” mode, so Ann-Marie pretended to fall asleep while he snapped away.
He hasn’t emailed us so we think our 15 minutes of fame may have ended up on the Guardian editorial waste paper bin. Ah well.

We’re off to Howarth tomorrow with David & Kate, then on Monday we’ll be boating again through three locks and three swing bridges towards, but not quite into, Skipton. That’ll mean we can be through Skipton and moored up at Farnhill Bridge next weekend which just happens to be about half a mile from Cononley where the Aire Cooled Alley Cats 2CV Club anniversary camp is taking place. You see? Karma at the controls again.

Here's some nice photos of Malham

Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Stourbridge Canal. BCN. Grand Union Canal. Kinver to Kixley Wharf

There are 25 locks from Hyde Corner to Merry Hill, but we had a fabulous day working up through them all. The Stourton and ...