Between us we wrestled the fire out of the boat and onto the towpath where Dave managed to wriggle the old boiler out.
Following the advice in our Nicholson Guide, we left Rodley and went straight into Leeds passing through Kirkstall and Newlay locks in the morning on a weekday.
On a tip-off from one of the lock keepers we stopped for our first night in Leeds just above Office Lock on the off-side.
We had intended to move on fairly quickly, but John & Gill made us feel so welcome that we stayed for nearly a week. While we were there we booked our trusty old Punto in for an MOT. It responded by having a complete clutch failure the day before which sent us both into fits of despair; Dave, because he’d only just done one, and Ann-Marie because we’d only just paid £200 for a new back boiler. Fortunately it turned out to be a hydraulic leak from the slave cylinder; a £35 ten minute job. We think our old friend Karma got a bit over excited; John has got a to-die-for garage and she wanted to give Dave a day in there mending something. The next day it was back in and passed, but probably for the last time. It’s got the beginnings of terminal rot between floor and sill, so we’ll keep it for a year or till something big goes wrong then kiss it good bye. We’re not at all upset; it’s done exactly what we wanted it to do, ie. be invisible. We’ve parked it in pub car-parks, side streets, lay-bys and picnic sites for days on end with no worries and no problems. As the MOT tester said, “When it’s worth nowt you don’t worry about it.”
On the other side of the river from the navigation there is the newly established St Aidens bird sanctuary and nature reserve. This used to be a massive open cast coal mine, but after a disastrous breach of the river bank which filled it with water and caused the river to run backwards for several days, nature is rapidly reclaiming it, and apart from one of the colossal drag-lines which act as a reminder near the visitor centre, there is little evidence of what went on there.
From Woodlesford we went through the deep Lemonroyd Lock and on to Castleford. At Lemonroyd this strange looking craft is tethered jus bellow the weir.
On the visitor moorings at Castleford we had another serendipity moment, albeit a rather sad one. The very last commercial sand carrying barge came through the flood lock on its way to Wakefield.
We’ve decided that as we are in Yorkshire it would be rude not to visit York. This means a trip up the tidal River Ouse which, everyone tells us, is not as scary as it sounds, so we’ve booked ourselves through Selby Lock on Monday. So instead of turning right at Castleford we turned left towards Goole and the North Sea. Karen and Andrew are coming to stay on board for a few days and will be making the passage with us. Should be fun.
In the morning we took the car to Beal Lock on the River Aire and cycled back to Castleford. After lunch we set off through Bulholme Lock then followed the river to Ferrybridge, passing the enormous power station (once supplied by coal barges, now everything comes by road or rail), under the original Great North Road bridge then through the flood lock. When the lock cottage was built the view was slightly different.
At the far end of Knottingly we left the Aire and Calder Navigation and turned north east through Bank Dole Lock onto the River Aire. This is a very bendy bit of river that will take us to the Selby Canal. We stopped for one night at Beal Lock where we’d left the car; tomorrow we’ll move up to West Haddlesey where Karen and Andrew will be coming aboard.