Calder and Hebble Navigation. Dewsbury to Brighouse.
On Thursday we left Legend on the very pleasant visitor moorings at Dewsbury and went to the seaside. We started off in Scarborough, where we had a picnic on the beach and built a sand castle,
then moved on to Filey. Dave was last in Filey when he was 7; all he can remember is paddling in the rock pools wearing plastic sandals, so it was good to see what a lovely little place it is. A proper unspoilt Northern seaside fishing town, where they still launch and recover the fishing cobbles on the beach with a tractor. Ann-Marie created a bit of sand-art.
In the evening we joined the Aire Cooled Alley Cats 2cv club for a Fish & Chip supper at what used to be Harry Ramsden’s and is now the Wetherby Whaler at Guisborough. Waiter service, chandeliers, lashings of tea and bread & butter in a chippy; all a bit new to us but lovely all the same, and it was good to see all our northern 2cv friends again. One or two more club nights and we’ll be out of range. We took some of Ann-Marie’s home-made Bakewell Tart for pudding, with our new batch of cherry jam, which we distributed to everyone who was left in the car park at the end. It seemed to go down quite well.
On Friday it rained all day. We made rhubarb jam & chutney
then lit the fire for the first time since April and slobbed out in front of a film.
Those two days went perfectly according to plan, however serendipity sometimes throws a sicky and we have to fend for ourselves, which is when it all goes completely pear shaped.
Saturday started off so well and, to be fair, continued to be pretty fabulous for quite a while. We took a day off boating to go to Lincoln; Arthur was moored up in Brayford Pool and had invited us to join him so that we could all attend the Lincoln B.I.G. Day of Dance, featuring our old side, Bourne Borderers, along with 25 other sides dancing at various places around the city. Well, we couldn’t really turn it down.
After a quick cup of tea aboard the lovely Nb Shambles we set off, past the famous Glory Hole into the city,
following the sound of a big bass drum. We found Bourne Borderers in mid flow oozing their usual exuberance, a whirl of sticks, feathers and tatters with two drums and half a dozen squeeze-boxes echoing through the high street, surrounded by a large crowd.
As soon as they’d finished we were treated to the warmest welcome ever with hugs and smudges all round. Ann-Marie spent the rest of the day happily sporting a big black smear of face-paint on both cheeks. We had lunch with Arthur, Andrew and Karen in Bunty’s; a terrific little tea room half way up Steep Hill that does sausage sarnies and pots of tea. In the afternoon there was another dance spot under the castle walls,
followed by the finale outside the castle. We finally said goodbye and set off back up the A1, getting back to the boat at about half past six, just in time for tea.
Well that’s what we should have done. What we did do was make a rash decision to take the car to Brighouse, where we were boating to next, and walk back along the tow path to Dewsbury. Now, usually before we go striding off on a 7 mile hike we do a bit of preparation. Things like wearing appropriate footwear, assessing how much daylight there is left and perhaps most importantly, taking a map, or at least looking at one.
The trouble with walking back along the tow path on a river navigation is that on the river bits there generally isn’t one. If any sort of path exists it’s overgrown with nettles & brambles, slopes towards the water and is slippery.
After several false starts we should have taken the hint and gone back to the car, but we’re made of sterner (read; Stupid) stuff. Finally we found a path which lead in the general direction we wanted to go and strode, bare legged and sandaled, into the fading light. Unbeknown to us, there are four river sections between Brighouse and Dewsbury, each of which would have been tricky for people wearing sturdy boots & trousers and carrying a map in broad daylight. None of which we were. Each time we emerged, scratched and stinging from uncharted jungle onto the nice, well surfaced path alongside the next bit of artificial cut, we cheered with joy thinking we’d made it, only to find, one lock later, that it fizzled out into another nettle filled briar patch. It was after Ann-Marie slipped and nearly fell in the river that we thought that as it was now officially dark and we’d only got about half way, it might be prudent to re-assess our situation. We left the cut and found the main road, complete with all the modern luxuries like tarmac, street lights and Tesco express. We finally got back to the boat at about 10:30, where we put our cold dirty feet in a bowl of hot water, rubbed sting-eeze on our legs and wondered what on earth we had been thinking.
The next day we took the boat up to Brighouse and what a different trip it was; relaxed cruising up a gentle river interspaced with the interest of the unique Calder and Hebble locks. We passed the turn off for the Huddersfield Canal
this is looking back towards it.
We’ve just come through the lock on the left and the Huddersfield Broad is just round the corner on the right. We’ve now got ascending these locks sussed. We put the nose of the boat in the V of the top gates and a long centre rope around a bollard ahead of the boat. Whoever’s holding the boat then brings this rope up to the gate so they can keep it tight while watching the water coming in, and be heard by the paddle winder. If there’s a ground paddle we open that till it comes up a bit, then we gradually open both gate paddles. That method avoids the tiller getting hooked under the walkway on the bottom gates and because the nose is in the V the front can’t swing. The only thing you need to watch out for is the front fender getting under a beam on the top gate, but as you’re at that end anyway it’s not a problem. We realised our hand-spike needed a bit of fettling; Dave had gone for strength over manoeuvrability, which had resulted in a cumbersome log-with-a-handle affair. When we got to Brighouse the workmate and saw came out and we now have a much more svelte version.
Brighouse has a gorgeous little basin which sits between two locks and is very well looked after. There isn’t a lot of visitor mooring but what there is is worth grabbing for 72 hours.