Friday 8 April 2022

Kilwick to Riddlesden via Skipton. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

   February and March were rather quiet affairs as far as boaty things are concerned; we have a new little toothbrush shelf on the inside of the bathroom cupboard door, but otherwise Legend has changed very little and our travels have been short and infrequent. Thrilling Adventures on the High Seas have been non-existent of late, which in some ways is a blessed relief, but not particularly good for storytelling.

   However, now that the restrictions are lifting, our social life has gone into overdrive.

   While we were moored at Kildwick, Frankie, Harry and Thibault came to stay for a few days on their whistle-stop UK tour. We moved along a bit so we were behind the church car park when they turned up, making transshipment easier and it was such a wonderful moment when there was a knock on the boat and our little grandson’s beaming face appeared at the window.

   Our pole bunk, which we made when George was a baby, got another outing. It goes across the boat over the foot of the bed, with the poles suspended under the gunwales and can be either a plain hammock, or have a net on all four sides (like a garden trampoline). It was the first time we’d used it for more than just one night, and we soon realised that refinements are required. It works perfectly as a small person’s bed, but during the day we really need access to the engine room door and the wardrobe, so taking it down and putting it back up needs to be a quicker and easier process than it is at the moment. When we took Ann-Marie’s knee brace apart (It was brand new and must have cost a bomb, but the NHS couldn’t have it back and offered to dispose of it) there was some very useful looking - and very wide - pieces of Velcro that we’re sure can be re-purposed for that little project.

   We had no end of stuff planned for when they were with us; we were going to have a lovely boat trip into Skipton the following morning where there was a really nice play park and loads of things to do and see, but Storm Dudley gatecrashed the party, bringing 65 mph gusts and horizontal rain & snow, and knocked all that on the head. We did get out for lunch in the Cake ’Ole in Keighley - which was fabulous and had no problem accommodating a GF four-year-old...

...followed by an afternoon at Dave and Kate’s...

...but unfortunately outdoors grandson fun was just not on the menu.

   On Day 3 there was a lull between storms Dudley and Eunice, so we scrambled the crew and made a dash for Skipton. Little Thibault was on the back deck with Dave and Harry for some of it...

...and helped with bridge pushing, but it was really too cold so he came in and looked out of the window for the last bit. We got to the services just as it started hailing, but it stopped long enough for us to go through the town, past the Castle Arm, and find a very convenient mooring gap near Morrisons.

   In the morning, faced with a trip across the Pennines to Matlock in a 2CV, Frankie and Harry – quite sensibly – decided to set off after breakfast before the wind picked up. We were on tenterhooks until we heard they’d arrived safely at Jon and Jo’s. That evening we were very glad to be sheltered between Skipton’s dark, satanic luxury apartments as Eunice hammered the surrounding countryside.

   Back when we first started boating, we met an American chap called Mike. He was very into narrowboats and we’ve remained good friends and kept in touch ever since. To cut a long story short, Mike now lives on a narrowboat in East Anglia with his partner (also called Mike) and has recently retired. They plan to unplug from their permanent mooring on the Little Ouse and become Continuous Cruisers - which is what we are - so they wanted to pick our brains for hints and tips about how to be a water gypsy. They were up in Yorkshire checking out possible winter moorings, so they came over to Skipton on the train and spent the day with us. As well as chatting about boat stuff, we took them up to Eshton Road lock in the car to see how the work was progressing. The completion date has been put back two weeks till May the 8th due to the piling platform being washed away during one of the recent storms... 

...but the contractors seemed to be getting on well with rebuilding it.

We didn’t think we’d have a lot to tell the Mikes about CCing, but they came with a list of questions and we realised that, over the years, we’ve picked up quite a few off-grid habits and routines that grid-tied people never think about. Having finite supplies of water, gas and electricity has changed the way we do things and – hopefully - we’ll take those lessons with us if/when we have to give up this life and go back on land. Just recently (Spring 2022) there have been predictions of energy price increases of £700 pa for ‘average households’. It’s just as well we like this life.


   The last time we were in Skipton we missed the opportunity to walk up the Arm and round the Castle woods, this time we found a break in the weather and made up for that.

As there was nowhere particular to moor between Skipton and Gargrave, when our two weeks were up in Skipton we went up to the next windy ‘ole, turned round and headed back to Kildwick in the sunshine, picking David and Kate up at the services on the way.

The plan is to go back down to Bingley in three hops before coming back up, by which time Gargrave should be open and we can carry on to the summit, Foulridge Tunnel, infinity and beyond.  The news from CRT is that the breach at Rishton, near Burnley, is all fixed and is now refilling with water, so it seems the Leeds and Liverpool’s Anus Horribilis is all better. Touch wood.

In other news, we’re still full-on with parkrun; we’ve now been to 13 in different places. Dave’s got his time down to a very respectable sub 28 minutes on the flatter ones, and he goes out for a run a couple of times a week as well. Until Ann-Marie’s knee is fully recovered she’s volunteering on Saturday mornings and is doing gentle exercise with lots of rest in-between.

Our poor little Kia Rio is getting rather tired; the EML and ABS lights keep coming on, there’s a death rattle from the timing chain and it has gone into limp mode a couple of times. Although we don’t do a lot of miles in our car, we really need it to be reliable, so we’re on the lookout for something else. We’re sad because it’s been a good little workhorse and we’re going to miss it.

We've had some really good days out with David and Kate. We went to see the view at Elslack moor...

...and Kate's birthday in Grassington and at the amazing Brimham Rocks...

Plus walks over Skipton Moor....

...and Ilkley Moor with David and Dylan

The spring bunting is up in the windows and the daffodils and crocuses are coming out. After two weeks at Kildwick we carried on to Silsden and there were new lambs in the field behind the boat. Everything is turning green and spring has definitely sprung.

 We locked Legend up and had a spring break with Bob and Mandy in a holiday cottage in Leven, near Beverly on the east Yorkshire coast. We stopped off for lunch in Wetherby on the way. We've never been there before and it was delightful.

   It was a wonderful four days. Purely by chance they’d picked that week in March ‘22 that was gloriously sunny; we were out for walks every day and relaxing in the hot tub each evening.

We had a super seaside day in Hornsea.

But the highlight of the week was a day at Bempton Cliffs RSPB site, near Flamborough Head, where all the Auks and other seabirds were coming back to the sheer cliff-face to reclaim their nesting sites. There were gannets, guillemots, razorbills and, most exciting for us, puffins.

 As if that wasn’t enough, a short eared owl gave a tremendous flying display over the dunes just before we left. We don’t class ourselves as bird watchers by any means, but we do love watching birds, and to go along with someone highly knowledgeable, which Bob is, adds a whole other level to the experience.
   We also discovered the Leven Canal; a three mile, dead straight canal that is now the only wholly privately owned waterway in the country. It goes from the river Hull to Leven and ends in the garden of the Manor House. Who knew? Dave and Bob walked along the towpath to the river and back, trying to avoid treading on amorous reptiles and amphibians on the way.

When we left the cottage we went to Beverly for lunch and a walk round. Somewhere else we've bever been...

...then headed south for a mother’s day weekend with Mum and Dad and Karen. We had arranged to stay with Ken & Annie, but COVID got in the way, so Karen put us up instead. We did Frimley Lodge parkrun with Karen and Andrew, it was the biggest one we’ve ever been to with over 350 runners - parkruns in our bit of Yorkshire tend to get around 100 - but it was extremely well organised with a very pleasant flat, fast 2 lap course round the playing fields and along the Basingstoke canal towpath. It was a grand morning, Karen and Dave both got a PB, Ann-Marie was bar-code scanning and Andrew was marshalling and cheering everyone on.

Over in Fleet, Dave and Dad had a go at mending our moka pot insert. The tube bit had always been a bit wobbly and had finally come apart from the funnel bit, but with their combined efforts they soon had it soldered back together.

Next morning we were up and off early and back up to the boat. We had one last night at Silsden then moved on to Riddlesden where we’ll have another fortnight.

After such fantastic weather last week we’re now back to northerly winds and snow, but it is only the end of March, so we really shouldn’t be surprised.

We’ve found a Citroen C3 on Autotrader that looks promising, £0 tax, good mileage and in our price range, so we’ve booked a viewing and the Daves are off to Barnsley to have a look at it tomorrow. We’ll let you know how they got on next time.

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