Tuesday 7 June 2022

Skipton to Bank Newton. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.


On the Pennine Way near Gargrave.

   Two weeks in Skipton whizzed by; unsurprising considering how much our social life was picking up. Now that diesel is so expensive, we try to make every journey in the car as effective as possible, so an appointment in Nottingham turned into a five day road trip including a couple of days with Laura and Alison on Wenlock Edge, a whistle stop in Leamington Spa for dinner with Bob and Mandy on Matilda Blue, and a WRG Leaders Training Day at Rowington. The beautiful thing is that now we’ve got an astonishingly economical car, the mileage allowance for Nottingham paid for the whole trip!

 On the way to L&A we stopped at Benthall Hall (NT) for a picnic. It’s small but lovely and the tour guide was very informative.

The Kitchen garden. Ann-Marie's natural habitat.

   As usual, L&A were the queens of hospitality, tucking us up in their beautiful annex and taking us out for a walk along the Stiperstones; a geological phenomenon where a hard quartzite layer has been turned and pushed to the surface by tectonic movement so it sticks out above the surrounding softer rocks.

   As it erodes and breaks up it leaves behind an amazing alien sparkly rocky landscape with masses of gorse, heather and bilberries growing in-between the cracks. Following the paths along the ridge is hard going, but so worth it. We had lunch in the lee of the highest outcrop, then Dave and Laura climbed up to the trig point on top. After that we took the easier trail back down to the Bog Centre for coffee and cake before heading back.

   In Leamington we had another picnic in the beautifully kept park before seeking out Matilda Blue who we found hiding behind a hedge at the back of Aldi. We had a lovely afternoon chatting with our mates; since spending so much time with them last year we’ve really missed Bob and Mandy, they’re such easy and happy company. They were about to put Matilda into the Saltisford Arm moorings for three weeks while they finally go for a twice postponed wedding anniversary grand trip to America. They’re going to Florida for a week with their grandkids, followed by some time in Yellowstone National Park. They’re tremendously excited and who wouldn’t be? We know they’ll have such a good time.  

   The WRG Leader’s Training Day was very good; a lot of fun, a lot of information and a good chance to catch up with Navvies that we haven’t seen for a couple of years.

 There were a couple of trial canal camps held last year, but mostly the restoration program has been on hold since the BCN clean-up in 2020. As usual we were all split into teams and the ice breaker was to come up with a design for the back of the WRG Canal Camp tee shirt for this year.  One person from each team did a presentation with their design, then we all voted and Dave’s team won. Hurrah!

   We stayed over in the village hall on Saturday night and came back to Legend on Sunday via Kate and David’s for a cuppa and a chat. They’d been away in the camper so we had plenty to talk about. They’d limped home with a broken front coil spring. David had changed one before so he knew it was a bitch of a job to do solo, so 'The Boyz' arranged to get together on the Monday and get stuck in.

   While we were there Frankie phoned to say that she was going into hospital on Tuesday to be induced. Another reason to get all giddy!

   Getting the broken spring off the van was just as difficult as David had thought.

   Even with air tools, the top nut was not going to budge, so they had to resort to an angle grinder and sacrificed the strut. When he’d done the other one, David had changed that strut, so having new on both sides was a good idea anyway. David got a local garage to compress the new spring and fit it on the strut, then Dave went back a couple of days later for re-assembly. That went like clockwork and just shows that two people who can work together will get the job done four times as fast.

   To keep the social whirl spinning, John and Maggie invited us over for dinner. Although we’ve known John for years, we’d only met Maggie briefly and we’d not seen their new house before so it was lovely to put that to rights. We were completely blown away by the house, the location, with views out over the Yorkshire Dales was stunning and the house itself was fabulous. For dinner, Maggie produced roast lamb followed by rhubarb crumble and we were in heaven, then in the evening we had a dip in their hot tub with mood lighting, music and a glass of bubbly. We felt like honoured guests in a top class spa hotel.

   After a lovely breakfast we came back to Legend and excitedly waited for a phone call from Frankie. In the afternoon we went for a walk round Airevale Park and were beginning to think that it would be the next day when we got the message that our fourth grandchild, Axelle had arrived safe and sound.

 We were all giddy for the rest of the day.

   Five months after she fell off the boat Ann-Marie’s knee was still hurting, so after a chat with 111 she went back to the minor injuries unit at Airedale Hospital to ask their advice. They referred her to the orthopaedic clinic in Skipton, which was just a short walk from the boat. The physiotherapist at the clinic told her that there was nothing structurally wrong and that it had all healed up. All Ann-Marie needed to do now was get moving and strengthen it with help from pain killers if necessary. They gave her some exercises to do and agreed that she could start back with Couch to 5k whenever she wanted. Great news.

   So on our last day in Skipton we were both able to do parkrun; Dave ran and Ann-Marie was tail walking, although there wasn’t anyone actually walking the course, so she had to do a bit of jogging to keep up. After breakfast we set off through the swing bridges and up the locks to Gargrave, which of course included the newly reopened Eshton Road Lock – the one that had been holding everyone up this year.

Eshton Road Lock. The new looking stonework and the new turf behind it is where the hole was.

            This was the scene in February after the storms had washed the piling platform and the stabilising ballast away.

   We were joined in the locks by Robin and Marion on Nb Many Meetings, a lovely boat and a lovely couple who’ve been aboard about as long as we have.

   The moorings at Gargrave were predictably rammed when we got there, all the escapees from Skipton were there plus a Roving Trader’s market, so both Legend and Many Meetings ended up off the end of the moorings in the jungle. Because there had been so many lock movements, the lock keeper had raised the threshold on the by-wash to try and stop water loss, which had made an artificially high level in the pound we were moored in. We only noticed when we came back from a lovely evening walk up the Pennine Way to Harrows Hill and found the level had dropped back to normal and we were on a bit of a lean.

   Dave went and checked that by-wash was still running - which it was, but only just - then tried to push us out without much success. Overnight it got worse and we ended up with books under the bedframe, Barton Island style, to stop us rolling out of bed. Dave was up early on a mission. By now the by-wash was a good four inches down and it was beginning to be difficult to stand up inside the boat. Armed with our 13’ boat pole, 2 gang planks and a scissor jack he eventually managed to get Legend off the rocks and floating again about 3 feet from the bank.

   It appeared that there was a rock pile in the canal at the front of our boat and the back of Robin and Marion’s. They weren’t so lucky – Many Meetings back end was right out of the water to the extent that the prop was sticking out.

   To cut a long story short-ish, the lock keeper flushed a few lock’s worth of water down from the two pounds above us, we tied their front rope to our rear dolly with about 20’ of slack, and after two tugs we managed to snatch Many Meetings off its perch and back into deeper water.

 We paired up to the top of the lovely Bank Newton lock flight...

            Crossing the aqueduct over the juvenile River Aire before we leave the Aire Valley and head over the Pennines. 

Dave got to use the Keb that he got for Christmas!

...then moored up on “The Wiggles”. This is the lovely part of the L&L where it meanders round the contours between Bank Newton and East Marton as it crosses the watershed between the Aire Valley and Ribblesdale.

   An exciting morning, but both crews knew what they were about and made easy work of it. And a new friendship was forged on the waterways.

   We’re still worried about Dad; he’s been back into hospital for another session of infusion and his test results aren’t terribly encouraging. We feel very far away from them at the moment and, although it is only a few hour’s drive down there, we really wish we were closer.

No comments:

Pangbourne to Sutton Courtenay. River Thames.

Summer ‘24 finally arrived while we were moored at Pangbourne, and boy, did we all know about it. The temperatures rocketed up - along with ...