Saturday 11 December 2021

Goole to Castleford. Knottingley and Goole Canal. Aire and Calder Navigation.

 After a week we left Goole and, along with Paul and Maxine on Nb Rosemary, went to Rawcliffe Bridge.

Because the navigation is so big and straight you can see one mooring from the other, but it still took us nearly an hour to get there.

In the morning we left Legend tied up safely outside the marina and drove down to Mum and Dad’s for a few days. They’ve got a new shed arriving in January, so they wanted to get a concrete base laid for it before it started to get frosty, and we’d put that weekend aside to help with the donkey work and pick up our post from Karen’s. It was also close to Dad’s birthday, so after an afternoon of levelling, shuttering and digging out tree roots we all went to the pub to celebrate. Next morning Paul and Perry from Dad's bowls club arrived with a cement mixer and by lunch time, well ahead of schedule, we’d got the 8’x6’ slab laid and levelled. 

Perry doing a sterling job with the mixer

Half way through

All finished
There were bacon and egg butties all round and we all felt rather proud of ourselves.

That afternoon we got Dad to have a listen to our car. For a while there had been a rhythmic rattle coming from the top of the engine. Dave suspected the poly V serpentine belt which, as well as driving the alternator, follows a torturous route round the water, air con and power steering pumps. Dad agreed that it was a possible cause, so Dave got on the internet to find a new one. Our little Kia’s engine is a Hyundai 1.5 diesel; finding a belt for it proved tricky, but Dave finally managed to source one in GSF at Luton. Even if it’s not the culprit it’s worth renewing it before it becomes impossible, so we arranged to pick it up on our way home.

On the Sunday it was Nanny Wendy’s 80th birthday party, which was a lovely open house affair and a great time to catch up with lots of folk we haven’t seen for years. It also gave everyone a chance to see Wendy’s new kitchen extension which was fabulous. Really spacious with an island unit in the middle and a whole big floor-to-ceiling window wall looking out over her lovely garden.  

In the morning we were off back Up North. As well as swinging into Luton for the drive belt, we stopped off in Rugby for diesel and a chat and a brew with Lindsey before heading home. In the evening Dave quickly rigged up the new inverter that we’d got in our post haul from Karen’s so that the next morning we could do a wash load while we were on the move. We’d decided to go back to Goole to fit the belt as it would be so much easier than anywhere else, so we had another week there. The new belt was easier to fit than we’d feared, but didn’t cure the noise which we now think must be the timing chain. Changing that would mean dropping the engine, along with the sub-frame, out of the bottom of the car. That’s clearly something we’re not geared up for and would cost around £600 in a garage. Despite having got quite attached to our little Kia, it’s not worth the expense of having it done. A noisy cam chain can last for quite a while, so we’ll just turn the radio up and keep an eye on Auto Trader for the time being. We did, however, give the poor thing a wash and a hoover while it was close to the boat.

Other things in our post haul from Karen’s included a bubble tester for the boat’s gas system and a bottle of Aquasteel rust converter. The bubble tester is a little device that goes in the gas locker next to the bottles and lets you check, quite literally at the push of a button, the integrity of the whole system. Any leak shows up as a bubble in the bowl of liquid at the base of the tester, so we can add it to our monthly check list. It also enables the BSS tester to quickly check the system without having to go through all the rigmarole of using manometer. (Which is classed as “Working on the gas system”, meaning that the tester also has to be Gas Safe registered.)

The Aquasteel is for the floor in the well deck. When we got Legend, the well deck was open to the elements and there was a chipboard box/step arrangement in there which had been used to store coal and logs and all manner of rubbish for years. As well as that, the scuppers, which drain water from the well deck, were cut into the sides about quarter of an inch higher than the well deck floor leaving a lip, meaning that any rain water made puddles which never went away, and the bit under the box was permanently damp. Over the years the floor - and the sides it’s welded to - have got quite rusty. We cleaned it all out when we first got the boat, and have done it again when we were on the Caldon canal, but it had become obvious that it needed something more than a clean-up and a lick of paint to deal with it properly.  Dave went over the whole floor with the wire brush on the angle grinder, and then ground the scupper openings down to remove the lip. That will stop the puddles, and along with the upcycled fridge shelves that we’ve put in under all the stuff in the front lockers, should keep the floor dry. Two coats of Aquasteel went on before a coat of black gloss.

Everything out!

All wire brushed ready for treating

Aquasteel looks like milk when before it cures.

Next morning, 2 coats of Aquasteel have cured and he's half way through the black gloss.

The Aquasteel forms a chemical bond with the rust, leaving a waterproof polymer coating that the paint has a very good adherence to. It comes highly recommended by other boaters, so we’re hopeful it will sort it properly. We only had time to do one coat of gloss before the weather turned too cold to paint, so it’ll get another one as soon as it warms up a bit.

After doing all the things that needed a big space next to us and really good car access, we had a few short, bright but cold hops up the navigation, first back to Rawcliffe Bridge, then Pollington lock...

More long, wide and straight boating towards Pollington lock.

 Pet peacocks, not something you expect to see on a boat.

The site of the breach that effectively cut Goole off from the rest of the network last year.
All nicely mended now though.

Looking back to Goole's cloud factory.

Westfield Reservoir wasn't as windy as last time, but still a bit choppy.

Passing the end of the New Junction Canal

Pollington lock is even bigger than the others.

...Whitley lock...

Pollington to Whitley. We'll do our best, but 20 is way beyond our poor little engine!

Moored up in the sunshine at Whitley lock.

...and Knottingley.  We moored just below the lock at Whitley and in the morning when we were getting ready to set off, we noticed that the traffic light on the lock had gone to red, meaning that there was a lock keeper on duty and that there was something coming. Sure enough, a few minutes later Fusedale H, one of the big gravel barges came up behind us and went into the lock. After she’d gone through, we radioed the locky and asked if we could grab a cheeky pen-up while he was there. He said that he’d be more than happy to, but he had to shoot off to Ferrybridge so that he could pen Fusedale H through when she got there, so he was sorry but we’d have to do it ourselves. Ah well, it was worth a try.

We’d looked at Knottingley on Google Earth and picked a useful looking spot near the junction to stop at. However, when we got there we found a fishing match was going on. There looked like there was just enough room for us to tuck in at the end of the worm-drowning party, but as we tried to pull over the wind picked up and pushed the front out into the middle of the navigation, then, much to the amusement of the fishermen, we got the back end stuck in the mud. It wasn’t going well, but we managed to sort ourselves out with a bit of muddy thrusting and rope pulling and eventually got the boat alongside. We took stock of the situation; it was a concrete bank which would mean using mooring pins, and right next to a busy road bridge, so it would be noisy. We both agreed that it would be better to go and find somewhere else, so we pushed off and with a wave to the line of bemused anglers, slid Legend through the churned up murky water and disappeared under the bridge. Half a mile further on we found somewhere far more suitable, with piling to chain to and a handy alleyway leading to a road where we could park the car. Later that afternoon Ferndale H came past, so we were glad we'd moved on and were chained to the Armco.

Ferrybridge was a very short hop from there so once we were moored up we had plenty of time to take the car forward to Castleford and, as there isn’t a towpath down the river section, come back over the hill through the town.  

In the morning we went to have a look at Pontefract. What a lovely town! It’s got a fabulous castle, a thriving indoor market, a really good and helpful library and a very nice cocktail/coffee bar called Carter’s where we stopped and had a game of rummy. 

On the way home we came across the fascinating All Saints Church – the church within a church.

Back at the boat we untied and headed for the floodlock and the three remaining cooling towers of Ferrybridge power station.

There used to be eight of these.

We had lunch on the back deck as we passed by the remains of the coal unloading facility where the Tom Pudding trains used to be picked up and tipped out.

The Tom Pudding trains used to be towed in here.

This is the view from the other end. you can see the remains of the "tippler".
The whole facility is in the process of being demolished

The autumnal colours were stunning 
as we pushed up the Aire...
...but it was cold and breezy on the back of the boat, and we were quite grateful when Bulholme Lock came into sight. We penned up the lock and chugged along the short Castleford cut in the fading light before tying up on the visitor bollards.

This little fellow came to visit us in Castleford.

The forecast had high wind warnings as Storm Arwen passed over the UK, so we were grateful of being a bit sheltered, but it was still a noisy and rocky night on board. It didn’t let up for the whole of the next day, so we stoked the fire up and found things to do inside. Both our birthdays were imminent, as was Christmas of course, so there were no shortage of crafty things to keep us occupied while the boat rocked and the wind howled through the silver birches.


Tuesday 23 November 2021

Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. River Don Navigation. New Junction Canal. Knottingley and Goole Canal. Sheffield to Goole.

   On Friday, when we’d come up the Tinsley flight, we’d mentioned to the volunteers that we’d probably be going back down on the Monday, but on Sunday morning it occurred to us that just mentioning it didn’t really count as a formal booking. There’s no-one to talk to at the weekend, so all we could do was leave a voice mail message and keep our fingers crossed.  On Sunday afternoon we went through the swing bridge, turned Legend round and pulled over at the service block, before going back through the bridge and mooring up pointing out of the city. On Monday morning we were up and ready to go, so that when Nigel gave us a ring at about 9am we wasted no time pulling out of the basin and getting ourselves to the top lock.

It was a lovely sunny day and Nigel and Chris had us down the flight and back to Holme lock in no time.

There's no shortage of water on the Tinsley Flight this year.

The Tinsley Flight volunteers having a safety brief.

Nigel and Chris hard at work.

You need to be careful at the double bottom lock, the overflow can easily fill your engine room up.

As if it couldn't get any better we were given a rainbow.

We say goodbye to our lock wheelers.

   We thanked them and waved goodbye, then set off down on the last few locks through Rotherham, before returning to the big commercial locks on the River Don Navigation.

A lock to nowhwere. One of the original locks on the Don Navigation.

Eastwood lock, where the now derelict Dearne and Dove canal joins the Don.

   We had thought we’d stop at Eastwood for the night, but having looked at the wind forecast for the rest of the week, we decided to get as far as we could that day.  There was great excitement at Mexborough when  we actually shared a lock with another boat! We’d noticed Nb Odessy in various places on our travels this year; they’d been on the River Witham at the same time as us, and we’d gone past them moored up near Keadby, so it was really good to be able to finally meet them. They pulled over and moored up above Mexborough Low lock, so we waved farewell and carried on down the lock and on to Sprotbrough, getting there just as the sun was going down.

   We’d left the car in Sprotbrough while we’d been to Sheffield, so it was nice to see it was still there and in one piece. We always pick the places for abandoning our car very carefully; busy car parks with plenty of walkers and some overlooking houses nearby are always good or, for one-night stays, a pub car park or the side of a curtain twitching residential street are generally a safe bet. Having left it, we don’t give it a second thought until a couple of minutes before it comes into view again, when there is a fleeting moment of mild panic and visions of a burnt-out wreck. Touch wood, apart from the Astra being broken into on the G&S in what, with hindsight, was not a good place to leave it, our choices have been sound.

   In the morning, after a C25K run along the river bank, (we’re up to 25 minute runs now and feeling quite proud of ourselves) followed by a walk back through the Ings

Sprotbrough Ings. 

   We abandoned  the car again and carried on to Barnby Dun.  When we got to Long Sandal lock we had to wait while a CRT work party removed their work boat from the lock before we could go down. They were preparing to remove the unused and unusable intermediate lock gates and we felt a bit guilty that they had to stop everything to let us through.

Intermediate gates are seldom used so these are coming out.

    They were very nice about it though, penning us down with a smile and a wave.

   We had a week at Barnby Dun catching up with boaty jobs. The drawers under sink have a lot of weight in them and had begun to sag a bit, making them stick. The bottom one got a supporting cross-brace, the top one got extra brackets to hold its base up and they both got all their runners tightened up and adjusted. They now both glide in and out in a very pleasing manor.

   We also have a new anchor fixing point. There are stories of boaters having to deploy their anchor on a fast moving river only to have it snatch and rip the front “T” post off the boat. Whether they are urban myths or not is questionable, but having an alternative fixing point seemed sensible, and having it further back and lower down would also lessen the keeling-over action if, heaven forbid, we ever did find ourselves having to use it. So we’ve now got this.

Not only is it a better place for the anchor rope, but also it’s useful for attaching fenders and towing. We think we’ll put a matching one on the other side.

   Dave was back in the engine room as well, he put some new gaskets on the rocker covers to replace the makeshift cornflake-box ones that were there from the last engine rebuild, and did a bit more tidying up and re-homing of stuff that got evicted when the washing machine got put in.

   We were quite pleased with our pumpkin this year... got carved at Barnby Dun on the day, but as the weather was a bit rubbish we saved it till a couple of days later when we’d gone onto the New Junction canal and were at Sykehouse lock.

The Aqueduct over the river Don. The gates are to stop the river flowing into the canal when it's in flood.


Moored up at Sykehouse lock.

That evening there wasn’t a breath of wind and we had our ‘Kissaversary’ barbeque and hot toddies out on the towpath surrounded by tea-lights, with our beautiful pumpkin on top of the cratch.


   We managed to exchange our empty gas bottle the next day which made us feel less twitchy. The national shortage of gas bottles seems to be easing, but of course the price had rocketed. Ten years ago, when we first started boating, a 13kg bottle of Calor propane could be exchanged at Jewson’s for £18. Fuel boats and boat yards were a bit more, but for it to now be £40 everywhere is really painful. A cynical person would suggest that the bottle shortage was a conspiracy, engineered to put the price up, but we’re not like that. Not us. Oh no.

   After a couple of days at Sykehouse we carried on along the dead straight and many swingbridged New Junction Canal then turned right on the Knottingly and Goole canal, which forms part of the Aire and Calder Navigation. The crosswind coming over Southfield Reservoir was really strong, making the water in the canal quite choppy with proper waves and suchlike, and demanding severe concentration from the skipper in order to keep Legend on course and away from the leeward bank.

We crabbed and bobbed our way across the open landscape, glad to be finally in the shelter of the trees at the end of the reservoir. From there it was - quite literally - plain sailing all the way into Goole.

Hello Goole.

   We stopped at the very useful wide and grassy moorings just before Viking Marine...

...then had an exploratory walk into the town and back through the huge commercial docks. Of course all the gigantic container ships go to Felixtowe these days, so Associated British Ports, who run the docks have had to diversify. Don't get the idea that Goole isn't busy though. Not all UK imports will fit into a shipping container; steel girders and construction materials, along with bulk cargoes such as liquids, aniamal feed and cerials need specialist handling, and several big ships still come up the Humber and into Goole from the continent each week so there’s always something to see.

Exol Pride looking strangely small. The coal tippler behind was used to load the Tom Pudding boats.

Zeus going backward with the tide....

...before turning into the lock entrance....

...and tied up with her deck boards up while she's being loaded.

Going up river with the incoming tide. You need your wits about you going at that speed.

   For more information about Goole docks, click here 

   Plus there were the inland freighters with oil and gravel going past our mooring each day. Some leisure boaters get upset about being rocked around by the "big boys", but what they seem to forget is that without commercial traffic there wouldn't have been a canal system in the first place. We love to see a fully loaded working vessel; we just make sure that when we're on a big working waterway we're moored up properly. 

Last year there was a breach in the canal bank between Goole and the New Junction canal, effectively cutting Goole off from the rest of the country, and it was feared that once Exol had transferred oil transportation from water to road while the breach was being mended, they wouldn't then go back. However, the switch to road haulage just confirmed what Exol already knew; lorries were more time consuming and more expensive. They used the time to give the Pride a facelift and as soon as the navigation was open again she was back to work, along with two or three 400 tonne barges that were taken out of retirement to resume the gravel transport trade, taking dredgings from the Humber estuary up the Aire and Calder to Leeds. In 2013 we went from the Leeds and Liverpool canal onto the Aire and Calder and then up the Ouse to York. While we were moored up in Castleford, a big gravel barge penned through the lock and at the time everyone thought it was the last one. (You can find that post here.) Happily, here we are, eight years later and the barges are back. 

We loved the hum of activity in Goole, we loved the handy mooring where we could get the car right next to the boat, (which was really usefull when Dave came to change the serpentine belt)...

 ...and we surprised ourselves by really quite liking the town. Our friends Paul and Maxine, who we met last year in Stratford-upon-Avon, arrived and moored Nb Rosemary next to us while we were there, so it turned into a bit of a party for a while. We do seem to be rather a bad influence on each other.

Goole may be a bit of a treck to get to, stuck as it is at the end of the Aire and Caulder, and it's name doesn't do it any favours, but we haven't a bad word to say about it and we'll definitely be back next time we head 'Up North'

Brentford to New Haw Lock. GU mainline. River Brent. River Thames. Wey and Godalming Navigations.

We had just over a week at Brentford waiting for the Thames strong stream warnings to come down from red to amber, and we made good use of o...