Friday 9 June 2023

Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Huddersfield Broad Canal. Calder & Hebble. Slaithwaite to Cooper Bridge

Another Saturday and another parkrun. Greenhead Park in Huddersfield was our biggest run yet with over 600 other runners.

It was really well organised though, and despite being congested at the start we both got a PB. Back home, we hopped down to bridge 16 which was the last green, open space before the urban sprawl of Huddersfield encroached onto the canal.

The edge was really shallow and we ended up moored on the lock landing. We know, Dear Reader, that you will be completely disgusted by this blatant flouting of boating etiquette, but in our defence, we’d not seen anther moving boat for days, and the locks were quite close together, meaning that if anyone else did turn up, they’d be going straight from one lock to the next and not be using the landing anyway. And it was a lovely place to be, so there.

We started a clear out and tidy of the wardrobe and cupboards which resulted in two holdalls full of towels, bedding and books - plus the holdalls themselves – going to a charity shop. Ann-Marie has also put some clothing up on Vinted, with mixed success, but what doesn’t sell will still be leaving the boat one way or another. We were getting to bursting point and it’s much better now that we can open cupboard doors without things falling out.

That afternoon, Ann-Marie sent messages of love and support to Sue and Emma, only to find that Steve was in his final hours and sleeping peacefully. In the morning Mum called with the not unexpected news that he’d died in the evening. We had a sad, distracted day with his family constantly on our minds. It hit Ann-Marie particularly hard; Sue and Steve got married when she was a baby, so she’s known them as a couple all her life. We both found the suddenness of Steve’s decline quite shocking; less than a year ago we’d visited them and hadn’t for a moment though it would be the last time we’d see him.

Logically, we’re both well aware that we’re approaching the age when funerals begin to outnumber weddings, but emotionally we’re not ready for that yet. (Is anyone? Ever?)

Life is short. Make every day count.  

At the end of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, lock 1 drops you onto the Huddersfield Broad Canal, just before Apsley Wharf. Between locks 3 and 1 the canal dives under a pair of tunnels that were dug during the restoration in the 90’s under all the new developments that had been built over the derelict canal. There’s no towpath on this bit and lock 2 is accessible only by boat in a weirdly secret world behind factories and warehouses between the two tunnels.

We were booked through lock 1 at 9am the next day, so we moved down to Lock 3, dropping down what must be one of the leakiest locks on the system.

The top gate really looked like it was about to collapse and send tonnes of water crashing into the lock chamber. Dave was somewhat perturbed and took the precaution of standing inside the back hatch with the doors shut, though how much use that would have been in the event of a tsunami is debatable. After passing many old mills and a huge railway viaduct we moored up and had a night in the town, ready to set off through the tunnels and the new line through the town first thing in the morning.

Lock No.2 Accessible only by water.

Under the new tunnels.

When we arrived at lock 1 another boat had just come up so we were straight in and down onto the broad canal. After the University plaza and Apsley Wharf marina we came to the wonderful vertical Turnbridge Loco lift bridge...

...then down the wide, but short locks to Cooper Bridge and the end of the Huddersfield Broad Canal.

Looking back to the last lock on the Huddersfield Broad canal.

Legend only just fits into these locks. They, and those on the Calder & Hebble are only 57’ and although our hull is that length, with our front and back fenders down we are just over 58’. Going downstream, getting in is easy, but to get out we have to tuck our nose into one side, open the other gate, then pull across. It’s not a problem, but it does mean a lot of running around for Ann-Marie. To make locking a bit easier, a couple of years ago Dave made a long handled windlass and Ann-Marie put it to good use on the Huddersfield.

Ann-Marie's normal windlass (right) and our long, extra torque one. (left)

The long handled one in action.

Despite that she was pooped by the time we got to the end.

At the last lock we got ourselves ‘River Ready’. Anchor attached, life jackets on, mind-set on flowing water, then down we went onto the mighty Calder. After about ten minutes of river boating, Dave executed a very neat hairpin turn in the flow and slotted Legend through the open floodgates onto Cooper Bridge cut, where we pulled over and moored up. Well you don’t want too much excitement on day one do you?

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