Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Through Leeds – Up To The Hills Again!

Last time we were in Selby, we had been waiting (over a Bank Holiday) for delivery of a spare part for our boiler. Now we found ourselves waiting there again. Dave's tool supplier in Switzerland had expected to send the latest order in the second or third week of May, but it was the end of May and there had been no news, despite several e-mails. We waited another 5 days but decided that we needed to move on, still without any news. In the meantime, there was a swan family just a little way along the Selby Canal, so Dave got some pictures . . . interesting that one of the cygnets is creamy white, not grey.

With rain 'on and off' for the last few days, we were concerned that the River Aire might have risen enough to be difficult, but boaters coming to Selby told us it was OK, so we set off along the Selby Canal to join the Aire at West Haddlesey and were pleased to find that, although the level had evidently risen, it had fallen back again, lower than it had been when we came. Useful, because now we were travelling upstream!

We thought we would probably stop for the night when we reached Castleford but made such good progress that we decided to chug on towards Leeds. We were into new waters for us, and back with the 'big boys' again, though we only met one large sand barge near Castleford. The locks up to Leeds are BIG, though – here's Zindagi looking like a matchstick in Lemonroyd Lock!

One advantage of these enormous locks is that they are totally mechanised. All you have to do is turn a key and press buttons, so Val's dodgy knees were no bar to her operating the lock for a change, like here at Woodlesford.

Then on up the Aire towards Leeds. Once again, coming in by canal felt like using the tradesman's entrance as we passed remnants of former canalside industry but soon we could see that transformation is well under way, with a new footbridge over river and canal as they divide for Leeds Lock, the last lock on the Aire and Calder Navigation. (The lock leads off to the left, the right side leads up to the weir).

We had some useful Leeds mooring information via Cutweb, an internet-based Cruising Club which we recently joined. They told us that Clarence Dock moorings, just after Leeds Lock and next to the Royal Armouries Museum, had very recently re-opened, so we took the opportunity to see for ourselves – excellent timing!

We were not disappointed. The floating pontoons were almost empty, the mooring was quiet and secure, we picked up a reasonable TV signal despite the tall buildings, and we even found some credit in one of the electricity prepaid meters! The shops were a little further than from the other moorings at Granary Wharf, but then we found out that the Granary Wharf moorings were closed by more development work. We needed very little shopping, anyway, and the superb covered City Market was not too far away.

The next morning, we left Clarence Dock, chugged half a mile up the river and joined the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at River Lock. Here we saw some unfamiliar lock paddle gear, and took photos – little realising that we would see plenty more of the same types as we went on, as these are typical of this canal, it seems!

A little further along, as the canal took its pleasant route out through the suburbs, we passed an apparently indecipherable notice . . . see if you can read it!

The next day, we finally succeeded in meeting up with old friends Geoff and Andrea, who live near Bradford. Although they could only manage a short day visit, we went for a little trip together and had some good chats, but they only just had time for a 'cuppa' and some of Val's home-made cakes before they had to go. We had a good time together and hope that they will be able to find some time to come for a few days' cruising with us sometime in the next few weeks.

We always like getting back on the canals again, and have now started discovering some characteristics of the 'L & L'. As well as having some different lock gear, it seems to love swing bridges and tries to put locks into staircases wherever possible, enabling boats to climb short steep gradients. Probably the most famous staircase locks are the 'Bingley Five Rise', the first to be built in the UK (in 1774) and raising the canal level by 60 feet in just five locks. We came up them today, and the depth of the lock chambers and steep gradient of the hill are just amazing – the photo cannot do it justice, but hopefully it will give you some idea! You can see more of that characteristic 'L & L' lock gear, too.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Those very large locks look a bit claustraphobic to me. At least as you say they are not manual.