Sunday, June 29, 2008

Up to the Summit – and Back Down Again!

Last time Colin and Jan joined us afloat, it was back in October 2005 and we had a week together on our 'shared ownership' boat on the Grand Union and Oxford Canals. Despite Colin's bad knees, he worked the locks with gusto – the photo shows him waiting for one to empty. Nearly 3 years later, complete with new knee joints, he has been back in action!

We travelled up the canal towards Gargrave, hoping to get into the wilds above Bank Newton again. The weather and lock breakdown seemed to have other ideas, though! It looked like rain as we pulled out of Skipton, but nothing much came of it. As we approached Gargrave, we were that one of the paddles on the next lock was damaged. We stopped and had lunch a little early while British Waterways drained the level above so that they could get to the paddle and fix it. They did it quicker than expected, so we didn't get a picture!

Meanwhile, it had started to rain and it was getting much heavier. The visitor moorings at Gargrave began to look attractive! The next day, Sunday, was windy rather wet, so still not very inviting boating weather – we decided to stay put, and discovered the tiny Methodist Church meeting in the Community Room and later, the Mason's Arms for lunch.

Monday morning saw several boats setting out after the bad weather, and we teamed up with the crew on 'Isla's Drum' as we worked our way up the remaining three Gargrave locks and the six at Bank Newton. Not only did it save water but also time, as one crew member could go ahead and prepare the next lock, so we made good progress and got to know each other a little as well.

We stopped for lunch at 'our' remote mooring again, this time finding a 'Common Spotted Orchid' growing right next to the canal. Then on, to the Greenberfield locks on the outskirts of Barnoldswick, which took us onto the 'summit level' and as far as the eastern portal of Foulridge tunnel. We shall be going on that way later, but this time we needed to turn around again. Here's the simple beauty of Salterforth Bridge in the late morning sunshine.

In 2005, Jan was recovering from a broken pelvis and could do very little. This time, she has had a go at working locks – but look at the concentration as she tackles steering the boat!

We came back through the unusual double-arched bridge at East Marton. Apparently the upper arch was added when the road level was raised. You can just see a dark blue boat at the bottom right of the picture – imagine our surprise to find that it was completely adrift and was starting to follow us towards the bridge! We hastily pulled in to the side and went back to secure it, without too much difficulty as it still had all its mooring spikes. We were told that we were the third to try to re-secure it, but it seems that we were successful, as we received a grateful phone call a few days later. Just as well; it was a wide-beam boat and would easily have blocked the bridge!

And so, back to Skipton on Thursday afternoon, ready for Colin and Jan to drive away on Friday morning. A very enjoyable week, despite the fact that the weather had been better in October three years ago than it was this year in June!

Later that morning, Dave was able to collect his tools consignment from Switzerland, which had very conveniently arrived the day before, so the rest of the day was spent sorting that out and getting a few orders off to customers who had been waiting for tools. Here's a shot of Skipton Castle from the little canal branch below and behind it.

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