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Saturday, May 31, 2008


Leaving the Aire & Calder navigation at Knottingley and passing through Bank Dole Lock we are now on the River Aire and joining the rivers steady flow for 6 miles and 1 more lock(Beal) brings us to West Haddlesley Flood Lock which would be locked in times of high water levels.
Not much to see along this stretch of the R. Aire as the banks are high and very steep. What was seen were 2 lambs in big trouble, the first had its head in a loop of string on a gate and was making some very distressing calls for help, no chance of landing on these shallow edged high banks so hopefully the farmer will find him. The second lamb had fallen down the bank and was again crying for help at the waters edge with no chance of getting back up the steep bank, the youngsters were not the only ones to come to grief on the high banks as we also saw an adult floating by.
So on through the flood lock and we are now on a narrow little drainage ditch........oh no i was forgetting what a canal looked like after those wide deep rivers of course its`s the Selby canal.
The clue was passing under Tankard`s Stone Bridge pictured below. So 5 miles of canal for a change, at least there were plenty of trees and waters edge vegetation so plenty of nesting Coots, Ducks etc. and a lot of young being shown the neighbourhood by mum. Plus the odd heron posing in a bush or a Kingfisher flying by. Idyllic, Heaven, Peace, Freedom you can see I`m enjoying myself.
Arriving at Selby Basin above and in the picture the sign says York or Goole and to the right the lock that when the lockie says the time is right out you go onto the tidal Ouse. Must remember to go left for York as i`m not insured to venture down to Goole or Trent Falls not that i would want to with shipping ten times or more the size of what we`ve encountered on the rivers so far. Might end up swept down the Humber out to sea and end up in Zeebruger or however you spell it.
Above another view of Selby lock and you can see it`s a sharpe turn into the lock off the Ouse, not easy when the tide is taking you past, and that lock only takes 2 narrowboats at a time unlike Naburn from York that can let 6/7 out at once. Car park? Boat park? Try to find some pics of a busy locking session for a mini blog next.
So above out of Selby, out is easy just move the tiller the tide does the rest, onto the Ouse for a 2hr 20mins cruise to Naburn. Only had to stop twice to bail the water out..... No sorry Lynda only joking look at the pic it`s like a mill pond.... It was a pleasant journey a bit overcast but dry at least. After about an hour the incoming tide we were travelling on speeded up the journey but as we arrived in the picture below at Naburn Lock it had lost its force and we just cruised into the lock.
The weir is a common feature at locks on the rivers but poses no problems in normal river levels.
Naburn Lock is 5 miles from York and as we didn`t want to moore in York over a W`end, we stayed a couple of days on the moorings in the lock arm. Not much here but 3/4 mins walk and there is a Caravan/Camp site with a shop for basics inc papers. It opens 08.30 and 15.30 for a couple of hours each time or a 25 min walk across a field is Naburn village with just a pub and a post office tat opens 3 days a week, the p.o. that is , heaven forbid the pub just 3 days p.wk.
Also at the caravan site gate a bus will whisk you into York in 20mins. Failing that in the pic below a water bus leaves the lock moorings sat/sun into the city centre. Bet the boaters don`t use it, coals to Newcastle springs to mind. Must be popular with the campers though.

So a nice cruise up to York passing many moored plastic boats, Gin palaces or Tuppeware boats as we Narrowboats call them, the river passes some history as in the pic above. You can just imagine the scene years past of boats plying their trade un-loading at buildings like the Bonding Warehouse above.

Above our city centre mooring, the city centre being on the left of the bridge downstream.

Just leave you with a pic courtesy of Tina of some hitchhickers, and we`ll have a look at York next time.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Just a quick blog now we`ve hit the rivers and if you`re reading this Lynda don`t worry it will be fine you`ll enjoy it i promise.Andy/Tina and John posing for a pic.
Above and below some of the boats along the way.

The 2 pics below i took from the end of the lock and they give an idea of the size difference between the freight carrier and the humble narrowboat. If you enlarge the pic i think you can see the traffic light on the lock.

Wonder how many Butterflies it would need to fill that lock..
Just noticed a pic of the Bingley 5 rise was missing from the Leeds blog hope all is well now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Leaving Shipley 16 swing bridges have to be opened and shut as we pass through them on our way to Bingley and i can`t thank Tina (NB Ytene) enough operating all these and the many others prior to Shipley. I must check but i think this canal ,Leeds&Liverpool, must hold the record for the most swing bridges and staircase locks but for now thanks again Tina. X
Twelve miles of cruising twisting and turning around the hills with views as below brings us to
the Bingley 5. The 5 is a flight of staircase locks and the difference between these and an ordinary lock is that the gate ahead of you as you enter is also is part of the next lock, ok i hear people saying WHAT and i was confused before getting on board NB Valerie so if you remember

an ordinary lock has 2 gates(enter&exit) now look at the picture above you can see 5 gates plus the entry one at the top out of sight so 6 gates for 5 locks against 10 if the 5 locks were spread out. ( 5x2)
The flight was built in 1770`s and cargoes passing through over the years would consist of West Yorkshire coal for the mills and coal merchants over a vast area also the mills would receive Australian wool via Liverpool docks plus cocoa for the chocolate factories in York plus many other products that were transported on the canal system long before roads and trains became the favoured transport routes.
The locks are under the watchful eye of a lockeeper and i found a little verse you might like.
I`m the lockeeper, at Bingley I tarry,
logging the short boats and cargoes they carry,
minding the bargees don`t waste water much,
maintaining the sluices, lock gates and such.
In grandfather`s time the locks worked night and day,
but nowadays the trade`s mostly people at play.

After leaving Bingley 5 just half a mile and yet another staircase to get lock through this time a flight of 3. Exiting Bingley town we pass through Saltair & Shipley negotiating more swing bridges & staircase flights to make an overnight stop at Rodley before tackling the trip through Leeds, I say tackle as sadly like a lot of other main city`s Leeds has a reputation for the yob element to amuse themselves at some locks as boats pass through. I decided best to lock the doors front and back so while i was off the boat at locks no one was able to access my home. Now don`t get alarmed by this as i can assure you that 99.9% of the time life on the canals is peaceful with not a thought about the rat race world that exists just a short distance away from the waterways but very occasionally you must be aware that some of the human race don`t use the same rule book as the majority of us.
Passing through Leeds went well and the lockeeper let us out at River lock where the Aire & Calder navigation joins the Leeds&Liverpool canal and now it`s river under the boat not canal water. The next lock would be Leeds lock in the city centre and the first of many that are electrically operated by a lockeeper or if no lockie then boaters self operate. As boats approach these locks they are met by traffic lights that can be seen from a distance and the various light sequences tell you what needs to be done.
RED Moor up, the lock is in use.
AMBER No lockeeper so operate lock yourself.
RED&GREEN The lockeeper will prepare the lock for you.
GREEN Enter the lock
Flashing RED River in flood unsafe to proceed ( Boaters nightmare)

Leeds lock was the only place where 3 young lads decided it would be fun to jump on the boat but changed their mind when i reversed the boat away from the side and they soon tired and went on their way.

In the picture below is the control panel boaters use to self operate the locks, some are small locks but further up river they are vast to accommadate large sea going vessels but more of that on the next blog.

So having passed through Leeds we moored about 5 miles out of the city and took a train £1.90 return to have a look around Leeds. I was amazed at the size of the indoor and out door markets in Leeds and of some of the arcades in the city centre like the one pictured below. They certainly don`t build them like this anymore with the stone columns and iron and glass domed roofs.
While in the city i took the opportunity to replace my mobile phone that had a crushed screen after being in my pocket when pushing open lock gates a while back, it still worked but it was guess work scrolling the menus to call anyone.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


The Skipton boat festival took part over the early May Bank holiday w`end. The picture below taken from the Springs Branch a small narrow arm that stretches 700yds or so and was once used to bring limestone from a nearby quarry. This B`Holiday w`end it`s being used for moorings for some of the boats attending the festival.

This model railway was set up on the roof of a widebeam boat.

Below one of the music acts performing over the w`end, the youngster in the foreground was i believe the son of the guitarist on stage and while they played so did he.
In the picture below John (NB TUI) was trying out one of the sideshows, this one was the human fruit machine. The guy on the right had his arm wrapped in silver foil to represent the machines handle and a downward pull of his arm sent the 3 of them turning and as they stopped a fruit card was selected from a rear pocket of their costume, 3 identical fruits won a prize.

Trip boat LEO took visitors up the Springs Arm but i think a walk was much more enjoyable as you could walk past the arm`s terminus and on into Skipton woods.
Walking up the arm Skipton Castle rises up above 100`where it has stood for 900 years. On the opposite side of the footway in the picture below runs a stream where i was lucky enough to see a DIPPER swimming underwater against the flow foraging for food.
Below on the Sunday evening many of the boats took part in an illuminated parade and as the
route passed by our mooring on the edge of the festival site pictures could be taken through the open window while enjoying a nice cup of tea.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Cruising away from Wigan still on the 127 miles, 92 locks of the Leeds&Liverpool canal we pass Chorley, Blackburn and Burnley and as we do so we pass some fine buildings and some wonderful scenery but this is spoilt by the rubbish floating in the canal at Blackburn. As you pass houses that back onto the canal their garden fences 2` from the waters edge you realise how the rubbish gets in the canal as this 2` strip of land is covered with rubbish of all descriptions from toys, bikes, fridges, furniture all thrown over the fences till it piles up only to fall into the canal. What makes people behave like this puzzles me as councils provide tips for this type of rubbish so it just boils down to laziness and their kids must see them do it so they grow up with the same nature.
So after several stops to go down the weed hatch to remove countless plastic bags,rope,clothing etc. Blackburn&Burnley were in the past. Hooray!

Botany Bay built in 1855 just north of Chorley was once a canal cotton mill but is now 5 floors of home & garden shopping, at least it wasn`t pulled down to build houses. I assume the helicopter belongs to the owner unless the Beckhams were there shopping.
Another old canal building survives complete with its covered un-loading dock.

Some stunning views across open farmland to hills in the distance.

Above and below just some of the rubbish floating through B`burn & Burnley.

Nice to see these buildings still around.
Above is the entrance to Foulridge Tunnel (1640yds) which is controlled by traffic lights as there is only room for one one way traffic owing to the narrowness boats cannot pass in the tunnel, on the left is NB Valerie and breasted up alongside is NB Ytene waiting for a green light.
Along this stretch we are cruising the summit level of the Leeds & Liverpool canal and having climbed up through what seems hundreds of locks well 40+ soon we will be going down just as many but at least some are staircase locks.
With the lights in my favour in i go, notice the width as i enter.
About 3 miles after exiting the tunnel Barnoldswick is reached and it was here that the Rain Hall Rock branch left the main canal and went up to a limestone quarry and as i had read that what is left can still be found behind some houses off i went and sure enough deep in a cutting some 400yds or so was still in water, sorry no pic as i forgot my image storage device. (camera)

Above is the Double arched bridge at Gargrave.

Well apart from the rubbish along parts of this section of the trip towards York it has been very pleasent and as we enter Yorkshire countryside i`ve been told by other boaters along the way the views get better by the mile.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Just a picture blog to share some things seen along the way. Funny this life has certainly changed my outlook on what has been there all the time but the life i now lead gives so much time to see and enjoy the simple things around us.

This swan wanted my boat out of his territory

Above some hitchhikers
Now my bird book tells me this is a Goosander, twitchers correct me if i`m wrong.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs