Bringing Out The Yellow Bike. 18th April

Lock 1 to Hebden Bridge Wharf, Rochdale Canal

Frank, Sharon, Mick, Pip. Tilly was busy snoozing

A visit from Sharon started off the day. Sharon is an old flat mate of mine from York in the years just after school, she thought she wanted to be a nurse and I didn’t want to go on to further education so sold books and maps instead. We had a good year in our flat and have kept in touch since. Unfortunately last year I missed her 50th Birthday as we were busy celebrating Mick’s 60th, so it was lovely to be able to spend a couple of hours catching up this morning. It also gave me an excuse to do some baking, chocolate chip and almond biscuits, Yummy!

I’ll be making these again
Tuel Lane being emptied

A crane was moving boats around on the hard standing across the way and three boats came past, all booked into Tuel Lane Lock at 11am. A chap from a cruiser in front tapped on the roof and said that he’d be coming up the locks with us at 1 pm. A busy day for the volunteers in Sowerby today.

Exiting Lock 1

We rolled up the covers and pushed off before 1, the Lockie heading down to give us our instructions. Tuel Lane Lock would be ready for us, they were dropping the 134,250 gallons of water which was flowing over the top of the lock gates and keeping the bywashes very busy.

Old bridge to new tunnel

We worked up Locks 1 and 2 with Summer Breeze, he went ahead whilst Frank and I were picked up. As we entered the tunnel a blast of horn announced our arrival to the lockies and we turned under the road and popped out into the light at the bottom of Tuel Lane Lock.

Starting to come up

Here you put a rope, stern and bow, around risers to hold you steady, hopefully keeping us away from Summer Breeze as we didn’t want to crush it. Gates closed behind, ropes passed round, I took a deep breath (risers and me don’t go together) and the chaps way above started to gradually fill the lock.

Another first for Oleanna
Rope around the risers

In front is a sheer cliff of concrete that angles away just below the lock gates a bit like the bow of a nuclear submarine sitting waiting below the level of the canal. Tuel Lane is 19ft 8 inches deep, the deepest working lock in Britain. It replaced two locks which when the canal was derelict had a road built over one of them, so the new lock was built to bring boats back up the full level.

Nearly at the top

It takes some time to rise the near 6 meters, flicking your ropes up the risers. Keeping away from the cruiser meant I didn’t get many photos, Mick managed a few at the back.

Up in the hills now

A pause for lunch and then we were on our way, four more locks to do to get us to Hebden Bridge. Immediately the canal showed us it’s character, narrow hugging the valley sides and stone bridges similar to those on the Macclesfield, they just don’t quite curve inwards at the bottom.

Keeping an eye on
Flutterby

Blue bells amongst the trees shone out in the sun light, geese sat on their nests, ducks taking their new offspring for swimming lessons and the odd butterfly darting through the warm air.

We passed several hire boats due back tomorrow and came across Nb Adagio a Carefree Cruising boat based up at Sowerby for the summer. The ladies weren’t too enamoured with the locks, they looked glad to be heading back to base. I then in turn was glad to have Frank with me, heavy gates and stiff paddles to lift.

Walking backwards to Leeds

There were plenty of people out on the towpath and it turned out they were doing a sponsored walk. 70 Wigan fans were walking 58 miles to Leeds. A fan had promised to walk the 58 miles if his team beat Aston Villa in January, if they beat them by three goals he’d do it backwards. There he was walking backwards, 40 miles already done the remainder they hoped to achieve in time for their next match in Leeds tomorrow.

Stiff paddles even for Man Mountain Frank

Lock 8 was a b**ger. Empty when we arrived the near side gate opened easily, but trying to close it was impossible. With both Frank and myself heaving on the beam we succeeded only for it to open itself again by the time we’d walked to the other end to start filling it.

Colouful arrival to Hebden Bridge

This second time Frank held it closed until I’d opened a paddle. With all the heaving and cursing under our breath I hadn’t noticed the big signs asking you to leave the lock empty, but a chap walking by pointed it out to us. If left full the lockside buildings get flooded. So we happily lifted the bottom paddles.

Lillian arriving in Hebden Bridge 2014

Under Princess Bridge and we were back where we’d moored Lillian for the Tour de France in 2014, we had a yellow boat so had to take her to watch the cycling. Frank had helped us up from Piccadilly Basin, the two of us walking most of the way from Manchester. So now the only locks he hasn’t done on the Rochdale are the Rochdale Nine, big brutes of locks. Unfortunately today the pound was quite low, so trying to pull in where we wanted to be wasn’t possible unless we wanted to put the gang plank out.

Across the way was a familiar face, Diana from the local IWA, she’d organised the moorings for the Tour de France. She and her husband suggested to try nearer the footbridge where the canal would be a touch deeper. We pulled up in front of the three boats that had come up the locks before us today, no wonder the level was down if everyone was staying in Hebden for the night.

Just why does he whistle at me?!

Tilly was allowed to make her own mind up about Hebden. Too many people, that whistling man here too, but one very very big tree that had to be climbed. As Tilly worked on her climbing calculations I dug our yellow bicycle out and popped it in the window, not quite the same as when it was in Lillian’s porthole.

2014 on Lillian
2019 on Oleanna

7 locks, 19ft 8 inches, 5.5 miles, 1 school friend, 1 easter egg, 8 yum biscuits, 3 before us, 1 plastic to share with, 134,250 gallons, 2 lockies, 1 tunnel, 58 miles backwards, 0 pipe bridge, 0 winding hole, 1 not so sure cat, 1 cat not a woofer! 1 vat of chilli, 1 bottle of English bubbles, 1 new camera in action.

24 Hours Early. 17th April

Sowerby Bridge

I’m ready!

Tilly’s escape pod had been put together yesterday in readiness for this morning. She obliged by taking up residence, she so likes it in there. Just a shame that I zipped up the door with her inside and then we took her for a walk. Along the towpath, over the canal and up a very steep hill to the vets. Today was Tilly’s annual check up at her fourth vets since she’s lived with us.

Every year I make a phone call to a vet as close as possible to the canal to make an appointment for Tilly’s jabs. So far every vet hasn’t had a problem with us being nomads and a suitable appointment has been made. Last week after getting her sorted I tried to get a GP and nurse appointment for myself in Scarborough. I could have one in two weeks the other in three and a half. But trying to combine both together for the same day was impossible, I’d have to ring back in a weeks time! Cats have such an easy life.

View down from the vets to Oleanna

A short wait , enough to catch our breath, before we saw the vet. Annual jab done followed by a good feel, heart listened to, weigh in, then the question about her teary eye. I was pleased that he checked it out, but the same suggestion came back as every year so far. She most probably had a virus or cat flu when she was young and this affected her tear duct. Today we got some extra information about it and all is fine.

Passport stamped for another year

Of course I’m a okay! I really don’t understand why someone in green, they always wear green, has to poke and prod me. But they have a beguiling quality to them so I let them look at my teeth and even put yellow snotty stuff in my eye. After a weigh in, why anyone would think I could possibly be over weight, I was allowed back into my escape pod, where I sat and waited for it to be zipped closed again.

The walk down hill was far easier especially as our pockets were considerably lighter having purchased worming tablets and flee medication for a year. Back at the boat Tilly was allowed 9 hours, a load of washing was put on and after a cup of tea I was just getting ready to do a days work when there was a tap on the roof! Who could that be?!

Frank!

Outside stood our friend Frank. Yesterday we’d sent him a message as we were a touch concerned about him. We’ve been in Yorkshire for a couple of months and not had him visit us. An invite was given to him to join us to go up Tuel Lane Lock on Thursday and head up to Hebden Bridge. Told not to be late, he succeeded by being 24 hours early! Somewhere along the line we’d got our wires crossed. Never mind it’s lovely to see him.

A start at least

Today I was going to get lots of work done, sketches that are almost overdue for panto then people could think about them over Easter and we could cruise before getting comments back. Some shopping was needed so the boys were sent out leaving me to start sketching. Another couple of hours were really needed, but at least I’ve made a start.

The warehouses across the way

This evening we’ve been across the way to The Moorings for steaks and a burger. Very nice they were too, along with wine and pints of T.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cat in a box, 1 very close vets, 1 very steep hill, 1 years feline MOT, 1 man in green, 1 day of work postponed, 9 hours! 1 whistling man, 1 good friend, 24 hours early, 1 newspaper, Act 1 sketched, 2 steaks, 1 burger, 3 mice, 1 vole, 2 boys zizzing on the sofa.

Breath In. 16th April

Salterhebble Middle Lock to Lock 1, Rochdale Canal

Sausages, Bacon, poached egg, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried potatoes, toast, with a mug of tea. Yumm!

As we made ready this morning a boat was coming down the middle lock of Salterhebble, I walked with windlass and spike to show our intentions, the gates were left open.

Below the lock

On Lillian this was the shortest lock we encountered. We came down it backwards without bow and stern fenders. Getting the stern past a closed bottom gate took a bit of doing, with tiller hard over we reckoned we had about an inch spare after the stern nav light. Oleanna’s length was chosen with this lock in mind, a foot shorter than Lillian, we should be fine.

Coming in
Moving over to the other side

Mick brought her in through one open gate, slowed her down, bow touching at the front. At this point there was a chance that we might have to lift a fender to sneak her in past the closed gate.

Will she? Won’t she?
Just?

Would she slide in? Breath in! The stern fender looked like it was just over by an inch.

Then Mick pushed on the gate, it wasn’t quite fully closed. This gave us a few more inches.

Phew!

She slid past no problem! Phew.

Nudged up over the cill as she rose

By this time there was someone saying ‘Hello’ to me, a Lockie who would be seeing us through Tuel Lane in a couple of days. With the gates closed we started to lift the ground paddles, keeping an eye on Oleanna as she rose. Now that was easier than we thought it would be, maybe we could have had her built three inches longer!

Top of Salterhebble

With another boat waiting to come down we went straight into the top lock instead of filling with water in the intermediate pound. Here we had gongoozlers, the crew from the other boat and two more Lockies. The lady from the other boat alerted me to water spraying into the well deck from the top gates. Yes things would be getting wet, but it wasn’t really all that much concern, Mick nudged Oleanna a bit to avoid the pisser from the gate and she carried on up with no problem.

Top Salterhebble Lock a pretty lock

The two locks were over very quickly and with ease. There are often questions on facebook groups as to how long is the ideal boat, a go anywhere boat(apart from the 40 something foot lock on the middle levels). Lillian was 59ft 6inches plus fenders, her stern was a little bit squarer than Oleanna’s and her bow may have been a touch fatter. Removing her fenders we cruised her up to Ripon, did the Salterhebble and the Huddersfield Broad locks. All these were done with care, but were a touch tight, especially the one on the Huddersfield Broad! When we specked Oleanna she had to be able to cruise the northern canals so she was built at 58ft 6 inches. Her shape possibly also makes a difference, just that bit more curvy and slender in the right places. We had several inches to spare today with our fenders down. The plan worked, we just need to see if she’ll fit through Standedge Tunnel now.

Trees! Please!!

We topped up with water and disposed of rubbish at the top. We wondered if the water pressure would have been better in the pound below, but we were patient and were out of the way for the other boat to go down. The trees looked very good here, but still they wouldn’t let me out!

In to the basin

A top up of diesel and a new gas bottle were required before we could settle for the day. The visitor moorings by the basin at Sowerby Bridge looked like we’d be able to fit on the end, but a lack of rings put us off. At the basin we swung into Shire Cruisers diesel point. This is where we’d left Lillian whilst we finished packing up the house to rent out, where we got a sofa bed delivered and where Houdini (our old cat) moved on board with us five years ago.

Last boat on the end

Refilled we reversed back out and winded. I’d spotted a space free below Lock 1 on the Rochdale Canal so we pulled in where the trees looked good, the river a safe distance away. Here will do us for a couple of days.

Pooh pumping station.

Mick headed to Halifax to pick up my new camera whilst I did some work. Whilst I wondered if I could use a sewage pumping station to base the main part of my set for Puss In Boots on, Tilly climbed trees and worried the local duck population. A good afternoon all round.

2 locks, 2.25 miles, 2 boats coming down, 4 inches spare, 1 breakfast up to standards, 1 left, 1 right, 1 wind, 1 camera, 1 very sexy pumping station, 5 friends, 4 trees, 0 wet paws, 2 geese sent flying.

Camera

Boxing Day Floods. 15th April

Crowther Bridge16 to Salterhebble Middle Lock

Rebuilt

Today we came through one section of the canal that was badly hit by the flooding on Boxing Day 2015. In front of us as we pushed off, Crowther Bridge looked new with gabions up either side presumably to help reinforce the bridge should there be another bad flood. Over the last few days we’ve noticed dried out silt on quite a bit of the towpath and around locks brought up by the flooding a few weeks ago.

The canal runs very close to the river and should the river swell it joins forces with the canal, pushing it along as well.

A blue haze

We were now starting to enter the valley, steep wooded banks with a blue haze of bluebells. Sadly my phone camera didn’t do them justice and maybe in a weeks time they will be even better. Wild Garlic is also starting to appear but it’s heady smell was nowhere to be smelt today.

The level it sank to obvious by the line on it’s windows

A pause for a trip boat to clear Park Nook Lock and then it was our turn to ascend. Above a boat was moored on the lock landing. This was not someone being in the way, this was a boat that had been sunk and pumped out, all the contents piled up at the side of the towpath coated in mud. Such a sad sight. This next pound on Boxing Day was very much under water, the pub sign has a level marked on it about half way up, just about level with the next pound above Elland Lock.

Below Elland Lock

Five years ago we met a chap at Salterhebble who was convinced that the shortest lock on this section wasn’t the middle lock at Salterhebble but a bit further down. We’d come down the top two locks backwards, winded and aimed to carry on down hill forwards. But this chap was convinced he’d see us reversing back to wind and do them in reverse. We think he must have meant Elland Lock was the shortest, it has a full walkway across the bottom gates where as most only have enough to stand on to operate the paddles.

We had no problem back then and today we took it steady coming up and nudging away from the walkway as soon as we could.

Elland Bridge after the floods

Elland Bridge was next, another bridge that has been rebuilt. This carries on and spans both the canal and river, it cost £5 million to rebuild, it was the last section of the canal to reopen after the floods, the navigation reopening in 2017. New properties have flood walls built around them and one canal side property looks to have been built with high water levels in mind, just a shame it’s a bit of a big step to get in the front door!

Leave us alone!
His mate right back by the bridge

Today we didn’t have problems with high water. Today we had problems with an expectant father. We came through the bridge to suddenly be set upon by a Cob. He did his best to bite through the chains holding the stern fender on, we were quite concerned that he’d injure himself on the prop. He simply wouldn’t stop. Mick put some more revs on, then a spurt which shook him loose. But this didn’t stop him as he came flying back for a second go at us! We were about to close the back doors when he eventually gave up. Looking back towards Elland Bridge there was his mate sat on a nest. Suspect he swam back to her all proud that he’d seen us off.

Bow getting a wash
Mick under the walkway

Woodside Mills and Longlees Locks are still both short, hunkered into the steep valley side. Plenty of trees have been cut back and many of them have had the tops capped off with what looks like pencils. I’ve tried hunting around on the internet to see what they are about, but I’ve only found someone else asking the same question.

Pencil topped stumps

There is a disc of ply wood that has been fixed to the top of the tree stumps and on this are what looks like lots of coloured pencils stuck on end. Most probably a project by someone as they are all quite considered keeping to certain colours on each stump. Sadly my phone camera didn’t do too well capturing them. The sooner we can get to Halifax for my new camera the better.

Tunnel
To the guillotine

Salterhebble Bottom Lock sits behind a road bridge, a horse tunnel leads the towpath up to it. Here there is more breathing space, afforded by a guillotine gate. The key of power is required to operate this end of the lock, once turned a single button press is all that is required to get the lock to empty and the guillotine to raise. Well that’s what it says on the panel. The lock was empty so it took quite sometime for any signs of movement to happen, all the time I was wondering had I pressed the button hard enough or was there a fault. But no in the end the gate started to raise. Closing it you have to hold the button, swapping thumbs to avoid RSI as it takes forever.

That next lock can wait for tomorrow

We pulled in, we decided that the top two shortest locks could wait for tomorrow. Tilly got six hours of freedom and we settled down to some lunch followed by emptying the yellow water and some work for me. My Separate Doors 3 illustrations are finished, so they were scanned and uploaded to Dropbox. But with the internet being extremely slow here I’m not convinced I won’t have to do it again. The rest of the afternoon was spent finding images for Puss in Boots.

5 locks, 2.52 miles, 3 boats moving, 1 mardy cob, 1 risen boat, 4 bw sketches, 2 colour sketches, 265 references, 1 empty wee tank, 1 anchor still ready, 2 empty bottles of gas, 1 heel turned.

She Lied. 14th April

Kirklees Top Lock to Crowther Bridge 16

M62

The M62 wasn’t far away from our mooring and we were soon passing under it as people zoomed by over head. We left a wave for Bridget and Storm who would be crossing later in the day and carried on to Brighouse.

At the lock landing firemen were doing something with pipes and pumps. Was there a nearby fire that they were pumping water to? No aroma. Were they pumping out a flooded building? No arcs of water. They were actually trying out a brand new pump that had been a touch obstinate to get going, the river being a handy place to try it out.

Tight into the corner
Stern just clearing the cill

Brighouse Bottom Lock had just been set for a boat coming down. Their boat a 60fter, I left them to it. We’ve been there with an over long boat, all fenders (Bow and Stern) lifted, sitting at a diagonal gradually lowering the water and tucking in under the lower gates walkway to avoid catching the cill at the back. The crew were well into the swing of the locks, a bow rope passed up to the top to help pull the bow out from behind the closed gate. Lillian was six inches shorter than the boat today, but she had a rounder/squarer stern. This boat was quite pointed which afforded them a few more inches, they’d been able to do all the locks from Sowerby Bridge forwards, we’d had to do the top two backwards and then only had an inch to spare.

Our turn next to go up. We took it steadily, avoiding the recess, but this put the drain hole for the well deck right in line with the water coming into the lock, the paddle only a couple of turns raised. The well deck got quite damp, as I noticed this I tried to drop the paddle to ease the flow, but the paddle didn’t want to close. Good job we always travel with the front doors closed, if the water had managed to get inside then she’d have started to sink!

Pumps working

Soon the flow calmed down and we carried on to the top, just as the firemen got their pump working sending huge plumes of water across the river.

Brighouse Top Lock was much easier. A boat was having a shampoo and set on the water point, we’d considered topping up the tank but carried on to moor at Sainsburys. Shopping list in hand we ventured forth, of course managing to leave any vouchers on board. Mick headed back for them which gave me time to peruse the cooking isle. Somehow a large 2lb bread tin made it into the trolley, this was soon followed by some new socks for Mick (well he will keep leaving them places!).

Supplies!

Last but by no means least was the wine isle. 3 of each. The wine cellar restocked. Just a shame that the trolley wouldn’t accompany us back to the boat, but we managed, just.

After lunch we pushed off, avoiding low flying cardboard tubes that the youngsters of Brighouse wanted us to wear. Plenty of people were out on the towpath, right busy it was.

Ganny Lock

I hopped off at Ganny Lock, from below it looked familiar, but it wasn’t on a river section so it couldn’t be that lock. From above though it was that lock. Which lock? Five years ago coming down hill, taking care at each lock, looking after our home we arrived at the lock at a similar time to a boat coming uphill. The lock was in our favour so we started to go down, one paddle slightly lifted until the bow could go under the walkway and the stern be kept off the cill. The lady from the other boat went to lift the other paddle, I asked her not to, quite politely, and explained why. ‘But my husband is struggling down there with the current on the river!’ She was quite rude. If she helped and things went wrong then he’d be struggling on the river for a lot longer! Today I realised that she’d lied, he was on a canal.

Brookfoot Lock

The only problem we had today was a plank of wood getting in the way. Onwards and upwards, another couple of locks to where we’d chosen to moor for the day. Surrounded by trees, good digging and friendly cover to pounce the rest of the afternoon away in. Except they stood there talking, looking past the trees, talking some more. COME ON!!! It’s great Mrs Tilly stamp of approval is on it’s way. They looked at me, talked some more. She came in and no matter how hard I tried to get her to stroke my head she wouldn’t open the door! Something about the fantastic trees only just hanging onto the banks of the river below, if I fell in then I’d only be able to get out on the other bank. How stupid! I’d never fall in!! She didn’t listen to reason and I stayed inside.

I so love walls like this

An Instagram acquaintance of mine who lives in Canada is looking for a narrowboat to rent from mid October for six weeks and/or for three months March to June somewhere in England or Wales. The usual channels of hiring a boat for so many weeks doesn’t work. So they are looking for a private hire, they are experienced boaters who have references as they have done this several times before. A boat they had booked has just fallen through as it has sold, so I said I’d give her a mention. Last year they moved far too fast for us to meet up, hopefully if they can find a boat then our paths may cross this year. Here is a link to Lucy’s advert if anyone is interested.

Happened across this picture of geese whilst doing some research. The one I saw yesterday was one of these.

5 locks, 1 flood lock, 3.16 miles, 4 firemen, 1 long hose, 1 pump, 60ft, 6 boxes of cardbordeux, 2lb tin, 7 pairs socks, 2 carpet tubes, 2 fundraisers, 3 sets of gates not staying put, 1 river far too close for comfort, 1 narked cat, 950 and falling.

Stationary Traffic. 13th April

Bull Bridge to Kirklees Top Lock

It turns out that people who follow us by email might have been getting posts twice. The first one from WordPress when a post goes live and a second later in the day, when for some reason Blogger (where the old blog was) had got hold of the new post and didn’t want anybody to miss it. Mick has done some tinkering, so hopefully peoples inboxes are no longer being filled up with our posts. Thank you to Duncan for complaining pointing this out to us.

Lidl yesterday served some of our needs but certain reserves on board are running very low, mainly wine! So today we needed to press on to reach Brighouse where we can moor up behind Sainsburys, they also have a wider range of gluten free things, so it won’t just be wine!

Battyeford Lock where every paddle worked

Mick first popped out to get a newspaper, with breakfast done we pushed off headed back out onto the river then back onto the cut at Battyeford Lock. Here the club looks like they have built themselves a nice new dry dock, it may have been here last time we passed but more noticeable today.

Battyeford Hauling Bridge
with it’s curve to the towpath

Along the next section we passed NB Blue Moon now heading back to base, it looked like they’d teamed up with another boat. Back out onto the river again turning under Battyeford Hauling Bridge. This is a roving/snake bridge that spans the wide river and would have meant a horse could stay connected to a boat as it crossed over to the other side, the bridge not getting in the way of the towing line. I don’t recall having seen a metal roving bridge before and certainly not one so wide, still not a patch on those on the Macc.

How many feet have walked over this bridge

There were movements up at Cooper Bridge Lock, when I hopped off the lock was being set for a small cruiser to come down. Their boat had an alarming list, maybe someone very large was sat on the starboard side. Mum and Dad did what they did bickering whilst their teenage daughter carried on regardless far more clued up than her parents.

A comment was made by Mum, Dad disappeared below to return a short while later saying that someone had left a tap on, there was quite a bit of condensation on the windows. The water was now in the bilges, he wasn’t happy. Now he’d have to find the bilge pump! I think I’d rather know where that piece of equipment was. It looked like the water was what was causing the list, at least the boat wasn’t gaining water so unless it toppled over they should be alright.

Hope you don’t topple over

We helped them down, then Mick got Oleanna out of their way.Off they went at their jaunty angle heading downstream still bickering away. What a lovely Easter break!

Caution recesses

We worked our way up. Coming down these short locks you have to be careful of the cill and the wide walkway on the bottom gates, nudging your way forward as soon as it is clear. Going up so far had been okay, Mick nestling Oleannas bow up against the top gates, but today the gates were slightly different. Two large recesses about six inches deep, one on each side of the centre. There was enough space for Oleanna to drift from the centre line and her bow fender was sitting nicely in the recess. I signalled to Mick to nudge back as the lock was filling. No back! We were now bickering. I could see the potential problem but he couldn’t.

Luckily Oleanna was nudged back and her fender cleared the recess. I could then explain why I’d been so adamant. At the next lock Mick could see the recesses. It seems we’ll have to take as much time going up as we took coming down these locks, we just won’t have to faff so much getting past the gates.

Cooper Bridge Lock was a favourite with a blog reader Heather ( Pedalboats), she hasn’t posted anything for over a year, sadly I think something must have happened to her. I had been really looking forward to meeting her, almost expected her to be sat on one of the lock beams with her dogs waiting for us.

Cooper Bridge

Then up to the junction with the Huddersfield Broad Canal. Last night we’d toyed with having a short detour down to Huddersfield as tonight is the opening night of Mikron’s new show, opening at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. But the only seats left were right on the sides and it wouldn’t be the same watching one of their shows in an actual theatre, they should be watched outside by the canal with a pint in hand. Looking at their tour dates we’ll catch up with them somewhere this summer, further south.

How many times did I sit in that traffic

So we turned right, keeping to the Calder and Hebble. We’ve only been this way once before and not in this direction. Having said that Kirklees Low Lock is very familiar to me. Turning off the M62 to head into Huddersfield I would sit in the waiting traffic on the A644 and wonder how long it would be before I would be travelling the canals and actually moving faster than the traffic jam I was sat in. I never saw a boat at the lock, so I waved back today.

Not another woofer!

Up Kirklees Top Lock and we pulled in for some lunch. This soon became our overnight mooring, we had just enough wine to last us one last evening. The M62 is audible from here, but is just far enough away to be able to forget about it. Tilly did her best to make the most of it, but too many woofers spoilt her fun. I even had to give two greyhounds a serious ticking off, although one of them was a blackhound!

4 locks, 3 flood locks, 3.08 miles, 1 newspaper, 35 degree list, 1 running tap, 2 recesses, 29 photos, 7000 to 2000, 4 glasses left, 17 years, 2 many cables, 2 busy.

We’ve Been Down South For Too Long. 12th April

Hartley Bank Bridge to Bull Bridge, Mirfield

Frosty morning

Opening the curtain on the porthole behind our bed this morning there was frost covering the towpath and field behind us, a magical view. However, when I opened the curtains on the bigger window at the foot of our bed, two Kingfishers were busy fishing. One view topping the other. This used to be a colliery!

Obstacle course for water

As we had breakfast NB Rebellion passed us by. I wonder how many more leapfrogs we’ll do before our routes take us different ways over the Pennines. We pushed off late morning, soon leapfrogging Rebellion once more, they’d pulled up at Hartley Bridge. Here we considered pulling in to top up the water tank, but it being through a narrow archway at right angles to the cut where buoys marked an obstruction put us off, it could wait till we got to Mirfield.

The figure of Three Locks were up ahead. Yesterday Mick had asked on Canal World Forum if anyone knew which locks required a Hebble Spike, within minutes he had the answer, from this he put together an overlay for our Waterway Routes map. Now we know what to take up to the locks.

Rocky terrain

A large chunk of towpath had been dug out, possibly for an electric cable. Only one sign at the top, which laid on the floor, saying that the towpath was closed. Once clambered through we worked up the two locks, the last long ones that we could remember.

Bridges cross the canal, mostly redundant now from coal mines and mills. Their numbering a law unto themselves, 24, 40, 23, 39, 27, 20!

The joining pound at Thornhill Double Locks

We soon reached where a branch heads off to Dewsbury and the main canal heads to the left up Thornhill Double Locks. This is where five years ago we managed to knock Lillian’s rudder out of it’s cup, a nice man from Hebden Bridge came with a dry suit and it was forced back to where it should be.

Breath in!

Both locks are short, Lillian was a foot longer than Oleanna, so we should be fine, especially going uphill, but it’s still a tight squeeze. Mick kept her to the centre of the locks a few feet spare at the stern.

We pulled in to refuel ourselves where there were rings. There used to be a pub here, when we first came through we’d thought of stopping for an evening meal but the surroundings and the lack of glass in the pub windows put us off somewhat. Today things are a touch different, the area still is one we’d think twice about staying in overnight , but the pub has had some work done to it and has transformed itself into a school!

If I show you my white bits will you let me out?

Not an outside to stop in they said, so why had they tied it up? They’d been moving it long enough, it was about time they stopped. But no. They had some dingding and then pushed it away. I thought it looked quite good myself, but was told there was a better one to be caught later on.

More oddly numbered bridges an 8 sneaking in between 33 and 31. At one disused railway bridge we slowed down as some divers were inspecting it. High vis clad chaps clung to the metal work as we passed underneath, hope it passed it’s inspection.

I wondered if this lock would ever empty with only one paddle working on the bottom gates

We joined the river once again only to rise above it at Greenwood Lock. Having spent too much time in the south of late these locks were hard work. The water pressure against the paddles makes it seriously hard to get any of them moving, a chink will gradually fill the chamber bring up the water and reducing the pressure, enabling you to lift paddles higher. Some of the locks fool you into thinking you’ve gained extra strength all of a sudden, only for you to realise you could carry on turning your windlass for days and it would still have no effect other than to make you look foolish.

A lady truck driver came to have a nosy. She was about to head out onto the M62 and was so so jealous of us. I think she may start saving up for a slower pace of life.

Maternity ward

Two swans sat on their nests, very close together, will there be ructions in weeks to come when the eggs hatch?

Close to the boom
Poor quality photo, top of it’s head and back of neck were dark and a big bulbous bit on it’s beak

Turning back out onto the river again, skirting the weir boom masses of Canadian Geese protested at us. How we have not missed that noise! Amongst all the bandaged chins there was one goose who looked out of place, resembling a Greylag but not quite. I think it might have been an African Goose, but sadly my phone camera isn’t too sharp whilst zooming.

Do not drop your spike at one of these

Shipley Bridge Lock was soon with us, one paddle working to empty it, then a struggle to fill. This is where we witnessed a hire boat loose their spike in one of the ground paddles. These are open below and should you let go of your spike it will disappear out of sight. Cheap or homemade spikes would float, but if you’ve forked out for a posh hard wood one, you will never see it again. I think that is why that paddle simply wouldn’t work today.

We pulled over to the charity boats thinking the water point was there, but we needed to nudge up a bit further to the service block. Mirfield was our chosen destination for today, we’ve not stopped here before as the moorings have always been full. The first stretch was bordered by a tall cat proof fence. Not suitable, if Tilly got over it by means of a nearby tree, she might never get back. We continued. Right by a road, but it had trees! Not suitable. On further to the last moorings, by a road, a bridge and Lidl, a good wall to climb! We pulled in, this would be good for us but all shore leave for Tilly was cancelled.

7 locks, 2 flood locks, 6.05 miles, 1 missing towpath, 2 soft southern hands returning to northern calloused hands, 1 juddering paddle, 1owy little finger, 0 pub, 1 school, 1 very sulky cat, 2 nests, 1 outsider, 1 vet appointment, 2 cheese twists, 1 pack of Dreamies as an advance, 1 happy Mick, 1st homemade tagliatelle, yum.