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.

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