Crawling into Leeds. 6th August

Rodley Swing Bridge to Granary Wharf

Leaving our very close neighbour for the swing bridge

The voice of Houdini woke us up along with plenty of people already out and about on the towpath at 6. By the time we’d had breakfast and were rolling back the covers two other boats were pulling away from the moorings.

Well that meant there were three of us heading towards Leeds, one swing bridge each and we could leapfrog all the way. Moss Bridge Swing Bridge behaved, it was still a cool morning. Back in 2014 it was stuck hard, no chance of pushing it without the aid of a tractor, which all took some sorting as the bridge is owned by Yorkshire Water and not C&RT.

Last one through

Our bridge was the last one, Ross Mill. I’d just got momentum going when a chap wearing blue came towards me. I quickly stopped the bridge and pushed it back closed to let him across, he was to be our lock keeper at Newlay 3 Rise. One boat was already at the top of the locks and then the three of us heading from Rodley. I had to wait a while to close the bridge, weed causing problems for most of us and numerous trips would be made down weed hatches today.

The last to arrive at the locks we were waved straight in by the Lockie. The other two boats were travelling together and we could team up with NB Barley, as they had been at the locks overnight they were to go first.

Jumping the queue

With two Lockies on hand the staircase of three was descended quite quickly. One of the boys in Blue knows NB Ellis so we had chats about Stanley Ferry and fridge freezers whilst we waited for the chambers to empty from one to the other.

Jenny from NB Barley and I walked on to Forge 3 Rise where another Lockie was expecting us. He was pulling huge amounts of weed out from above the lock and the chambers. Chatting with him it seems that things along this stretch are improving. The large groups who used to come to drink and swim at the locks do so less often, the increased footfall due to new housing developments and a new station seem to be putting them off.

The level below the staircase was really quite low, but whilst boats were coming down the staircase above they wouldn’t let water down. A glance before we emptied the bottom chamber at the levels suggested we might just make it the half mile to Kirkstall Lock, bumping our way along the bottom, so we gave it a try.

Looking down Forge 3 Rise

The Lockie now headed down on his bike to see why the level had dropped overnight. Someone had closed the gates with debris between them, so the water had just been flowing straight through the lock overnight. He cleared things and then returned. By now the bywash was running but more water was needed so he ran water down the flight too.

In the end it took us just over an hour to cross the half mile pound to reach Kirkstall Lock, the weed still a good few feet away from the bank. Once in the lock weed hatches needed to be cleared. Andy pulled out reams of weed whilst Mick pulled out t-shirts and a pair of pants.

New clothes!

We led the way through the next long pound. Under the arched footbridge that straddles between refurbished mills. Past Leeds Industrial Museum, maybe one day we’ll pay it a visit, but not today.

At Spring Garden Lock we waited for Barley to catch us up, their prop attracting so much more weed than ours. Here the bridge across the bottom gates is rotting through nicely, so no access across it. With one gate open, Mick nestled Oleanna behind the closed gate to wait.

Oddley 2 Rise needed setting the last boat through having come up. I emptied the bottom chamber whilst Jenny topped up the top one. Then with the boats in the top lock we lifted paddles. On the other staircase locks along this stretch there have been spillways to channel off excess water, the chambers not having been built to the same depth as each other. But here excess water seems to drain over the top of the bottom gates as well as flooding the surrounding area.

Below the raft boat was moored up on the offside. In the last four years it has continued it’s journey towards Leeds and I’m sure it has been extended by at least a third since we first saw it up near Skipton. An interesting construction built with all sorts people don’t want anymore.

Extension after extension

Once down St Ann Ings Lock we had only one more to descend to reach Granary Wharf, Office Lock.

I walked down, disturbing a chap who covered the spliff he was making when he saw my camera. I was far more interested in a bit of graffiti than his next smoke though.

Leeds

Right up against the canal new building work is taking place. This means that the water point just above the lock is inaccessible as it’s on the wrong side of the fencing. The offside gates have been left just enough room to work them and the foundations of the new building seem to stretch right up to the lock.

Jenny walked round to check on moorings and there was plenty of space for us to swing round onto one of the pontoons. We’d thought about continuing to find some trees for tomorrow, but by now we’d had enough. So a quiet afternoon and evening instead.

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Office Lock

Tilly however had other plans. Yesterday I’d taken the opportunity to give her a spot on for fleas, not that I have any! This means no collar for a couple of days, therefore no shore leave. I knew she wouldn’t like it at Granary Wharf so this wouldn’t matter. Normally in places like this and BUMingham I let her out for her to make her own mind up, which usually happens quickly. But today without a collar this was not on the cards. Instead I sat out in the closed pram cover whilst she checked out the surroundings. This outside looked alright, a patch of grass, some tiny trees and a big curved wall that I started to make calculations to climb. Tilly tried any available gap in the cover with her nose and when one looked like she might just be about to squeeze out she was pulled back inside and the back doors closed. She is SO mean!!!

Turning into the pontoons

Yesterday I’d made a quinoa crust for a quiche and today filled it with the left over chicken from a roast, courgettes, bacon and onion. I did a trial custard using eggs and soya cream, this set thank goodness and was quite tasty, much better than previous attempts without proper cream.

Jenny and Andy

12 locks, 3 of which staircases, 3 swing bridges, 7am push off, 4 boats going down, 1 very low pound, 1 sulking cat, 2 t-shirts, 1 pair of pants, 1 hour waiting for water, 1 water point out of bounds, 1 pair molegrips, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing, 1 tasty quiche, 1 noisy mooring for the night.

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