Sykehouse Junction to Bramwith Junction, Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation
Well overnight those little blood sucking b**tards made a feast of me, by the end of today I could count ten bites. The only one that wasn’t complaining was the one I saw happen so I applied cream to the area straight away which most probably helped greatly. I don’t think I’ve been eaten so much since I was a child!
It was raining when we woke so we decided to let Tilly judge when we should move on today. The back doors opened for her to head off and explore. But she really couldn’t be bothered with getting soggy so early in the day, so she went straight back to bed.
The weather improved and by 11 we were rolling back the covers and getting ready to push off to cruise from one end of the New Junction Canal to the other. Opening in 1905 the canal was jointly funded by the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation and the Aire and Calder Navigation. It links the River Don Navigation, Stainforth and Keadby Canal to the Aire and Calder and was the last waterway to be built in England for commercial purposes. It stretches 5.5 miles and is dead straight, however this doesn’t mean it’s plane sailing as there are 6 bridges and 1 lock to operate. It looks like originally there were another two bridges now long since gone.
Commercial traffic still works these waters with Exol Pride running oil between Hull and Rotherham. Mick had noticed on vessel finder that the big blue boat had set off for Hull today, we assume they’ll return to Goole tomorrow and then head up the canal Wednesday.
Once winded we crossed the Went Aqueduct passing under one of two footbridges on the canal that didn’t require any action from us. With nobody behind us today we’d not be leapfrogging our way along.
Soon at Sykehouse Road Lift Bridge I hopped off with the key of power. Waiting for a gap in traffic is all fine when you can see both ways, but from the control panel you can only see for about 20 foot either side. When crossing the road I’d noticed a car being overtaken and could still hear the engine running, however it wasn’t getting any closer. I’d expected it to have passed by now, so I had to walk back up onto the bridge and take a peek, there was the car, closer than before, still in the middle of the road with people stood round it chatting. It wouldn’t be coming anytime soon, so time to push the buttons. I held up 3 vehicles here.
At Kirk Lane Road Swing Bridge we could see the barriers coming down, closing the bridge to road traffic, someone was coming the other way, we sped up hoping they’d see us. Once swung the bow of their boat came into view, the chap at the helm spotting us and relaid the information to the button presser. 0 vehicles were held up here.
The amber light was lit at Sykehouse Lock, meaning it was on self service. This lock is often manned and on the several occasions we’ve been through I’ve only had to operate it once.
This lock is operated with the key of power, as most locks round here, but it does have one difference it has three control panels and a swing bridge right over the middle of it.
Your key goes in the central panel, which doesn’t have any buttons on it, but once turned your key is retained until all is closed again.
A click can be heard from the road barriers for the swing bridge. These are manually pushed round until they lock in position closing the track that crosses the lock. You then lift the locking latch and swing the bridge out of the way until it locks into another latch. This completes a circuit which enables the lock now to be operated, the two panels, one either end illuminating.
The chamber was empty so I opened the gates and Mick brought Oleanna in, he hung back and passed a rope around a bollard whilst I closed the gates and then walked up to the other end to the panel there. The lock is 215ft long, Oleanna seemed a very long way away.
Button pressed and held for 2 seconds and the sluices started to open, they do this in stages until fully opened. Once full the Water Level light illuminates and you can open the gates, letting your boat out.
Sluices closed, gates closed. Time to lift the latch on the swing bridge to be able to close it again. This releases the locked barriers. Once the bridge is back in it’s latch and the barriers are opened the central panel gives a little click meaning your key can be retrieved again.
0 vehicles were held up here, 2 cyclists stopped for a banana break before retracing their route southwards.
The next bridge is around 1.75 miles away, but along this stretch there used to be two more bridges, one obviously was a swing bridge, the other has left little if any evidence of it’s existence.
Kirkhouse Green Lift Bridge, I managed to get 6 vehicles here.
Top Lane Lift Bridge, the barriers came down as we got close, another boat coming through. We were waved on and passed under thanking the lady at the panel and only holding up 1 .
At Low Lane Swing Bridge you need to use your ears as the road bends round either side out of view. I couldn’t hear anyone approaching so pressed the button to open. Here we held up 2 vans.
Ahead were the Don Doors. These are two guillotine gates that are lowered at either end of the Don Aqueduct when the river below goes into flood. The aqueduct in normal times is full to the brim, any excess water spills over the sides down into the Don.
The last bridge is a footbridge over the canal just after the Don Doors, no key of power required here.
By now the sky was getting very dark again and the wind had picked up. After a couple of loads of washing yesterday we were wanting a top up, so we turned left towards Bramwith Lock where there is a water point just above it.
The tank filled as the heavens opened. A narrowboat came up the lock with the assistance of a C&RT Lockie. This chap is in charge of volunteers in the area. Last year they had 8, this year there are now 30 volunteer lock keepers and rangers, he’s kept very busy training them all.
Not wanting to descend the lock, we also didn’t want to get pinned against it’s top gates by the wind, so Mick decided to reverse back up to the junction before winding. We then pulled in to the towpath, tied up and let Tilly out. Well she wasn’t too pleased that it was raining and hung back for a while. Then she was off to stare into the friendly cover.
1 lock, 5.46 miles plus a little bit, 2 winds, 1 left, 3 lift bridges, 3 swing bridges, 2 footbridges, 12 held up, 2 worked for us, 0 leapfrogging/hopscotching, 4 hours, 1 steady internet connection, 1 hour homework, 1 hour setting up, 1 blustery wet day, 1 full tank, 1 load washing, 2 much drying inside, 1st performance at VET after lockdown, 10 bites itching, 24 hourly pill, 1 tube of anthisan!