Silsden to Foulridge to Bingley 5 and 3 to Silsden, Leeds Liverpool Canal
Having spent the last six and a half years sitting around a dinette table to eat, socialise and browse the internet we have continued to do this in our kitchen in the house. Long gone are the evening meals sat in front of the TV, instead we sit around the middle fitting for each meal. Decorating work on the kitchen is now complete and can now be considered reclaimed, although Frank seems to have taken over some of it with his tools and stuff! One big job left to do and that is to replace the hob, which is now awaiting a plumber, electrician and Frank, we have a single electric hob borrowed from friends to tide us over.
The kitchen computer is now back where it always lived, handy for listening to podcasts, checking recipes and emails, generally just handy. The screen saver is set to work it’s way through the photographs it stores, these have never made it onto Onedrive where everything now goes. Photos from our past sit on the screen. There are photos taken by Aunty Joan, me with my brother, theatre sets and models, Spanish cycling holidays of Micks BP (Before Pip), works on the house and boating trips before we became fulltime boaters.
It used to be that we could name the location and trip in the photos. Now unless we are in them or there is an obvious landmark we have no idea where or when the pictures were taken. NB May approaching Foxton, NB Winding Down the day we met NB Blackbird and then there are photos of our first boating holiday together on NB Rosie, where the embryo of our life afloat started. Happy memories which I thought I’d share.
September 2006 we headed to Silsden with a library copy of Nicholsons guide 5, picking up supplies at Booths in Ilkley for a week on board NB Rosie. I’d been on one boating holiday when I was 16 and Mick had enjoyed several boozy trips with friends and family through the years. We thought it would be a nice holiday, some fresh air away from telephone systems and dark theatres.
Silsden isn’t best placed for lock tuition being situated around 11 miles from Holme Bridge Lock, west of Skipton and 6 miles to the east is the Bingley Five Rise. No DVD was sent out, all we had was a chap explaining everything with the help of a model. We loaded our things on board and were given a walk through of Rosie before we were handed the keys. However we did have to wait for a widebeam to leave before us, luckily they stopped not that far ahead and we were able to carry on towards Skipton, stopping around about a kilometre short of the town for the night.
The following evening we had a dinner date with our friends Robert, Margaret and Katy in Thornton-in-Craven. The aim was to reach somewhere like South Field Bridge 159, so as to be able to walk across the fields to Katy’s house, quite a distance to cover with 12 locks and 5 swing bridges and over 10 miles, an early start was needed.
The day before I’d not been too confident on being able to bring Rosie into the side to drop Mick off, let alone be able to pick him back up again, so I was on bridge and lock duty. Brewery Swing Bridge was a joy using the key of power. At Niffany Swing Bridge a car nearly didn’t stop in time whilst I had the bridge wide open. Another of the bridges took quite some shoving, huffing and puffing but I got it to move in the end.
Then came the locks. I walked round and unlocked every handcuff lock as suggested by the Silsden chap the large orange buoy meaning you were unlikely to loose your keys. The ground paddles took what felt like an age to open up.
Then at Eston Road Lock I met my first Clough paddle. It was now a while since we’d had instruction and I’d forgotten how these worked. I tried pulling the wood towards me to turn it, similar to a lock gate, but this wasn’t to work. Luckily a lady from a cruiser arrived and showed me how they worked, lifting them, ahhhh of course!
Only another ten locks, no other boat to share with. Being keen hirers we were on a mission gradually running out of steam. Once up Bank Newton we reached the curly wurlys, on too much of a mission to really take in what was around us at the time.
Big islands of reeds made our cruise even more curly whilst trying to avoid them. Calculations were done, fifteen minutes a mile, but this was taking longer we’d soon run out of daylight. As soon as we managed to get phone signal we called Katy and arranged to meet at East Marton getting a lift to her house by car. A lovely meal was had before our weary bones were given a lift back to the boat.
A slower pace the following day, thank goodness, I was aching and certainly knew where the lock beams had been pushed with my back. Up Greenberfield Locks, we paused in Barnoldswick for some shopping and then carried on to cross the Yorkshire Lancashire boarder. We headed through Foulridge Tunnel winded and then returned having to wait an hour for the next green light window. Pulling up at the far end of the visitor moorings where the bank wasn’t so good to await a visit from Anne, Mick’s sister. Then we had a walk up into Foulridge for a meal at the New Inn.
The following day we set our sights not quite so high. Crossing back over the border, descending Greenberfield locks, taking the photo which would become Mick’s 50th Birthday card at East Marton, loving the views this time above Bank Newton and then teaming up with another Silsden Hire Boat for the flight. We’d struck lucky here, a group of firemen, at least four of them. Apparently they’d had difficulty with one of the swing bridges on the way out, how had I managed when there had been several of them trying to shift it!
They carried on to Gargrave whilst we chose to moor up in the pound between Stegneck Lock 34 and Scarland Lock 35 for the night. A meal at the Anchor pub a short walk away was enjoyed before returning to Rosie who had found herself now sitting on the bottom. Overnight she did more than sit on the bottom, we woke on quite a list as the rain poured down around us.
Mick set off back to the locks above and found a lock keeper who set about sending water down, we’d chosen a bad spot to moor as the gates at Scarland Lock were by no means water tight! It took several hours until we were afloat again and heading on our way back towards Skipton.
Soaked and getting wetter we wanted to turn the heating on, but the boiler simply wouldn’t ignite. A phone call to Silsden and a rendez vous was arranged for an engineer to come out to help. We pulled in by Thorlby Swing Bridge and didn’t have to wait too long for things to be sorted and heat to start filling the boat.
We pulled in a short distance before Skipton, expecting there to be no room to moor in the town. Instead we waited for golf balls to head in our direction from across the cut. A walk into town where we sampled a few beers at different bars to while away the evening.
A day of swing bridges followed as we worked our way along the long pound. Back through Silsden the manual bridges being a bit of a pain, but the key of power ones a joy. We reached our goal for the day, Bingley, well the top of the five and joined a few boats moored alongside the wooden fence which is no more.
A walk down the locks that evening and into Bingley for a meal in a small restaurant. I can’t remember it’s name, but I had a very tasty duck breast possibly in a plum sauce.
The following morning we joined another hire boat to descend the staircases. Barry the legendary lock keeper was on hand overseeing the paddles on one side whilst boat crew were allowed to wind the big handles to empty the chambers, one into the next then the next till we got to the bottom.
Once down the three rise we winded and pulled into the moorings with ease, Rosie was a touch shorter than Oleanna. We were glad we’d stayed at the top for the night as the busy traffic on the road next door would have kept us awake.
A quick shopping trip into town for a pint of milk and some meatballs from a butcher for our last night on board. Then we checked back in with the Lock Keepers and made our way back up the big hill, this time in the lock on our own. Barry kept a close eye on everything and gave me instructions ‘half a turn’ until we reached the top.
We wanted to not quite get back to Silsden for the night, so that we’d have a touch more boating to do on our last morning. Cows crossed Lodge Hill Bridge 196, mooing on their way to be milked. A suitable space was found for a short chug back to the hire base in the morning, we ate our meatballs and then headed off to sample some of the local beer.
Our final morning we tidied up and packed our belongings away and pootled the last short distance back to base. The trip home back to Scarborough saw us stop off in Saltaire, a festival was going on and we’d not managed to reached there before we’d had to turn back. As we were so close to Bradford we took an extra detour to find my grandparents house in Thornton and had a nosy from the road before we headed home.
Everybody has those holidays when you would rather stay another week than go home. This holiday as you can tell left its mark on me. On the last full day back towards Silsden, I got that feeling of not wanting to go home, just more so, a lot more so. I think Mick did too. Travelling at a slow speed (although we’d now do that journey slower, over a couple of weeks), countryside, history, industrial buildings, wildlife, beer, fresh air all felt so good. This is when the seed was planted with us, we didn’t realise it at the time and it took a while for that seed to germinate, but we got there in the end.
46 locks, including 1 three rise twice and 1 five rise twice, 60.61 miles approx, 50 ish swing bridges, 2 pub meals, 1 meeting with the Halls, 6 meat balls, 1 pint milk, 2 nosy cows, 1 huge orange float, 1 holiday that changed our lives.