Summit Of Summits. 7th October

Wool Road Winding Hole to Diggle, the summit of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal

It looks good over there!

As we got ready to leave this morning the chap from the boat in front appeared with a billy can full of coal which he proceeded to give to me. He’d taken his stove out several months ago, so had no need of it.

Good Luck with Gypsy

He bought his boat in May as a project boat and was due to have a new stove fitted before now, but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened. I suggested he might want to hold onto the coal to help keep warm, but he still wanted to give it to us. I suspect it was in his way. He grew up around Tunnel End in Marsden, before the tunnel was reopened he and his mates used to play in it, he says there is graffiti from the original navies who cut the tunnel. We wished him good luck with the work on his boat, his next aim is to get to Marsden, then who knows!

Time to climb the last few locks. The last nine locks to the summit are all relatively close together, infact today we only moved a mile horizontally but 94ft 6″ vertically.

Lifting the paddles

The angled paddle gear wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, several of them having had hydraulic mechanisms added to them. Six years ago we had enlisted crew to assist due to me not being able to use my right hand at the time. Using a windlass wrong handed was a challenge as I tried to do my bit. Today my long reach windlass was only needed some of the time.

Will that be enough water?

Our main problem today would be the low pound between locks 26W and 27W. As I arrived to open the gates into 26W above looked really rather low, would there be sufficient water left after filling the lock to get Oleanna over the cill? The bottom gates leaked, she rose, we pushed the gate open, it was touch and go from my reckoning that there’d be enough water.

Gradually making her way forward

I walked up to 27W, the level above much healthier, in fact the bywash was running. I lifted the paddles on the bottom gates and then the top gates and let water run down through the lock. I made note of where I thought I could drop the level above to for us still to be able to get over the cill of this lock.

Will she get over the cill?

Below Mick had closed the gate again, hoping to stop the pound from draining as much as I was filling it. He then refilled the lock, opened the gate and gradually inched his way out of the lock and over the cill. A big thumbs up was given and I could now drop the paddles at the top end of my lock.

There was now the pound to cross which took quite sometime! As Oleanna approached the bottom cill of the lock Mick gave her quite a few revs before cutting them and thankfully gliding into the lock at a slow pace. Now to see if I’d let too much water down to be able to get over the top cill of this lock. There was just enough! Phew!

Nearly there!

Onwards and upwards we worked, the single bottom gates meaning less walking round, but heavier to move. The last pound between 31W and 32W was also a touch low, but thankfully passable, no need to draw on the 3 plus miles of the summit pound.

As the top gate opened of Lock 32W Oleanna had reached the highest point on the Canal Network, tomorrow she will bag her next wonder of the waterways, but getting this far is a wonder in itself.

We pulled up in front of NB Idleness a tug who will also be going through the tunnel tomorrow, Kim and I had been in touch through facebook over the last week. So there was plenty to chat about on our arrival. They are longer than us at around 60ft and had been asking how easy or hard it would be to go down the Huddersfield Broad Canal.

Good hunting friendly cover here

Tilly came out for an explore as we chatted, but after a lady walking by mentioned she’d just seen a couple of Mink I decided that maybe Tilly should return indoors. After seeing how quickly a mink grabbed and dragged a pigeon down a tree earlier this summer I thought it would be safer.


After lunch we walked down hill slightly to Grandpa Greens for some celebratory chilled medication. Signs all around the building suggest that they have had queues round the block, but today we only had to wait for one other person to be served. Sadly no gluten free cones so I had to make do with a tub instead.

What a choice!

Mick had Belgium chocolate and Salted Caramel whilst I had Raspberry Ripple and Nutella. Both very nice and a fitting celebration for reaching the summit of summits.

Yay! Summit medication!!!

The Huddersfield Canal is the highest canal on the network at 645ft above sea level. Next is the Rochdale at 600ft, followed by the Macclesfield and Peak Forest at 518ft, Titford Canal BCN at 511ft, Leeds Liverpool at 487ft the last two surprising us not to be the other way round.

Taking down her smile

The afternoon was spent preparing ourselves for tomorrow. The highest point on Oleanna we know to be the horns at the front, the chimney used to be similar until we had some cut off. Mick undid the supports that the horns sit on and tucked them under the bracket that normally holds them off the cratch cover. This will have gained us at least another 3 inches clearance, which we might be glad of if someone else drives Oleanna through the tunnel.

One day I’ll repaint that bracket

Another job today was sussing out whether we’ve been charging enough for our house. We’ve already had an enquiry for a few weeks next year. Now that we have been paying the bills for a full year we know what it costs to run the house.

A Summit Robin

I made up a chicken and roast carrot risotto with the last of our Sunday roast and popped it in the oven before I got together with my Scarborough chums for our weekly catch up. It was good to see those who could make it and today was the first time we’ve had two people on boats, me and Sue who is currently on holiday in Greece sailing.

9 locks, 94ft 6″ climbed, 1 mile, 32 locks up, 645ft, 1 summit pound, 1 billy can of coal, 1 dodgy pound, 1 foot of water, 2 boats waiting for the tunnel, 3 by the end of the day, 2 scoops each, 2 horns lowered, 2 hours shore leave, 2 mink! 5 chums, 1 pot of oven risotto, yummy!

The yarn shop I’ve just spotted on the map at Warth Mill has been added to the ‘next time’ list!

One thought on “Summit Of Summits. 7th October

  1. Anonymous

    Hope you had a good breakfast and a safe passage through Friday.
    Been wonderful weather down in Lynton and Lynmouth where we’ve spent the last few days.
    Today back in Wells sun greets us again. Hope your good weather and full pounds continue.

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