Breathing In. 13th October

Aspley Basin to Wheatley Bridge 20, Calder and Hebble Navigation

Not the quietest of moorings

Up early for us, breakfasted whilst the final load of washing was making the most of the electric hookup, then we pushed over to the service block. Someone already had a hose linked up to the tap, but that didn’t matter we could wait. Our main reason for being there was to make it easier to pick up our Click and Collect from Sainsburys. Mick headed off with the bike to collect it across the car park and was back very quickly.

That way please!

The tap was now free so we topped up with water, disposed of any rubbish as the shopping was stowed away. Time to push off and say Goodbye to Huddersfield the largest Town in the country. I’ll be back in February, but sadly not by boat.

Chains and wheels

The Turnbridge Loco Lift Bridge was opened in 1865 replacing a swing bridge. A combination of chains, wheels and counter weights lifts the bridge deck vertically. Originally it was operated with a windlass, but since 2002 it has been electrically powered. I got my Key of Power out and waited for a gap in the traffic before turning it to release the barriers. Once they had been moved I pressed the button to lift the bridge. What look like big counter weights actually house all the chain required for the bridge to rise and fall. Today I managed to stop 8 vehicles.

The pootle out of Huddersfield isn’t the most picturesque, light and not so light industry sit alongside the canal. Gas Street Bridge always has a strong aroma around it. Then we passed my second choice hotel in Huddersfield the Travelodge. From here you get good views of the railway viaduct before the recycling plant, I prefer the view of boats from the Premier Inn at Aspley.

Red Doles Lock 9

Then the first lock of the Huddersfield Broad Canal. Opened in 1776 it linked the Calder Hebble to the centre of Huddersfield and later to the Narrow in 1811 creating a trans-pennine route. The long narrowboats that could climb over the Pennines could not use the shorter locks of the Broad canal. Goods were transhipped at Aspley Basin but the canal was overshadowed by the Rochdale Canal, which had broad locks that could hold two narrowboats.

Mind that cill

Today the Broad canal is listed as being 57ft 6″ long by 14ft 2″ wide, but C&RT also say that narrowboats of 60ft can navigate it by going diagonally. Six years ago we managed the trip in Lillian (NB Lillyanne). Going downhill in an over long boat you have to take great care to position your boat in the right spot. Last time lock 8 proved to be a touch tight for Lillian and we had difficulty positioning her so as to be able to get her bow past the closed bottom gate and out. This is why we had Oleanna built a foot shorter and with the aid of a bow thruster to help her clear the bottom gate without use of a rope or pole. So today we knew we’d be alright, yet we still had to take care.

For each lock we did the same. Oleanna was brought in, her bow brought as far forward as the small walkway allows and she tucks into a corner. Then the stern is taken over to the other side, this works on Oleanna. With Lillian ( a foot longer) we had to have her stern more towards the centre of the lock this giving a few more inches as the cill is curved.

On a diagonal

I then stand above the bow and gradually lift the paddle whilst Mick keeps an eye on the stern and the cill. With Lillian we took this very slowly as any chance of the stern sitting on the cill could mean she would sink. As the boat lowers you can move her forward under the walkway a touch. Then once Oleanna’s stern had safely passed the cill I walk round to the other side and lift the paddle there.

Nudging her way past the bottom gate

Once the water is level with below I then open this gate. Now Mick moves Oleanna’s bow past the still closed gate and can escape. Just to do it all over again at the next lock.

No visible brake on the gear

The paddle gear is different to most as there is no visible brake on them. You wind the paddle up and just stop where you want to. Then when you want to lower it you just need to give it a little bit of extra umph to get it moving and the brake comes off.

The gate paddles can be fierce and send a jet of water down the lock. But then several of the locks had quite a few leaky top gates, so much so Mick had to shelter behind the back doors to keep himself dry.

Getting ready to jet wash

Two chaps from C&RT were getting ready to jet wash around some of the locks, they said they were slippy and with winter maintenance happening soon they were giving the stone work a good clean.

Poorly lock

The next lock is currently closed to widebeams as the off side gate has been damaged. The face of it now covered with a sheet of timber and the gate is tied with a cable to prevent anyone from opening it.

Colne Bridge Lock dropped us down into the final pound of the Broad Canal. This is the pound that has been loosing water over the last few weeks. We’ve seen photographs of it just about empty, but thankfully today there was water, it was still low but enough for us to head to Lock 1.

The last of the Huddersfield locks, Cooper Bridge Lock 1

Here we would leave the Huddersfield Canals behind. Lock 1 and Bridge 1.Time to join the river, checking the level board first.

We came from the right through 180 degrees

After a hand brake turn onto the Calder Hebble we pulled in for lunch, then got ready for another short lock, a second Cooper Bridge Lock, this one number 16 not 1.

Give me a lever ….

Time to use our Hebble Spike to help fill the lock. The spike is made from hard wood and is used to gradually wind up the paddles. There are windlass operated paddles too, but more water was needed to help level the lock to open it.

Now we had stretches of river followed by lock cuts. The next lock being Battye Ford Lock, here we knew we’d be able to breath and have a four course meal and still fit.

Through Ledgard Flood Lock it was time to find somewhere suitable to stop, hopefully where Tilly could go out. The first mooring by Lidl has a road running alongside. We carried on to just after an old railway bridge and pulled in, we almost go into the side.

Here there was bracken and some friendly cover before three layers of fencing designed to keep animals out. Well Tilly was soon seen on the other side, it was hardly taxing!

A few angles needed checking for the panto set builders then it was time to put the Wednesday roast in the oven, a medium chicken which turned out to a large in disguise. We’ll be eating a lot of chicken for the next few days.

11 locks, 3 flood locks, 6.32 miles, 1 click and collect, 1 lift bridge, 8 held up, 10 skimpy locks, 1 hand brake turn, 1 giant lock, 3 fences, 1.75kg chicken, 2 fat contended boaters.