Gaps In The Sky. 11th May

Pollington Lock to Castleford Visitor Moorings

Dressed appropriately for the forecast we pushed off around 9:30am leaving the baritone sheep with their lambs. I walked up to Pollington Lock with the key of power, a narrowboat had just come into view. Would they be heading for the lock or water point? The lock was full so whilst it emptied we worked out that the following boat was planning on a day filling up their water tank from the extremely slow tap.

Pollington Lock, smartly kept

Button pushing was easy compared to having to press and hold the buttons last summer on the Nene and Great Ouse. We were very quickly and on our way again.

Great Heck

The train app came out as we approached Great Heck, would the train get there before us? Well three came past, each one vying or the photo opportunity from the canal.

Plenty of C&RT blue boats were in at the maintenance wharf, a cheery wave came from inside a wheelhouse. As we came towards Whitley Lock we could see someone in blue with a life jacket, a banner/flag wafting in the breeze, there was a volunteer on duty, no need to drop me off. The chap was knowledgeable about his lock and by the portside ladder would be nice and calm for our ascent as the lock fills sideways further back.

Not a photo of Eggborough, well it isn’t there anymore !

The first gap in the sky. If you’d not lived round these parts or travelled on the motorways here you’d not notice what is no longer here. Eggborough Power Station no longer towers above the village of it’s name. It used to generate enough power for 2 million homes between 1967 and 2018 when it closed. In 2020 demolition works were started. Initially it was going to be replaced by a gas power plant, but with the rising costs of gas this did not happen.

Solar instead of coal

Now the long flat towards Knottingley. The site of Kellingley Colliery is now mostly filled with a solar farm. Areas still have mounds of slag and rubble, new buildings are rising on the far side. Sadly the sign I’ve taken photos of over the years has now gone, soon there will only be the concrete wharfs let to suggest there was mining on the site.

By now the brolly was in use, we were getting quite damp. A mooring for an early lunch would do us. Several boats were moored around the junction with Bank Dole Cut, but it looked like we’d need to dig out our mooring spikes and get wetter still. We carried on, passing the flour mill, the towpath garden.

Then another gap in the sky! Not one cooling tower left at Ferrybridge Power Station! I thought they were going to keep three of them, but not one in sight. Available bollards pulled us over to moor, ropes tied off to them rather than the boat as they were soo far away. The drone from a canalside factory stopped bang on 12:30 giving us a half hour of peace and quiet. Tilly surveyed the area from the dinette windows, This will do nicely please! Except we’d not gone far enough today.

Ferrybridge flood lock was in operation, would there be much of a difference in height. Not really. Mick gradually moved Oleanna along the long lock as I walked from one end to the other, lifted the sluices the level light illuminated and I could open the gates. Thank goodness you don’t have to wait for these locks to go through all it’s motions (which at times do nothing on the Trent Locks). Just a long ladder to climb down to get back onboard.

The long river stretch, which once made me soo excited to be soo close to Ferrybridge Power Station. I really had thought that three of the towers were going to be left. I shouted out my disgust to those who blew the great dumpy towers up. Now set back from the river stand grey buildings with spindly tall overcast chimneys that produce the power.

On 28 July 2019, the first of Ferrybridge’s cooling towers was demolished, followed by a further four on 13 October. The main boiler house, bunker bay and two chimney stacks were demolished in August 2021. The original plan of generating power with gas was no longer, so the final three cooling towers came down on 17 March 2022. The skyline of my childhood blown up forever. Now they produce energy from waste in their boring grey square buildings!

Rain came back, so did the brolly as we cruised up the river.

Bulholme Lock was full, all the key powered locks automatically fill themselves when no one is looking. As I pressed the buttons for it to fill I did wonder where the water comes from. Standing above a lock you normally get a flow of water heading for the sluices, but here the water remained calm. It must come from the far end of the extended lock, under the side.

Towpath Tilly

Plenty of places to choose to moor. We pulled in where the bank is low and the bollards in useable distance. The boat moored in front, a chap we’ve come across a few times, NB Borderlines which has the coat of arms of York on the side. Tilly was given three hours shore leave, she took two and a half before we decided the doors should close for the day. Our dripping coats were hung up in front of the stove which Mick lit. We then had to open most windows and the hatch before we over heated, maybe next time it’s a touch chilly we’ll just dig out an extra jumper.

I spent a couple of hours on a second read of my panto script taking notes as I went. Still a few more pages to go, then research and logistics will start. Just how to materialise a coach on Chipping Nortons little stage and what should it look like?!

The chicken stock brought from Scarborough was still quite icy in the middle! But I persevered and made us a mushroom and chicken risotto.

NB Ivy

When we left Goole we’d heard that our friend Lisa is selling her boat, NB Ivy, that was moored across from where we were. A heart breaking sale for Lisa. If you are interested here are the details. I hope she finds a caring new owner for NB Ivy soon.

3 locks, 1 flood lock, 14.4 miles, 1 volunteer, 1 soggy day, 2 wet boaters, 2 good looking moorings, 1 person after my job! 1 stove lit, 2 mafting boaters, 1 content cat.

2 thoughts on “Gaps In The Sky. 11th May

  1. Dave (Scouts)

    Great to see you out on the water again. Rose has her socks but still persuading her to take a photo, we’ll get one eventually 🙂
    Re the Coach. Is it a motor coach or horse drawn? If the former have a look at or contact them as they can probably tell you what type used to run around chippy in the era you are going for.
    As to the how, what about a light timber chassis with pram/cycle wheels?

    1. Pip Post author

      Thanks Dave, glad Rose got her socks and thank you for the donation.
      As for the coach, it has to be horse drawn, might look at the type for Chippy though, may give me some inspiration even though it is set in Columbia.
      My question on how was more to do with getting it to appear in a flash!

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