Our Verdict. Absolutely Ridiculous! 17th May

Granary Wharf to Calverley Lodge Swing Bridge 215

Pulling away

The alarm wasn’t needed today as we’d been woken by glass bottles being showered into a recycling wagon. Up, dressed, cup of tea drunk whilst rolling up the covers. At 6am we could see that our locking partners were awake, then someone came and untied the bow rope. We sprung into action, well as much action as you can muster at that time in the morning! Their crew had already set Office Lock, I hopped off to lend a hand. Between the two boats we had six crew.

Locking partners

Libby and Karl have hired numerous times before and had been joined for the week by novices Mark and Sarah. It turned out that we had quite a bit in common, such as Scarborough, Windermere and boats of course.

The morning started off chilly, fleeces and jumpers required, but working the locks the layers gradually were removed. As we worked our way uphill numerous runners pounded the towpath. Ground paddles were stiff requiring repositioning of windlasses. Gates over grown with greenery and stiff. Oddy Two Rise the gates wouldn’t open fully, I think I remember that from last time. But with four people to work the locks we had most things covered and worked efficiently.


After Spring Garden Lock we had the a long pound to cruise, time for breakfast on the move. Tilly below deck was excited to be moving. They kept moving all those fantastic looking trees. Don’t they realise I’ve not had a challenging tree to climb for months! She shouted and shouted at me, so keeping hold of her I opened the stern doors so she could see that we were moving the outside! Tom was very busy!

We don’t have a key for that!

Then at Kirkstall Little Lock we ground to a halt. Here the locks are padlocked shut before 08:00 and after 15:00 daily. We’d arrived at 08:10 and the padlocks were still very much locked. From past experience one Lock Keeper has the job of unlocking this and the next two staircase locks, so they obviously start at one and work their way down. We waited, we could have had a more extensive breakfast, we waited.

At 9:00 Mick called C&RT and was on the phone to someone just as a blue van arrived. C&RT usually have seasonal Lock Keepers, but none had returned this year, so interviews are on going to find new people, leaving a couple of chaps to pick up the van and then unlock locks, then deal with work boats on the move and other things. The chap unlocked everything for us and said he’d try to get the other Lockie to set the staircases ahead for us.

Climbing up in the staircase

Forge Three Rise needed the bottom emptying and the top chamber topping up. The stonework on these locks is just wonderful. Curves between chambers. Spillways all engineered in. Bywashes, thankfully all running today, flowing with clean water. We worked our way up. Bottom gates leaking and spraying over the bows of both boats. Once the bottom gates were closed Mick and Karl moved the boats back to avoid the worst of the torrents.

Under my Bridge, the first P just starting to fade a touch now. The Lockie met us part way, there had been something jammed in a gate paddle on Newlay Three Rise, he’d managed to sort it but didn’t want us to use that paddle as we rose. The last of the locks for us today.

First swing

Now the start of the swing bridges. Rose Mill Swing Bridge was nice and easy doing just what it should. NB Burnsall headed onwards to Bridge 218, Moss Swing Bridge! We have history with this bridge, back in 2014 it had expanded in the heat and wouldn’t open, a tractor was sent to assist. Today a tractor wouldn’t be needed as the bridge has been replaced and is causing somewhat of a consternation on the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the local area. It also seems to have had a name change to Aire Dale Mills Swing Bridge! However everyone is still calling it Moss Swing Bridge.

Here’s a list of articles if you fancy reading them

Article in West Leeds Dispatch

More a week later

Yorkshire Evening Post

Yorkshire Post

Not owned by C&RT, it is privately owned by Rodley Bridge Company (Emergency phone number 08000114074 you may need this number one day!)

Here we go!

Mick had had to pause to clear the prop, but as he arrived Mark and Sarah were at the bridge along with a chap who has been employed to assist boaters in the correct operation of the bridge. Sarah filmed and I took photos.


There is a large sign with instructions, the first four stages you need to follow are on the control console. First you unlock the cabinet, not unusual for those of us used to the Stainforth and Keadby Canal swing bridges. Inside you follow the steps to set the barriers in motion by pushing buttons. Once they are lowered you then have to remove the bridge key and insert it into the Bridge Wedge release handle lock rotating it clockwise. Then you move the locking lever to release the bridge, this is a 90degree bent metal rod. I’m not sure how you Ensure the handle is fully retracted and pins fully withdrawn.

It seems that you have to keep hold of the lever for a while as you start to turn the wheel which removed the wedges. You then keep turning the wheel for around about 70 turns until it will move no more.

Walk across the bridge to the other side. Here you lift the tail lock catch (because we all know what one of those is!) and rotate clockwise to sit on the holding bracket. This is another 90degree bent bit of rod.

Then you turn the wheel at this end of the bridge to swing it. I don’t know how many turns this takes. Some people say 100. Mark looked relieved when it was finally open and he could have a rest before reversing the whole procedure. If you forget to return the tail lock catch to where it had been at the start then you won’t be going anywhere, neither will be the vehicles wanting to cross the bridge.

Once you’ve wound the wheel back to relocate the wedges you then return the big fat key to the control console, press buttons and hope that they don’t flash at you.

The chap employed to assist boaters seems to be well known by the locals. He is there from 8am to 3pm when he takes the protruding handles away with him. He will only be on site for a few more weeks when apparently some new handles will be attached, or you’ll have to turn the wheels as you do on the River Nene locks!

Mark was keen to operate the bridge today even though he’d had a go yesterday. From putting his C&RT key into the lock and removing it it was just over 10 minutes. I was very relieved it wasn’t me trying to work out what the instructions meant and turning and turning the wheels. It will be just about impossible for single handers to operate the bridge, the instructions say that the bridge operator to remain in position throughout navigation movements, so you can’t move your boat anyway!

Not all the bridges on the Leeds Liverpool are easy, some are buggers, but this bridge (designed to withstand lorries going to a building site) is plain ridiculous! During morning hours when the bridge is most likely to be operated by boaters heading into Leeds the home owners will be wanting to head to work. Whether it’s 67 or 72 properties in the new development that is a lot of potential cars wanting to cross the bridge. I see horns being sounded. Should an ambulance or fire engine be required in the development it takes time to turn those wheels. The cardiovascular exercise to operate it is well breath taking. I think it is likely to put some people off cruising the Leeds Liverpool.

Verdict. Ridiculous!

Rodley Swing Bridge opened with smiles

Anyway. Mark and Sarah went ahead to open the lovely Rodley Swing Bridge then I took my turn at Owl Swing Bridge. Here we parted ways as we were looking for a mooring and they were wanting to get close to Saltaire to have a look round tomorrow. Thank you for your company this morning and especially to Mark for working the stupid bridge.

Happy boaters

We carried on to where the green fields stretch out below Calverley. It took a while for us to be happy not being quite into the side.

Out into the countryside

A sausage roll day!!! 6 hours!!! Brilliant!!! I made sure I did my rolling on the towpath so it knew it was mine, all mine. We didn’t see her for ages at a time, but the Dreamie container will require a refill soon.

Don’t you come home until you’ve had a bath!

Bolognaise sauce is bubbling away on the stove and I suspect we won’t be late to bed this evening. Another earlyish start tomorrow.

12 locks, 3 staircases, 6.8 miles, 4 swing bridges, 5 held up, 6am push off, 2 more Scarborians, 2 more lodgers booked, the most stupidest bridge ever, 6 hours, 1 dusty grey pooped cat.


5 thoughts on “Our Verdict. Absolutely Ridiculous! 17th May

  1. jennie230

    I am confused just reading about ‘that bridge’! It sounds as though you had a great day, made better by good company. Great to see you afloat again, Pip. I will be watching with interest the panto prep – Sue, Ken, Chris and I are booked to go again this year. Jennie x

    1. Pip Post author

      Brilliant on the panto front. It was a good day, even with the Stupid bridge!


    Whoever designed/approved/accepted that bridge at Rodley should be ashamed of themselves. I have written to CRT about it but haven’t had a proper reply.

    1. Pip Post author

      It’s quite a busy bridge already with cricket club and a nature reserve. It’s all fenced in on the offside so would be really hard for a single hander to manage to get back on their boat.

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