The Brink Of Red. 22nd March

Above Lemonroyd Lock to above Birkwood Lock, Aire and Calder Navigation, Wakefield Branch

The plan started well. Get up have breakfast, sorry Tilly no shore leave. As we made ready to push off we noticed that the light at Lemonroyd Lock was amber, no longer red! Hopefully it had been fixed and we’d be free to head off down stream. We winded and returned to the water point.

What are they doing?

A group of engineers huddled around a cabinet by the off side top gate of the lock. At least three C&RT vans could be seen. We walked down to see what was happening whilst Oleanna’s water tank filled. There was still a problem with the top gate, if we were narrow we’d be okay and we could operate the lock as normal. Phew we’d be able to escape!

Squeezing in through the one gate

When we were ready I walked up to the lock to get it going, Mick not wanting to untie until the top gates were open due to the amount of wind. This amount of wind would normally put us off cruising, but the chance to get moving somewhere, anywhere wasn’t to be missed. I called up to the chaps in the tower, they’d operate the lock for us.

I think it’s the first time I’ve been on a boat through Lemonroyd Lock. Have to say I think it looks much bigger from above than it does from inside it, but maybe that’s different when heading uphill. With the chaps in the tower, they could open the sluices all the way up straight away, from the pedestal it is phased and takes quite a while. It only took 4 minutes before the gates were open and we could be on our way. The river level board just on the brink of red!

By 14:30 a new stoppage notice had been issued for Lemonroyd Lock. It would remain closed until Monday whilst a new part was sourced. Thank you chaps for letting us through, we’d timed our escape well.

Here comes the junction

Sunshine, clouds skidding overhead, we made quick progress heading down stream. It felt good to be moving again.

Skidding round the junction

The sad houses came into view (have a nosy around one of them), time to get ourselves ready to turn into the flow from the River Calder and the wind! Our zooming stopped, Mick cranked Oleanna’s engine up and swung the tiller over, she leant to one side, had our progress just been stopped totally? She then gradually straightened up to face the flow, slowly picking up pace we started to move again.

A boat on the move

A widebeam came towards us, blimey it was blowy out there! Under several bridges each framing views. Past Fairies Hill Lock and on to Woodnook Lock which had been closed until last Friday. Key of power to turn and buttons to press we made our way up off the river, we’d be safe to rising levels for a while now we were back on the cut.

The disused railway bridge

Our blowy journey towards Kings Road Lock was accompanied by a cyclist who rode back and forth back and forth along the track, the head wind not seeming to bother them. Pulling into the lock landing I spotted fishing rods sticking out from behind a widebeam. Frantic activity followed as two young lads fought to reel their lines in. This took quite some doing as they seemed to have caught items on the bed of the canal.

Woodnook Lock

We’d been hoping to stop here for the day, safely off the river, moor on the offside so Tilly could explore safely, but what gaps there were certainly wouldn’t accommodate us, we’d have to continue.

Little boats below Kings Road Lock

At Birkwood Lock there was space on the mooring above. A lady was off loading groceries from her car and carrying them over to her boat on the off side. They’ve moored here for 18 years, loved it, but now it’s time to find somewhere on land to live. They’d been to see a council bungalow and noted their interest, just a shame there had also been over 200 other people interested. Hopefully they’ll find somewhere soon.

Float free little ball, float free!

We pulled in, had a late lunch and let Tilly out to do her own catering!

We may stay put tomorrow as the wind will be stronger still. All the while we’re mindful that the river levels may come up again halting our progress.

On a positive note, I only just took longer than Mick to eat tonight, so my teeth are settling down at last.

3 locks, 8.6 miles, 1 wind, 1 hand brake turn right, £399,995, 1 full water tank, 4 CRT vans, 0 required part, 1 blowy day, 3 hours shore leave, 1 friend at least, 6 courgette bacon and feta fritters, 2 git gaps, 1 hopefully sheltered mooring, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, I’ll let you have this one.

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