First Manual Of The Year. 24th March

Birkwood Lock to Midland Junction Bridge 40

No lazing about in bed today, time to get moving. With more rain in the forecast we wanted to cover as many of the river sections as possible before the levels rise again. Having said that we weren’t about to do an 8 hour day. The sun was out, waterproof padded trousers were donned just in case and to start with they were handy to keep warm.

First Stanley Ferry. Outside the C&RT workshops lay newly cut oak destined for Lock 69 on the Rochdale, it’ll be interesting to see what state the current gates are in as we pass. Then a full set, top and bottom gates were having the water treatment, swelling the oak before they get fitted on site. I couldn’t see any marks to tell me which lock these were destined for.

Stanley Ferry

Over the aqueduct, we’d called ahead yesterday to see if they had diesel. They normally do but their pump is being recalibrated on Friday and anyway they were closed today. This also meant we couldn’t stock up on coal. Through the swing bridge, holding up two ladies, a CRT fundraiser just setting up for the day.

Broadreach Flood Lock in operation

We managed to log on to the Geraghty Zoom on Mick’s phone as we went along the long straight towards Broadreach Flood Lock, although it took us quite some time to get the sound to work. Ahead the flood lock was closed so we waved our goodbyes to the sisters and got on with the task in hand, not that hard as the river was level with the cut, but both sets of gates needed to be operated and the sluices (even though I’d not opened them) closed before I could retrieve my key of power.

Back on the river I logged into zoom again, there was quarter of an hour before reaching Fall Ing Lock, so we listened in for a while before waving goodbye again. Subjects covered seemed to be about Scottish Islands and Ireland.

Fall Ing Lock, our first manual lock this year

Fall Ing Lock is big, deep and a stiff old lock, it would also be our first manual lock this year. Of course both top gates were open, Mick helped wind the hydraulic paddle gear to empty the lock and then I enlisted a Dad and son to help open and close the gate. Winding the top paddle gear I could tell it’s been months since I last did any of this!

I wonder if those jet washes would reach down to the boat?

A quick pause on the 72 hour moorings for Mick to pop to the garage for a couple of bags of coal. We have enough for a week, but wanted some more just in case. EcoCoal was bought, we’ve had it before, it created a LOT of ash, but at least we’ll stay warm.

A long sound of the horn brought us out onto the river again, heading upstream, behind us one of the old warehouse buildings looked like it was having a make over. Ahead Double Two looks to have let out space to an Escape Room. At one time I used to paint scenery for the John Godber Theatre Company in the workshop where shirts had once been sewn.

Thornes Lock, the first where you require a Hebble Spike. A few years ago we created an overlay on our Waterway Routes maps which showed which locks required a Hebble Spike. New phones etc meant we’d lost the useful information. Mick hunted through Canal World Forum to find the info he’d received back then, it’s now been added to our maps so we can be equipped at the correct locks.

A Hebble Spike paddle and spike laid on the beam

Both ends require a spike at Thornes Lock, well I certainly couldn’t get any windlass wound ground paddles to work. A group of cyclists arrived to cross the lock, one chap suggested starting to fill the lock with the other paddle as the one I was about to start with was VERY stiff. Well they were all very stiff! When they had come through earlier in the day there had been a lady trying to work the lock who had never heard of a spike and she managed to break her windlass on one of the ground paddles. I believe they managed to help her through.

Pine to left, hardwood to the right

Our spike is made of hardwood, I found splinters of a soft wood version below one of the mechanisms. Soft wood tends to splinter, hard wood tends to sink if dropped in!

The next flood lock was sat open for us, taking us back out onto the river again. At Broad Cut Low Lock we could see activity, a man in an orange jumper. I walked up to see what was happening and chatted away to the chap and lady who were ascending. He seemed ever so familiar. Mick joined the conversation as their boat slowly rose in the lock. When the chap mentioned they had a house in Wheldrake near York the penny dropped. This was Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, we’d shared the journey between Naburn and Selby back at the end of August in 2020 after we’d been stuck at Naburn when the Ouse was in flood. NB Isabella is their first narrowboat and Naburn was their first ever lock on her. Back then she was grey, today she’s red oxide. I’d been wondering if we’d ever come across them again, today was the day.

Once we were up the lock we pulled over for some lunch, left overs of Szechuan pork and courgette fritters, very nice, the pork seems to improve over a day or two. Heather and Richard had decided to stop for the day, there was only chance for a little bit more chat before I was needed at the next lock.

Hooray a locking partner!

An old Rose Hire Boat pulled out behind Oleanna from the moorings, we waited for her to join us in the lock, the lady very grateful to be able to share with us. She was the lady who’d met the cyclists this morning. Maybe she was now planning on sharing each lock with a different boat. She pulled in a distance ahead and tied her centre line to a fence post across the towpath! Maybe she’d also had a tipple or two at the pub at lunchtime.

We wanted to get that bit further on today despite being warned by the cyclists that we’d not want to be stopping anywhere between Horbury and Mirfield. Up on the hill in Horbury we spied the tower of St Peter’s and St Leonards Church, this is where John Carr the founder of my Dad’s architectural practice is buried. We visited back in 2019

Mick closing up as I set the next lock

We carried on to the Figure of Three Locks. There are only two locks, but their name almost certainly comes from the meanders in the River Calder along side. One of these meanders broke loose after Storm Ciara in February 2020 causing millions of pounds worth of damage to the locks. They were closed for 14 months whilst masses of work was undertaken. Currently the top lock ground paddles are slightly stuck open. Instructions on the notice regarding this were helpful, lift the two gate paddles and let the lock almost empty before opening the ground paddle (this is almost impossible to lift any earlier, but is required to fully empty the lock). Whilst I lifted paddles on the top lock, Mick closed up behind.

The figure of three in the river

A short distance further we came across the mooring we’d got our eye on. Handy bollards to tie to, but also a few motorbikes across the way, riding up and down muddy tracks, obviously a favourite place for youths on a fair Sunday afternoon. Hopefully they would have their fun and then leave us in peace, which is exactly what happened.

Sorry Tilly, this is as close to this outside as you are going to get.

A celebratory leg of lamb went in the oven with all the sides forming a very nice roast. We’ll now have lamb for several days. Yarn was selected for my next pair of socks, a far simpler pattern for these as the last three pairs has taken it’s toll a little, but that’s my own fault. I may not be able to show them at there best until much later in the year as several people will have to get together with their socks for them to make sence.

That’s blown!

7 locks, 9.3 miles, 1 bridge, 2 ladies held up, 1st manual lock of the year, 1 flood lock operated, 20kg of coal, 2 boaters from 2020, 1 lock shared, 2 or 3 tipples, pair 13 cast on, 1 leg of lamb, 3 more lamby meals this week, 2 late for shore leave, 1 disgruntled cat, 1 blown bow thruster fuse!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/FLMhkfcxSxGFkUqdA

2 thoughts on “First Manual Of The Year. 24th March

  1. SAM

    Good to see you on the move again.
    When we were up there a few years back we used a pick axe handle for a Hebble spike.
    If all goes according to plan, this time next week we will be back on the freshly repainted ‘Red Wharf’.
    Can’t wait!

    Reply
    1. Pip

      I can see a pick axe handle would be strong enough, good idea.
      Enjoy your shiny repaint and your cruising. Will we recognise you?

      Reply

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