Bit Different To The Cromwell We’re Used To. 28th March

Sainsburys Brighouse to Salter Hebble Lower Basin

Mick did a few chores before we pushed off. Time to start climbing up towards the hills.

Volunteers in black

There were plenty of C&RT volunteers along the next stretch. CRT black/navy coats, none of the bright blue on show, have the uniforms been changed? They were busy litter picking and one chap was hanging over the edge near Ganny Lock trying to chop away seedlings growing out from the stone work. The area certainly looked very well looked after, plus the garden at the lock cottage was filled with Hyacinths.

Ganny Lock with chain and extra gate support in the middle

At Ganny Lock the offside bottom gate has been tethered with a chain to some scaffolding, anchoring it to the ground, then an angled plate has been welded onto the other gate, presumably to help keep the offside one from being pushed too far by water pressure. This confused me for a while, should I move the nearside gate? Except that meant trying to move both gates at once!

Cromwell Lock

The towpath was now far far busier than we’ve seen this year. Some sunshine and it almost being Easter weekend had a lot to do with it. Two young lads and their Mum seemed to be between every lock, requesting we blow our horn. A couple of ladies stood and watched as we worked up Cromwell Lock. I felt impressive as I lifted a Hebble paddle with great ease, only to realise it was doing absolutely nothing in the way of water management!

A shorter Cromwell than we’re used to

The Hebble locks are quite short but wide. Further up they are even shorter. Our first trip through them was on NB Lillyanne who was 59ft 6″ without fenders going downhill. This necessitated going diagonally in the locks, positioning her so that as the water dropped she would miss the cill and then be able to nudge under the bottom gate walkway. A slow and careful process. Oleanna was built a foot shorter so as to make these locks, and one on the Huddersfield Broad, easier for us to manage. Going uphill you have the advantage of your bow being able to span over the cill, but that then lines up the well deck drain holes with the water coming in from gate paddles.

Holiday chalets filling up for the weekend

A few locks have ground paddles, but on those without I lifted the opposite gate paddle, slowly. Once it reached a certain height the water calmed on the surface, but then travelled to the other side of the lock bouncing back to push Oleanna the opposite way.

In amongst the hills

The two locks into Elland feel more urban, the straight length of canal and people crossing over the locks. But looking back the hills are now starting to show themselves.

We pulled over onto the visitor mooring by the Barge and Barrel, a C&RT work boat sat right in the middle. Lunch was required before we carried onwards. However if we’d continued we’d have missed the afternoons rain! Thankfully it wasn’t too much of a down pour.

A cob seeing us off!

Woodside Mills and Long Lees Locks were worked. Then under the new road bridge, not open yet, up to the Salter Hebble Locks. The bottom one of these has a guillotine gate and to reach it you walk through the old horse tunnel. Blimey the noise going through there was impressive, the bywash running directly under your feet!

Key of power to lift the gate and paddles at the bottom end. In came Oleanna and then it was back to winding a windlass on the top gates, a little more room in this lock than the next two would give us.

Guillotine Gate on the bottom Salter Hebble Lock

But we’d had enough for the day. Space on the visitor moorings pulled us in. Tilly was allowed out but she didn’t appreciate the heavens opening and getting a soaking, so she retired to dry off in front of the stove for the rest of the day.

This evening we’ve had Liver and Onions. I think I’ve only ever cooked liver once before and that was in my student days. I followed the Hairy Bikers recipe and it was very tasty. There’s enough liver left in the freezer for another day too.

8 locks, 4.2 miles, 0 moving boats, 250 grams liver, 15 minutes dry shore leave!

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