Category Archives: Bridges

Empty Horizon. 9th March

Whitley Lock to Castleford Visitor Moorings

Untangling the ropes

The bow and stern ropes got their turn in the washing machine this morning, then we pushed over to the water point below the lock. These big key of power Yorkshire locks have traffic lights, nearly always on amber for self operation. If there is a lockie on duty then you get red and green lights too, but along this stretch this is a rare occurrence.

As we tied up to fill with water Mick pointed out that there was no amber light, in fact there was no light at all! Had a bulb gone, or was there something more serious wrong with the lock? It had been working yesterday as a boat had come down and one gone up. Once the tank was filling I walked up to see what was what.

NO lights!

Key in the panel, I turned it clockwise. No lights, the sluice that keeps the lock full when not in operation was up, normal, but usually on turning the key any open sluices close, then a light illuminates saying the lock is ready. Nothing happened. I pressed a few buttons. At the top there is a fault light, even this wasn’t illuminated but I looked for the ‘instructions below’. Only instructions on how to use the lock in normal situations and the emergency phone number, good job the fault light wasn’t lit! I went to remove my key, a good original BWB key, it was trapped and wouldn’t turn. I called Mick, he’d call C&RT and let them know.

Float and other keys were removed from the one that was now trapped. I walked to check if the light at the other end of the lock was lit. NO, nothing. I returned to Oleanna to discus what to do and await a person in blue. Except as I got nearer to the boat the traffic light came on, amber! There must be power. Back up to the panel, my key would release now. I tried the buttons, the lock would empty and then the gates would open. I called Mick, he then called C&RT to stand them down. It must have been a power cut, thinking about it later the hand dryer in the toilet hadn’t worked either, power cut.

Too big for Oleanna

Up the lock, Mick fishing out one of the biggest fat fenders we’ve come across. The god of the Yorkshire waterways was being a touch too generous. We could think of instances when such a large fender would come in handy, but just where do you keep something SO huge? The roof? We left it on the bank, I suspect the original owner will pick it up when it’s spotted.

Passing under the M62 I waved in case our friend JG was passing overhead. When ever we see him he asks about Whitley Lock, maybe one day we’ll coincide with him there. A mile further on we pulled in at Whitley Bridge, tucking in on the end of the moorings. Our planned cruise still had another three hours and it was just about lunchtime.

A mile down the road there is a shop, a visit was required for a Saturday newspaper and some alternative cat food. Since moving back onboard Tilly has decided that pink poultry food isn’t to her liking and after a week I was getting concerned that she had taken my comments about being an extra 100grams heavier this year to heart. Fortunately the shop also sold pink fishy flavours, our first attempt at getting her to eat before trying blue or any other coloured cat food.

Boats rusting away

The sky line here is very different from when we first cruised these waters no Eggborough Power Station that used to dominate the horizon. The old site of Kellingley Colliery sits abandoned, a few diggers but nothing much happening.

Old big boats take up the offside moorings at Bank Dole Junction. The lock here is closed due to a build up of silt down on the River Aire. We turned left heading to another landmark of my youth, Ferrybridge, all cooling towers now stolen from view.

The visitor moorings were filled with various cruisers that seem to have taken up root with their possessions’, across the way a narrowboat looked like it was settling for the day. I hopped off to operate the lock (a fall of a foot currently), while Mick chatted to the other boat who had just decided that there would be nicer places to moor further on. The two boats sharing the long flood lock.

We’d just left the lock when a lady appeared behind us, key of power in the panel and pressing buttons here there and everywhere. The gates reopened behind us, a boat must be coming down stream. We slowed our progress when we saw it coming at quite a lick under Ferry Bridge. I’m glad we’ve done the tidal Thames as the wake this boat left was nearly on a par with that from an Uber boat.

John Carr’s Ferry Bridge from under the A162 road bridge

With no cooling towers to marvel at the landscape of the River Aire is now bland, brown and bland. No curves to catch the light, maybe one day someone will come up with a new purpose for cooling towers and we’ll start building them again. The last three towers had originally been kept for a future gas-fired power station, but were demolished 17th March 2022.

A queue!

NB Nee Nah was quite a distance ahead, only visible every now and then on the meandering river. Cold was starting to set in, inside the cabin would be nice and toasty, Tilly oblivious to the efforts we go through to find her interesting outsides to tie up. Round the last bend of the river we could see Bulholme Lock, there sat NB Nee Nah and another narrowboat, their crew already emptying the lock. Would all three boats fit? We hung back in case, also not wanting to barge in ahead of the first boat. They waved us in.

The three boats tucked in with room to spare and rose up the lock. Would there be enough room for us all to moor? Mick offered to breast up with the original boat should the need arise. Two spaces were visible, we headed to near the coal shoot, NB Nee Nah opting for the first space near the lock. The last boat came past just after we’d moored. Plenty of git gaps! Hope they found somewhere.

Too late for Tilly shore leave. A batch of shortcrust pastry was made up and left to rest in the fridge for an hour. A leftover roast chicken, tarragon and feta pie (minus the leeks) was made accompanied by jacket potatoes. Very nice it was too.

3 locks, 10.8 miles, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 full tank of water, 4 clean ropes, 12 pouches 1+ fishy pink food, 1 bowl devoured, 1st sock of 10th pair finished, 1 big pie, 2 jackets, 1 big river section done, 15.5 fingers and 4 paws crossed for not too much rain in the coming days, 23:45 when the genny across the way stopped!

Shed Day. 6th March

Sykehouse Junction

Back where she belongs

Whilst we had breakfast, all cosy inside, Tilly was given freedom of the towpath, she went self catering rather than tucking into her morning biscuits. 8 hours! I’m never going to be able to use all of those! It’s good to see her being active again although the local rodent population wouldn’t agree and I was on edge much of the time as running around, jumping on and off the pram cover could have ended with a very soggy cat. Hopefully she’ll calm down soon.

Time to reclaim the dinette and sort The Shed out. Mick’s wood cutting he felt would not be up to scratch so I dried off the saw under the pram cover and used the seats as a saw bench. 1 length at 12″ and three at 6″ would do us, ends sanded. The 12″ and one 6″ were fixed in around the battery so that it wouldn’t be able to move more than 10mm, this would now meet the BSS requirements.

The other two 6″ lengths were used to support the front edge of the shelf which would be used to cover the battery (another requirement) and also give us a new base to The Shed cupboard. The shelf slotted in perfectly. Now to sort out where things will go.

Looking organised…ish

There used to be a hanging rail, but this was only ever used to hang coat hangers on, not even coats. The hangers are used when drying cloths in the pram cover, so it’s handy to have a supply of them at the stern. A hook above the power socket will do that job. A deep hook accommodates all four life jackets and the spare fan belts tucked in behind the fire extinguisher.

Another two hooks were positioned high up on the tumblehome to hold the window vac. Now where to put the bag for the hand held vac? In the corner behind the power socket. I found my bag of heavy duty poppers and proceeded to attach two, the hard edge to the canal handy for flattening the rivets onto the fabric side. Two poppers were okay, but the vac is quite heavy so a second two were positioned further down. Far more secure. Just need to tidy the cables, now where did I put the spare black net with lots of small cuphooks?

A tidier Shed, just a shame there was still a lot more to go in it. The Brompton cycle bag, bag of hats, gloves and scarves plus coats. Hmm? I might make a couple more bags to go on the walls of The Shed to accommodate gloves etc, the bag contents also need rationalising. Somewhere for Mick’s coats was next, a flip out hook was added to the bedroom bulk head, just about the only bit of wall we have. We are nearly there.

Wonder where this path leads to? Too late to explore

During the afternoon a boat arrived across the Went Aqueduct. They obviously made a late discission to pull in and moor in front of us as it took them quite a while to back up and position themselves to be able to moor. Space for a little one between us, only just.

Having been inside just about all day, unlike Tilly, we headed off for a walk. Along the New Junction Canal to the first road bridge and back along the other side, crossing back over on the footbridge at the Went Aqueduct.

Winter sunset over the Went

The hazy blue and pink light with the sun setting highlighted the amount of extra water there is around at the moment. A lovely walk on the way out, a touch less so on the way back.

Discussions on our cruising plans. Earlier this year we’d made a plan, this has been then amended due to an event we’d like to attend in the south in May. However! We originally thought we’d be away from Goole a week earlier and had plotted an open route across the Pennines. This route is currently blocked at Woodnook Lock on the Aire and Calder for another ten days. There is still time for us to reach London, but it might be quite a dash. Now when I say quite a dash I’m meaning 4 plus hours a day, there will also be a couple of return trips to Scarborough for us. If any more stoppages happen ahead of us then our plans will be thwarted.

What do we really want to do this year? Which things are more important to us? Are we happy rushing? Or would we rather be more sedate? We now have a back up plan, plan C. Hopefully we’ll not have to put it into operation, but you never know.

0 locks, 0 miles, 8 hours! 4.5 taken, 2+ friends, 1 shed, 4 hooks, 4 poppers, 1 dinette corner nearly reclaimed, 4 valentines chocolates mislaid, 10th pair of socks frogged, 2 complicated still, 4th version left for tomorrow, 1 folding coat hook, 1 sunset walk.

What’s In The Box? 20th January

That’s far enough I think!

Deliveries have been arriving along with snow.

Get off my land!!!

Tillys occasional check on her estate has become even shorter, I can see everything I need from the back door just fine, Thanks! Although an intruder did cause her to forget about there being a window in the way. Once a door was opened she shot up the road and just about into the park, the furthest she’s been in months!

Sheep measuring

Measurements have been taken for the dinette cushion covers, prices worked out for the samples I already have, a visit to Dewsbury is on the cards incase Fabworks comes up trumps with anything better. I’ve got calculations for several widths of fabric so that should save time.

More donated yarns have arrived. A wonderous red yarn from Trudie at Posh Yarns in Pembroke and a Green Goddess of Bionic yarn from Steph at Perran Yarn in Truro. I have several other pledges of yarn to come including from people who are raiding their own yarn stashes at home. Thank you all for your wooly donations and your monetary ones. The first pair of socks will be in the post very soon heading to a boat in Thorne and as soon as my needles have finished the third pair the second one will be wending their way to Crick.

At the end of the year I’m hoping you’ll see why I’m hanging onto socks for a little while. An updated certificate arrived from Dementia Uk so I can properly boast about my fund raising last year.

Lots of cooking, trying out new recipes. Gluten free Focaccia and this morning my first attempt at gf crumpets. Verdict they needed a little bit more heat to start off with, but tasty all the same, especially with some Frank made jam.

Painty Pip has been busy too touching up paint around the house. There’ll be more to do in a week or two in a bathroom that we have plans for, just to accomodate a mirror!

Boat on it’s side just about blocking the bridge hole

We’ve watched our friend Chris on NB Elektra squeeze past the sunk boat in Barrow-upon-Soar. Then onwards to south of Leicester where he had a booked passage between Kings Lock and Blue Bank Lock where the floods before Christmas had affected the bank. We couldn’t make out any damage to the bank as he crunched his way through the ice, passing a boat coming the other way and a C&RT chap hopping between boats.

Tilly decided to hitch a virtual ride on NB Elektra’s bow for a while. Well She and Tom have only changed the outside a couple of times since we’ve been in the house. They don’t fool me, all they did was turn it white each time! Our planned route for when we leave Goole may have to change due to substantial subsidence at Lock 67 on the Rochdale. We’d rather head over the Pennines than use the Trent to head south this year. Time to keep a very watchful eye on the stoppage notices.

What’s in those?!

Yesterday a UPS delivery van arrived. The driver braved our snowy front steps to deliver two pretty heavy boxes. We’ve checked their contents and Mick has even been found stood in the dark hallway supposidly talking to what’s inside the boxes. There’s nowt so queer as folk!

Sunrise in Scarborough

0 locks, 0 miles, only virtual ones, 2 skeins, 2 more pledges, 1 hobbly leg slowly improving, 2.5 coats not enough, 1 ceiling and loo touched up, 2 big boxes, 1 hire car arranged, 1 trespasser seen off, 2 x 6m not 4 x 3m, 1 nutty man in the dark, 1 cat changing the outside by herself!

2.5 pairs knitted

22 Pairs spoken for

49.5 Pairs to go

£540 raised

Busbars, Bridges And Bits And Bobs

Things are being ordered.

First things to arrive were some waterproof cases for our mobile phones. These won a Herbie Award, not these actual ones, but having waterproof cases to save having to replace a drowned phone. This is a common hazard living on a boat. I’ve lost two phones and Mick has dropped one phone and a tablet into the drink.

At Christmas Mick got me a new phone as my old one was looking a tad cracked after nearly becoming phone number three heading for the depths of Nether Lock last January. I’d like to try to keep hold of this one a touch longer if possible. So I’ve been looking round for cases.

Most of the cases I found are intended for swimming, keeping the water out is one thing. But being able to turn your phone on to take that photo of a Kingfisher is another, especially when your power switch is now fingerprint operated and on the side! One case I found has the outside area inflated, so it would act like water wings should your phone go for a swim. I suspect this would make it even harder to turn on.

I’ve tried taking photos through the case to see what effect it has. Reflections are one downside. I suspect our cheap waterproof cases will end up being used for the phone we run Waterway Routes on at the helm. The phone stays powered whilst we cruise so the power button won’t be a problem. Just need to try to find a case that will allow me to take photos and turn the phone on whilst keeping it dry. Yes Mick could have bought me a waterproof phone, but his bank account isn’t that buoyant!

Next a box came from 12 Volt Planet. This contained busbars and fuses to be used in our battery upgrade. I’ll let Mick write about the battery upgrade when he does it. The fuses are also because Oleanna seems to have been built without a main fuse! Well Mick hasn’t ever been able to find one, so he’s going to fit one when putting in the new batteries.

We got sweeties too!

Another box came from Bimble Solar. A voltage sensitive relay for our Nebolink. This will save us having to turn the Nebolink on and off manually when we are cruising, it will do it automatically when the engine is turned on and off. Yes it is likely to turn on should we want to run the engine whilst stationary, but the trip will show 0 miles and may not be recorded by Nebo. It is a touch larger than Mick had thought it would be and have to say I’ll miss flicking the switch on as we push off each day.


Mick has also treated himself to some rechargeable motion sensitive strip lights. These have appeared on his Christmas list for the last three years. Twice they have been ordered and twice they have not arrived! So this year they were given up on as a bad thing. Of course he has now managed to get some straight away with no hassle! These are to go inside cupboards on Oleanna and will light up as the door is opened, saving getting a torch out to check for things at the back of cupboards etc.

Whilst Mick has been reveling in electrical things I managed to find some Pan Flour. Since working on Chippy Panto I’ve been wanting to have a go at making some Arepas, corn cakes. A little after Christmas I followed the instructions on the pack of flour and maybe was a touch impatient on leaving the flour to absorb the water. My first go were tasty filled with the last of the roast duck and red cabbage from Christmas, A little reminiscent of popcorn! I’ll follow an online recipe next time though.

Experimental Baking

The remainder mince pie pastry in the freezer and mince meat required using up, so I came up with the idea of a hybrid mince pie and Yorkshire Curd Tart. I made some curds then used the pastry and mince meat a touch like a bakewell tart, adding the curd custard on top. The outcome was nice, a little strange, but nice. At least the pastry has been used up.

I’ve also finished my painting. Which is now hung in the not quite smallest room in the house. It’s positioning may be a slight problem for two reasons. 1, when sat down it isn’t quite in eye line of the mirror. 2, those who stand to use the facilities may get distracted!

The finished painting, Wolverhampton Flight, Lock 21. Emulsion on canvas.

However I’m very pleased with it and am considering doing a series of paintings in the same style based on places we visit on the network. We’ve come up with a few locations we should be visiting this year. I may even get some prints or cards made from them.

Anyhow, there’s jobs need doing.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 busbars, 2 gauges, 3 fuses, 2 cases, 4 lights, 1 switch, 4 arepas, 1 Yorkshire Mince Pie, or 1 Mince Yorkshire Tart, Lock 21.

0.75 Pairs knitted

51.25 Pairs to go

It Only Brok Yestuday! 3rd October

Small Hedge Swing Bridge to Sykehouse Junction, Aire and Calder Navigation

Yesterday we’d looked at Ship Tracker to see if there was any sign of Exol Pride, she was in Hull. This morning she was heading up the Humber towards Goole, we’d most probably see her today. The VHF radio sprang into life, just two words, ‘EXOL PRIDE‘ Yep she was on her way towards us.

With possible work phone calls and the need to be sat inside for them we needed to move on despite Tilly wanting to stay. Once breakfasted and yellow water dealt with we were on the move.

Sykehouse Lock ahead

Ahead the light at Sykehouse Lock was red, this suggested there was a volunteer on duty. Mick radioed ahead, they’d get the lock ready for us. No comment of ‘Come in on the Green‘ little radio etiquette either, but that didn’t bother us.

Being about a mile away we pootled along at normal cruising speed. I could see someone come down to close barriers and swing the bridge over the lock. Then as we approached the top gates opened for us. Still a red light. Still a red light. We carried on in to the lock. The chap stuck his head out of the window to check we were fine, then lifted a paddle at the bottom.

The last swing

When we were nearly down he came out to chat again. Only one paddle working on the bottom gates, one gone on the top too. When another goes that will be it! He mentioned that Exol Pride was on her way and reckoned we’d meet her up at the Junction. We thanked him and were on our way.

There she is!

Kirk Lane Swing Bridge was swung, then only one more bridge in front of us. Would we arrive at the same time as someone from C&RT who’d be there to open the bridge for Exol Pride? Someone appeared, ran down to the panel, the bridge started to lift. Thank you. Up ahead the blue and white of Exol Pride was just visible.

Well except they weren’t opening the bridge for us. The bow of a narrowboat appeared on the other side of the bridge. The bridge operator most certainly hadn’t seen us, but the chap at the helm thankfully had. We motored on to get under the bridge.

They made it of the Trent then

Well Hello and thank goodness, it was NB NI from the Tidal Trent! They were alive, wonder if they’d got to Ripon? I know of someone who’s been waiting for the Ouse and tides to be right before heading up stream, so I’m not sure they could have, it would have been a dash if they did! No time to chat we had a big boat to keep an eye on.

Sitting low

A straight mile ahead of us there she was coming across the Went Aqueduct. Slow progress as the channel there is narrow. The radio chirped up again. Chatter between Sykehouse Lock and Exol Pride. The bridge would be made ready, ‘We’ve got a sluice out at top’. ‘Well there’s a surprise!’ ‘It only brok yestuday!’ ‘Be six month afor its mended’

She’ll be back in a day or two

As they cleared the footbridge on the aqueduct the wheelhouse was raised back up, after having ducked under. Still not at full speed there was still a lot of water being shifted as it passed. We waved, no wave came back. The water all churned up and muddy just as it would be with us on a shallow canal, Exol sitting low in the water full of oil for Rotherham.

We’d planned to pull in on the moorings just before the junction. Two narrowboats sat there then a long line of fencing protecting people from a section of bank that’s lifted at a jaunty angle. I spotted a cat in the window of one boat, two cat hammocks in the window. Not a good place for Tilly or them to share. We pulled out of the junction, 1 long blast on the horn. We’d pull in just round the bend, putting water between the felines.

Went Aqueduct

As fairly normal for these parts it was windy, someone was taking full advantage of it, a windsurfer on the lake, zipping back and forth at speed. Tilly was given the remainder of the day to explore. However, the wind got right up my bum! Can’t we turn it around and catch the last outside again, pleeese! A nice mooring plenty of room on the bank, perfect for a bbq! Not today though!

If only it was barbeque weather

Not a day for outside chores. I tried calling Promptside again. Still no luck, Peter was away from his desk, he would call me back, they were really busy. The build up to panto! We were on the board, booked in, only the song sheet artwork needed now. I had a request for the background of this to be paler from John. Luckily I’d saved a version I could alter, a two minute job! I must be getting the hang of things now.

1 lock, 3 bridges, 1 held up, 2 worked for us, 1 narrowboat safe, but where are they heading now? 1 big blue boat passed safely, 0 outdoor jobs, 2 windy, 1 looney cat, 1 stove lit, 1 sock nearly finished, 1 song sheet finished.

Postponed Birthday. 2nd October

Doncaster Visitor moorings to the site of Small Hedge Swing Bridge, New Junction Canal

Some blueberries were required before pushing off, so Mick headed to the market to see what he could find. I tried calling Peter at Prompt Side so that we could talk through setting up and saving images for print. But he was busy setting up the days printing jobs, he’d ring back.

Mick topped us up with water, NB Northumbria arrived with Alfie on the roof, time for another chat before we pushed off.

Pushing off shouldn’t really be a problem, except the weed boats were back, three of them today. Two caterpillar boats and one conveyor boat. They were collecting pennywort from around the moorings to deposit on the opposite bank. Happily going back and forth without any thought that other boats might be moving. Eventually we managed to catch a gap and sped off.

Long Sandall

The moorings above Long Sandall Lock were empty, a rare sight, sadly we weren’t wanting to stop here today. The lock had just been filled for a boat coming up, the top gates opened and the two boats swapped places, perfect timing. Back down the lock and onwards to Barnby Dun.

Only 16 held up at the bridge today.

Now it was decision time. Should we moor back at Bramwith Junction? Or should we carry on onto the New Junction Canal? Flood locks on the Aire and Calder were closed yesterday so rivers were on the rise. It would be a real pain to be held up on the wrong side of the Don Doors if they had to be closed due to rising levels. We’d cross and then find a mooring as soon as we could. Well that was the plan.

Under the Don Doors

At the junction we waved to David and Clive. Les from NB Christopher B is expecting an operation later this week and will be kept in hospital until she is mobile. The River Don looked higher than normal, but still a difference between it and the canal. Maybe we were being over cautious.

Nowhere to moor, we’d have to carry on. Perhaps just off the end of a bridge landing? No, it was too close to the road for Tilly to be allowed freedom. Onwards, a flag on my map looking like it was the only possible place to moor before Sykehouse Lock.


Low Lane Swing Bridge swung, Top Lane Lift Bridge lifted, only problem was I couldn’t open the gate to get out! I had to climb the fencing. Kirk House Green Lift Bridge took a lot of jiggling for my key to turn to power it up, but soon we were on our way.

The light at the lock was red, a volunteer on duty. We’d already come farther than we’d really wanted to, but just after the narrowing where a swing bridge had once been we saw our opportunity a bar on the piling suitable for chains.

Birthday girl on the catwalk

Time for Tilly to head back out and explore. Yesterday was her eighth birthday, but it was no fun for a cat being cooped up in Doncaster, so today we needed a mooring for her and her postponed birthday. Hooray!!! Lots of friendy cover, no woofers, no nobody, BRILLIANT!!!!

A treat cheese lunch was enjoyed, hairs were removed from the songsheet artwork that I’d forgotten, then it was emailed off for approval by John. I took a couple more windows out and gave them the full clean before needing to sit down again.

Clockwise from left. Yarg, cheddar with Scarborough seaweed, feta (left over from a tray bake) and Wookey Hole cheddar.

The perfect mooring for a cat, but phone signal nearly non existent, no good for my photoshop phone call. The internet was also slow, apart from when watching a film. Stronger (2017) is based on the true story of Jeff Bauman who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Mick was astounded at the amount of swearing it contained, what would our parents have thought! Have to admit to giving up with twenty minutes to go when Jeff and his girlfriend started to have a very loud argument after she’d told him she was pregnant. I’ll watch the rest another time, I’d just had enough of them shouting at each other.

1 lock, 8.8 miles, 1 left, 3 bridges, 19 held up, 2 more windows, 3 weed boats, 1 plumber contacted, 1 scaffolder contacted, 4 hours of birthday frolics, 8 years old! plus 1 day, 1 heel turned, 1 very shouty film, 1 stove lit.

Bacon Butties, Bananas And A Break. September 26th

West Stockwith to Opposite Staniland Marina, Stainforth and Keadby Canal

Thank you swan

Alarm at 6am, blimey it was dark. When I took the above photo I had no idea there was a swan right in the middle of it! Cuppas were made and drunk, Nebolink started, covers rolled up, no time for breakfast today!

West Stockwith Lock for 7am

We were just pulling into the lock as the Lockie arrived a little before 7am. He donned his life jacket and got out his serious key of power, it looked like the float also doubles as a corkscrew! We chatted a little as the water drained from the lock. A radio check was done between us and NB That’s It, all loud and clear. The gates opened and we were out on the river again turning downstream heading off with the outgoing tide.

What a morning!

About twenty minutes later Brian radiod, they were now on the river too. Three boats all heading to Keadby. Our normal cruising speed was knocked back a touch so as to keep a similar speed to those following us. Best to keep some distance between us, but not too much!

Waterway Routes and the chart

I’d managed to pull out some mittens for us this morning and we were glad we had them. It was a touch chilly out there, but what a wonderful morning to be out on the river. Soon we were following trails of debris which had found it’s way into the channel, thankfully the level of the river meant we could keep just out of the channel, helping to keep the prop clear.

Windmills, pubs, gas pipelines, hills in the distance all came and went. The Boating Association charts next to Waterway Routes again, helped us to know our location as downstream from Gainsborough there are no Km markers or red and green posts.

Gradually everything got misty, a dampness in the air. Waterproof trousers were sought and put on just before the M180 bridge. Here it was time to radio ahead to Keadby Lock to inform them of our position. The lock was ready and waiting for us, he’d get us sorted and then we’d wait for NB That’s it and NB Christopher B to arrive before being locked up together, Keadby Lock can take three narrowboats side by side.

Gosh the cloud was low, as we approached Keadby Bridge it was hard to make out the wind turbines that back in February surrounded the white lookout tower at the lock. Time to switch sides of the river and make our approach. This involves winding to face the current, then you have more control over your boat pushing your way forward.

We want to turn in there

Mick swung us round, maybe a little bit early. We were level with the lock entrance. We didn’t seem to be being moved with the tide, just in gear we were making our way back up stream away from the lock. Reverse was given a blast to adjust our position. This has happened approaching Selby Lock before, maybe we just manage to find patches of slack water!

Sorting ropes out with the Lock Keeper

Now with a better position Mick pushed the tiller over and upped the revs, Oleanna swung round and into the lock. We’d made it! Time to hold ropes and wait for the others to arrive. We’d heard Brian radio from the M180 a short while before we’d entered the lock so they were about fifteen minutes behind us. The Lockie passed down ropes to take ours up and around bollards. By now it was proper raining and clinging on to ropes meant sleeves getting wet!

I sent a message to Jo that we were in the lock. A message came back that NB Christopher B would come in first followed by NB That’s It. We watched as Clive turned in the river and then headed for the lock. Time for Clive and Les to cling onto Oleanna and wait for Brian to come in alongside them. NB That’s It turned and within a blink of an eye they were entering the lock. All three boats now safely in the lock, smiles all round, phew!

All three boats off the river

It took a while for the lock to fill. The Lockie asked if we would be staying or heading onwards through Vazon Sliding Bridge. The consensus yesterday had been to have a breakfast break and then carry on, making use of three boats in convoy to work the bridges. However if it continued to rain we’d be staying put.

Bacon butties and a banana each with a nice hot cuppa made things better. After an hour the rain seemed to be petering out. A boaters conference was held on the towpath, time to move on.

Waiting for Vazon Sliding Bridge to open

At times this year Vazon Sliding Bridge has had time restrictions for its use due to high temperatures expanding the structure and the train timetables needing to be kept to. As we moved off the Lockie rang, he’d give the bridge keeper a call for us. The flotilla pulled out heading west.

A bit of running maintenance

There was a wait. Mick checked his train app, no trains anywhere nearby. Then the warning siren started, the bridge slid back. Brian was first through dropping Jo off to work the manual swing bridge, then Oleanna, followed by Clive and Les. What surprised us was that there was a chap stood next to the bridge. He scraped and oiled parts of the structure next to the canal. Time to say hello, the bridge stayed open for sometime after we’d left.

Blue sky now!

Now we were in leapfrog bridge mode. We’d positioned ourselves well, the push button bridges would be ours meaning I could work them and leave Mick to battle with the inevitable wind that lurks along the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Godnow Bridge had a very chatty level crossing chap on duty. He closed the rail barriers, pressed his button inside the cabin allowing me to work the canal bridge. Road traffic was already backing up, the three boats came through, closed button pressed and road reopened.

Assistance required

Next up was Medge Hall Bridge, the one with the post box and nice signal box. Les hopped off to work it. All the bridges are different in one way or another and it took a bit of fathoming out. Jo went to lend a hand, barriers needed clicking in more. The leapfrog changed order a touch.

Gradually the sun was coming out and ahead lay Yorkshire, as we crossed the border from Lincolnshire we gave a big cheer.

Us infront again

Maud’s Bridge the one that was stuck shut to boat traffic in January after a car had smashed into the barriers is always a bit of a pig, poor Les got that one too. Our turn next. Moores Swing Bridge was having new controls added in January, a new simple open/close button panel. I held the traffic up again.

Moores Swing Bridge

Two more bridges to Thorne. The flotilla changed order again, meaning that those who knew how seriously annoying Princess Royal Swing Bridge can be would work it. So Clive and Les would get Wykewell Lift Bridge. Well that was the plan.

Something’s not right!

Bringing up the rear we could see that something had happened ahead. NB Christopher B was pulled into the side, centre line tied, Les looked to be on her knees by the stern. Then she was inside and Clive heading to open the bridge, had Les fallen?

Hello Chance

Clive returned to the boat leaving the bridge up. We pulled up to see if we could do anything. The wind was now pinning Christopher B against the side, traffic was queueing. As Clive battled with the boat I closed the bridge let the traffic through then raised it again just as Clive had got going again. He pulled in on the other side. Les was injured, an ambulance was required!

This bridge just needs blowing up!

Not much we could do other than offer ice for a possible broken ankle. We carried on into Thorne where Brian and Jo were doing battle with the footbridge. I went to waggle gates whilst others pressed buttons. No joy. I got a video call from the set builders to go through things and answer questions, so I missed the cavalry arriving from the council who gave the gate a big waggle and the bridge worked! Clive by now had decided to follow us, he was first to pull in onto the pontoons. A first responder very quickly arrived and spent quite some time inside with Les.

A very late lunch and chats with Brian and Jo as our water tank slowly filled. They would be staying, we’d be moving to above the lock for a more suitable place for Tilly. When we eventually pulled out an Ambulance had just arrived to take Les to hospital.

Thank goodness they came quickly

At Thorne Lock a boat was just about to come down, a couple who gave up teaching this summer and have lived on board for seven weeks had been out for a jolly for the day with a friend. When it came to swap keys the panel wouldn’t release theirs. We dropped their boat down and brought Oleanna in, the key was still stuck. We filed the lock and then went to work the barriers on the bridge just above. Ah ha! One of them hadn’t been closed properly. Problem solved we could all carry on our way.

We pulled in where we’ve moored before during a storm, just opposite Staniland Marina. Here Tilly can explore trees and hopefully the trees are fairly young so will provide shelter rather than be a danger.

Toad in the Hole

To celebrate being back in Yorkshire we had toad in the hole with a glass or two of wine. It had been a long eventful day and sadly not for the right reasons. We were bushed, just hope Les and Clive are as best as they can be.

3 locks, 23.5 miles, 2 lefts, 10 bridges, 22 held up, 6 soggy boaters, 2 bacon butties, 6 sausages in holes, 0 shore leave it was too late! 1 almost full water tank, 1 ambulance, 1 more drawing to do, 1 sunny day in Cornwall, 1 cancelled digs, 1 solution, 1 missing weekend.

Lining Up The Bucket. 11th September

Cromwell to Torksey

Beautiful, even if it’s mostly from planes

Would today be the day when I could upgrade from flip flops to something more substantial on my feet? Some slip resistant crocs made the grade, a cautious put on but after that there is plenty of room around my little toe. In the next few days we’ll see what they are like with socks.

NB Preaux about to push off

Water filling, breakfast early, clear the cratch to make more room and exchange phone numbers with Steve and Deena on NB Preaux for just in case. An Anglo Welsh boat had pulled up last night, they’d been to walk their dog this morning and their boat name was on the list for passage through Cromwell this morning. Steve looked towards the lock the green light was on it was 7:35, Neil was ready for us. We still had a couple of jobs to do but would be along shortly.

Oleanna ready for the tide

As we pulled in and passed our ropes round the risers Neil asked if there was movement from anyone else, only the dog walker. He wanted to see the crew on the hire boat before hand, so they wouldn’t be joining us. The top gates closed behind the two boats, thumbs up that we were ready, the sluices were lifted and down into the dark of the lock we went.

Cromwell Weir

We’d agreed to go first as we’ve done this stretch maybe four times before. 7:50, off we went, up to our cruising speed, hopeful to reach Torksey in time for there to be sufficient water to get over the cill today. We’d be punching what meager tide there was before it would start to help us and give us a push.

Not sure we’ve seen the weir looking so high before, the tide not up to meet it. A sand bank had birds preening themselves in the morning sunshine, maybe we should have worn shorts and not long trousers!

NB Preaux following

We followed the red line on our charts, this normally feels a touch overkill, but this morning with the level low it felt important to keep in the channel, sandbanks lurk below. Behind NB Preaux followed, their speed not the same as ours.

Round a couple of bends, we caught another fisherman! Mick put Oleanna into reverse hoping that we’d not been caught too well, the fisherman pulled and wound his line, thankfully it came free.


I maybe should have brought out a pencil to jot notes on our new chart, but the red line was what we needed and we followed it as closely as we could. A glance behind every now and again, NB Preaux coming into view then out again at the next bend.

Contender for Photo of the Week

What a glorious morning, not too hot, not much breeze, blue skies. One look along the river gave us 2 Herons, an Egret, Egyptian Geese and a Kingfisher darting along the edge of the banks.


Cows walked to find tasty morsels silhouetted. Sheep scrambled over rocks preferring the nettles there, hopefully none of them would loose their footing and end up in the river!


A cruiser came past heading to Cromwell, he had a loud hailer and wished us good morning, his wind turbine whizzing round on the bow. He was soon followed by a narrowboat. As always you meet boats on a stretch where you are trying to line up with landmarks. The pylon behind with the white domed windmill ahead. Line the pooh bucket up with it.

Gulls sat on top of marker posts, some having seen better days, now rusting away, few bright white anymore.

At Marnham Boat Club two chaps were tentatively backing a speed boat into the river, would it float before water came over the stern? And just how much effort went into the positioning of that life boy? Under Fledborough Viaduct, navigational notes should be amended here to left or the centre pier, rather than under the graffitti, now almost impossible to see until you are right underneath.

Lining up with the wires

Approaching Dunham Dubbs (is it one B or two?) I got out the new chart showing the recently added markers. A new line to follow up to the bend, then to follow the line of the western overhead wires.

The two new boards needed lining up, but where was the white post ahead of us? Two tractors cut grass, maybe they needed to do a little bit of pruning of a tree, then the post came into view. We lined the posts behind and the pooh bucket on the roof with the post ahead, we knew were we in the channel.

Dunham Toll Bridge

One day we’ll stop at the 48 hour mooring before Dunham Toll Bridge, but not today, the tide was busy going out and we were eager to get to Torksey.

Cottam Power Station

Past Butlers sunken island and great views of Cottam Power Station, the coal fired station now decommissioned (2019). Demolition works have already started on sight this year, the cooling towers and chimney stack will be the last parts to be demolished in 2025. Then according to Wikipedia the sight will become a ‘garden community’ with 1500 houses.

Not far now, a couple of big sweeps of the river before we got to see Jack’s Ferry, time to radio the lock and check if we were in time. He’d just had a call from NB Preaux, they were a little way behind us. We were told there was 3ft and a bit over the cill at the moment, the lock gates would be open ready for us, lights on green. We were to approach with caution and slow our speed right down. If at any time he thought we should abandon then the lights would go to red.

Torksey Lock!

We turned into the cut, one cruiser on the pontoon, plenty of space should we need it. The lights were red, the gates just opening, light went to green. A call on the radio, depth over the cill 3ft, we should be fine as we’re 2ft 6″. Mick slowed us right down, the shallowest point being the cill between the small lock and longer lock chamber. We’d made it, 10:41. Ropes were passed up to the top and now there was a short wait for NB Preaux.

Here they come

The Lockie gave them a call, but he had the wrong number. They’d told us their draught was 2ft, so they should be fine, but the Lockie had not been able to confirm that with them. As they approached they slowed right down and were told to pass a line round a riser in the longer chamber under the road bridge. Once we were all settled the gates were closed and the lock started to fill. Thumbs up from Steve and Deena, what a wonderful cruise it had been.

A pause to dispose of rubbish for us and then we sauntered on to the 3 day moorings, NB Preaux carrying on to explore further. Once we’d tied up, the rules were recited to Tilly who was FAR too excited to listen. 6 what?!! Wow!! See ya!

Torksey Lock and Cottam Power Station behind us

An early lunch, well we’d had breakfast far too early. Then a quiet afternoon. Phone signal not the best unless you stand on the bank or resort to Whatsap. I had a catch up call with Gemma from Panto, still waiting to hear back about the cloths and printing, I’d sent an email first thing, but now with poor signal it was hard to follow it up.

Coming up the lock

Another Denzil Washington film this afternoon Inside Man (2006). A bank heist with a difference, Denzil a NYPD hostage negotiator and items locked away in safety deposit boxes. Only problem was that our internet signal was patchy too, so it took a long time to watch it. As the afternoon progressed rain set in, we closed up the covers and settled down.

2 locks, 16.9 miles, 1 right, 2 boats not 4, 1 fisherman nearly caught, 1 bright sunny day, 2 new markers, 2 upstream boats, 3 ft, 2ft 10, 2 boats onto the Fossdyke, 6 hours, 5th sock finished, 6th started, 1 happy cat, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Cheese On Toast?! 17th August

Bungalow Bridge 59 to Market Harborough Visitor Moorings

Boats were on the move before us, six came from the direction of Foxton, would this mean that the top six locks would be in our favour? No. Foxton isn’t like that, in fact few places are, yet we always joke about it. We pushed off just as our nearest neighbours were coming back from stretching their legs, they’d be following us very shortly.

First in line!

As we rounded the bend to the top of the locks we were very surprised not to be joining a queue. I hopped off and walked down to find the Lock Keeper with the book to check in.

Not spotted the chap with the cuppa before

Here as at Watford the staircase locks mean one way traffic only. Here there is one place you can pass, a pound between the two staircases of five. The book holder was just above the halfway point with a boat going down hill, they now swapped with a hire boat that had been waiting for them in the middle pound. Our instructions, when this boat came up, we’d be going down, at the moment there were no uphill boats.

Giant chilled medication served at the top

We waited patiently at the top, had a look around the old stables, sadly it was far too early for chilled medication. Once the hire boat had come up we pushed off and into the top lock. Boats had arrived at the bottom so we’d get to the middle pound and wait for them to come up. The boats behind us would have quite a wait before it was their turn.

Red before white. The Lock Keeper pushed and pulled the towpath side gates for me. A new volunteer was being shown the ropes as it were, they’d be starting in the book shop at the top, but it’s handy for them to know what the flight is about so they helped with the gates too and were given bits of information as we descended.

Looking down

The first gongoozlers joined us at the very top lock, some following us down, some just getting in the way of paddle winding, but they are happy to stand back to watch.

Boats were coming up the other set of five, we were making good progress down, a pause required before dropping down into the middle pound as the red paddle needed lifting for an uphill boat and it was by their chamber, then I could lift the white paddle. In this order it saves the water from our chamber just flowing over the bywash instead of being used to fill the lower chamber.

It’s all the way over there

The Lock Keeper had a handy hook to lift our centre line from the roof as we passed under the bridge, now we were to pull into the side and wait for four boats to come past before we could continue on down.

Passing in the middle pound

One lady on an uphill boat walked away from the chamber below, ‘I’ve left the gate for you, oh and the paddle’s still up over there’. But what about those boats following you? She soon turned round and went to close up behind herself. The last boat up, wound the red paddle up long before the white was even thought about. Mick and I jumped back on board to loosen ropes as the level dropped, Oleanna did a jolt as the stern line was untied.

A forty minute wait before we could continue on downwards. More and more gongoozlers at this end of the flight, one lady with her kids grew up having boat holidays, she explained to the kids how it worked, but didn’t stop them from balancing on posts close to the water! I asked the Lock Keeper, ‘4000 boats go through the locks on an average year, has anyone ever counted the number of gongoozlers?’ One sunny August day someone had had a go and they’d numbered 2000. I’m so glad we didn’t have that number around us today, it would be impossible to see Mick at the helm.

Going down in the bottom lock

At the last few locks there was no need to push gates we’d got ourselves gate pushers on both sides. Mick pulled the stern into the landing below the locks, handed over a key of power and then started to swing Oleanna round to head towards Market Harborough. I walked round to do the honours, passing the bottom lock now waiting for the first of the uphill boats who would most likely wait in the middle pound like we had for the downhill boats behind us.

Bye Foxton

The bridge worked nicely, the bridge landings thankfully not required as a day boat was trying to tie to the bollards to head for a pub lunch. Winding your rope round a bollard six times might just do the trick, I wonder if anyone at the hire base shows them how to tie up?

The easy swing bridge

At Foxton Swing Bridge I could see someone wearing blue. This bridge often seems to have problems, I wondered if someone was posted here to open and close it, but the bridge didn’t move. I walked over to see what was happening. Two chaps were working on it. One suggested we moor up and have lunch, the other said to give him a few minutes and they’d swing it open for us. This they did and we were on our way again.

As the crow flies Market Harborough is a couple of miles away, by canal it’s more like five. We pootled along passing the winding hole where we’d turned on our hire boat NB May all those years ago, not enough time to get all the way to Market Harborough. An aroma in the air was hard to fathom. Could it be cheese on toast? Maybe with a touch of yeast extract added? No it turned out to be J.G. Pears they do something with food waste, maybe they’d had a lot of cheese on toast arrive!

Towpath improvements on a break

It’s been quite some years since we came this way. Four years since we came down Foxton heading straight to the north. A footbridge has gone and now a long stretch of towpath is being upgraded right in to Union Wharf. As we progressed closer to the town the works gradually progressed from bare earth, timber sides, hardcor, fresh earth on the edge, tarmac and sausage roll planting along the edges. We wondered if the planting would end up being all along here making it hard to moor out of town.

Union Wharf Basin

Brilliant a space at the end of the moorings, except it was for permit holders only. Thankfully there was a space further along and a boat pulled out meaning we wouldn’t have to moor directly on a big bend. Tilly was allowed out and we sat down for a late lunch.

Barking, barking close to the boat! Where was Tilly? We rushed out to see Tilly on the top of a garden fence a woofer barking below. Between us and the woofers owners the situation was solved, she took her dog inside, I encouraged Tilly back to the boat where the doors were closed. Tom had spoken, I wasn’t allowed out again, apparently I don’t understand urban areas with gardens, sheds, french windows and woofers in their outsides. So not fare!

Nice painting

A walk to the Co-op and Post Office. The Co-op (new to us) too pricey and not much choice for provisions for the next few days. We got what we really needed and will take the long walk through town tomorrow for a good stock up.

Co-op cheese on toast!

Back at the basin more boats had arrived, many taking up a paid for mooring with electric right by the restaurant. One poor hire boat came back to base early, saw that it was far busier than expected, winded a headed back out only to return an hour later looking fed up and very hungry. They found somewhere to moor in the end as they didn’t come past again.

10 locks, 2 sets of five staircase, 6 miles, 40 minutes wait, 1 right, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, £2.95 for four half slices of cheese on toast, 1 cat grounded, 1 woofer silenced, 1 spoil sport Tom, 1 horrid She! 2 spot on wormers, 1 pint milk, 2 loaves of bread, 1 coach in the post.

Romeo India Alpha Tango. 15th July

Cow Field, Lechlade

An early start today had us walking across the muddy cow field and broken bridge to reach the New Inn at 7:15. Here sat a car, lights on, the occupant waved frantically at us as she pulled out from the parking space. The door opened ‘Long time no see!’ The smile was recognisable from 38 years ago, we’d both changed a lot since 1985. Jenny is now a vet, in 1985 she was possibly six, I was eighteen and had just finished doing my A levels. Using an inheritance from my Grandad I’d bought myself a flight to Hong Kong where my cousins Ian and Tim lived at the time. Jenny is my first cousin once removed.

The farm

Back in February, or was it March, our itinerary for this year changed the day we got back from moving Oleanna to Goole. An invite had arrived inviting us to my cousins for this weekend. A social gathering not involving a funeral was very attractive, it also came along with the added attraction of it being the Royal International Air Tattoo, at the bottom of Ian and Sally’s garden.

A Leckenby Maine Coon

They had moved to the area ten years ago and had said if ever we were on the Gloucester Sharpness Canal to get in touch. We’d never managed to contact them. A look at a map actually suggested that Lechlade was a lot closer to them, thus our destination for the summer was set.

The drive to their house in Fairford took longer than expected. Road closures and one-way systems were in operation for the airshow. The traffic wasn’t too bad, mostly down to the early hour. On arrival we were first greeted by dogs, then the household gradually woke up around us.

Sally, Jenny, Sam, Mick, Pip and Ian

Ian my cousin last seen at my Dad’s funeral nearly eleven years ago, Sally his wife last seen at Andrew and Jac’s wedding and Sam last seen in Hong Kong at the age of nine. A bit of a shame Andrew, Jac and Josh hadn’t been able to make it too, but that did mean we got everyone to ourselves, well along with all the other guests.

Having the runway for Fairford Airfield running within half a mile of the garden has meant a gathering of Ian’s old RAF and Cathay Pacific pals through the years, this year was to be the first since the pandemic. Today they were expecting 28 people, tomorrow a slightly different crowd numbering about 20.

A top up breakfast was offered and cuppas, would the weather oblige and allow the airshow to take off? The strong wind meant certain planes had not arrived and others wouldn’t get airborne, this included the Battle of Britain planes. The flying schedule pinned to the fridge door was now half obsolete. However airshow commentary was available on FM radios which were positioned around the house and garden.

Tumbling round each other at the bottom of the garden

Gradually more people arrived, the wind kept constantly strong and the planes started to rumble along the runway which was just out of view behind trees. Up came a display team, possibly the Spanish Patrulla Aguilas. Safety rules are such that the planes cannot do their acrobatics over the crowd, but there was nothing to stop them from doing so over the house. Unfortunately I missed taking what would have been the photo of the day as several planes crossed directly above the house. Oh well, at least I got to see it.

Something fast and noisy

Jets were extreamly noisy the view mostly very good.

The kitchen crew

Late morning Sally came round for a sandwich order, Jenny and Sam ready in the kitchen to make up what everyone required, each wearing their own branded pinnies for the occasion. Ian busied himself with distributing drinks from a plastic bag, large buckets sat in the garage filled with cans of beer and soft drinks all on ice for the day.


The organisation of the event certainly showed that they’d done this a few times before. The only thing that was out of their control was the weather. The heavens opened with torrential rain, we all took cover in either a small marquee or inside the house, perfect for a lunch break.

The Red Arrows, down to a seven man team due to one of them waking up with a bad neck this morning (footage taken from Sunday’s show). Sadly this made their formations look lopsided.

Us boaters agreed that the display from the Saudi Falcons was better by far, the ex-RAF contingency politely made comments, not able to totally agree, airforce blue still running through their retired veins.


Refueling was a theme of the show and possibly the best photo I got all day was the one above. Chinooks, Tornados and many more planes gave displays. Conversations started and paused as the jets screeched overhead.

The planes were great and so was the company. Plenty of knowledgeable folk to give you technical information should you want it. Many of the chaps I’d met before at Ian and Sally’s wedding when I was their youngest bridesmaid. They had provided the arch of raised swords to walk through, all I had to do was wear a wine velvet cloak and my black patent shoes that Aunt Nancy had bought for me.


Then there was lots of catching up to do with Sally, Jenny and Sam. News from the USA about Jo their brother about to become a father. News from Ukraine about Tim my cousin. History of houses, both French and Scottish.

A lull after the planes had landed saw preparations for the evening meal. The weather had forced a change of eating location into the garage which was bedecked in red white and blue. Ian was incharge of the bbq, Mick kept an eye on it too especially when he spotted flames that needed to be taken under control. Saucisson and pickles was followed by pork, jacket potatoes and salad, then chocolate pots, meringues and cheeses. We certainly were full to the brim with lots of lovely food.

Scary Scarborian

A quick dash around the house being shown family memorabilia, certain plates very much of their time and the painting that used to hang in Grandads house that was known to my side of the family as Scary Man. On the back of the portrait is a long account about Mr and Mrs W Appleby (Mr being in the portrait), they lived at 43 Sandside Scarborough and he is a far flung relative of ours. He happened to live next door to a Cappleman another ancestor.

Jenny very kindly gave us a lift back to Lechlade, even having to turn back when we realised we’d left our coats at the house. There are now plans for a meet up one weekend when I’m in Chippy working on panto.

I was left with my magic food bowl, but was still very pleased to have them back

Was it worth changing our plans for the summer for just one day? Yes it most certainly was. The planes and hospitality were one thing, but also reconnecting with family was way more important. Thank you for the invite, we had a brilliant day.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 Tilly incharge, 7:15 rendez vous, 2 cousins, 2 cousins once removed, 3 woofers, 1 old Maine Coon, 28, 7 not 8, or even 9, 1 day of noisy planes, 13 hours of family, 2 many memories to share.