Category Archives: Narrowboat Life

It Was Us What Did It. 2nd April

Holmcoat Lock 14 to below Lightbank Lock 31

Just how far to go today. The forecast was for dry weather, the locks would come thick and fast, plus we’ve got a booking to go over the summit. The latter could be moved if needs be, but we’d see where we got to today. Mick popped a load of washing in the machine and we pushed off.

Lots of water

Plenty of water coming over lock gates today, there were also a few bywashes that could compete with those at Tyrley. Last time we were here we’d moored above the next lock just as a stoppage notice came in that closed the canal behind us due to low water levels. Today we’d end up being the cause of a stoppage notice!

I’m so growd up I can preen myself!

As Oleanna started to rise in lock 16, we both could hear a noise, it made me wonder when we’d see our first ducklings. The answer was right then and there. In the lock with us were two little souls, bobbing about in the water. Had they been in the empty lock for some time? More importantly where was Mum!? Normally when ducklings cheep cheep you hear Mum somewhere trying to lure them to her, but no quacking could be heard. Were our first ducklings of the year also orphans?

Be careful!

As the lock levelled out the two little ones started to peck at our water line, then they made their way to the bottom gate. Here they preened themselves frantically, still unsteady on their webbed feet I reckoned it was only a matter of time before one if not both of them wobbled off the gate on the wrong side.

Just so lush today

Lush green hillsides accompany you up towards Todmorden. Houses sit high up making the most of views and day light. Old Royd Lock 17 had a Mum and her babies swimming away from it, had they been in this lock? Was she the Mum of the ducklings below? Just how long would they last for?

Old Royd Lock 17

We worked our way up the lock. As we near the top Mick hops off to open the near side gate and lower the paddle, leaving me to lower the off side and walk round to close the gate behind Oleanna. I wound the paddle down. It kept going for what felt like too long, I soon stopped and looked at the gear. Oh B**er! The toothed bar which you wind up and down by use of cogs had gone too far and now was no longer attached. I tried to push the bar inwards to see if I could catch it in the cogs, but it wouldn’t budge. We wondered would the lock now level with only one paddle available? As I walked back over the bridge I could see the amount of water gushing forth through the bottom gates, no wonder it had been empty when we arrived. It would be touch and go on the levelling front, time to ring C&RT. I got through to someone quite quickly and explained what had happened, if it hadn’t been me it would almost certainly have happened to the next person. The lady said she’d pass it onto the local team. After twenty minutes a stoppage notice arrived in our inbox.

Oh Bum!

We have received a report that the paddle has detached from the mechanism, a navigation closure is in place until the local team have been to investigate. Sorry everyone!

Monkeys

Onwards up into Todmorden. We pulled in on the service mooring, topping up on water, setting another load of washing going. The yellow water was emptied, elsan made use of. Have to admit to also having an early lunch so we could top up after the washing had rinsed. No boats came so we weren’t in the way.

Todmorden Lock paddle gear

The other side of the bridge sits Todmorden Lock this has a guillotine gate raised and lowered by the key of power, however you have to raise the paddle gear on the gate with a windlass. The top gate paddle gear were stiff as a Rochdale Canal paddle can be, I ended up walking round the lock hoping the water pressure had dropped enough so that I could lift them just a touch more. Gradually we made it.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall of Tod greets you at the next bend of the canal. The railway high above running on top of the 4 million bricks.

Now the locks come thick and fast. Once Oleanna was rising and Mick was near the top I’d walk up to the next lock to empty it giving us enough water in the pounds between locks. A Dad at one lock asked if I’d like some help lifting a paddle that was being a ‘Rochdale!’ Why not I’ve still plenty more to deal with. He managed to lift it with quite a bit of umph as his kids watched on gleefully.

This one or

Round the other side I set to lifting that paddle. Another ‘Rochdale!’ Positioning my windlass to make the most of my umph, I turned the handle. It stopped then gave just that little bit catapulting me to the floor! Thankfully just the floor. I checked myself over and stood up, a possible grazed knee. The paddle now wound up, behaving itself!

this one?

Onwards and upwards, under Gauxholme Viaduct. I hope I got a suitable photo to do a painting from. I identified the pound where a certain vlogger had to wade off his boat wearing wellies as there wasn’t enough water for him to get into the next lock. Just a short pound which could have been sorted without the need to fill his wellies with canal water.

Robbie’s wading pound

A chap came to watch us at Gauxholme Highest Lock, supping on his can of beer, he’d not seen any hot water in a while. ‘Good things are always worth taking time over’. How right he was.

Do we stop somewhere or carry on to where we knew we’d be able to moor? I opted to carry on even though I was feeling a touch weary. Using the more modern paddle gear as often as I could helped avoid too many ‘Rochdale!’ paddles and the going was easier.

A boat!

No low pounds today as there had been five years ago. No Grandma Pollard Fish and Chips, the old outdoor seating area now signed as a picnic spot. Then, there coming into view was a moving boat! The first since being in Hebden over Easter. Time to chat. The chap had managed to break a windlass on a lock up ahead and he’d almost done what I did at Lock 17 several times on their way over.

Bubbling!

We made it to the wide part of the canal. Here we joined two narrowboats that had come over the summit a couple of days ago. We pulled in as far away as possible, a good distance away from the railway to give Tilly some shore leave.

Someone must have known I was coming! I considered getting a marker pen out and refreshing the writing but the owner came and reclaimed their sign shortly after we’d moored up. Too many people in the outside. I demand you move it! Not a chance today Tilly. Maybe tomorrow.

16 locks, 4.1 miles by boat, 6 miles by foot, 1 full water tank, 1 broken lock, 8 monkeys, 2 loads washing, 1 moving boat, 1 scuffed knee, 2 jacuzzies, 2 pooped boaters, 1 mardy cat, 1 sock improved, now to the next one, 1/3rd of the way to Manchester.

https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2746.2054656760665!2d-2.099722280195804!3d53.68839984892905!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTPCsDQxJzE5LjciTiAywrAwNSc1MC4yIlc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1712139593986!5m2!1sen!2suk

The Smell Of Rain. 1st April

Hebden Bridge to above Holmcoat Lock 14

There will be a few days whilst we adjust to the clocks having sprung forwards, waking when you wake doesn’t tend to adjust very well, so we were a touch late pushing off this morning.

Green bike rack

Rain is now pretty much the norm and we dressed appropriately. Across the way a couple were being shown round a boat for sale, they came across as being very new to narrowboats. A bit further along there was a touch of boat moving happening. The Bronte Day boat was moved into the stubby arm, then a very familiar boat moved up and the cruiser we’ve been following pulled in behind. Did the cruiser have a problem? Was he having to return to work after the weekend and had found himself a mooring until he could move his boat again.

Hello again!

The familiar boat had been spotted yesterday. NB Petrichor* had been one of the boats moored below Hurlesdon during the first lockdown in 2020. The chap onboard, spent his time signwriting his boat, it took two coats until he was happy with it, it’s certainly holding up well. As we pootled past we both waved, the chap stood inside and waved back, not sure he recognised us, maybe I should have moved our yellow bicycle from the Tour de France onto that side as this was the man who’d designed it. A shame not to have chance for a chat.

Onto the water point, our tank depleted somewhat, the pressure wasn’t so good so we sat down and enjoyed a Hot Paw Bun whilst we waited, very good toasted.

I suspect if you did this lock at 3am you’d still get gongoozlers!

First lock of the day Blackpit Lock. Despite the rainfall we still managed to get a crowd of gongoozlers watching. I do love some of the theories people come up with. Today’s was that if we filled the lock up too much then it would force the bottom gates open! I made sure I stopped when the levels were level and pushed the top gates open to avoid the bottom gates failing.

I’d hoped to get a good photo of the mills along the next stretch, a possible painting, but they weren’t how I’d remembered them, not so picturesque, the rain wasn’t helping.

Looking back to Hedbum

A couple more locks, was this next stretch the location used in Happy Valley when Tommy Lee Jones was on a narrowboat? A hunt round the internet later on found the Wandering Turnip who gives a guided tour of the area. We’d for some reason always thought the scene had been shot along this stretch, but it turns out we were very wrong and had passed under Bridge 5 coming out of Sowerby Bridge. It also turns out we’d bought some broccoli in one of the locations a couple of days ago.

Onwards and upwards, this will be the theme for the next few days. At just about every lock we had soggy gongoozlers. A couple ran to watch, one of them from Germany asking if they could help, I asked them to help with the top gate whilst I walked on to the next lock, they were very happy to oblige.

Pulling in at Rawden Mill Lock the canal was shallow. Five years ago this pound was even shallower. We had difficulty getting into the side and ended up enlisting passersby to give me a hand to jump onto the bank. Thankfully today that wasn’t needed.

The offside of locks were very muddy, at the bottom gate it looked to almost be ankle deep just where you needed to stand to wind the paddle back down. Extra care walking round locks was required today.

Very muddy in parts

Two young ladies at another lock, one had never seen a lock in action, the other grew up near Saltaire and has helped push gates at Bingley. Then a couple who normally are on their motorbikes, but had opted for a canal side walk today, everyone helped with gates and chatted away.

Our aim for today was to reach a mooring where Tilly could have some shore leave. A small playground alongside the canal just after Lock 14 caught our eye, the railway and road a distance away too. The depth in places was shallow but we got moored up in the end.

Tilly took one look out of the backdoors and turned round to request I stopped it from raining. She tried again and suceeded in heading through the wire fence and into the play area. This is where you can go to learn woodcraft, I didn’t need any tutelage, I know all about trees!

A late treat cheese lunch as we dried off, the stove was built up ready for some jacket potatoes and settled down for the remainder of the day. Of course now we’d stopped so did the rain!

A lengthy phone call with my brother catching up on news from Hackney and then some frogging of a pair of socks. The ankle had become too tight with colour working, so I had to frog it down to before the heel turn. This will mean I fall slightly behind on my pair a week, but I’d rather every pair fits their sponsor and anyway I’m sure I’ll catch up with where I should be.

*Petrichor is the smell of rain. The word comes from the Greek words ‘petra’, meaning stone, and ‘ichor’, which in Greek mythology refers to the golden fluid that flows in the veins of the immortals.

As part of our Nebolink subscription we get a monthly report from them, listing all our journeys along with a map of where we’ve been. Though it might be interesting if I included these. So here’s where we travelled in March.

6 locks, 2.3 miles all of them soggy, 1 full water tank, 1 cruiser moored, 1 lockdown buddy, 27 gongoozlers, 6 helpers, 1 woodland playground, 1 cat amused for a while, 1 catch up, 1 missing Tara! 1 sock frogged, 3 treat cheeses started and yes the Wensleydale is very yummy!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/EneEghDzTjemD59K8

12 Stamps And Some Of The Good Stuff! 31st March

Hedbum Bridge

The towpath was a touch quieter this morning, were people still in bed having not put their clocks forward? We got cuppas ready and settled down for the Geraghty zoom. At 10:05 no-one had showed apart from us, 10:10 still no-one else. Were we the only ones to have sprung forward? No last week when we’d only bobbed into the zoom they had decided that as so many people would be away doing other things today there was little point, they’d just omitted to tell us. Oh well!

Easter breakfast

Before Mick was allowed to get the bacon and eggs out I needed certain things from the galley. Time to make some Hot Paw Buns. I tried a bit of an experiment and added a couple of extra grams of yeast and a teaspoon of Psyllium husk to see what effect that would have. The gooey mixture was left on the top shelf to rise for an hour whilst we had breakfast.

Tilly had another go at liking Hebden Bridge, but it didn’t last long and she resigned herself to sleeping for much of the day.

With a duck race on Monday …

I also decided to take one lot of rising out of the process of making Hot Paw Buns. So I mixed the fruit and spices into the gooey mass. Prepared the marzipan balls for inside and then rolled out a long sticky sausage to cut into twelve which in turn had their centres added and were rolled up into balls. All popped on a baking tray to rise again. Sadly the top shelf isn’t big enough for the tray so they took up space on the table.

Yesterday we’d omitted to buy some potatoes to go with our duck this evening and a visit to the cheese shop had to be made. Mick stayed onboard to hang up some washing. The Co-op was closed, the bakers open (however no queue today), Nisa and One Stop shops were both open and so was the cheese shop!

Cheese cheese cheese!

Now what on earth to buy? I chose a couple and then a third as the lady started to serve me. The third wedge of cheese I required a bit of assistance with. I wanted some proper Wensleydale cheese. In the 70’s Mum used to buy whole Stilton and Wensleydale cheeses, wrapped in their muslin. The top would be sliced off and kept to act as a lid and WO betide anyone who went in for a scoup! Slices cut into wedges were the only way cheese was consumed from these huge beasts of cheese. They kept exceptionally well. For a few years Father Christmas used to give me a small version wrapped in muslin, creamy but rather crumbly, my favourite cheese long before Wallace and Gromit were even a glint in Nick Parks’ eye.

…there’s a duck window display competition

This last Christmas I bought a small muslin wrapped cheese from Hawes dairy, sadly it was the modern version of Wensleydale, a disappointment to be honest. Today I wanted some of the good proper stuff! Yes they had Hawes, then there two more to choose from. I asked which was the better one. The mature one was wrapped in plastic, not a good sign so I opted for the other (when I get them out to eat I’ll let you know which one it is). This one had dark muslin, it’s been aged and turned and turned. The lady offered me a taste, but there was no need I could see this is what I was after. She agreed with me and commented about how so many people thought that Hawes Wensleydale was the true cheese, ‘but that means there’s more of the good stuff left for those who know!’

Back at Oleanna, marzipan paw prints were cut out and added to the buns. Mick was sent off for a bottle of cider to make gravy for the duck and some red cabbage had cinnamon, cloves, balsamic vinegar and sugar added to it to slowly cook on the stove top. The buns went in the oven with a tray of boiling water on the shelf below for the first ten minutes, covered in foil for the last ten minutes, then were left to cool having a sticky glaze added. The smell far better than the previous buns I’d made. Once cool enough we both enjoyed one with some butter melting into them.

Hot Paw Buns cooling just enough to eat

A much better bun, even Mick said they were better than the Bakery bought ones. My tweaks to my recipe had improved them and omitting a third rise I think had helped also. I’ll have to find time to amend the recipe page.

Late afternoon we had someone to meet. Alexandra Mathie is an actress I’ve know since the mid 90’s and she was one of the first people to be a lodger in our house in 2021, she lives here in Hebden Bridge. She has just returned from Sheffield having played Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible (review here). We sat and caught up on news of mutual friends and future plans over a pint at The White Lion for an hour. I’m not sure how long she and Angie have lived here, but she says that it simply isn’t the same. The town has become a destination for hen and stag does and on summer evenings the town isn’t somewhere they’d choose to go anymore. We’ve certainly heard the rowdy lads heading to the station over the weekend. It was so lovely to see her and there was an added bonus of gluten free beer on tap!

The lovely Alex

This evening we’ve enjoyed our Lidl duck. Not as good as those we buy for Christmas, but that was to be expected. A very full plate of food followed by a few chunks of Easter Egg. Tomorrow we’d best start working off the calories and carry on climbing up the valley.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2kg potatoes, 3 treat cheeses, 1 bottle cider, 12 paw stamps, 1 snoozy cat, 2 chocolate eggs, 1 Alex, 1 changed Hebden Bridge, 1 duck, 2 very full boaters.

400 Spiced Buns. 30th March

Hebden Bridge

A touch of a lie in then Tilly sampled the towpath. Hedbum Bridge! Far too many woofers and the wave of walkers along the towpath after a train arrives isn’t conducive to feline fun. Plus there is very VERY little friendly cover! The flower beds are very well kept in the park!

I’ve actually braved it twice!

We had a slow morning. I spent quite a bit of time trying to sort out lodgers in the house in the coming months. We get quite a few returning actors who want to stay with us which is fantastic. The only problem comes when someone who would stay for 9 weeks is taking their time thinking about it and someone else wants to book just 3 weeks which would overlap with them. We obviously would prefer someone for 9 weeks, but at the same time if they don’t want to stay we’d rather not have the house empty.

Next on the agenda was to hunt out the bakery we’d visited five years ago, it was coming up to Easter then. Saker Bakery on Market Street also has a shop in Todmorden and is most definitely worth a visit. The shop was full, we joined the queue. The menu board outside advertised the loaves available today, Black Russian, Sour Dough, plenty more and at the bottom were Spiced Buns.

The aroma filled the street, trays of freshly baked buns. ‘Two Hot Cross Buns Please’ everybody’s first line. Some added a loaf. One Japanese lady only want the one bun, but as she wanted to pay by card she had to up it to two. I suspect Spiced Buns are not just for Easter, as from this bakery they normally come with a CND logo on them rather than a cross, but today the chap didn’t have time for this so had resorted to mostly crosses , he did have 400 to do! Mick opted for two buns and a loaf of wholegrain with molasses.

Flour

Next it was to Valley Organics. Here was full too, I knew exactly what I was after, Chestnut flour and some Tapioca Starch. Tapioca is used in a lot of gluten free baking as it adds a chewy texture to things. Chestnut flour makes wonderful gf pastry and this is the only place I’ve seen it for sale (suspect on our next visit to the Gloucester Sharpness canal I’ll find it too).

Hebden Bridge

We then had a wander about, the market was full of interesting things nobody really needs. There was a new (to us) cheese shop, we’ll come back to have a closer look and another bakery that had some fantastic looking vanilla slices, sadly they stayed in the window, but Mick did buy himself a pork pie.

Vanilla yummyness

Back at Oleanna Tilly tried and tried to go outside. We managed to put dog walkers off using our ash bin for their pooh bags. Tillys and our toilet were refreshed and we smartened ourselves up for an evening out.

Portsmouth!?!

The 592 bus heads between Burnley and Halifax, we caught it and headed towards Todmorden following the canal and river all the way. The hire boaters that had arrived in Hebden this morning were working their way up the locks, wonder how far they got before dark? It was also interesting that most of the river is corralled in by walls. At Tod the bus veered away from the canal and river heading up another steep sided valley towards Burnley. The sun shone on the hill tops as the road wound itself up the hill.

We hopped off at The Staff of Life pub where we had a rendez vous. Two friends from Croydon College, a couple of years above mine, Alan and Doug. I try to meet up with Alan when we are near and Doug helped us down the Rochdale 9 into Manchester five years ago.

Alan, Doug, Amanda, Pip and Mick’s hand

We had a very nice meal in the pub. The others had walked over the tops to get there so deserved their pudding more than we did. We then walked down the hill a short distance to Eagles Cragg Brewery. Here they open their doors on the last Friday and Saturday of the month for themselves and anyone else who like to join them sampling their ale. Mick had already sampled some at the pub and had a second pint, sadly they haven’t managed to filter a beer yet for them to have a GF beer, but the chap said that maybe next month they’d have one.

There was a DJ playing half of my Dad’s record collection, so the music was good, just a shame it was really quite loud which made it hard for us to carry on our conversation without shouting. After a pint Mick and I headed for the bus stop, just outside and made our way back to Hebden Bridge. If you find yourself in the area at the end of a month it’s well worth a visit.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 hot cross buns, 1 special loaf, 1 chicken supreme, 1 gammon steak, 2 college friends, 1 girlfriend, 1 Mick’s hand, 2 bags flour, 100,000 all-time views of the blog!

Smiles All Round. 29th March

Salter Hebble Bottom Basin to Hebden Bridge, Rochdale Canal

Heading ton the top Salter Hebble Lock

A boat was coming down the middle Salter Hebble Lock as we were getting ready. Mick walked up for a chat and got them to leave the gates open for us. These top two locks are the shortest of the Calder Hebble Locks. On NB Lillyanne we had to come down these two locks backwards just so that we could get out of the bottom gate, we only had an inch to spare. We must have been so careful back then working these locks.

Sunny morning and smiles

The lock cottage alongside the top lock was fairly recently for sale, it’s certainly in desperate need of some tlc the roof couldn’t even be considered to being classified as a sieve! The last use of the Hebble Spike to get us up to the top and then the turn towards Sowerby Bridge.

Is that this outside?

We’d called ahead to Shire Cruisers to see if they’d sell us some diesel, so we carried on into the basin ready to back up to their pump. All the hire boats were lined up, front doors open and some engines running. A chap popped his head out of a door, ‘Are you wanting the services? The hire boats are about to go out, maybe you should come back after lunch’ I relayed this back to Mick. We reversed back out of the basin and pulled into the first space on the Rochdale Canal. Mick walked over the lock and went to see the people in the office, they of course said just come in and reverse up to the pump.

Topping up the tank the first time this year

We reversed back to the junction, and headed back to the pump where a helpful chap was stood waiting to grab our stern line. He filled the tank up then Mick went into the office to pay. We both remember the slightly stern lady here from when we’d hired from them years ago, she rightly wanted hirers to listen to her instructions on how to work a lock!

Another reverse back out of the basin. We discussed what we should do, maybe have a quick lunch and try to get going before all the hire boats came out and grabbed the moorings in Hebden Bridge, or maybe we’d be able to join the first one going up in Tuel Lane Lock. Three quarters of an hour later we pulled back out, no other boat had come along to share with so we’d be on our own.

What a pretty view

Spring blossom brought a smile to my face framing the scene below Lock 1. People stopped to watch, a couple of gents tried to open a gate for us but failed, they did help close it. Oh how stiff the paddles are! Am I out of practice? Or are they worse than five years ago?

Crossing the pound between 1 and 2 was very slow, it took a lot of effort getting into the lock, Oleanna sitting on the bottom! The paddles only just opened, one click on each side and then no amount of adjusting the windlass helped they simply wouldn’t budge. By now we had one of those silent crowds watching us. Thankfully some water was going into the lock and Oleanna was afloat again.

I walked up to Tuel Lane Lock to let the Lock Keeper know we were wanting to come through. You shouldn’t enter the tunnel below the lock as it may need to be emptied of it’s 130,000 gallons of water first! The Lock was full, thankfully the extra water would help us get over the cill at Lock 2 as the level looked quite low. We were instructed to sound our horn as we entered the tunnel. We paused to let the initial wave of water coming from the lock to settle, closed Lock 2 behind us, Mick had only just managed to raise one of the paddles when the water pressure had reduced. We sounded our horn on entering the tunnel and got three whistle blows back, not sure what that meant, the chap hadn’t told me.

Coming into the lock

The lock was waiting, all grey, dripping wet. It’s a modern interior to a lock, concrete built in 1996 to replace locks 3 and 4 as part of the restoration of the canal. Most of the canal had been closed to navigation and officially abandoned by an Act of Parliament in 1952 and parts of the route through Sowerby Bridge had been filled in for a road widening scheme. The IWA petitioned against various building proposals keeping the possibility of connecting the Rochdale to the Calder Hebble alive. In 1991 £2.5 million of funding meant the connection would be possible. The original plans were for the lock to be 57ft 6″ long, similar to the shorter Calder Hebble Locks, but a reworking meant they could accommodate a standard length lock of 72ft. The first boat to use the lock was on the 11th April 1996, the official opening in May.

Part way up Tuel Lane Lock

Passing a rope around the riser at the bow we then moved Oleanna forward to get the stern line around one too. The huge gates were wound closed behind us then a thumbs up from Gary the volunteer and a paddle was raised.

THANK YOU. Dave to the left and Gary to the right.

Down in the depths of the deepest lock on the network I was glad of the bright blue sky overhead. I was also surprised how still Oleanna stayed as we rose up, our ropes hardly needed. Gary was assisted by Dave, who had come down to see what was happening today, he will be a volunteer at the lock after his training which is to be on Monday. I think he was imparted some pearls of wisdom by Gary. As the noise died down I was asked if we’d been through before, ‘Yes our fifth time’. ‘You’ll have got a certificate then.’ ‘No, we’ve never been offered one!’ He returned and handed one over.

Now we wiggled our way along the side of the valley, views stretching out. Oleanna had smiled in the lock, now a smiley face beamed at us from the wood followed by a very happy jumper walking along the towpath.

Views don’t come without some work

Where to moor for the night? Should we stop part way to Hebden or carry on to ensure we got a space. Locks 5 and 6 were pretty heavy work, but I got the paddles up and Oleanna rising. However when it came to Lock 7 it was a different matter all together.

Sunny

In came Oleanna, gates closed, I went to lift one of the paddles. I tried repositioning my windlass to make the very most of umph power to get it raised and onto the first notch. Nothing! I walked all the way round to the other side (no walkway on the top gates) and tried again. Nothing! Oh B***er!

It’s when you can feel your steel windlass bending that you know you’ve got a problem! Mick climbed the ladder, we roped Oleanna up. It took a lot of doing and Mick’s extra weighted umph to get them shifted, they eventually moved.

Mile posts, they don’t mention how many locks there are though!

Thankfully we were through and headed for Lock 8. I’d re-read the blog post from five years ago which mentioned how hard it had been to close the near side bottom gate, Frank and I had serious problems with it. So this time we avoided it opening in the first place. Mick opened the off side gate whilst I kept the problem gate closed. It worked and the paddles were a breeze! Just the short distance now to moor up for the day.

Lucy in the sky

It was just gone 6pm, too late for shore leave for Tilly but there was plenty of room on the moorings to choose from for the weekend. The cruiser we’d seen at Brighouse was sat on the service mooring facing downstream. Is he waiting for someone else to share locks with? Don’t blame him if he is.

Hello Hebden!

9 locks, 7.9 miles, 19ft 8″, 5th time through Tuel Lane for us, twice for Tilly, Lock 7!!!!! 91 litres, 3 reverses, 1 left twice, 1 certificate, 2 boaters with weather worn cheeks.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/imAHKXsu6HuH5AA17

Click the photo for details

PS if you’ve a spare million pounds take a look at this house we passed today. The gardens were immaculate.

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!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/zPDY6AgjmHs2Txw3A

Breakfast At Brighouse. 27th March

Kirklees Top Lock to Sainsburys, Brighouse

Thankfully it wasn’t raining when we woke, over our cuppa in bed we decided to make our final move off the river before breakfast, after all we’d only an hour left to reach our goal and to end up missing it for a day or so because of a bowl of cereal, well. As we rolled the covers up ready for cruising a cruiser appeared up the lock behind us. No point in rushing to share a lock as that would be too risky in these short locks, we quite often have to go diagonally to fit, tucking in behind one of the bottom gates.

Underpant Bridge and Trees!!!!

It’s a shame we couldn’t have moored a little further on as the woods had Tilly’s name stamped all over them, but we would have been closer to the M62, the noise level considerably more than where we’d been last night.

Open, but no idea of level

Anchor Pit Flood Gate was open waiting for us, we looked around to see if we could see the level board, tucked away in the corner of a gate recess, I only had time to spot it’s location but not the level it showed, hopefully it was amber. Since we’ve been keeping an eye on levels the EA website has shown the level at Brighouse to be 0, a constant 0. This is no help what-so-ever! Thankfully Gaugemap does show heights, minus heights. The level seemed to have gone up by a couple of inches since yesterday, so thank goodness the flood gate was still open.

An unuseable landing

The cruisier had pulled up on the lock landing, here it is actually quite long, except the end of it is fenced off as there’s not much left that would take anyone’s weight. There was nowhere I could hop off to help him up the lock. He waved us on. Mick and I both tried shouting that we were over long and that he should go first, he stopped chatted to someone, waved again. We weren’t about to jump the queue so waited patiently for him to return to his boat and get out of the way!

Up at the lock were two chaps who were gauging whether to come down onto the river. The gauge here was touching red. They were moving an ex Shire Cruise hire boat to Castleford for some work to be done with the aim of purchasing it. This meant it was still insured by the hire company and they were waiting to see if they were happy for them to proceed onto a river in the red! This meant there were plenty of hands to help.

A very jolly lock beam

We worked the cruiser up. He’d bought the boat in Goole and was moving it to Northampton. Because Vazon Sliding Bridge is out of action at the moment he was having to cross the Pennines to head south. First he’d thought of doing the Huddersfield Narrow, but they don’t allow cruisers through the tunnel. Now he was faced with all the Rochdale Locks. He’d then planned on going up the Ashton and up the Peak Forest onto the Macc, he had no idea that the Marple flight was closed. We later told him he’d need to book Tuel Lane Lock if he wanted to be through before the weekend, then the summit pound, then the Bridgewater. What he’d thought would be a relatively easy trip was turning out to be far longer, he’d already asked work for an extra ten days off. This all sounds familiar. When we first crossed from Manchester on the Rochdale on Lillian ten years ago, we teamed up with a single hander, who’s Nicholsons guide was so old that he ‘d taken a wrong turning leaving Manchester. His guide didn’t show the Rochdale being open, after twenty odd locks with us he asked when he’d reach the Bridgewater Canal!

Next it was our turn up the bottom lock and off the river, our last stretch of river for a while that could hold us up. I’d checked the blog from when we were here last, I knew that lifting the gate paddle anything but slowly would fill our well deck with water, so I took it cautiously, lifting the Hebble paddle second just to finish off.

Crossing the pound

The chaps on the hire boat had kindly emptied the top lock for us and helped close gates. Once up Mick reversed Oleanna onto the water point. Time for a celebratory shower as the tank filled up.

The hire boat headed for the lock, the company must have given them the go ahead. By the time they reach Castleford the chap at the helm will have got the hang of pointing the boat in the right direction, just as well as it’ll be his home!

We can all breath a sign of relief now

We moved onto the moorings, told Tilly this was Bumhouse and she’d not like it, even worse than Bumingham! She settled down as we settled down for breakfast, which was very nearly lunch.

A prescription was ready and waiting for Mick in Sewerby Bridge, so he caught the 9 minute train to pick it up. Sadly the Chemist was closed for lunch on his arrival so his return was delayed somewhat. A look in Screwfix for a new kitchen sink plug, nothing suitable without replacing the whole thing, we’ll cope for a while longer.

Could Boyes solve our problem?

Next was a restock at Sainsburys. the wine cellar needed topping up and we’d not stopped off in Mirfield for a duck. Sadly no ducks on the shelves here, but there was a Lidl not far away. Thankfully they had what we wanted and some bananas which seem to only be available in Lidl at the moment. A quick visit to Boyes to see if they could help with a plug, a rubber universal one was on sale for £1.10, so we’d not be wasting much money if it didn’t do the job.

Lots of fancy banks around town

By the time we’d stowed everything we decided we’d stay put for the night, an extra rope from the stern would stop us from swinging about on long ropes, it’s always been windy here. To celebrate being off the rivers we treated ourselves to fish and chips Blakeley’s do a gf batter and as we wanted haddock rather than cod even Mick’s fish was cooked to order, very nice it was too.

2 locks, 1.5 miles, 1 ex hire boat, 1 cruiser, 1 full water tank, 1 clean Pip, 1 bored cat, 4 boxes wine, 0 plug, 1 months drugs, 2 trains, 1 duck, 6 big bananas, 0 hot cross buns left, slow internet, fish and chips twice!

https://maps.app.goo.gl/VtjuW5p53v953R5k9

Let’s Leave Underpants Bridge For Tomorrow. 26th March

Mirfield to above Kirklees Top Lock

Tilly has expanded her interest in the secret passage behind the sofa. She has discovered that she can just squeeeeeeze herself through the smallest gap between sofa, pouffe and bookshelf to get there. Once in there she can been heard discovering all the secret delights the passage hides from those of us who cannot squeeze in there. Then after about ten minutes the meows change tone and her claws come out attempting to escape. This is impossible! No it’s not, I just haven’t found the correct route out! So the sofa needs to be pulled out to aid escape. A touch boring for us humans to have to do this at least once a day, but my main concern is that she goes in there to explore whilst we’re busy moving the outside and gets STUCK! I have never got stuck, only temporarily delayed!

A heavy box to block the entrance

The alcohol free lager has a use at last!

We pootled up towards Ledgard Flood Lock, from the EA website the river levels this morning looked to have gone down. Passers by asked if the lock was open, well it would almost certainly have it’s gates closed, but it should be workable and most probably be in the amber. ‘Levels!’ said one chap.

Ledgard Flood Lock

Sure enough the level had gone down, there was twice as much amber showing this morning as there had been yesterday. Hebble paddles had been left up at both ends of the lock to help feed Shepley Lock when used, these needed to be left as found. Mick dropped me off, we made a plan, I plotted my route round the lock to take the shortest amount of time when closing up after us and hopefully covering the possibility that a gate may swing open, all so that I could get to Oleanna as quickly and as safely as possible. If we were new boaters we wouldn’t have even considered this.

Through the last closed flood lock, we hope!

All went well, the pull towards the weir wasn’t that great for Mick and Oleanna to cope with, the only problem was a chap who stopped to chat with Mick as he did his best to hold onto Oleanna at the short landing. There are times when you may just have to be rude in life and this so nearly was one of those moments.

Battyford Lock

Onwards to Battyford Lock, a big bruiser of a lock always waiting with it’s top gates ajar! Here the level was that bit higher only just in the amber. Battyford Flood Gate was open, next stretch of river to cross to Cooper Bridge Lock. This is one of my favourites, Hebble Spike required, worn stone step by the top gate and the lock cottage. Today the cottage looked less cosy, it’s normally surrounded by trees, these have either gone or had a serious hair cut. The other reason for liking the lock is the two geese who live here. A chap was in the field with them, petting them and chatting away, a very rare temperament for geese to have.

Cooper Bridge Lock

Cooper Bridge Flood Gate was also open, here we carried straight on up stream, leaving the Huddersfield canals behind us, heading for the Rochdale. Another river section crossed off the list.

Picturesque canal side house

Kirklees Bottom Lock is over looked by drivers heading between Huddersfield and the M62, I’ve sat in traffic on that road many a time, longingly looking at the lock beams. The two Kirklees Locks require a spike to go uphill, then there’s a stretch of moorings with rings. A handy lunch break location. We both looked at each other, if we carried on we’d be off the rivers in Brighouse, but that is where we’d end up mooring for the night and Tilly has been cooped up inside for a couple of days, exploring the passage! Should we risk stopping for the day?

Looking back to Wakefield on the left and Huddersfield on the right

The door was opened and after a quick sniff and clawing claim of the tree she shot straight up into the branches, we’d be staying put today and hope the forecast overnight wouldn’t be too wet.

Tilly’s tree

Mick had another look at the voltage sensitive relay. He got it to delay switching off by 999 seconds, however it didn’t turn itself back on when he restarted the engine. Still work in progress and I really don’t mind turning the Nebolink on and off anyway!

Lamb biryani this evening, just a shame I had a moment and thought I was using brown basmati rice, which turned out to be just brown rice which didn’t want to cook through in the oven! After an extra half hour on the hob, it was still a touch munchy. Oh well, there’s still plenty more lamb, I may give the recipe another go in a few days time, but with the correct rice this time!

4 locks, 3.6 miles,1 straight on, 4 inches of amber, 4 hours shore leave, 1 brilliant tree, 12 handy bottles, 3 river stretches ticked off, 1 left to go, M62 bridge left for tomorrow.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/GHVey9rqSdSWnkkW8

With Added Waterfall. 25th March

Midland Junction Bridge to Mirfield Visitor Moorings

Glum damp boating day

With six more river sections to cross we needed to move today despite it raining, actually because it was raining we needed to move to try to beat any rising water levels.

Dampness

Waterproofs on, life jackets, time to get damp.

First up Millbank Lock, ground paddles spike operated. Ground paddles are where you have to be careful with your spike, if you drop it into the hole beneath the paddle it will sink.

Hebble Ground Paddle

We’ve never visited the Dewsbury Cut, we’d considered pootleing down there this time, but that would add an extra hour to the damp soggy day. Maybe on the way back if we return over the Huddersfield Narrow.

Thornhill Double Locks next. This is where we managed to knock Lillian’s tiller out of the cup back in 2014, the intermediate pound gets quite low on filling the bottom of the two locks. Today the bottom lock was very full, constantly being topped up from a stream that was coming down the path from the lock cottage and waterfalling into the lock chamber. Mick did his best to keep Oleanna away from it, just in case it lined up with a window, thankfully they were all closed anyway.

Thornhill Double Locks with added waterfall

The second lock was emptied as Oleanna finished rising in the bottom lock, making sure we’d have enough water to cross the intermediate pound.

Long Cut Flood Gate was open, we checked the river level as we went through, green! Along the river section to Greenwood Lock, here the ground paddles didn’t work, so the gate paddles were lifted with care.

Out through a flood gate

Out through Greenwood Flood Gate where the river was also in the green, this was boding well, apart from the constant rain. At Shepley Lock I headed up to set it. A lady asked if I had a spare windlass, well we have plenty on the boat and I knew Mick would be hovering and not tied up at the lock landing, they tend to be short and bollards not helpfully spaced. She asked if you could use the lock without a Hebble Spike.

Shepley Lock

The bottom gates are windlass operated, the top had one windlass gate paddle, but the other paddles are all spike operated. You most probably could fill the lock from just the gate paddle, but you’d have to take great care not to fill the bow of your boat. The other factor might be the bottom gates and how much they leak. The lock may fill to a level where the amount of water leaving the lock through gaps in the gates is the same as coming in through the one paddle. She headed off to get dry and I opted not to try bringing Oleanna up with the one paddle, I also wanted to get dry.

We pulled in towards the end of the moorings. Mooring spikes hammered into the very soft earth, hopefully there’d be no passing boaters to pull them out, this was unlikely, however the trip boat from across the way had just been for a jaunt. Mick put cross pins in, our standard mooring, but this should hopefully help.

WIPE YOUR PAWS!

Tilly was allowed out. Well what a bloomin tease! A great long green mesh all the way in front of the totally climbable trees! Not a single gap underneath it. What’s the point i having trees if you can’t get to them! How rude!!! She went back and forth trying to find a gap. Coming back for a Dreamie break every now and again. I didn’t manage to get towels on the new dinette cushions in time and her paws were VERY muddy.

In the amber at Ledgard

In the afternoon it stopped raining, we walked down to have a look at the next flood lock. Ledgard is the only flood lock still closed according to the stoppage notice. The lady at the lock earlier had said that she’d been told that when work was done on the weir the level was set too high, so therefore the next river section is often too high to navigate. So far the river level boards had been green today, the one here showed just about an inch into the amber. As far as we could tell the lock wasn’t locked and we’d be able to operate it ourselves so long as we left the correct paddles up to help feed Shipley Lock. I made note of the heights on the EA gauges, one at the weir and the next one upstream. 0.33 and 0.36 respectively. This would give us an idea in the morning as to whether we’d be staying put or carrying on.

A visit to the smart canalside Lidl for a few bits, especially eggs and yeast for Hot Paw Buns. They had whole ducks, one of those might be nice for easter, but we decided we’d pick one up when passing by boat rather than carry it back along the muddy towpath.

5 locks, 3.5 miles, 2 flood gates, 1 soggy day, 2 green, 1 amber, 2 easter eggs purchased, 2 levels noted, 1 droaning mooring, 3 river sections ticked off, 4 more to go.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/gajmHuRuCrBr67JX8

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