Category Archives: Uncategorized

Canal Closed. 21st April

Lock 15

It may be Easter Sunday/Monday/Friday, what ever Easter day it is I needed to do some work. Panto may be months off, but my first design deadline is mid May, so a pause in cruising was needed so I could get some sketching done. My hope is that John will return to work on Tuesday after his Easter break to lots of sketches from me, feed back will follow then I’ll be able to get on with a white card model.

It’s too busy! Make them all go away

10 hours! Wowee!! That would be great if only everyone in this outside would just go away! Too many bicycles, woofers, runners, walkers, all busy moving their outside leaving us where we are. All a bit too busy for my liking.

A couple of boats came past late morning heading down the locks, Mick asked about water levels higher up and was told there was plenty of water. He warned them about the levels further down towards Hebden and on they continued. About 3:30pm a C&RT notice came through.

Due to low water levels between Locks 7 and 13 on the Rochdale Canal the navigation is currently closed.
We will continue to monitor the water levels and will update the notice as soon as possible.

Thank goodness we’d got to above Lock 15, it did make us wonder if the two boats going down had got stuck needing assistance from C&RT to get floating again. Weekend and day boats would only come so far up the locks before turning round back to base, therefore gradually diminishing the water in certain pounds. We were surprised that the closure included through Hebden Bridge.

Hot Paw Buns

After watching Mick and Frank devouring their big fat hot cross buns the other day I decided to make some of my own. The recipe I’d found last year had been quite successful and I had everything I needed on board. So whilst I worked on sketches the dough was allowed time to rise, three times before going in the oven with marzipan paw prints on their tops.

Inspiration for Puss in Boots

Mick spent some of the day packing away the spare bedding. This lives under our sofabed and sadly the mechanism has torn through the vacuum bags. We had one bag spare, a giant one. This would hold everything, it’s just that it wouldn’t fit under the sofa with or without air in it. As this was all going on in my studio, it was hard to ignore and I had to take over get involved.

They won’t get very far!

Late afternoon another boat came past heading for the lock, Mick went out to inform them of the stoppage. The couple moor just this side of the summit and were heading to Hebden Bridge for blacking in a weeks time. They are used to lack of water on the Rochdale, they also had plenty of tales to tell of the floods.

New piling to hold the landslip back

In 2015 the river and canal just about became one, in Hebden Bridge where we’d moored the towpath was under 18inches of water and you could only wade through the park where everyone had been sunning them selves on Friday. I’d have been fine up my tree! Up ahead of us there is a stretch where the bank is still washed away and alongside our current mooring is where there was a landslip, now held back by piling. This stretch kept the canal closed for quite sometime.

They decided to continue on down and see where they could get to before they could go no further. Mick helped them through the lock and waved them goodbye.

Everyone on the towpath

As it was such a lovely evening and I’d been cooped up all day trying to work we decided to have a barbecue. We had just enough coals left from last year to cook some veg kebabs and a couple of turkey steaks that I’d marinated. Because we’d had a Hot Paw Bun when they’d come out of the oven we refrained from our usual banana with chocolate for pudding. This meant Tilly had extra time outside which with fewer people about she enjoyed much more.


Will this summer be like last? Will we be having barbecues instead of Sunday roasts until autumn now? I hope so.

Not a bad spot to spend the evening

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 Easter eggs, 12 sketches, 3 boats down, 1 boat up, 6 scanned illustrations, 10 hours of watching, 1 hour of enjoying, 2 holey bags, 1 big bag, 1 squished up sofa, 9 hot paw buns, 2 turkey steaks, 4 kebabs, 1 block of Haloumi left from last year, 1st evening on the towpath.

Gongoozeled. 20th April

Hebden Bridge Wharf to Shawplains Lock 15

Frank had requested a cooked breakfast this morning, Stephen Maskill Butchers had provided the chunky cut smoked back bacon, the freezer on board provided the chipolata sausages left over from Christmas and the Co-op provided everything else. Frank ate his breakfast before I could take it’s photo, so you are saved photos of more food.

A Hebden Scene

With the last Scarborough Athletic match of the season to catch Frank was soon heading off for the station. It’s been a lovely few days with Frank. He has now worked through all the locks on the Rochdale apart from the Rochdale Nine, who knows he may just turn up when we get over that side!

Time to carry on rising up and over the Pennines. First the water tank needed filling, we were almost out. We pushed over to the tap, not the strongest of pressure and with the washing machine going too it took well over an hour to fill. This gave me time to hunt out a bumbag, I’d thought of going to one of the nice independent shops to see what they had, but changed my mind and headed to the nearest charity shop. Here I had two to choose from at £2.50 a bargain. My new camera now has a new cruising home, no longer in trouser pockets, maybe it’ll last me three years this time.

Up the lock

Black Pit Lock had a good crowd of gongoozlers keen to watch us. I felt sorry for the juggler as I think we upstaged him somewhat, but he chose to perform next to the lock. The crowd seem puzzled as I went back to empty the lock, just doing as instructed.

As we made our way towards Stubbing Locks a boat came past saying that the levels up ahead were very low, so much so that they’d turned round. Oh well, we had no choice but to carry on and see for ourselves, we wouldn’t be turning round, we’d be carrying on.

That’s a touch low

They’d been right, the water between the two locks was very low, drawing off another locks worth of course made it worse but there was enough water to get Oleanna over both cills. The next pound looked better to start with but got worse as we continued. Slow progress, the occasional lumpy bit and then a trip boat meaning we grounded for a while.

Not Large Marge, just the Barge

Just before Rawden Mill Lock is a winding hole, the boats on the permanent moorings all sat on the bottom at very jaunty angles. The level was too low to be able to get off Oleanna at the stern so I tried at the front. It was a touch too high and a touch too far away to have enough confidence to jump off from the closest Mick could get her. Luckily a young couple were passing, I asked if I could have a steadying hand to get off. Phew that worked, we were able to get out of the pound before anybody emptied any more water out of it.

Clinging on for dear life

The mooring above Callis Lock looked reasonable, just a shame about the wiff from the sewage works! We carried on, not really wanting to reach Todmorden today. There were plenty more boats sat on the bottom, one chap at an alarming list said he was waiting for a mooring higher up. His dog seemed more alarmed than he was, would he ever get off the bottom?


Another couple of locks before we found enough depth to get close enough to the side to moor. The canal, road and railway all follow the valley, so no peaceful moorings, but the scenery is rather good. All Pennine crossings have their difficulties and numerous locks, but what that brings with it is wonderful countryside that you simply wouldn’t get without the effort.

Not a bad view
All Mine

7 locks, 2.85 miles, 59ft 10inches climbed today, 79ft 9inches day before yesterday, 2 Saturday papers, 1 pair of reading glasses, 8 sausages, 6 rashers, 3 eggs etc, 2 hot cross buns, 1 hour plus filling, 3 knives, 1 ball, 37 gongoozlers, 1 helping hand, 2 big lumps, 3rd mooring lucky, 7 out of 10 OS eggs, 2 hours, 1 wall, 1 field, 1 post claimed, 1 very dusty path, 1 grey cat!

All The Way To The Top. 19th April

Hebden Bridge

I’d like to go further than the cat walk please

A sunny sunny morning. Tilly wanted to be out and about, just a shame about the park filling up with people spoiling her fun.

Late morning we all headed into town to have a look around. I was on the hunt for some sock yarn for a commission, but sadly Hedben Bridge doesn’t have the indy dyed yarn I thought would be here.

Julia’s old studio
Easter Bunny

Hebble End is still going with it’s artist and crafty shops. My friend Julia used to have a space here, but the floods that affected Hebden a few years ago made her leave Hebble End and work else where, she now runs a B&B in Hay on Wye. Most of the units were closed this morning, but out on the towpath was the Blacksmith boat, his wares along the towpath for all to buy.

Trays of the fluffy crossed buns

One place we had to visit was Saker Bakery. The window was full of black Russian bread and a large bakers tray was stacked high with fat freshly baked hot cross buns, these ensured we went in to join the queue. Frank insisted on us buying half a dozen even though I wouldn’t be having any, he’d be able to take my share home with him, he’s thoughtful like that! A small Sour Dough Rye loaf was added to the shopping then we moved out past the constant queue.

I picked up some chestnut flour in the wholefood shop across the way. Frank bought a couple of books and Mick just enjoyed perusing. One thing was sure, Hebden was heaving! Back at the boat Tilly stayed in the pram cover watching everyone whilst I made some sausage rolls for us all.

Just for Steve back in Scarborough

A couple of boats came up the lock below, dropping the pound. One boat winded and then reversed past, almost bumping into us, but the cheery chap fended his boat off explained that he’s had his boat lengthened and he’s far from used to it yet. We later had a look and it’s almost been doubled in length. A cruiser with a noisy crew also came in to moor, they were enjoying the sunny afternoon.

A nice spot to eat your lunch!

A family found themselves a nice little spot alongside the canal to enjoy their fish and chips, right by the elsan and pumpout! A birthday party with bunting and much singing went on in the park as the recycling bins filled with empty bottles and cans. Tilly plucked up the courage to venture off the boat to join in.

A dash across the towpath and I was in amongst the sideways trees, one leap and I was in the safety of the big tree. Climbing high up I could keep an eye on everyone down in the park, some of them had balls, I was tempted to go and play too, but stayed up high instead. Some birdies chatted away to me the higher I got, soon I couldn’t see much outside,I couldn’t see my boat! She called for me, I could hear her so I called for her, but she couldn’t hear. Tom came out too, he never calls for me, but that doesn’t stop me calling for him.

If only the people would go away!

I climbed down a bit and could just see them, both looking up into the tree, just not at me! Who else was up here? Then eventually she spotted me and her voice changed, ‘Come on we want to go out! Numpty Bum!’ The noisy man from the boat behind offered to climb up and get me, as if I’d go anywhere near him! All it took was some calculations and remembering to do the last bit backwards and I was down.

My first in a couple of years

Fish and Chips all round at The Shoulder Of Mutton was very nice. Especially for me as I don’t think I’ve had them for a couple of years,my batter was gluten free, not as bubbled up as the normal ones, but very nice all the same. A pint followed at Calan’s Micropub, being able to sit outside a bonus on such a lovely evening.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 yarn, 6 hot cross buns, 2 books, 9 sausage rolls, 1 lazy afternoon, 4 fish and chips with added aroma, 1 cat right up the tree, 1 hour to find her, 1 helpful chap, 3 portions of fish and chips, 1 portion of mushy peas left, who needs pre-masticated peas!

Bringing Out The Yellow Bike. 18th April

Lock 1 to Hebden Bridge Wharf, Rochdale Canal

Frank, Sharon, Mick, Pip. Tilly was busy snoozing

A visit from Sharon started off the day. Sharon is an old flat mate of mine from York in the years just after school, she thought she wanted to be a nurse and I didn’t want to go on to further education so sold books and maps instead. We had a good year in our flat and have kept in touch since. Unfortunately last year I missed her 50th Birthday as we were busy celebrating Mick’s 60th, so it was lovely to be able to spend a couple of hours catching up this morning. It also gave me an excuse to do some baking, chocolate chip and almond biscuits, Yummy!

I’ll be making these again
Tuel Lane being emptied

A crane was moving boats around on the hard standing across the way and three boats came past, all booked into Tuel Lane Lock at 11am. A chap from a cruiser in front tapped on the roof and said that he’d be coming up the locks with us at 1 pm. A busy day for the volunteers in Sowerby today.

Exiting Lock 1

We rolled up the covers and pushed off before 1, the Lockie heading down to give us our instructions. Tuel Lane Lock would be ready for us, they were dropping the 134,250 gallons of water which was flowing over the top of the lock gates and keeping the bywashes very busy.

Old bridge to new tunnel

We worked up Locks 1 and 2 with Summer Breeze, he went ahead whilst Frank and I were picked up. As we entered the tunnel a blast of horn announced our arrival to the lockies and we turned under the road and popped out into the light at the bottom of Tuel Lane Lock.

Starting to come up

Here you put a rope, stern and bow, around risers to hold you steady, hopefully keeping us away from Summer Breeze as we didn’t want to crush it. Gates closed behind, ropes passed round, I took a deep breath (risers and me don’t go together) and the chaps way above started to gradually fill the lock.

Another first for Oleanna
Rope around the risers

In front is a sheer cliff of concrete that angles away just below the lock gates a bit like the bow of a nuclear submarine sitting waiting below the level of the canal. Tuel Lane is 19ft 8 inches deep, the deepest working lock in Britain. It replaced two locks which when the canal was derelict had a road built over one of them, so the new lock was built to bring boats back up the full level.

Nearly at the top

It takes some time to rise the near 6 meters, flicking your ropes up the risers. Keeping away from the cruiser meant I didn’t get many photos, Mick managed a few at the back.

Up in the hills now

A pause for lunch and then we were on our way, four more locks to do to get us to Hebden Bridge. Immediately the canal showed us it’s character, narrow hugging the valley sides and stone bridges similar to those on the Macclesfield, they just don’t quite curve inwards at the bottom.

Keeping an eye on

Blue bells amongst the trees shone out in the sun light, geese sat on their nests, ducks taking their new offspring for swimming lessons and the odd butterfly darting through the warm air.

We passed several hire boats due back tomorrow and came across Nb Adagio a Carefree Cruising boat based up at Sowerby for the summer. The ladies weren’t too enamoured with the locks, they looked glad to be heading back to base. I then in turn was glad to have Frank with me, heavy gates and stiff paddles to lift.

Walking backwards to Leeds

There were plenty of people out on the towpath and it turned out they were doing a sponsored walk. 70 Wigan fans were walking 58 miles to Leeds. A fan had promised to walk the 58 miles if his team beat Aston Villa in January, if they beat them by three goals he’d do it backwards. There he was walking backwards, 40 miles already done the remainder they hoped to achieve in time for their next match in Leeds tomorrow.

Stiff paddles even for Man Mountain Frank

Lock 8 was a b**ger. Empty when we arrived the near side gate opened easily, but trying to close it was impossible. With both Frank and myself heaving on the beam we succeeded only for it to open itself again by the time we’d walked to the other end to start filling it.

Colouful arrival to Hebden Bridge

This second time Frank held it closed until I’d opened a paddle. With all the heaving and cursing under our breath I hadn’t noticed the big signs asking you to leave the lock empty, but a chap walking by pointed it out to us. If left full the lockside buildings get flooded. So we happily lifted the bottom paddles.

Lillian arriving in Hebden Bridge 2014

Under Princess Bridge and we were back where we’d moored Lillian for the Tour de France in 2014, we had a yellow boat so had to take her to watch the cycling. Frank had helped us up from Piccadilly Basin, the two of us walking most of the way from Manchester. So now the only locks he hasn’t done on the Rochdale are the Rochdale Nine, big brutes of locks. Unfortunately today the pound was quite low, so trying to pull in where we wanted to be wasn’t possible unless we wanted to put the gang plank out.

Across the way was a familiar face, Diana from the local IWA, she’d organised the moorings for the Tour de France. She and her husband suggested to try nearer the footbridge where the canal would be a touch deeper. We pulled up in front of the three boats that had come up the locks before us today, no wonder the level was down if everyone was staying in Hebden for the night.

Just why does he whistle at me?!

Tilly was allowed to make her own mind up about Hebden. Too many people, that whistling man here too, but one very very big tree that had to be climbed. As Tilly worked on her climbing calculations I dug our yellow bicycle out and popped it in the window, not quite the same as when it was in Lillian’s porthole.

2014 on Lillian
2019 on Oleanna

7 locks, 19ft 8 inches, 5.5 miles, 1 school friend, 1 easter egg, 8 yum biscuits, 3 before us, 1 plastic to share with, 134,250 gallons, 2 lockies, 1 tunnel, 58 miles backwards, 0 pipe bridge, 0 winding hole, 1 not so sure cat, 1 cat not a woofer! 1 vat of chilli, 1 bottle of English bubbles, 1 new camera in action.

24 Hours Early. 17th April

Sowerby Bridge

I’m ready!

Tilly’s escape pod had been put together yesterday in readiness for this morning. She obliged by taking up residence, she so likes it in there. Just a shame that I zipped up the door with her inside and then we took her for a walk. Along the towpath, over the canal and up a very steep hill to the vets. Today was Tilly’s annual check up at her fourth vets since she’s lived with us.

Every year I make a phone call to a vet as close as possible to the canal to make an appointment for Tilly’s jabs. So far every vet hasn’t had a problem with us being nomads and a suitable appointment has been made. Last week after getting her sorted I tried to get a GP and nurse appointment for myself in Scarborough. I could have one in two weeks the other in three and a half. But trying to combine both together for the same day was impossible, I’d have to ring back in a weeks time! Cats have such an easy life.

View down from the vets to Oleanna

A short wait , enough to catch our breath, before we saw the vet. Annual jab done followed by a good feel, heart listened to, weigh in, then the question about her teary eye. I was pleased that he checked it out, but the same suggestion came back as every year so far. She most probably had a virus or cat flu when she was young and this affected her tear duct. Today we got some extra information about it and all is fine.

Passport stamped for another year

Of course I’m a okay! I really don’t understand why someone in green, they always wear green, has to poke and prod me. But they have a beguiling quality to them so I let them look at my teeth and even put yellow snotty stuff in my eye. After a weigh in, why anyone would think I could possibly be over weight, I was allowed back into my escape pod, where I sat and waited for it to be zipped closed again.

The walk down hill was far easier especially as our pockets were considerably lighter having purchased worming tablets and flee medication for a year. Back at the boat Tilly was allowed 9 hours, a load of washing was put on and after a cup of tea I was just getting ready to do a days work when there was a tap on the roof! Who could that be?!


Outside stood our friend Frank. Yesterday we’d sent him a message as we were a touch concerned about him. We’ve been in Yorkshire for a couple of months and not had him visit us. An invite was given to him to join us to go up Tuel Lane Lock on Thursday and head up to Hebden Bridge. Told not to be late, he succeeded by being 24 hours early! Somewhere along the line we’d got our wires crossed. Never mind it’s lovely to see him.

A start at least

Today I was going to get lots of work done, sketches that are almost overdue for panto then people could think about them over Easter and we could cruise before getting comments back. Some shopping was needed so the boys were sent out leaving me to start sketching. Another couple of hours were really needed, but at least I’ve made a start.

The warehouses across the way

This evening we’ve been across the way to The Moorings for steaks and a burger. Very nice they were too, along with wine and pints of T.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 cat in a box, 1 very close vets, 1 very steep hill, 1 years feline MOT, 1 man in green, 1 day of work postponed, 9 hours! 1 whistling man, 1 good friend, 24 hours early, 1 newspaper, Act 1 sketched, 2 steaks, 1 burger, 3 mice, 1 vole, 2 boys zizzing on the sofa.

Breath In. 16th April

Salterhebble Middle Lock to Lock 1, Rochdale Canal

Sausages, Bacon, poached egg, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried potatoes, toast, with a mug of tea. Yumm!

As we made ready this morning a boat was coming down the middle lock of Salterhebble, I walked with windlass and spike to show our intentions, the gates were left open.

Below the lock

On Lillian this was the shortest lock we encountered. We came down it backwards without bow and stern fenders. Getting the stern past a closed bottom gate took a bit of doing, with tiller hard over we reckoned we had about an inch spare after the stern nav light. Oleanna’s length was chosen with this lock in mind, a foot shorter than Lillian, we should be fine.

Coming in
Moving over to the other side

Mick brought her in through one open gate, slowed her down, bow touching at the front. At this point there was a chance that we might have to lift a fender to sneak her in past the closed gate.

Will she? Won’t she?

Would she slide in? Breath in! The stern fender looked like it was just over by an inch.

Then Mick pushed on the gate, it wasn’t quite fully closed. This gave us a few more inches.


She slid past no problem! Phew.

Nudged up over the cill as she rose

By this time there was someone saying ‘Hello’ to me, a Lockie who would be seeing us through Tuel Lane in a couple of days. With the gates closed we started to lift the ground paddles, keeping an eye on Oleanna as she rose. Now that was easier than we thought it would be, maybe we could have had her built three inches longer!

Top of Salterhebble

With another boat waiting to come down we went straight into the top lock instead of filling with water in the intermediate pound. Here we had gongoozlers, the crew from the other boat and two more Lockies. The lady from the other boat alerted me to water spraying into the well deck from the top gates. Yes things would be getting wet, but it wasn’t really all that much concern, Mick nudged Oleanna a bit to avoid the pisser from the gate and she carried on up with no problem.

Top Salterhebble Lock a pretty lock

The two locks were over very quickly and with ease. There are often questions on facebook groups as to how long is the ideal boat, a go anywhere boat(apart from the 40 something foot lock on the middle levels). Lillian was 59ft 6inches plus fenders, her stern was a little bit squarer than Oleanna’s and her bow may have been a touch fatter. Removing her fenders we cruised her up to Ripon, did the Salterhebble and the Huddersfield Broad locks. All these were done with care, but were a touch tight, especially the one on the Huddersfield Broad! When we specked Oleanna she had to be able to cruise the northern canals so she was built at 58ft 6 inches. Her shape possibly also makes a difference, just that bit more curvy and slender in the right places. We had several inches to spare today with our fenders down. The plan worked, we just need to see if she’ll fit through Standedge Tunnel now.

Trees! Please!!

We topped up with water and disposed of rubbish at the top. We wondered if the water pressure would have been better in the pound below, but we were patient and were out of the way for the other boat to go down. The trees looked very good here, but still they wouldn’t let me out!

In to the basin

A top up of diesel and a new gas bottle were required before we could settle for the day. The visitor moorings by the basin at Sowerby Bridge looked like we’d be able to fit on the end, but a lack of rings put us off. At the basin we swung into Shire Cruisers diesel point. This is where we’d left Lillian whilst we finished packing up the house to rent out, where we got a sofa bed delivered and where Houdini (our old cat) moved on board with us five years ago.

Last boat on the end

Refilled we reversed back out and winded. I’d spotted a space free below Lock 1 on the Rochdale Canal so we pulled in where the trees looked good, the river a safe distance away. Here will do us for a couple of days.

Pooh pumping station.

Mick headed to Halifax to pick up my new camera whilst I did some work. Whilst I wondered if I could use a sewage pumping station to base the main part of my set for Puss In Boots on, Tilly climbed trees and worried the local duck population. A good afternoon all round.

2 locks, 2.25 miles, 2 boats coming down, 4 inches spare, 1 breakfast up to standards, 1 left, 1 right, 1 wind, 1 camera, 1 very sexy pumping station, 5 friends, 4 trees, 0 wet paws, 2 geese sent flying.


Boxing Day Floods. 15th April

Crowther Bridge16 to Salterhebble Middle Lock


Today we came through one section of the canal that was badly hit by the flooding on Boxing Day 2015. In front of us as we pushed off, Crowther Bridge looked new with gabions up either side presumably to help reinforce the bridge should there be another bad flood. Over the last few days we’ve noticed dried out silt on quite a bit of the towpath and around locks brought up by the flooding a few weeks ago.

The canal runs very close to the river and should the river swell it joins forces with the canal, pushing it along as well.

A blue haze

We were now starting to enter the valley, steep wooded banks with a blue haze of bluebells. Sadly my phone camera didn’t do them justice and maybe in a weeks time they will be even better. Wild Garlic is also starting to appear but it’s heady smell was nowhere to be smelt today.

The level it sank to obvious by the line on it’s windows

A pause for a trip boat to clear Park Nook Lock and then it was our turn to ascend. Above a boat was moored on the lock landing. This was not someone being in the way, this was a boat that had been sunk and pumped out, all the contents piled up at the side of the towpath coated in mud. Such a sad sight. This next pound on Boxing Day was very much under water, the pub sign has a level marked on it about half way up, just about level with the next pound above Elland Lock.

Below Elland Lock

Five years ago we met a chap at Salterhebble who was convinced that the shortest lock on this section wasn’t the middle lock at Salterhebble but a bit further down. We’d come down the top two locks backwards, winded and aimed to carry on down hill forwards. But this chap was convinced he’d see us reversing back to wind and do them in reverse. We think he must have meant Elland Lock was the shortest, it has a full walkway across the bottom gates where as most only have enough to stand on to operate the paddles.

We had no problem back then and today we took it steady coming up and nudging away from the walkway as soon as we could.

Elland Bridge after the floods

Elland Bridge was next, another bridge that has been rebuilt. This carries on and spans both the canal and river, it cost £5 million to rebuild, it was the last section of the canal to reopen after the floods, the navigation reopening in 2017. New properties have flood walls built around them and one canal side property looks to have been built with high water levels in mind, just a shame it’s a bit of a big step to get in the front door!

Leave us alone!
His mate right back by the bridge

Today we didn’t have problems with high water. Today we had problems with an expectant father. We came through the bridge to suddenly be set upon by a Cob. He did his best to bite through the chains holding the stern fender on, we were quite concerned that he’d injure himself on the prop. He simply wouldn’t stop. Mick put some more revs on, then a spurt which shook him loose. But this didn’t stop him as he came flying back for a second go at us! We were about to close the back doors when he eventually gave up. Looking back towards Elland Bridge there was his mate sat on a nest. Suspect he swam back to her all proud that he’d seen us off.

Bow getting a wash
Mick under the walkway

Woodside Mills and Longlees Locks are still both short, hunkered into the steep valley side. Plenty of trees have been cut back and many of them have had the tops capped off with what looks like pencils. I’ve tried hunting around on the internet to see what they are about, but I’ve only found someone else asking the same question.

Pencil topped stumps

There is a disc of ply wood that has been fixed to the top of the tree stumps and on this are what looks like lots of coloured pencils stuck on end. Most probably a project by someone as they are all quite considered keeping to certain colours on each stump. Sadly my phone camera didn’t do too well capturing them. The sooner we can get to Halifax for my new camera the better.

To the guillotine

Salterhebble Bottom Lock sits behind a road bridge, a horse tunnel leads the towpath up to it. Here there is more breathing space, afforded by a guillotine gate. The key of power is required to operate this end of the lock, once turned a single button press is all that is required to get the lock to empty and the guillotine to raise. Well that’s what it says on the panel. The lock was empty so it took quite sometime for any signs of movement to happen, all the time I was wondering had I pressed the button hard enough or was there a fault. But no in the end the gate started to raise. Closing it you have to hold the button, swapping thumbs to avoid RSI as it takes forever.

That next lock can wait for tomorrow

We pulled in, we decided that the top two shortest locks could wait for tomorrow. Tilly got six hours of freedom and we settled down to some lunch followed by emptying the yellow water and some work for me. My Separate Doors 3 illustrations are finished, so they were scanned and uploaded to Dropbox. But with the internet being extremely slow here I’m not convinced I won’t have to do it again. The rest of the afternoon was spent finding images for Puss in Boots.

5 locks, 2.52 miles, 3 boats moving, 1 mardy cob, 1 risen boat, 4 bw sketches, 2 colour sketches, 265 references, 1 empty wee tank, 1 anchor still ready, 2 empty bottles of gas, 1 heel turned.