So we finally made it into the centre of Leeds last Friday, after a 128-mile cruise from the canals start in Liverpool Docks to its conclusion when it meets the Aire & Calder Navigation in Leeds city centre.
Pat really has warmed to the Leeds & Liverpool, and it is certainly very diverse, but I really only enjoyed the Yorkshire stretch to be quite honest, though there were some highlights along the way in Lancashire. One positive aspect has to have been the weather. If it had been wet and rainy going through the Dales, I might be reporting a very different journey.
The last blog stopped at the top of the Bingley Five-Rise. This is a famous set of locks, and one of the several sets of staircase locks on the stretch from Bingley into Leeds. The five-rise is the highest. In simple terms, rather than have individual pounds between the locks, these staircases fill each other. To avoid accidents lock keepers generally patrol. Joining us on our journey into Leeds was Dave and Carolyn from Gloucester who have joined us several times on TCW. They certainly earned their passage. It was a demanding journey in very hot conditions.
|Top of the Bingley Five-Rise. Dave is on lock duty.|
|Pulling away after our journey down the five-rise|
Being a bit longer than most boats on this canal I have had to push the stern of the boat right back to the rear gates when descending, to allow the gates at the front to open, and boy did I get wet on the five-rise, much to the crews amusement. Several of these gates are only 2-3 years old, but leaked like sieves.
|Standing by to get another soaking as I reverse the boat back to clear the front gates|
We stopped in Saltaire, on the outskirts of Shipley. This garden village, designed by industrialist Joseph Salt for his workforce is now a “World Heritage Site”. It was a whirlwind visit, and with no-where to moor we pressed on but the girls found time to get an ice cream in, and I did find a nice pub for a swifty.
|The girls inspect the Argie Bargie Ice Cream boat at Saltaire|
Our on-board guests finally persuaded me to sign up to a Facebook account which I have now duly done. It’s to keep in touch with my boating and ukulele contacts primarily, so don’t be too surprised if I don’t invite you on. It’s nothing personal.
|With Dave and Carolyn sporting "Cat's Whiskers" corporate wear|
Leeds City Centre has really smartened itself up, since I was last there. Clarence Dock, now re-named New Dock, is going through a re-generation project, with the anchor building being the Royal Armouries next door. The mooring was free and we had the added attraction of a mains hook-up and a water point. It’s an attractive waterfront, and a few cities who could learn a thing or two from Leeds. Dave & Carolyn took us out to a “Jamie’s Italian” on Friday evening as a thank you. We had not been to any of his restaurants before and were very impressed.
|Our mooring in "New Dock" in Leeds City Centre. We are breasted up on the left.|
So for the next few days before we get to Sowerby Bridge, we are on rivers and navigations. Big massive locks and little or no boats for miles. We had expected some commercial craft but that all finished last November. We made for Castleford on Monday night where we met up with John and Karen from “Kind Of Blue”. There were in Hertford with us last summer, and we also met them in Rickmansworth and Burton. We had a good old chin wag and John, who is a big blues fan, brought his six string on board for a bit of a soiree.
Today we met a boater whose craft is fully remote controlled. He cruises single-handed and is disabled. He moors up, gets off the boat with his walking stick and his remote control around his neck. Attends to the lock gates, then presses the appropriate button and steers the boat into the lock. He also has a “butty” on the front of his boat, which until recently housed a Vespa scooter and a sidecar, that he used to take his mum out in. Quite a character. The boat is called “Victoria Plum”.
|Positioning his boat in the lock beside me, via his remote control|
|And using it to leave. Note the disable scooter on the back|
|Victoria Plum (with owner on board) with the unusual "butty" on the front.|
We were going into Wakefield today but stopped a couple of miles short at a place called Stanley Ferry. Now, I’ve had my fair share of carrier bags and other assorted clothes and string wrapped around my propeller, but as we chugged across the aquaduct there, the engine stopped dead. We had picked up a very large quilt cover and the next hour or so was spent cutting it away from the prop while I swore and complained of back ache. God it stunk, and even now, after a long shower I can still smell it. There are feathers everywhere in the engine bay so that’s a job for the morning, before we set off again. I think we will use some disinfectant as well.
|God it stinks down here. Got most of it out when Pat took this.|
|Wrapped around my propellor today.|
Ah, the romance of life afloat.