Ask most blokes what their all-time favourite film is and it’s likely to be something in the “Die Hard”, “Star Wars”, “Godfather”, “Goodfellas” style. I don’t think many would choose the 1970 British family film “The Railway Children”, but it’s by far my all-time favourite and I have been quite besotted by it for years. Before the movie there was a series on Children’s TV in 1968 and I must have read the book around then as well.
I am sure you know the story of the three middle-class Edwardian children, who, with their mother, move from London to a Yorkshire cottage after their father is accused of spying. At the bottom of their garden is the railway and that’s when their adventures begin. I also brought the soundtrack album, went to see the film the day after its premiere in London’s Leicester Square, and could probably quote most of the films dialogue.
|It's all right kids, Iv'e been CPC'd|
Now I know this is a boating blog, but stick with me, for a little longer. “The Railway Children” was made in around Haworth in North Yorkshire and featured the Keighley and Worth preserved railway. Ten years ago Pat and I first visited the area and Pat indulged me as we walked “The Railway Children” trail, around Hawarth and Oakworth station, where Bernard Cribbins played “Perks”, the station porter, and where a lot of the story takes place.
Well, we are here again. Well, about a mile away, as the Leeds and Liverpool canal runs very close to Keighley, the terminus for the railway and our boating buddies on “Lady Esther”, Dave and Ang’ had not experienced the railway, even though Dave is a bit of steam enthusiast.
|About to enter "Jim's" tunnel, where the train had to be flagged down by the children|
|Just add Jenny Agutter and a lot of steam|
All in all, it’s been a railway sort of week. On our last day in Skipton, Dave and I jumped on a train and did the classic railway journey from Settle-Carlisle. I was expecting it to be picturesque, but the scenery in the July sunshine was spectacular, with crowds waving as we crossed the famous viaduct north of Settle. We actually spent more time in various pubs waiting around for trains than we did on the train, but that’s the timetables fault, not ours.
|Waiting around for trains is thirsty work|
|Sporting my new NZ boating hat at Settle station|
|The famous viaduct|
Meanwhile Pat was at the local swimming pool having a sauna and then got me some more pork pies to stash in the freezer. That night I shot along to the Skipton Ukulele Club. A great bunch, who were very funny. It was a playlist from the past, that hovered between 1956-1966, and I really enjoyed meeting and playing with them.
We said goodbye to Skipton on Friday morning and got quite buffeted around by high winds so stopped short of our planned destination and arrived at the outskirts of Keighley on Saturday afternoon. It was a very wet day on Saturday with overnight storms and thunder and lightning, however Pat slept through it all oblivious to what was going on. On the way I went aground and Dave had to pull me off.
|"Lady Esther" races to the rescue when "The Cat's Whiskers" goes aground|
|Ang and Pat laugh at the rain while on Swingbridge duty|
We went on the Keighley and Worth with another couple of boaters from “Daydream”, who pulled up as we were getting ready to leave. Bob and Ang’ are pals of Dave and Ang, so we all went off together. It was a great, sunny day, and we went back and forth on the train and on the open-top bus, that took us “Out on the wiley, windy moors”.
|On the old "Southdown" open-top bus|
|Evidently Wuthering Heights is the clump of trees on the horizon at the centre of the picture (above Bob's head)|
Because we are meeting our next guests just two miles down the canal in Bingley, on Wednesday morning, we just enjoyed the sunshine on Monday. I did a bit of touching up on the boat and Pat cleaned from stem to stern. And this morning we made the short journey, stopping at the top of this famous flight of locks. It’s been another scorcher in Yorkshire – about 25 outside and 29 inside the boat, with all the doors open.
This is where we say goodbye to “Lady Esther”, who have just “winded” (turned around) and are heading back towards Wigan. I am sure we will see them soon. Before they left they presented me with this stick, which we will need on the Calder & Hebble canal next week. Evidently you need a wooden implement like this to open the ground paddles on some of the locks!
|Ang presents me with the ceremonial "handspike" before we parted company|
And we will begin the blog from Bingley next week as we chronicle our descent into Leeds with another Dave and his good lady Carolyn.