It is often said that travel “broadens the mind”, but doing a lot can make you a bit lethargic. Over the years we’ve done more “far-away places with strange sounding names” than I could throw a boomerang or even a llama at, and I still wake up in the middle of the night remembering the night we were chased through the bush in Zambia by a huge black snake.
So it takes a fair bit to impress us these days, but impressed we certainly are with the bit of North Yorkshire we currently find ourselves in, and in particular with the town of Skipton, which has been our base over the last few days.
|Skipton's Canal Basin|
Skipton is still getting over its brush with fame, after being one of the towns the recent Tour De France hurtled through and there is still an awful lot of yellow in evidence in shops, hanging from buildings, and fences along with dozens of yellow bikes scattered around the town.
|The Tour may have left, but the bikes remain|
The journey to Skipton from Barnoldswick on the Lancs/Yorkshire border has to be one of the most attractive sections of any canal in the country. A boat we moored behind in Foulridge told us they were going to stock up with provisions, find a suitable spot en-route, and commune with nature until their grub ran out. We passed them the next day “dreaming the dream” and who could blame them.
It’s been wall-to-wall sunshine up here in Yorkshire, over the last week, though today and yesterday have been a bit cloudy. We have been enjoying temperatures of around 24 degrees, though it looks like the south-east are about to get a dose of 30 degrees plus. Good luck with that.
Skipton is, more or less, the complete package. Good, secure seven-day moorings, lots of excellent pubs, a Spiritualist Church for Pat, a castle and a thriving Ukulele Club for me. It’s a bustling place, with an attractive canal basin, driven by its tourist population. It also seems to be the home of champion pork pies (ummmm) and spam-driven cuisine if the poster in the window I saw today can be believed. I’ve even caught Pat once or twice looking in estate agents windows!
|The best pork pie I have ever had. I went back and bought another.|
|A bit disappointed there was no, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Eggs & Spam|
Prior to our arrival we had a few days in the delightful village of Gargrave, about four miles north of Skipton. The plan was to chill out there for the weekend and welcome our guest Caroline, who was over from California, and was coming up for the day on Friday. Unfortunately she was not very well, and as she was flying home the following day, we missed her.
I had been looking forward to visiting Gargrave again as it is a bit special for us. It was here we first met our boating pals Jan and Dai. They owned the boat that Kingfisher Narrowboats built prior to “The Cat’s Whiskers” and we drove all the way up to North Yorkshire to visit them when we were deciding on a boat builder. That was four years ago now. Gosh, don’t time fly.
|Our mooring at Gargrave. We are the first boat, you can just see|
You can get on the Pennine Way at Gargrave, so there are lots of walkers and cyclists about. It’s a cracking little village, though the butchers and fish shop have closed since we were last here. It still has a post office though, and I finally got around to using the “Poste Resante” system, where you can get packages sent to a nominated Post Office, and pick it up free of charge. Getting things delivered is a bit of an issue when you are continually on the move but this worked really well. I’ll definitely use it again.
|The River Aire at Gargrave. We will be joining it in Leeds where it will hopefully be a lot deeper.|
I had mentioned a couple of blogs ago that we were both a bit concerned how we would get on being a bit longer than the locks specify on this stretch of the canal. It was fine going up but now its downhill all the way into Leeds. I have to reverse the boat right into the back of the lock, almost touching the gate, and watch out for the overhanging cill. I’ve have had several impromptu showers with leaky gates, which I must admit have been quite refreshing in the summer heat.
I asked a hire boat, who pulled behind me the other day, if he would mind if I went through the first of these descending locks on my own, as I was a bit nervous how the boat would react. His boat was also 60ft long and he told me he had been up and down that flight of locks without any problems. What he failed to understand is that with two 60ft boats in the chamber, side by side, we might not be able to open the gates when we got to the bottom. He then really went into one with Pat and a chap who was helping us. We were penalising him as he was a hirer etc. It was the first time that we had experienced “Lock Rage”. Pat then swore at him, which didn’t ease the situation. Evidently he is going to report us to the Canal & River Trust for wasting water. “Am I Bovered?”
Our pals from our stay in Liverpool and Lymm on “Lady Esther” pulled up behind us yesterday. Dave and Angela have become good boating buddies, and we get along very well. They left Liverpool a week after us, so have done well to catch us up. I predict lots of drinkies and socialising over the next couple of days as well as musical interludes with Dave on his 12-string and me on my uke. He did suggest we did some busking on the towpath, but insisted that as his instrument has 12 strings and mine only has four, he should be proportionality renumerated! Cheeky bugger.
We are staying here until Friday and then will chug on through Silden and Keighley to Bingley where we are picking up my old neighbours and good friends of TCW, Dave and Carolyn on Wednesday. They are staying on until we cruise into Leeds next weekend. The Bingley Five-Rise staircase beckons. Another feature of the waterways to tick off the list.