Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The continued descent to Liverpool

Saturday 24th August.

We set off very early (6.00am) from our mooring just west of Hapton where the canal opens up a little in the countryside. We set off early despite the rain to make sure we got through Blackburn in plenty of time. We passed through Church and the swing bridge there, and were glad to be not stopping in this area which is generally pretty run down. Church is however the half way point of the Leeds and Liverpool canal so noteworthy for that at least. We soon hit the industrial outskirts of Blackburn and the old wharf before descending the 6 locks which are probably the best bit of Blackburn, having met a boat at the top named Inertia who were heading for Skipton. They gave us useful tips on the otherwise unfamiliar locks. 

We worked well through the locks only taking 2 hours to do the flight of 6. We continued to our mooring for the evening at Riley Green. 

In the afternoon we went to Blackburn to watch Barnsley play - not their best match unfortunately but good to be an away supporter when moored so nearby. 

We ate at the pub The Boat Yard which was lovely food and local Thwaites beer. We had an early night as we were a bit tired after our days boating!

Sunday 25th August.

Sunday's scenery couldn't have been more different to Church and Blackburn. The canal here is rural and very pretty up to Johnson's Hill locks. There was a boat 'Olivia' already coming out of the top lock who was single handed and happy to wait for us in the second lock. Thank you Olivia! This flight was very pleasant. 

We then skirted around the edges of Chorley and Adlington which were pretty in places. We moored for the night at Wigan Top Lock, hoping another boat would appear to share locks down the Wigan Flight the following day. They didn't!

Monday 26th August. 

Up at 6.30 to head down the Wigan Flight of 21 locks. We didn't get up straight away as we hoped another boat would show. They didn't so we set off at 7.45. Dave was keen to get going and as the Leeds & Liverpool has been pretty quiet we thought we could end up waiting forever for another boat. Little did we know there was one on its way just behind us!

It was a really hot day. Victoria wore running kit in an effort to keep cool and ran between locks setting them and closing them etc. If you are a boater and you have done the Wigan Flight you will appreciate this, if you're not then the Wigan flight of double locks with only 2 crew and one boat is really really hard work. The flight drops over 200 feet into the Douglas valley and the views on the way down give an idea of how far you have left to go.

We were happy to see a lock keeper about half way down. The lock keeper informed us that there was another boat 5 locks back from us if we wished to wait. We did and we had a much needed break. The pounds were OK water level wise but the locks were quite leaky and the paddle gear was stiff in places. We were soon joined by narrowboat 'Spuyten Duyvil' and it was a pleasure to have a boat and good crew to share with. We met a few boats ascending the flight - some interesting characters and one boater explaining it had taken them 3 hours to do 3 locks - well we were doing better than that at least. 

The canal into central Wigal turns more urban but was fine. We parted company with Spuyten Duyvil as they turned towards Manchester. We passed through Henhurst lock and moored in Wigan for a much needed lunch. After this we continued through a further 4 locks, totalling 25 locks this day, and moored in Gathurst for the evening. Basically the first nice mooring spot after Wigan as we were so knackered after the locks. 

Tuesday 27th August. 

We set off reasonably early as we knew we had a significant day of boating to get through. We passed NB Coventina in Appley Bridge and their crew Chris and Helen who we had previously shared locks with back in May from Leeds to Rodley. Nice to say hello. The canal was pretty uneventful with a series of swing bridges and it was very flat. A bit like being back in Cambridgeshire. After meeting L&L Short boat Dee we made it to swing bridge 10 where we moored with other boats who were also heading for Liverpool the following day. Had a run along the canal past Aintree race course. Dave significantly quicker than Victoria but waited for her occasionally! ! 

Wednesday 28th August.

Today was the big day into Liverpool. Quite something. For this stretch of canal you have to book with the Canal and River Trust. The lock keepers meet the boaters at Swing Bridge no 9 at 9am. All the other boats we were moored with left our mooring about 8.10-8.20 so Dave being Dave, he made Victoria get dressed and ready for us to leave too.... only to wait for half an hour by the swing bridge. We were last in the convoy of seven boats. 

It was quite exciting. The entrance to Liverpool is very industrial but you can see the beauty it once must have been as a working waterway. We had heard tales of rubbish etc but we only had two clearings of the propeller. We stopped to empty toilet at Litherland services (recommend boaters do this as easier than once in the docks). Once we reached the locks we had plenty of help from both lock keepers and their volunteers. In the fourth lock all crew must be aboard to head straight through the docks. The architecture through the docks is amazing, yet a lot lies derelict in the initial part of the link route from the canal. The scale of the docks really dwarfs a narrowboat and makes this an unforgettable experience.

The later part of the link has benefited from extensive regeneration, which was evident as passed under the Liverpool museum, through Princes Dock and Albert Dock to our mooring in Salthouse Dock where we are staying for several days. Do visit us if you are passing - you can't miss us! 

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Dales then the descent

Monday 19th August. We had the day off from boating. David painted the engine hole, Victoria made Millionaire's Shortbread and we went running to offset the shortbread.

Tuesday 20th August. We rode into Gargrave in the morning to the Co-Op for supplies, then moved on through Bank Newton locks sharing with NB Zygnema, great locking partners. There were quite a few boats coming up and down so it took slightly longer but we were all in favour of saving water. 

We were expecting a visit from our university friend Ben . Just as we reached the top of the locks Ben called to say he had arrived. I stood on the roof to see if I could see him and Dave was on the phone so somewhat distracted, which made the boat swerve slightly. As usual with boating communication lines are never working very clearly. Zygnema saw me waving my hands (not sure what I was doing) and they thought we had steering problems. We found Ben and then Zygnema came back to see if we were OK. Very nice of them to do so - thank you. We were fine. We continued for another mile or so and moored on 'The Bends' at our favourite mooring so far. 

Wednesday 21st August. Decided to stay on the bends for a day with it being such a beautiful view. We had a lazy morning then we went for a walk to Conistone Cold, back round to Gargrave in a loop. So lovely being in the Yorkshire Dales but in your boat.

Thursday 22nd August. We moved on from twisting and turning following the contours to avoid locking. We past a happy set of guests and crew on Lady Teal who kindly let us overtake. We went up Greenberfield Locks, waiting for boats to come down, and used the facilities at the top lock. 

We went through Barnoldswick and moored for the night just short of Foulridge. Lovely view again. We cycled over the tunnel on the towpath and into Nelson - further than we thought and very hilly without the canal tunnel! Not much to report from Nelson...... 

Friday 23rd August. 8.30 start this morning to get through the Foulridge tunnel in time for Barrowford locks opening at 10.00. (For info the tunnel from east to west has green lights on the hour and on the half hour when going from west to east). So we aimed for the tunnel at 9.00. Through the tunnel and moored up ready for the locks - they were just opening and the boats who were queuing up ready to go down. We breasted up with NB Oakwood whose owner, Adam, we recognised from driving the trip boat from Foulridge Wharf. Dave steered both boats and Adam and Victoria worked the locks. We also had Clifford, Adam's dog to play fetch with when waiting for locks to fill and empty. Some of the locks were very leaky - wetting Dave's feet and trying to flood our engine hole. 

We made the locks in decent time and continued through Nelson (passing a good mooring for Morrisons, on the offside which leads straight into the Morrisons carpark, but we didn't stop today), Burnley and Hapton. A little rubbish in the canal and three trips down the weedhatch for David to remove carrier bags etc as well as a lot of weed from round the prop. Nice mooring this evening with an early rise planned for tomorrow. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pas Mèche in the Yorkshire Dales

Wednesday 14th. We enjoyed a lovely evening in Silsden with our friends Andy and Sue who live there. David participating in Andy's pub quiz at the King's Head and Victoria and Sue doing the babysitting duties.

Thursday 15th - We set off for Skipton. Very quiet along the canal, some lovely views sharing the driving and swing bridging. Victoria tending to do the motorised ones holding all the traffic up and David using his muscles for the non-motorised bridges.

We made Skipton in good time. Watch out for day boat hirers having just picked their boats up if you go this way but we managed to avoid them. Stopped at the water point in Skipton.

We moored just the other side of the swing bridge in Skipton. Nice mooring and convenient for Morrisons, Tesco and the train station. Had a walk round Skipton.

Friday 16th August - Victoria's 29th Birthday today. Went shopping in the morning. Birthday cake made by David. Excellent tasting end product but had quite an interesting time making it and in Dave's words was quite a repair job with icing..... Also please note that cake in new cake tins given as leaving present from work (thank you to neuro).

That evening we travelled back to Leeds by train for Victoria's leaving do from her job. Thanks to all who attended, it was lovely to see you and we had a great time. We were also joined by Tim & Ben our friends from university, lovely to see them.

Saturday 17th August - Not as hungover as we could have been which was a bonus! Up and off reasonably early despite the late evening but it was a short day. Made it to the outskirts of Gargrave just after Holme Bridge Lock. The hangover kicked in later on and Victoria gave up and went back to bed. We had a walk in to Gargrave and then we were joined by Victoria's Dad, Rob, for dinner that evening - thank you to Dad for driving 60 miles each way to see us - or perhaps it was for the roast dinner with Mum being on holiday. 

Sunday 18th August  - Started off quite rainy this morning but it cleared up and turned into a beautiful day. We had a visit for the day today by Gemma, Victoria's old housemate, who travelled from Kendal to meet us. We walked up Flasby Fell to look at the view with our boat featuring in the landscape. 

Had lunch aboard then set off boating through Gargrave. It was Gemma's initiation session but she did well. Shared locks with one of the Silsden hireboats. They were very new to locking so delicate instruction required from Victoria to get the boats in order and up the lock. Not so delicate instruction given by the mother to her crew of teenage boys, whilst panicking on their first boating holiday. 

Moored for the night on the aqueduct over the River Aire. A lovely mooring with a great view, first recommended to us by the crew of NB Coventina. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Leaving Leeds - the beginning

Welcome to our blog. Four years ago we bought our first narrowboat, Pas Mèche. We moored in Ely and then Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) for three years and then last year embarked on a boating mission north taking us to Leeds. Lemonroyd Marina and then Clarence Dock.

Please follow the link if you would like to know what Pas Mèche means: Click Here

After 12 months in Leeds, we decided that corporate life doesn't suit us so much so have both quit our jobs to go cruising. Quite a big decision but after 3 days of boating we are already realising that we have made the right choice.

We left Leeds early on Mon 12th August to head up through Kirkstall to Rodley. This stretch of the canal is definitely worth doing early in the morning before other canal users get out of bed. If you know what I mean. We like to think we are both experienced boaters after 4 years of it. Dave better at driving, Victoria better at locks. All was going well until we attempted a triple staircase without the lock keeper. We had swapped round, Victoria watching the boat and  Dave doing the lock. The lock had been left with the paddles open at the top gates by the previous boats (!!) and Victoria got a rope stuck, causing Pas Mèche to rise but the rope to hold her down in the water...... nothing a fast moving Dave with the largest sharpest kitchen knife could not solve. Although he did ask Victoria why she had had to get the nicest rope stuck. Due to the lock not being set properly and having cut the centre rope PM flew over to the other side of the lock and became wedged against the overflow of the lock. Oh dear and of course we had an audience. We managed to sort this out with some force of both muscle power and engine power and the use of a rope (one still in existence). Once resolved the CRT van arrived and the lock keeper asking is everything was OK, I explained he was about 10 minutes too late. Lesson learnt, stick to your strengths, especially in difficult staircase locks and have plenty of ropes to hand! At this point Victoria did momentarily question whether her office (important to note - with no windows) would have been the better option with a potentially serious sinking narrowly averted. Notice the word momentarily.

We ended our first day with a lovely scenic mooring just west of Rodley having entered swing bridge land, bit of a change to Clarence Dock. That evening we vowed to have a serious calm it down in locks to check we were doing them OK.

Tuesday 13th August we set off from Rodley. Through Apperley Bridge (slowing down all the commuters with the road swing bridge ha ha) and then up the staircase. We seriously took our time at this lock and all was well. If it hadn't been I think we might have been turning back. We passed through Shipley stopping at the marked shopping mooring right by Aldi to stock up. We then carried on through Saltaire up Dowley Gap Staircase locks mooring just above them. This is a lovely mooring and it was surprising how many locals were using the canal for running and cycling. One cyclist commenting on how nice our dinner smelt.

Wed 14th August we set off up towards the Bingley Three Rise locks. The weather was beautiful. The lock keeper was not there but we found him. We waited for about half an hour to see if another boat turned up - they didn't so we headed up the flight alone with the help of the lock keeper. We then headed straight up the five rise locks. Not much work for Victoria today as there was a lock keeper plus two volunteers.

The countryside opened up and we shared driving/swing bridging Dave doing the non - motorised bridges of course! Mooring at Silsden tonight.