Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Leeds Break

The few days spent in the Leeds Basin turned out to be very relaxing. As I said in the previous post, I was very skeptical of having unbroken sleep over the weekend being so close to city entertainment but we had no problems whatsoever. The moorings were well lit, safe and secure and not overly noisy.

The shopping was nice and close, which Rachael made good use of. There was also a little entertainment at the Trinity Centre that kept me interested.

After passing through Keighley on the way to Leeds by boat we took the train back there on Saturday. It didn't take too long to get there by train, a little faster than the canal boat! When we arrived we switched over to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railroad line, which originally closed in 1962, where a steam train was already waiting to take us to Haworth. Haworth is famous for being the place where the Brontës lived and wrote.

The train leaving after dropping us off
And returning from Oxenhope to pick us up

Upon arrival we boarded a vintage open top bus for the trip up the hill to a quaint part of Haworth.

We spent the next 3-4 hours going through the shops, the Parsonage that is now a Brontë museum and lunch. 

The parsonage, previously the Bronte home, now the Bronte museum

We walked down the hill late in the afternoon and ended up getting back into Leeds by 6pm, it was then only a 100 metre walk to the boat mooring. A great day out! 

All in all we enjoyed our time in Leeds. The basin is not run by CART as far as I can ascertain but it would be handy to have a few signs up around the place with length of stay (most people would adhere to them!). There were power posts with water taps on them but they were completely disabled. I for one would be happy to pay for electricity, I'm not sure why the water is disabled. Now that Liverpool is sorted out and every boater I talk to raves about mooring there, CART can apply themselves to sorting Leeds or at least putting on there long list of things to do. There always seemed to be moorings available in the basin, which would be directly related to the small number of boats plying the Leeds and Liverpool and other northern canals.

Bit late posting this but internet coverage has been a poor since leaving Leeds.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Rachael Staying on for a Wild Ride on Serafina

Last blog entry we were sick of swing bridges...we still are! This blog Rachael and I have had enough of staircase locks too!

Crossflatts is a quiet little village, I could see no more than a dozen houses although they seem to have no problems fielding a local soccer/football team. These guys were busy across the canal on the playing field until about 8:30ish.

When we cruised off in the morning around 9:30 we were only 15 minutes away from the Bingley Five Rise. Our time couldn't have been any better, there was a boat coming up in the top lock and the lock keeper gave us the nod, we were the next to go once the locks were set. Rachael popped out of the boat with her windlass and managed to watch Serafina and I as we passed down the staircase; there we plenty of volunteers operating the locks.

CART Facilities Block and shop at the top of the Bingley Five Rise
Top of the Bingley Five Rise before it is reset for us to go down

Looking back, one down, four to go!

Volunteers also helped us through the next swing bridge and the following three-rise locks, the last before we cruised through Bingley. I'd hate to think how long it would have taken to negotiate the five-rise and three-rise by ourselves, not too many boats on The Leeds and Liverpool to share double locks with!

It has been interesting doing the swing bridges with so many combinations of operating gear on them, you never really knew what you were going to get from one bridge to the next. It has also been similar with the locks, something a little bit different, this time note the gate paddle.

 And this one...

Rachael was at the helm for Lock 19 and got the fright of her life. The last boater had left one of the top ground paddles open, it was one of those box type paddles, not obviously open and I only gave it a glance. We were just happy that the lock was full, so in she went. I let the water go and it emptied quickly enough despite the open top paddle but when the water level got to the ground paddle outlet Serafina was pushed by the wash rather quickly across the lock and smashed into the far wall, Rachael did everything she could not to fall off the stern. I think that must have really shaken her up because exiting the lock she turned too early and caught the tiller on the lock gate that hadn't housed properly. Serafina now has a bent folding brass tiller arm, the swan neck has been shifted off centre from the rudder and bent approx 15 degrees off centre. It has taken a little to get used to but it will get us to a boat yard in fact it would probably get us back to Stoke with a little discomfort for the helmsman steering and ultimately in the hip pocket!

We planned to moor in Saltaire overnight and have a look around but the moorings were for six hours only. Additionally, lock keeper advice was to at least get to Apperley Bridge before mooring. We knocked over another two-rise staircase, on the way to our mooring, with a little help from a really keen young fellow who could only speak the odd word of english. The words we could pick up were 'help?' and afterwards 'pay'; seems he was a Czech local. We moored for the night above the next two rise, this area was very busy with walkers, riders and wandering teenagers. After mooring under a tree at Crossflatts, I spent a nice evening cleaning all the bird poo off the bow of the boat, that took a good hour!

We set off on Thursday not really sure where we were going to finish the day but first stop was the CART moorings two minutes away to pick up some water. We only spent ten minutes on the water point when Mike and Jane in NB Gamnel Princess happened along, we finally found another boat to do some locks with! Mike and Rachael set the two rise locks while I packed up the hose ready to go into the lock. Our deisel was down to a quarter tank and I was keen to stop at the Apperley Bridge Marina to fill up, no such luck, Thursday is their day off, it was closed.

The next two three-rise staircases had volunteer lock keepers on them helping out. It took a little while to get down both of them following a broad beam down. We were queued at the first lock mainly because a boater managed to nearly tip his boat over. I'm not sure why he tied up his boat to the mooring bollard when he wasn't helping do the locks anyway. After all the lock paddles were shut down it took four of us to release the boat. That was rather than lose water from the lock.

With things running well for us and no suitable moorings we continued on into Leeds mooring up on Granary Wharf.

I was a little skeptical at first surrounded by pubs, bars and restaurants but last night we slept well, we will have to see how Friday night (tonight) goes, although it doesn't look that busy.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

What was That Bump Under the Water?

Moored at Barrowford on Friday morning and the thunderstorms didn't eventuate so we set off just after 10am to make the entry to Foulridge Tunnel (1640 yards) on the half hour. Only a 15 minute trip to the entrance and a short wait for the lights to turn green and we were off again.

We passed through this tunnel with no problems at all. I say that since last time I attempted this tunnel (my first one ever) I was wearing sunglasses; I don't recommend sunglasses as tunnel wear! Friday turned out to be a long day, 15 locks and plenty of swing bridges. Coming out of Lock 42 of the Greenberfield Locks Rachael snapped this boat?? being built on the canal.

It was pleasant cruising, the scenery was great. Passing through the small village of East Marton we saw this unusual bridge.

The Bank Newton Flight needs a little maintenance, it took a while to empty a couple of them. Just a few leaks in this one! 

Coming into Gargrave we met a CRT Volunteer helping people through Lock 33, he pointed out the nest on the back of the lock gate. Rachael managed to get close enough to take a photo of three chicks waiting for their dinner. A busy place to have a nest!

We gave a passing thought to stopping for the night at Gargrave. It was more the thought of doing three more locks to get to Skipton that was foremost in our mind; it was starting to get late in the day when we are usually well and truly moored, we did continue on. I think that if we were on a different, busier canal we would have stopped but we were confident of getting a mooring, there has always been plenty of mooring space on this trip north. We manged to moor in Skipton around 8pm but that was not before nearly being tipped off the boat as I moved away from the top landing of Lock 30. I'm not sure what's down there but it certainly lifted Serafina out of the water, me sideways holding on to the tiller for grim death and heading straight for the open lock gate which I hit slowing down. On hitting the gate I nearly knocked a lady, that was helping us, into the lock.

In Skipton, first things first, we had the boat electrician call. After an hour checking he decided that the boat batteries were wired incorrectly and the leisure batteries were only charging to the level of the starter battery, which is 90 Ah. I am now doing a series of tests to confirm his theory and the we have made another appointment to do the re-wiring.

After the electrics were done we were off into Skipton town centre to have a look around. A selection of photos from our two days in Skipton.

Skipton is a market town
Skipton Castle

Freddie Trueman, one of the locals.

A quiet drink in the beer garden of The Cock and Bottle
We enjoyed our late evening cruising coming into Skipton so much that we decided to take off after dinner on Monday and do a couple of hours cruising before turning in. The boat behind us didn't help either, the engine ran at fast idle for nearly ten hours per day, the diesel fumes were getting to us. We ended up, after several swing bridges, at a small village called Low Bradley.

Today was a hot one...finally! spent doing lots and lots swing bridges. Rachael was doing as much walking as possible between bridges.

Saw this boat along the way, makes a change from the usual bright orange life boats you see.

Nothing too exciting today so we overshot our original target of Keighley/Riddlesden and finished the day at another small village called Crossflatts. Moored just after two hire boats who are moored on the swing bridge landing of Bridge 198A, hope no one wants to use it!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Halfway along the Leeds and Liverpool

We delayed the start to our Wednesday cruising to try and pick the best part of the day to knock over the Hillock Locks, a seven lock flight. It has rained more than it has been fine and we haven't perfected 'picking' the weather quite yet. When we heard a boat chug past that was the time to go, two boats to halve the lock work!  This time we picked well and missed the rain, arriving at the Services after the top lock around 11:00 in bright sunshine. We tied up and filled with water before heading off again, we had no mooring planned, just stopping when we liked the mooring. We are nearing the highest point of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the countryside is opening out.

Across the aqueduct near Fenniscowles
A couple of hours and we were cruising into Blackburn, a town with a population of 100,000 or so. There was a steep increase in the rubbish floating in the canal, plastic bags, plastic bottles, wood, shopping trolleys, it was all there in there and there was no dodging it. I could hear Serafina starting to labour with the build up of rubbish , I reversed the propeller several times trying to spin the rubbish off.

Cruising through Blackburn
Halfway point of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
Six more locks completed, as usual the rain started at the bottom lock, But we finished them in sunshine. No particularly desirable moorings in Blackburn so we were off further along the canal for another hour pulling up at Rishton Moorings near 5pm, a long day of cruising.

Once tied up I took a stroll into town to pick up a few things while Rachael started to put dinner together. She had just finished telling me that we needed to have a big shop, things were getting a little low. There were two boats on the mooring, which made them full, not a lot of room! There was a lot of drilling, banging and grunting going on so I thought I would take a look. Everybody was having the same problems, our neighbour had a pile of rubbish he had removed from his propeller and was still going.

We left in bright sunshine on Thursday, not far behind our neighbour. Plenty of country-side cruising today and swing bridges.

Just for a change of pace we stopped for lunch at some empty moorings across from Hapton Boatyard. I can imagine it would be pretty noisy in the mornings, it was all industrial buildings along this stretch of the canal. While the weather held up, in fact it was bright and sunny, we continued cruising. We passed through Garnow Tunnel and into Burnley, another large town and once again the rubbish level in the canal increased significantly. The canal continued well above Burnley and the two boats that we had followed since Rishton called it quits for the day. I set sight for Reedley Marina, just out of town for a chance to fill with diesel and make a deposit from our holding tank. We arrived a 3:45 and were just in time to catch the manager who was going to head off early. He ended up getting away half an hour late!

We visited Reedley Marina four years ago when we hired a narrowboat, our first time. I called it a day here and moored across the road from the marina, a rural setting. It was time to get down into the weed hatch and clean up the propeller and shaft, I ended up with half a bag of plastic shopping bags.

The first narrowboat I got my hands on is now a day boat

Reedley Marina across from our mooring
Having hired a boat and cruised this part of the canal we knew there was a mooring half an hour down the canal right by a Morrison's Supermarket. We cruised off early this morning before breakfast, Serafina moving and sounding much better, free from all that rubbish around the prop. Half an hour later we were tied up next to Morrison's having breakfast. An hour of shopping and we were off again, arriving twenty minutes later at the bottom lock of the Barrowford Flight. On queue the rain began. This is the view of the third lock in the flight, the old bridge in the foreground, a modern motorway bridge behind.

Passed by this reservoir beside the locks, I suspect it supplies water for the lock flight. Still raining!

Snapped a picture of the flight from the top, the rain stopped on queue. We were pretty wet so we are moored at the Barrowford Moorings and have now had hot showers, ready for the forecast rain tomorrow!

Looking back from Lock 45, Barrowford Locks

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Wigan Flight in the Pouring Rain

We have knocked over four days cruising since my last post. Sunday was spent cruising to Crooke which was only a few hours and a couple of locks but was an ideal (and safe) place to moor before doing the Wigan Lock Flight on Monday. Passed this large gaggle of Canadian Geese on the way, they seemed to have bred well the last couple of years.

Our Crooke Mooring

Last night (Monday) was spent in Adlington. It had been a long wet day that had started at our Crooke mooring around 9:30am just after the rain had stopped; it had been forecast to rain pretty much all day. We could either run the engine for five hours to charge the faulty batteries or charge them as we worked the locks so off we went. A short cruise to our first lock, which was against us and needed to be emptied before entering, only twenty-four to go for the day! We didn't have much luck with the next four locks, the fifth was even worse when we found the top gates open and the paddles up. It's hard enough doing your own locks without doing locks for others as well! Passed this guy on the way through Wigan Wharf, he hadn't moved when we were heading down to Liverpool.

Took us nearly twenty minutes to complete that lock and it started raining again to add insult to injury! We cruised around the corner to begin the Wigan Flight by ourselves in the pouring rain when a fellow from a boat ahead of us came down with an offer to tie their little 15 (or so) foot boat to Serafina and they could do all the lock work while I did all the boat management...sounded like a deal. Rachael was happy, as the boys insisted she go inside out of the rain.

Heading across the pound, boats tied together, still pouring rain, NB Barge 41 tied to Serafina. The short boat did create a few headaches, we tied it towards the centre and the stern but with hindsight it may have been easier in the locks to tie it further forward to keep Serafina's bow from pushing across the lock. A special mention about Lock 75. It took both the guys and for a minute it looked like I would have to climb out of the lock and help too, to close one of the rear gates. CART must know as this flight is regularly worked by volunteers.

We knocked over the twenty-five locks by around 3:30pm, most of it done in the rain, it hardly let up. Once at the top of the flight the boys untied their boat and headed off they still had another five or six hours to get to Blackburn. We stopped at the Services, filled with water and headed off to moor at Adlington. Monday night is not the best night to eat out at a pub, we should have remembered that! No one was serving food so we settled for Chinese takeaway.

It was only a short one today to recover from our long day yesterday. We are currently moored near Chorley, in the Botany Bay Visitor Moorings along with half a dozen other boats. We dropped into the Botany Bay Boatyard around midday today to see if they could resolve the issue we have with our leisure batteries but unfortunately, after half an hour of checking, we definitely know there is something wrong but couldn't pin it down. We have a plan and hopefully a technician will catch up with us on Friday to resolve the issue. In the meantime we are in power conservation mode!

While we were moored at the boatyard, waiting for some help with the batteries, they were launching a boat after blacking the hull. Not the first time I've seen this but interesting nonetheless.


Once moored we took a walk into Chorley town centre. Apparently Chorely is an old market town and it was market day so there were extra shops on top of a reasonably large shopping precinct, most situated on pedestrian malls.

On our way to the town centre we passed a large retail precinct as well, so there are plenty of shopping opportunities here.