Friday, 30 August 2013

West Stockwith

It is goodbye to the safety of the canals
Keadby Lock

Not for nothing is it called "The Mighty Trent"

Keadby bridge was built in 1916 and combines both rail and road. When it was operational, it operated by water being pumped into the tank on the right and once sufficient weight was added the whole section lifted into the open position.  These feats of engineering never cease to astound me.
M180 motoerway bridge

The Trent is 150 miles long, with a catchment area of over 4000 sq miles.  It once flowed due East from Nottingham, discharging into the Wash. At some point that channel must have become blocked and the river changed to it's current northerly course, to join with the Ouse. 3000 cubic ft of water a second discharge into the Humber - a greater volume than the Thames!

There is not much to see because of the flood embankments but a bit further up is this ex windmill. I did have a bit of excitement at one point - the engine overheated.  I was mighty glad when the warning light went out after a few minutes (seemed like hours) in tick-over.

The wash from this cruiser was fun, even though I managed to turn the bows into it - and he had slowed down!

Waiting to get into West Stockwith (entrance in the middle of the photo) and the Chesterfield canal.  It is a tricky approach and I would have done it completely wrong had it not been for the lock-keeper's instructions.  When the tide is coming in, you keep tight to the left wall, head straight for the opposite wall (it is an acute angle) and, just as you think collision is inevitable, the locky gives you the sign to go hard to port 


and in she goes without touching.

The river Idle with flood gate

The Idle joins the Trent

After mooring in the basin, I walk down to the White Hart. It has it's own aptly named brewery and 6 ales on tap. I manage to sample 3 (including the Idle Sod and Idle Dog) but, after a huge mixed grill, I have to admit defeat - maybe the other 3 on the way back?

Stage one of the tidal Trent negotiated.

13 miles; 2 locks

TOTAL:  593 miles (250 miles broad, 71 miles river, 13 miles tidal); 294 locks (161 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Preparing for the Trent

The New Junction Canal provides a link between the Aire & Calder navigations and the South Yorkshire Navigations and was one of the last canals constructed.  It is five and a half miles long and completely straight all the way.  There are several moveable bridges and, although they are all electric, Alan warned me they are a bit of a pain if you are on your own.  We agreed that, unless another crewed boat appears we will go together and can at least play leap-frog which makes it a bit easier.

About 9am Rosedale Lady comes into view.  I have been meeting up with them frequently over the last week and they were moored at Woodlesford, although their dog was a bit too old to join in all the fun and games.  "Are you travelling down - we can operate the bridges for you".  "Give me 5 minutes" is my reply.  Unfortunately Alan is not ready to set off and I feel a bit rotten about leaving him - hopefully he found another crewed boat.

One of the lift bridges


The aqueduct over the river Don - rather intimidating.
The River Don

Rosedale Lady coming through
As I am approaching the end of the New Junction canal, I am still dithering whether to carry on onto the river Dun and towards Doncaster - just to have a look and say I have done it - my way lies East.  Rosedale Lady takes the sharp left onto the Stainforth and Keadby canal and I follow them - more locks and swing bridges lie ahead and their help will be useful!  Doncaster will have to wait until next time.  They reach their home moorings at Thorne and I wave goodbye.

 At Medge Hall swing bridge the signalman closes the railway gate to stop the traffic, while I operate the (manual) swing bridge.  He does not get two salaries for doing rail and canal work, though!
Some of the coal from Kellingley on its way to Keadby power station


The canal is completely covered in weed - a very surreal experience.

The incredible feat of engineering that is Keadby (or Vazon) sliding rail bridge, built in 1915. It is the only one in the UK and one of only three in Europe.

The bridge closing. 
More photographs are available here.

I arrive at the moorings at Keadby, having previously booked passage for 1230 (dictated by the tide) the next day.

20 miles; 3 locks; 16 moveable bridges

TOTAL:  580 miles (250 miles broad, 71 miles river); 292 locks (159 broad); 78 moveable bridges

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

New Junction Canal

Another lovely day with the only clouds being created by the three power stations I can see.

Not sure which one this was

Of course the power stations need coal and just down from where I was moored is Kellingley Colliery.

It is one of the few remaining deep mines in the country and the largest, employing about 800 people. The two shafts, one for people and equipment, the other for extracting coal, are 800m deep.

The coal used to be taken by canal as well as road and rail.  Unfortunately it is now only the latter two, with a constant stream of lorries feeding the maws of the nearby power stations. Output is over 1 million tonnes per year.

It is a very open and flat stretch, crossed by the Edinburgh to London railway line.  One of the few interesting buildings on the landscape - Pollington Hall

The very straight New Fleet Drain.

Pollington Lock is attractive.

With a very attractive former lock-keeper's cottage
I consider travelling up to the large docks at Goole, where there is a waterways museum and all the gravel barges are laid up, together with other boats.  It is a major junction with the River Ouse but would be a trip up and back as, although it is possible to get on to the Trent (where I am heading) by continuing, travel on the Ouse requires VHF radio and at least two crew (and a narrowboat is not really suitable for the navigation).  I decide against and turn into the New Junction Canal and a very nice mooring.  The evening is spent sharing a few "nippie sweeties" with another Alan and chewing over our similar philosophical views, although sufficiently different to make for an interesting discussion.

9 miles; 2 locks
TOTAL:  560 miles (235 miles broad, 66 miles river); 289 locks (156 broad); 62 moveable bridges

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Uneventful journey down to Castleford and the junction of the Aire and Calder rivers.  I had been hoping to stop here for supplies but the moorings are pretty full, although I am able to stop at the water point to fill up and dispose of my accumulated rubbish of the last few days.  Also at the water point is another boat, a small cruiser, which I have definitely met before, as I recognised both the owner and his large English flag, which we had joked about as my Saltire is quite small.  We discuss the routes we have been on but cannot match them up - it will remain a mystery where we met previously.

 I travel past Ferrybridge power station, which I had previously seen in the distance from 10 miles away.  It does tend to dominate the landscape for a considerable distance.  I had been intending to top up supplies at Morrisons in Ferrybridge but there is no possibility of mooring anywhere near.  I find a Sainsbury Express which suffices but would not want to spend the night there.
James checks out the toilet facilities

So onwards, past the junction where the River Aire continues and where I would have gone had I been heading to York.  I bear to the right, back on the canal and find a nice mooring a short distance on.  I am on mooring pins, which, according to the navigational notes are not recommended, due to the very large gravel barges which use this navigation and cause a large wash, which could dislodge the pins.  I receive confirmation on the canal world forum that the barges ceased a month ago - a relief for me but sad for the waterways.

11 miles; 5 locks
TOTAL:  551 miles (235 miles broad, 57 miles river); 287 locks (154 broad); 62 moveable bridges

Monday, 26 August 2013

Castleford and Altofts

I spent a very pleasant couple of nights at Woodlesford and on my walk into town to top up with supplies I ascend a hill which used to be mine workings and the views were stunning.  Unfortunately I do not know how to create a panoramic photo but you will get the overall impression of the 360 deg views.

Ferrybridge power station, about 10 miles away

I travel down the river Aire to the junction at Castleford and, after topping up with water, decide to have a sortie up the river Calder.  It proved to be a very good decision as I found a wonderful spot with lots of friends for James to play with.
James and Daisy

They got on very well so I ended up staying for 4 nights.

The double aqueduct at Stanley Ferry

On one of the days I travel up to Stanley Ferry as there is a shop there and I need some fresh vegetables - no luck, they only have potatoes and onions, but it was a nice trip.

On one of my walks I see this "weed", which I have not seen before.

It was a lovely few days sojourn but I need supplies, so time to move on.

12 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  540miles (231 miles broad, 50 miles river); 282 locks (149 broad); 62 moveable bridges

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Through Leeds

The advice is not to stop between Rodley and the secure moorings in Leeds, but Jo tells me there is a decent mooring a couple of bridges further on.  She and her son kindly bike up and operate the 3 swing bridges for me.  I spend the night there in preparation for an early run to Leeds the next day.  About 8 am, as I am giving James the chance to relieve himself prior to setting off, a boat appears and I hope to share the trip with them.  Unfortunately there are two boats travelling together, so no luck there!

I move to the top of the first of the two flights of 3 locks, both of which are renowned for attracting local troublemakers and are manned and locked after about 2pm. I wait for an hour in the hope of another boat appearing but my luck is still out and, as a boat has appeared wanting to come up, I have to go through on my own.

The lock-keepers do all the work through the two 3 flights, but the next 2 single locks and a 2 flight are buggers on my own.  The water level is high so it is impossible to equalise the water levels on the top gates, as the water is flowing over the tops of both sets of gates. I take the opportunity to stop for some lunch. There is no way I can force the top gate open.  Fortunately there are quite a lot of people about and my requests for assistance are answered.  Another boat appears as I am working the next lock, a father and daughter and they are also fed up with the locks.  They say the moorings in Leeds tend to be very noisy and they are going to go through Leeds to some nice quiet moorings they know.  I had been thinking of doing that anyway but this decides me.

Nearly all the waterside has been developed. I was actually involved in raising capital for one of the first warehouse redevelopments in the early 90's but I do not recognise it.

One of the many hostelries

Decorative bridge
I have now left the Leeds and Liverpool canal and am on the Aire and Calder Navigation (River Aire).  I ended up not having to work any of the numerous swing bridges from Skipton on my own.  At least this time (unlike when I started out on the Trent) I remembered to attach my anchor ready for deployment, although with the current river levels it would be very unlikely to be needed.  All of the locks on the Aire and Calder are mechanised - lovely!

My mooring at Woodlesford for the next couple of nights.

10 miles; 16 locks; 3 moveable bridges
TOTAL:  528 miles (225 miles broad, 44 miles river); 276 locks (143 broad); 62 moveable bridges

Monday, 19 August 2013

Rodley and visit home 15-19 August

Colin and John at Rodley Boat Centre provide me with a secure mooring to leave the boat for my visit home.  I had been worried I might have a gas leak, but he reassures me and says it is a very good installation.  When I get back I am tied up to Lucy Annie and spend a very enjoyable evening with Dan and Jo sharing our experiences - the boat name is similar, they bought their boat at the same time as me and moved onboard at roughly the same time.

The old Pack Horse bridge 

Which goes across the River Aire.

John shows me round Rodley and gives me a potted history.  It is most famous for making cranes and two large, world renowned, firms were based here.  The site covered a huge area, although little is left.

One of the few remaining is the former foundry of Thomas Smith & Son.

2 miles; 0 locks; 0 moveable bridges
TOTAL:  518 miles (219 miles broad, 40 miles river); 260 locks (127 broad); 59 moveable bridges