Sunday, 25 May 2014

Castleford Cut.

On the Saturday after our arrival at Stanley Ferry our eldest son Stephen came to stay. Then on the Sunday we had a small family gathering in the Stanley Ferry pub, eleven of us in all. Unfortunately our other son Richard and his wife Gill couldn't be with us. On the Monday morning we moved from Stanley Ferry. Crossing over the acquaduct and into the country to the first of four locks. There was another boat at the lock,which after the small locks on the Calder and Hebble looked enormous. These locks wer build for the large barges bringing oil up from Hull. We passed through the lock with the other boat and left first as the man from the other boat was operating the electric lock mechanism. It was a sunny morning with the birds singing, ducks with their ducklings swimming on the canal and a lone Heron flying over head. At the next lock it was my turn to operate the lock. We were in luck as the lock was full so I had only to open the top gates and wait for Marlene to enter the lock followed by the other boat. After shutting the top gates I removed my key from the control box and walked to the other end of the lock and using the second control box opened the paddles to let the water out. Then when the water levels were even opened the bottom gates to let the boats out. After closing the gates I ran down to the bridge below the lock where Marlene picked me up. At the third lock we had to wait for two boats coming up before we could drop down onto the river that would take us down to the flood lock at Castleford. Through the flood lock into Castleford Cut we watered up before mooring on the visitor moorings. We visited Marlenes sisters in Featherstone on Tuesday and mother again on Wednesday. It was raining Thursday morning but it cleared around lunch so I decided to do the oil change I should have done before we left Sawley. All went well until I knocked the oil filler cap into the bottom of the engine. You would think it would be easy to find in such a small place, no,at one point I went to the local Marina to buy a new one but they didn't have one. To cut a long story short I finally managed to dislodge it from where it was hidden. But it had taken all afternoon. On Friday Pamela brought Lucy to stay with us for a few days while they went to visit Nathans brother. On Saturday Richard And Gill brought Duncan to stay. After a walk round the nature reserve we put him to bed at 8-30 and he was asleep by 8-45 and slept till 8 o clock this morning. The flood lock is closed today due to all the rain we have had, so our planned move back to Stanley ferry on Monday may not happen. Watch this space.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

On the move again.

The river had dropped on Tuesday morning so we dropped down the two Brighouse locks,then through the first flood lock back on to the canal. This was to be the theme for the day,canal to river and back again. We made good progress even though the locks were the silly paddle ratchets on some of the locks and they were still short so we had to go in on the diagonal. By lunch time we had done eleven locks and five flood locks. After lunch we set off again did two more locks then moored at Horbury Bridge a three o clock. It had been warm and sunny all morning,then just as I secured the last rope the heavens opened and we had heavy rain and thunder. Wednesday morning was once again bright and sunny. After three locks and two flood locks we arrived in Wakefield. We were joined here by another boat for the last two locks. This was only the second time since Manchester that we had shared a lock with anybody. We moored on the Visitor moorings at Stanley Ferry after topping up the water,then had lunch. Later we walked over to the road to check bus times into Castleford for today. To our surprise and his we saw our Nephew Greame on his way home from work. On our way back to the boat we called in the pub for a pint in the evening sun. Later in the evening my sister Jennifer and husband Malcolm arrived to see us,so we went back to the pub for another pint or two. This morning we took the bus into Castleford then out to Allerton Bywater to have lunch with Mother.

Monday, 12 May 2014


It was raining again Sunday morning but we set off any way. Fully kitted out in over trousers,large coat,hat (to stop the rain getting on my glasses)and wellies. At the first lock we caught up with a boat with a young couple who had only just got their boat. We had to go through separately because of the length of the boats. At the second lock they were trying to decide how to use the paddle ratchets. I showed them the mooring pin method and told them about the wooden handle you could buy. It was then they said they had one but didn't know what it was. Having done five locks we arrived in Brighouse,the young couple carried on. With all the rain the river section below the Brighouse locks was high and running fast,so this morning I phoned the Canal Trust to see if the flood lock lower down was open. I was told no it was closed until the river fell. Not sure how the young couple got on or whether they are moored near the flood lock. The Canal Trust said they would phone us when we can go. For now we are spending another day in Brighouse,maybe more. Who knows.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Done it

We were back on the move in just over an hour. The man from the Canal Trust had refilled the pound In quick time. Eight locks later we hit the summit.just one lock down we moored at the lock36 Visitor mooring. After all the problems the scenery at the top was breath taking. Coming down the Yorkshire side Was just as hard work but the country side made it feel better. Moorings and services were still in short supply until we got to Todmordon. The lock in Todmordon has a guillotine gate at the bottom,you still have to open paddles manually but the raising of the gate is electric. Where ever we moored for the night there seemed to be a ledge that tipped us on an angle. We arrived in Hebdan Bridge on Wednesday and had some Yorkshire fish and chips. Marlene book a hair appointment for Thursday at ten. After her appointment we left with the intension of doing the remaining locks before the Tuel lane lock, where you have to book passage through on a Thursday but it is fully manned on Friday to Monday so no booking needed, so the plan was to moor close on Thursday night and go through first thing Friday. Two locks from the end we shared a lock with a boat that had booked passage through at four PM so decided to see if we could share the lock with them. It was nearer five by the time the crew arrived to put us through. Tuel lane is a strange lock, the pound below it has to be kept drained when not in use or it floods the adjoining pub cellar. Add to this the depth of nineteen feet which then opens on to a 114yd tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel you have the final two locks into Sowerby Bridge and the end of the Rochdale Canal,thank goodness. We had finally done all three crossings across the Pennines. We moored and stayed Thursday and Friday night. Friday night we went out for a meal at the pub next to Sowerby Marina called The Moorings to calibrate Marlenes birthday. This morning we went into the Marina and topped up the diesel then set off toward Brighouse on the Calder and Hebble navigation. The locks on this stretch are not very long, they say you can do them in a sixty foot narrowboat but I find this hard to believe. It seems a squeeze in a fifty seven foot. They also have some strange paddles which require a wooden handle or in my case a mooring pin to raise them. After five locks we moored at Elland Basin, It keeps raining and after the last lock where the boat nearly got flooded with the water pouring over the top gate and the lack of room to open the bottom gates.we called it a day.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Problems, problems,problems.

Where do I start. We left Castlefields in Manchester at eight o clock. The first lock took a long time to fill which wasn't a good start. It was eleven when we reached the top of the ninth lock and stopped for a cup of tea. At this point we talked about taking the Ashton canal but in the end we set off up the Rochdale canal. This was the start of a day of problems. Locks with only one paddle working,four times we stopped in the day to remove rubbish that had wrapped round the propeller, including rope,plastic bags and a jacket. We finally stopped just short of lock sixty four,at eight thirty in the evening. We had completed twenty eight locks including the nine out of Manchester. We couldn't tie up because there was nothing to tie to and nowhere to bang spikes in,so we just sat there all night. Saturday feeling we had done the hard part and were now coming to the scenic section we set of at seven o clock to push for the summit. To start all went well the sun was out the view was nice. We then got to Rochdale and the canal was full of litter again. Past Rochdale it was good again until we got something round the propeller again. This time it was a paddling pool. It took forever to get it off. By three thirty we had had enough for the day so we moored for the night having done seventeen locks. Leaving ten locks for Sunday. We were optimistic when we set off this morning,however after three locks we discovered that the pound two locks up was drained. I rang the emergency number and we are now waiting for a team to come out to sort out the problem. Happy Sunday.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Wild garlic and Bluebells.

A quick blog while I've got 3G on the I-pad. Tuesday morning we locked down Wardle lock,off Middlewich Arm of the Shropshire Union and on to the Trent and Mersey. The plan was to water up at the bottom of the lock. We came out of the bridge and reversed to the tap, only to find our connection was too big to fit the tap. This must be the only tap on the system that size or we've been lucky to dodge the rest. Carrying on down the next three locks we found a tap with the correct fitting. After half an hour topping up the water we moored at Middlewich 48hr moorings so we could walk into town. As I was tying the front rope a voice at my shoulder said"you've not been writing your blog,this took me back as I've done two since we set off which I explained to the crew of NB Serena. Unfortunately they were having trouble getting on line and had missed them. We had a good chat before going to town. It's always nice to talk to some of our readers. Back from town we left Middlewich by way of the Big lock heading for Anderton and passing the boatyard at Northwich where we bought Doublefracture then new and unnamed. It was a nice slow cruise in the sun to Anderton the home of the lift that drops boats down to the river weaver. It is truly a magnificent sight. It is also a great piece of engineering. On Wednesday we slipped our moorings early and headed for the Barnton tunnel(572yds long)the first of three tunnels we were to go through today. The second was the Saltersford Tunnel(424yds)this you can only enter between the hour and twenty past when heading north, as it is only one boat wide. Leaving Saltersford we were in a wooded cutting and the banks were covered with wild garlic and bluebells and the air was filled with the smell of garlic. The third and longest was the Preston Brook Tunnel(1239yds)this also is only wide enough for one boat. We had to wait till the hour(11 o clock)for the ten minute window for us to enter the tunnel. It took twenty minutes to reach the other end and I was glad to be back in the open air. I'm not good on tunnels these days. Our mooring Wednesday night was at Lymm a lovely little town. After dinner we decided to have an evening out, so had a few pints in the Bulls Head next to the bridge over the canal. This morning we left through open countryside before arriving in Sale and the start of our run into Manchester. Turning right at Waters Meeting(the left turn takes you to Wigan)we saw Old Trafford football ground before mooring in Castlefield in the centre of Manchester. Tomorrow we go up nine locks to the start of the Rochdale canal.