Thursday, 29 September 2011

 Trams in busy central Sheffield
 Visitor mooring in Sheffield

"The straddle" a warehouse built over the canal basin
Over the last couple of days in Sheffield we made good use of the tram system. First taking a trip out to Meadowhall where we met up with Gail and Derek again, this time accompanied by my Aunt Bobbie and Gail's sister Joy who we haven't seen for years. Yesterday I made 2 runs by tram to Hillsborough where there is a Morrisons store, we had to replace the wine those little toads swiped.
This morning we got an early start, leaving the mooring before 8 o'clock in order to reach the top of the lock flight by 9 o'clock. We made it with plenty of time to spare.
Dave, the friendly lock keeper in charge of the flight, had already started to unlock and set up some of the locks ready for us and we were soon on our way.
Cath had been concerned about going down these locks because of our length, but Dave was quite happy with our dimensions and as long as Cath kept it well forward of the cill (sic) we would be ok.
All went like clockwork, we flew down the flight, taking only 3 hours for the 13 locks and 2.5 miles. At Holmes Lock we said farewell to Dave and continued along through Ikles and Rotherham locks finally mooring up above Eastwood lock for the night.
On the way out of Rotherham I spotted a B&Q canalside and after tieing up I took a walk back to it to get some hardware for some of this winter's jobs

Monday, 26 September 2011

Tuesday26th September
We had wonderful day here in Sheffield right up until about 4.00 pm.
In lovely sunshine we wandered into town for a look around. Cath's memories of her home town served well, even though a great deal has changed here. We lunch just outside the Crucible Theatre before going back to the boat. We expected to meet Gail and Derek this evening and go out to eat, but about 2.00 they turned up unexpectedly and we were having a lovely catch up session with them when Cath sensed the boat move and said she thought someone was on board.

I went to back to see a bit of a mess and 3 kids legging it off down the towpath and noticed some wine was missing. I followed, but no chance I could catch them. I stopped a cyclist coming the other way and asked if he'd seen anyone running along with bottles of wine and he said that he'd seen 3 asian lads. I went further and asked some fishermen and they told the same story, so I went back to the boat to see what they'd done. They'd had our 2 way radios and several bottles of wine away.
The utter gaul! while we were on board! It just means that even when we're here we must lock the back doors.
Derek and Gail left us about 5.00 and we arranged to meet up with them and her mother at Meadowhall tomorrow.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Sunday 25th September
Sheffield at last. The day started with a phone call from the Tinsley Flight lock keeper checking we were ready to move to Holmes lock where he would meet us for the ascent.
Arriving at the lock we moored up to wait for the keeper and the other boat to arrive.
About 11 o'clock 'Dun Reet' arrived and we started through the lock. Jorden's lock next, close by is the largest weir on the Don. We then reach the bottom lock of Tinsley Flight and the ascent starts in earnest. The keeper has prepared most of the locks for us in advance, and while some of the gates are very heavy the climb goes quite smoothly.
When we reached the basin it took us a bit of time to find a mooring, but all is well now, we've even got electricity. Derek and Gail are planning to visit us tomorrow night so we look forward to that.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Saturday 24th September
We had a pleasant short journey today. Only going from Swinton to Eastwood Lock, just outside Rotherham. BW recommend this as the safe mooring for Rotherham although it is quite a way outside.
The river we travelled this morning was quite pleasant. To say this is a fairly industrial area, the river is quiet and rural. While some of it is artificial cut, a fair bit of it is still the old river course and winds gently through tree lined banks
We've booked our ascent of The Tinsley Flight for tomorrow afternoon. This is one of the few lock flights where you must have a BW keeper in attendance. Whether it's an armed guard to get us through a rough area, or just to make sure we handle everything right I don't know, but the book doesn't recommend mooring from where we are now until reaching Sheffield Basin. So the locals must be dangerous!!

I've now tried out the new oil change pump and it's great. No more struggling with a hot hand pump, just plug in and turn it on. Now if only I could could get an auto filter changer..........

Friday, 23 September 2011

 Doncaster Minster by night
Humber Princess eases into Mexborough Top Lock
Friday 23rd September
Yesterday I decided that I wanted the oil change pump which I had ordered from ebay and had delivered to our son in Leeds. Having a free bus pass I thought I might as well use it to get to Leeds and pick it up. It's all very well having free bus travel, but it does seem to take a long time. It was over 2 hours and one change to get to Leeds and then a further half hour on the bus in Leeds to get to Bramley. After an enjoyable after noon with Damon I grabbed the stuff I had come for and he ran me to the railway station as I had decided to get a train back to Doncaster, it would be easier.
They seem to have a strange way of doing things on the rails. There were two ways to get back. The fast train, and the slow train. The fast one was twice the price, so I picked the slow one. I was issued with two tickets, one as far as South Emsall and the other from there to Doncaster. It was a through journey with no changes, so why two tickets? It took about 40 minutes, so of course better than the bus. If the fast train was stopping at Doncaster anyway, why was it more expensive? I'll bet someone was paid a lot of money to work that solution out.
After a couple of lovely lazy days at Doncaster we decided to move on again. This morning we set off heading for Swinton. The journey ground to a halt almost straight away. Doncaster Lock refused to work so we had to call BW to sort it out. After about 45 minutes the man turned up and quickly sorted the problem and we were on our way. At Mexborough Top Lock we encountered one of the huge tankers that ply these waters and so had to wait while they cleared the lock before continuing. When we arrived at Waddington Lock BW had just started to carry out some work on the top gates so once again we had to wait while they did their thing.
Finally we were through, and have moored up at a quite spot just up stream from the lock for the night.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tuesday 20th September
After a couple of days travelling some of the most boring bits of canal we've arrived in Doncaster.
The journey here was through almost entirely featureless, straight navigation. First was the Aire & Caulder (Knottingley and Goole Canal) to Southfield Junction, then south on The New Junction Canal joining onto The River Don Navigation as far as Doncaster.
The views were almost entirely featureless and flat, the only thing worthy of note was watching wind surfers on Southfield Reservoir.
However, the night was a little more exciting. About midnight the boat started to rock and bump the side quite heavily so I got up to see what was going on. I reckoned that it must to a BIG boat passing. Looking down the canal I saw two huge, powerful lights, with navigation lights on either side, approaching us. As I watched, when the the lights were about 600 yds. away they went out, and nothing else happened, he must have moored, so I went back to bed. About 4 o'clock the rocking started in earnest, so once again I got up to see this enormous 600 tonner creeping up to the lift bridge, he stopped, just close enough for a crew member to jump onto the bridge in order to operate it. Quite a feat of driving to do that without nudging the bridge with your 600 tons.
The New Junction Canal is 'blessed' with several lift or swing bridges and one lock to stop us getting too bored.
I've already taken a walk into Doncaster and it looks interesting so we'll spend a day of two here.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

 The sprawling site of Ferrybridge Power Station
Motoring past the power station
Sunday 18th September
Setting off this morning we travelled down the short pound from the flood lock to Bulholme Lock where we rejoin the river. Unusually the lock keeper was in attendance and we didn't have to do a thing.
Back on the river the scene from the water was an initially uninspiring sight of old slag heaps, admittedly landscaping has been done. This soon improved, and we passed close to Fairburn Ings Nature Reserve and the view got better all the time. Passing Ferrybridge Power Station you get a good view of the place, and some idea of its size.
At Ferrybridge Flood Lock the river goes off to the left and we once again are back onto a canalised section. In fact that is the last we will see of the river as the rest of The Aire & Caulder is completely canal.
Just after the flood lock the waterway splits, one way rejoins the river and heads for Selby, but we turned right towards Goole.
Soon we pass an unusual sight for England these days, a coal mine. Kellingley Colliery, I suspect, supplies coal to the 2 local power stations Ferrybridge and Eggborough.
At Eggborough we have moored up for the night, right next to the local railway station.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

 Lock gates being made at Stanley Ferry
 Twin aqueducts over The River Caulder at Stanley Ferry
Lyra moored at Stanley Ferry
Saturday 17th September
Yesterday I took a walk around the mooring here at Stanley Ferry. The BW yard here makes lock gates that are used all over the country. They kindly allowed me to get in and take some pics, one of which is shown above.
I once again I took the bus into Wakefield to do some retail therapy. I was down to only one pair of jeans that didn't have holes in, so I treated myself to a new pair. I also found a DVD copy of the final instalment of  'The Girl' trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. We've been waiting for it drop in price and at last it has.
Despite the dire predictions of those comedians at the Met Office, who had said it would rain nearly all day, there was hardly a drop all day long. 
Today was going to be similar, but it dawned quite fine so we set off heading once again for Castleford. The rain held off for most of the trip, but as is par for the cours,e the last few minuets when you're mooring up it tipped down.
We've changed our minds again about plans for the next few weeks. The on and off idea of going to Sheffield before mooring up for the winter is once more on again. The trip should take about 7 to 10 days depending on the weather. Most of the trip will be on large canal/river navigations. The last bit of the journey into Sheffield will be through smaller locks, with a maximum length of 60ft, so we'll be a bit tight.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Friday 16th September
We are once again fully topped up with fuel. Thanks to local boaters, who told me of a garage selling gas oil at a reasonable price.
Damon brought the car down yesterday and we did two runs down to the place. At 79.9ppl it's the cheapest fuel we've bought since Wheaton Aston. He then took us out for a bit of provisioning, so the boat is now full of all we need for a while.
The weather yesterday was perfect, but today it's back to normal, grey skies and the promise of rain so we'll stay here and annoy the neighbours while we charge the batteries and do washing.
The forecast for the weekend doesn't appear to be any better but with their record at the met office we'll just wait and see.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Wednesday 14th September
It's Wednesday, and we finally managed to get going again. The wind had at last decided to abate somewhat, so we cast off, turned around and headed for the Wakefield area.
By the way, we have at last seen the big boats that ply these waters. Last night two huge sand barges came past us into the Castleford flood lock. This morning an oil tanker went through. This is a strange looking lock, it's shaped with a large mooring area within it, and the gates are not in a straight line with each other so that these huge barges must actually turn a corner within the lock in order to go through.
The trip to Stanley Ferry, where we have moored up, was marred by frequent showers, but nothing actually torrential. We got here by 12.30 and decided to go the pub for lunch. The Stanley Ferry pub has improved a lot since we were last here 4 years ago and is a pleasant place for a meal.
This afternoon I caught a bus into Wakefield just to have a look at the place. Quite pleasant, large pedestrian areas and what looks like good shopping.

Tomorrow Damon is bringing the car here and I hope we'll be able to go and get some fuel at a garage selling gas oil in Normanton.

Monday, 12 September 2011

 The River Aire at Leeds
 Clarence Dock at night
Going under the M1 near Leeds
Monday 12th September
Our time in Leeds was very good. We did a bit of shopping courtesy of Damon and car, had a meal at Pizza Hut (haven't had one of these for ages) with Daniel, mum and dad as well.
I took myself off to the Leeds Industrial Museum. It's an interesting place, but could be so much more, it needs a lot of investment from the council or the community.
We paid for an extra night in Clarence Dock and on Saturday we cast off and headed down the Aire & Caulder as far as Woodlesford.
The navigation passes through an area of industry, some if it derelict, but mostly modern units. Soon the scenery changes and becomes rural. The river here is commercial, but the chance of passing heavy traffic is almost zero. As we travel further though we come across an oil terminal, the locks get bigger and although this time we don't see one, the last time we were here one of these monsters did come through.
Sunday we continued down the river as far as Castleford. I took a walk into town and was just thinking there was nothing here I turned a corner and found it. Being Sunday a lot of it was shut but it was worth the trip.
Today (Monday), we woke up to find that the weather forecasts had been correct for a change, the wind was howling around so we decided to sit tight for the day.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Thursday 8th September
We attempted to set off for Leeds on Tuesday, but the wind was so bad it made manoeuvring all but impossible, so we settled down for the day.
Wednesday was a bit better so we set off. The wind wasn't too bad but the showers were fairly frequent and heavy at times. By the time we reached Clarence Dock we were well knackered. The end to the saga was, as we went into the dock and I tried to get alongside, the wind whipping around the buildings suddenly caught us and I had to give up and turn the boat around to get another run at it.
This morning I went across to the BW offices and bought an electricity card, so we're now plugged in and that I don't have to run the engine for washing etc.
Tonight we're joining with Damon, Liz and Daniel to go out for a meal.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dobson's Locks
Monday 5 September
The weather was reported as being a mixed bag with showers, some heavy. Despite that we set off, accompanied by another boat we descended Dobsons Locks and through the following swing bridge. Cath stopped to pick me up after the bridge, complaining about a rattling noise from the engine. Sure enough, there was a very scary noise from the engine compartment so we tied up and I dived into the oily bits for a look-see. Huge sigh of relief when I found the cause was only a pan, which I had under the engine to catch any stray oil drips when doing oil changes. Because the locks here leak so much the water pours onto the back deck and hence into the engine compartment. This caused the pan to start to float and it then moved to point where it touched the front pulley, causing a worrying noise. Just after this we stopped to see if fuel was available at the marina we were passing. After mooring up I went to the office to find that they were shut on Mondays. Ah well.
We carried on and it soon started to rain. And rain, and rain. After about an hour of this we decided to stop and hunker down. We had gotten as far as Rodley, which the BW man said was the best place to stop anyway before the final run into Leeds. They don't recommend stopping from here into Leeds because of vandals and ruffians. What a world, there's never a copper when you need one.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The imposing sight of Titus Salt's mill
Sunday 4th September
The food at The Fisherman last night was very good, no 3663 menu here, it was made on the premises and it showed.
6 locks and 6 miles today, a staircase of 2, a single, and a staircase of 3. These were liberally strewn with lots of swing bridges just to make sure you don't get lazy. We were accompanied by a hire boat for most of it so life wasn't too bad at all.
Our route took us through Saltaire, a place well worth exploring, but we've seen it a couple of times before so this time we didn't stop.
We're moored up above Dobson's Locks for the night

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Saturday 3rd September
It's a good thing we didn't want an early start this morning. We had intended to set off after 9.00 but when we moved from our overnight  mooring to the facilities area the lock keeper came along and told us that vandals had once again drained one of the pounds and it would be around midday before anyone could move. There are times when you wish there were a few more red-necks around with their brand of rough justice. Just one more rant to my tally.
We waited while the traffic built up and took morning snacks in the adjacent cafe. Some of the boats decided they had better things to do and turned around rather than wait.
Midday came and the lock keeper duly started letting boats down. Although we had been first in the queue there were a couple of hire boats waiting, and they are always on a time budget so we let them go first, we're in no hurry.
After completing both the 5 and 3 rise locks we moored up in Bingley, alongside the Damart factory just to do a bit of shopping. Several people had told us not to moor in Bingley tonight because there was a music festival and it was LOUD, so after that we moved on a short distance to a pub with a good looking menu and we'll eat out tonight.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Looking up Bingley 5 Rise

Friday 2nd September
Another easy day today, but as we prepared to set off this morning one of our mooring pins broke when I tried to pull it out. Luckily we had moored up only about 5 minutes from Puffer Parts, a good chandlery, with a mooring, right on the canal edge. With a new pin on board we then set off.
The first swing bridge was a struggle, but after that there were 3 electric powered bridges, so life got easy. The canal guide reckons that this is the last of the beautiful views. After the Bingley locks the canal is obviously a lot lower in the landscape and the surroundings become more built up and industrial.
We weren't sure if we were going to use the locks today and when we arrived the hand played itself. Some brainless louts had drained the pound below the 3 rise and nothing was moving while BW refilled it.
It's now 4.00pm and traffic has started again so we'll go down tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Nice canalside properties at Silsden
Wednesday, Thursday, 31 August 1st September
The year seems to be rushing on at a great pace. Here it is September already, at least the sun is still shining on us today.
Yesterday in Skipton we enjoyed some good weather and had another look around the place, Cath stocked up her medicines at the local quack and I managed to get a new knob end for our tiller after it had been broken off in a fight with a lock wall. I spent about an hour fitting it to the tiller and then got the first coat of varnish on it. I'll get another two on it today if I get myself off my backside.
Our trip today took us along more of this long lockless section of canal. That doesn't mean it's all cruising and no work though. there are lots of swing bridges to operate, although we did have the company of a day boat, crewed by a large group of novices. It was fun watching their antics as they managed the steep learning curve. At least they did share the bridge duties. There were also several work crews out with scoop mounted JCBs doing a great job of dredging. At one of the swing bridges some pratt had parked his car in such a way that the bridge could not be opened and we had to wait for him to return to his vehicle. He was lucky not to get his car damaged by the handle of the bridge in our attempt to swing it.
We've moored out in the country for tonight, lovely views as usual. Tomorrow is Bingley 5 rise and 3 rise staircase locks.