Monday, 30 April 2012

Monday 30th April 2012
Up early (for us anyway)  and make use of the the facilities here at the top lock before starting down the 21 locks we hope to do today.
Luckily another boat turns up, 'Little Mester', with Pete and Pat, intending to go down so we now have a pair for the work ahead.
At about 9.00 we're all ready and the work starts. The first few locks are already set for us by a BW man so all looks fair. As we proceed either Pete or I go ahead to prepare the next lock. About half way down we met 3 boats coming up, meaning that all the locks below should be either full or nearly so. The 21 locks went by quite quickly, just under 4 hours for the lot, pretty good. We've moored up just passed the junction with the Leigh Branch and will move down a bit more tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Saturday 28th April 2012
Saturday was a fairly good day. Only the wind getting in the way a bit.
Yours truly pulled a silly stunt and forgot to pick up one of the mooring pins we used last night, means we must get one at our earliest opportunity. First chance came up at L &L Cruisers, near bridge 71. After a lot of difficult manoeuvring because of the wind and another boat moored on their frontage I got in, but they didn't stock pins. On we trogged  to White Bear Marina, where once again there was a boat occupying the space we wanted. Luckily they were just leaving and the wind abated for a short time so we got in without too much trouble. Large chandlery and engine repairs advertised on a board outside so I thought we could even get the fuel filters we need. No chance! The chandlery and repair business we just shutting down and all stock had been sent away. Oh well.
We pressed on then as far as the top of the Wigan flight where we moored up and I went into town to carry out a raid on Tesco.
Sunday looks like being a no go, with warnings of wind and heavy rain.
Here it is Sunday morning and the Met Office didn't lie. It's lashing down outside so we're sitting still. Tomorrow looks quite fine so hopefully we'll get off down the notorious flight of 23 locks into the heart of Wigan. We are hoping another boat will want to go down at the same time to make life easier.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday 27th April 2012
Yesterday we decided to stay put on the strength of weather forecast. The met office web site had an amber warning of heavy rain so we thought it wise. In the event it turned out to be mostly dry all day up until about 4.00 pm, so we could have moved but that's life.

Looking at the forecast we had high hopes of moving today, but when we got up and looked out it was raining. It soon stopped though, and in sunshine we set off down Johnson's Hillock Locks. A flight of 7 locks set in really pretty surroundings.
6 out of the 7 locks were in our favour, which makes for great progress and it only took us about 1 1/2 hours to complete the flight.
A few more miles brought us to Botany Bay, a themed shopping centre using and old mill building. It mostly seems to be art and craft based, with a bit of furnishing and kitchen thrown in.
We had a look into it and decided to have lunch in the upstairs restaurant, good value for a couple of filled baked potatoes.
We'll stay here tonight and move on to the top of the Wigan flight tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wednesday 25th April 2012
Despite the weather forecast we decided to move a bit today. Last night I found out that the boat yard we passed yesterday,(just the other side of the bridge from where we moored) sold Diesel at a reasonable price. This meant reversing through the bridge and around the corner in the wind this morning. I may have mentioned before that these boats do not reverse very well, specially in windy conditions. Steering going backwards is almost non-existent so it was some with some trepidation that we set off. 
It didn't go too badly considering the wind, and the fact that we had to reverse into their yard as well. This is a very friendly little yard run by Canal Boat Cruises. I can heartily recommend them if you need fuel. A lot of boatyards I feel tend to overprice fuel because we are a captive market, but here the price seem fair.
Having taken our fill we set off once again. It was threatening rain with spots coming occasionally and we decided to continue as far as Johnson's Hill Locks as long as it didn't really pour down.
The worst of the rain did hold off and we are now tied up at the top of the locks. I took a wander into the little village to find the local shop where I got some more eggs.The rain has started in earnest now so that's it for the day. 
this is our mooring tonight.,-95.677068&sspn=37.735377,86.572266&t=h&hnear=Wheelton,+Lancashire,+United+Kingdom&z=17

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tuesday 24t April 2012
We were unsure about spending the Sunday night in Blackburn as it doesn't present a good face to the passer by. However it wasn't too bad. We were woken at about 03.00 by a party of very loud revellers who were larking about on a plastic boat which had been moored near to us. They took it for a short blast down the water and spent most of the time yelling to each other, but this only lasted about 30 minutes and all was quiet again.
Monday was spent moored up at Eanam Wharf, we took the opportunity to do some shopping and I had my eyes tested and ordered a new pair of glasses from Boot's. They will be ready in about a weeks time and have said they can send them on to any Boot's shop near to where we are at the time, so we'll probably pick them up in Liverpool.
On the move again today. We set off from Eanam Wharf heading for the 7 Burnley locks. As I've mentioned before this bit of canal is pretty filthy, the locals seem to think the canal is their own personal rubbish tip. The consequences of this is the amount of rubbish I have to remove from around the propeller. Once again I was diving into the weed hatch to remove said c**p and I couldn't open one of the lock gates fully because there was a pallet trapped behind it
Having done the locks we plodded along the canal as it wound through some pleasant places, finally deciding to stop at a little hamlet called Riley Green, just the other side of the bridge from the boat yard.,+UK&hl=en&ll=53.720685,-2.571273&spn=0.001724,0.005284&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=37.735377,86.572266&oq=riley&t=h&hnear=Riley+Green,+Lancashire,+United+Kingdom&z=18
The picture is an interesting sculpture we found at the service yard half way down the Burnley locks. It's not me after dieting!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sunday 22nd April 2012
Having once again picked some detritus from around our propeller we set off this morning knowing I would probably be cowering under a brolly for a lot of the time.
The prediction was true, and most of the trip I needed the cover. We cruised on through the showers, watching quite a few people on the tow path also looking decidedly damp, huddling in their anoraks.
The views changed slowly from countryside once again to industrial as we approached Blackburn. This place was one of the kings of the cotton mill era, but today of course is trying to recover from the demise of that industry. Many of the once great mills are gone, and the rest of them are either derelict or turned to other uses. Most of the tall chimneys have succumbed to the Fred Dibnahs and Blaster Bates of this world. I took a wander into town and found it to be fairly modern with the usual shops and Mall. There are signs for a museum, and I may try to find it tomorrow.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Friday, Saturday 20th, 21st. April 2012
Having provisioned at the Morrison's in Nelson yesterday we set off this morning in occasional sunshine, punctuated with large cauliflower clouds which promised showers to come.
The countryside alternated from industrial to open views over the valleys. As we approached Burnley one of the showers turned quite nasty with a good pounding of hailstones. We had intended to moor on the embankment overlooking the town but the hail made us change our minds and we headed for the mooring at the town wharf. Here we stopped for short time while I went into town to get a couple of magazines. There's a large Tesco Extra here and I expected to find them in there. Alas, no. They had every imaginable knitting magazine except the one Cath wanted, and also Waterway's World when I wanted Canal Boat. I went off further down the hill into the town centre and found a Smith's which of course stocks everything.
Deciding not to stop here overnight we continued on our way as far as the next BW services. By now it was pouring again. Just as we manoeuvred to come alongside we picked something up on the prop which made life difficult. I decided to leave diving into the weed hatch until this morning.
Already moored up here was a boat we have seen a few times moored up in Stanley Ferry and was intrigued by its name "Jar Jar Binks" with a graphic of the Star Wars character. Why did they call their boat that? Turns out that the family name is Binks, and the grand children insisted on the name. No better reason I suppose.
This morning looked about the same as yesterday, and the results were very much as expected, showers of rain and hail. 
I took a dive into the weed hatch and came up with loads of heavy plastic and string.Just after we set off, not having gone more than a few feet, something else caught round the prop and we had to stop to remove it.
The industrial scenery continued, but open views were still aplenty and we've now stopped for the night at Church where there is a lovely single mooring, except that some kids have just turned up and thrown a cushion at us, which they picked up amongst the general canal-side rubbish. Luckily it didn't have any stones in it.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thursday 19th April 2012
After looking at the weather this morning ( I know! I'm obsessed with it, but it does effect us greatly) we decided to move down to Nelson where there is a nice secure mooring with access to a Morrison's super market.
The first lock was nearly full so was soon ready for Cath to enter, and we were off.
The next lock was empty so I started filling it while Cath waited in the tail of first one to keep out of the wind. Just as I started to empty the second lock another boat came into sight and a lady come up from it. they had been told that we were on the way down by some BW men and they had left the next two locks full with the gates open ready for us. Result!
Two locks further on there was another person waiting with the gates open and and he told me his boat was waiting at the bottom of the flight for us to complete out passage and that all the locks were now in our favour. Wow, what luck!
While doing the locks a little bit of rain came down, but not a lot. We started off from the last lock with only a couple of miles left to do. Again it rained a little bit, but not much and I just hid under my brolly. Just by bridge 141d there is one of those rare things on the system, a recycling point for boaters, which gave me a chance to get rid of the oil I have accumulated from several engine oil changes. Then it was just a short run to the Morrison's mooring. We were joined here for a short time by a hotel boat. This is the first one I've seen on this canal and the first wide beam hotel boat as well. The owner told me they are the only 5 star rated hotel boat on the system. They designed it themselves, based on a Leeds short-boat.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wednesday 18th April, 2012
After sitting tight at the eastern end of Foulridge Tunnel yesterday we decided to try and get going today in the hope that the weather man hadn't got it too right. The forecast was for the weather to deteriorate during the day so we got up a bit earlier than usual and set off for the tunnel entrance at about 8.00 o'clock.
Arriving at the entrance at about 8.15 we found the lights red, as one always does, and settled down to await the green lights. Just our luck, there are no indications on any signs or clues in the canal books as to the timings of these lights and it seems we must have just missed them because they didn't go green until 9.00 o'clock.
The passage took us about 20 minutes, and the weather looked decidedly dull when we emerged at the western portal. 
Carrying on along the top pound we stopped at Barrowford Top Lock where there is water and elsan disposal. Just as the water tank was coming up to full it started to drizzle and didn't look like it was going to improve so we decided to call it day and have now moored up here, with what would be great views over Barrowford Reservoir, which isn't looking too full at present, and the surrounding countryside.
I took a video of our tour through the tunnel with my phone camera, pretty amateurish of course, but it will give an idea.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A cold morning at East Marton

Can't get enough of these views

I don't think she'll float again

Bridge 147 L&L Canal

Monday 16th April 2012
Another fine morning today as we set off heading for the summit of the L&L Canal. A pretty trip through the countryside and then only 3 locks to climb before we are on the top. This time we didn't stop at Barnoldswick, but motored straight through. Soon we passed a signpost showing the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire so we knew we were close to Foulridge tunnel. We decided to stop here rather than continue through the tunnel today.
I had a bit of a clean around the windows while the sun still shone. All the splashing from facing lots of leaky lock gates on the rise to the summit had left our windows decidedly dull, specially the front one. I then took the camera to see if I could find anything worth a picture.
I'm still very impressed with the service from 3 network. I haven't found a spot yet where I don't get a good signal, yet my Orange phone signal fails often.
Not sure whether we'll stay here tomorrow, the weather report isn't too good, but you never know.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday 15th April 2012
On Saturday we returned to Gargrave and then set off in pursuit of some local caches with Paul and Jacqui. There are three in the village, the first two give the co-ordinates to find the third. We ended up wading across the river twice. there are stepping stones but after the recent rain several of them are under the water.
Last night we ate out at The Swan, a great meal but we were surprised to find that they don't accept plastic of any type, luckily we had cash on us, but it could have been embarrassing.
This morning, in glorious sunshine, we set off to once again for East Marton. We teamed up with another boat for the 9 locks. It was a good day, at a lot of the locks we met oncoming boats meaning plenty of help and the lock ready for us. As the day wore on it got colder and just after we moored up it started to hail.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday 13th April 2012
Back in Skipton today. Paul and Jacqui arrived yesterday afternoon, just in time for dinner, one of our favourites, jerked chicken, a spicy slow cooker recipe.
After dinner there was the usual catching up on gossip and news, and of course a fair bit of "lubrication".
This morning we teamed up with Blackbird to descend the 3 locks and many swing bridges into Skipton. Once here we easily found a mooring and while Cath and I organised a raiding party on Morrison's Paul and Jacqui went off to explore the town and do some retail therapy.
Tonight it looks a if it will be fish and chips for supper.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tuesday 10th April 2012
We left it a bit later than usual to set off this morning because the weather report said that the showers would get less as the day wore on.
In a sunny spell we cast of and chugged east along the very twisty and beautiful bit of the system. It wasn't too long before another shower put in an appearance, this time of hail, and I cowered under under a brolly while the scenery slipped past. In between the showers the sun lit up the countryside and created some lovely rainbows.
Toward the bottom of the 6 Bank Newton Locks we joined up with a hire boat and continued together through those and the following 3 locks, as far as Gargrave where we intend to spend the next couple of days.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Saturday 7th April 2012
Yet again the weather could have been better. But I suppose we've been spoiled a bit recently. We set off from Gargrave this morning to climb Greenber Field Locks, the last three locks to the summit level of the L&L.
Arriving at the bottom gates there was a boat waiting to go in. A look at the pound above showed that we have a problem, the water level was very low.
When the gates opened I kept an eye on their progress and they seemed to be ok. After our boats had entered the lock I took a walk up to the next one to see what was happening. There was a wide beam waiting to come down, so while it was cycling though our boats started up the low pound. We expected to have trouble in this pound because Lyra is very deep, but while she did drag along the bottom a bit, she made it.
Rising onto the top pound we found that even this was a bit low, but not too bad. We travelled up as far as the winding hole just before bridge 153 where we turned around and returned to moor up at bridge 154a for easy access to the town.
I took a walk into the centre of Barnoldswick (pronounced Barlick) for a look around. It's a lovely little place, whose major industry is Rolls Royce jet engine research. There is a butcher and baker as well as several small specialist businesses, but the place seem to die on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Friday 6th April 2012
The fine weather hasn't lasted. We awoke this morning to dull grey skies and threatening rain. Setting off just after 9.00 for the short, steep run to East Marton, just under 5 miles and 9 locks away.
It was a fairly easy run, the canal is quite busy, it being Easter holiday time, and most of the locks were in our favour, or actually ready for us.
East Marton is a tiny village, close to the summit level of this canal. There is one pub and a small cafe/restaurant which sells the most divine cakes and pies. Just as I set off from there back to the boat the rain started, light at first,  and luckily I got back before it got worse. As I write this it's looking decidedly damp outside. the forecast for tomorrow is a 20% chance of rain throughout the day, so it's fingers crossed. We intend to go only as far as the summit and then turn around because Paul and Jacqui are coming to visit and if we keep going in this direction we'll be into industrial landscape and reckon that Gargrave and Skipton are a better bet.
I was hoping to post a short video today but although I shot it, and can play it, it won't upload properly. Back to the drawing board, I blame Bill Gates, and that's for everything that goes wrong when I touch a computer!!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Beautiful Airedale

Dinner is served

The mooring at Gargrave

Strange choice for a leisure boat

Thursday 5th April 2012
In lovely sunshine we set off from Skipton this morning. The countryside around here is just fabulous, and rivals anywhere else on the canal system.
The better weather also brought out more boats and we passed more of them today than any time since we started out. This makes life easy at locks because there is always someone coming the other way to set the lock for you.
Our goal today was Gargrave, which we achieved very easily and found a good mooring. Later I took a wander into the village, a pretty little place with the River Aire trickling through it. It usually flows, but due to the lack of rainfall I can only describe it as a trickle.
I couldn't resist a photo of the large boat moored up. It's not a conversion of an old boat, but new build based on a Leeds & Liverpool short boat. Very interesting. (Well to me anyway)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wednesday 4th April 2012
What a night it was!, we were buffeted all night by high winds but the real problem was our mooring. The canal edge here has a shelf under the water which prevents us from getting in close to the land. This means that our fenders are no good to stop us banging against the side. Instead, our base plate, which protrudes sideways under the water line bangs and against the shelf. No matter how tight I tried to get the mooring ropes, all night there was a constant bang, bang, bang, which kept Cath awake for a lot of the night. I can sleep on a slack washing line in a storm so was ok.
This morning our neighbour very kindly lent us his extra wide fenders which are made from scooter tyres. These hold us far enough off the edge to stop the banging.
After the wild night the weather today has steadily improved, the sun is shining and the wind dropping.
We spent the day cleaning, shopping, and provisioning, and I transferred some fuel from our barrel stock into the tank.
Tomorrow looks like being a fabulous day according to the met office so we'll probably move on.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tuesday 3rd April 2012
We were going to stay put in Silsden for today because the weather forecast was for rain all day. That changed when the forecast for tomorrow changed to absolutely foul! It's now supposed to be very windy, with gusts up to 44 mph, so we decided that today was the lesser of two evils. Our two boats set off a bit late, about 10.00 o'clock, and I climbed on my trusty bike and peddled off to operate the swing bridges. I ended up cycling most of the way from Silsden to Skipton, with only one stretch of riding the boat for about a mile. On the way I managed to lose one of our BW keys which must have fallen from my pocket as I peddled.
This stretch of canal is very picturesque but it was far too wet and dank to get pictures, so there aren't any this time.
We have managed to get a good mooring and will definitely stay here tomorrow. We like Skipton, there's good provisioning here, I managed to replace the lost key at a chandlery, and Cath wants to have a look at wool shops.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Monday 2nd April 2012
We didn't get as far as expected today. After the reported trouble with bridge 199, I cycled up to it this morning and it all looked ok, no workmen fussing around and no notices to say out of order. Because I didn't want to disrupt the traffic any longer than necessary I waited for Ian and Cath to come around the corner before starting to operate the controls. It wasn't to be. The manually operated road gates would not lock into the closed position, so the bridge just wouldn't allow me to swing it.
A quick call to BW and they had someone out in about 30 minutes. They told me that this bridge has been a pain in the **** for some time now, constantly breaking down. They bypassed the safeties and got us on our way.
I then cycled up to the next bridge, which was also electrically operated. In with the key, press the button and ---- nothing. The display lit up with FAULT, under/over voltage. This time the bridge was under the control of Bradford Council, so another phone call was made. The voice on the other end of the line reckoned he would get in touch with the man in charge and have someone there in about 15 -20 minutes. After about 40 minutes I decided to call again to see if anything was happening. It turned out that the engineer had left his keys at home, so had to go and retrieve them before coming to our rescue. He eventually turned up and duly reset the controls and started the bridge operation for us. Just then a van drove up the bridge, and despite the flashing lights and moving barriers drove onto the bridge. But by then the far side barrier was too far gone for him to make his escape! The engineer didn't bother stopping the operation, just gave the van driver a piece of his mind and told him he'd have to stay there, on the bridge while it finished it's cycle.
By now, because of the delay, we had built up a queue a boats waiting to get through so the traffic was held up for some time while we all got through. We now had a nice little convoy of boats so I didn't have to get off again to swing bridges as turns were taken as normal. The only consequence of the delays was that we decided not to get to Skipton today, but have now stopped in Silsden for the night, and if the weather forecast is correct we may well stay tomorrow if the threatened rain appears.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

These pics of the 3 and 5 rise locks were taken last year
Sunday 1st. April 2012
We awoke to glorious sunshine this morning, although it was a bit cold (frost on the boat). Setting off about 9.30 with our goal today being the top of Bingley 5 Rise.
There was one single lock and one two chamber staircase, along with several swing bridges before we arrived at the bottom of Bingley 3 Rise. We waited while a boat completed the down passage and then the lock keeper beckoned us in. At both the 3 and the 5 rise locks there are BW lock keepers to control the use of the locks and assist the passage. This makes life very easy.
We were asked if we intended to continue our journey after completing the locks, which we didn't. Good decision! If we had wanted to go on, we couldn't have. It seems that an electrically operated road bridge over the canal has failed, so the canal has come to a standstill. Hopefully it will be mended in time for our onward journey tomorrow.
There's a fine little cafe here at the top of the locks so we decided to have spot of lunch, and I got some ice cream for after dinner tonight. I then got the bike from the top of the boat, pumped up the tyres and put a bit of lubricant on the appropriate parts before taking it for a short shake down run. The next section of canal, to Skipton, while being lock free, is liberally sprinkled with swing bridges. I hope to use the bike to ride ahead and prepare them for the boats, thus saving a lot of time.