Ship's Log

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Current Location : Oxclose Lock
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Day
Date
Activity
Engine
Hours
Miles
Total
Miles
Locks
Total
Locks
0
-
1767.0
0
0
0
0
1
3/6
Drove down to Ripon with Alison, who would be taking the Micra home. Did a big shop at Morrisons to re-stock the boat and keep me in provisions until at least York. While she stowed everything away - hopefully in places where I can find it again - I rinsed out and filled the water tank. Alison then left to return home in time for Evensong in Guisboorugh, while I moved Kestrel across to the otherside of the finger, so I could wash the port side, which I hadn't got round to last week.Looking a lot smarter I then headed off down to Oxclose Lock, ready for an early start in the morning.


Kestrel, at the picturesque and well maintained Oxclose Lock
1767.6
1.3
1.3
0
0
2
4/6

Overcast and a chilly breeze from the north - not the most alluring start to an early summer cruise, but at least it wasn't raining. At 8am I headed for the lock and found it had almost filled overnight, so wouldn't be long before I was through. The ladder, as I descended to the boat as it reached river level seemed even longer and slimier than I remember from past years. At Westwick lock, faced with a similar descent I decided, instead, to opt for pulling Kestrel out on the mooring rope. The landing stage outside the lock here is at an angle to the line of the lock which ensured that she would lie alongside neatly enough for me to abandon the rope as she went under the footbridge. I then had plenty of time to get own to the landing stage to secure her. At Boroughbridge I stopped to take on 111.82 litres of very reasonably priced diesel, which more or less filled the tank. I carefully marked the dipstick before and after, determined to work out once and for all the capacity of the tank and have a measuring stick that actually shows how much I have in the tank. At Milby lock I used the rope trick again, this time without the hindrance of a footbridge.


Patches of wildflowers making a change from endless willow
At my planned overnight stopping place of Linton lock a narrow boat was just being assisted up by the crew of another boat - just as well, as the lady crew was hardly dressed for the part and would have been no match for the infamous Linton gates. I decided then that I would take the opportunity to go on down and continue on to York. The lower gates of Linton lock are now equipped with a rack and pinion winch system which makes opening and closing the gates very much easier, but the upper gates still take some shoving. After a brief stop for lunch, and after notifying A of my change of plan, I headed on down for York, finally mooring up just down from Scarborough Bridge at 5pm. Alison arrived by train just before 6pm and we had a not altogether relaxing evening entertaining Kit, Milly and a very inquisitive Rufus on board.

The new gate operating equipmen in use at Linton

Sightings on the way down, beside the usual herons, cormarants and sand martins, included a pheasant, which I had never seen fly across the water before, and even more spectacular, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which flew across my bow and landed on a tree close to the waters edge. Below Milby lock a large salmon (?) leapt fully out of the water in pursuit of its prey, landing back with a huge splash.

1774.8
25.5
26.8
4
4
3
5/6

'A day in York' day: Alison disappeared off early for a swim at the local pool, giving me a chance of a lie-in. After a relaxing morning we headed for the bus stop opposite the station to go to George's, stopping off on the way to get sandwiches. George had thankfully remembered to go to work on his bike leaving his car, and the key, for me to use to pick Tilly up from school. After a delicious meal cooked by George, we dropped the girls off and called in at Nick's studio space at Clifton Moor to inspect the work she and George had been doing in preparation for its grand opening on Friday. It was all very impressive. He then dropped us off back at the boat. The spiders had been busy in the warm weather, so I, hard-heartedly, ushered them ashore and set about cleaning up the mess they had left behind. While I was at it, I had a good go at the cabin windows too, which still had plenty of green algae growth where the slats overlap. A job well done. Plenty of sun today, to the solar panel will have been helping to the keep the batteries charged - far better than having to run the engine to do it.

End of day location:Between Scarborough Bridge and Lendal Bridge

1774.8
0
26.8
0
4
4
6/6

The morning was much as yesterday, with Alison disappearing off for her swim, leaving me to make the beds… Later in the morning we went into York looking for various items, including new bathroom fittings - the current ones have gone a bit rusty - but found nothing suitable. Bought hot Cornish Pasties for lunch, which we ate back on the boat. Alison then departed for home on the train, and I bid farewell to York, making my way down to Naburn Lock, ready for going down the tidal stretch of the Ouse on the morrow.
The journey was not uneventful. A groups of 'lads' in a motley assortment of plastic inflatables were floating down in a bunch, more or less mid stream. I judged it safest, as it was close to York Bridge to go to port of them, giving them a reasonably wide berth, and with plenty of room for one of the small day boats coming upstream to pass as well. Having safely cleared the hazard, the occupants of the day boat helpfully informed me that I was supposed to keep to the right - one learns something new everyday! With my new found knowledge firmly under by belt, when, further down stream an on-coming (full description expurgated) plastic boat seemed intent on ramming me, no matter how much I turn to starboard, and increasingly in danger of hitting moored boats, I was beginning to wonder if this new information was right. Fortunately, at the last moment he veered off, with a gesture which I have to assume, was one of apology.
Naburn, when I arrived, was deserted, although a couple of boats did turn up later. It was cold and damp by then, so I managed to resist going for a walk around the island, opting, instead, for a very early night, once I'd topped up the water tank..

End of day location:Naburn Lock

1776.4
6
33
0
4
5
7/6

A lazy morning, but a chance to have a really good hot shower using the boater facilities. The whole area is having a bit of a facelift, including replacing all the old signs, and there are a lot of them, with new ones in the new livery - blue and white, bearing the new 'broken polo mint' logo. I must say, I'm sorry to see the swan go, I always thought it a clever and effective re-working of the British Waterways bridge and bull rushes logo. The improvements including a tactile garden designed with dementia patients in mind and seven wooden carvings representing local themes - Vikings, iron workers, salmon, the local beetle population etc.


With the boat prepared, the weather warm and sunny and life-jacket at the ready, at 2.45pm I was summoned to make my way down to the lock - the only boat going down today. At 3.02pm I emerged onto the river. Altogether an uneventful trip - all the five boats coming up river seemed to know the 'keep to the right' rule, so no problems there. At Selby the lock-keeper had the gates open by the time I had turned, and I made a clean entrance into the lock - the first time I've managed that, I think - helped by the fact that the tides are on neaps, and the fresh water flow is relatively low at the moment.

Plenty of space at Selby Basin, and pleasing to see that there are more boats on the long term moorings on the east side. It seems that proposals for a marina on that side have now been shelved in favour of yet more blocks of flats.

End of day location:Seby Basin

1780.5
14
47
2
6
6
8/6

An early start, but not on the water: my left wrist had become increasingly painful during yesterday that I had had to resort to taking maximum doses of paracetamol and codeine, and do my best to bandage it. My quest then, was for the New Selby War Memorial Hospital, where I could have it looked at. The verdict was that it was tendonitis. I was duly fitted with a splint and advised to try some Ibuprofen Gel. Back at Kestrel, I enlisted help from the skipper of the next boat down, a German visitor here for four months, to help with the swing bridge.Once through I moored up again and treated myself to hot croisants and a cup of coffee, before setting off for Castleford Junction.
Fortunately the treatment seemed to be working and I was able to negotiate Beal Lock and Bank Dole lock without too much trouble, although climbing up the vertical ladders in the locks wasn't too comfortable. Helpfully, the flood locks at the end of the Selby Canal and at Ferry Bridge were open. I was aware that there were problems at Bulholme Lock and that it was under lockkeeper control. When it came into sight the red light was showing, but as I got nearer the gates started to open, so I assumed it was safe to enter. I cautiously lined Kestrel up, making sure there was nothing coming out, and started in - it was then that I noticed the lockkeeper madly waving me to stop, and saw a wave of water coming towards me through the lock. Hastily retreating, I moored up and went to find out what was happening. Bulholme Lock is a long lock, divided into two chambers, which can be used individually, or as a single long lock, for extra long commercial vessels. In this case, because of problems with one of the sluices, they were having to use the chamber furthest from the river, not the one that can be user controlled. After explaining the problem, the lockkeeper promised me he would give me the green light once it really was safe for me to enter. Once through, I found a mooring spot halfway down the reach down to the Castleford Junction lock - further from the facilities than I would have liked, but with the unusually large number of boats moored here, thankful for a quiet spot.

Saw a lot of herons today as well as several egrets, and rabbits on the mud banks - also saw an awful lot of plastic waste washed up at various places along the banks.On one of the bends before Beal Lock I saw a small herd of what, to my untutored eye looked like South Devon cattle, very much the same colour as the very red earth at that point. They were doing a very creditable impression of a pride of lions lolling and lying about in the midday sun - except it wasn't that sunny. I would have taken a photo to prove the point, but my phone was below decks on charge. I could have nipped down to get it, but I recognised that corner as the one I had ignominiously gone aground on a few years ago and had to be pulled off by one of the water skiing boats. The irony being that I had been keeping close to the banks to avoid said boats.

Note the trail of the UFO!

End of day location: Bulholme Lock

1786.8
17.5
64.5
4
10
7
9/6

Having got so far ahead of schedule yesterday, and with Phil not due to reach Stanley Ferry until at least 1pm, I felt no need to leap from my bed at an early, chilly hour. However, by 9am I had toddled down to the water point and topped up the tank, and was underway once more - remembering to go straight ahead, towards Wakefield, rather than the more usual right turn towards Leeds. Woodnook Lock (electric) was no problem, but at Kings Road Lock (also electric) I thought my carefully planned itinerary was about to go up in smoke when I couldn't get the waterways key to turn in the lock of the control panel. I was about to summon help when I remembered that we had a second waterways key on the other bunch and that worked without any trouble. The usual key also gave problems at Birkwood Lock, but the second key again did the trick and I was soon crossing the magnificent aqueduct at Stanley Ferry, finding a convenient visitor mooring midway between the pub and the boaters' facilities. I then had plenty of time to get Kestrel shipshape ready for Phil's arrival. He phoned shortly after 1pm to say he had arrived at the local station, and appeared aboard about forty minutes later, having walked - apparently no taxis available and a bus only once per hour. It then wasn't long before we were sampling the fare at the Stanley Ferry pub, which was surprisingly large and surprising busy. After a brief tour of the area, and with the warmth of the afternoon reminding us that we had both been relatively active that morning, we decided that a siesta was in definitely in order - especially with a busy day ahead of us on Sunday.

End of day location: Stanley Ferry Visitor Moorings

1789.8
6
70.5
4
14
8
10/6

'Refreshing' is the best way to describe the shower at Stanley Ferry, convenient it might have been, but hot it was not. The morning was overcast and misty when we slipped quietly from our moorings at 7.20am. It wasn't till midday before I felt warm enough to shed my fleece - partly as a result of the sun coming out and partly from the expenditure of energy needed to operate the lock gear on the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Most of these locks on some of their equipment require the use of a 'Calder and Hebble handspike (a lump of timber, roughly 2" x3", that acts as a removable lever. However, we managed one way or another to operate the locks with the usual winder, without having to delve into the bowels of Kestrel to find one. It's not often one is exposed to criticism of the helm by the female crew, but today was an exception - twice. The first time it was words swallowed, but meaning evident - on the second occasion, to avoid a full scale domestic, I shinned down the ladder into the lock to push off a boat that had got itself stuck behind a closed lock gate, the boat being too long to be able to simply open the gate.

We arrived at Dewsbury junction ready to adventure up the Dewsbury Arm to Savile Town basin - the last time I had been up it I felt that I was going up a canal that hadn't seen a boat in many years, complete with a low overhanging branches and flotsam and jetsam of all sorts. On that occasion I was most surprised to find a thriving marina at the end. This time it was far less overgrown, but the marina just as flourishing, if not more so. With no spaces left on the visitor moorings we enquired about where else we might moor, and were offered a space breasted up to a wide beam near the entrance, but so positioned that we could step straight ashore over Kestrel's stern.

By the time I took this photo a visitor mooring had become available, but we were quite happy where we were.

By the time we had walked to the local ASDA and back for essential supplies were well overdue for our well deserved siesta ('afternoon nap' sounds far too Granddadish for two sprightly OAP's like us!)
Our neighbour highly recommended the real ale at the waterside pub, but since both of us are virtual teetotallers, we were not tempted. He food however, was not so warmly recommended, so it looks like an eat-in night tonight.


A quizical swan.. It's nest near the entrance contained about seven eggs..

End of day location: Savile Town Wharf and Basin (Dewsbury)

1795.7
10.8
81.3
8
22
9 11/6

Slipped even more quietly from our moorings at 7.10am this morning - Phil had wanted to leave earlier, but I felt it would be a bit unsociable starting up Kestrel's engine at that time of the morning. At the end of the Dewsbury Cut we had to make the awkward turn to moor up to prep the first of the Thornhill Double locks. While emptying the lock a Jay came and wandered around the edge of the lock to see what was going on - it was a delight to see one so close to, rather than just a fleeting view through the trees that we normally tend to get.

From then on it was flood lock followed by lock numerous times, as we weaved on and off the river as we slowly climbed towards the point, at Cooper Bridge floodgates, where we would turn to the north west and head towards Sowerby Bridge. Then the inevitable thing happened when we found a lock which could only be operated by means of a Calder and Hebble spike. It wasn't too difficult to find mine, but was one more thing to worry about not leaving behind at each lock. I have to say that Phil is very good at checking these things. By the time we got to Kirklees Top lock we decided it was definitely lunch time, and being a quiet (except for the background roar of traffic from the M62 and the A62) and secluded spot, we moored up for a bite to eat. Unfortunately, while getting stuff out of the fridge I managed to open up the cut on my left index finger that I had inflicted upon myself a couple of days ago. It bled profusely, but fortunately not on the fresh rolls we were about to have.

Fully refreshed, or so we thought, we resumed our journey, but three locks later, and with the sun still high in the sky, we were tempted by the available moorings at Brighouse, to call it a day - just over a mile and three locks short of my planned overnight stopping place.

The pound between the two Brighouse locks

Yes, it was siesta time again! To be fair, it was quite hot and we had been travelling for nearly seven hours and operated quite a lot of locks. Fortunately, during the afternoon a bit of a welcoming breeze has sprung up to cool us down a bit.

View from the Bridge - Kestrel moored next to the Boat House Inn

1801.6
8.7
100
10
32
10
12/6

A couple of Sainbury's best butter croissants and a cup of coffee apiece and we were ready to meet the challenge of the seventeen locks ahead of us that would get us safely to Hebden Bridge today. The air felt dampish, but not raining and would improve as the day went on. Locks came and went at a pace - we even met a couple of Shire Cruises boars - Dorset and Devon (not travelling together) coming the other way, which reduced the amount of lock emptying we had to do. The Calder and Hebble spike, however, still a necessity at various of the locks. For some reason having only short breaks between locks seemed easier, and they did come thick and fast. At one stage we were accosted by an anxious cyclist reporting that a family of geese had got stuck in one of the of the locks, but by the time we arrived at the three locks at Salterhebble we learned that CRT staff had secured their release. Salterhebble makes a good stopping place (complete with basic 'facilities'), which I must remember for the return trip.
Evidence that Phil (Doc Brown) exists...
And then came the left turn at Sowerby Bridge - I was a bit late in realising that we had got there (Phil was on the helm, and I was making the coffee), and by the time I did realise we had gone just got past the junction and were heading into the dead-end arm leading to the marina. A bit of jiggery pokery and we were safely into the start of the Rochdale Canal. Phil had almost got the first lock prepped when I noticed the padlock firmly locking the two gates together. A slow dawning - and a check of the adjacent notice board - confirmed my recollection that passage through the next three locks, and the tunnel, are controlled by CRT staff. The problem was that the system had changed since I was last here: Previously, one just had to make a phone call and a lockkeeper would magically appear. The current arrangement is that on Fridays through to Mondays, CRT staff would be there all day to assist passage, but for Tuesdays to Thursdays they require booking 24hrs in advance. Today, being a Tuesday, meant we were stuck. With a call to the number given, I was able to book passage for tomorrow - although I did have to argue about how much notice was required, since they were convinced it was supposed to be 48hours (which I subsequently learned was what is required during the winter months), not 24hrs. So, hopefully, at 12noon tomorrow, we should be back underway, but we will need to reassess how far we can get in the next few days, ensuring that we are back at Hebden Bridge on Saturday for crew change. Alas, a minor oversight in my planning causing all sorts of repercussions.

Patiently waiting below Lock 1 of the Rochdale Canal for the morrow, when we can resume our journey.

End of day location: Sowerby Bridge (below Lock 1 on the Rochdale Canal.)

1807.0
6.5
106.5
10
42
11
13/6

Woke early, which was a bit annoying, as we couldn't start until the lockkeeper turned up, due at 12noon, to allow us passage through lock 3/4 (there were originally two locks, but when they re-built this bit and put in the tunnel under the road, they made it into just one lock, but very deep at 19'8, compare with Lemonroyd Lock, which is a mere 13'6"). The Tuel Lane Tunnel (a mere 114yards long) immediately precedes it, with limited headroom - a common feature of tunnels, of course. With time on my hands, I decided to check Kestrel's air-draft, which I had down as 7'5", re-filled the stern gland greaser - a bit of a mucky job, but I found my disposable gloves, which stopped it being so bad. I then set about cleaning the windows down the port side, and of the wheelhouse - the starboard side will just have to wait until we're moored up the other way round. Next on my list was the sink, draining board and cutlery caddy. All this frantic housework must be something to do with having a female coming on-board in a couple of days time…
Shortly before 9am I was taking a break, feeling very virtuous, when I notice someone on the gates of lock 1, apparently unlocking them. I hurried up and he told me there was a boat booked to come down at 10am, and yes, he would let us through. We quickly got underway and headed up through locks 1 and 2, just in time to see the other boat emerging from the tunnel. Manoeuvring carefully round the sharp left-hand bend in the tunnel, we emerged into daylight, but at the bottom of a very deep hole. The gates closed behind us and then a tiny figure high above us gave us a thumbs up, duly returned to signify that we were ready for the ascent. Ten minutes later we were ready for our onward journey, giving plenty of words of appreciation for brining forward our booked passage. Another two locks later and we were into our second tunnel of the day, although the guide calls it a bridge, the waterways notice refers to 'tunnel safety', raising the age old question of when is a bridge a tunnel? This tunnel also had a sharp bend in the middle and no lighting, other than from our tunnel light - quite spooky really. Yet another two locks and we were into Hebden Bridge. I had told Phil to expect a lot of boats with Buddhas on the front, but sadly there was only one. The visitor moorings were all occupied so we lingered a little longer than strictly necessary at the waterpoint to have our lunch. A check of our holding tank showed that it could wait until I was back in Hebden Bridge on Saturday.
The deep hole we emerged into after negotiating the tunnel.

The tunnel goes under the main roads junction by the church.

Refreshed, we continued our ascent though another six locks before deciding to call it a day and found a place we could moor relatively close to the bank. While going through the first of the locks I fell into 'conversation' with a lady who was watching the process with great interest. Since she was Spanish and spoke virtually no English, and me knowing even less Spanish, the conversation was limited in the extreme, but we nevertheless enjoyed the encounter.

Big swans they have around here...

While waiting to go into the sixth lock a very hairy collie came up and started sniffing round the mooring post we were using - fortunately he didn't make use of it. Instead he dropped the ball he was carrying in his mouth very evidently expecting me to pick it up and throw it for him. I declined, so he picked it up again, and dropped it again, with the same expectation. The third time he did it, the inevitable happened and it landed in the water. I just managed to retrieve it and returned it to its owner - and blow me if he didn't do it again. Yes, I retrieved it again, and this time the dog's owner took charge of the ball, and off they went - she slightly embarrassed at having been put to so much trouble by her dog.
We had concluded that yet again I put together an overly optimistic plan, in aiming to get to the top of the Rochdale Canal in time I was allowed to be out. We have decided that tomorrow will be a rest day for me (except, perhaps, cleaning the port side windows, since we are now moored that way round) while Phil walks the three miles to the Gauxholme Viaduct, which he has set his heart on photographing, and back. We will then head back down to Hebden Bridge on Friday, so that Phil can get an early train home, and I will have time to re-organise Kestrel ready for Phil (the other one) and Lindsey coming on board.
Overnight stopping place: Lock 14 Holmcoat Lock.

1814.4
7.6
114.1
13
55
12 14/6

My day of rest: After Phil had departed on his trek to see the Gauxholme Viaduct, I went through the three songs the Festival Choir will be singing at the concert the day after I get back, also a couple of the songs for the Harrison Singers and Band concert on 13th July, then had a kip, and a chat with Alison. Feeling like being a bit more active I explored the local environs and found a small bridge over the trickle which is officially still the River Calder, that led to the Bridgeholme Cricket Club. It is a beautifully maintained site, much appreciated by the two locals that I spoke to, and relatively flat for a pitch in the bottom of a valley. The charming bridge lacked many of the features normally associated with such structures, such as a flat deck and parapets, but nevertheless serves it purpose, and on reflection must be the one that gave inspiration for the new CRT logo, which apparently cost a mere £60,000.

The welcoming sign on the canal towpath - unusual except for waterside pubs.

The bridge over the River Calder - recently cleaned by the groundsman of the cricket club.

The imaculate pavilion, and the sign on the reverse of the old mooring post in the foreground.

Back at Kestrel, I thought it wise to check the oil and water levels, which both needed topping up a bit. This was followed by a bit of re-organisation of the wheelhouse, making a bit more room and looking tidier. What an exciting day I was having.
Phil returned a couple of hours later than expected, having decided to walk all the way to the West Summit lock - which had been our target, so at least one of us managed to fulfil the ambition. He's now cooking the tea.
Overnight stopping place: Lock 14 Holmcoat Lock.

1814.4
0
114.1
0
55
13
15/6

Returned to Hebden Bridge. Having first moored up at Stubbings Wharf, a few locks above, we walked down into Hebden Bridge, and seeing a reasonable number of moorings available, decided to make the move. Once there we first did a pump-out before finding a place where we could tie up reasonable close to the bank. There was a handy lamp post and bench in the adjacent park, separated from us by an iron railings. Phil disappeared into town to find an internet cafe and a pub where he could watch some world cup, leaving me to have my siesta. In the evening we went to watch Lovesong by Abi Morgan at the Hebden Bridge Little Theatre. An interesting and imaginative production of a script that didn't really work for either of us. The evening was a bit marred by the groups of 'younger persons' who were occupying the park, and the bench under the handy lamp post was occupied until 12.50am by noisy revellers. Fortunately all their antics were confined to the park and, other than the noise, didn't come in our direction.

A chimney at Hebden Bridge - reminiscent of an old Punch cartoon, re-captioned in a Punch cartoon caption competition*: "She must have been going at one hell of a pace when she hit the beach".

Original 1937 caption: "Can you tell me what this is?" "That, Sir, is the new railway tunnel air shaft" "Dear me! How extremely annoying for the residents" "Lor, sir, that was there long before the residents."

* Courtesy of "If the caption fits..." designed by Glynn Rees. Published 1981 by Elm Tree Books/Hamish Hamilton Ltd

End of day location:Hebden Bridge Visitor Moorings

1819.0
2.5
116.6
5
60
14
16/6

A sunny morning, and an early glimpse of the park revealed the extent of the litter left behind. Phil made and early start for the station, while I made up for some of the sleep lost the night before. More noise from the park, but this time it was youngsters taking part in organised football activities, in a very much clean and tidier park - the council had obviously been out and done a splendid job. Being 'Phil free' for twenty four hours I set about making Kestrel less like a bachelor pad and more fit for my new crew. A trip to the co-op and I was restocked ready for them and Kestrel spick and span..

End of day location:Hebden Bridge Visitor Moorings

1819.0
0
116.6
0
60
15
17/6
Phillip and Lindsay joined me at about 9.30am and, bags stowed, by 10.10am we were underway. All went well, with the new crew getting into the swing of it and picking up the techniques of lock operation easily, until we reached lock 6. The 'towpath telegraph' had warned us that there was a shortage of water here, and it wasn't wrong. In the pound there were plenty of tyres and a spoonful or two of water.

Instant Canal: Just add water...

Still, the CRT guy was on hand and, having rounded up a Shires Cruisers boat to go down with us, ushered us into the lock, and then, leaving a top paddle open, he opened the bottom sluices so that water from the pound above filled the empty pound via the lock we were in. In a remarkably short time there was enough water to make it down to lock five. It helps when the pound above the lock is a long one with plenty of water in and the pound lacking water is only a short one of about 300 yards. Before we knew it we were steaming up to lock 3/4, the very deep one (19'8"), which is keeper controlled. The same keeper magically re-appeared here, and not waiting for the Shire Cruisers boat to arrive this time, had us safely through this lock and the next two as well. It was then a smart right turn off the Rochdale Canal onto the Calder and Hebble canal once more.

At Salterhebble we decided that we had had enough excitement for one day, so moored up on the visitors moorings between the second and third locks going down, which had the advantage of nearby 'facilities'. My crew went in search of a suitable eatery, a Premier Inn, which they found at the end of the Halifax Branch, or rather, what is left of it. When we returned to it later to eat, it was quite busy, with an estimated wait time of 15 to 20minutes for a table inside, but no waiting if we were happy with outside. We ventured out onto the very pleasant veranda seating area overlooking the basin at the end of the canal. After five minutes we decided we had had enough of the noise coming from a small group of people drinking out there and moved back in - presumably this was the reason there were plenty of vacant tables available outside. Back inside, waiting times had magically reduced to only five minutes and in very reasonable time we were tucking into a very acceptable and well presented meal.

End of day location: Salterhebble Locks Visitor Moorings
1823.9
7.5
124.1
9
69
16
18/6


Early morning: Kestrel moored up in the pound between the second and third locks at Salterhebble.

The day got off to an early, but leisurely start - some people demand their toast and marmalade before operating locks! The impetus to move came from a boat coming through the upper two locks, and we decided to go on through the third lock, the guillotine lock, with him, rather than follow him down having to refill each the lock every time. We seemed to fall into a good routine with him and were soon past our yesterday's target, and then into Brighouse, where he was stopping. At Brighouse we topped up the water tank and Phillip and Lindsay went off in search of even more food. I'm not quite sure when we're going to eat it all…
Onward and downward, the techniques for use of the Calder and Hebble spike was soon mastered. At Cooper Bridge Lock, the geese were there is good voice, but no residual signs of the police activity which had caused temporary close of the navigation. Apparently a father and son had died in the lock having been 'magnet fishing' (looking for metallic items with a strong magnet). Much speculation surrounds why they had come from Pudsey to do it at this lock.

At Battyeford Lock we notice a couple in a canoe, with three very small children, all off them suitably attired with lifejackets and helmets, hanging around at the mouth of the lock. I went to check that they weren't near where we would be wanting to moor up after coming out of lock, and they were, but said they would move when we approached, which they did. What we were not prepared was them to capsize a short way ahead of us, with arms and legs and paddles going in all directions, and shouts and scream from the children. In these circumstances a narrowboat does not make an idea rescue craft, so we were relieved to see them successfully manage to get to the bank at a spot where they could get out without too much trouble, but the children still crying in distress. We retrieved two paddles for them, which the husband came and collected from us once he knew the others were safe, and he declined any further assistance. We were all a bit shaken by the experience, knowing that the event could have ended up very differently.

The rest of the trip was uneventful until Phillip, at the very last lock of the day, managed to measure his length on the towpath having tripped over something. A little bit bruised, and his pride rather more dented, seems to have been the extent of his injuries.At least he didn't drop the winder he was clutching into the lock.We then manoeuvred round the very tight bend to enter the Dewsbury Arm, and moored up at the Savile Town Marina.


The tight turn coming out of the lock at Dewsbury Junction to go into the Dewsbury Arm

Weather wise the day had been reasonably warm, but quite breezy, making manoeuvering a bit tricky at times.

End of day location:Savile Town Wharf and Basin (Dewsbury)

1831.3
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A day of no excitement: 8am start, a bit chilly at first, but getting warmer, until we were all in shorts. There were or two other boats about, one of which was a Dutch barge, which passed us just as we were about to get going again after a leisurely lunch near Broad Cut Top Lock - they did offer to let us go first, but we said no, even though we knew we would have to refill the locks after them. We followed them as far as Wakefield, where they moored up.


Seagull playing four asside buoy hopping.

On the way, emerging from Thorns Lock, I was under the distinct impression that we had picked something up round the prop, and sure enough I found a large thick black plastic bag neatly wrapped round it. Once removed, which wasnt too difficult, we were soon under way again. Fall Ings Lock was its usual delightful self, but by concentrating effort on just one gate, we got through with out too much trouble.

At Stanley Ferry we noticed that the new swing bridge appeared to be operational and across the canal, so decided to moor up just before it to see if there were spaces on the visitor moorings - halfway between the pub and the showers. If not we would have to turn round and head back to spaces further down , which we had already passed. However, the contractors were still on-site and one of them open the bridge for us, so we carried on and found plenty of space on the visitor moorings. Within minutes Lindsay had shot off for a shower. Apparently the old footbridge is not to be demolished as there is a six inch pipe attached to the side of it. Instead, they are fitting lockable gates to it on either side, so it is not in normal use, but is available in case of failure of the swing bridge.

The splendid new 'swing at a touch' swing bridge at Stanley Ferry, with the old up-and-over bridge with its new gates.

End of day location: Stanley Ferry Visitor Moorings

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20/6

Another windy morning, cloudy, but with a hint of the sunshine to come - We left our moorings at 8.10am and used the new(er) aqueduct (opened in 1981) so that we could have a good look at the structure of the old one.


The Stanley Ferry Aqueduct, first used on 8th August 1839. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was built on the same principal, some 100 years later.

The onwards to our first lock of the day at Rickwood, only to find that the traffic light was showing red, and that the fault light was on, on the operating consol. A quick call to the CRT, followed by a call-back from the Leeds Office which informed us that someone would be with us in about half an hour. In the meantime we chatted to a passing dog walker who informed us that the red light was also on at the next lock, Kings Road lock. She turns out to be the wife of a retired clergyman, and they were living aboard a wide beam on the other side of the canal. Before not too the CRT guy appeared and said he had reset the system, and also the one at Kings Road, so we were good to go - and he was right. This was Lindsay's first experience of an electric lock, and complained about how hard it was pushing a button in for so long as the gates slowly opened - contrasting sharply with her determination on previous days to wind the hardest sluices up and open the most recalcitrant of gates. At Kings Road a couple of volunteers were there and got us through speedily, although with the force of the wind I had some difficulty in stopping Kestrel banging about in the lock.


Lindsay, having mastered the technology of the push button lock, set about mastering the art of helming Kestrel, on a very windy day.

Through Woodnook lock we were once more on the river - fortunately no canoes about - and turning left at Castleford Junction we were soon safely moored up at Lemonroyd. I tried contacting Marie (she who manages the Lemonroyd Marina), but she is apparently away on holiday - again.



Exhausted by pushing lock control buttons all morning, my hardworking crew take a moment ot relax.


The wind maintained its strength for the rest of the day, but the sun shone, with plenty of blue sky , to make it a very pleasant evening.


A boat entering the very long and deep (13' 6") Lemonroyd Lock.


Where no boat should go - the weir at Lemonroyd.

End of day location: Lemonroyd Visitor Moorings

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21/6

Last night I found that we had a key for the facilities at Lemonroyd Marina, so made good use off them, each of us having a welcome luxurious hot shower in beautifully clean surroundings. In the morning there was still a chilly wind - sunny - but chilly. We headed off for Woodlesford Lock and found we were being followed by a smaller, single hander narrowboat, Jessie James, which we shared locks with up to Leeds. The three locks after Woodlesford were all manned by volunteers, which deprived my hardworking crew of any physical activity (pressing buttons), but at River Lock they were once again confronted with working out the vagaries of lock operation.
Unfortunately, a previous boat had locked up one of the ground paddles without closing it properly, and it was some time, and after some drop of the water level in the first pound that we realised why it was taking so long to empty the lock. Once sorted we turned round and moored up alongside Granary Wharf - hopefully a reasonably quiet spot. For lunch we succumbed to the temptations of pub across the water where we had some excellent sandwiches and a free glass of fruit juice.


Relaxing (again) across the water from Kestrel, in Leeds.

I have arranged for Flora Dong and Khaled Abunaama (overseas students from Leeds University that we have had to stay on Host visits early in the year) to come and visit us tomorrow (Friday) morning.

It remains to be seen whether we stay a second night in Leeds. An advantage of this place is that we have free Wi-Fi from somewhere.

It now transpires there is to be a rail strike on Saturday, so Phil and Lindsay will have to catch a train back to to Hebden Bridge tomorrow to pick up their car, and I will return to Lemonroyd, after meeting up with Flora and Khaled.

End of day location: Granary Wharf, Leeds - Liverpool Canal - Leeds

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22/6

A lot of chuntering amongst the boats hereabouts concerning notices - very discretely placed - saying that all boats have to leave these moorings tomorrow in preparation for the Riverside Festival over the weekend. I checked the original email, which specified 12noon, so was happy that I didn't have to move until after Flora and Khaled had visited me. One or two boats moved on down onto the river to find alternative moorings, including Jessie James, the one we had come up with.
The morning was beautifully sunny, but the wind was still quite cool. Phillip and Lindsay duly departed for their train at about 9.15am, leaving me to contemplate my navel until Flora and Khaled arrived.

No.1 River Lock - the river swings off to the right, under the rail station.

Various other boats moved off the moorings, and an army of maintenance people with noisy hedge trimmers, strimmers, mowers and leaf blowers set about smartening the place up a bit, not as if it was particularly in need of it - perhaps watering the grass here might have been an idea as it was beginning to look parched in places.


I'm sure when they designed this sytem a thorough time test was carried out...

At about 10.40 Flora arrived, followed a few minutes later by Khaled. It was lovely to meet up with them and have a chat about they were up to.


Flora (from Shanghai) and Khaled (from Libya) - overseas students studying at Leed University.

They were just about to go at midday when the owner of Jessie James turned up to help me through the lock. Apparently he had got halfway back to his boat, now moored up below Leeds Lock (by the Royal Armouries), when he remembered he had promised to help me. Once through I gave him a lift down to his boat, and we continued on down to Lemonroyd together. Once safely moored up outside the marina I operated the Lemonroyd Lock for him on his way back to his moorings at Castleford Junction. I was very touched by his concern for me, having disclosed the worries that Alison had been expressing last night in a flurry of text messages about me continuing without a crew.

Later in the day I had a surprise visit from Alison, Kit, Millie and Rufus. Alison had been visiting Kit in York and they had decided to 'take the scenic route' between his house and the station! Rufus, as ever, was a bit of a handful, but suitably attired in our smallest lifejacket, he was manageable and safe enough. He was a bit unsure about getting onto Kestrel at first but soon got used on her again and was soon exploring everything. By the lock, climbing onto and jumping off mooring bollards he found great fun.


Kit and Ru


Millie (wearing Kit's old lifejacket) on Kestrel at Lemonroyd.

End of day location: Lemonroyd Visitor Moorings

1846.8
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23/6
A lazy day, after the busyness of yesterday. Spent several hours trying to fix the radio, which from time to time cuts out on one or other of the speakers - sometimes both. All the connections seemed OK, although the pins on one of the connectors seemed a bit bent. I managed to straighten it and seemed to click together better. I put it all back and all seemed fine, but later it started playing up again. The problem must be on the circuit board itself, I think. A job for a later date.

Kestrel moored up near the entrance the Lemonroyd Marina

End of day location: Lemonroyd Visitor Moorings
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24/6

A lovely morning, with the wind considerable down on what it had been, so got warm very early. I had checked on A Church Near You website and found St Oswalds in Methley was the closest. Google showed a rather complex route, because of the railway line, which would take just over half and hour to walk. Studying the map I reckoned there was quicker route, and found it very easy, just going along the closed-off section of Fleet Lane then walking along the main road. The church, curiously, is not actually in Church Lane, or even Little Church Lane, but is close by.

The very pleasant Eucharist service was taken by Gordon, a retired vicar, as their vicar was away on holiday, and was very much in the style of our services at St Mary's, although there was 'Healing' taking place in the side chapel during communion, but I'm not sure what that entailed. Everyone was very friendly and there were delicious fruit scones provided with the tea after the service.

Saint Oswald's Church, Methley - no shortage of Yew trees in thier graveyard.

Then came the walk back in increasing heat of the day.

The rest of the day was spent either sleeping or reading - Phil had left his book Thunder Point by Jack Higgins, on the boat, so I thought I might as well see if it was any good.

End of day location: Lemonroyd Visitor Moorings

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23 25/6


Lemonroyd Marina on a cloudless morning.


Lemonroyd Lock - this time full.

A bright and early start - making use of the excellent shower here at Lemonroyd Marina - then into the lock for descent onto the River Aire. All very tranquil, but with plenty of birdlife , including an oyster catcher digging around the grass at the lock (presumably not for oysters), a pair of cormorants that were into synchronised diving, an egret, numerous herons and black-headed gulls, a pair of black swans (I think) which took off someway ahead of me - we had seen a pair on our way up, so probably were, a reed warbler - well, that's my guess - the book lists thirty four types of warbler, so Its possible I'm wrong, but it was in the reeds. The pièce de résistance - on the Selby Canal was two sightings of a Kingfisher.

The cattle I had seen on the way out - this time cooling off on a hot afternoon.

At Ferrybridge I made a brief stop to make some coffee and to phone Ormesby Library - my attempt late last night to renew my library books (due back on Thursday) had failed for some reason. The 'system' was apparently down, but they would do it for me when it was back up and running.


The old railway bridge nearing Ferrybridge - the new A1(M) bridge is just visible in the distance.



Not everything on the river is beautiful - the derelict coal barge handling unit at Ferrybridge Power Station.

At Bank Dole lock I met up with another boat that was already in the process of going down. I assisted, and they generously stayed to help me. Another boat arrived just as I was about to enter, but being a wide beam it had to wait until I was finished. Once down at river level someone opened the gate on the side I had been on, but the breeze had blown me across to the other side. I manoeuvred back in the lock so I could head for the open side, there being no sign of the gate on my side being opened, but it wasn't possible to get Kestrel far enough across to get through without hitting the gate. There was no answer for it but for me to go forward and push Kestrel across. What I didn't realise was that I had accidentally left her in forward gear - I was nearly halfway along her - continue forward or go back, that was the instant decision I had to make. There was no way that I could get back and take the speed off to prevent Kestrel hitting the closed gate rather hard and probably bouncing to the stock side, so the only thing was to stretch my leg out and push as hard as possible against the lock wall. I managed two pushes, but the wall was very slippery. At the speed I was by now travelling, my foot slipped each time, so the pushes were not as effective as they might have been, but it was just enough. We hit the edge of the closed gate with the bow fender and bounced into the opening. Then came a bounce off the wall on the other side and we were through with no significant damage - except to my nerves and my pride. I didn't hang around. We shared Beal Lock, I'm glad to say without incident. The flood lock at the end of the Selby Canal, as was expected, was open. I stopped at Gateforth Landing for a late lunch and then headed on for Selby.

A bit further on there were two older teenagers swimming in the canal - stripped to the waist and perhaps more, the water in the canal is not that clear and has a lot of duck weed again - one of them was looked and sounded male, the other of indeterminate gender - one could only speculate…
Temporarily mooring before the swing bridge, I went in search of help. The crew of Sam Gunter, about to go on a shopping trip, readily agreed, and even asked if there was anything I wanted from Morrisons - such kindness.

Having moored up securely in the basin, I later found Nigel, the lockkeeper, who confirmed the 6am start in the morning, although he did offer me passage straight away. I decided I'd done enough boating for one day, and opted for going up tomorrow after a good night's sleep.

End of day location: Selby Basin Visitor Moorings

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26/6

After not a very good night, I was rudely awakened by my alarm clock set for 5.15am. Rather than roll over and go back to sleep, I leapt from my bunk and launched into getting Kestrel for the trip up the river. Then a quick look at the river to make sure it was still there. By 5.50am I had breakfasted and was ready to go. I could see in the distance the lockkeeper open the gates and off I set. By 6.08am I was heading out into the flood tide, turning left onto the river and 'going with the flow' at a fair good rate. Swiftly through the Selby Rail and Road bridges without incidence, it was then simply a case of dodging the biggest pieces of debris - a lot less of it than when I came down, and negotiating the two or three tight bends that there are on a way. At Cawood, just over an hour later, a cheery wave to the bridge operator, knowing that my progress was being reported to Naburn. Nearing, Naburn I was on the lookout for a cruiser and narrowboat that I was told should be on their way down. Such was the speed of my progress upstream - probably due to the fact that there was so little fresh water coming down - I arrived just as they left the lock.

Nearing the lock I saw something swimming in the water, but it dived as I approached, so definitely an aquatic mammal of some sort. Looking back I saw it surface and continue swimming. I guess it was probably an otter, and the lockkeeper, when I asked him, said he'd been told by another boater of a sighting of an otter. The icing on the cake was seeing a pair of kingfishers flying around quite close to the lock itself.

Once back on to the non-tidal part of the Ouse, I moored up briefly for a visit to the facilities and a welcome coffee, before setting off for York once more. Just past the Archbishop's Palace came the cherry on top of the icing on the cake when I saw a deer close to the waters edge. It hurried up the bank, but then stopped and turned to stare at me. I put Kestrel into neutral and grabbed my phone, but by the time I had got to the camera function we had drifted on too far to see the deer and take a picture. Frustrated I determined to switch off the passcode facility as the longer this trip has gone on, the more difficulty the phone has had in identifying my fingerprint. It was while I was fiddling with the phone that I realised that it is possible to access the camera function without unlocking the phone - uuuuuuuugh!


The enticing entrance to the Foss. York Bridge is visible to the left on the Ouse.

Along the way I picked up two hitchhikers - the first, a young Pied Wagtail (I think), and the other one was a young Woodpigeon, who stayed for about ten minutes, before deciding he'd had enough of my company.


One of my hitchikers - The Pied Wagtail didnt stay long enough to be photographed.

In York there was space enough to moor up - the only problem is that the river is very low: four steps below the towpath, as the rowing club would say - 3' 1" to the rest of us, which means that foundations of the towpath wall get in the way of mooring close-up. Even my wheel fenders aren't wide enough to cope with the gap and prevent Kestrel banging against the foundations when the tour boats go past.


'Wheel fenders', deployed, but not actually big enough to be fully effective.

Found out that the cruiser moored up just ahead is a near neighbour on 'D' Pontoon at Ripon.

End of day location:Museum Gardens - Moved to nearer Scarborough Bridge

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Alison joined me yesterday at about 2pm - I didn't go to meet her at the station as that would have meant shutting the windows and locking up the boat - just when it needed to be kept aired and as cool as possible on a very hot afternoon. We spent most of the rest of the afternoon sitting quietly on the bank on folding chairs under the trees, until a group of 'students' came and plonked themselves between us and Kestrel, complete with bags of beer cans, and a boom bar. They did, when requested, turn it down a bit, but it was no longer our idea of a quiet afternoon, so we moved Kestrel up to the last mooring position before Scarborough Bridge, where Kit, Millie and Ru came to visit it us. Once they had gone we had an unexpectedly quiet night.


Milllie becomes our figurehead.

Today started off as it meant to continue - hot. When we went for a troll round York shopping I took the precaution of sticking kitchen foil on the two main windows on the sunny side (it ran out after that) and managed to prop the old solar panel up on the inside of the rear cabin window. This helped to reflect back out some of the heat hitting the side of the boat, and hopefully it wouldn't be too unbearable on our return. Then after a bite to eat we made our way to George's school, crossing the fields to the rear of St Peter's School, which was a very pleasant walk and reasonable shaded. We collected George's car keys from a very helpful receptionist, who also helped us find it the car park. We were then able to drive to George's house before setting off to pick up the girls from their respective schools. Later, we went with the girls to pick George from his school, where he had been involved in an assessment meeting.

Once we had eaten we all returned to the boat, and decided it was a lovely evening for a quick cruise down the Ouse, so we went upstream and turned above Scarborough Bridge, then downstream to almost at the entrance to the Foss, before heading back up to our moorings.


Tilly and Nina about to go ashore to cast off...

Tilly took the helm at various points and seemed to get the hang of pushing and pulling the tiller the correct way - not faced with needing to take any urgent action, which is when one's instinct to move it the correct way is fully tested - it remains to be seen how well ingrained it has become.


Tilly taking very seriousy the art of steering a narrowboat.


Tilly tries an alternative method for guiding Kestrel upstream...

Faced with an early start in the morning, we retired early, and had another quiet night - except for trains heading off for the coat using the bridge.

End of day location: Scarborough Bridge

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29/6

My alarm went off at 5am and by 5.20am I had cast off and was heading for Ripon. Alison was still tucked up in bed - during that time I had three sightings of kingfishers - but she was up and about by the time we got to Linton Lock. There we met another boat, Morgana, heading north, so shared the lock, made even easier when the crew of a third boat, also on its way up, turned up and finished the lock for us. We also shared Milby Lock, but having said we were going to re-fuel at Boroughbridge, when it came to it, we decided not to, and headed for Westwick Lock. Morgana had said they too were going to refuel at Boroughbridge, so we didn't wait for them, and went through Westwick and Oxclose Locks on our own. I had a further sighting of a kingfisher, but Alison missed that one too as she was making a very welcome cup of tea at the time.

For once we were very glad to be able to moor up in the shade.

Alison enjoying a scratch lunch after working Oxclose Lock.

Once through Oxclose Lock, we moored up in a cool spot under the trees for a short break to have some lunch, as we had made surprisingly good time up the river - probably largely to do with the fact that there is so little fresh water going down the river, due to the lack of rain.

Fortunately the Ripon Canal water level was reasonably up, so hopefully the various boats that I had spoken to who were planning to go up to the Ripon Basin will not be disappointed. Safely moored up back in the marina, we hastily packed up what we needed to take - basically my dirty washing and the contents of the fridge - and right on cue, Alison's brother Tom turned up to take us home and the completion of this years trip.

End of day location: Ripon Racecourse Marina

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Day
Date
Activity
Engine
Hours
Miles
Total
Miles
Locks
Total
Locks
Note: To avoid rounding up errors the Total Miles is recalculated from Ripon Marina each day (using Canal Plan), rather than adding the day's mileage to the previous day's Total Miles.