Monday, 10 September 2012

Swing Bridges.


Lisa has finally done it,she has taken control of the boat on her own and she did it well.We’ve been out since last Friday on the Leeds & Liverpool canal with a hire boat named Ruby,and,as always,Lisa has got off the boat and worked the locks or the swing bridges while I have the easy job of controlling the boat,please believe me,I’ve tried,without much success,to get her to change places.We met a lovely couple at the weekend with their boat WaterRatz,and we cruised with them till Thursday,sharing the locks and swing bridges.Now,there are a lot of swing bridges on the Leeds & Liverpool,some have traffic lights to stop the traffic,some don’t,and some of them can be very heavy and need a lot of effort to operate.While we were in company with John and Sheila,and Sheila’s sister in law,Rekha,who joined us for a few days,it was good,’cos we could leapfrog each other and share the work,but when we were heading back,we were on our own,and one particular bridge gave us cause for concern.This time though,Lisa took the boat,letting me do the bridge,and she handled Ruby like a pro’.Things now look good for when we have our own boat and we can “share the chores” so to speak.The girls did like the traffic light controlled bridges though,Lisa holds the record for keeping one bus and fourteen cars waiting.

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On the top left,Lisa has hold of one of the manual swing bridges,and on the right you can just about make her out at the control panel as she holds up the traffic at a bridge near Riddlesden.I had to include the lower pictures because this particular swing bridge has a memorial to 7 polish airmen who sadly lost their lives when their Halifax bomber crashed onto the canal shortly after take off on September 23rd 1943.

On Tuesday we left Skipton,after filling Ruby up at one of the water points,and headed for the Bingley Five Rise locks.No locks till we got there,but there were plenty more swing bridges.We had one stop to make on the way,and that was because on both Sunday and Monday nights we had been in the company of Paul and Angela as well as John and Sheila,now Paul has a Burger Van near Farnhill on the A629 which runs alongside the canal so we stopped for lunch with him.I have to say his food is excellent,so if your ever in the area,give Paul a visit.

The Leeds & Liverpool canal has some stunning scenery in all directions,so here are some pictures of what we enjoyed.

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Below is a couple of photo’s of the Five Rise.On the left is at the top when we arrived on Tuesday and on the right is John and I as we entered the top of the flight on Wednesday morning.

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The Bingley Five Rise locks were built in 1774 and are a world famous flight of staircase locks,which means,as you leave one lock you enter the next,the bottom gates of one lock being the top gates of the lock below.Conventional locks each have their own top and bottom gates with a length of canal called a pound between each lock,there are no pounds on staircase locks.We spent the night moored above the locks and walked,with a very friendly police escort,into Bingley itself where,thanks to Mr. Wetherspoon,we all had a great meal and the odd drink or three.

Wednesday morning saw us making our way down the Five Rise,and just beyond those the Three Rise, ably assisted by David,Mike and another lockkeeper whose name we didn’t get.The Lockkeepers are a mixture of volunteers and permanent keepers who work for the Canals & Rivers Trust and so far,on all our travels,all of them have been great guys and ladies.All of us are probably world famous ourselves now,judging by the number of photographers who snapped our every move through the eight locks.From there we continued on our merry way through a couple more locks,and a few swing bridges,to our first stop of the day,at Saltaire.This was the one of the places we were keen to see,along with the Bingley locks,it’s just one of the hundreds of sites connected with the Industrial Revolution that are close to our canals,and which make our travels so interesting.Saltaire was the vision of Sir Titus Salt,a wealthy mill owner who wanted to improve the living and working conditions of his employees.Built in 1850 and named after him and the nearby River Aire,it had every amenity his employees needed,including a hospital,but no pub.It is all built using that lovely, honey coloured sandstone that makes so many of the buildings in this area so attractive.

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Above is the inside of Salt’s Mill,now restored and used as an exhibition building with some beautiful exhibits and there’s Ruby,moored between two of the  mills.

From Saltair we continued our cruise till we reached the Field Locks,it was our intention to descend this staircase and go a bit farther but the locks were “locked” for water conservation reasons,so we pooled all our resources,made a meal from the results and had a great night moored at the top of the locks.The next morning Lisa and I “Winded” Ruby and headed back,leaving our new found friends to continue towards Leeds.Now,Winding” is not putting Ruby over our shoulder and patting her back,it’s a canal term for turning the boat round and gets the name from the horse drawn days when the wind was used to assist the turn.There are places at frequent intervals on all the canals called “Winding Holes” that are simply wider places that allow boats to turn round .We stopped at the foot of the three rise on Thursday night,ready to head up the flight the next day.These locks can only be used when the keepers are in attendance which is from 08.00 to 18.00hrs in the summer.

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The picture on the left is Ruby approaching the bottom of the Five Rise,the boat ahead is another hire boat,this one from Silsden Boats with a crew of lovely people from Edinburgh.We do meet some nice people on the canals and we shared these locks with them,and later in the day,some of the swing bridges,on our way to Silsden for the night.The picture on the right is to try and give you some idea of how deep the locks can be.

On Saturday we took a walk around Silsden and found it to be a delightful little place with plenty of shops and interesting features.From there we had a steady cruise back to Skipton,in the company of another boat,again,sharing the swing bridges which made things easier.We arrived in Skipton where,after mooring Ruby,we enjoyed one or two of the local hostelries.My favourite,the Narrow Boat,is one that serves a variety of real ales,and then from there,it was just a short walk back to the boat via a fantastic Fish and Chip shop called Bizzie Lizzies.Sunday was also spent in Skipton, where we enjoyed a pleasant walk along the Spring Branch,a small canal beneath Skipton Castle that was built in the 1700s to transport limestone from a nearby quarry.The quarry still exists but the canal hasn’t been used to transport limestone since just after the second world war.A couple of pints in The Narrow Boat rounded off an excellent weekend.

We left Skipton on Monday morning,after filling Ruby with water again,and gently cruised for about 4 hours to Gargrave,another pleasant little village close to the Leeds & Liverpool canal.The first rain of our holiday fell overnight on Sunday and when we arrived in Gargrave there was another downpour so here is where we will stay for the night,no sense in getting wet.We managed a couple in the Masons Arms before settling down for the night though.

That’s all for this week I’m afraid,we end our holiday on Friday at Reedley Marina,Ruby’s base,from there we intend to get to Trent Lock to see Chyandour to see the progress that has been made on her fit out and painting.Take care everyone.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds a great journey with narrowboat! I love all the shots of above images.I think having boats is a great option to enjoy the holidays and get experience of adventures with family, friends and colleague.
    Courtney@ Thames boat hire