Monday, 7 September 2015

Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Hi all,
This week our story comes to you from the Stainforth & Keadby Canal in South Yorkshire. We're moored just West of Keadby Lock as we wait to get onto the River Trent which will take us towards our final destination of this year, Trent Lock and the Erewash Canal, where Chyandour first entered the water three years ago. The next leg of our journey on the Trent is a little nerve racking as it will be the first time either ourselves or Val and Pete on Tadpole 2 have ever been on a tidal river. We've heard many conflicting stories of what to expect but my instinct is to go with the positive experiences and not be put off by the negatives. We've planned for it and prepared for it as best we can so bring it on.After a chat with Mark the Lockie here at Keadby this afternoon, he assured us we had picked a good time to go, so we will be locking down onto the river after lunch tomorrow.
Last week we spent Monday night in Clarence Dock while we recovered from Sunday nights celebrations with John and Dianne, aka "the Chillies", who live in nearby Birstall. We met them last Winter in Corralejo and the six of us planned to meet up when our boats arrived in Leeds so we could go for a "Kerry", as John calls it, a curry, to the rest of us. He took us to a great Indian Restaurant near Birstall and together with his brother, Steve and his wife Josie, we all had large quantities of alcoholic beverages to wash down the very reasonably priced and enjoyable meal.
The eight of us preparing to enjoy our "Kerry".
As a result, it was Tuesday morning when, together with the brothers Steve and John as passengers, Tadpole 2 and Chyandour set off to make our way to our next stop at Woodlesford Lock, which was three locks and four and a half miles along the Aire and Calder Navigation. The Aire and Calder is a mix of river and canal and the first bit of canal starts where it leaves the River Aire just outside Clarence Dock and runs parallel to the river before rejoining it at Lemonroyd. At Woodlesford the brothers said farewell and made their way back to Leeds on the train. We meanwhile had a walk around what had once been an area of industrialisation but has now been given back to nature. There were coal mines and a power station close to the canal but now there's little to be seen except some obviously landscaped spoil heaps that are already being covered with trees and shrubs.
Leaving Leeds Lock on our way down the Aire and Calder Navigation.
An unusual view. Along the Navigation from under the A1/M1 Link Bridge.
Just one of the many animal carvings that can be seen around a very well looked after Woodlesford Lock.
Woodlesford Lock. At a guess you could probably get eight narrowboats in this lock.
The next day, Wednesday, we set off once again, this time to Castleford where, having got back onto the river, we meet the Aire and Calder Navigation, another part river, part canal waterway, and the Castleford Cut, obviously a canal. We spent a couple of nights moored on The Cut, enjoying some of the delights of Castleford which has a large open Market as well as a large covered one and the usual shops, and there's also The Griffin, near to the canal, which is a pub that sells a rather enjoyable pint of John Smiths Bitter.
The weir at Castleford on the River Aire.The Barge with the shrubbery growing out of it broke free from her moorings and was washed downstream till she founded here. She's been here about thirty years now.
 On Friday we set off from the Visitor Moorings at Castleford to cover the remaining bit of The  Cut before entering Bulholme Lock, this dropped us down the eight feet to return to the river on which we cruised for the four miles or so to Ferrybridge to rejoin the canal to make our way to Whitley Lock where we planned to stay the night. Again the banks of both the river and the canal showed signs of past industrialisation, as well as Power Stations still in use, as we passed, first under The Ferrybridge and then through the town of Ferrybridge itself.
The Ferrybridge at Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire which was an important crossing on the River Aire for The Great North Road
 After staying overnight below Whitley Lock we left the lovely,but a bit noisy from the nearby Motorway, moorings on Saturday morning and cruised along the wide and relatively straight Aire and Calder to it's junction with the New Junction Canal. This canal was one of the last canals to be built and it shows, it is wide and dead straight for it's entire five and a half mile length and has just one lock, Skyehouse, which had a Lock keeper on duty who worked us through. Below the lock we moored for the night and went for a walk along a very seldom used, and difficult to find, Footpath to the nearby village of Skyehouse. There we spent very comfortable and friendly few hours in The Old George Inn as we watched England win at rugby.
Yesterday we left Skyehouse and cruised to the end of The New Junction Canal and turned sharp left onto the Stainforth and Keadby Canal at Bramwith Junction where we travelled parallel to the River Don on an embankment to our left. Tadpole 2 was, by this stage, getting a bit low on Diesel so we stopped at Stanisland Marina, just before Thorne Lock, and fuelled up. They're a friendly lot at this marina, pretty much as we find at most marinas, and they invited us to stay the night, enabling us to visit the nearby town of Thorne instead of chancing our luck at the Visitor Moorings below the lock. A nice gesture that was much appreciated. While there we had the bonus of the AVRO Vulcan Bomber XH558, fly overhead on it's way back to Doncaster Airport. Sadly this aircraft will be grounded at the end of this season and it's unlikely it will ever fly again.
Skyhouse Road Bridge on the New Junction Canal. Just one of the many Lift or Swing Bridges we encountered.
The Guillotine Gates on the Don Aqueduct that carries the New Junction Canal over the River Don.
 This morning we said our farewells to all at the marina and set off to make our way just over ten miles to Keadby. Travelling through countryside that looks very much like East Anglia we made our steady way through one lock and eight movable bridges, taking us a bit over four hours. The last few miles reminded us of the Erewash Canal as it had a covering of weed just like a lawn, it looks as though you could walk on it in places.
Chyandour making her way through the weed on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

The Vazon Sliding Railway Bridge about half a mile from Keadby Lock. This bridge slides sideways to allow boats to pass. We had to wait for a convenient gap in the rail traffic before we could go through.
The bridge opens and through we can go.
 Well thats the lot again for this week folks. Since last week we have gone through 12 Locks and 14 Bridges and cruised 46 Miles which brings our Grand Total to 1,303 Locks and 2,243 Miles since we set off on our travels in October 2012.Please take care everyone.

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