Sunday, 30 August 2015

Clarence Dock, Leeds.

Hi all,
This week the tale of our travels comes to you from Leeds, a City in West Yorkshire at the Eastern end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. We have now covered the whole one hundred and twenty seven and a quarter miles from Liverpool and we are moored in Clarence Dock just off the River Aire, above Leeds Lock in the City. There are other moorings on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as you enter Leeds, some in the Basin above Office Lock and then some below the lock in Granary Wharf but the ones here are the best. Some of the moorings in this dock have electricity and water while others have only water, we've been lucky and got  one with both. Its just a short walk into Leeds and there is also the free River Taxi that travels from here to just below River Lock,the first of the locks on the L&L near the Railway Station. We are now back in the company of Pete and Val on Tadpole 2 who had to get here along a different canal from us,The Rochdale, due to a stoppage on the Bridgewater Canal near Castlefield.
Lisa & Val boarding the free Water Taxi here in Clarence Dock.
Sadly the blog that I had prepared for last week and which was almost ready to be published somehow vanished as I was doing a minor edit after Lisa had read it to spot the faults. I've no idea what happened, I pressed the space bar and the page went blank. I searched the history on my lappy and there was nothing but the blog title, everything else had disappeared. A search of the help pages on Blogger failed to give me any other ways of recovering the blog but it did show that I wasn't unique in losing everything. As a result though, I just didn't have the heart to start all over again.
Anyway,lets move on. We stayed in Skipton till the Thursday before last having a brilliant time walking, eating and drinking.Richard and Geraldine left us on the Wednesday morning to get back to Kirckaldy, and shortly afterwards Sandra, a friend and former boater from Whitley Bay,arrived for the day with her well behaved dogs,Pheobe and Molly. On one evening during our stay in Skipton we enjoyed a great meal in the Aagrah Indian Restaurant next to Pennine Cruisers, and also, on another day, a lovely lunch in the Pie and Mash Shop next door. A few of our evenings were spent in The Yorkshire Rose  pub where on Thursday night, our last in Skipton, Rob, Suzie, Lisa and myself entered the quiz  and came a credible third, afterwards enjoying free pie and peas which were delicious.
Lisa with Richard & Geraldine on the walkway alongside the Springs Branch below Skipton Castle.
One of the many Swing Bridges that are found on the L&L. Suzie has opened this one while Rob waits for us to go through to set the next Swing Bridge. Leapfrogging like this spreads the work of opening & closing the bridges 'cos some of them can be quite heavy, even requiring myself or Rob to lend a hand.
The Leeds & liverpool crosses the Pennines and the views are amazing. This one is from our mooring at Kildwick.
On Friday morning after filling with fuel at Pennine cruisers and using the nearby boaters services, our two boats,Chyandour and Swamp Frogs said farewell to Skipton and we made our way some five miles and through five swing bridges to Kildwick where we managed to moor before the heavens opened and confined us to the boats till the next day. Saturday had us doing just under eight miles and another nine swing bridges to Micklethwait, just West of Bingley where we had the pleasure of a few beers in The Royal, just down the road from the swing bridge over the canal. We had tried to moor alongside the towpath after passing through Riddlesden but wherever we tried the canal was too shallow, we have to remember this canal,like all the others, wasn't built for pleasure craft, working boats only moored where they loaded or unloaded. That night we had the spectacular thunder and lightening with the rainwater pouring off the roof of Chyandour like a waterfall. Next day was bright and sunny and we did the couple of hundred yards or so to the moorings just above the Bingley Five Rise Locks where we would wait till Monday for our Daughter and Grandchildren to come and stay for a few days. Bingley Five Rise Locks are a tourist attraction on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal where the canal drops sixty feet down the steepest flight of staircase locks in the UK. This flight is then followed by the Three Rise Flight that drops the canal another thirty feet, both of the flights first opened in 1774.
Lisa working us down the Bingley Five Rise assisted by one of the CRT Volunteers, Suzie supervising on the other side.
At the bottom of the flight after saying thanks to all our helpers,there's always plenty of help on the lock gates on this attraction.
After our new guests arrived on Monday we set off down the Five Rise and Three Rise, assisted by a Lock Keeper and volunteers from CRT and then cruised to just outside the town of Saltaire, where we intended to spend a few hours on Tuesday before moving on again. Lisa and I have been to Saltaire before but our family and Rob and and Suzie hadn't so it was a new experience for them. Saltaire is a Victorian Model Village and World Heritage Site near Bradford in West Yorkshire, built by Sir Titus Salt in 1851 for his workers in the new textile mills he'd had built alongside the L&L Canal. We moved on from there to a lovely mooring above Field Locks where we stayed just one night and then made our way to Rodley for Wednesday. Sadly it would be in Rodley that we were to say farewell to our very very good friends Rob and Suzie who had decided to stay for the weekend for the Rodley Beer and Music Festival before retracing their journey back along the L&L. 
Lisa's turn on one of the Swing Bridges. It's certainly starting to look a bit Autumnal now.
Early on Thursday morning we left Rodley and Rob and Suzie left their beds and joined us to help with the final leg of our journey into Leeds, what lovely friends. With so many of us and assistance from CRT volunteers at Newley and Forge staircase flights of locks the journey looked like being an easy one, then we entered Kirkstall Lock. With the ruins if Kirkstall Abbey overlooking us we tried to shut the top gates, and failed !!!!! Something was obstructing the gate on the towpath side and we just couldn't get it to close fully, even after scraping away any debris along the cill. A phone call to CRT got assistance from the guys who'd helped us earlier but nothing we did would work so, after nearly two hours, we decided to chance it and empty the lock. Fortunately, Kirkstall Lock only has a drop of about five foot six and, despite a lot of water entering through the top gate, we managed to equalize the water at the bottom gates and open them to get on our way again. From there it was relatively easy as we were also sharing the remaining locks with another boat and crew and we finally got here around two o'clock.
Water entering Kirkstall Lock under the top gate. We'd spent two hours trying to get the gate fully closed without success.
Rob and Suzie said their final farewells to us shortly after we moored and made their way back to Rodley on the bus, what fantastic friends they are to have helped us and for leaving a mug to add to our collection. Our Daughter and Grandchildren waited for our Son in Law to arrive and then we all spent an interesting couple of hours in the Royal Armouries Museum that overlooks our mooring, before having a meal and saying more farewells. That left Lisa and I on our own and some much appreciated peace and quiet, we love having friends and family around us but it is nice to be just on our own for a bit. The next day, Friday, we met up again with Val and Pete off Tadpole 2 and went to explore a bit of Leeds and enjoyed some lovely beer in three interesting pubs. The Angel, with the delicious and inexpensive Samual Smiths Bitter, Whitlocks, with its ornate interior and exterior, and the very friendly Palace. I think I will enjoy the Angel again before we leave though.
The Robin Hood clock in Thornton's Arcade here in Leeds. Being a lad from Nottingham myself, which is the home of the Robin Hood legend, I don't quite understand the connection with Leeds. You can make out the figures of Robin and Friar Tuck, with a mini skirt, which I wouldn't have thought was suitable attire for a man of the cloth. The other two figures are, not, Will Scarlet or King John and Little John, as we first thought, but King Richard the Lionheart and Gurth the Swineheard. The latter we've never heard of but is apparently from Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" and that is the connection.
The view over the River Aire and Leeds Lock from the window of The Royal Armouries Museum.
Well that's the lot again for this week folks. Since our last blog we have gone through 29 Locks, under 27 Swing Bridges and cruised 30 Miles. That gives us a Grand Total of 1,291 Locks and 2,197 Miles since we set off back in October 2012. Please take care everyone.

Monday, 17 August 2015


Hi all,
This week we are moored on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Skipton, a Market Town in North Yorkshire about forty miles from York,the County Town. We got here before lunchtime today having spent a whole week cruising just over twenty miles from where we were last week, North of Burnley.
The view from our mooring above Oliver Ings Bridge 135 North of Reedley Marina where we spent three nights.The sun had just broken through shortly before it set.
The four of us having desert after the barbie.
We left our mooring near Reedley Marina on the L&L last Thursday morning after enjoying a relaxing few days there and our first BBQs of the year. The sun wasn't shining when we lit our first one on Tuesday, but we decided that we couldn't wait any longer for a good sunny day so we went ahead with one anyway, much to the amusement of a number of people walking by on the towpath. On Wednesday night after our second BBQ, also without much sun, we waited up to watch the Perseids flying overhead at eleven o'clock. These are pieces of the comet Swift-Tuttle which burn up as they enter the earths atmosphere at this time every year  The news programs promised us a spectacular show but unfortunately, there was a lot of light pollution at the mooring and we only got to see a handful, plus three satellites and the ISS though, so it was worthwhile.
Suzie and Lisa working us up the Barrowford Locks. The CRT volunteers were up ahead prepping the next lock. As you can see it was glorious sunshine,just after we got to the top the cloud came over in readiness for the rain later.
On Thursday afternoon we moored on the Visitor Moorings above Barrowford Locks which have lovely views over the surrounding countryside being on the summit level of the L&L. Lisa and Suzie had a surprise and some much appreciated assistance as we got to the bottom of the flight of seven locks. A couple of CRT volunteers, who had assisted a boat down the flight, were only too happy to help us up. The much forecast heavy rain arrived on Thursday night and persisted through Friday so we stayed where we were till Saturday morning when we made an early start for our next stop which was East Marton and the Double Arched Bridge, some eight and a half miles further East. On our way we had to travel through the mile long Foulridge Tunnel which has traffic lights at each end to indicate when to enter. It's a wide tunnel and you can see the other end as you get into it and it took us just seventeen minutes to get through which isn't too bad. Then we came to the three Greenberfield Locks which drop the canal thirty feet down from the summit level through even more lovely countryside.
Waiting at the South Portal of Foulridge Tunnel. At dead on the half hour the lights changed and away we went.

The view from the Bottom Lock of the three Greenberfield Locks. The Changeline Bridge, where the towpath changes sides, in the distance, giving an idea of how the canal meanders.
Just a sample of the superb views along the Leeds and Liverpool as it crosses the Pennines.
Rob at the helm of Swamp Frogs,as you can see by his coat it was a nice day but cold.
Approaching the Double Arched Bridge at East Marton. Was the top arch added when the road above was altered or is the lower arch bracing the structure ?
 Yesterday we only had the short distance of four miles to cover as we made our way to Gargrave, a large village also in North Yorkshire and some five miles from here in Skipton.After leaving East Marton we cruised some of the most beautiful countryside anywhere on the canal network as the L&L weaves this way and that over the Pennines. At times it seemed we were heading back the way we came as the canal heads East then West then back again within a mile as it follows the contour. We also had the six Bank Newton Locks to pass through, where once again we had CRT volunteers to help us, and then three of the Gargrave Locks, before we found a spot on Gargrave Visitor Moorings.
Well that's the lot again for this week folks.Since last weeks blog we have worked through 22 Locks and cruised 22 Miles. That gives us a grand Total of 1,262 Locks and 2,167 Miles since we set off on our travels back in October 2012. Take care everyone.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Leeds & Liverpool.

Hi all,
This week we are moored on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Wigan and Skipton near Bridge 135, just past Reedley Marina which is North of Burnley. Since our last blog we have had an amazing time and it's not been possible for me to post a blog for a couple of weeks. Our last blog was from Wigan and we moved away from there the next day when the first of the Poolstock Locks was opened and operated by CRT. It was closed because a bicycle had got wedged in the Ground Paddle and made it almost inoperable. The lock was manned by CRT staff just to allow boats through each morning and we were one of the first through with Tadpole 2 on Tuesday. The next few days were spent preparing ourselves for our next adventure which was to be a holiday in Las Vegas with our Children and Grandchildren, nine of us to be exact. One of our son's was getting married out there and we were hoping to combine the wedding with a holiday of a lifetime and it turned out to be an absolutely fabulous time. We flew out of Manchester Airport Terminal 2 on Sunday lunchtime with Virgin Atlantic for the ten hour flight which, with the time difference, would have us landing at Las Vegas McCarren International around three o'clock in the afternoon local time.
The Virgin Atlantic A340-600 " Miss Behavin " that took us to Las Vegas and back. Great flight both ways.
Our hotel, The Tropicana. Our room was where the black oblong is to the right of centre. It's nowhere near the largest of the hotels in Vegas. Nicely air conditioned inside, step outside and it was like opening the oven door, lovely.
The view from our room window at four in the morning. Couldn't sleep well the first night 'cos there was so much to see.
Inside the Foyer in Caesars Palace. The interior of this hotel, like most of the hotels, was awesome.
Inside the Venetian. Real Gondolas on real water right through the hotel.
The fountains that are set to music in front of Caesars Palace, but really they are in front of The Bellagio. Still amazing though.
The last picture from Vegas, all nine of us in front of the sign. We had a wonderful time, saw so much that we just couldn't fit everything in and I for one would go back and do it all again.
On our return from Las Vegas last Monday we were so shattered after our overnight flight that we stayed on our mooring at Bridgewater Marina for an extra day to recover. While there we discovered that Pete and Val on Tadpole 2 had gone to Castlefield in Manchester and, due to a collapsed building closing the Bridgewater Canal, had been unable to get back to Boothstown to meet up with us to continue on to Leeds. This meant they would have to make their own way to Leeds, via the Rochdale Canal, and we would be on our own on the Leeds and Liverpool. So, the next morning, we set off from the marina to Leigh, where we could re stock the fridge and pick up a parcel from the Post Office and then make our way back along the Leigh Branch  towards Wigan again. This time we would be turning right at Wigan Junction and heading towards Leeds up the twenty one locks of the Wigan Flight, a flight we haven't done before but have heard so much about, little of it good.
Anyway, we then got another surprise, Rob and Suzie off the good ship Swamp Frogs phoned and, to cut a long story short, told us that they were moored above the Wigan Flight and would be there at the bottom, Windlasses at the ready, to help us up on Wednesday morning. We arrived at Lock 85 at eight thirty and there, setting the lock for us was Rob and Suzie, who we hadn't seen since before we set off for Liverpool at the end of June. After much hugging and kissing, me and Rob were only hugging, we set off up the flight, with just a short pause before Lock 84 while we waited for another boat that was heading up so they could share the locks with us. This boat was NB Jubilee, crewed by the lovely John and Jan, who also set about working the locks, John on his bike Lockwheeling, as a result, the trip up the flight was relatively easy, just a bit slow, we had another boat ahead of us and that meant emptying each lock before we could enter. At the top, after the last lock, we were all invited aboard NB Jubilee for a drink before saying our farewells and making our separate ways to Adlington, where we all intended to moor for the night. As it turned out, Swamp Frogs and ourselves stayed in Adlington because I needed another parcel, this duly arrived on Friday thanks to the wonderful Poste Restante service operated by the Post Office, which enables us boaters to get mail etc. delivered to any Post Office in the country.
Sunset over Scotsman's Flash where we moored on Tuesday night. An omen for the following day perhaps?
Working our way up the Wigan Flight. Lisa and Rob on the gates, John and Suzie up ahead and Jan and I on the tillers. It all worked well.
On Saturday morning Swamp Frogs and ourselves left Adlington and made our steady way to Riley Green some nine and a half miles and seven locks further Westwards and nearer Leeds, where we enjoyed a drink in the Boatyard Inn. We left Riley Green yesterday morning, having made no real decision on where we would moor for the night, other than somewhere in the countryside and we journeyed further Westwards along the L&L, through the heart of Blackburn, and found a lovely place just outside Rishton, overlooking the Dunkenhalgh estate. From there we set off early this morning and cruised through Burnley and over the awesome Burnley Embankment to our present mooring where we may stay for a day or two, who knows.
On our way up Johnson's Hill Locks. Two lovely ladies, Lisa and Suzie working the gates, Rob and I on the tillers. If you need to know, both Rob and I get off the boats to help when the water level rises.
An interesting sculpture as we climbed the six Blackburn Locks. This one would possibly look good in Lycra, unlike some.

The view off Burnley Embankment. All the Chimney Pots are the same colour on the Terraces of houses.
 Well, that's all for this week I'm afraid, we're now right back up to date. Since our last blog we have gone through 39 Locks and cruised an amazing 10,065 Miles, most of that was by air to Las Vegas, that gives us a Grand Total of 1,240 Locks and 2,145 Miles since we set off on our travels back in October 2012. Take care everyone.