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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Sowerby Bridge and a new plan...(well half a plan)

Yes I know it's been ages since I've been back here - sorry.  ALL I can say in my defense is that I HAVE done a daily (ish) tweet... on my phone as it's easier than sitting down and fighting with my non-compliant  using my aging laptop.

Anyway - I'm here now so lets make the best of it and have a catch up.

Since we abandoned the drought-stricken Rochdale, we took a brief exploration up the Halifax arm of the Calder  & Hebble in to Salterhebble Basin - it WAS'NT worth the trip



Why not you may ask? - well to start with at the end of the arm is a sewage works... and a Premier Inn with a Brewers Fayre (could be called Brewsters now) pub overlooking the turning hole... none of those were TOO bad but REALLY but what WAS a  problem was a submerged tree branch about 6 inch in diameter that got wedged between the rudder and prop and stalled the engine!  All of which happened with a wind blowing us into places we would rather not have hit WITH the biggest audience of lunchtime diners you could imagine.    After about 30 minutes down the weed hatch like a contortionist, I finally got the branch free and we returned whence we came.

The rest of the journey on to Brighouse was uneventful - although the heavens opened up for the last few hours and we both got soaked... well I say we BOTH got soaked...ANDY got more wet as he was convinced it would "blow over" so refused on several occasions the waterproof jacket I offered lol.  The skipper on the other hand, stayed relatively dry under the multipurpose parasol.


Whilst the Calder and Hebble (at present) isn't TOO dry, it's easy to see how much water is wasted all the time:


WE entered Brighouse and spotted for the first time, the climbing wall .

SICK of the rain by now, we moored on the 48 hour visitor moorings outside Sainsburys in a space that was about 58ft long... Perfectly - WAS anyone there to witness this? of course not!

We stocked up the larder and settled down for a wet night watching the telly.  About 1.30am we discovered WHY the space was available... it was right next to some "steps" that drunken/drugged teenagers are attracted to at that time of night/morning.  No harm, just lots of noise and in the morning we continued on our way.

I have to admit to feeling a little guilty when 2 volunteers older than my parents insisted on locking us down on to the river but took advantage of their kindness all the same and once through Mirfield, we tied up above Shepley Bridge lock and chilled out for the remainder of the day.


Once back at base (no idea where the next days photos went) we set to and gave the boat a bit of TLC - mainly to repair Battle-scars from the trip to Ripon.  


I don't remember doing these but they were there all the same.  Hey ho - a few hours rubbing down and then couple of coats of paint and it's good as new (although doesn't hold up to CLOSE inspection).

Next morning, we decided to chug off towards Leeds to "create our own breeze" - it really was sweltering.  We stopped the night at Lemonroyd before an early start the following morning before it got TOO hot again.

On route, we picked up another solo boater - this time a lady called Alison.  She was on a wide beam and shouted to ask if she could come up Knostrop Lock with us .  She handled her boat beautifuly and although when we arrived at the lock, it was closed whilst CRT did something, she came along side without touching and breasted up to us whilst we waited.

It was lovely to natter and drink tea in the sun and we both throroughly enjoyed meeting her - we offered to work her through in to Granary wharf with us and we ended up moored nearby for a night.


Not long after we'd tied up, we spotted some new neighbors of ours from Stanley Ferry on their beautiful new wide Aintree boat...  After a catch up and natter with them, we helped them down the lock on to the river (that landing is a bit tight at the best of times) and there were a lot of people in the way, waiting for the river taxi.

Note the sun canopy for the dog on the roof - He's spoiled rotten!

The decision to tie up in front of the hotel whilst GOOD for the solar panels, WASN'T good for the ears...  it turns out they (the hotel) play "durge" (the sort Yo Sushi play) to the outside seating/smoking area... UNTIL 11pm .  IT really got on my nerves and whilst we COULD connect to their free wifi, I couldn't stand another night of that din so we moved outside the Candlebar the next morning...   

More rain again the other night - although this couple seemed TOTALLY oblivious to it...  I will not post any other photos for decency sake - suffice to say when they'd finished, we felt it appropriate to hold up marks out of 10 for effort and presentation! - they took it in good spirit and laughed as they went onto wherever they were going lol.

We're still there - not quite on the lock landing but closer than I'd like to be.Still, not many boats are moving around at the moment due to the imminent closure of the L & L between Gargrave and Wigan.

HOPEFULLY this won't affect our pan to go on as far as Skipton next week to pick up Andy's nephews for a weeks trip back to Wakefield.  We'll have to time Bingley right as it's now on restrictions too. Still, it did rain a bit last night and LOTS is forecast for tomorrow so things may improve slightly for us.  

In other news, due to a combination of broken locks, broken  chambers,  water shortages and closures, it looks unlikely we'll be able to navigate our planned route down to Wolverhampton for Autumn.  As such, I've been in touch the 4 guest bookings this will affect and suggested we do it in April next year - or in the case of the antipodeans, take them from Leeds to Skipton and back instead.  We're a bit down in the mouth about it but folk HAVE responded kindly and understand it's totally beyond our control.  

We've certainly had a baptism of "challenges" to deal with for our first year but it's not detracted from the adventure.

HOPEFULLY, CRT will keep up their half of the bargain and MEND the problems with the network quickly and effectively.

we'll see,

Until next time...

Friday, 20 July 2018

Hebden Bridge and trip over the Rochdale abandoned...

We set off next morning to Hebden bridge... many a tow path walker cheerfully pointed out we'd not be able to go much further as the canal was empty further ahead... UNDETERRED, we continued with our planned journey - optimistic that by the time we'd got near an empty section, CRT would have filled it with water...

This was to prove foolish.


The Rochdale canal IS notorious for being shallow but we'd never expected it to be THIS bad...dragging our bum along the bottom - hitting goodness knows what as we went and MORE often than not getting completely stuck for hours at a time.

We came along a chap who'd got stuck a couple of days previously who'd given in and was just waiting for rain...  right on a winding hole but to be honest it didn't matter as there was so little water in it, we'd not have been able to turn anyway.  It turns out, 'Ellis' sit's a couple of inches deeper in the water than 'Memory Maker'  -  ergo, US going up ahead (and getting stuck) wasn't helpful. 

Between locks 7 and 8 we got properly stuck in a thin section... the resultant call to CRT (and a couple of Tweets later), the water level increased enough to get moving again.



As we eventually approached Hebden Bridge, the result of CRT running water down to re-float us became apparent... although chatting with a local boater, it turned out it'd been like this for over a week.

We went up through the next lock and moored for the night near the Bike/coffee shop - which has a very laid back approach to opening hours:

The plan HAD been to go out for tea but we were all just so exhausted and to be honest, thoroughly miserable after a such a frustrating day, we just sat down and discussed what to do for the best.  

Wendy and Eddie didn't really have much of a choice but to continue towards the summit  - they would NOT be coming back this way anyway so it didn't matter to them if the canal gets closed...  WE on the other hand would HAVE to come back the way we came due to the Leeds & Liverpool being closed at the end of the month AND the current problem on the Huddersfield.

So, with a heavy heart, we decided to end this journey in Hebden and return whence we came - to get off the Rochdale asap before it's closed all together... ironically, the heavens opened for a couple of hours and we ALMOST reconsidered.

Next morning, looking at weather forecasts, it was abundantly clear, no rainfall is expected in the next 10 days.  We walked along as Eddie and Wendy set off and worked them through a few locks - this turned out to be a good plan as it was so shallow they'd be unable to get to lock landings anyways.  At one point, they got totally stuck and I went ahead to run some water down ... when I got to the lock, a CRT chap had beaten me to it - to help a boater coming the other way who'd gotten stuck further along in the same pound we were stuck in.... I got chatting with them and it turns out this was their 6th passage and the worst they'd ever seen it - they too getting off as fast as they could expecting it to close altogether.

When Eddie and Wendy were off again, we continued on foot and did the next couple of locks for them - water levels being consistently low.  Saying our goodbyes, we returned to 'Ellis' and had fish and chips for lunch.  We are already really missing having them around.

Looking at the notices on the CRT website, they have effectively closed the section between locks 7 and 11 (to keep Hebden bridge in water) and also put further time restrictions on Tuel Lane Lock with effect from today (Friday 20th)...  luckily for us, the Thursday closures would not begin until after then which meant we could get a booking to go back down at lunchtime then... subject to being able to get there of course.

With this booked, we reversed down through the lock to the service point and turned in the basin - made more difficult by a boat moored on the services AND another one moored in the winding hole...  no matter,  we managed and set off back towards Sowerby Bridge... scraping our bum all the way.

We took some water down with us in anticipation of a repeat problem on the thin bit between lock 7 and 8 ... a wise decision.  Things got tricky after we came out of 7 as 3 boats (that HAD been stuck over night) suddenly realised they could now move with the water we'd sent down and did  just that - resulting in a bit of a difficult passing procedure - no one got too badly stuck and we eventually managed to pass them... only to find another solo boater stuck slap bang in the middle of the cut beneath lock 6 - he'd been there over night... unable to get to the bank.

I suggested he ready himself for the increase in water level as we descended the lock and try to get moving - agreeing to stay in the lock until he'd come in so as to reduce the risk of both/either of us getting stuck .

This worked quite well.

A bit farther along, we encountered the same chap we'd seen on the way up - still stuck but happy to sit it out and wait for rain.  Getting passed him was difficult as there was something under water and I felt the tiller lift up as we eventually went over it...

After another long and hot day, we tied up for the night on the mooring above Tuel Lane lock.

Not the nicest place to spend the night but it was quiet (ish) and at least it's close to the shops.

Another (solo) boater arrived before bedtime and said once he'd seen us leaving Hebden, he phoned and tagged on to our booking.  He'd made it all the way over from Manchester but had also spent a couple of nights marooned in the middle of the cut with no water... he too was "escaping" to try and find some water to boat on.

I got a call the next morning from CRT warning they'd have to delay our time slot due to operational issues - that meant they'd not work us down until about 3pm... not the end of the world.  Anyway, about 3 as promised, 2 chaps turned up, ran some water down through the tunnel and topped up the pound below so we'd be able to get down into Sowerby Basin.


We called in to Shire Cruisers for a pump out, top up with diesel and to buy a new hand spike - the pic-axe handle now looking the worse for wear lol.

Once replete, we chugged back around to the visitor moorings (ish) where we spent last night with a new friend...


Today's plan is to service the engine whilst Andy has a been of a clean and tidy inside the boat - we're moored in the shade so that should keep the temperature comfortable whilst we work, then after lunch we'll set off towards Brighouse and maybe spend the weekend there.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

On route to Manchester on the Calder & Hebble then Rochdale...

After a couple of days back at base doing chores in the house, having eye-tests and general boring stuff, we were ready to set off on our jollies  planned navigation again.

NOT until after Wine-Wednesday - which happened to coincide with a footie match everyone wanted to watch... well I say everyone, Andy and Wendy spent quite a lot of it playing an digital version of Rummikub - which suits me fine lol



Sally, Lee and myself were having a slight tipple and despite the heat (and poor football result) enjoyed the evening none the less.


Once the hangovers had cleared, we did a diesel run and stocked up the larder before setting of on the first gentle part of our trip.

The first few hours were a bit miserable as the (finally) forecast rain appeared as we chugged up the river to the start of the Calder & Hebble navigation.  This was new ground (water) for Eddie and Wendy.  Once through Wakefield centre and up to broad cut, we noticed how low the levels were -

The gates at broad cut really do leak badly now but a bit further on, the towpath is where the money is being spent - it's a bit worrying .  What's the point in a good towpath if boats can't move around or moor up anywhere? -... I'm beginning to wonder if therw really IS a hidden agenda to close the canals to boaters???

ANYWAY  - we chugged on nicely (if shallowly) enough for a while and due to our friends being 60 footers, had to trial and error as to whether we could share the locks.

All went well and we moored for our first night in Mirfield...

Next morning, we carried on and all went well  until we got to Kirklees low lock... it was here we had to do the lock 1 boat at a time again but just as Wendy and Eddie were coming out, 2 boats appeared up stream so they would come down in the lock as it emptied... trouble was, unbeknownst to us, the shorter boat was a springer and a bit fatter than it should have been - ergo, due to the gate not opening fully, they got wedged against the hire boat (who incidentally were a lovely bunch) 



To make matters worse, only 1 of the stupid spike thingy paddles were working...  ergo, it took an age to refill - move the springer to the other side and then empty it again .... the hirers HELPING but the "owners" doing as little as possible.  


Anyways..  eventually we plodded on through the now burning midday sun.  I can't believe how hot it gets lock-wheeling. GENERALLY, I skipper and Andy does the locks but we had to have a change of roles due to an incident with the hand spike... the day before at Shepley Bridge lock, he'd been careless the ratchet thingy on the gear handle hadn't properly engaged, which resulted in the spike smashing into his face - lucky just a bruised eye and no missing teeth but it could have been much, much worse.  ERGO, "hand spikes" are now a DARK BLUE job.

It'll be good for me though as I have piled the weight on.  The water up there was still quite low but perfectly navigable... 

Before long we were tied up on the river as Andy emptied the lock into Brighouse Basin.  


As we continued, we had to take some locks 1 at a time and hold ropes diagonally on their boat - space not being so much of an issue as the stupid walkways over the locks.... you can see lots of other boats have not taken so much care and smashed bits out of them with their swan necks.  
Having said space wasn't always an issue, on Elland lock there really was nothing to spare!


We ended this day a couple of locks away from Salterhebble basin.

Next day, we went through the guilloten lock and up into the basin.




Next we had the shortest lock we'd encountered which necessitated removing the rear fender off Memory Maker and doing it one at a time again..  less than half an inch space to close the gate.

Once at the top, we bumped into Carmel & Nigel on their boat - they're friends of John and Rachel on Morgenster who used to moor near us and now are in York...  We were VERY impressed with their handspike that John had made for them - certainly compared to ours lol



Once at Sowerby Bridge, (where the Calder and Hebble finishes) we swung a left and began our ascent at lock 1 on the Rochdale.

Luckily, it was Sunday and no pre-booking for Tuel lane lock was required.... which was  a good job.




The lockie insisted we loop ropes front and back through the risers which to be honest, was a pain in the arse overkill.... Lemonroyd is MUCH scarier.

IT was at the top that we discovered all was not rosey on the Rochdale... ergo, there was not very much water at all...  


There REALLY ought to have been a sign at lock 1 saying "closed"...  we were to have this confirmed the farther (further?) we went on.

AFTER 3 hours  doing half a mile an hour, we gave in and made an attempt to moor in Luddendford (excuse the spelling)... it was SO shallow and we'd spent so long trying to pole ourselves off being stuck, we'd had enough.

We ended up having to double breast for the night and all had a glass or 7... in Andy's case, this extended a bit more and he insisted on playing in the park when all the kids had gone to bed.



I suspect there will be a hangover to follow.

Until next time...