AN INTERESTING TIME.
So where do I start, at the beginning I suppose, and that would be our visit to Skipton.
A short journey of 1 lock, and lots of swing bridges from Gargrave, and we were moored up by lunchtime.
So after a quick bite to eat we headed off to look round the town, and try a few of the hostelries.
The town was buzzing, and the market was on, so it took us a while to reach the first pub, The Castle, very good beer but very pricy. So onto the Beer Engine, we have visited this micropub on a couple of other occasions, and once again it didn’t disappoint, but we had heard on the grapevine that there were now a couple more mircopubs in the town, so after 1 pint we headed off to find Early Doors, and the Ref and Whistler. Both were great, but we preferred the Ref and Whistle because not only did they have a good selection of real ales on tap and in bottles, they also had a couple of lagers on. Now don’t get me wrong I enjoy a good pint of hoppy citrusy real ale, but my real passion is a good lager, and they had Warsteiner on, and a bonus for the Captain, Titanic Plum Porter and Sam Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. He was well happy.
When we returned to the boat we had been joined by NB Sweet Pea, and Jango a very friendly black tom cat. I still had some dry cat food so I offered it to his human.
Unfortunately when we were getting ready to leave next morning, his owner came to tell us that he had been hit by something during the night, and was now at the vets with a suspected broken leg, and damage to the side of his face. We wish him well.
We left Skipton in high spirits, which were dampened slightly when we reached the 2nd swing bridge of the day to find it out of action, and 3 day boats waiting to go through. The note said that someone should arrived to fix the problem by 11.30, that time passed but there was no sign of anyone, so I got on to CRT only to be told they were on their way. We were soon joined by a widebeam trip boat for the disabled, and NB Knot so Fast from Doncaster. Hurray, at last someone turned up to fix it, but it didn’t look like it was going to be a quick fix so one of the day boats decided to wind and head back to base. Then Boo Boo a widebeam joined us. Her captain and crew didn’t seem to know what they were doing, and managed to bash our beloved Avalon Two and snap one of our mooring ropes whilst trying to manoeuvre and stop. The Captain was not happy as you can imagine but on we went when the bridge was eventually opened.
Along this stretch of the LL there are lots of swing bridges, and it was nice to only have to do a few as we cruised with Knot so Fast and Boo Boo. We were joined by NB Uhuru, but lost Boo Boo at some point. We moored up in the middle of nowhere and prepared for the next day adventure, the Bingley 5 and 3 rise. These are huge staircase locks and usually manned by people from CRT. A quick explanation, this type of lock is as it suggests is a staircase, and one lock leads into the next without a gap between, they have to be set in a particular way to allow passage through.
We turned up at the top of the locks in good time, and were told by a very helpful lockie called Miles, that it would be about an hour and we were paired up with a hire boat called Carraway. The time came, and as usual I was off the boat helping with the locks. As it turned out Miles was a Derbyshire lad and had lived in Belper, which is a town quite close to Ripley my home town, so we had plenty to chat about.
We got down the Bingley locks without any problems, but unfortunately this didn’t last.
At the next set of locks, a staircase again, we were happy to see 2 boats coming up. The crew from Carraway joined me to learn how to do locks, as it was their first time on a boat. They were a mixture of American and English, and very enthusiastic.
We went into the lock and I checked to see everything was ok to proceed, we started to let the water into the next chamber but it soon became apparent there was something wrong, as the chamber the boats were in would not empty enough to allow the gates to be opened. Then some bright spark realised that the boats going up hadn’t closed all of the paddles correctly, and this was causing the problem. It was soon fixed and we were on our way.
We had a great time with Judi, Mark, Peter, Lauri, Mark and Marci. They were stopping at Saltaire too, and as we knew how shallow the canal was at the sides to moor we did our best to help them, but they got truly grounded at one point, and as we had just found a place to moor, the Captain went off to rescue them, and we soon had them moored behind us and were presented with a bottle of wine for our help, thanks guys.
We love Saltaire, and I am very pleased to say the mooring has improved greatly since the last time we visited, but it is still not brilliant. We had a walk into town and tried Fannies Ale House and the Cap and Collar again, and also the Salt Cellar and Don’t Tell Titus, all good pubs in their own ways.
Well the problems with the staircase locks didn’t end that day, and at the next set we had paired up with NB Lunar Princess, (Judy and crew had winded and headed back to Keighley were they were going to catch a steam train to Haworth, what an experience).
We set the locks as per the instruction, (there were 3 locks in this set) top one full, middle lock half full and bottom lock empty. The boats went in and we opened the paddles to fill the middle lock with the water from the top lock, but the boats just kept going down and down until they were sat of the floor of the lock. This wasn’t right and looking down the locks the bottom lock which should have been empty was now full and the water was pouring over the bottom gates. Definitely not right. Someone had left one of the ground paddles up on the middle lock and this allowed most of the water straight into the bottom lock. Not good
We had a dilemma because the water in the top lock was so low it had exposed the inlet for the ground paddles, and as Lunar Princess was longer than us, if we opened the one on their side we would have flooded their engine bay. Luckily, as we were shorter, the Captain pulled Avalon Two forward and away from the inlet on his side, and we opened that paddle slightly and started to fill the lock once again, we had closed the rogue paddle of course. It took some time, but as the boats rose we were able to open the other paddles. Eventually the locks were all set as they should be and we made it down. Disaster averted.
More tales of staircase locks next time.