10. Sep, 2019

Well at least for a few days, and for those working it came at the bank holiday for a change.

After our enforced stay at Naburn overnight, the news was better the next morning and the lock keeper informed us we could leave about 2pm and head for Selby. There were now 8 boats waiting to go, and as the lock at Selby can only accommodate 2 at a time we strung ourselves out, with the good ship Avalon taking the lead, with Ceiriog following, then the group from Strawberry Island and Sowena and 2 other boats, whose name I did not get, bringing up the rear. The weather was fabulous and other people were enjoying the river. The first we met was a water skier, and as he thundered towards us we tried to warn him of the boats following us, but I got the feeling he thought we were telling him to slow down, we were just thinking about his safety to be honest. He flew by us one direction, then the other, making our boat rock in the huge swell he created. Fishermen waved as we passed by, and canoeists in their tiny craft paddled by. It was a lovely day to be messing about on the river.

The turn into Selby lock was a bit hairy, we had to pass the entrance to the lock and then turn into the flow of the water, which was stronger than either the Captain or myself originally thought. But we managed it without hitting the lock wall, and were soon joined by Chris and Andy. We were saying goodbye to them at Selby, as we planned to cruise on a little longer, and they were staying at the top of the lock. But it was not to be. As much as we were enjoying the lovely sunshine and the heat, it did not suit everything. The ‘everything’ being the swing bridge out of the basin. Off I went to open it, it is an all electric one so I just have to press the button, the barriers come down and the bridge opens. Well that’s what’s meant to happen, the barriers came down, the bridge glided not so quietly open, and then stopped in the middle, and nothing I could do would get it to move backwards or forwards. Oh dear, a queue of cars began to build at each side of the now completely stuck bridge, and all I could do was get my phone and ring CRT. I spoke to very nice lady, also called Helen, and she tried to put me through to the local team without success. She then said she would get them to phone me back (which never happened). I went to talk to the lock keeper who was busy at the lock, whilst the Captain kept telling drivers and pedestrians that the bridge was knackered, all took it in good faith. I think it must fail quite often.

The lock keeper wasn’t able to leave his post at the lock, so I wandered back, and since it had been over half an hour since I had spoken to CRT I tried to phone them again, but they had gone home. I was just about to try the emergency number, when a very nice gentleman turned up from CRT, and after extracting a very large crowbar from his vehicle we went back to the bridge. I inserted my key and pressed the button, and the gentleman inserted his crowbar under the bridge to lift it slightly, and it began to move. The heat had expanded the metal runner and stopped the bridge from opening. We opened and closed it a couple of times just to be sure, and the last 3 boats coming up the lock decided to go through whilst it was open, we however decided to call it a day and stayed at the top of the lock for the night. We were even to knackered to go to the pub, the heat does take it out of you.

Sunday, and another very hot day. We cruised down the River Aire and joined the Aire and Calder Navigation, whilst cruising we saw a lovely pure white little egret, a bird we haven’t spotted for a while. We also passed Pam and Mick Bowley on Drunken Duck,  we had first met them in Langley Mill a couple of years ago, we said a fleeting hello. That evening we spent the night in the middle of nowhere, and next day joined New Junction Canal, there are quite a few lift and swing bridges on this stretch of canal, and we were soon joined by a number of other boats. Firstly a small narrowboat called Rosebud, and then just as we approached the next bridge a group of 3 pulled out, Trent Weaver, who we had met before in front of us, and Moon Dance and Lady Mercy behind, again they were a group from Strawberry Island. We parted company when we turned left onto the Stainforth and Keaby canal, and they went straight on towards their home town of Doncaster.

On the Stainsforth and Keaby canal is a pub (surprise surprise) The New Inn, and it holds happy memories for us and our beloved ginger tom cat Bubbles, who as you know is no longer with us. On our first visit to this establishment, Bubbles leapt off the boat and went to say hello to everyone sat in the beer garden, this came to be a favourite activity of his, and he became a right diva demanding attention from his public. The barmaid had to come out to say hello too, as did the landlord and lady. He just loved to be centre of attention. Sam, (our old lady cat) just watched from the safety of the boat roof, she was never as friendly as Bubs but got better over time, I do miss them.

We also ate at the pub on that occasion, and the food was very good.

As it was a bank holiday they were doing a roaring trade, and we managed to find a table outside but in the shade. The Captain spotted an older gentleman looking for a seat and invited him to join us, we had a lovely conversation covering many topics before we headed back and had our tea.

We actually travelled further on the Monday than we had intended, so it was only a short cruise to Thorne on Tuesday, we needed a pump out and water so stopped at Stanilands marina just before the town, and then went on and moored up for the night. It’s only a short walk into the centre, and the Captain treated me to a very welcome ice cream before we headed to The Vaults and a pint. Shock horror, it was closed for refurbishment. So we had to try next door, The White Hart, no real ales on but the Captain was happy with a cold pint of John Smiths. A walk back to the boat, and a pint in the Canal Tavern to finish off the day.

We are now heading on to the tidal Trent at Keaby, and then on to Lincoln, but that’s for next time.

1. Sep, 2019

But a welcome one all the same, more about that later folks.

We left Leeds on a windy day, luckily for me the big river locks going out of the city are all electric and I just have to push a button, its hard work but someone has to do it. I met the captain and crew off NB Skye at Castleford lock, and they couldn’t even get off their mooring because of the high winds, but were hoping to travel to Knottingley as soon as they could escape.

The weather was still being less than kind to us and on a wet Friday we headed for the afore mentioned Knottingley, there is a Lidl next to the river Aire and I needed to do some shopping, we stopped and then decided to move a little further down to a more open area. This is when we spotted a strange sight, a young lady, maybe late teens early 20’s, walking down the gravel towpath towards us. Strange, because she had neither shoes nor coat on, and didn’t look up as we passed. Bearing in mind it had been raining all day, and it wasn’t very warm, she was dressed only in a strappy top and short leggings. I watched as she walked on and at one point she turned and looked back at us and then at the river. I really thought she was going to jump in, but she resumed walking and was soon out of sight. It bothered both the Captain and I so much that we decided that we should phone the police on 101. It took a little time to get through, but they took all the details, and about an hour later I had a return phone call from an officer who was out checking the towpath for her. I sincerely hope that she was alright.

We decided to stay in Knottingley for an extra day, and headed off to the Steam Packet a short walk down the towpath. It was ok, but we only had a couple before returning to the boat. Close to where we had moored was a bench, and as we got closer we could see a group of teenagers had congregated there. Not a problem, until one of the lads decided to jump on the top of the boat, we weren’t happy, and they got a right telling off by the Captain when we got close enough. They were apologetic, but people need to understand that Avalon Two is not just a boat, it is our much loved home.

After Knottingley, via the river once more it was onto the Selby canal. We stopped at a little place called Burn and had a walk to the Wheatsheaf, a nice village pub with Old Peculiar in bottles for the Captain, so he was a happy bunny. Opposite the pub was an interesting memorial to 578 Squadron, they were based in the village during WW2, and in October 2012 the village saw a second memorial unveiled in memory of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 431 (Iroquois) Squadron, founded at Burn in November 1942. The then commanding officer and warrant officer came over from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where the modern day 431 Squadron (“The Snowbirds”, the Canadian equivalent of the Red Arrows) is based, specifically for the ceremony. Burns other claim to fame (and its only a tiny village) is that Jean Alexander, better known as Hilda Ogden, was the honorary mayor of the village, and was a regular in the pub when she was visiting her niece who lived in the village.

Monday and we pushed on to Selby, and I mean literally pushed, as the weed on the top of the water was very thick and made it hard going. We met up with NB Mabel and her Captain, (never got his name) and the crew a lovely old dog called Herbie. We walked into Selby and found a great micropub called the Black Dog, they had 3 stouts on for the Captain, so of course he had to try all of them. On the walls were lyrics from songs, and we found ourselves singing along to work out which song they came from, but luckily we didn’t make it rain.

Next day, and down the big river lock on to the tidal Ouse in the company of Mabel, it was great being on the tidal river again, but the Captain being a little over enthusiastic coming out of the lock managed to tip the boat at quite an angle, and things slid off the work surfaces and draws opened, but nothing broke and we were soon upright again.

At Naburn we came off the tidal section and rejoined the more gentle river to continue our cruise into York.

We found moorings at the Museum Gardens in the centre of York, there were quite a few boats, both narrowboats and cruisers, already moored but we managed to squeeze in. The 3 NB’s in front of us were all from Strawberry Island in Doncaster, and we got to know their crews better later on. After catching our breath we took a walk into York, which is a beautiful city.

We knew that our friends Chris and Andy off NB Ceiriog were somewhere on the river, and that they were making for York, so I wasn’t surprised when I got a message to say they were in the Minister Inn, so we went to join them and have a catch up. They had wanted to do the Ribble link with us, but like us, other things had got in the way, so we are hoping to do it next year together.

I won’t describe everything we saw in York, but we did it twice, as both my kids came for the day, but not on the same day. It was lovely to see them and we will be together again soon in Langley Mill.

Now to our rude awakening. The river Ouse in York has a large catchment area for water, and although we hadn’t had much rain in York, other parts further north of us had. The river level can rise very fast, and can be very dangerous for boats moored there.

4.30am on Friday morning, and there was a knocking on the window, now we don’t normally answer such things, as you never know who it is, but the knocking didn’t stop, so I got up and gingerly open the side hatch, a pleasant looking young man stood there in bare feet, his feet were bare because the water was lapping round his ankles. He had very kindly come to warn us of the rising river. There was no going back to bed, but the Captain decided to wait until sunrise before leaving, but the 3 boats in front left quickly after being awoken.

It was beautiful travelling so early in the morning, there is a wonderful atmosphere, and the sun sparkles on the water like hundreds of diamonds. The mist hangs over the river and shrouds the banks in a shimmering haze. It’s so quiet with no one else about, it’s like tiptoeing through a fairy land when all the sprites and woodland folk are asleep. We glided out of slumbering York and past moored boats with no sign of life at that time in the morning.

It was a lovely day, but when we got to Naburn, we found that the moorings there were also under water and we ended up brested up against Ceiriog, and the 3 boats from Strawberry Island, Twilight Dreamcatcher and Trent Weaver. We were joined later by Pete, Chris and Edward on Sowena from Newbury. The bad news was we couldn’t travel on the tidal section that day as the river was running high and fast. So after a rest and cooling down we headed to the Blacksmiths Arms with Chris and Andy.

The perfect end to a long day.

24. Aug, 2019

And it’s raining again folks. What with this and the wind this summer is not turning out to be great for cruising, but hey ho we make the most of it.

So taking you back a few days, we were still making our way down the staircase locks into Leeds, and this is where another near disaster happened.

After a night in the middle of nowhere, we headed to the locks at Apperley Bridge were we met up with Lunar Princess, Knot so Fast and Uhuru once again.

Lunar Princess had winded and was now heading in the opposite direction, so we decided to pair up with Uhuru (which means freedom in Swahili, a bit of Star Trek knowledge coming in there) to go down the double staircase lock, all the paddles were checked and double checked and in we went, down we went and into the bottom lock, everything seemed to be going smoothly and the Captain cruised out of the bottom lock no problem, however nothing is ever that simple. Unfortunately Uhuru was a longer boat and couldn’t move back far enough to allow us to open the gate on their side, and its Captain didn’t seem able to move the boat over to the side of the open gate. To make matters much much worse, the leaking back gates were soaking him to the skin. Never mind what we tried or suggested he simply couldn’t get out of the lock, and was getting wetter by the minute. We had now been joined by the crews from Knot so Fast, Lunar Princess and finally the brave Captain of an unnamed boat, who scurried down the ladder in the lock and physically pushed Uhuru over far enough to allow its Captain to escape his wet prison.

We went on our way, but the Captain of Uhuru seemed to blame my Captain in some way for his wet adventure (maybe it was the picture he had snapped of him getting soaked before realising the seriousness of the situation) and he went ahead of us without a backward glance. We did nickname him playfully Mr Drippy, with no offence intended.

We moored at Rodley for the night and tried the 3 pubs, The Railway, The Rodley Barge and the Owl, nothing to write home about to be honest.

Next morning and a wet early start as we were rudely awakened by CRT, they needed our mooring space to crane equipment in and out of the canal so we had to move. We were going anyway so didn’t really bother us.

So we set off and the weather brightened, but there were still quite a few swing bridges and locks ahead. It made a long day of it, even when we paired up with NB Mab. Eventually we hit the last lock into Granary Wharf and Leeds. I was truly knackered. We had intended to go down on to the river, through 2 more locks to the pump out machine at Leeds lock, and back again, but it was not to be.

This is where the Captains excellent planning comes in, and he had allowed a few days grace on needing a pump out, this turned out to be a godsend.

I went to check the river level board, this is used to tell boaters when it is safe or unsafe to use the river. It was well into the amber, which means proceed with caution, and the river looked to be running very fast so I went back and said it wasn’t safe, so we managed to moor in one of the finger mooring, right beside a very interesting restaurant called Fazenda, but more of an interest was a place behind us called The Hop, owner by Ossett brewery, so we had to give it a try.

It was when I was getting changed to go out I notice a small blob of blood on my calf and what looked like a pin prick. It didn’t itch so at the time I though nothing about it.

The Hop was great, if a little pricey, but they had an excellent Cherry Choc Stout on from Bridgehouse brewery, and Birra Moretti for me. We sat in a lovely seat in the window to watch the world go by.

We were staying a Leeds for a few days, as we needed to catch the train back to Derbyshire to attend the funeral of my Auntie Eileen, she was the last of my father’s siblings, so it is the end of an era for our family. I am sad, but she was nearly 90 and had been poorly for some time.

So on the Saturday, we headed into Leeds and Kirkgate market, I love proper indoor markets, and this has everything. After ordering a bouquet we wandered round, but I was starting to feel that all was not right with my leg.

And oh boy was I right about that, when we got back I could see the original pin prick was now an angry red bruise and my leg was starting to swell. Not good, but I like to leave things to play out so off for a pint we went.

Next morning and wow the pain when I first got out of bed, it felt like something hot had raced down my leg to the bite, and my leg and foot was burning, I could not walk properly at first, the sensation wore off after a time, but the swelling continued.

It was Sunday and the Captain had planned to go down the river for the pump out, but the river board was now on red, which meant it was too dangerous to go on the river, so I cooked and we went for a pint.

Luckily for us the rain had stopped and next day the river had fallen enough for us to head down, for now what was an urgent pump out. Going down wasn’t too bad as we were running with the flow of the river. We called in Leeds dock, which is where the Royal Armouries are based, and CRT also have an office here. Whilst the Captain popped into the office to pick up a few bits I rested my ever swelling leg.

The return was not so easy with the river running against us,  the Captain excelled in getting the boat across the running river and into the lock, and back into Granary Wharf.

We had to pick the flowers up and I decided I needed to see someone about my leg, so following the advice given by the NHS I headed for Boots and a pharmacist. She assured me I was doing everything I could and it would just take time to heal.

Tuesday and we caught the train and went to the funeral, it was a lovely service and I got to see my family, but it was a sad occasion.

Now back to the weather. Wednesday and it rained yet again, so we decided to stay put and have a quiet day. After the sadness of the past few days the Captain treated me to lunch at Fazenda, this is a Brazilian all you can eat steak restaurant. It was an interesting experience, the food was fantastic and there was an incredible choice. The staff where lovely and made us feel very welcome. At £20 each it may sound expensive, but the choice of meats included 4 cuts of steak, lamb, chicken, gammon and little Brazilian sausage. And for me there was smoked salmon and sushi on the salad bar. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

We said goodbye to Leeds the next day and continued on our travels, that’s for next time folks

16. Aug, 2019

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.


8. Aug, 2019

We have now left Lancashire and cruised into Yorkshire. And as the title suggests, for the Captain who is a Lancashire lad born and bred it’s definitely not Yorkshire. As I am a Derbyshire lass through and through I know they are both wrong.

So first we had to tackle the Wigan flight of 21 locks, which raises the canal an amazing 200ft over a distance of 2 miles.

The last time we did this flight it was a nightmare, and took us over 8hrs. I am pleased to say due to numerous problems on the flight there is a CRT employee always around to help boaters, and usually some volunteers from the Wigan Flight Crew. The flight is open from 8am til 9am for boats ascending the flight, which was us. We had agreed to buddy up with NB Out of the Blue. So nice and early we headed for the bottom of the locks.

Thinking we would be the first there, we were surprised to see another NB already going up the first lock, and this changed our plans. We knew that a 4th NB was behind us, and also a widebeam called Boo Boo. The decision was made that Out of the Blue would catch up with the boat in front, and we would wait for NB Hannah and her Cornish crew. This made doing the locks much easier, and with the help of the guy from CRT we made it up in a respectable 4½ hours.

After a very hot day we stop off at Cowling Brow, and after a walk up a very steep hill we found the Prince of Wales, and what a find. Excellent beers, and at a reasonable price.

We had arranged to meet our friends Neil, Kath and Rosemary at the top of the Johnson’s Hill locks. There are 7 locks in this flight, and as we started up the first lock I spotted another boat ahead of us, and also one coming up behind. The one ahead showed no sign of waiting for us, so I was sent to find out if the boat behind wanted to join us in the second lock. The 2 girls on board were very happy to do so and whilst the Captain waited in the second lock I went up and set the 3rd lock. Then I couldn’t make out if there was a boat coming down the locks as a bottom paddle was open on the 4th lock so I walked up to see (getting my exercise so I could enjoy my pint later). It turned out to be the boat in front and its crew had forgotten to put the paddle down, before trying to fill the lock. The lady Captain was not happy with her crew so I beat a hasty retreat.

7 locks done and room on the pontoon for us, so off to the pub, called unsurprisingly Top Lock. The pub was very nice but the beer expensive, however we did spot a rather interesting offer on the menu. From 3 til 9 pay the clock price for any pizza, so come in at 3 and pay £3 for a pizza normally costing £10, to good to miss and the Captain promised to treat me next day. However, luckily we mention to the barman that we would be back, and he told us that during the school holidays (which had just started) the offer didn’t start til 5pm, not a problem.

Next day and our friends joined us, it was extremely hot but we still had a great time, just as they were leaving we were treated to nature as its best, as a lightening show lit up the sky, but we had no rain which would have been a relief.

And so to the pub. We order the Hells pizza which came with chips, and like the offer said we paid £5.11 the time we ordered it, but when it came no chips. The waitress explained that the offer didn’t include the chips, but we pointed out that nowhere on the menu did it say this. She was very apologetic, and this is where I must commend them for the customer service, she returned a few minutes later and said the chef was cooking us some chips, and very nice they were too.

After all the hot days the weather took a definite turn for the worse, and we got caught in some very heavy showers. We stopped off at Riley Green as the Captains sister Sheila, and her husband William were driving over from their new home near Blackpool to see us. We spent some time chatting on the boat before heading off to the Hoghton Arms for lunch. The Captain was going to be good and have a coke, until he spotted they had his favourite, Hobgoblin, so he did a quick u-turn and had a pint. The food and service were excellent, and the company even better.

The bad weather continued, but we decided to bite the bullet and head for Blackburn, and got wet through for our troubles at Blackburn’s 6 locks,

We travelled through Blackburn not intending to stop and moored up out in the countryside for the night.

Then to Burnley our last visit had not been a happy one, and we both had agreed we would not like to moor there. I am pleased to say that there have been some great improvements here,  the towpath is clean and tidy and the canal is also quite free of rubbish, but we still did not stop and pushed on to Barrowford locks.

At the first 4 of the 7 locks, a hire boat ahead of us was leaving paddles up,at the first lock I didn’t realise this, and couldn’t understand why the lock would not empty. We met a volunteer lockie at lock 5, who had helped them up the last 3 locks so we knew everything was good.

And this is where I spotted my first ever water vole. I was emptying the last lock and looking down, there he was swimming resolutely along the side of the wall before climbing out and disappearing into a crevice. What a sight.

Next the mile long Foulridge tunnel which is one way working so a traffic light system is used to tell boaters when to go through. The hire boat followed us through the tunnel, which on this occasion took just over 15minutes, and on to the middle of nowhere. The hire boat passed us again, and we were shocked to see the lady shuffling down the gunnels with bottles of beer in one hand and a plate of cobs in the other. Not safe at all, we do wonder at times.

We stopped off at the Anchor pub at Salterforth, which is right by the canal, and in the old cellar there is a collection of stalagmites & stalactites which the staff very kindly showed us.

The last part of our journey for this blog took us to Gargrave, and we paired up with Pete, a single hander, and owner of Irwell Brewery and distillery, on NB Duck’n’Dive to do the 7 Bank Newton locks. We used an old technique of tying the boats together so only one person was required to steer both boats. This was new experience for the Captain, and he did very well and added yet another string to his bow. On the locks we met Jenn and Jim on NB Dire Straits who moor at Langley Mill on the Erewash, and know our friend Janice and John on Oak.

We spent the night in Gargrave before heading off to a favourite town of ours Skipton, but that’s for next time folks.