After the previous day's excitement we thought we'd have a lazy start as we didn't have far to go today. But just before 7:00am we heard the siren for the swing bridge and a boat passed us. Looking out of the window it was the narrowboat that had moored in front.
We rushed out of bed and went to the lock just in time to see the gates of Keadby lock closing before the boat shot out on a rapidly incoming tide. Seeing a narrowboat move sideways at such a speed is something we won't forget....especially as we may do the same next year if we decide to travel south on the Trent. It was so exciting Victoria wanted to go back up the Trent on Pas Mѐche, but that will have to wait until next year.
So we had a fairly early start, passing through the unique sliding railway bridge to follow the long straight route of the Stainforth & Keadby canal. You have to pip your horn to let the Bridge Master know that you wish to pass through the bridge. We pipped but nothing happened. Dave sent Victoria to wake the bridge master up who we suspected was having a crafty nap. Victoria discovered this was not the case when the bridge crossing locked and the Cleethorpes Express train thundered across. PM could then pass but with Victoria stuck the other side of the bridge. So the Bridge Master does hear you, he just doesn't acknowledge you if a train is coming! After the bridge, this isn't the most interesting of routes but is at least livened up by trains waving at you every few minutes.
We knew we were getting close to Leeds by the number of swing bridges along this canal - these are a real feature of the Leeds & Liverpool canal and it seems you can't escape them east of Leeds either.
We stopped for lunch in Thorne then pressed on past Stainforth as we couldn't find a suitable mooring. The signs near the bridges asking you to call CRT in the event of kids tampering with the bridges was enough to scare us off mooring around here! Also we did pull up and a passing boat shouted to advise us to continue to 'somewhere safer.' Welcome back to Yorkshire. In the end we stopped near the turning for the New Junction Canal near long term moorings which was a fine mooring.
Sunday 20th October
Another earlyish start that very soon became delayed. Victoria navigated the junction which had plenty of margin for error being such a huge canal although it felt rather small after the mighty river Trent.
We passed over the River Don Aqueduct. Raising our camera soon scared off the group of kids who were either trying to set fire to the control box or just setting off smoke bombs near it. That aside, it is a very scenic spot.
We reached Low Lane Swing Bridge. David went off to open it up. Nothing happened. The BW key was stuck fast in the lock. We moored up properly and called CRT's emergency line for them to come and investigate. It didn't take too long for CRT to arrive and the bridge was easily fixed. Turned out to be a fuse, and not the first time this has happened.
The locks on this stretch are huge!:
We made the turn onto the Aire and Calder Navigation. We were briefly joined by Victoria's Mum and Auntie and we moored in Pollington. Really nice moorings just below the lock.
Monday 21st October
The weather had turned very wet but we set off leaving our pram hood up when really raining. Quite a challenge to put it up and take down when cruising!! We passed under the East Coast Main Line and waved to commuters on the line above.
We ploughed on despite the dull weather, joining the River Aire at Ferrybrige before passing the power station.
We cruised the familiar route to Woodlesford where we moored just above Woodlesford Lock. The river had picked up a little with all the rain we have seen recently although after Castleford Cut you only have the waters of the Aire to face, the Calder joining at Castleford.
Tuesday 22nd October
Again, it rained and rained. We set off in a break of the clouds but it started raining as soon as we had untied. We left the pramhood up. We shared one lock with NB Merlot, hardly noticing him in the vast locks. We retraced the steps of Victoria's old cycling commute into Leeds,although she still got muddled up with where the locks were and how many of them there were! She was a little miffed that more of the towpath is surfaced than used to be -typical when she no longer cycles this stretch. We passed under the M1, passed Thwaite Mills Industrial Museum that seems to have improved its mooring facilities but not sure that we would stop there really. We went up Knostrop lock with the Kirkstall Fly Boat and continued through Knostrop Flood Gates back onto the River Aire. The river was up into orange on the level boards but absolutely fine.
We were pleased that Clarence Dock was not the wind tunnel it can often be as we climbed our last lock of the season and made the handbrake reverse turn into Pas Mѐche's home for the winter.
We are sad to be stopping boating at the end of the season. Both of us and the boat get sick when we don't move so much and spend too much time on dry land. But we are glad to be back in Leeds to embark on our next adventure - who knows what the next steps will be. Watch this space for next year's adventures!