Tuesday 26 February 2008


Nine week cruise - day 34 - 4th August 2005

Moore to Anderton

John up late at 0805! Got under way after breakfast at 0900. At Preston Brook we turned right towards Runcorn. Watered up by Preston Brook Marina while Alison had a shower. Under way again at 1045.

Tied up at the very end of the canal in Runcorn and had a look round the town. Had a very run down air - lots of cheap shops. Bought a plug for the TV (the old one had disintegrated) and cycled over the bridge (a bit scary) to Widnes to get two oil filters and 5 litres of oil.

Got going again at 1430, mooring up at 1920 by the Anderton Lift.

Every house is builded by some man

Nine week cruise - day 33 - 3rd August 2005

Castlefield Basin to Moore

0640 John up. Weather showery. Thought about staying a day here in Manchester but decided it would work better for my brother and family joining us from London if we cracked on. Should moor at Wrenbury on Saturday evening. In the event we didn't get quite that far.

on the Bridgewater Canal

a handy ledge for bottle tops

0755 Under way. Passed Manchester United FC ground again, and Kellogg's. Stopped at Stretford for Ally and John to shop. Then stopped at the canalside Halford's at Sale to see if I could get oil and filter, but they had no book of oil filter equivalents so didn't buy anything. Watered up at Little Bollington, then at 1415 we tied up at Lymm for the butcher's and Somerfield. Got going again at 1620.

where I like to be

Moored at Moore at 1900. Jan cooked a very good pork stew. Looked round the village, which has many interesting houses, including one with an angled frontage and an inscription across the front of the house which read "Every house is builded by some man" with the date (1670?).

Monday 25 February 2008

The Towpath to Wigan Pier

Nine Week Cruise - day 32 - Tuesday 2nd August 2005

Plank Lane to Castlefield Basin, Manchester

0635 Got up. Bow-hauled boat 100 yards to the water point just before the lift bridge (didn't want to disturb anyone by starting the engie so early) and watered up. Got under way properly at 0840.

At 1012 I winded just before Moss Bridge and tied up. By my calculations I have about 45 minutes to cycle to Wigan, have a look round, and get back to the boat. (I had arranged to meet my wife and daughter off the train at Walkden Station at 1515).

So I cycled up the towpath to Wigan, passing an interesting dry dock on the way. Found the famous pier, opposite the new "interpretation centre".

Back to the boat and got going at 1120, a little later than planned. Will have to get a move on. While waiting ten minutes at Plank Lane lift bridge I offered to transport six children to the other side (it was all right - their parents were on the bank). The children were thrilled! Tied up at the pub just before Bridgewater Marina and drove to the station. Under way again at 1635, now with Jan and Alison on board. In a few minutes we were passing Worsley Delph, one of my earliest canal memories. My uncle and aunt used to live in Swinton, not far away along the East Lancs Road, and I remember being taken as a young boy to look at the wonderfully orange water and the intriguing barred tunnel entrances. Later, while at Salford University, I came back to marvel again, and now here I was doing it properly, by boat.

Moored up at Castlefield Basin in the middle of Manchester at 2015, having passed over the Irwell on the Barton Swing Aqueduct. Another famous piece of canal history in the bag.

Sunday 24 February 2008

It's not that bad, really

I've now reached the half century. Went to celebrate with a friend from university (and "home") at our old house near Milton Keynes (he bought it from us). Steve was having a surprise 50th birthday party, although his birthday isn't until tomorrow. I was there on MY 50th birthday, but the partying was in HIS honour. Didn't matter, though.

the birthday boy and, er, the birthday boy

I tried to post this yesterday but forgot I was in "preview", tried to delete some text, and the whole post disappeared. I now can't remember what I was saying (one of the hazards of getting to my age, I suppose!)

I'll get back to posting about our canal trip soon (just need to get this birthday stuff out of the way).

Well, guess what? I've now found my original post from yesterday. I'll copy it here, and you can judge whether it is better or worse than the attempt above.

I have now reached the milestone (half-mile stone) which is my fiftieth birthday. Picture below shows (probably) that there's not much difference between a 49-year-old and a 50-year-old, especially when they're the same person, and especially when only ten hours separate the two photos.

To celebrate we went to the (surprise) fiftieth birthday party of a friend near Milton Keynes. He wasn't so much surprised to be fifty (although he isn't really fifty until Monday) as by the 60 or so people who turned up to lunch. It was odd to be the birthday boy but not the one at the centre of it all.

Friday 22 February 2008

Last day of the Forties

Yes, as I write this, there are just 105 minutes left when I can truthfully say I'm in my forties. I'll take a picture of myself now - or in a minute or two - and you can compare me in my forties to me in my fifties when I take another picture tomorrow. I'll just get the camera... OK. Photo taken. On the fourth attempt I got something which wasn't too awful (looking away worked much better). I'll upload it now, then resize and post here. Stand by...

OK. There we are. Or, rather, here I am. Quick time check - 90 minutes to go.

I've just remembered something I used to do when I was (much) younger: on the last day of each year I would write my signature and the date, and do the same the next day. Now, where are all those bits of paper?

Thursday 14 February 2008


Straddle warehouse, Sheffield Basin

No, we didn't reach here on our nine week cruise: this was yesterday on a visit to our son, Andrew. And Russell, here are the pictures I promised.

Straddle warehouse from the other side

Sheffield and Tinsley canal

Grain warehouse, Victoria Quays

Bridge 3, Sheffield and Tinsley Canal

And to show that we had a look round the city centre:

Sheffield Cathedral

Winter Garden

Outside the Winter Garden

Peace Gardens

And you can see the amazing weather we had for our trip. The day before - Tuesday 120208 - we walked from Hathersage to Hooks Car.

On the way to the top

Sunday 10 February 2008

Back on board - hooray!

Nine week cruise - day 31 - Monday 1st August 2005

Bridgewater Marina to Plank Lane

John here again - hooray! Drove up on my own from Norwich to the marina, arriving at 1815. Paid for our four nights having successfully argued our stay down from the five nights shown on the bill (£18.00 and not £22.50). Then I summoned up sufficient cheek to ask if it would be all right (yes) to leave the car on their land for a couple of weeks!

Found that the gas and electrics had been switched off, so the (gas) fridge had defrosted. A peach thing had gone mouldy, the ice had returned to water, and it was all a bit smelly. Cleaned out and relit.

Anxious to get as much boating in as possible, I left the mooring at 1910 and headed towards Wigan as I'd missed this bit by being in France. No locks, no moveable bridges. Uneventful.

Moored as it was getting dark at 2125 at Plank Lane lift bridge.

No photos for a bit as David had the camera (well, it was his, after all).

Four nights in a marina

Nine week cruise - day 28 - Friday 29th July 2005

Bridgewater Marina, Walkden

David writes: Left boat 0630, train to London.

Rain and locks

Nine week cruise - day 27 - Thursday 28th July 2005

Red Rock to Bridgewater Marina

David writes: Up at 0745, under way at 0800. One hour to Wigan top lock. Torrential rain and v. windy. "Poppy" moored by lock - said they'd wait for rain to stop before moving - maybe tomorrow, but then agreed to join me down the flight. Lock keepers set ALL the locks, and following boat crew also helped. Did 21 locks in 3h 15m, also managed breakfast, tea, coffee and lasagne (to the astonishment of the crew of "Poppy" who must have wondered whether David really was as single-handed as he claimed (the benefit of a rear galley)).

The rain continued throughout the afternoon. At 1800 arrived at Bridgewater Marina where we'd booked a berth for four days while neither David nor John could be on the boat. The sun came out.

Botany Bay and Red Rock

Nine week cruise - day 26 - Wednesday 27th July 2005

Johnson's Top Lock to Red Rock

David writes: Up at 0815. Warm, scattered clouds, dry. Had shower by boat - v. clean (You or the shower? - ed) Under way at 0900. Stopped for breakfast at Botany Bay. Looked at mill shops - totally rubbish - so continued to Chorley where Will left the boat.

Continued single-handed to Red Rock Bridge 63. Moored up at about 1900. Evening meal: jacket spuds. Reda papers (first time) and bed at 2200.

World's worst pub (apparently) and short fight

Nine week cruise - day 25 - Tuesday 26th July 2005

Barrowford Bottom Lock to Johnson's Top Lock

David writes: Will and David up at 0635 and under way at 0650. Cruised through Burnley - no traffic, no pedestrians.

At 1220 moored up at Church church. Had a can of cider in the world's worst pub (not as described in Nicholson's): the world's most boring man tried to hitch a lift to Blackburn. David and Will left quietly by the back door.

Under way again at 1335 Quiet run through Blackburn - well maintained locks. Hot and sunny. Arrived Johnson's Hillock Top Lock at 2000. Ate and drank in top lock pub, adjacent to the boat. The Polish chef (who claimed to have started only that morning, and could do only beans on toast) did us a good steak casserole.

Fight in pub - broken glass + police - but lasted only two minutes. To bed at 2300.

Friday 8 February 2008

Port and Minstrels

Nine week cruise - day 24 - Monday 25th July 2005

East Marton to Barrowford Bottom Lock

David writes: 0800 David/Will up. 0830 under way. Blue sky, sunny and chilly. Stopped for water and shower at Barnoldswick, then on to Foulridge Tunnel.

Lights red, so waited ten minutes until 1300, then a half-hour dry passage through.

Stopped at 1600 at Barrowford Bottom Lock, just before Nelson. Moored on offside bank, by open fields before a housing estate, but within the noise of the motorway.

Just west of Foulridge Tunnel. Wonder if it's still there.

Corn on cob; bangers; spuds; beans; creme caramel; minstrels; port; scrabble. Bed at 2330.

David in charge

Nine week cruise - day 23 - Sunday 24th July 2005

Skipton to East Marton

Will steering

David writes: 1400 Will arrived, engine started and under way. Pleasant countryside. Pizzas for (late) lunch. Three swing bridges, first two locks, approaching Gargrave, solo (apart from gongoozlers). Had good ice cream from lock-side van, then joined with friendly hire boat for rest of Gargrave and Bank Newton locks.

2015 moored at East Marton for the Cross Keys pub, bridge 161. Food stopped being served at 2000 so had pasta bake. Bed 2300.

Trains, bike, car and Godmanchester

Nine week cruise - day 22 - Saturday 23rd July 2005

Both up early for trains back down south for Auntie Pauline's 80th birthday party at David and Victoria's house in Godmanchester. John had a long day and was late for the (afternoon) party. David took the direct route, to Huntingdon, and thence by bike. I had to retrieve the car from Scholar Green where I'd parked it what seemed like ages ago - it was a fortnight - and drive down from there. Things didn't start well. The first train, from Skipton to Leeds, stopped for 45 minutes while an attempted suicide was dealt with. Then it was an empty but slow train to Manchester Piccadilly; a packed one to Crewe; and another one to Kidsgrove from where I cycled to Scholar Green. Would the car still be there? Would it start? Well, yes and yes, thankfully. But then a four hour drive to Godmanchester.

Auntie Pauline at 80

Arrived as the party was winding down. Some guests had already gone home. And I'd left the boat for a whole week, as I was off to sing in France, with Jan and a prep school choir. A great trip: sang in Chartres Cathedral, Versailles, Orleans Cathedral and Notre Dame in Paris.

David saw this on his way back to Skipton

Meanwhile David returned to the boat at 2300. "Dulwich", which had dogged us ever since Standedge Tunnel, was moored close by.


Nine week cruise - day 21 - Friday 22nd July 2005

Stayed put in Skipton

The boat did, that is, we cycled through some excellent Yorkshire countryside to Malham to look at the cove and tarn.

John up at 0810. Shopped at Skipton market and bought some rations, including pork pies, for our cycle ride. At 1230 we cycled to Malham and left our bikes at the start of the walk to the cove.

After some pretend silliness for the camera we walked to Malham Tarn and back.

cooling our drinks

Then we cycled to Gargrave with the intention of returning to Skipton along the towpath. We hadn't reckoned on it being quite so bumpy and slow, so we gave up on the towpath and used the A65 instead. When we got back to the boat we moved it out of the Springs Branch onto the main line beyond the second swing bridge to be near the staion.

Skipton is full of rowdy youths. Skipton's pubs are full of drunk rowdies. Hoping for a quieter night with no church bells in hearing distance.

Thursday 7 February 2008

The bells, the bells!

Nine week cruise - day 20 - Thursday 21st July 2005

Dowley Gap to Skipton

Got up at 0735. The floor under the carpet at the front has dried out, so it wasn't the radiator leaking. Of course, we now know where the water came from: the top gates of the L&L locks as we ascend (see second photo). The locks being shorter than the 72' ones we're used to, the bow is nearer the action as far as leaky top gates are concerned. Water has cascaded onto the bow and found its way into the boat through the vents in the bow doors. We know to cover these up when locking where there's a danger of water ingress now.

Under way at 0915, and headed for more waterways wonders: the Bingley Three Rise and Five Rise locks. We were through these by 1120, then we stopped and had a look around. Got going again at 1245.

Lining up for the Bingley Five Rise

In one of the Bingley locks: note how wet the bow is

At 1500 we stopped at Silsden Boats for pumpout, diesel, and loan of a vacuum cleaner to remove more water from the carpet at the front. Got going again at 1615.

Cruised to the very end of the Springs Branch and reversed back to a mooring. Moored at 1955. The church clock was very loud - and struck all the quarters all through the night!

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Oil and water

Nine day cruise - day 19 - Wednesday 20th July 2005

Leeds to Dowley Gap

David steering

Up at 0710, and away from Leeds Canal Basin at 0755. We found sharing the L&L locks to be the thing to do, as they were slow and difficult with just one boat. We shared with "Dill" until Rodley.

In a lock at three o'clock

At Saltaire we stopped to have a look round this amazing town. I can't believe that David took no pictures, but I can't find them. I cycled to Idle to buy oil and filter from Bargain Motor Spares. At 2115 we moored just above Dowley Gap locks and I started to change the oil and filter. Never done it before on a boat. I successfully managed to pump out the old oil, but found that the filter wouldn't turn. I had a chain wrench with me but it wouldn't fit past an obstruction. At this stage I was distracted by David reporting a wet carpet at the front. It wasn't clear where the water was coming from, so David started taking up the carpet while I resorted to hammer and screwdriver to remove the filter. Oil and filter changed at 148.4 hours.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Falling through Fall Ing Lock

Nine week cruise - day 18 - Tuesday 19th July 2005

Horbury Bridge to Leeds

Some of the local plant life

I got up at 0625 and walked to the sanitory station and found the BW key wouldn't fit the lock on the loo door. Oh well. Back to the boat, and away at 0730. Watered up at Broad Cut Low Lock at 0830, and in another two and a half hours passed through Fall Ing Lock, the largest so far.

This waterway is so big it needs traffic lights

In a large lock

Stopped at Stanley Ferry Aqueducts to buy gas and have a look round the boatyard. David bought a handcuff key and I wish I'd done the same. There was one on the boat, but having ones own is very handy. We are now on the Aire and Calder Navigation - wide and deep, with electrically operated locks. We tied up for lunch just above a lock at 1345 (this is where writing up the log nearly three years after the event gets tricky: I've left a space in the original obviously meaning to write in the name of the lock when I had a chance to look it up. Well, that chance has been and gone. I suppose I could try to work it out from timings ... must have been Woodnock Lock, or possibly King's Road Lock.)

I wonder what's down here

Ah. More of the local plant life

Stopped at Castleford Junction to investigate the BW office - free Waterways World magazine - and to buy a BW key each. Approaching Leeds we discovered we didn't have a vital ingredient for the planned spaghetti bolognese, so David swopped a can of tomato soup for a can of tomatoes at a moored narrowboat. Eventually moored up in Leeds Canal Basin at 2115. Didn't quite have the feel of Birmingham's Gas Street Basin which we'd visited three years previously, but I think we were officially now on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, yet another first for us. Ate the spag bol.

Mushy peas and vindaloo

Nine week cruise - day 17 - Monday 18th July 2005

Huddersfield to Horbury Bridge

John and Jan up at 0715. Walked to Huddersfield Station for Jan to return home and for John to buy a ticket for Skipton to Kidsgrove (for future car shuffling). Back to the boat to continue cruising at 1145. Now it's just the two of us: David and myself. At 1535 we tied up just below Battyeford Lock on the Calder and Hebble Navigation for a lunch of filled jacket potatoes. Under way at 1600 making for Dewsbury. At 1845 we tied up at the end of the Dewsbury Arm. At the pub there we had a pint of ale, John helping his go down with a pie and mushy peas. I've noted that the pub was "good", but I didn't record its name. Here I put the wide angle lens on the time lapse camera which is recording the whole cruise.

Under way again at 1950 and moored for the night at Horbury Bridge, four hours behind my original, fairly tight, schedule. Hungry again, David found a Chinese takeaway, and I had a very good takeaway meat vindaloo for £4.00 - with free rice!

Monday 4 February 2008

Linthwaite to Huddersfield

Nine week cruise - day 16 - Sunday 17th July 2005

Locomotive Bridge, Huddersfield

Up at 0715 and away at 0745. The downhill run from the summit level continued into Huddersfield: we encountered lots of very shallow pounds. One we came to was almost dry, so we had to fill it from the previous pound in order to be able to continue. That episode took one and a half hours. There wasn't much traffic about, so we stopped for lunch in lock 5E. We would have moved if a boat came, of course.

At Apsley Basin we stopped to use the facilities - water and shower. Oh, and Sainsbury's. Going on to the Huddersfield Broad Canal was interesting - the locks were, anyway. We'd not encountered such short locks before. It was a bit of a jiggle getting the gates shut and open with the 58' boat diagonally across the lock.

We moored at 1825 just below Lock 9 on the Huddersfield Broad Canal.