Rain Rain, Go Away!

We were geared up to leave on Monday, until we saw the weather forecast. Luckily we didn’t have any pressing place to go, so we thought we’d sit tight, moored up in Stanley Ferry until the weather front changed.

After ‘sitting’ out the weather for 2 days, we decided during a break in the rain (around 3 pm) to move on towards the mooring at the top of Birkwood Lock (#2) as advised by our map.

We’d overstayed our 48 hour mooring, and we were anxious to move on.

Fascinating to watch the ‘big’ boats passing us by.

Arriving at the ‘planned’ moorings, we found several boats already moored up, there was no space for us. We find this happens a lot, boats who have obviously moored up for quite a while, are taking up spaces on 48 hour moorings. Not to worry, we decided to go down the lock and take our luck in finding a mooring further on.

The locks on the Aire & Calder Navigation are ‘automatic’, you just need a C&RT key to work them. I ‘hovered’ Cyan on the river, while John, being more technical worked the huge lock.  It’s always daunting tackling something new, and this ‘automatic lock technology’ was intimidating on this gigantic lock. There are instructions to follow, but despite the instructions John was really pleased when two C&RT lockies turned up at the lock on some other business. John was ‘professionally’ instructed on how to use the lock.

After picking up John at the bottom of the lock, we cruised down the river looking for a possible moorings. On descending down the next mammoth lock, Kings Head Road Lock (#3), the rain started getting heavy, we quickly scanned the Nicholson’s Guide, and I couldn’t see any mooring spaces.

At the next lock, Woodnook Lock (#4), we took the decision to moor up on the lock landing/waterpoint where there was a sign saying we could stay for “One Hour Only”. The rain was by now roaring down! After lighting the fire, eating our dinner, and enjoying a glass of wine, our conscience was eased.

The next day the rain had eased off, and just as we were leaving, an entering the lock, a Lockie turned up. We explained to him why we had moored at the waterpoint, he said the C&RT weren’t worried about people like us, as we were constantly moving. The “One Hour” sign was for those boaters who moor up for days/weeks/months at a time.

Out of the lock we cruised the River Calder through spots of rain and sunshine.

Much better idea to use locks instead of the weirs

Eventually we intrepidly approached Lemonroyd Lock, the biggest lock of them all! With the rain now coming down in stair-rods as we approached the lock, and it was a glorious sight to see the lock doors opening for us.  We thought at first a lock keeper was on duty, until we saw another boat entering the lock in front of us.

Inside the lock (which could accommodate around 6 boats), I called up to the lady who was working the lock, asking if she was with the boat in front. When she said “Yes” we did feel a bit cheeky having her lock us up in the lock.  She was very nice, and explained it would be a good idea if we attached one of our ropes to one of the long vertical bars fitted down the wall of the lock, to steady our boat. Glad she was there to advise, as the water coming into the mammoth lock was fierce.

At the top of the lock was a huge open space, with mooring spaces.  “This’ll do for us”, we thought! Plus services were close by.

With lots of areas for Rusty to stretch his legs.

Over two days we’ve travelled 8.4 miles, and 4 (mammoth) locks.

Big Boats And Little Boats

We descended down the last three locks of the Calder & Hebble, and what BIG babies they were too! The last one Fall Ing Lock (no that’s not a spelling mistake) could have fitted 4 Cyans in comfortably. But poor John, the lock beams were gigantic too, and took quite a lot of shifting.

With John, safely on board Cyan. We continued our journey, which is now on the Aire and Calder Navigation.

The River Calder is beautiful, and today she was serine, though there’s plenty of evidence by the rubbish caught high in the bushes on the bank, that the river rises quite a bit.

There appears to be quite a colony of herons on this stretch of the river, and I just managed to snap this one just before he took off in flight. Amazing really, they appear to be able to jump up and fly, like a jump jet, if a little ungainly!

Eventually we turned off the River Calder, turning left onto a part of the Aire & Calder Navigation.

How beautifully constructed the towpath is on this canal…

We saw this boat in the distance, and couldn’t quite work out how big it was, until we got nearer:

She dwarfed ‘little’ Cyan… though I read there’s much bigger ones in this area.

We were aiming for Ramsden, but didn’t realise just what a great place it is. There are lots of big wide beams and little boats (we rudely call them ‘yogurt pots’). Everyone, all appearing to be enjoying the water.

After carrying out service duties, rubbish, cassettes, water (after 30 minutes we gave up on the water as it was slow!), we found a nice little spot for mooring. The mooring is a C&RT 48 hour mooring.

Our mooring’s a few steps from the ‘Stanley Ferry’ pub – where we had a nice drink at lunchtime.

We thought we’d stay at this lovely place for the weekend, probably moving Monday, depending of course on the weather.

Within sight is the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct; built between 1836 and 1839 to take the Aire and Calder Navigation over the River Calder. It is one of the earliest arch bridges in the world, and is considered to be the longest span aqueduct built in cast iron.  The aqueduct has a span of 165 feet (50 m), a width of 24 feet (7.3 m) and a depth of 8.5 feet (2.6 m).

We did 3 locks, 6 miles. Mooring where WiFi is 35 Mbps.

Squeezing Into The Locks

Last evening we amused ourselves watching a single duck, with her 3 ducklings. This morning we found mother duck was having a real tussle with a single male swan. He was horrible to her, chasing her about and looking like he was trying to drown her. Her three ducklings were hiding in the reeds, while she distracted the swan away from her brood. We did manage to tempt the swan towards Cyan by throwing some bread from the hatch, and hoped the duck and her ducklings would escape and the swan would ‘forget’ them. The ploy didn’t work, as the swan went back on the hunt for the duck family. We hope the outcome was not tragic……

This family of swans and very new cygnets were so cute, and they looked quite serine. Mum and dad were taking great care.

We were told last evening by a chatty Canal & Riverside Trust volunteer who was picking up rubbish from the towpath, that the next lock (Mill Bank Lock #7) was the shortest on the Calder & Hebble. Hearing that; was’t conducive to sleeping well, as that information just gave me nightmares!

Nevertheless, after breakfast we geared up for the challenges of the day. At the lock we just took it slowly and we just fitted diagonally inside the lock. Once we emptied the lock John used the boat pole to nudge  Cyan across the lock allowing the gate to open.  Leaving the lock was a lovely feeling, knowing that at least we’d ‘fit’ in all the other locks.

The gates are huge and heavy, the paddles are also hard to operate, C&H locks are quite a challenge for John.

As we missed the water point and services yesterday, we were aiming to make for the services at Horbury Basin. When we arrived, the area looked very tight to access the services, so we gave it a miss, believing the next services are not too far away.

It’s lovely to cruise along the navigation. After dropping down Broad Cut Top Lock #4, we moored up.

The weather has been brilliant, and as we’d moored up by Navigation Inn, we thought it would be rude not to pop into the pub’s garden for a drink. The Navigation Inn has a fantastic play area for children. School looks to be out for half term, and lot’s of children were in the play area having a great time. Rusty was unsettled and not happy with children running around so we didn’t stay too long.

Today we have gone down 4 locks, and 3.25 miles. Wifi is 6 Mbps.