Glorious Day On The River

A glorious day in the making as we set off from our ‘Lidl’ mooring

John took the picture of Cyan ‘hovering’ on the water while he waited for the lock to fill up.  We had intended to use the services at this lock, but annoyingly a boat was ‘moored’ at the water point. Hope C&RT take note and enforce the rules surrounding access to facilities!

These locks are wide, and rather short for Cyan, though they aren’t as deep as some we have encountered.

Poor John, it wasn’t easy for him to jump back on Cyan. ‘One giant step’ etc…..


Eventually we came to a weir on the river, obviously we can’t sail down weirs, therefore we turned off onto a part of a canal system.

It’s the first time this year we’ve spotted a dog rose.

The railway bridge is in use, because as we sailed under it, a train went over it!

For some reason we’ve not seen much wildlife on the canals we’ve been on these past few weeks, so we were really happy to see these little ones, they’ve grown so much and they’re starting to get their ‘grown up’ feathers. Sadly she’s only got three left, when probably she’d hatched over 10.

Here’s our calm and peaceful mooring for the night, just outside the Dewsbury Arm.

Today we’ve gone through 5 locks, cruised 2 miles, and we’ve got 12 Mbps.

After Weekend Bank Holiday

The mooring, at the start of the ‘Calder & Hebble Navigation’ was lovely and quiet, so we decided to stay put and let the ‘bank holiday boaters’, enjoy the ‘space’. Just as well as the rain on Sunday and Monday never gave up!

Tuesday morning; though the weather was cloudy, it looked promising, so we set off without really a place in mind to moor.

We’ve learnt that the structure of the locks are unique to each canal, so as we ventured to our first lock on the Calder & Hebble, we wondered which ‘technique’ we should use.  The locks appear double the width, and roughly being the same length as those on the Huddersfield Broad Canal, which is short for us. We had to go down the locks on the HBC horizontal. Which means it’s awkward to open the gates of the lock, as Cyan’s bow’s  is tucked in the corner. We’ve got round this by John nudging Cyan out the gate with a pole.

As the locks are wide, there’re many beautiful wide-beamed boats of either 10ft or 12 ft width.  Cyan’ beam is 6ft 10in.  It’s a little strange to see them, and they do look ‘luxurious’.

At first it’s strange to be cruising a river, and every now and again there’s evidence of when the river was in high flood, such in the picture below, where ‘rags’ have been caught in branches.

From the river we turned off onto a navigation, which basically is a canal system, cutting out a part of the river that is un-navigational. We passed through the Ledgard flood gates which were open, but should the water in the river be high, the gates will be shut to protect the canal.

We moored up just outside the car park of a Lidl store, where provisions were replenished.

Today we went through 2 locks, cruised 2 miles, and moored where WiFi is 48Mbps.

Back On The ‘Road’ Again!

We’ve got a bit of catching up to do with the website.

As mentioned in our previous post, we moored just outside a pub/restaurant at Aspley Basin, on the Huddersfield (now) Broads Canal.  We took a bit of ‘time out’, doing some shopping, and basically chilling out until the stern gland arrived.

On Wednesday morning our ‘part’ arrived, and was successfully fitted.

The engineer also checked the alignment of the prop, and we’re pleased to report, all is fine. What a relief to finally have confidence our leak is fixed.

We were a little peeved on Thursday  morning as we’d planned to fill up with water, use the sanitary services, and empty the rubbish before we set off on our ‘never ending journey’; unfortunately there was already a boat on the ‘water-point’. After patiently waiting for an hour, John calmly sauntered off to ask if there was a problem, and to say he’d like to get on the water point and use the facilities (boats are not allowed to moor on water-points if they are not using the services). The boater told John he was waiting for his friends to arrive, then he would be moving.  Two hours later, they were still on the water-point.  They finally moved off to moor up just 150 yd. down stream! Hmmm. Rather than getting rattled, John was persuaded to chill out and have another night at the basin.

Friday morning we were up an ready at 8:00 a.m., we reversed Cyan onto the water-point to use the services.  By 8:30 a.m we were cruising under the unusual lift bridge: Originally the bridge was manually raised and lowered by some very sturdy boaters!

The bridge is now electrical/hydraulically powered and we are required to hold up the traffic while the roadway is raised and lowered.

The bridge is a back-road that’s like a bit of a rat-run or shortcut for cars.  We did feel a little guilty having to stop half a dozen or so cars, at what must be their morning journey to work, while we cruised under the bridge.

At the first lock, Lock #9, we soon discovered that descending the lock was going to be a little tricky. The locks were wider. I thought the difference between the Huddersfield ‘Narrow’ and the Huddersfield ‘Broad’ was about the width of the canal. Not so, it’s because of the width of the locks.

Cyan is 58ft long, bigger with her front and rear bumpers. We soon discovered the locks will only accommodate a 60ft boat, maximum. We’re well aware boats have to be careful not to get the stern/rear caught on the lock’s cill. If it does get caught, it can be a disaster!

Eventually we formed a system where Cyan sat diagonally in the lock, with John holding her bow line, while he let the water out of the lock slowly and carefully. I had the important job of keeping Cyan away from the cill with only inches to spare.

These are the first foxgloves we’ve seen this year.

An a beautiful clump of flag irises.

How could anyone get bored with the scenery!

Eventually all 9 locks were behind us, and we left the Huddersfield Broad Canal, and onto the ‘Calder & Hebble Navigation’.  We’ve not been on a ‘Navigation’ before. A Navigation is a waterway that uses both a canal and a river. Where water in a river flows down via weir (where a boat can’t go), a part of a canal has been created which has a lock to drop the boat down.  Sounds complicated?  Sorry about that, we’ve yet to experience a navigation at this moment of typing.

After the shallow water of the Huddersfield, Cyan cruised smoothly in the deeper water of the River Calder.  We didn’t go too far until we turned right, and through flood gates onto the Calder & Hebble. At this spot we moored up for the night.

How nice it was for the C&RT have cut our ‘lawn’ for us!  Behind us are the flood gates, protecting the ‘canal’ from river floods.

This is such a nice spot, we thought we stop for a few days.  We have  72 hours before we need to move on from these moorings.

This evening we have ‘neighbours’ who’ve moored up behind us… guess who they are? Yes, it’s the boat that hogged the water-point!

We’ve done 9 locks, 3 1/2 miles, and the WiFi is 45 mg!


Out Of The Narrows

We had a lazy day-off on Sunday, although John did inspect the ‘engine ‘ole’, and found the stern gland leak had got worse. Instead of a ‘plip plip’, we’ve now almost got a dribble!

The worsening leak resulting in me not having a very good night’s sleep, as I noticed the automatic bilge pump was spitting out water every 5 minutes! What would happen if the pump burnt out? What if it fused?

With only 8 locks to go (starting at ‘Roller Lock #8E), and just over 2 miles until we reached Aspley Wharf Marina (after Stanley Dawson Lock #1E), who’d been notified we’d be dropping in to get our leak fixed, we decided to have an early start! We casted off our mooring ropes at 8.30 a.m.

Our ‘normal’ plan was for me to do the locking on the first ‘half’ of the locks, and John doing the last four.  As soon as I had completed the first four, and was filling up the lock on ‘Paddock Foot Lock #4E’, John thought it a good idea for me to continue with the locking as the canal was getting more polluted with beer cans, M’cDonald packages, plastic bags, etc. It was at this lock that a C&RT Lock-keeper appeared, saying that he was sending down water as below us the canal was dry. It appears there was a boat stuck on Lock #1 due to lack of water. He said he’d be accompanying us down to Lock #1.

As John sailed Cyan out of Sellers Lock #3E, I lost track of him, and of course Cyan. I’d heard the Lock-keeper tell John to make for Coal Wharf Lock #2, and to stay there until he arrived, as he was going to send more water ‘down’. This is where the ‘fun’ started; there isn’t a towpath after Lock #3, and I was directed to cross a busy road, and round a block of several buildings, to pick up the towpath. Eventually I came to the towpath, and descended down what looked like a flight of 20 ‘fire escape’ steps to get to the towpath. I could see the water in the canal was very low, with lots of rubbish visible.

In front of me was Lock #1, but I couldn’t get back to Lock #2 as there was no towpath.  So I climbed up the ‘fire escape’ steps again, and retraced my steps in case I missed a signpost. I did manage to see Lock #2 from the top of a bridge, I could just about see the top of John’s head in a lock, and I saw the C&RT Lock-keeper busy with his windlass, but I couldn’t see any towpath. It appeared the Lock-keeper had unlocked a small gate to get to the lock, a gate that I missed.

There was nothing left for me but to march back to Lock #1, windlass in hand, and wearing my pink life-jacket. I hardly blended in with the ‘normal’ people of Huddersfield! I wondered if I’d be stopped by a policeman for carrying a ‘lethal’ object?

(John) I set off under instructions to nudge up to lock #2 and hold until C&RT staff attended. Through the short and very low tunnel under the road and out into a pound with no towpath? No sign of Jen at this point, Rusty and I were getting concerned as to where was our crew member!

C&RT arrived through a small gap in a fence and began to fill the lock. ” Where is our crew member?” “No idea Sir”

“WHAT” “She will probably turn up at lock#1″…..probably! He then opened the lock gate and CYAN moved inside. The C&RT guy confirmed he was going to lower the water level then open the top and bottom gate paddles to let water down to the lower lock. CYAN was to remain inside the lock. The water started to boil and we became a fish fillet in a deep fat fryer! Like a rapids ride without the decent! All the time the reassuring smile from the C&RT guy was visible over the bottom gates…….. 40 minutes later we were released from the lock and descended towards lock #1. Very slowly as the pound was full of rubbish and still very low in water. When the lock came into view Jen was standing, patiently waiting…..our crew had belatedly been reunited!

(Jen again) Eventually we’d gone through our last lock, Lock #1, which was just a small stretch of the legs away from Aspley Wharf Marina. Alan, the manager of the marina helped us moor up Cyan, then he made us both a cup of tea (we needed it!).

We’re moored right outside a restaurant/pub called ‘The Aspley’, in the middle of Huddersfield town. Within view on our left is a shopping arcade, advertising House of Frazer, Next, M&S etc., just along side the shopping arcade is a B&Q. To the left of us is an Asda, and behind Asda is an Aldi! I suggested that this mooring would ‘do’ until CYAN was repaired! (LOL).

The new ‘gland’ has been ordered, which should arrive on Wednesday.  We’re very cool!

Today we did 8 locks, 2.2 miles, WiFi is 30 Mg, and we’re shattered!

Saturday’s Cruise

The local weather forecast said today’s weather was going to be changeable… they weren’t wrong!  We started off in brilliant sunshine, and moored up in heavy rain.

With a similar plan as yesterday, I would do the first 5 locks, and John would do the next 5, though we thought we’d ‘play it by ear’ as to where we’d moor, we couldn’t see a suitable mooring place on the map.

The fine weather had brought many people to the towpath, dog walkers, ramblers, bikers.  The canal’s a ‘centre’of social interaction. Who wouldn’t enjoy such beauty?

No signs of a water shortage in this part of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Now this is a ‘leaky lock’! Emptying the lock took a lot of patience.  

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal follows the path of the River Colne.


This whole area, in years gone by, was the centre of the woollen mill industry. The famous Titanic Mill has now been converted into fabulous apartments, see ‘Rightmove’ link.

The locks take on the ‘flavour’ of the local water, this lock smelt ‘peaty’, and the colour ‘black’ has seeped into the stonework.

We’d never get ‘bored’ with the scenery.

Today we’ve moored up below Isis lock #9 and have gone through 12 locks, and 2.5 miles. WiFi is around 20 Mg.

Between A Lock And A Hard Place

Bearing in mind we have a leaky stern gland, and praying the automatic bilge pump doesn’t develop a problem, imagine how our hearts sank when we woke to find Cyan leaning rather badly to port! I discovered the list first when I went to the bathroom, tottering out of bed felt a little more precarious than it should be.

Think all boaters are paranoid about their boat sinking! We ‘assumed’, though didn’t know for sure, that Cyan had grounded on rocks due to the water level going down several inches over night. Both of us didn’t feel like breakfast, and could only face a cup of tea, we were concerned and wanted to continue our journey as soon as possible for reassurance that Cyan’s list was definitely because she’s settled on stones or rocks, and  was nothing sinister! As soon as we untied Cyan’s very tight mooring ropes, she slid off her ‘rock’, and righted herself.

Our plan was to go down 10 locks today, mooring up at Slaithwaite (pronounced Slawit), I was to do the first five locks, and John locking the rest. As it turned out, I had the best deal!

All went well, until Shuttle Lock #24E.  The lock’s a guillotine lock, and one we hadn’t done before.  John opened the sluice gate to let the water out, before lifting the ‘guillotine’ door.  As soon as it was safe, I attempted to pootle out of the lock. Realisation soon dawned that Cyan’s stainless steel chimney wouldn’t fit under a concrete beam under the bridge. There was nothing left for it, but to reverse back into the lock and raise the water level again to a level where John could reach out, and remove the chimney.

This meant we used two full locks of water to lower Cyan, which caused problems for a couple of moored boats at the top of the guillotine lock, causing them to ‘suffer’ a lower level of water. “Sorry!”

At the next lock, a lovely man came out of his house by the side of the lock, offering us advice, and a leaflet published by the boy scouts showing a map of Slaithwaite, and it’s businesses.  Apparently there’s 4 fish ‘n’ chip shops in the town! The man warned us that the bridge at the bottom of the lock, is very low, and we should take great care.

The canal runs under the bridge, then through a narrow channel, until reaches the next lock (Pickle Lock #22E), where we had planned to moor.

Cyan attempted to sail under the bridge, but with a shock, she was about 6 inches too tall, and it wasn’t easy to make her ‘less’ tall – there was no way she’d fit under the bridge. No way to turn around, no way to go forwards. Indeed she/we were between a ‘Lock an’ a hard Place!’ I threw John the centre line, and he secured Cyan to a post, while we had a ‘think’. It was impossible to lower the height of the boat, so the only way to lower the water….. Cutting a long story short, John legged it to the lock in front (Pickle Lock #22E), and on advice from the C&RT via a phone call, John filled the lock twice, and emptied it twice.  This lowered the water level in the pound, to the point where Cyan became ‘low’ enough to sail under the bridge. Once again thanks to C&RT for their advice, and offer of assistance, the ‘C&RT Crew’ are very obliging – TOP MARKS!

Basically, we had used too much water getting through the guillotine lock, temporarily raising the water level in the pound. At the time of getting marooned, I envisaged the fire brigade cutting Cyan’s roof off! (I know, should be writing pulp fiction).

We moored for the night at the bottom of Pickle Lock #22E,

Today we did 10 locks, cruised almost 2 miles, 20 Mg of WiFi, excellent TV.  For dinner we had tasty ‘old style’ fish ‘n’ chips from ‘The Captain’s Table’ cooked in beef dripping. Thoroughly enjoyed by all 3 of us!

Continuing On The East (Yorkshire) Side Of The Huddersfield Narrow

Before we set off we had concerns regarding water levels.  John returned from walking Rusty to say the lock pound after Lock #41E looked empty, a boat going down appeared to be stuck on the bottom. Another boat attempting to come up the lock, appeared to be struggling due to the low water level too.

We phoned C&RT for advice, asking should we let water down from Lock #42E? The C&RT asked us to wait, and that help was on its way.  It appears the water in the first several locks are finely ‘balanced’! There are notices on lock beams asking if boats are going down, ‘fill up the next lock before opening paddles draining the lock containing your boat’. It appears there’s a risk of flooding gardens if too much water is let down and not allowed to fill the lower chamber.

The C&RT team arrived promptly, and were really helpful, offering assistance to get us down the first 4 locks. Big thankyou to all the team.

Before the C&RT men appeared, we had a lovely chat with the crew of NB Cygnet, Debbie and Jim. This was the boat coming up the locks, and they moored behind us. Strangely enough, they had read this website of our ‘adventures’ from the ‘other’ West side of Standedge Tunnel, a direction they were heading.

Debbie and Jim also gave us a fantastic tool we’ll need for locks on the Calder and Hebble; our next canal! To buy this tool, it costs £15 at a chandlers! Jim, instead of buying it, made his own tool, which looks very much like a length of 2 by 4 wood!  Thanks Jim, we’d have been really stuck and at the mercy of the sales pitch on the navigation.

After several rainy days, it was brilliant to be cruising with the sun on our faces.

Cameras never do justice to glorious views.

I did the first five locks of the day, and John did our last five.

I just love how nature fills these barren areas.

Our mooring for the night, just at the bottom of Pig Tail Lock #32.

Right ‘next door’ to our mooring is Sparth Reservoir.  People wearing wet-suits were busy this afternoon, kids included, swimming in the reservoir.

Today we’ve done 10 locks, cruised just over one mile, and moored with great digital TV, and WiFi over 30 Mg.

The Highest, Longest, and the Deepest Canal Tunnel!

Standedge Tunnel is 5,029 metres (over 3 miles) long, and is the highest, longest, and the deepest canal tunnel, and we went through it yesterday!  Can’t say it was the most relaxed journey, John looked shell shocked at the end of it, and Rusty had to be medicated!

We should have had an inkling when John was handed a hard hat by the chaperones who took us through the tunnel, the hat was scratched and scuffed on the top.

Rusty and I were down stairs, with all curtains open, and all lights on. Poor lad (Rusty) was shaking, panting, and his ears were back; he wasn’t happy. To help him I gave him a dose of his Metacam medicine, it’s a painkiller, with the effect of relaxing him and making him sleepy.  If I’d have thought; I should have walked him over the top of the tunnel, and met John on Cyan at the other side; risking being called ‘chicken’.

After breakfast we stripped down Cyan’s roof, took off the chimney, dismantled the canopy, and the cratch cover, removed the flowers. and filled up the water tank.  Cyan was measured to see if she was too big to get in the tunnel, luckily we passed the test.

Because I was downstairs, pacifying Rusty, I didn’t see much of the journey.  Though I did hear from John that at certain times in the tunnel he was steering Cyan on his knees.

We moored up just before the first lock on the ‘East Side’ (Yorkshire), and put Cyan back together again.

There is abundant history surrounding this magnificent engineering achievement by our Victorian ancestors. The image is of ‘Leggers’ walking a boat through the 3 mile tunnel.

As the tunnel was excavated by hand it is not precisely straight and the interior changes from raw exposed rock face to beautifully constructed brick arches. From cathedral like caverns to almost impassable sections were the headroom is almost nil!

We will take time out today to take a look into the Visitors Centre before heading off towards Huddersfield.

Navigation note: While out walking Rusty last evening, the pound below lock #41 was almost empty.

In general the Eastern section has a serious water level problem.

WiFi is pretty good! 3 miles and no locks



A Scramble Up The Diggle Flight…In The Rain

Classic boaters dilemma, we need to be at the Standedge portal by 11.30 a.m. Wednesday, but it is hissing down, and we are at the bottom of the Diggle Flight….Hmmmm.

Stay put and hope for ‘better’ weather tomorrow for an early morning dash up the flight? Or do we bite the bullet and scramble up the flight in the rain, with a promise of a hot shower and an overnight near to the portal?

After a morning walk with Rusty in the rain I felt  it was worth pushing on today, after all we both returned wet through…..

As we left our overnight mooring, below lock #24, the Greater Manchester weather gods decided to show what they could do!

The clouds covered most of the views of Saddleworth Moor as I walked the flight of 9………poignant and fitting; following the news about the demise of Ian Brady. The rain was relentless……

Jen and Rusty stayed on board while I wielded the windless, the locks are so close together it is easier to walk than jump on and off the boat.

After 2+ hours we reached the top, and the aqueduct mooring before Standedge Portal beckoned.

Weather note, once we had secured CYAN the rain promptly stopped!

CYAN snuggled up on the aqueduct….


Saddleworth revealed at last, feels like we are on top of the world

The Standedge Portal at Diggle awaits…..tomorrow

Amazing portal gates securing the tunnel access


The tunnel rules and advice

Another wonderful achievement by Thomas Telford

Starring In A ‘Show’!

Before we took off from our moorings at Saddleworth Visitor Centre Winding Hole, we did a little shopping for bread and milk.  On the outside wall of the bakers was a commemorative plaque to Arthur Rowbotham! It’s great to know that even a ‘baker’s boy’ can be so highly thought of to have his own plaque, for ‘giving his all’!

We planned to travel through two locks only before mooring up for the day. The closely situated flight of 9 locks which will take us to Diggle, will need to be done in one ‘trip’. Diggle is the start of the Standedge Tunnel, where our Wednesday passage is booked.

At Dungebooth Lock (#22W) we encountered an audience of Gongoozlers! People are fascinated with locks, and they asked us the same questions, “Where have you come from?”, “Where are you going?” It’s difficult to know how to answer such questions. “Do you live on your boat?”, and many more questions, some are quite bazaar and strange. It makes us wonder just how eccentric we are!

But those Gongoozlers didn’t prepare us for the next lock’s ‘audience’ of about 50, nearly all taking photos, and most having dogs who seemed to be having a great time.

The Lime Kiln Lock (#23W) was a tricky lock to manoeuvre into, and I was glad I was doing the locking, and John was on the tiller.  The lock doors are just behind the support leg for the railway viaduct. The ‘leg’ has restricted the navigation, even though the canal was ‘here first’. You can just about see from the image below that the bottom part of the ‘leg’ has been ‘shaved’ away to help boats entering this lock. Remember narrowboats are not articulated, they don’t bend! They are rear drive, and they pivot from the centre.

Being the main ‘entertainment’ for the Gongoozlers, and as sod’s law would have it, I’d never encountered before the type of locking mechanism as this. At first I wondered if the mechanism was locked, as some previous locks on the HNC are. Eventually, I managed to work it out, and I was able to lift up the paddles, letting water into the lock. The mechanism’s so stiff that it needed brute force to move it, hence me thinking it was locked.

Our dog Rusty has a problem with locks, he gets so anxious if he can’t ‘see’ where the one who’s doing the locking is, or if he hears them talking to a stranger. When he’s in an empty lock he frets until Cyan comes up in the lock, and then he can see us. If he gets too agitated, he becomes a danger to himself, to the one who’s on the tiller, and of course to Cyan, so he gets sent down into the boat, and the doors gets locked – he’s still anxious but at least he’s in no danger down in the boat.  At this time John thought Rusty was being good through this lock so he was allowed on deck. With all the ‘audience’ watching, Rusty decides to make a dash to get to me, and he jumps from the boat. As his lead is tethered to John, Rusty got pulled back from landing on the lock surround, and fell back, into the lock and water! He always wears his ‘life jacket’ when cruising, which has a strong handle, and I grabbed the handle, to yank him out!  Why now Rusty? In front of all these people?

We managed to moor up at Wool Road Winding Hole, just before the services, and Wool Lock (#24W).

All boats take on water, whether it’s through rain, condensation, or a leak!  For this reason Cyan is fitted with an automatic bilge pump. We noticed the bilge pump had worked quite a few times over the past couple of days.  As we’d hit the bottom ‘many’ times, and sometimes with a loud crunch, since being on the shallow HNC, we wondered if we’d got a problem of the leaky kind!

John opened up the engine ‘hole’ for an inspection, and yes…. we’ve got a plip plip of water going on, coming from the stern gland!

Basically, ‘we’re sinking’!

The automatic bilge pump is looking like it’s going to be our ‘saviour’!

First thing this morning, being Monday, John phoned Aspley Wharf Marina, situated ahead of us on the canal, for help. John told them we wouldn’t be with them till later this week as we’re booked to pass through the tunnel on Wednesday, and then we’ve 41 (I think) locks to get through, before we reach the marina. Alan, the manager of the Marina was extremely helpful and said he’d be ready and waiting for us. Depending on Cyan’s type of system, she might need to be taken out of the water to repair her.

Today we’re staying put! It’s been raining quite hard since 5 a.m. this morning.  I can imagine the canal, and HNC authorities are loudly taking a sigh of relief.  From Cyan’s window we can see a small weir.  Yesterday the water level was about 2 inches below the top of the weir, at the moment of writing, the water’s trickling nicely over it.

We’re moored right next to a winding hole, and our ‘neighbours’ are a family of geese, and they are fascinating to watch!

We’ve got the fire lit, good WiFi, and TV reception – we’re happy!