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.
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.
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.