Another big week on the cut!!! We said goodbye to Darryl, farewell to Leeds and hello Leeds and Liverpool canal!!!!
Last Sunday afternoon, Julia and Bron took a walk to see the Stanley Ferry Aqueducts from our nearby moorings. Another engineering masterpiece with links to the Sydney Harbour Bridge – same principles of design but built 100 years before. There are actually two aqueducts side by side and we could choose which we used as we left on Monday morning.
We put in a fairly big day getting through 11 miles of river cruising and through 5 very big locks. The variation between the narrow and shallow Huddersfield canal and the very wide and deep Aire and Calder Navigation is really very stunning. The wider and bigger locks on this section were built to enable large commercial craft (600 tonne tankers and sand carrying barges), and are quite confronting when you first experience them after the much smaller canal locks. They are operated electrically by the boat user but we were lucky to have one with staff to guide us through. Once we were through Woodlesford Lock and moored, Julia and Bron went into the small town in search of a few provisions, Darryl settled in to watch the Wimbledon tennis, and Bob and Malcolm set off for a belated pub crawl!!. Bron and Julia returned with a whole Vienetta icecream block and finding no-one to share with but each other just managed to polish it off!. After the boys ate a pizza for dinner it was an early night as we wanted to make it into a mooring in Leeds on Tuesday and that necessitated a late morning arrival.
We were very fortunate in finding a mooring in Clarence Docks and once breasted up (rafted up together for those in Australia!) Julia and Bron went to get approval from Canal and River Trust to extend our allowed 48 hour mooring to 72 hours enabling Bob and Darryl to leave on Thursday morning for Darryl to fly back to Australia and Bob to attend an eye appointment. Despite a long process approval was granted and we had the afternoon to explore our surroundings. Julia and Bron went in search of the train station (for Thursday’s travellers), the shopping precinct (for Wednesday’s retail therapy) and a restaurant for dinner (to celebrate our epic adventure of the last two weeks)! Success on all three!!!
We returned to the moorings and after everyone showered and felt fresh we walked the mile or so back into the town to have dinner in a lovely Thai restaurant – Chaophraya Leeds. It felt like being in Thailand as the day had been quite hot and humid and the buildings in England are rarely air conditioned. Absolutely delicious dinner and the service was excellent. Well worth both the expense and the long walk to find it and return to it!!!!
On Wednesday Bron and Julia were off early (well 10am!!) for a day of retail therapy while the boys experienced the Royal Armouries Museum next to our moorings. I think we both made good choices!!!! Once they were finished there it was an afternoon of tennis watching and general boat maintenance for them. They were also given the challenge of finding a place to eat for that night. When Bron and Julia finally returned at 5.30pm they were given a short time to shower and change in readiness to walk back to the city to search for the Whitelocks pub – a 300 year old pub that had been recommended by someone along the way. With no real idea where it was we set off, asked a few questions along the way and finally found it – about 300 yards from where Bron and Julia were when they made the mad dash back to the docks to get ready for our mystery location. Never mind we got our exercise that day!!!
Worth the effort as the meal was great, the venue very interesting and the service friendly. On the walk home Darryl bought us all an ice-cream and we took the opportunity to wander past some of the older buildings such as the Leeds Corn Exchange. And then it was back home for a very hot and quite sleepless night safely in the middle of a bustling city.
Thursday brought about the end of Darryl’s visit with us as Bob and he set off via water taxi to the rail station and London. We hope he enjoyed the variety of experiences we gave him and that he was not too sore from all the locks and walking. Bob’s eye appointment went well with the pressure stabilised and medications working. Bron spent the day catching up on her domestic goddess responsibilities and was rewarded with a very aching body and early night with pain killers and hot water bottle as Julia and Malcolm walked to the rail station to greet Bob. I assume it went well because Bob was there when I awoke in the morning!!!
We bid farewell to Leeds on Friday morning and made the required 13 locks (eight of them in three separate staircase lock configurations) over 8 miles with 5 swing bridges in good time. It is highly recommended (verging on mandatory) that this passage is concluded before mooring to ensure one’s safety. A pity really because along the stretch are some very pretty rural settings despite the predominance of rubbish and graffiti in other sections. The locks are now both wide and long enough for both Celtic Maid and Figment to go in side by side so this helps to speed up the process and Julia and Bob have become a formidable locking team. Bron and Malcolm are honing their skills in shared management and asset protection by guiding the boats safely through the locks!!!!
We made plans to travel as far as Shipley on Saturday to facilitate an expedition to the nearby Aldi supermarket for much needed fresh provisions prior to the now customary Sunday morning cooked breakfast on board Figment and Sunday night roast dinner on board Celtic Maid. So we covered off this section at a record pace, helped by getting through the last 3 swing bridges with another boat, and moored in time to shop and have a happy hour or more in the sun before dinner.
And this brings us to Sunday when indeed we did enjoy that breakfast, got through 3 more locks, 1 swing bridge and 3 miles before mooring up, Malcolm and Bob enjoying a Sunday afternoon at the nearby pub and settling in for a roast chicken for dinner. Despite lovely weather over the majority of the last week (a little overnight rain and thunderstorms) at 4.00pm on the dot the heavens have opened up again and we have more of that rain – funny the weather stations got it spot on this time!!!!!