Saturday, 23 June 2018

Bank Newton (in famil[Y]iar territory)

Karen knitting a wedding shawl whilst we waited to go through Foulridge tunnel

After the wind of Thursday, that seemed to carry on all night, it was strangely calm when we got up in the morning.  We had a council of war and thought we would cruise for the day and get up to Bank Newton which is about two miles from my parents in Gargrave.

Sunny and still morning at our Thursday night mooring between Barrowford and Foulridge
We were setting off at 10.30 and a guy stopped for a chat and mentioned that the tunnel is only open in our direction for ten minutes every hour, at half past the hour.  We were ten minutes cruise away so by the time we got there the lights were on red   Ironically, if the chap hadn’t stopped for a chat we would have got there whilst the lights were green but, as Karen pointed out, time is our own so it didn’t matter.

Buddy seemed to be happy we had nearly an hour to wait (you can just make out the red light in the entrance)
You may wonder why we hadn’t planned things a bit better, which would be fair.  The trouble is, is that we have an old guide book to this canal and it says that you can only enter Foulridge tunnel if there are no boats coming – no mention of traffic lights or timings. We have laughed at several out of date things in the book recently, e.g. it often mentions things like, ‘On the left there are stunning views to the distant hills’, in reality there is nothing to see as trees have grown thus blocking the view.  

Lauren, my middle daughter, is getting married just before Christmas and Karen, Sophie and Jo are knitting shawls for her and her bridesmaids as it may be cold.  Karen took the opportunity of a 50-minute wait to get a bit more of her shawl knitted.

As we are staying around Gargrave for a while, Karen had rung around local bridge clubs on Thursday to find one that ran duplicate sessions during the day (we don’t really like traipsing out in the evenings).  It’s strange that clubs don’t have more daytime sessions as most of the members must be retired folk, anyway, I received a call back whilst we were waiting and we are now signed up to Ilkley bridge club and will be going on Monday afternoons.

At 11.30 the green lights came on and we were off again:

The couple on the parapet had waited 45 minutes to see us go!
The tunnel is about a mile long and stone lined like Gannow tunnel that we went through the previous day.  As expected we didn’t meet anyone and were through in about 15 minutes.  When we came out the other side we noticed that the wind had got up again and it stayed windy for the rest of the day.

We stopped for water at Foulridge services:

There was a milepost right by the water point with handwritten distances rather than the usual embossed ones.  Not only that, the distances added up to 127 ¾ miles between Leeds and Liverpool; all the other mileposts we have seen add up to 127 ¼

Buddy, as usual, was just laying across the towpath in order to aggravate speeding cyclists.  As there was a café/bistro at the services there were many people around and Buddy got a lot of fuss and attention because we obviously don’t give him any.  I said bistro as I noticed some people had bottles of lager with their sandwiches and that was before midday!

Buddy being a tart
Many canal bridges across the country have rope marks where years of tow rope pulling has worn away intricate patterns in the bridge supports, especially where softer stone has been used.  The abrasion is caused by build-up of grit and dirt in the towing ropes.  Sometimes, wooden rollers were installed to decrease the wear caused by the ropes.  This canal has had many of its rollers reinstated:

Around Barnoldswick we passed a sign indicating the Lancashire-Yorkshire county line. We don’t know how current the information is as Barnoldswick has been in Lancashire since 1974 but used to be in Yorkshire.  Many residents still won’t recognise they are in Lancashire and fly Yorkshire flags 😊

Talking about recency, Karen saw a sign warning people about the presence of blue green algae.  It must be at least six years old as it was issued by British Waterways which was replaced by the Canal & River Trust in 2012:

After lunch we left the summit and went down the three locks at Greenberfield; from now on the cut slowly descends to Leeds.  These locks are in one of the best locations we have seen which more than made up for the fact that it took both of us to open some of the gates.

The top lock had strange ground paddle gear that we hadn’t come across before – it has to be lifted by hand rather than with a windlass:

Wooden ground paddle gear
The other two locks also had a type of ground paddle gear that we hadn’t come across for a while:

Again, windlass not required
Half way down
Leaving the bottom lock
At East Marton we went under a two arched bridge, strangely called the Double Arched bridge 😉 The other double arched bridges we have seen on our travels are at Cowley on the Shropshire Union and at East Mills off the Peak Forest canal.  The second arch was added at East Marton when the road was converted to the A59 which runs between Liverpool and York.

After another few miles we reached Bank Newton and moored up for the night.  When I tell you that the nearest road is over a mile away and that it is the dead-end lane that leads into tiny Bank Newton then you can appreciate that the only sounds we could hear all evening were those of birds and sheep and the occasional tractor.

Although we haven’t got the heat of the south at present, it was still pleasant enough to sit outside for a couple of hours.  We were constantly serenaded by the beautiful sound of five curlews that kept flying past.  Their call gets shriller and quicker before reaching the end.  I think they are majestic looking when on the ground but look quite strange and unbirdlike when flying.

Our mooring for the next few days

One of our views – this one is looking east to Bank Newton
During the day we travelled nine miles down three locks.  We will get the bikes out on Saturday and cycle into Gargrave to spend time with my parents.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Barrowford Top Lock (only a day away)

Where was Buddy?

On Thursday we fancied cruising to Burnley and then pushing on through Nelson and Colne to end up out in the country for the night.  We heard a boat go past just before seven in the morning and assumed it was Charlie & Linda getting an early start.  That made us decide to get up and get going but by the time we’d done what we needed to do first it was nine o’clock.

As we pulled away, we could see Clive & Jennie coming towards us in the distance, but they were far enough away that it wasn’t rude to pull out in front of them.  Karen and Buddy walked some of the way to Burnley whilst I drove, but they got back on at Gannow tunnel as the route over the top wasn’t easy to follow through the estates.

Before going into the tunnel, I cleared the prop for the first of three times during the day.  That’s a drawback of travelling through towns, the prop gets fouled far more than in the countryside.  Mind you, this canal is a bit like the River Stort in Hertfordshire and is very weedy so quite often the fouls are weed rather than plastic bags or wire etc.  Apparently, it isn’t weedy from Colne onwards so we should have some happy days cruising without getting arms wet up to the armpits; it’s not that bad in the summer really but in the winter it can get a bit tedious.

The entrance to Gannow tunnel is at a sharp left-hand turn, making it impossible to see if a boat is coming the other way:

The southern portal of the Gannow tunnel
The 560-yard tunnel was practically dry, and we managed to avoid all the points where water was spouting through the roof.

Stone lined tunnel rather than bare rock or brick lined as many are
Approaching Burnley centre we passed several fine old mills and warehouses and also this wharf at the entrance to the area now called Weavers’ Triangle:

The wharf was built in 1801 when this part of the canal was opened.  The area is known as Weavers’ Triangle because there are many cotton mills and terraced weavers’ cottages that have been lovingly restored. 

Restored wharf master’s house and toll house just past the wharf now housing a visitors’ centre
Modern plaque on the toll house
Just around the corner we entered what is known as the Burnley mile.  It isn’t quite a mile long but is a 60’ high embankment that cuts through Burnley – quite an impressive sight when seen from the town.

Moored at the start of the Burnley mile
We had a walk around the centre of Burnley and then, whilst Karen picked up a few bits, I took Buddy for a walk around the Weavers’ Triangle (in any other town/city it would probably be called Weavers’ Quarter).  I can attest that most of the terraced cottages were really well looked after but not so, the entrance to the old British Waterways wharf. 

Not so easy to replace the BWB with CRT ðŸ˜‰ (CRT are still trying to replace any mention of British Waterways with Canal & River Trust)
We set off again and had lunch on the move as we thought we could press on and get up the seven Barrowford locks the other side of Colne as it was such a nice day.

Looking across the old and new of Burnley from the embankment (not many mill chimneys left)
At one point the embankment crosses a main road on an aqueduct and the canal narrows.  These narrows are good places to dam with a stank if a section of canal needs draining for inspection or there is a breach that needs fixing.

Disused stanking plank crane at the narrows
Throughout our twisting journey through Burnley we kept getting sight of the 1,827’ Pendle Hill which overlooks Burnley and other towns like Nelson and Colne.  Although not particularly high it stands out as it is a lone hill separated from the rest of the Pennines.

Pendle Hill
The hill has what we thought was a limestone carving of a duck and an egg.  Looking at the local news we find that it is a fancy way of writing 1918 in horticultural fleece as part of the commemoration of the Great War.  It is an artistic impression of the date made of three poppies and their stalks – quite fitting really and I felt a bit mollified having thought it was a duck and an egg.

The best shot we could get of the '1918' with the hazy day

Laying the commemoration (photo courtesy of the local 2BR radio website)
We were soon approaching Nelson which also has many old mills and warehouses still standing, albeit some not in a good state of repair.

A selection of the buildings we passed in Nelson

On the outskirts of Nelson, was a three bedroomed end of terrace house which is on the market for just £90,000 and has its own mooring.  Seems good value compared with what we’re used to coming from down south (you could probably buy a mooring on the Thames for that, but it wouldn’t come with a house 😉). All the houses in the street looked well looked after and, like many back streets in Nelson and Cone, it was still cobbled.

May just be worth having a look…
When we left the house, I was still taking more notice of it rather than the cut ahead and hadn’t noticed a particularly sharp bend.  I had to reverse back to make the turn at the second attempt, all the more embarrassing as a couple were having a picnic with their baby on the canalside of their garden.  They were quite happy and said they see it all the time.  It then became even more embarrassing as a hire boat came in the opposite direction

Leaving Nelson, we stopped at a recycling centre which has pontoon mooring for passing boaters.  Even better, it has a used oil collection point, so we pulled up and took advantage of the facilities.

Boaters’ recycling point complete with used engine oil disposal
Whilst at the recycling point, Clive & Jenny came past so I asked them if they were going up the locks at Barrowford.  They said no, as they were meeting local friends at the bottom and going back to their house for dinner.  We had plenty of time considering it was the longest day of the year so were happy to carry on and go up on our own.

When we got to the approach for the lock flight it looked like Clive was about to moor up on the lock landing.  I assumed they had decided to go up the flight after all and were just waiting for us.  Even though they were foreigners I didn’t believe they would actually moor on the lock landing 😉

Approaching the bottom lock with Clive holding onto his boat whilst the girls got the lock set
The third lock was practically under the M65 just before the motorway finishes at Colne.  Since first going under the M65 30 canal miles and three days ago we have been under it six times and over it twice.  The length of the motorway between the first and last bridge is 26 ½ miles and I’m surprised it wasn’t less given the twists and turns the cut makes.

The old and the new
Half way up, Clive & Jenny’s friends joined them and cruised up to the top of the flight with us.  Going up the locks Clive and I had been discussing alcohol free days; ours are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and theirs are Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.  We do have one thing in common though and that’s the rule can be broken if you have visitors or you are invited out.  It’s wasn’t really a coincidence that their friends were visiting on a Thursday and my brother is visiting next Wednesday 😉

We agreed to stop and have a drink together at the top to make a perfect start to the evening.  They were carrying on through Foulridge tunnel afterwards but found out that it closed at 4.30 therefore not giving them enough time to stop.  Shame, but there’s always another day.

Coming into the fifth lock
At the top two locks sheep were able to graze right up to the lockside (see lamb picture at top) and we were so relieved Karen was on the towpath side with Buddy on a lead.  It could have been disastrous if he had been on the boat as he would have been straight off after them we’re sure

We moored up soon after the top lock even though there were other boats around.

Moored at the top of the Barrowford flight for Thursday night
It was still quite windy, so we brought the sunflowers back down onto the deck for protection during the night.  During the day we travelled 11 ½ miles up seven locks and with 11 miles and nine locks to go to get to Gargrave we may well get there on Friday.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Shuttleworth (sunflowers are resilient)

Sunset on the summer solstice
It had been very windy overnight on Tuesday and it hadn’t eased up by Wednesday morning.  Two of the mini sunflower pots had blown over but were saved from rolling off the roof by the handrail.  Coupled with the fact that it had started raining too, we decided to spend the morning indoors.  We also took the opportunity to get some of the monthly jobs done like checking and recharging the moisture traps.

During the morning Charlie & Linda had decided to brave the weather and came past on Henry James.  A little while later, once the rain had stopped, Clive & Jenny came by on Banbury Blue.  Clive was convinced the wind and clouds were going to disappear well before lunchtime but fortunately we didn’t listen to him 😉 Within a few minutes of them passing the rain started again.

Clive & Jenny smiling even though it wasn’t a summer’s day
We were having a break and catching up on some bridge practice when Mike rang from France.  He was gloating as he had heard about our weather and it was over 30 degrees with them on their boat.  I let him off as he was offering us the use of their narrowboat as part of our two-month summer road trip of France and Italy this year.  They would be doing some work on their house in the last week of August so would be happy to let us use the boat, which would be down on the Canal du Midi by then.  Unfortunately, we will be in Norway during that week, so we had to turn down the offer

The weather made neither of us feel like our normal cold salad lunch, so we had good old, hot winter beans on toast instead.  In the end we put on coats (!) and set off at 2.00pm with Karen and Buddy walking the five miles to the first swing bridge of the day. It was still cloudy but at least the wind had dropped a little and the rain had stopped.

As Karen was walking she soon warmed up so shed her coat and fleece and passed them to me. 

Still cloudy when we went over the M65

I kept my coat on until the sun started breaking through later
Just outside Oswaldtwistle we saw these old coke ovens by the cut.  They were built over 200 years ago as part of Aspen Colliery and were used to turn coal into coke.  The coke was then used to fire a local steel works.  The ovens were used until the 1930s and funds are now being raised to restore them.

Blue sky beginning to show over the coke ovens
We then went through the village of Church which also goes by the tautological name of Church Kirk.  It’s a shame the church is called St James rather than Church Kirk Church. 

After passing under the M65 again we came to the first of three swing bridges we had to negotiate and after the bridge we were out in the open countryside of Clayton-le-Moors.

Cruising through Clayton-le-Moors

View whilst cruising through Clayton-le-Moors
Talking about passing Charlie & Linda reminded me of a couple of things that happened when we cruised with them on the previous day.  We were missing a vital ingredient for the slow cooker curry – cream - it wasn’t needed until it was served so we had all day to get it.  There’s a Tesco Express a few hundred yards from the cut on the outskirts of Blackburn and we moored up so Karen could go to the shop whilst I checked the weed hatch.  Charlie & Linda decided to go with Karen to get some supplies too.  I had cleared the prop and put everything away and was beginning to wonder where they were when I got a phone call saying they were lost.

I’m used to that happening with Karen and when she used to get lost driving to work (when we were bridge hopping) I became known as her ‘Neil Neil’ as she would ring for directions 😊 It made me laugh that three of them had got lost but to be fair I think there was a reason.  Karen had seen what she thought was a VR post box and had gone running down a side street to check it out.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t one, but by the time she explained to her companions what she was doing they had become disoriented.

Much of this canal is a contour canal and as such, follows a tortuous path along the valley sides as can be seen from the map below. The brown road is the M65 and we came over it on the left and four miles later went under it on the right even though it’s only 1 ½ miles by road (or crow).

Between the first two swing bridges we passed the halfway point of the canal.  It was marked by a milestone showing it’s 63 5/8 miles to both Leeds and Liverpool.

The halfway point milestone

A steel bar also marks the spot
At Altham Clough we passed both the boats who had set off before us in the morning.  They had moored up for the day in what is a beautiful spot but was far too exposed for us or rather our plants with the wind due to get up again.  We paused briefly to chat to Colin & Jenny and they told us that it was really rather too chilly to be sitting outside.  Charlie & Linda were obviously out for a walk as their boat was shut up but we passed them walking along the towpath a little later.

When we got to Shuttleworth we found a sheltered spot with a view and moored up for the day.

Our mooring for Wednesday night
By the time we moored up we had travelled eight miles through three swing bridges and were looking forward to an early dinner.

We are now only 24 miles and 16 locks from where my parents’ road crosses the canal in Gargrave, so we should be there by Sunday or Monday.  When I say my parents’ road, it is where their house is (where Mum lives) and also my dad’s care home.  We will soon have to sus out the water points and winding holes etc. around there whilst we work out the different places to moor whilst we move back to bridge hopping for the next couple of months.

The remaining journey to Gargrave

Our view whilst eating dinner and...
In the end, although we felt buffeted by the wind, we were glad we left later than the others as the rain had held off and the sun had been out most of the afternoon.

...a bit later on