|Gardening on our Tuesday night mooring on Priest Holme aqueduct|
Neither of us like to sleep in a warm bedroom so, when the stove is on, we keep the door through to the rest of the boat closed during the night. We also like to have air circulating so have a door open to the cratch. All this means that on frosty nights we wake up to ice on the inside of the windows like when we were younger before houses generally had central heating; Monday morning was one of those mornings. Of course, this means that Buddy, who sleeps next to the stove, gets an extra cosy night’s sleep with our door shut.
|Sun’s up on Monday morning and the frost has gone on our mooring at Skipton junction|
Our first task on Monday was to walk to the vets and get Buddy checked out following our recent trip abroad. We also needed to discuss the options for a no deal Brexit as, if that happens, then he will need some tests done three months before we leave. We left it that we will pay another visit in December when we come back up north for a couple of days to see my parents.
The next big job was to get a few bags of compost and some winter plants as we want to get the boat pots potted up ready for winter cruising. As we had the car we paid a trip to a garden centre and then managed to find a spot in the car park next to our mooring to get the car unloaded.
After visiting both my parents during the day, the final main task was to leave the car at their house in Gargrave and walk back to the boat. The sun was still out and, even though there was a chill wind, it was a pleasant five mile walk along the towpath. We are now free to cruise without having to worry about the logistics involved in having a vehicle when you’re a continuous cruiser, such as where to moor that is handy to leave a car for a few days.
Tuesday was a cruising day and we set off just after eight. The locks at Gargrave and several other flights on the Leeds & Liverpool are still subject to water restrictions and are padlocked from 4.00 pm until 10.00am. That left us two hours to travel the four miles or so to the bottom lock at Gargrave. Sounds like loads of time, but there are five swing bridges to negotiate and we weren’t in a hurry, so we didn’t arrive until about 10.15.
|Leaving Skipton under grey skies|
|Looking back at the junction having just passed restored ‘short boat’, Kennet|
The first swing bridge is in the town centre and we expected it to be busy with commuters coming into town. Karen didn’t set the lights and bring the barriers down until the road was clear. When I went through there were just a couple of cars waiting but by the time Karen had got the barriers lowered and the bridge swung back into place she reckoned there were about two dozen cars waiting to come through. As she remarked, “No one gave her hassle and they probably all know that it’s a short cut that may end up not being so”.
The second swing bridge, by Airedale Park, is always problematic to operate and Karen has always had to get help on each of the six occasions we have been through. You may ask why I don’t get off and help but it’s really difficult to moor on the side where the bridge swings – a scourge of the single-handers.
|Karen getting help at Gawflat swing bridge|
Even though it was grey, the rain kept away but I was really feeling the cold. It’ll only take a day or two before I get used to wearing the right gear for standing still on the back of an open boat in cold wind and rain. As long as we’re not bitterly cold we love winter cruising and are really looking forward to the next few weeks getting down to Aylesbury.
Just before Niffany swing bridge we passed a hire boat just casting off and, as they were heading in our direction, we invited them to join us up the locks when we got there. They were really pleased as it was their first hire boat holiday and they were feeling very nervous.
|Niffany swing bridge (a different hire boat on the left rather selfishly moored overnight on the bridge landing)|
Karen had been walking with Buddy from Skipton but got on at Thorlby swing bridge as she wanted to get the evening meal set in the slow cooker (pulled pork 😊).
|Waiting for Karen to get aboard|
She seemed to disappear for a while and then I realised she had popped into the farm to buy some eggs. When we were moored at Thorlby over the summer we always got our eggs from the farm there.
One of the jobs we had done on the boat whilst we were away on holiday was to get a bracket mounted on the tiller, so we could fly the Red Ensign.
|Not tied properly yet, but it proves it works|
We won’t be flying it over here, but it is a must in France where all boats, inland or coastal have to fly the flag of their country of origin.
Another job we had done was to have a plate attached to each of the rear dollies; these are a pre-requisite for using lines in the generally deeper French locks.
|Rear dolly extension with a neat hole for fuel tank breather|
We also had double dollies bolted to the gunwales in the cratch. These are needed for the same reasons but two are recommended because of the way narrowboats have to be held in gear in the locks.
|New front dollies|
They look like real obstacles but it’s surprising how quickly you get used to avoiding them
We arrived at the bottom lock of the Gargrave flight (Holme Bridge lock) at 10.15 with the hire boat family. A girl that I knew was waiting at the lock landing and it transpired that she had just got a job with the hire boat company and helped the hirers up the first couple of locks.
|Successfully ascended their first lock|
We did the next two locks together and then left them in the middle of Gargrave as their central heating wasn’t working properly and an engineer was coming out to fix it. Karen had asked one of the children if they moaned because it was cold and she told her that they love the outside as they are scouts and camp in all weathers, but it’s the parents who complain.
We knew there were no other boats on the way so went up the last three locks on our own. Karen found what she called, ’blog material’ at Anchor lock. My sister, who had been visiting my parents last week, had been for a walk along the cut and saw rather a lot of water escaping through the lock sides so she and Nigel reported it to CRT.
The workmen seemed to be spending their time staring at the ground:
They had injected polyfoam into some of the holes during the week and that hadn’t cured it. We had seen that being used successfully on the Curly Wurlies above Bank Newton in the summer but this was the first time these guys had used it. You can’t see in the pictures but mounds were rising on the lock side where the foam was expanding upwards rather than downwards.
When we went through they were back to the old fashioned method of pouring in practically pure cement:
After the last lock we reached Priest Holme aqueduct where we planned to moor for the night. There are a couple of mooring spots on the offside that always seem to have boats there, so we never managed to moor there in the summer. We were lucky today and one of the spots was free. Offside mooring is always good as, generally, there is no footpath and consequently there are no passers-by.
Karen had put a picture of our mooring up on Facebook and, David, one of our boater friends immediately recognised it and said it was one of the best spots on the system.
|The River Aire from the aqueduct with the sun setting on the distant hills|
|Not easy to get a picture with the aqueduct in because of the trees|
Wednesday will see us heading off through the Bank Newton and Barrowford flights of locks with the beautiful Curly Wurlys between them.