Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Five Miles of Heaven

On Monday (25th July) we left lovely little Skipton (actually it’s not quite so little!) and headed westward. To our left, as heading towards Gargrave, were the River Aire, the Pennine Way and the Settle to Carlisle railway line.


Having passed through Gargrave and Steg Neck lock we were soon at the bottom of the Bank Newton flight where we teamed up with another boat (much to the delight of us both) to tackle the locks together.


Being the height of summer the canal sides are teaming with flora and the trickle of water through the bye-washes at the side of the locks, with their little stone bridges across them, are an added beauty bonus.


During the whole of our “Pennine journey” this year the locks, and the operation thereof, have been both a fascination and a challenge at times. The top ground paddles (those that let most of the water into the lock by means of underground culverts) can be of various designs. This one uses a great bit of engineering with a massive lead screw which raises and lowers the paddle.


“Chance” traversing the ‘pound’ between the first and second locks. (Don’t worry, the lock gate will be closed by the lady on the left of the lock!)


On the subject of the operation of ground paddles – this is another design! Known as a clough it’s simple and very easy to use. It’s a wooden blade which ends in the paddle itself. Just lift the handle and it swings to one side and opens the hole down which the water pours into the lock. Brilliant!


Bank Newton is a very attractive flight of six locks, all very close together ………


…….. but the second lock (no.37) is by far the prettiest. After finishing the flight we travelled another 1/4 mile or so and found the most delightful mooring for the night ………….


……… - it  was truly idyllic and remote enough to have no canal map feature to locate us. We were on a direct line between Hulber Hill and Turnbers Hill if that helps and we looked directly across to Scaleber Hill (behind Doug) with the Pennine Way running along its right flank. 


As we started our journey on Tuesday we were to embark on five lockless miles of the most stunning scenery one could wish for. All these “hills” with the wonderful names (Moorber, Langber, Swillber, Bell Flat and Netcliffe to name just a few) are, in fact, ‘drumlins’. Underneath the soft round green covering is debris left from glaciers as they retreated at the end of the last ice-age.


Here’s a perfect example of a drumlin, and today it’s decorated with cows!


In the vicinity of our mooring the canal dramatically twists and turns as it follows the contours of the land. Some bends are so tight that, during the days of horse drawn working boats, rollers mounted on stout wooden posts were positioned on the apex of the bends to guide the ropes. This one is a lone survivor.


The canal was so twisty that about half a mile from our moorings we could look across the valley and see where we had moored the night before! (to the far right where the canal banking can be seen)


Far reaching Pennine views from every angle.


At East Marton is a very interesting bridge on a bridge! Ages ago, when the level of the road was raised, the decision was made to build the ‘new’ bridge on top of the original. Also next to the bridge is a milestone reminding us that we’ve travelled 38 1/4 miles from Leeds. Not quite a third yet of the 127 miles of canal between Leeds and Liverpool.


Having said so may times before, there’s always a surprise somewhere along the canal and we were quite taken aback by this one! There is no boat, as such, that we could make out beneath this creation. In fact, there weren’t any real walls either. Just someone sitting on a settee in the middle of it all. Well, “One man’s meat ……” as they say!


After refuelling (with 120 litres for £70) at Lower Park Marina in Barnoldswick (pronounced Barl’ick) we were welcomed into Lancashire further along the canal at bridge 150 (or thereabouts). Which is strange as the canal companion book says the county boundary was about 4 miles back! Never mind, we’re now moored up for the night at the delightful moorings at Café Cargo, just before the Foulridge tunnel (and definitely now in Lancashire!)



But here’s the last two photo’s of Yorkshire with one of the very tight bends we negotiated on our wonderful “Five Miles of Heaven”.

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