Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Navigation “Leeds” us to York.


No idea why this here – other than to highlight the fact that Doug has a rather swish multi-coloured glitter ball. (Courtesy of Dave and Alison from nb “Freespirit!) which we all had fun with one evening.


The last part of our journey to York had “Chance” and “Waterlily” leaving Selby lock and entering the River Ouse, on the tide, at smack on 11 o’ clock on Sunday 25th. The tide was coming in fast and we had to ease our way out of the lock carefully to stop the force of water tipping the boats too much.


“Waterlily” here – safely coming through, but unable to avoid ploughing in to a nasty raft of debris in the bridge hole. Large amounts of the stuff was to be a hazard for the whole tidal stretch.


After two hours or so we had reached the limit of the tidal part of the river and, at Naburn lock, we transferred onto a much more sedate stretch for the last part of the journey. It was very reminiscent of the lower River Thames as we drew closer to York.


Entering a city is usually exciting and, on this sunny Sunday afternoon, York was no exception. It’s difficult to imagine though that this part of the river, during the 2015 floods, was above the doorways of the buildings.


Happily there was no flooding when we arrived so we were able to relax on the back of “Chance”and open a bottle of bubbly!


After the afternoon’s ‘bubbly session’ we all went to ‘Zizzi’ for a meal. We had a great laugh with our Polish waitress about food and Brexit. Not they they go together but we reassured her that both she and the food were very acceptable!


This is us from Lendle Bridge – pretty empty moorings at the time!


Across the river from us was the famous York Railway Museum and, willingly paying the suggested donation of £5 each, we very much enjoyed our visit. There’s a wonderful and intriguing collection of Royal coaches. The little one was used by Queen Adelaide and was attached to the back of a regular train when she wanted to go anywhere. The nearest carriage was built for Queen Victoria.


Keeping the theme going, the cafe area has it’s own carriage seating. Thanks to Pauline we enjoyed coffee and cake.


Pauline was fascinated by the size of this Chinese engine where the drive wheels were bigger than she was!


In with the array of locomotives looking lovingly at the central turntable we almost expected to find Thomas!


One awesome specimen was the super streamlined “Mallard”. It’s styling and design was decades ahead of what we’re used to seeing these days. 


An area where James could have spent a whole week (!) was the storage section. Racks and racks of the most amazing memorabilia and general “stuff” were cleverly arranged so that the visitors could look around them. Tucked at the back of some racking was this fine GWR cast iron Splasher Plate of Queen Victoria’s Coat of Arms used on the loco “The Queen” during the Diamond Jubilee in 1897.


Another wonderful national treasure (the locomotive not James!) was the “Evening Star”. Back in 1960, it was the last steam loco to be built for GWR at the Swindon Works. For you-know-who it was mechanical perfection!


To end our visit we had the most enormous piece of luck. We were told by one of the museum officials that the “Flying Scotsman” was at the back of the museum being cleaned ready for another journey. We were able to get up close and talk to the volunteers at work. It was a strange quirk of fate considering that this beast roared past us while we were waiting at the Standedge tunnel a few weeks ago.


Apart from the wonderful Railway Museum York has oodles to offer. A walk around the city provides an overdose of architecture and atmosphere. This house was the birthplace of Guy Fawkes in 1570. Later to be hung, drawn and quartered in London on January 31st, 1606. 


This is the famous “Shambles”  and ………….


…….. at the other end was the “Golden Fleece”, one of the many amazing old pubs the city has to offer. It would have been rude not to frequent it!


Close by the river are the lovely gardens containing some very old buildings – this is what’s left of the once glorious St Mary’s Abby. The richest monastery in the north of England.


The city has a spectacular profile and some of the rooflines around the Minster are quite splendid.


Peeking through little gaps in the buildings can be very rewarding.


A walk around the walls is a must of course. The solders of old had to be pretty slender in stature to run around and defend the city from this lofty position.


More glorious views from the city walls ……….


…….. and, at the eastern end of the Minster, in the stone yard, you could stand and watch the young stone masons creating a work of art.


Outside the Minster’s South Transept is this bronze of Constantine the Great who was proclaimed Roman Emperor in the city 306 AD.


Well - our few days in the city had to come to an end and, with friend and city resident Paul on board, we took the trip back down the River Ouse to Selby. James is obviously pontificating on something totally uninteresting as can be seen on Paul’s face!


The tidal part of the river was as hazardous as before! There were some very large rafts of debris and a few fairly big tree trunks floating about to make life more interesting for us.


At Selby lock, life became VERY interesting for Neil and James as they tackled the task of getting into the lock against the fast flowing current. This is the view from the lock, where James had already safely entered. We came down the river from the left of the picture but had to turn quickly to face the other way and then drift back down with the flow in order to approach the lock from the other way.  Moving slowly across towards the lock we had to get into the still water near the lock and then it was nearly full throttle and aim the boat into the lock. Easy! – and Neil did a good job too!


Safely in at Selby and Paul had to leave us to return to York. Despite the rain for much of the journey he had a good time inside drinking wine with Doug! Nice to see you Paul – catch up soon. We had another hour of cruising to do to get to the end of the Selby canal and our moorings for the night.


On Friday morning, with the weather still not looking too good we continued back along our original route – towards Castleford with it’s massive power station bearing down on us ………..


…….. and into it’s massive flood lock. Yes, this is a lock and not a stretch of canal!


After Castleford we entered new water – still on the River Aire but now heading for Leeds. Sadly, since York, we were one person down. Pauline had to leave to attend a family crisis at home and so Neil became a lone-boater in our (hopefully) capable hands.


Since passing through Portland Basin this has been virgin territory for us this year and the locks have been nothing if not quirky. Always springing surprises on us this one, on our way to Leeds, was wide enough for three boats. So, as there was another boat on the same stretch (something remarkable in itself!) we decided to test the lock’s capacity for three abreast. By the way, there was enough of the lock behind us to hold another six boats!


Getting closer to Leeds the canalised sections of the navigation were delightful. Very wide and with lovely views.


This is James’ “thing” for bridges again – the M1 now! You don’t get to see the underside of motorways very often in life!


Our journey was not without it’s regular dose of ‘precipitation’ but, by the time we arrived in Leeds, it had dried up nicely and we were able to get a mooring in Clarence Dock. It has very modern and pleasant surroundings, a little reminiscent for us of Paddington Basin in London. Doug fortuitously spoke to a young man at the Leeds lock who was in charge of the leisure moorings in the dock. As the visitor moorings were full he found us space in the private of the dock – bless him. So both boats are now breasted safely together on our own pontoon.

We have to say our first impressions of the city of Leeds is very good indeed and we’re looking forward to enjoying its hospitality over the next few days.

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