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Monday, 20 November 2017

May 2017 by bridge and Lock, part 1.

At the end of April we had left the boat in New Islington Marina in Manchester, and we were pleased to see that she was safe and sound when we got back after a few days at home. Perhaps we should have had a bit of a rest whilst at home, but as always when we are home, we filled the time completely. We may have needed the rest as we were now setting out over the Rochdale Canal.

After turning right out of the marina there is a length of canal and locks that are hemmed in by mills and buildings, but after a while the canal seeks the daylight and it is found when the canal seems to pass through a park. I think this is more due to the buildings being knocked down around the canal, but luckily the 1869 to 1873 built Victoria Mill was saved and stands still majestically over the flight of the Coalpit locks

The Rochdale locks are wide beam and seem to be rather heavy. Everybody seems to say that once leaving New Islington you should not contemplate mooring and leaving your boat until you have reached Chadderton, a long 17 or 18 locks further on. To be honest we didn't really see anywhere that we would have stopped until well after Failsworth. We think that often the advice as 'never' to moor in a place is largely spread by word of mouth after an event and mainly not by folk who have experienced any problems themselves. I think you can use your own common sense on where to moor, and by ruling certain locations out you will miss a fair bit of what the canals have to offer. Just after Coalpits locks we came to this bridge with loads of school kids loitering. It makes you very suspicious but in actual fact they were quite chatty, but did not wish to help out with pushing a beam.

We moored that night just before the River Irk aqueduct and the next day, in the beautiful sun, we realised that we had left the Manchester conurbation largely behind. The setting of Walkmill lock is lovely but in 1927 there was a breach in the canal by the aqueduct and millions of gallons of water flooded down the valley and three people were drowned. A little further south in 2005 another breach occured but nobody was lost that time. There was a fulling mill by the lock that was called The Walk Mill that was used to finish the woolen cloth that was hand weaved in the area. I believe a walk mill was one that was driven by a horse going round and round rather than a water wheel.

This is the bridge at Walk Mill Lock with Helen just bringing 'Holderness' in to the chamber, the first of what could have been another 15 or 16 lock day, but we decided to stop after just 10 and go for a walk up into the hills. It is always better in the sun rather than in the cold and rain. I love these stone bridges that show the workmanship of a past age and the materials that were just standard in those days and now are almost classed as luxury.

Helen is just bringing 'Holderness' in to the Laneside or Slattocks top lock and doing the shuttle with the only moving boat we passed all day. I think the sheave on the bridge parapet was to loop the tow line round so that the horse can pull the boat into the lock by heading back the way it has come. (Am I right?). As the boat would never get enough speed up in the short pound after leaving the last lock the boat would need assistance to get it into the lock. Would this have been quicker than hand balling it into the lock?

We are now back in Yorkshire, so everything is right with the world. The sun was shinning and the scenery is spectacular. We stopped for a couple of days at Littleborough and had a very nice day out in Rochdale before making for the summit and staying for the night just after the summit pound that we thought may be prone to draining over night. It was strange to be going down hill again after our climb to the summit.

As you approach Walsden the canal opens up and seems as though you are on a navigable river once again. I'm not sure just how much you can stray of the line but there is a winding hole here. I expect that it was a way to have a ready supply of water to supplement the reservoirs for this lock heavy canal. the In a couple of locks time there was a dry pound and we had to wait for the C&RT lads to come and sort out. We were right outside Pollard's Chippy, but it was closed!!!

As the canal approaches Todmorden the valley sides close in a fair bit and the railway crosses, and re-crosses the canal. Why would they have built a bridge like this? Why would they have such aesthetic ideas as this in the past, and put their money where their mouth was, rather than just build a less pleasing bridge that would be cheaper. I suppose it was to generate a sense that the company was powerful etc. Much like a present day company would build a very grand headquarters building. One has to remember that the canals were built by private company's. These days infrastructure is built by Government agencies and they have to justify the spending of tax payers money.

The last hurdle to entering Todmorden is the Library Lock. The bottom gate is a guillotine gate. The good thing is that this one is electrified, unlike the one on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal near Slaithwaite that takes so many turns you continually need to check that it is still moving. I think that I have only worked that lock in the rain too!

As we got close to Hebden Bridge we passed through Rawden Mill Lock. In the floods of a few years ago the flood waters were right up from the river Calder next to the canal, over the canal and up to the bridge level. The tow path cum back had only recently been refurbished and the canal opened by the time we arrived.

The Calder Valleu opens up after Hebden Bridge and the wooded hill after Mytholmroyd. The strange name is said to stem from the Old English Myth that means river mouth and Royd that means field or clearing. No kidding but the canal in this section does remind of sections of the Thames!

This is a lovely, typical Yorkshire, canal scene with the stone cottages and bridges seem to just be part of the natural landscape and blend in and look as if they have always been there.

We had a night in Sowerby Bridge as Tuel Lane lock has limited opening times as it is the deepest on the system as it is 19' 81/2". We couldn't have progressed any further as there was no water in the pound under the road bridge. There is now a Weatherspoon's just by the lock so not too far to go for a drink after a walk round the town. Sowerby Bridge is also where the Rochdale Canal ends and we descend on to the Calder and Hebble Navigation as we continue our journey east.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

A very dangerous occurrence.

We have popped up to the boat this weekend. We arrived about lunch time on Saturday. Everything seemed fine and as we let it. There were a few leaves on the back deck but otherwise everything looked okay. I turned everything on and set the heating going and lit the fire to get the chill out of the boat, and after a bite to eat I set to to wash the side of the boat by the pontoon. The pontoons at fettler's Wharf are fully 60' so it was easy enough. By the time I had finished it was almost fully dark and I just had time to put the TV aerial up ready for the normal Saturday fare.

This morning, Sunday, being Remembrance Sunday, meant that The Archers was on earlier than normal so we had breakfast and listened to that before venturing out side to start the polishing of the pontoon side and the bow and stern. The boat was painted over last winter and I was advised not to polish the boat until the paint had had a good chance to harden, but just wash it normally. However it was best to get some polish on the paint before the winter set in for protection.

After The Archers Helen went off to get the Sunday Papers and other bits and pieces and I set too with the polish on the port side. I had sent for some Carnauba Wax polish from Craftmaster and due to one thing and another it didn't arrive as stated. Eventually it did, and they had sent a bottle of carnauba wash as an apology. I  had used it to wash the boat the previous day. When Helen got back she helped with the rubbing off. It didn't take too long at all and by the time we had finished there was enough time for me to wash the st'bd side of the boat from the gunwale. The Craftmaster wash makes loads of bubbles that are hard to get rid off unless you have a hose so I put less than stated on the bottle. I must say that is did seem as though a coating was left after a rinse and a dry with a leather. Once I had completed that it was lunch time and time for the paintwork to dry off.

After eating lunch I let Helen off further polishing as there is not really room for two of us. Helen took advantage to have a little sit and a read of the newspapers and some crocheting.

Macy the Cat seems to like being on the boat as she was meowing and settling in. She does need to get used to a reversed lifestyle as she is out all night at home, and we keep her in during the night on the boat. We are sure that she is pleased when we get here, but she isn't too keen on the travelling backwards and forwards.

Skye, the budgie doesn't seem to mind where she is as she doesn't seem to to do much where ever she is, but it is nice to hear her tweeting away and making telephone noises etc.

I must say that I am impressed with the Craftmaster wax polish. It is easy to apply and while not leaving great heavy deposits on the paint you can see where you have been when it drys a little. It comes off nicely without excessive rubbing and the shine appears to be deep and lustrous. As can be seen on the our port side.

I removed everything from the roof and gave it all a good wash. I'm not sure whether it is prudent to polish the roof but I did, mainly to give it some protection over the winter and make it easier to clean later. The shine looks wonderful.

On our back deck the black paint has polished up really well as can be seen by the reflection of the leaves on the deck in the paint.

Whilst I was polishing the boat a dangerous occurrence happened that could have disastrous consequence in the future. I am in mortal danger of becoming a certified boat polisher!! Yes I admit it I enjoyed myself and to see the results of the work was very satisfying. I will have to do my very best not to be sucked in by this habit that could destroy our lives on the boat together if I am wanting to wash and polish at every turn and I get worried about passing through locks and past bushes etc. The sight of beading water on a freshly polished boat could well be intoxicating enough to trap me in the lifestyle. Helen will have to use many and varied distraction techniques to stop me getting addicted to the smell of polish on a microcloth and the grin in the shine of paint work. I'm sure I will be able to wean myself off it for the next few months, but what about the next time I have to polish the boat? Will it tip me over the edge and I will be joining the shiny boat brigade?!!

Monday, 6 November 2017

April locks and bridges,2.

We were working our way up 'Heartbreak Hill' in my last blog, and here we are still with some of the 26 locks left to do.

What is not to like when there is such a glorious day to progress up hill. Here we have a bridge and a lock. The split footbridge at the bottom of the lock is to allow the hauling ropes of the old horse drawn boats passage through without having to let go the rope and so save time. Having a bridge at the foot of the lock is a real boon as it makes it much easier to get round the locks to lift or drop paddles on both side, when you are on your own. Some locks just have a walk way attached to the gates for access.

Here we are with 20 locks down and 6 to go. Church Locks are two together that have both had their duplicate lock closed as you can see in the above picture. The left lock has been left out of repair. It would be interesting to see the difference having only one lock working on this section to the use of water and any delays to working. I c an't remember being held up here so much as at Cholmondeston Lock on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union. If you are held up the views are very able to let you pass the time usefully with Mow Cop in the distance.

Once again this is not a bridge but an aqueduct, The Pool Lock Aqueduct to be exact. This carries the canal over itself. This can occur as we still have two locks and about 18'/19' up in height that gives enough clearance for the bridge. If you look closely the plaque says 'Pool Lock Aqueduct MDCCCXXVIIII' This is not actually a Roman numeral number at all as, as far as I know, there is no such thing as IIII it should read perhaps IX. Therefore the date is more than likely 1829.

The U Turn at Red Bull takes you over the canal you have come up. In fact it was built by the Trent and Mersey Canal as far as the Hall Green Stop Locks that was installed to protect the water supplies of The Macclesfield Canal Co. and the Trent and Mersey, each of the company's installing their own. Only one is in use today though and the canal is generally known as the Macclesfield from the Junction. 'The Macc', as the waterway is often referred to, is well known for its beautiful turn over or snake bridges and the beautiful shape of the arches. These bridges were designed to allow the horse pulling the boat to cross from the tow path on one side to the other with out having to unhitch. It is our great good fortune that they designed these graceful bridges to do such a mundane task.

After the canal passes the outskirts of Congleton, which is well worth the walk down to the centre, the railway passes over to the north of the canal. As often is the case the railway followed the route of the canal and soon they both had to cross the valley of the River Dane. On the canal the moorings are very peaceful with good views and a good spot to gird the loins before the assent of the twelve locks that take you up 110ft to the summit pound of the canal. The  canal aqueduct over the River Dane is by necessity much more sturdy, but no the less imposing, than the railway viaduct not too far away. The viaduct is 130ft high and was built for the North Staffordshire Railway in about 1849.

The northern end of the Macclesfield Canal is at Marple and its junction with the Peak Forest canal. The junction is very photogenic with a toll house, stone bridges and old houses. However I always feel like a working boatman just at this point as the first first four of the sixteen locks seem to be just part of the street furniture as you descend the Peak Forest canal. The locals have seen it all, and never bat an eye as they walk past up the hill with their bags of shopping

After crossing the Stockport Road it becomes more open and passes a park and then out into the countryside. Then you get the visitors who are walking up and down and you get the many questions about life on the canals and in 'small' narrowboats. Depending on the time of year a frequent question is about how cold it gets, and how hard work it might be etc etc. I must make a list of questions next year. I love this horse tunnel that takes the tow path under the road. It also goes to show that as well as humans being much shorter in times gone by, horses must have been shorter too. In this case it is not that 'many hands make light work',  (get it, hands, measure of the height of a horse! $"?), as they didn't use great big cart horses or dray horses but much smaller ones or mules were also popular. I suppose that once the boat was moving not too much muscle was needed to keep it moving so bigger horses would have eaten more than the speed they may increase the operation by.

At Portand Basin, the junction of the Ashton and Peak Forest canal, there are some beautiful bridges, chimneys and buildings that make a very appealing canalscape. Often the roving bridge that crosses the end of the Peak Forest canal just after the aqueduct over the River Tame is ignored as there is too much else that attracts the eye. It was built in 1835 and is graceful in it's low arch and lack of scantling and bulk. I often think that this place appears all dark and gloomy but if all the trees were removed it would take on a different atmosphere. Maybe it should retain it's northern grit as here we descend in to the manufacturing/industrial Manchester or ascend the stair way to Heaven on the Huddersfield Canal that rewards the hard work by the views and Standedge Tunnel.

This time we turn left and take the Ashton Canal into Liverpool. It has to be said that this is not the most beautiful of canals and not one of my favourite, but there is plenty to see, from a Moravian Village to the Etihad Stadium of Manchester City and then close by the velodrome that is the home of British cycling that had delighted us all with so many medals as Olympic and World Championships etc

As the descent is almost over, at least until the junction with the Rochdale Canal at Dulcie Street, and you reach the Ancoats Locks. Urban Splash designed the buildings behind the lock that has become known as the 'Chip'.It was completed in 2009 and certainly is eye catching. You can see where we are heading as just this side of the building is a lift bridge in to New Islington Marina, but we have to descend two locks on the Ashton and then ascend two on the Rochdale to get there. We are off back home for some more Culture in Hull.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

April locks and bridge, 1.

After we returned to the boat following a spell back in Hull, City of Culture 2017, we had time to kill so from Hawne Basin we headed back to Park Head Junction and up the three locks there.

The Park Head Locks are not really a dead end but in reality they are for us as we are too big to fit through the Dudley Canal Tunnel, according to the gauges at each end that is. At the Park Head Junction where the Dudley Canals 1 and 2 meet they make a nice scene with the canal lock house at the bottom and the blue brick bridge framing the locks. In truth there is a cement factory right next to the Blowers Green lock behind the camera.

The view back down the locks is framed by the rail bridge, unused at the moment but may be brought back to life with a tram of metro link. There is plenty of moorings at the top of the locks in green open space because as well as the canal into the Tunnel there was the Pensett Canal that has a short distance still in water to tie up in as well as the Grazebrook Arm. The C&RT bloke we chatted to on the way down the following day was surprised we had moored up here as there was a big 'council estate' there!? There were plenty of dog walkers but our experience was of a nice quiet mooring in the sun and a great place to kill time.

We later threaded our way back to Birmingham to pick up our guests. Here is another 'when is a bridge not a bridge' puzzle, as this is the Stewart Aqueduct where the Old Main Line crosses over the New Main Line. Right by here is the Chance Glass Works that I must visit one day as it is an industrial museum with a fascinating history. The M5 elevated motorway overshadows the old waterway and even has a leg in the centre of the new line just the other side of the aqueduct.

After Birmingham we headed to Wolverhampton to pick up our visitors. They were straight into the 21 locks of the Wolverhampton flight but we had a great day for it, perfect for lock wheeling really. Helen is just passing under the railway bridge that leads to the engine repair works In the distance is lock 16 and the A449 from Stafford to Wolverhampton. The electrified line also heads to Stafford. This flight is always a pleasure to work as once again the locks are well used and narrow so easily worked. It is even nicer with two extra hands.

We were soon down on to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Mind you we were soon of it again as we turned on to the Shropshire Union at Autherley Junction. The above stop lock mirrors many junction of different companies canal were they jealously guarded their water supplies. The difference in height was just inches but with a hire base just by it it can be a place of delay when new hirers are finding their feet.

 The Shropshire Union strides across the landscape on it's way to Ellesmere Port. There are big embankments followed by deep cuttings as it goes as directly as possible. Here, just south of Brewood is Avenue Bridge. Nearby is Chillington Hall. The new fangled canals were well received by some landowners as it cut an ugly scar in the lands. If you think of the scar that is made when they build a road you can understand why. However they were somewhat mollified by such things as swapping the side the tow path was on and building particularly beautiful bridge like this on to carry the Hall's carriage road over the offending route.

This is very frequently photographed feature on the the 'Shroppie'. It is another deep cutting not far north from Norbury Junction where the Shrewsbury and Newport canal branched off. There is a road on the top the brick second arch was added later to prevent the two sides slipping down together. The canal made, and still make, good routes for communications. In the past it was telegram and telephone lines and the pole can be seen sat on the spreader. These days it is fibre optic cable and electricity/gas under the tow path.

The first locks come at Tyrley and once again they are in a nice setting, with canal workers cottages and services. The middle locks are nice and open but the bottom ones are in a cutting through a sandstone bluff that makes the locks feel claustrophobic and the by washes make the approach difficult at times.

We passed through Market Drayton and Nantwich and left the boat at Venetian Marina for another visit home before continuing the journey later in the month through Middlewich and on to the Trent and Mersey.

We then came across 'Heartbreak Hill' where 26 locks appear in 7 miles and raise the canal up 250'. I must be a little weird as once again these locks are really a pleasure to work. On a nice day the walk is through nice countryside with much to see and the majority of the locks were duplicated in the 1830's and so there is not much hanging about either. After Wheelock, an interesting old place, the locks are frequent but once again as they are narrow ones they do not entail too much walking at the lock as you can cross the gates.

To be continued

Sunday, 29 October 2017

March by bridge and lock.

One of the features of the canal are the locks and bridges that are regularly encountered. So much so that we generally navigate using them. The bridges are either numbered or sometimes named and the locks are always numbered and usually named too. When conversing with others, often at a lock, it is usual to refer to the bridges and locks to indicate position or progress. I have therefore thought it would be a nice idea to summarize our year using locks and bridges rather than the more normal nice views etc. Mind you some of the pictures are all three!

We started our year from Streethay Wharf after a repaint of the boat. It did look very smart indeed. I'm not sure what you will think at the end of the year.

We sampled a short stretch of the Coventry Canal to Fazeley Junction before heading up the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Very soon afterwards you come to the Drayton  Footbridge. It was built in the 1830's. The canal was opened in 1789. It is Grade II Listed. As it wasn't built when the canal cut a sway through the land I wonder why it was installed 50 years later and built by a respected architect Sir Robert Smirke? This may well be the reason it is such a distinctive bridge. It is also next to Drayton Manor and the owner at the time was the MP for the area , Sir Robert Peel, who later became the Prime Minister.

In this modern era I am so pleased that we have not had to succumb to health and safety gone mad. As you can see a uncovered toothed gear is the main moving part on a lock paddle gear. The design must be getting about 225 years old and is good for that again at least I hope. Simple and efficient is what these are and even in a short shower they work fine on the way up the Curdworth Locks.

On this canal the bridges are named. Below to the left is Will Day's Farm Bridge. A very work a day name. Here we are in No.9 lock and running parallel to the M42 with another bridge. It is surprising just how often the canals and motorways inter react as they both take the line of least resistance through the landscape.

Here we are at a spot on the system I love. I'm not sure it would be on too many boaters top 10 places but it is on my list. Salford Junction is one of those places that has been a transport hub for  as well as the flowingever. Four canals meet here, or rather three, the Birmingham and Fazeley, Thame Valley and the Grand union Saltley Cut. Under this horse bridge is the Grand Union, straight on and left would be the Birmingham and Fazeley and then straight on and straight on is the Tame valley. But it is the dark cathedral like arches of the M6 overhead and the many columned roadways of Spaghetti Junction along with the River Tame flowing below all that makes it an ever evolving location.

We turned left up the Saltley Cut. There was a lot of traffic to the power station along here. It has long gone but there is the Star City area there now. The five locks up to Bordesley Junction have been cleaned up immensely over the last few years and they are a joggers route through the industrial area. Most would look at the attendant buildings and see much redundancy and emptiness, but I choose to see industrial archaeology and interest. Mind you it is very rarely that you get through this canal without a visit to the weed hatch!

After you have climbed the locks there is a pretty straight section. At the top lock there are three railways lines that cross, but afterwards it is the road bridges that take place. In this photo you can see six bridges. Even in a place like this at the weekend the fishermen are out in force. I must say that in Brum the anglers usually smile, at the very least, as you pass.

When is a bridge not a bridge? This is called Ashted Tunnel, but I'm not really sure why it is a tunnel as it doesn't need to bore through high ground. I suspect that it was the coming of the railways, or there was something when the canal was built that couldn't be knocked down to make a cutting. At the moment there is just a dual carriageway with plenty of room for expansion. The fact that the 'tunnel' is so narrow may well indicate that the canal was here first and then covered over.

I think that the Farmer's Bridge Locks are a favourite of most users. Well at least the top 10 or 11, as the bottom two are in the Stygian gloom of a road and rail bridge (that could be tunnels!?). You pass almost under the BT Tower and under office buildings. The locks are well maintained and easy to use. The flight has them close together reducing walking and there are always plenty of people around asking you daft questions and willing tom open or close gates as you suggest. You then pop out at Cambrian Wharf to s cene that has hardly changed since it was built, but plenty has all around it.

No.1 daughter, Amy, came with me after Birmingham and we passed up the New Main line and through Netherton Tunnel (definitely a tunnel). We ran down the Dudley No.2 Canal to it's junction with its big brother, Dudley No.1 at Park Head Junction. Here she is sitting on a checking bollard. I'm not sure what the proper name for it is. I suspect that they were used to slow a boat down before it hits the gate ahead rather than for actual mooring. I suppose a horse rope could be looped round it and heaved back on itself to start the boat out of the lock, going up, too, as the horse wouldn't be able to get a straight pull as the tow path goes round the corner. It is obviously not an old one as there is no wear on it. This is beside Blowers Green Lock which is a 12' rise/fall.

We were soon back at Windmill End Junction, another favourite spot of mine. Straight ahead is back through the Netherton Tunnel but we aren't heading that way just yet. To the right is the Dudley No.2 canal that went to join up with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak and to the left was also the Dudley No.2 Canal until Telford came along and drove the Tunnel branch through the hill in 1858 and cut off the arm that is now called the Boshboil Arm that formed a loop with what is now called the Bumble Hole Arm. The black and white roving bridges add immensely to the scene and are made of cast iron just down the road  at Tipton by the Horseley Iron Works at Toll End. We turned right.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Season Summary.

We have been home for a while now and it has made me realise one of the reasons why we like being away on the boat, we are just so busy when we get home! I have had a look at our cruising for this year though and here is a short summary.

We were only aboard for 108 days which is much less than normal, and all due to, as my regular readers will know, the fact that Hull has been UK City of Culture this year and we have been home a lot to sample the delights of this year in the sun for our city and as volunteers to spread the happiness to all our visitors, old and new. ( Another quick plug as if you haven't been to visit us yet there is still time, and there is still plenty to occupy your time. Many visitors come for the day and can barely scratch the surface. A weekend is much better, but even then many visitors tell us they will come back as there is still much to see and do after a couple of days).

At the start of our years cruising and soon after we had left Streethay Wharf we passed under the Drayton Manor footbridge. It wasn't as sunny as in the past, but it was the beginning of March.

We started the year at Streethay Wharf where the boat had been repainted over the winter and we ended it down the Rufford Arm of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Fettler's Wharf Marina. Our route took in the following navigations:-

1.  Coventry Canal                                            21. Peak Forest
2.  Birmingham and Fazeley                             22. Ashton Canal
3.  Grand Union, Saltley Cut                            23. Rochdale
4.  Digbeth Branch                                           24. Calder and Hebble               
5.  Warwick and Birmingham                          25. River Calder
6.  Oozells Loop                                               26. Aire and Calder
7.  Birmingham New Main Line                      27. New Junction Canal
8.  Netherton Tunnel Branch                            28 Stainforth and Keadby
9.  Dudley Canal No.1                                      29 River Trent
10. Dudley Canal No.2                                      30. Humber Estuary             
11. Lord Ward's Canal                                       31. River Hull
12. Birmingham Old Main Line                        32. Beverley Beck
13. Birmingham Canal Navigation?                  33. River Ouse
14. Driffield Navigation                                     34. River Derwent15. Staffordshire and Worcestershire                 35. Selby Canal
16. Shropshire Union                                         36. River Ure
17. Shropshire Union, Middlewich Branch       37. Ripon Canal
18. Wardle Canal                                               38. River Aire
19. Trent and Mersey                                         39. Leeds and Liverpool
20. Macclesfield                                                40. Rufford Branch.

In that lot there were eight rivers so we seem to have done our share this year. Four of those rivers have been tidal, five if you include the Derwent that is 'sort of tidal' with a barrage at the end.

Punching the flood tide we crept down the River Trent passing the ocean going ships moored at Grove Wharf.

Past Trent Falls and into the Humber we wound our way round the Whitton Channel following the buoys and floats, but cutting as many corners as we dared to save time. The wind was more than had been predicted and just after this point there was a bit of a chop, but we were soon in the lee of the south bank again.

When we navigated up the River Hull we were getting new views of our city. It was great to see signs of the history of the river too.

Whitgift Lighthouse on the River Ouse. The white square with black background is one of the transit boards to ensure that deep drafted vessels stay in the deepest water as they cross from one bank to the other.

In distance we have traveled around 687 miles and passed through 454 locks

Year          Miles          Locks
2013           627            519
2014         1027            764
2015           752            524
2016           776            558
2017           687            454
TOTAL      3869         2819

I wonder if anybody has calculated the average amount of energy used per lock, as it is certainly adding up to a few calories now. I don't really have anything to compare these figures with as everybody cruises in their own way, and speed. but you can see that this year we did less miles than we have done and less locks.

Near the bottom of the Wolverhampton 21 locks. Despite their number they are always a pleasure to work as they are well maintained and quick to fill and empty.

Our plan for this year was always to be 'Up North' to make it easier to get home to participate in Hull's year. This also meant that we would be off the boat a lot more than usual. I have never kept figures of days cruising before but even the 108 days of cruising was only just more than the 106 days we were at home between the start of March and the end of September! If you look at it that way the 687 miles is quite impressive really. 

The lower number of locks completed this year is accounted for by the fewer days aboard but also due to the fact that we were on several river navigations where the locks can be few and far between. Looking at it that way 454 doesn't seem to be too bad at all either.

The Wigan flight certainly were hard work but not the herculean task that required two bowls of porridge for breakfast. The seasonal lock keeper is there to assist normally, but of course it was his day off when we transited, and due to the weather the only boat that was coming up the flight cancelled so we didn't even have the benefit of filled locks for half of the trip.

We have coloured in several parts of the map that we hadn't been to before and it is always nice to explore new ground, but also passed through familiar waters too. I never thought that I would ever convince Helen to take to the Humber estuary and career under the Humber Bridge on a spring tide but we did have a great journey and this year will long live in the memory for the trips around home waters for us.

The furthest north we have been so far Ripon Basin. The trip up to Ripon, via York, on the Rivers Ouse and Ure was very pleasant and I would recommend it to all. The worrisome bit for most would be the leg from Selby to Naburn in the tidal reach but it honestly not nearly as bad as many folk make out. If you choose a neap tide time it is even simpler.

This has also exaggerated the difference with cruising in the Northern reaches to those further south. It is much less busy. There is much less competition for moorings etc, less worries about whether you need to leave early or late, or moor early to make sure of a spot etc. In essence, much more easy going. To counter that is the argument that the northern canals are much harder work eg. The Rochdale, Huddersfield, Leeds and Liverpool, and it is true there are plenty of locks, and occasionally not enough water, but the scenery, oh the scenery, more than makes the effort worth while. It is also countered by the fact that the Sheffield Navigation and the Aire and Calder are largely push button locks. I don't know what I'm saying all this for as the last thing I should be doing is encouraging others to come up this way too. However there is a bit of a 'use it or lose it' thing and if nobody comes no money will be spent on maintenance. One of my other places of pleasurable quire boating is the backwaters of the Birmingham Canal Navigation and there are parts of that system that rarely sees a boat either.

At the summit of the Rochdale canal you could almost mistake the electricity pylons for a ski lift in the summer Alps!

The bucolic views to the west of Skipton are almost reward enough for getting that far, with still plenty more locks, and plenty more scenery to go before the summit.

All in all a wonderful season of boating and despite only being actually aboard for half of the time a trip never to forget.