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Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Year Resolution.

Well here we are on the cusp of another year. Amazing isn't it! We have had some good weather here in Hull, not the snow or rain of further west. However it has been cold with a good frost overnight. That also means the clear skies make for beautifully clear and sunny day and good walking weather. We went the short distance to Hornsea on the coast and walked round all round the outside of the houses. We parked near the mere and circumnavigated the town. The beach was full of anglers as it appeared there was a match on. We had to make a tough decision as to whether to head off home or stop for a fish and chip lunch. The answer was stop for lunch. The next decision was Sullivan's or Whitehead's. We plumbed for Whitehead's. Hornsea is home to  two very good fish and chip restaurants. We just got in before the rush and on emerging with full bellies we resolved to extend our walk to help the digestion. Secretly I think it was all a ploy for the girls to visit Hornsea Pottery outlet village as our route went through it. It was remarkably busy and we did stop for a couple of purchases on the way through. We were back home by 1500 feeling better for being out and about.

Looking south towards Spurn Point from Hornsea promenade with the Marine Hotel in the centre. The anglers didn't seem too cold with all the standing about but then they do get well togged up.

Looking north towards Bridlington and Flamborough Head, (couldn't see them today though). Note the caravans perilously close to the cliff edge. The low cliffs on the Holderness coast are made up of boulder clay and it is easily eroded with 2 or 3 metres been lost, even on a good year.

We haven't managed a trip to the boat yet but must go next week to check her out. I have a few jobs to do so I am hoping for at least one night aboard rather than rushing over everything. I had started to look to booking a Ribble Link Crossing as it seems they get booked up very quickly on in the New Year, but after seeing some friends yesterday I will scratch that for this next year I think. Helen and daughter and friends have got tickets for a Take That concert that I thought was in mid June but is in actual fast mid May. It was a good thing that we got it straightened out in good time. I am not thinking of starting out at the end of March. We may head to Sheffield again, or certainly further east from Dewsbury as I am helping out at the Hull Beer Festival in mid April. After that we will cross the Pennines over the Rochdale to Manchester and then make our way steadily to Birmingham for mid May and the concert. From I have a thought to head down the Severn to Gloucester and Sharpness with a view to passing out into the Severn Estuary and making the trip to Avonmouth, Bristol and Bath and then the Kennet and Avon. I didn't fancy doing a there and back up the K&A and it should be fun! After that we will maybe just wend our way back north slowly. Nothing set in stone as yet so we will see what happens.
Chart with the route from Sharpness to Avonmouth. Doesn't look very difficult on paper does it?

All the very best to each and every one of you that may read this blog now, or in the future. I hope that 2015 will be all that you would wish it to be for you and your family. If you are reading this in the future I hope that all is going/went well for you.

New Year's resolution; to take more time to stop and enjoy places on which ever routes we end up following, and not just on the canals. Stay  safe everybody in 2015.

Saturday 27 December 2014

Christmas past.

Ten days since I have posted and I don't seem to have sat down since writing that past and until we sat down for our superb Christmas dinner. We haven't had time to get over to the boat but as the cold weather is set to descend we will have to go over next week to check it out and feed the meter at the least. There were ten of us at table and we had a lovely day, just enough food and not too much drink was enough to get us giggling with the quizzes and games we played and slept very well that night. I didn't see the space station go over though, so that was the only disappointment.

I was expect any present that I was given to have a high percentage being connected to the canals in some way. When folk know that you live on the canal for a lot of the year and are interested it makes there selection easier sometimes. How ever I only had two items, and one of them was a joint one.

We were given this by our daughter. We are not ones to have canal ware all round the boat but as you can see this is small enough to not take up too much space and even be useful. I will have to question her as to where it came from.

The other item was the autumn copy of the Narrow Boat magazine. I love the history of the canals and rivers and it is really interesting to read of how the work was undertaken and even better to see the old photographs. In this edition there were photos of Stoke Bruerne, Doncaster and Church Lock on the Grand Union where we had traveled this year. Other than the boats and the missing old buildings the thing that I notice the most is that the trees and hedges have grown up a lot. I often think that the views would have been much better in days gone by, but not so easy to navigate in a gale of wind. There was also an article about the cargo handling in days gone by. The boatman had to contend with very varied cargoes and knowing how to best stow them and to load them for trim and so not to overload the boat were very similar skills to what was needed on the general cargo ships I first went to sea on. The advantage for the narrow boat was they were almost always for one point of discharge and there was only one deck. On my old ships we had to load everything so that it didn't damage cargo above or below it and that it could be accessed to be discharged at the proper port. I remember having to stow sacks of pepper corns in 5 tonne lots in a tween deck so that they didn't touch anything else, especially the side of the ship to avoid sweat damage, and so that we could unload them at any one of eight ports. It was the entire season's cargo of  a small Indonesian island.

It seems that the Calder and Hebble has had the flood locks closed for navigation since 11th December which is over two weeks now. The last time we went to the boat I found that the back fender had been caught under the pontoon deck for a while. I moved the boat forward so it would clear if the water rose again. I hope that it isn't too bad there. Last night there was snow in Sheffield but I'm not sure about Dewsbury. Here in Hull we only had a little rain and not even a frost. I hope that even with the colder weather due the heaters will be able to cope with maintaining the heat in the boat above freezing.

This is at Leeds Lock on the Aire and Calder in 2007 and we may well be in trouble if it gets this bad on the Calder and Hebble!

I'd like to wish my four blog followers, Andy Healey of NB Centurion, Andy on Festina Lente, Marilyn and David in New Zealand and John R in Western Australia a very belated Happy Christmas and all that they would wish for for the New Year. I am very surprised at how many people read my blog offerings and even more about where they originate from. My top places are as follows:-

Thanks to all of you for reading and I hope that there will be something of interest to you all in the future. Keep safe and well.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

More boats required.

After reading all about the excess numbers of boats in London, and having seen that for ourselves (but found it not as bad as some would have you think) it was amazing to read of a canal where more boats are desired! I recently received my Pennine Link magazine, the organ of the Huddersfield Canal Society and it said that whilst the numbers of boats using the canal were about the normal so far they really wanted to increase the numbers. I can attest to the fact that the canal, or the tow path at least, is used extensively by cyclists and walkers but there are few boats moving along it's length. Especially the Narrow Canal. They say that is perhaps due to the fact that the transit of the tunnel is limited to three days a week and it needs to be booked at least three days in advance. I think the limitation is partly due to the provision of 'pilots', or chaperons as C&RT like to call them and them cost of this. I think the Canal Society are getting two of their volunteers trained up for this so that should ease somewhat. The other factor is that if it became very busy there could be a problem with water supply. I think this is being looked at in the water resources management structure for the region.

Stakes Aqueduct over the River Tame near Stalybridge, built by Benjamin Outram.

How ever I think the real reason that there are few people that want to use the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and pass through the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in the UK is that they have heard from other boaters that it is terrible! The boaters grapevine is a wonderful thing so long as you don't believe everything you hear. The bush telegraph seems to have a magnifier attached to it. What may be one incident in a place turns into a no go area after several tellings. How many times have we heard that you should never stop in Leicester as it is dangerous. There are safe and secure moorings provided on the offside. Admittedly these are limited in number but with sense you can use the towpath without more than the normal worries in a city. The local police patrol told me that they haven't had any incidents there for many years. It is the same with moorings in London as this is a very special case. There aren't many places on the rest of the system where you would have to consider mooring alongside a boat that may not have a couple of a certain age with at least one dog and a well polished side, but in London if you are willing to do it then there is no problem. It may not be a problem as there are places to moor on a first come first served basis at the basins etc. The apocryphal stories about the Huddersfield are many, no water, no moorings, heavy gates, boats stuck on sills etc etc, and all have been true at some time or another. It is also true of every other canal on the system.

Next time you here such a story ask the teller if it happened to them, or they have been and witnessed it. 99 time out of 100 I bet they say that it was at least third hand. Part of the idea of reopening the through route was to assist in the regeneration of the towns and villages along the canal. This wont really happen until boats come in greater numbers. Stalybridge is a case in point. The local council flattened an area to allow the canal to come through and the canal passes the resulting Armentieres Square was a focal point for the generation of the area. All it is lacking is boats passing through for the Gongoozlers and ice cream vans etc to congregate.

Armentieres Square, Stalybridge.

It must be somewhat disheartening for the Canal Society that after such a superhuman effort by many bodies and people, and vast sums of money, that the canal is under utilised and somehow devaluing their effort.  The Society are doing their part by lobbying for more work to be carried out on the infrastructure ( and doing plenty of it themselves too), increasing the number of moorings, and making a leaflet of the details of facilities for boaters etc . It is up to boaters to come and use the canal to show that their efforts were not appreciated by boaters. The old addage of 'use it or lose it' hold good here. The fact that many more boats will bring many more problems is just something that have to be addressed when it happens. For me it is a glorious trip and the sense of achievement of completing the trip is worth the effort. The scenery is fantastic and the locals are friendly. Try it for your selves.

Entrance to the Diggel, west end, of the Standedge Tunnel.

Overall Winner
Huddersfield Canal Society Photography competition winner 2014.
The Standedge Tunnel, Nathan Reynolds, York.

Autumn in the Colne Valley.

Locomotive Bridge, Huddersfield.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Another hemisphere.

I wish the title went to explain why it has been a week since I put up a blog, and that it was because we had jetted off to leave the Christmas shopping behind in cold England as it seems to be what many boaters seem to do. But no, it meant that we traveled the 15 miles to the coast that is  actually east of the Greenwich meridian and so in another hemisphere. We love the Holderness coast and Spurn Point on a nice day in the winter. In the summer it can be very busy as it makes a great place for kids. Which ever the wind direction you can find a spot to sit on the sand, with the dunes etc etc. I used to travel up and down Spurn Point to the Pilot Station there and even then we would have occasional periods on a top spring tide with an added tidal surge that the water would wash over and  make the road impassable. Spurn Point is a long spit of land at the mouth of the Humber estuary caused by the movement of sand eroded from the coast south of Flamborough Head, moved by longshore drift, meeting the flow out of the river. There have been many Spurn Points and called many that have been eroded as the coast to the north has been consumed and then it has re-established it's self further to the west. There was a major port town on one of the spits called Ravenser in the 14th Century and in 1399 Henry Bolingbroke landed there and went on to become Henry IV when he deposed Richard II.

The timbers mark the seaward line of where the road and railway line once were. They are actually the Victorian sea defences that have delayed the loss of the point for many years.

The road was supplemented by a railway line when a gun battery was built in the First World War. This then had a garrison to man it and to assist construction a railway was laid from the north end of the point where it joins the mainland to the tip over three miles south. Various lighthouse have been built on the point and the remaining one does not have a light for navigation but still stands tall. In 1810 a lifeboat station was built on the point and as it was difficult to reach quickly a crew, and their families, lived on the point. After WWI the railway was utilised by the lifeboat crew and others by resting a bogey on the lines and using wind power.

A sailing railway bogey in 1933. They lock as thought they are in on of the bunkers that protected the large guns from the war. I think the hut on stilts was the look out house used by the lifeboatmen.

You can see the scale of the timbers by Helen and I

Out to sea could be seen the bases of very many wind towers. most were still awaiting their columns and sails and there was a jack up ship installing one as we watched. It was easily seen as the visibility was magnificent. The road has now been washed away and at just about any spring tide the point now gets washed over. At the point end is still the Lifeboat station but since last August the families live over in Grimsby and the crew live on the point six days at a time in a rota. The pilot station is still manned but all changes and boardings are carried out through Grimsby. There are no plans to build any defences to resist the sea as the Point is owned by the Wildlife Trust and they want nature to take it's course.

Walking back up the beach to the little village of Kilnsea to visit the Crown and Anchor and a lovely fish and chip lunch. I lovely day in a very under rated part of the world. And all at the request of my daughter on her birthday.

Monday 8 December 2014

Time telescoped.

Where did that week go? I suppose this is what you get in the run up to Christmas so much to do and so little time to do it. Last Monday we went over to Dewsbury to check the boat out. The trip was only an hour and a quarter so it isn't too bad at all.

The route takes you up the Humber North Bank and then crosses over the Market Weighton Canal that is still navigable for a few miles from the Estuary. The next waterway is the River Ouse where the motorway crosses just by Howden Dyke Island. Occasionally you can see boats stranded on the mud that have gone the wrong side of the island. On the way back east on the Motorway you can see the Howdendyke wahrves and even a ship or two occasionally.

Howdendyke Wharves from the River Ouse.

You can see the old Boothferry Swing Bridge to the west and Goole Docks to the south. Iy isn't very often you see any ships in Goole Docks. This is partly as they are usually low air draft vessels so you don't see them over the warehouses. How ever there used to be some very tall ships we brought up that had to lower their masts, hydraulically to get under the Humber Bridge.

Ouse M62 Motorway Bridge with Howden Dyke Island upper right and the wharves are very top middle. Boothferry Bridge is just out of shot centre left.

Looking south west with the M62 Ouse Bridge dwarfing the old Boothferry Swing bridge. The arch on the right opens for ships. The power station top right is the largest in Northern Europe, Drax and is now turning to burning biomass that is mostly brought into the country from abroad. In the distance beyoond it is Eggborough power station. The small river running through the centre of the photo is the Aire that meets the Aire and Calder Canal at Knottingly where it forms part of the route to Selby.

The next navigation crossed is the Aire and Calder where you can look down on Whitley mechanised lock. There are moorings there and I suppose that you will quickly get used to the noise of the motorway. We crossed the Aire and Calder again near to Woodnook Lock west of Castleford and the next navigation is the basin at Savile Town and the Calder and Hebble.

Whitley Lock from our passage in 2013.

We got there to just check over everything and to pick up several things. I checked the engine hole to find it had plenty of water down there. The swim of the stern is such that it actually doesn't drain right to the stern where the bilge pump is but to the forward part of the compartment. It didn't take long to bail out and dry up and get the engine started first time. The shore cable was good so all the batteries were fully charged according to the Smartguage. The next job was to put the kettle on, so on with the gas, and that to be followed by the heating. That was a problem as nothing happened and the Hurricane remote read out was flickering then dead. I checked the fuse in the engine hole to find that it had got water in it and the fuse had blown. I then walked into town to find a replacement and got some at Halfords. By the time I had got back it was getting dark, but after fitting the fuse the unit flashed up but then powered down as it was reading that the thermostats were all satisfied. Oh well I will have to look into that for the next time. There is always something going on isn't there. I didn't get to check the batteries and even forgot one of the things we had dashed over to collect. Still it means that we will have to go again before Christmas.