We Made It To Leeds

  We moved round to Skipton from our moorings just about 1ยฝ miles outside the town on Wednesday, 18th August, in preparation for Ali and Rob to arrive on Thursday morning. We moored on the 14 day mooring section – it was a little quieter than right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. Ali and Rob duly arrived on Thursday, and after coffee and then lunch, we walked round the town and up through the woods and back to Skipton Castle. Skipton is a lovely town! We walked back up into the town in the evening to a pizza restaurant, which I thoroughly enjoyed. A few drinks back on the boat and we were all ready for bed!

On Friday, we set off and cruised for a few miles on the lovely stretch back towards Gargrave, stopped for lunch and then returned to Skipton, mooring on the same stretch as before. We all fancied fish and chips for dinner, so we wandered up into town to get some. 

On Saturday morning, after collecting the car from the parking space, Ali, Rob and Tony set off – they were kindly taking Tony part of the way back to visit family, to his sister’s house in Stratford. (We had hoped to get the boat into a marina so that Sal and I could go, too, but there are only hire bases round Skipton, none of which offer visitor moorings and as we aren’t comfortable leaving the boat unattended, we planned for Tony to go by himself.)  It had been so lovely to have Ali and Rob to visit and we really appreciated them coming to see us!! I reorganised the boat after their visit and then headed for the launderette outside Morrisons – down a fairly long flight of steps to the street below. The machines were all in use so I went, with my full load in the trolley, to B&M and got a few bits. After another two fruitless visits to the launderette, (up and down those bloody steps!) I was happy, on the fourth attempt, to see the machine empty. I loaded the washing, went to pay, only to see that the coin slot was inoperable and it only took contactless cards – and I hadn’t taken my purse – doh!!! So, put all the washing back in the trolley, back to the boat to get my purse, back to the launderette, reload the machine and, fifth time lucky, set it going! This last time I’d taken Sal with me so that we could set off for a walk at the same time, so we dropped the trolley back off at the boat and went to the nearby park, which was lovely – great views of the surrounding countryside! A quick walk and then back to the launderette to swap the washing into the drier. What a palaver! I popped into Morrisons to get something for my tea, then returned to get the washing from the drier and – finally – took clean and dry washing back to the boat – phew!! After my rather sad and lonely tea, I watched a girly film (a terrible and long version of Cinderella!) and went to bed.

On Sunday morning, Sal and I set off for her morning walk, back to the park but going further afield. It really was a lovely area and very rabbity, much to Sal’s delight. I got a bit lost, my sense of direction being non-existent, but a couple of locals put me right. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜‚ We returned to the boat and I had another trip to B&M to buy a rug which I’d spotted the day before (and had decided that it would fit) and also some carpet tiles, with which I intended to line the external walls of our cupboards in the bedroom in an attempt to cut down the condensation that forms. After a bit of lunch, it was soon time for Tony to arrive back on the train. Sal and I walked up to meet him – she was very pleased to see her Dad!! Whilst he took her for her walk, I decided that I would wash our duvet whilst we were so near to the launderette, but, more shenanigans, it wasn’t working when I went there! All in all, my experience with that particular washing/drying facility wasn’t the best!! ๐Ÿ˜‚

On Monday, we emptied out the wardrobe and lined it with the carpet tiles and it went really well, so we decided to do the other cupboard, too. Off to B&M again for more tiles, and after Sal’s walk, taking in another launderette in the town and successfully washing and drying the duvet, we lined the other cupboard – another job ticked off our DIY list for this summer!

On Tuesday morning, 24th August, I went to Morrisons to do another shop before we moved off and away from Skipton, then we filled with water and moved round to the moorings just at the entrance to the Springs Branch, reversing onto the mooring. Sal and I had another lovely walk up into the woods behind Skipton Castle and I hadn’t appreciated the first time, when we’d walked there with Ali and Rob, just how beautiful it was! This mooring  was quite noisy- right in Skipton town centre and with lots of tourists! We felt a bit like goldfish in a bowl and Sal got loads of ear tickles whilst sitting on the back deck! It remained noisy until the pub opposite shut but then it was really and surprisingly quiet.

Early on Wednesday morning, 25th, after a brief walk with Sal, we reversed up the Springs Branch to the second bridge – another Silver Propeller Challenge location. We reversed as there is no winding hole at the end so thought it easier to reverse in and come out going forwards!  We went early as the trip boats from the wharf opposite the moorings went up there every 20 minutes or so, and we didn’t want to get tangled up with them – it is very narrow and with moored boats all along one side. With us going in reverse, adding a trip boat into that mix wasn’t going to end well!! It was quite tricky but we got to the bridge, took our photo, removed the brolly from round the prop ๐Ÿ™„, then steered out again. We stopped for coffee on the same mooring, then set off, leaving Skipton behind. Tony and Sal jumped off at the first swing bridge – there are a lot on this section – as she’d only had a short walk that morning, opened the bridge and then carried on. We found a nice mooring in the little village of Bradley, on a loop of canal away from the road that accompanies the canal on this section – a bit quieter! Tony walked back to Screwfix just south of Skipton in the afternoon to get some more DIY materials. It was practice night in the football and cricket field opposite the mooring and soon enough a football came flying over the fence and landed in the canal just by the boat. We waited until it floated over to us and then asked the chap if he was coming round for it. He said that although he was standing literally 20 feet away from us, it was about a mile to walk to get onto the towpath! Consequently, Tony did an amazing drop kick and it landed directly in the arms of the very impressed young man. He asked if Tony would like to sign up for the team!! Twice more that evening Tonyโ€™s skills were required – I wonder what they do if no boat is moored there (and if the occupant canโ€™t drop kick as well as Tony!!??)

On Thursday, another day of DIY loomed. We prepared to spray foam the bow thruster chamber, which, for some reason, hadn’t been done by the boat builder. This had caused a lot of condensation settling in the bottom of the chamber, so the boat builder had suggested that we foam it retrospectively. We had ordered some foam for Ali and Rob to bring but, unfortunately, the delivery company had messed up and it hadn’t arrived in time, but the selling company had managed to re-route the parcel and we had picked it up in Skipton. So, we prepared in the morning, removing the battery and it’s box, and covering the bow thruster motor, and then sprayed in the afternoon – but, oh! What a job!! It is very restricted access and the cans of foam were quite large so it was a struggle! It was really a case of getting the loaded foam gun down in the gap, about 6″, pointing and spraying in the general direction and hoping for the best! All in all, we did a pretty good job; we both had a go but I’ve got more patience than Tony so ended up doing the lion’s share.  It’s not neat or pretty but it is insulated (mostly, apart from a little bit right in the bow that we just couldn’t reach). It wasn’t a very comfortable position to be in – laying flat on the bed slats with your arms down the hole, into the bowels of the boat (especially when you have boobs!!๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ). I had bruises all up my arms  where I was cramming as much arm as possible down the hole to get as far in as I could, and I still ached two days later! A good job, jobbed, though!

On Friday, 27th August, after doing a final clean after the spray foam exercise, we moved in the afternoon, only a couple of miles, but swinging 4 bridges on the way, and moored in the pretty village of Kildwick. Again, the views both on the journey and in the village were lovely! 

On Saturday, 28th, we travelled the short distance to Silsden, and completed a supermarket trip on arrival for another few day’s supplies. We were going to have fish and chips for dinner, but forgot the chippies don’t open on a Saturday up here, so normal cooking on board again! An expected Amazon delivery arrived in time for us to move just outside of Silsden to another mooring with a view – lovely – would much rather be out in the sticks than a town, for sure! We were planning to complete our last big DIY project for this summer over the next few days – painting the bedroom walls following the leaky porthole episode. We were confident that we had successfully solved the leak, now just had to cover the damage to the woodwork.  

We stayed on our mooring just outside Silsden on Sunday 29th August and started the decorating of the bedroom. After careful preparation, I put two coats of primer on – Zinsser B.I.N – it is very thick and sticky but dries quickly. It said to wait a day or two to cure, so on Monday 30th, Bank Holiday Monday (although that makes very little difference to us now) we moved on. Before we moved, though, on her morning walk with Tony, Sal found some very wet and sloppy sheep pooh and delightedly rolled in it! An impromptu bath was very much called for on the return to the boat – she was a little less pleased with herself at that point! After the massive clean up operation, we cruised and moored just the other side of Riddlesden. There were mooring rings between the two town bridges but it didn’t have a very nice feel, so we went a little further round on the outskirts.

On Tuesday, I put one coat of the emulsion on the bedroom walls – it was starting to look good! When I walked with Sal in the afternoon, I spotted a better mooring – we were touching the bottom a bit where we were so Sal wasn’t an overly happy doggie, so I phoned Tony and he moved the boat round to meet us. I put the second coat of emulsion on the walls and it was nicely dry by the time we went to bed.

On Wednesday, 1st September, we cruised the short distance of only one mile to the top of the Bingley Five Rise staircase flight, opening two swing bridges on the way. One was a bit troublesome, you had to manually lower the road barriers then operate the electrical mechanism to open the bridge, but unless the barriers were closed and “clicked in”, the bridge wouldn’t open. There was a lady trying to open it as we approached from the other direction; I went and helped (you always think you’re doing something wrong when things don’t work as they should and she was asking me to check what she was doing), no luck. The cars were building up, so we opened the barriers to let them through. Once the cars had cleared, we closed the barriers again, making sure they clicked into place but we were still unsuccessful in getting the bridge to swing. A taxi driver, in the front of the queue of cars, got out and shouted that we were taking too long and opened the barrier again!!! This completely messed up the sequence of events and meant one of the barriers couldn’t be released from the closed position – in hindsight we should’ve been more assertive but we were standing there open-mouthed at his cheek!! Eventually, having reset the mechanism, the bridge decided to work – we certainly hadn’t done anything different – and the now fairly long queue of boats were able to pass. We cruised round the corner and tried to get in on the moorings at the top of the flight but it was too shallow and we were about a metre out from the sides. I try not to knock CRT, they have a huge job to do with limited funds, but to not keep a busy mooring spot dredged is pretty poor – you can’t go anywhere else there unless you carry on and down the staircase locks, so people need to be able to moor! Both grumpy, we decided to go to the service point as we needed water and empty the bin and worry about a mooring later. There is a little cafรฉ next to the service point and I heard someone say “jacket potato” – that was lunch (and the grumpy mood!) sorted. We sat eating our spuds whilst the boat filled, not very often you can say that! Fortunately, one of the moored boats moved on so we packed the hose away quickly and managed to grab the spot. We finished the day doing a bit of preparation on the wood jointing strips from the bedroom and removing the masking tape – I was really pleased with how it had turned out! It seemed very wrong to paint over the lovely panels, but it was certainly better than looking at the water damage!

Even though we hadn’t finished the decorating, we decided to go down the Five Rise and then the Three Rise the next day – mainly because we felt bad for taking up one of the very valuable mooring spaces! The passage through the locks is timed, so we were up, ready and raring to go (well, nearly!๐Ÿ™„) by 8 the next morning. We paired up with another boat and were soon on our way down. Again, these are short locks, our boat is near to the maximum length recommended, so a lot of the time the stern of the boat was very near, or in, the flow of water from the leaky gates being us. The other boat was a little shorter, so the gates could be opened without the need for him to reverse up too much, so he went out first; I reversed up as much as I dared without getting too wet, swung the bow over using the bow thruster, so that the lock gate could be opened on my side, then swung back and motored through into the next chamber. By the time we reached the bottom, though, our rear deck had had a good soaking! We continued on and descended the Three Rise staircase, then cruised for another mile or so and descended the final staircase locks of the day, this a staircase of only two locks. So a double, a triple and a five chamber staircase worked all in one day! When Tony checked the rear deck compartment, where our mooring tools and other bits and bobs are kept in boxes next to the weed hatch, they were about 6 inches deep in water!! A bail out and drying off of everything was required but was all good when done. We moored in a wooded cutting just outside Saltaire. A nice spot but very dingy inside the boat!

On Friday, 3rd September, we stayed put and varnished the wood strips from the bedroom – we were getting to the last stages of the decorating! We also spray foamed the porthole aperture, from the leaky porthole, on the inside (the fact that it was uninsulated probably adding to the water ingress problems)  and reinstated the porthole liner – it had been dismantled for a good few months so pleasing to get that back in place! It was a lovely area for walks, being next to the River Aire and Hirst Wood. There were several footpaths marked in my app which Sal and I attempted to follow,  but when one became more of an “adventure” than a walk, we retraced our steps and went a different way! We had a beautiful walk along the River, though. 

On Saturday, 4th, we set off from our gloomy mooring, thankful to be out in daylight again! We only went a short distance and moored on a not-very-attractive but secure mooring on the offside in Shipley, a single visitor mooring at the end of a long line of permanently moored boats. There were locked gates to two access points and a little patch of ground so that Sal could sit out on the side, although the access was shared by the permanent moorers  so we had to make sure she didn’t go into guard dog mode!! There was also an Aldi about 200 metres away – great! We stocked up and the next day, Sunday,  waited for an Amazon delivery which didn’t arrive until late afternoon, so we decided to stay for a second night. 

On Monday, 6th, September, we cruised to Apperley Bridge, negotiating another double and triple staircase locks on the way as well as the obligatory swing bridges! We shared the triple staircase with another boat, but the double staircase lock had such bad leaky gates that we elected to go in them by ourselves so that we had maximum room in order to try to dodge the water! We had pre-empted the water getting into the rear compartment by duct-taping it up, which, happily, seemed to work, as it was only vaguely damp upon checking on mooring up.

On Tuesday, 7th, we cruised the pretty stretch to Rodley, our last stop before we got to Leeds. The weather was gorgeous and was forecast for the same for the next day.

So, on Wednesday, 8th September, we left Rodley for the journey into Leeds. There were 7 boats leaving Rodley, so we made up quite a convoy, plus Robbie Cumming (Canal Boat Diaries, BBC 4) was just ahead of us, filming. This did hold up proceedings a little bit as they took a bit longer at the locks, with setting up the filming equipment, etc. We were still in the docks and moored up by 1.30 p.m, having left at 8.00 a.m, though, so not too bad. It was an unexpectedly very pleasant journey; quite rural until the very outskirts of the city and then a vibrant waterfront with lots of bars and restaurants, and, consequently, people. It was quite hard work, and a hot day, but we shared it with another boat so it was a bit easier and a lot more sociable! We cruised for 7 miles, opening three swing bridges,  and working two triple and a double  staircase locks and five single locks before we get to the moorings in the city centre! There were moorings at Granary Wharf before the River Lock, but we had been told by a volunteer Lockie that these can suffer from dropping water levels, so we decided to go through to the Docks, which was where our travelling companions were headed. Consequently, we went through the River Lock and down onto the River Aire, crossing the finish line of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We had to breast up in the docks – there weren’t enough mooring spaces. Another two boats arrived later in the day, having travelled from Apperley Bridge – so in total, 10 boats needed moorings in Leeds as well as the boats already moored there; as there aren’t that many spaces, the only option was to breast up. This only served to make it even friendlier, though, so not a problem! Sal was very good – we were on the inside next to the pontoon so two strange people from the boat next door kept crossing her boat, stepping gingerly over her as she sat on the back, and she didn’t bat an eyelid! She’s a good girl! They even crossed with their bikes, (we got her inside whilst they did that!) so we said we’d wait until their return in the evening before we put our rear canopy up. They were very good neighbours and even gave us a bottle of wine for “spoiling your view” as we obviously just looked out onto the side of their boat instead of over the docks – how kind of them! 

We stayed for two nights in the Docks – we didn’t do any touristy things whilst in the city – this is one downside of having a boat dog – other than a walk round our immediate area, which was quite interesting. We can obviously leave her for a couple of hours, but I’m not really that bothered about cities and their landmarks – I’d much rather be out in the countryside! I was excited to see “Leeds Dog Park” on Google Maps virtually adjacent to the Docks – it was a disappointingly tiny fenced area of about 10m square with a few agility type pieces of equipment in it! She walked around it and sniffed a bit but showed no inclination to investigate the equipment, so we left again and continued our walk elsewhere.  We did have a meal out in the evening but spent the rest of the day having a bit of a rest, plus foaming the second porthole in the bedroom to insulate it, the same as the other one. The promised rain came in the late afternoon, and, boy, did it rain! Thankfully, it cleared up in time for our dinner booking.

So, we have ticked another canal off the list and it has been a beautiful one! Yes, it has a lot of locks and a LOT of swing bridges, and it has been frustratingly shallow in places, but the scenery more than makes up for all that! It is definitely on my list of canals I’d like to revisit!