Huddersfield to Cooper Bridge

Sunday 26th June 2016

Today was very challenging technically which we have been preparing for and worrying about for quite a while. Getting 60 foot nb Lucy into 57 foot locks was our task. We got up pretty early today, well early for us – 7.00am to be precise. We needed to take on some water first. Fraser very artfully reversed back up the canal about 100 metres to the tap. Canal boats lined both sides with many of their occupants still asleep as it was Sunday morning and we do not think we disturbed any of them. One early bird occupant gave him a highly commended on his reversing skills.

Reversing a “pencil” that wants to do anything but oblige is not an easy task and not to be attempted by the faint hearted.

Our next order of the day was going under the really odd looking bridge that requires a button to activate it in a directly vertical direction. What is always fun about these bridges is that you get to play “god” and stop all the road traffic. Alas, as it was a Sunday and early morning at that so we didn’t get a congregation together.


We had a little bit of cruising before we hit the first of the nine locks we needed to go through today. The scenery was a little industrial with quite a bit of rubbish in the canal. Nothing exciting enough or pleasing to the eye to take a photo of. The nice surprise though was the fact that we had fair weather in our favour when last night’s forecast predicted wet weather. When doing locks it is better in dry weather as they can get quite slippery and dangerous.

So the order of the day was to approach the first lock by putting the nose of nb Lucy into the left front corner of the lock and hold her there with a rope, remembering of course that we had removed her front and rear fenders – so she was effectively naked!!! Well naked to bumps and scratches.


Here are a couple of views showing how we wedged her into the front of the lock.


In this photo you can see in her bow the rear fender that we had removed. It is a rather chunky heavy arrangement which protects the rudder, propeller and shaft.

Once she was wedged in the front we then poled her stern into the center of the lock. The cill is actually a half moon shape so to get the maximum length in the lock you position her in the center of the curve. We maintained her in this position by using the pole that we have on the boat to assist us when we run aground.


Good example of the angle that she was on.

Fraser who was on the bow slowly let out the water in the lock. We had the rudder turned as much to the side as possible so that it did not catch on the cill and to give us a few more of those valuable inches that we needed. If you look closely at the photo below you will see the rear of the boat with just inches to spare to the cill. If we had of hit the cill, nb Lucy could have got caught on it and the front would have sunk like the Titanic.


It took us a few locks to get in a good rhythm but by the ninth lock we were pretty much pros.

We completed the ninth lock and then descended straight onto the Calder River. We have never been onto a river on a narrowboat before and it took us quite by surprise in many ways. Firstly it was wide, had a flow and when we opened nb Lucy up to full throttle you could have water skied behind her. She really did behave quite well even with the current behind us. This is not to say we would want to cruise on rivers very often as you do not have much in the way of horse power to get you out of trouble.

We were on the River Calder for about 200 meters and then turned into a very narrow opening onto the Calder and Hebble canal. It was fun trying to do a 180 degree turn with current behind you but we managed it. We moored up pretty much as soon as we got onto the canal as after four hours we were pretty tired from the stress of it. W+M were right behind us. They have a 57 foot narrowboat and even they had to go in at an angle in the locks. We decided that we should congratulate ourselves with a traditional Sunday roast at the White Cross pub just down the road.

One thought on “Huddersfield to Cooper Bridge

  1. Hi Di & Fraser

    Well your Lucy and the first lock & cill story was riveting. I was completely stressed out by the time your skinny boat made it through the lock. What a crazy adventure you are on. My daughter and I are coming to Europe (London – Corfu – Vienna – Rome – Madrid/Camino de Santiago on bike for last 5 days – London) on July 26. I hope we have even half of the adventures that you guys are enjoying. Calgary misses you.


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