Monday 4th July 2016
Off to the CRT office this morning to discuss the booking process for us going into Liverpool basin in about two weeks and for W+M to book passage up the Lancaster canal. This is where we will go our separate ways. We may meet up again further south before our canal cruising days are over but we will have to wait and see. One important item we have discovered is that you must always be planning ahead daily, weekly and even fortnightly when it comes to passages on certain canals, refueling etc etc. It is a working holiday but also a real thinking and planning holiday. Certainly keeps the neurones entertained.
Fraser and M caught the water taxi up to the first lock to prepare it for the boats as there is very limited mooring available just below the lock and there is a current on the river. It was pretty busy from the very beginning with two boats in front of us and other boats coming down. On these locks there are a lot of volunteers which is great but also a bit bothersome as they are all experts – Fras and I call them professional meddlers.
The first lock is the actual start of the L+L canal and is marked with a mile post – as you can see, we have 127 miles to Liverpool plus 91 locks and countless swingbridges.
Our original plan was to leave Leeds and head up the Leeds and Liverpool (aka L+L) canal as far as Kirstall which was about three hours cruising. Kirstall had a Morrison’s supermarket where we were going to top up the pantry and fridge. You may ask why we did not do this in Leeds. The reason being is that the center of Leeds only has an Express Tesco’s and these are extremely expensive and very limiting in produce hence the desire to stop off at Morrison’s. At the top of the lock we were strongly advised to continue on through to Rodley which is 7 hours cruising in total as there are “yob” issues on some of the locks. You do get a bit of this in built up areas where you are going through some undesirable portions.
Our first challenge of the day was a staircase of three locks. We have encountered staircases of 2 before but not three. This means that you go from one lock straight into another lock with no pound in between. We had two of these configurations today which both had lock keepers on hand so made the process heaps quicker.
We decided to drive the boats into the locks together which reduces the buffeting that you can get. It’s not too tricky a maneuver. The girls were at the helms whilst the boys had been sent ahead to help the lock keeper.
This picture shows us in the middle of the three locks.
You can see in this photo how the front of the lock was leaking quite a bit and it actually sprayed into the front of the boat and even though we had the doors shut we did get a little bit of water inside.
We were speaking to the lock keeper about the “yob” issue and he was saying that you want to be through the locks before the school kids came out for the day as they like to swim in the locks and get pissed when boaters come along to use them. Hmmm….. He mentioned that if you have about a dozen of them it isn’t too much of a problem but sometimes the boaters end up with up to 50 of them and then problems occur. The police are usually called in at this stage to disperse them. What we have found already with the L+L canal is that the water is very clear – it still wouldn’t entice us to go swimming in it though!! We were through all the locks by 2.30pm so encountered no problems. There were a few unpleasant looking individuals along the towpath though.
Fras and W doing a pose whilst having their usual boys natter.
We had thought that all our hassles with short locks was over as these locks on the L+L are 62 foot and as you know we are 60 foot. You would think that we had two foot to spare but we have the fender hanging off the back which is about a foot long plus when you go into the locks you need room to be able to close the doors behind you. We had to come up with a quick solution as nb Lucy was preventing the doors being closed. W+M’s boat did not have a problem as they are 57 foot long. We tied a rope around the fender and as it is on a hinge we just hauled it up whilst the lock door was closed. When we say “we hauled” we mean Di dragged it up – it is a bloody heavy piece of ironmongery. Once the doors are closed we just dropped it back into place until next time.
The gods were kind to us today and we had lots of sunshine whilst cruising. So much sunshine that we had to get the umbrella out to shade the pooches. They were flakers today due to all the walking we did around Leeds yesterday.
The gods are not shining on it when it comes to swing bridges though. Our guide book says “familiarity will breed not so much contempt as a deep and lasting loathing” when hinting at how many swing bridges we will be encountering on the L+L.
We could not find any available mooring in Rodley itself so went a little way up the canal and found this delightful little tea shop. A chap runs it out of this tiny shed but lives on his boat that is moored right next to it. He made a great cuppa with cake and inside the shed there was no dishwasher so everything was done by hand. It is great finding little gems like this.