Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Bingley Five Rise and on to Saltaire

A relatively early start for us (8.00am) and a slow cruise took us to the Bingley Five Rise staircase locks.  But first Jan needed to work Waiouru through three swing bridges.  The second proved to be on a relatively busy road and Jan; being the patient person she is; waited several minutes for the road to be clear in both directions before activating the boom gates.  Around the corner came a young male driver who had to stop.  He slumped over the steering wheel and then turned off the car engine.  That’s when Jan realised it was going to be a slow bridge.

The last bridge required the boom gates to be manually moved before activating the bridge electrically.  As Jan pointed out; no two bridge mechanisms were the same!

The most interesting thing about the last bridge was the adjacent cottage.  In the above photo you can see a lower floor doorway opens onto the canal.  The door was actually open as we passed.  There was no barrier preventing someone from accidentally stepping into the canal!

There are CRT facilities and a cafe above the Bingley Five Rise Staircase locks.  We stopped at the water point to top up the tank and dispose of the rubbish.

A boat was coming up the flight which meant we had to wait for about 45 minutes before entering the top lock. It looked as if we would be the only boat going down when a boat appeared from behind us…… Good timing!

It’s a drop of just over 18 metres from the top to the bottom.  About the length of Waiouru.

The flight is one of the notable canal structures opening in 1774.  Each lock is directly joined to adjacent locks by the highest lock gates on the English canal network. It’s also the steepest flight of locks in England.  Jan got to see all the interesting stuff as I was down in each lock chamber on the back of the boat.  Hence no photos of us going down.

We were worked down the flight by a cheerful permanent CRT employee and a volunteer lock keeper.

It’s only a short cruise to the Bingley Three Rise Staircase Flight where another permanent CRT employee assisted us down.  Jan got chatting to him and discovered he was from Keighley and had been working on the canals for nine years.

One thing we have noticed during our time on the Leeds – Liverpool Canal is the number of lock paddles that are out of service awaiting repair.  It’s not a heavily used canal so one would hope this situation is going to be reversed.

Jan’s grandmother came from the Leeds, Keighley area and she now wishes she had paid more attention to her grandmother’s memories of the area when she was a young girl.

We worked our way through the Dowley Gap staircase locks (2) with our lock companions from the Bingley Five rise.  They then decided to moor whilst we pushed on to the final lock for the day.  Hirst Lock proved to be a bastard.  Immediately in front of the lock is a locked swing bridge.  I waited with Waiouru whilst Jan fought her way through the gongoozlers (rubber-neckers) to fill the lock.  Then the gates wouldn’t open (too heavy and too stiff).  None of the gongoozlers offered any assistance and eventually I left Waiouru unattended (we don’t like doing that) to help open the top gates.  Jan then attempted to unlock the swing bridge.  After several minutes I went forward to help her.  Retrieving the key from the bridge lock then proved to be a further challenge.  Jan was able empty the lock but really struggled opening the gates…….. with all the gongoozlers watching. Sad smile

The decision to keep going rather than mooring for lunch proved to be very sound as we were able to grab the last vacant mooring at Saltaire (more on that tomorrow).  Since mooring we have seen a number of boats cruising past in both directions looking for a mooring.  Mooring before 2.30pm is proving to be a good routine.


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

Was it the legendary Barry Whitelock who helped you down Bingley 5-rise, or just an ordinary lock keeper?

Try googling if you haven't heard of this legend or see for a photo

Tom and Jan said...

Jan isn't sure. He was covered in paint!

Tom and Jan said...

Jan isn't sure. He was covered in paint!

Marilyn McDonald said...

We would love to do the L&L but our boat is too long. So maybe one day we will hire a shorter craft and give it a go. It is lovely reading your blog and experiencing it vicariously though, T&J.
However I think you may have been in England too long, Jan, and could be losing some of your Kiwi-ness. Do you remember the slogan from the 80s 'girls can do anything'? I always added to that 'they can even ask for help if they need it.') A few years ago now, my cousin and I (both short-ar*es) boated on the Oxford from Lower Heyford. Some of the locks were very hard for either of us short-ar*es to open while the other was on the boat hovering. My cousin, the quintessential English woman, soon learned the good kiwi habits, firstly to speak to everyone and secondly to ask for help from passersby when required. Some poor people who were just out for their daily walk up and down the towpath or even crossing a bridge a hundred yards or so away got commandeered/corralled into providing assistance ...
Actually, maybe it's just my managerial stuff coming out 'Excuse me, we are having trouble with this. Can you give us a hand please? You look like a strong person, I am sure you can do it...' Whatever characteristic it is, it seems to work. I have always found people love to help and they love to be talked with.
Cheers, Marilyn