Monday, 25 March 2019

What Else !? 23rd March

Ferrybridge to Haddlesley Lock, Selby Canal

Being in Ferrybridge meant getting a Saturday newspaper was much easier than it would have been at Beal Lock on the River Aire. There was only one copy on the rack in the shop so Mick snatched it quickly. He returned to the boat valiant and with more news. He'd seen Tom (C&RT chap from yesterday), who'd been on his way to give us the news that Bank Dole Lock would now fill. He and his mate had cleared more silt from the bottom gates yesterday and even though water was still bubbling up from under the off side gate the lock would now fill. They even went and lifted a paddle for us so that it would be full for when we arrived.

Whilst we had breakfast NB Milly Molly Mandy pulled away from the moorings, heading in the same direction as us. Which way would they be going? Down Bank Dole Lock that was sat waiting for us, on to Whitley Lock? Oh well we'd find out when we got going.

Saturdays and Sundays you tend not to get many emails from C&RT about stoppages on the network. But this morning, before 9am there was one that dropped  into the inbox, it almost had our names on it.

Notice Alert

Selby Canal
Starts At: Selby Lock (Lock 1)
Ends At: Selby Lock (Lock 1)
Saturday 23 March 2019 08:30 until further notice
Type: Navigation Closure
Reason: Maintenance

Original message:

Selby Lock is presently unavailable for passage due to a mechanical fault. Canal & River Trust Staff are on site assessing the fault. This notice will be updated as soon as further information becomes available. In the meantime please note Selby Lock is unavailable for passage.

We very quickly decided that we'd carry on with our plans and head to Selby anyway. If passage through the lock isn't possible this next week then we'll think again, but at least we'd be able to ask the Lockie about progress and save them sending us emails.

It's open, or is it?

One flood gate closed

Pushing off we made our way back to the junction, turned left and soon could see that the lock was full, waiting for us with gates open. One of the flood gates just above the lock was closed, possibly just swung open when the levels had equalised, except the hefty pole that is used to keep them closed in flood situations was down. It didn't matter, we could get past and then all gates were closed and opened as needed and the one working paddle closed ready for us to go down.

The hydraulic gears on the paddles take some winding, 34 turns in all. Then the big heavy gates, these take a lot of shifting with all your weight, at least I knew this before I started. At last Oleanna was down on the River Aire.

Bye bye Bank Dole

Mick picked me up and we were on our way. Twisting and turning, this way and that, Ferrybridge, Drax, Eggborough Power stations all coming in and out of view with every turn. I tried to get a panoramic photo with all of them, but the windows of opportunity between trees were too short to get all 28 cooling towers in one photo. Maybe if I'd stood on the roof to see over the flood banks I'd have managed.

In the green

Around 0.9m

The river in the green I made note of the height gauge. Today around 0.9m. I reckon that the top of the amber would be around 1.75m. Checking later on Gaugemap the levels at Knottingly Lock appeared to be the same as at Bank Dole. So if we have rain before we return we can have an educated guess as to if the river is navigable before we get to it.

Lots of rubbish

The recent floods had only just stopped before the full height of the flood banks. Lines of reeds and plastic detritus showed the height very well. The amount of rubbish caught in the branches of trees along the banks was revolting, bottles, bags, polystyrene and two beer barrels ( had the John Godber Theatre Company misplaced their barrels from Bouncers? ).

Glad we didn't get swept along too

Approaching Beal Lock the road bridge also showed evidence of the floods. Masses of reeds frozen in time had caught on the supports, a snap shot of the speed the water must have been flowing.

The pontoon by the lock was empty, we'd have stopped here last night, but today we carried on to find a more cat friendly mooring.

Old Power

The first gate I opened got stuck half way, it wouldn't budge in either direction! The off side gate however obliged so we could get Oleanna into the lock. Another try at shifting the gate did nothing, most probably stuck on silt. Before we bothered Tom again, I lifted a paddle on the bottom gate, then gave the obstinate gate a big shove, thankfully it moved.

Turning in

About to go down

More twists and turns brought us to Haddlesley Flood Lock. We think we've been straight through here once, the other times the lock has been in operation. Today it certainly was with a height difference of about eighteen inches. The walls are so high, all flood protection.

Eggborough from the flood lock

A quick look around, a bit of friendly cover and just a big bank! The bank, as with most high things, needed climbing. A big field with nothing much growing in it, it really should try harder. The bank would have to do, so I set about pouncing on anything that moved. This was quite friendfull.

What a rubbish field!

Later in the afternoon we got an update on the Lock at Selby.

Notice Alert for Mick and Pip

Selby Canal
Starts At: Selby Lock (Lock 1)
Ends At: Selby Lock (Lock 1)
Saturday 23 March 2019 08:30 until further notice
Type: Navigation Closure
Reason: Maintenance

Update on 23/03/2019:

Canal & River Trust engineers have reported specialist parts will be required to complete the repair. In the meantime Selby Lock remains unavailable for navigation.

This notice will be updated before midday Monday.

Our booking isn't as yet affected, but depending on specialist parts it might be. We'll wait and see.

Back on a little canal

3 locks, 7.73 miles, 5 miles of twists and turns, 3 power stations, 1 excited boater, 1 humoring boater, 1 newspaper, 2 beer barrels, 8 footballs, 36275437489 plastic bottles, 3455228 dog poo bags, 456748735343567 other plastic bags, 1 million plus marchers, 1 tasty friend, 1 grassy head, 8 sausage rolls, 1 sock pattern, 1 lock broken, 2 boaters waiting.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Is Someone Trying To Tel Us Something? 22nd March

Ferrybridge Lock to Ferrybridge Lock

A quick spruce up inside this morning and a batch of sausage rolls ready to go in the oven and we were ready for visitors.

Matt Sian and Lottie

Matt and Sian are old friends from my Hull Truck days. Sian is the wardrobe supervisor there and Matt is an actor who was in quite a few shows I designed. We haven't seen them for a couple of years and we haven't met Lottie before, she's just turned two and was a large bump when we last saw Sian.

We had timed our get together well as Matt is currently on tour in War Horse, but this week is a holiday week. The only shame was that Joshua their five year old son was at school today, but apparently he's quite a chatter box and we'd not have got a word in edge ways!

Tilly just off to the left judging by Lottie

Lottie was quite taken with Tilly and her white whiskers. Tilly allowed me to bring her through so that they could meet and later on with Lottie being very quiet, Tilly came to sit in a patch of sun on the sofa. She even rolled over to show off her white bits, Lottie was okay. 

There was plenty to catch up on, so much tea was drunk and my gluten free sausage rolls went down very well, a treat Sian doesn't normally get chance too have. After a couple of hours they headed home, it was lovely to see them. Hopefully we'll catch up with Matt in Oxford later in the year.

Left please

With it still being quite early we decided to make a move. After emptying the yellow water tank we pushed off and winded. At Bank Dole Junction we turned left onto the North Yorkshire Navigation. A short distance on is Bank Dole Lock, I hopped off to set the lock and check the river board whilst Mick and Oleanna tried to tread water in the wind. The lock landing has quite an overhang which might just catch our boiler flue on the cabin side, so great care was needed.

Bank Dole Lock, still with silt under the beams
I lifted one paddle then walked to the bottom gates to check on the level, green! Marvelous. The first paddle didn't seem to be doing much but the other one did. The bottom gates were leaking, but nothing out of the ordinary, it would just take a while to fill. Well that was our first thought!

Mick hovered. It's a slow lock anyway, but this was taking forever. I checked the bottom gate paddles, they were down. The water level rose and then slowed right down.

After twenty minutes Mick had managed to tie up and came to look himself. All paddles were checked. A look below the bottom gates suggested that water was bubbling up from under it, maybe something was on the cill stopping the gates from closing properly. Maybe if we drained the lock and closed the gates again the seal might improve.

You can see how high the flood waters came by the line on the gates

A few minutes later the lock was empty, we opened the bottom gates, Mick closed his whilst I held mine open as long as I could as he lifted the only working paddle on the top gates. Sometimes gates seal better if closed in a different order, but as the lock refilled it was obvious this hadn't made any difference at all. Would the lock ever fill?!



16:05 and still a foot to go

A call to C&RT was needed. The Leeds office said they would contact the local team and call us back. After ten minutes we were informed that Tom was on his way, he'd be about 20 minutes. So we sat and waited, all the time the lock slowly filling. When it got to about a foot short of being full the amount of water entering the lock was the same as that exiting. No way was it ever going to fill.

Closing the top paddle

Tom in shorts 'It was warm in Goole!'

Tom and his mate arrived. Last week when the levels had dropped on the river they had to dig out a large amount of silt for the lock to be operational. The gates had worked fine then. 'It's a slow filler' we were told. But when we said we'd been trying to fill it for at least half an hour they conceded that that was too long. The only thing to do was to empty it and have another dig around on the cill to try to get the seal better. 

This could take a while to do, did we want to wait to see if they could get it to fill? Bank Dole is not a place you want to be overnight. The lock cottage with it's burnt roof attracts characters you'd rather not meet. So we decided to return to where we'd come from, Tom would call by in the morning to let us know how things were at the lock.

Bye Bank Dole

By now the wind had picked up. We might have been able to wind by the lock, but there was danger of us getting pinned across the flood gates above the lock. So Mick decided to reverse back to the junction, thanking me for letting him have bow thrusters. At the junction Oleanna swung round in the right direction and we headed back to Ferrybridge Lock.

Bow thrusters made this very much easier

Maybe someone is trying to tell us we shouldn't go to York! Tomorrow we'll try again if Tom can get the lock to fill. Third time lucky.

Back again

0 locks, 1.95 miles, 3 visitors, 1 new friend, 10 sausage rolls, 2 hours of catching up, 1 empty wee tank, 2 winds, 0.07 miles reversed, 1 lock so not going to fill, 2 C&RT cavalry, 1 big spade needed.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Extra NORF. 21st March

Whitley Visitor Moorings to Ferrybridge Visitor Moorings

Tilly was allowed out whilst we had our breakfast, no early start needed today as we'd not be going too far. When we'd finished our cuppas there was no sign of her so the mad cat woman came out again. I did think that we could be here for hours waiting for her to return, but luckily after a couple of minutes calling she came bounding from the direction of the bridge tail held high.

Coming up Whitley Lock

A boat came past us from the lock as we were preparing to push off, so once the ropes were untied I walked up to the lock. It had only been about five minutes since the gates had closed but the lock had started refilling itself, already past half full. I spotted a wide beam coming from above and signalled to the lady that they should take the lock, then turned and signalled back to Mick that one was coming down. This of course took ages as the lock still had to finish filling, I closed the gates for them whilst the lady dropped their rubbish off, handed back their key and then worked them down.

No lights

These locks are key of power operated like the ones up towards Sheffield. The difference being that there are no lights on these panels so you have to guess when the water is level to be able to open the gates. A few presses of the open gate button later and they responded.

Once up the lock Mick did a 180 degree turn to get us on the water point and so that we could dispose of all our rubbish. Reversed back, winded and we were on our way.

Eggborough, Drax just out of view behind the houses

At points today you could see all three power stations at the same time, Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge, admittedly you have to move your head, but they all line up. So many cooling towers in one view.

As we cruised Mick made a phone call to the Lock Keeper at Selby to check on tides next week. It was the same chap we'd booked with before for our aborted attempt. Booking made with plenty of time to get there.


Solar solar solar

Over the last five years we have watched Kellingley Colliery being demolished, today there is very little left, mostly black rubble. A large solar farm surrounded by slag heaps takes up some of the site, but the rest is now flat.

Bank Dole Junction

At Bank Dole Junction we carried straight on towards Ferrybridge the cooling towers getting closer all the time. We wanted to find somewhere to meet some friends tomorrow, in the end we opted for the visitor moorings right by Ferrybridge Lock.

Getting closer

Even closer!

The last stretch of canal to the lock is totally dominated by the Power Station, one heck of a lot of extra NORF here!

Tom Puddings full of coal 
We pulled in behind two boats that looked familiar, a widebeam moored up on the opposite side. Too close to a factory with wagons for Tilly to go out, so she sulked for the remainder of the day.

More of those white things

Some supplies were needed so we walked back through Ferrybridge to find Morrisons. The road route just enforced our opinion of the area, not one to spend much time. The route back along the canal was far better all green. A couple of boats came through the flood lock during the afternoon. There is still a couple of feet difference between the river and canal, normally there is hardly any. Levels are slowly going down, we'll be keeping our eyes open for rain in the Dales as this will swell the Ouse again.

They line up perfectly with the closed gates

Thank you to Paul of Waterway Routes for suggesting what the white metal things were at Pollington. He suggested that they might be stops for the end of the balance beams to rest against when they were manually operated. Here at Ferrybridge there are the same white things. They line up perfectly with the gates when closed.

#lots of socks

1 lock, 5.56 miles, 180 degrees for water, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 last space, 1 bag flour, 6 sausages, 6 roll fold and turns, 28 cooling towers, 8 Extra NORF, 1 sausage roll on account for Paul, 4 odd socks for World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Amber! 20th March

Pollington to Whitley Visitor Moorings

With a lovely day bringing in spring we had to cruise somewhere. Tilly was allowed out whilst we had breakfast, but came home on time so that we could make ready.

Lovely day for a cruise

Just as we dropped the clean pram hood a C&RT boat cruised past towards the lock. We were uncertain as to whether both boats would fit in the lock at once, I walked ahead and left Mick to bring Oleanna. The chap with the key of power waved us in as their big boat nudged up, plenty of room!

New crane

Sharing Pollington Lock

A shiny brand new crane had been fitted onto the boat, they had been to Goole to get it fitted and were now heading back to Heck where there is a big C&RT yard.

Ferrybridge ahead

Once up they pulled over and let us past. No coats required today, sun, sun, sun. Ahead of us Ferrybridge cooling towers, just to the right Eggborough and now just behind us Drax, the only one left generating. 

Pollington Hall

As we passed South Yorkshire Boat Club a 1970's cruiser was pulling out and fell in line behind us.  One of those with a sliding roof, perfect for a day like today.

Approaching Whitley Lock we pulled in at the end of the visitor moorings, hoping that the noise from the M62 wouldn't be too much. A low rumble in the background, it was acceptable.

The doors opened and our little thug went off to explore, the steep sided drain covered in duck weed did give me slight cause for concern. But if she got in there she'd have a better chance of getting out by herself than with one of us trying to help!

Fields of fun across the drain

After lunch Mick walked up to the bins with a bit of rubbish, still plenty more which we'll off load when we go through the lock tomorrow. Tilly had been gone just a little bit too long, so I had to do my mad cat woman calls. It took a while for me to get a response from her, but when I did I could see her on the other side of the drain! Well there were trees over there and tallish grasses which looked much better. No idea if she'd jumped across or if she'd found the footpath with it's bridge. Making sure she knew about the bridge to get back I was a lot happier about the drain.

Late morning C&RT notices had started to come through. At 11:30 Thornes and Wakefield Flood locks had been opened and within another half hour the hole of the navigation was open again the levels now in Amber. Checking the webcam in York the pavement was visible again and a chap was busy spraying the silt back into the river to tidy things up for the tourists. By the evening  people were sat out on chairs watching the river go by.

Thinking of Christmas 

Our summer chairs were dug out from under the bed as it was such a lovely afternoon. Mick pottered with the MPPT controller, he lengthened the time that the system is in absorption mode. I sat out and read through the script for this years Chipping Norton panto, Puss In Boots. The sun must have shone so brightly out of my bum last year that I've been asked back. This year I'll be absorbing myself in anything 1960's East End. A very amusing read, the fisherman across the way kept giving me looks. 

Tilly also busied herself by bringing friends home. One was a playmate. Tilly was removed inside so that it could make it's escape, but it seemed reluctant to. I offered to lend it a hand, but I must have been very scary as it decided to leap into the canal. Luckily there was a ledge, with the aid of Mick being more scary than me and a plant pot I managed to catch it and set it free in the friendly cover to dry off. 

Later on I brought home an aperitif, nice and crunchy, good for the insides. She wasn't too keen on it, so I made sure I finished it all up.

This evening we've been deciding which way to go. In past years when we've planned on heading south to the Kennet and Avon Canal, we've always ended up going north. We seem to be doing this again! Selby, York, Ripon? Over the top on the Rochdale? Decisions decisions decisions!

1 lock, 3.61 miles, 3 power stations, 1 east coast main line, 1 new crane, 1st day of Spring, 2 chairs, 1 script, 2 cats (puss and Tilly), 1 birdy, 1 aperitif, 1 playmate, 1 bridge, 1 game of stones, 1 pooh bucket on the roof, 1 river on amber, 1 fish crumble, 2 balls yarn wound, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.