Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A few days in Leeds

Fri 19th Aug  Leeds

Clarence Dock

We walked first to Hobbycraft for some wire and beads for Hazel’s hat making project.  We also bought a 16 GB SD card from PCWorld, as the one we have appears to be faulty.

We returned to the boat and went Mumtaz for lunch, which was very good. We had a chicken Thali. The Queen and Prince Phillip once had a meal here. The decor in the place is extraordinary with large chandeliers. Even the washbasins in the toilets were worth a photo.

Mumtaz chicken Thali

Mumtaz chandeliers

Mumtaz washbasins

We walked across the river to Leeds Minster, and we walked all the way round and couldn’t find a way in. There was no sign to say when it would be open.  On the other side of the road was the Pocket Park, where they seem to have laid grave stones down to line a railway embankment.

Pocket Park

We picked up a bus map at the bus station, walked through to the historic Leeds Market and then to the Corn Exchange for a drink. The architecture in Leeds is amazing. Everywhere you look there is another wonderful building. We returned to the Armouries on Bus 70

Leeds Markets

The original Marks and Spencer market stall

The Corn Exchange

No boating today.

Sat 20th Aug  Leeds

Intermittent heavy showers today. We walked to empty cassettes and rubbish, and found the rubbish bin full to overflowing.


We took a water taxi to Leeds station. These water taxis are free, and run every 20 minutes between the armouries and Lock 1 near the station.

Water taxi arrives at the Armouries

 Inside the water taxi

Increasing the flood defences

We had a drink at a cafe there and had a call from Oliver. We walked underneath the station and over the River Aire, which flows through culverts there. We found some eateries in a shopping centre and had a fast food Indian curry which was lovely.

A sculpture we passed

We then made our way to the Catholic Cathedral where we picked up a leaflet about Purgatory and indulgences which we thought was completely unbiblical and heretical, not recognising the complete forgiveness available to us through Jesus’ unconditional sacrifice on the cross. We had thought this teaching was a thing of the past.

Inside the Catholic Cathedral

We then went to the Leeds Museum, which had some interesting exhibits, particularly of the natural world. Then to the art gallery, which was closed until October!  So we went next door to the Henry Moore Institute, expecting to find some of his sculptures, but there was only a temporary exhibition of prosthetic limbs and art related to this subject.  Although this was not what we were expecting, it was interesting as James’ Uncle Dick had been based at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, as an artificial limb specialist.

With no art gallery to look at, we went to a cinema to watch a film – the B.F.G., which was very entertaining. We managed to find a pub after that, tucked away down an alley – the Packhorse Inn. They served Orchard Pig cider on tap.  Then back to the boat through ornate arcades and streets and via a noodle bar where we had some assorted starters.

Arcade roof

Ornate architecture

No boating today.

Sun 21st Aug Leeds

A little rain this morning caused a rainbow as we crossed the river.

Rainbow in Leeds

We walked to the bus station to catch a 19a bus to St George’s Church, an active Anglican church not far from the hospital.  We arrived early, so we had a coffee in a Japanese cafe opposite before going to the church.

Today the welcome was less than hoped for.  “Good morning!” as we came in, with a leaflet given to us, was the limit of the effort made.  James was hanging around in the foyer for a few minutes by himself and although there were at least four members of the welcome team there, no-one spoke to him. When we went to find a seat, no-one came to say hello.  There was a point in the service when we were asked to speak to our neighbours, and we chatted to the people in the row behind. After the service we went for coffee, after asking where it was being served. We spoke to a man when we asked to share a table with him.  When we left no-one said anything.  If we had been seeking after the truth and tried church for the first time, we would have been very much put off by the experience.

St Georges Church

Worship team

Apart from the non-welcome, the service was good.  Good worship leading, well chosen songs, a sound talk, based on Ecclesiastes chapter 9, one of the most discouraging chapters in the Bible. Somehow the preacher brought good news out of it. There was a good age range, and it was well attended, with lots of other activities happening. There was an opportunity for prayer and ministry at the end. Perhaps the problem is that a city church has many visitors, and many people who come occasionally, so it is hard to tell who has been before and who hasn’t. Some key people were also away at New Wine.

Afterwards we wandered towards the centre looking for somewhere suitable for lunch, and found a delightful Thai restaurant, called The Thai Edge, serving a Sunday buffet. The food was lovely, and the excellent chicken satay was the best we have found this side of Asia.

We continued wandering through the pedestrian streets and shopping areas, making our way towards the station.  We passed under the station, where the River Aire flows through, and saw that it was rushing at high speed.  We took a water taxi, and noticed that the levels were on yellow. They had had some heavy rain in Skipton.

River Aire in a culvert

We watched “The Revenge of the Pink Panther” in the evening. Classic Peter Sellers comedy.

No boating today

Next: Down the river Aire to Lemonroyd Marina where we have booked in for a week, and hired a car. We will be visiting Aylesbury for a few days to catch up with friends at the church there and complete the purchase of our apartment.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Rodley to Leeds

Thu 18th Aug  Rodley to Leeds

This morning, Hugo was still on board as we had kept him in. We didn’t want any further delays.

There were no boats to share with, so we set off on our own, past the Rodley Barge, and through two swing bridges. 

Rodley Barge

Ross Mill Swing Bridge

As we arrived at Newlay Locks, there were three men from CRT ready for us, so James didn’t need to get out of the boat.  They locked us down the set of three without wanting any help.

Newlay Three Locks

Leaving Newlay Three Locks

 Forge Three Locks

In just half mile we came to the second set of three – Forge Locks.  Here there was just one of the helpers, so James got out with a windlass. He was wearing his Boaters Christian Fellowship shirt, which led to a conversation about faith. It is the first time we have given out “How do Locks work?” to a lock keeper!

The same helicopter as we had seen yesterday was buzzing around overhead, continuing the pylon survey.


We went through Kirkstall Lock on our own.  Just as we were leaving a lady with her two grand children appeared, disappointed that they had missed the entertainment.  We offered them a boat trip, and they came on board for a 30 minute ride. They were delighted with this unexpected activity, and they went away with leaflets.

Kirkstall Lock

Max, Nyha, June

We let them off at Redcote Bridge, and continued past Armley Mill Bridge, where there is an industrial museum. The canal bridge was apparently built around 1770.

Armley Mill Bridge

We arrived at Oddy Two Locks, where there was another CRT man, pulling out lots of weed with a rake.

Oddy Two Locks

As we approached Leeds, despite more industry and buildings around, the water was very clear, and there were water lilies growing. The River Aire was never far away.

The approach to Leeds

After Office Lock, where the Canal Office used to be, there are visitor moorings at Granary Wharf, and we found Unique and Joie de Vivre there. They said it was very noisy, and they were moving down to Clarence Dock, where we were heading.

Unique and Joie de Vivre

We came to the final lock: Lock 1.  A man there said he had never seen a boat go through a lock before, so he was given the appropriate leaflet.  There was a water taxi waiting to use the landing stage, which they share with boaters using the lock.

Lock 1, Leeds

Water taxi 

As we left the lock, we were on the River Aire, which we had followed all the way from Gargrave.  Last winter they had severe floods in Leeds, and we now saw evidence of building work to increase the height of the flood defences.

New flood defences

Unblocking drainage channels

Crown Point Bridge

The entrance to Clarence Dock

Last time we were in Clarence Dock by the Armouries Museum there had been about twenty visitor mooring spaces, with a 7 day maximum stay.  Now it seemed there were only three, and they were all occupied. The pontoons opposite were for residential moorings. A man on one of the visitor moorings suggested we moor on the pontoons, and then speak to Craig, on the first cruiser there. We did as suggested, and Craig did not even ask the boat name or length. We said we wanted to be there for four nights, and he said that was fine.  The three official visitor moorings are now meant to be for 48 hours, but looking at Stronghold’s blog, we could see that one of the boats there now was also there on 8th August. We saw no movement on that boat all the four days we were there. Apparently CRT comes to check every two weeks on a Tuesday.

Our mooring in Clarence Dock

We went on a fact finding excursion. A call in to Mumtaz Indian restaurant to see their menus, A visit to the Armouries where we saw the exhibition about the Staffordshire Hoard, and obtained a Leeds map, and a stroll to the next lock to establish the whereabouts of the sanitary station.

Looking up inside the tower at the Armouries Museum

We had a meal on board to finish up some items.  We had no TV signal so we watched The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

13 locks, 7 miles, 2 swing bridges

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Hirst Lock to Rodley with some delays

Fri 12th Aug  Hirst Lock to Saltaire

In the morning we were stuck at an angle as the level of the pound had dropped.  We called CRT at 8am to tell them that we needed more water. Apparently it had to be sent down from Bingley so might take some time.

High and dry

On one side

 Drawers open

The scruffy looking short boat we had seen yesterday called Medlock arrived. We heard from someone else later that he had tried to enter one of the locks despite the low levels, and he had got stuck, which prevented the water coming down as quickly it should have done.

There were four boats waiting to come up when there was enough water. Two came up, and they travelled very cautiously down the middle of the channel.  We tried to get off the side, and we started the engine while attempting to push the boat out.  The engine ran for about a minute, and then died.

We couldn’t get it going so we called out RCR.

Meanwhile the other two boats came up, as well as a trip boat which turned round and went down again. Every time this happened the pound lost water and we were scraping on the bottom again.

Trip boat taking more water

RCR arrived and identified water in the fuel.  The water trap was full and when he purged the tank there was quite a bit in there.  We think a lot came in from the Bingley Five Rise, where the gates were leaking a lot, and soaking our back deck.  When the locks are 60ft long, and Gabriel is 59ft, there is not a lot of room.  Our fuel cap does not fit properly which does not help.

The man from RCR

They got us going, and we shared a lock with Little Patience. They were heading for Saltaire although we wanted to go a little further.

Titus, a trip boat, was coming towards us and decided to turn round in front of us, without warning or signal, causing us to go into reverse. He then went very slowly in front of us for half a mile, before turning again, forcing us to stop once more. Very inconsiderate helmsmanship.

Titus turning in front of us

Passing Little Patience

Following Titus very slowly into Saltaire

Titus turning again

Just past Salt’s Mill we spotted Stronghold moored up. We phoned Ray who was in the Boathouse Inn. He came to join us and we shared a very convivial bottle of wine.  Just then Kathryn phoned from Stoke Bruerne to say that David Blagrove had died that morning. He had been very involved in the museum at Stoke Bruerne, and he was an author, songwriter and well known canal enthusiast. We sometimes sing one of his songs “A hard working boater”

Ray on Stronghold

 Salt’s Mill

Sir Titus Salt, who built Saltaire, was absolutely against alcohol, and wouldn’t allow any pubs in his village.  Now his boathouse has been turned into a pub, and there are at least two wine bars in the village street. There is also a sports club that serves ales from the Saltaire Brewery.  We went for a meal at one of the wine bars, aptly named “Don’t Tell Titus”.

Desserts in “Don’t Tell Titus”

We had a phone call from Amanda, planning her visit to us with Nigel and Sophie. We now needed to plan where to go to church on Sunday, and where to be on Monday where they could leave a car and get back to it two days later by public transport.

1 lock, 1/2 mile, 1 swing bridge

Sat 13th Aug  Saltaire to Shipley

We decided to visit Salts Mill, as it was 2000 when we were last here.  It had changed a lot with far more to see.  In particular there was a new exhibition of David Hockney’s work entitled “The Arrival of Spring”.  There were 49 images based on the changing seasons on a small lane not far away.  The images were done on an i-Pad and printed out.

David Hockney images

We visited the church which was being prepared for a wedding.  The ceiling was amazing and the whole place was very ornate.

United Reformed Church at Saltaire

Back at the boat we were amazed to find dog poo stuck to the side of the boat!

Dog poo stuck to the boat!!!

We washed it off and made the short half mile journey to Shipley, where we moored on offside visitor moorings.

Moored in Shipley

We had been hoping to empty our cassettes at Apollo Canal Cruises, as well as take on fuel and gas, so we walked there to enquire, but they had gone, and apparently there was no cassette facility any more.

Apollo Canal Cruises gone

0 locks, 1/2 mile, 0 swing bridges

Sun 14th Aug  Shipley to Dobson 2 Locks

We walked through a footpath under the railway and up a hill to reach Christian Life Church. This week they were serving tea and coffee first, which they only do once a month.  The leaders were away, so we had a talk by the bass player. He was very good, although a little too long.  They were friendly people, and several came to talk to us.  The worship was good.

 Christian Life Church

Before the service

We had a pub lunch at the Noble Comb, which seemed to be the only place open at Sunday lunchtime.

Hazel went from there to Aldi for some shopping, while James went back to the boat intending to cruise down to Aldi where there was another visitor mooring. Little Patience went past as he arrived.

Moored near old warehouses

Shipley Visitor Moorings

He got the boat ready, engine hood down, tiller on, and tried the key.  The starter motor chugged unenthusiastically and petered out.  We must have flattened the battery by trying to start it when we had water in the fuel.  Our cruise down had not been long enough to charge it properly.

He phoned Hazel to let her know she would need to bring the shopping back to the boat.  He then phoned RCR 24 hour emergency number.  He heard their recorded message, and after five minutes it said “Sorry, we are unable to take your call. Please try later”  He tried again, with the same result.  He left it for twenty minutes, and tried a different number. Same message and same lack of result.  RCR were not answering their 24/7 phone.

By checking in our old Nicholson Guide, we saw that Rodley boats mentioned emergency callouts.  We rang them, and a man arrived an hour later.  It turned out to be Colin, the business owner.  After some fiddling around he managed to get the engine started with jump leads, and we paid him £80.  RCR would have cost £40 for the callout, as we are only retainer members.

We set off from Shipley, past the old Apollo Cruises place, where there was a collection of unusual craft, including another short boat with no visible name.

Nameless short boat

Dock Swing Bridge, mentioned in our guide as requiring a windlass, was thankfully all automatic now.  Oddies and Buck Hill Swing Bridges were both push and shove.  At Buck Hill there were lots of kids with bikes, and some of them stayed on the bridge for a ride as James opened it. Thankfully one of them helped with the pushing.

Kids on the swing bridge

Buck Hill Swing Bridge

A large stand of Himalayan Balsam

We had a note in our guide from 2009 about Field 3 Locks being closed from 4pm onwards. We were concerned about this as it was by now getting late and our cassettes were nearly all full and we needed to get through these and to the sanitary station at Dobson 2 Locks.  We were grateful to find it was not padlocked. There was one boat coming up, so we had to drain the middle and bottom locks before we could go down.

Field 3 Locks

There were two more push and shove swing bridges. Idle Swing Bridge was very tough to get started, but once it was moving it was easy.

Idle Swing Bridge

We moored on bollards above Dobson 2 Locks, where we were able to empty our two full cassettes and get rid of rubbish.

Moored above Dobson 2 Locks

Beak at the window

A passer-by told us that three years earlier they were trying to replace the lock gates here, and a large crane had overturned into the canal as the bank was not strong enough for the weight.  The only way they could remove it was by draining the canal and removing a section of the bank, taking the crane out into the adjacent field. Our mooring was on a new length of concrete where they had repaired the resulting breach. See photo here and one of the recovery here.

We had a good TV signal and watched Andy Murray win Olympic gold.

3 locks, 4 miles, 5 swing bridges

Mon 15th Aug  Dobson 2 Locks to Apperley Bridge

There was a lot of Curly Waterweed here, or Elodea Crispa, the same as at Blackburn Festival earlier. It seems to be a problem all along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Curly Waterweed

We moved down to use the water tap, and to empty our final two cassettes, before going down the staircase pair of locks. There were some nice looking cottages at the foot of the locks.

Dobson 2 Locks

Canal cottages

We cruised further on to Apperley Bridge Marina, and asked for an overnight mooring with electric hook up, which was fine.  We were moored just along from the fuel pontoon. We put the batteries on charge to ensure that they would start in the morning.

Moored at Apperley Bridge Marina

It was good to meet Simon and Pat, a couple on Blue Heron. They have Towpath Ministries written on the side of the boat and they like to share their Christian faith. They moored behind us for a few minutes whilst using the marina facilities. They usually moor at Swiftcraft.

Simon and Pat

Amanda arrived with Nigel and his daughter Sophie and we all had a meal on board before sorting out the dinette and arranging an airbed for Sophie on the floor.  Hugo was finding it difficult to know where to sleep.

Evening sky at Apperley Bridge

2 locks, 0 miles, 1 swing bridge

Tue 16th Aug  Apperley Bridge to Rodley

A sunny day, ideal for boating.

Breakfast with Nigel, Sophie, Amanda, James

When we all emerged this morning we were anticipating a sunny six hour cruise into Leeds.  However, we realised that Hugo was missing. James wanted to look in the neighbouring gardens, so he went round to the entrance to the apartments and rang a doorbell. A very helpful man responded and accompanied James round, searching for Hugo.  Meanwhile everyone else was also searching other areas, with no success.

We decided to have lunch and realised that our cruise may not be completed today.  At 2pm Hugo sauntered into the boat as he was presumably hungry. We quickly got organised to leave.

James tried to start the engine.  Flat battery!!!! 

We rang RCR, who answered this time, and very soon we had a call from Colin of Rodley Boats. His son came round with a new battery and took some time fitting it.  The engine started. We needed gas and diesel and we agreed to pay for it all when we reached Rodley Boats in about an hour.

Time for a new battery

We were off at almost 4pm. We had a pleasant cruise through the Aire Valley with woods and fields on steep slopes. Hugo came aft and looked as though he wanted to get off!

Where can I jump ship?

There were three swing bridges, the first of which was open. The other two were push and pull.  When we arrived at Rodley Boat Centre, there was nowhere to moor for fuel, so we did as directed and moored on the visitor moorings just beyond. Unique and Joie de Vivre were also moored there.

Moored at Rodley

The fuel arrived in 20 litre containers in a wheelbarrow, and Colin and his son dispensed it into the fuel tank. Joie de Vivre also needed fuel, and they knew Colin of old and a lot of chatting was going on.  It took two hours from the time we arrived to complete the whole transaction and pay for it. It was 7pm by then so more boating was out of the question.

We tried to restore some of the pleasures of life by going to a nearby Turkish restaurant, which was very good.

Rodley at dusk

When we all got the dinette organised again were about to settle down for the night, James made a big mistake, deeply regretted the following day, by insisting we left the cat flap open for Hugo.

0 locks, 3 miles, 2 swing bridges.

Wed 17th Aug  Rodley

Another good day, just right for boating.

This morning there was no cat.  Nigel had seen him in the small hours, and he had come in a little later for his biscuits, and then gone out again. We searched and called, and walked up and down banging his dish.

If he wanted to come back it would have been a challenge, because there were lots of people on bicycles on the towpath, plenty of dogs walking their owners, occasional cars going across the swing bridge which made a loud bang every time, a row of fisherman by the boat, and a helicopter overhead doing a survey of the pylons.

Hazel stayed by the boat while the rest of us went for a pleasant walk to the packhorse bridge over the River Aire.  James walked under a pylon along the bank to try for a decent picture of the bridge but there was too much Himalayan Balsam.

Amanda and Sophie on the packhorse bridge

Under the pylon

 The packhorse bridge with too much balsam.

We saw a pair of swans with their cygnets, one of which was white, and it had been that colour since the day it had hatched, according to some locals.

White cygnet is the last in the line

We set the cat flap on “one way in” while we all went for lunch at the Rodley Barge pub, where we sat out on the terrace overlooking the canal.

At the Rodley Barge: Amanda Nigel Sophie Hazel

The time came when we realised it was too late to get to Leeds even if Hugo turned up. After a few phone calls, Amanda Nigel and Sophie took a taxi back to Apperley Bridge to collect their car, and go to a hotel for a further day at Alton Towers.

We remained on or near the boat, and at 8.20pm, when everything had quietened down, Hugo appeared!  He had a few burs and grass seeds in his fur, and we concluded that he must have been either in the field across the swing bridge, or in the scruffier areas of the boatyard. Because he hadn’t had his usual sleeping places available to him he had decided to find somewhere else for the day.

We kept him in.

No boating today

Next: The final part of the Leeds and Liverpool, into Leeds for a few days.