Sunday, 30 July 2017


Today's Navigations - Selby Canal, River Aire, Aire and Calder Canal

We had a gentle start to the day and we planned to go to Selby Abbey for their morning service at 10am. Leaving Alice, who opted for a long read on the boat, we walked into town. At the Abbey we received a warm welcome. Normally they have a strong, highly trained, formal choir but it was a holiday week off for them so we had to manage without their help! There were around 100 people and it was well conducted with a carefully prepared sermon from the vicar. The Abbey itself is a very impressive building and it is interesting to see how they manage to make it feel appropriate for the much smaller numbers than the whole place can accommodate.

We did not spend much time after the service - we could have stayed for coffee and biscuits - as we wanted to return to the boat at the time we promised Alice we would. As we walked back we noticed that the flood under the railway bridge had cleared, despite some heavy overnight rain.

Although this impressive terrace is shown on the older OS maps, there is no label to indicate its origins. The main part in the middle now houses an Exotic Kashmiri Cuisine Restaurant, but what else has it seen? A Selby Council web page indicates that it was once a Salvation Army Hall - we heard this morning at the Abbey that they are still strong in the town. Mike and Alice saw their new place when they walked to the shop on the evening after Alice arrived.

We quickly changed and moved the boat to the service point as, with the extra showers, the water tank was already down to half full (or half empty depending on your point of view!)

Christine and Alice walked to the swing bridge to prepare it for Mike who first had to turn the boat around. In the dense weed this was rather slow! They started to operate the bridge open procedure which begins with flashing warning lights followed by red ones before the barriers start to come down. Despite all this a car jumped the lights and sped across, fortunately in safety. However, a white van followed and was tempted but alas as he was under the first barrier he spotted the other one closed and hesitated with the result that the barrier came down onto the van roof!

Luckily the barrier did not seem to be damaged - we had visions of being trapped in the basin for another day whilst it was mended! On a Sunday this would have taken at least until the next day probably with a lot of irate drivers - this bridge does seem to be a bit of a 'rat run' off the estate on the other side.

To clear the bridge, Christine had to start the open barriers sequence and go right through to the end, even having to remove the key before it would restart. Eventually we were on our way.

It was a pleasant morning as we cruised down the five miles or so of the Selby Canal. We think that this building is the site of what was originally a licorice factory but we have not yet found out very much about that operation. Later, the location became a chemical works which can be seen behind this building.

The efforts of the weed collecting boat seem to have been worth it as, apart from the basin itself, there was much less coverage of the water thereafter.

May be it was just the sunshine, but it did feel as if the lilies in the margins had come out since we arrived, both the white cultivated? type as well as the common yellow ones. Oh, and what is that blue type - just as well the photo is blurred!

Some of the banks still had splashes of colour.

A short light shower intruded so when we arrived at Haddlesey we paused on the visitor mooring just before the flood lock to finish lunch.

It was back to fine weather as we then emerged onto the River Aire - the strong stream marker was well into the green and the flow was much as we would normally have expected. Each river reacts to rain differently.

We could see two very heavy showers in the distance either side of us but, our luck was in, and they both passed us by and we remained in the brighter weather in between.

The river section was very pleasant - the water ski club were in operation. When we passed them they seemed more intent on seeing who could push thew other off the pontoon! A little later Mike jumped at least three feet into the air as their speedboat (which he had not spotted coming up behind) did a 180 degree turn on the spot, right on our tail!

We passed through Beal Lock - again only a very small change of level - and then on to Bank Dole. here a boat was already in the lock ahead of us but had not started to fill as we came onto the lock landing pontoon. However, they did not spot us and continued ascending - very slowly! Still, we did not have an urgent timetable to meet. Our only concern was to find a reasonable mooring for the night - not always so obvious along this navigation as much of it is river. A boater who was moored on the visitor mooring at the junction warned us that they were full - but at least he offered to close the lock for us.

We continued for a short distance, passing the huge flour mill,  until the Ferrybridge flood lock was in sight - together with the huge cooling towers. There are supposed to be visitor moorings here but our memory was that they were not brilliant.

So, just a short way before we found a pleasant stretch by the towpath and pulled in for the night. (The sun was in thew wrong direction for a better picture. Perhaps we can try again in the morning) The large commercial boats have long since ceased to come this way so we felt a little easier on the mooring. Time then to put the roast lamb dinner on to cook!

13.8 Miles - 3 Locks

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