Tuesday, 25 July 2017


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

The day started grey but a little warmer and the wind had reduced to a breeze. Despite not yet being 100% fit we set off as usual just after 9:30 - the first stretch was still completely straight.

We soon passed the Went Footbridge at the end of an aqueduct over the River Went. This is much smaller than the Don at the other end of the New Junction Cut and seems not to merit the heavy flood doors.

A short distance later and we arrived at Southfield Junction where we turned left onto the Aire and Calder.

Our route today would be dominated by distance views of three power stations. The first was Drax, the largest power station in this country. Originally built just to burn coal it has latterly been partly converted to use biomass fuel which is imported from North America! This was the only one of the three apparently operating today.

This area was once a major coal mining area with the result that subsidence continues to be an important issue. This has often meant that canals have had to be built up along its banks to compensate. Here the end of a recent set of higher piling can be seen alongside the earlier level.

Before long we arrived at Pollington, the first lock today. From below it looks much the same as earlier large locks - with Christine grateful that she only had top push buttons to work the look. Look at the size of the sluice mechanism.

However, from above it can be seen that this is actually two locks with a short stretch in between. We believe this was to accommodate the long Tom Pudding trains of boats that once ferried coal around this area. Generally, only the lower two gates are used - plenty for us anyway.

Across a field we could see this splendid huge farmhouse with a rather grand front door, up several steps from the driveway. We did, however, wonder whether it is ever used today!

Along this canal there are quite a number of nesting boxes but we only saw pigeons taking any interest in this bijou accommodation.

Two large boats were moored up and tied together, A crew of four were working on them. They caught up with us later when we were moored for lunch with the smaller boat towing the larger.

This sign intrigued - we surmised that the speed limit applied to the track which had been used by construction vehicles from a nearby compound whilst carrying out improvement works to the canal banks. Not much work appeared to be in  progress at the moment.

The animal rescue ramps turned out to be nothing more than  a heap of rubble tipped into the water!

At Whitley Lock we stooped to empty the elsan - this involved going up the entrance to the old lock and reversing back out again. This old lock is now doing duty as an overflow channel.

This unused industrial building has found a new life as a mobile phone mast for several networks. Should get a good signal hereabouts!

We moored for lunch at Whiteley Bridge. But first Mike walked up into the village of Eggborough for a newspaper and one or two other items - not that any were especially urgent but a very friendly young lass was most helpful - including pointing out that some of the boxes of strawberries were half price as they were short dated! She also found him some waffles for a slightly different pudding tonight. However, she was quite impressed that Mike had walked all the way from the canal -  she doesn't like walking!

The flour mill, probably one of the important employers for the village, has now closed and looks very forlorn as the site awaits its uncertain future.

The village hall - with a huge car park - has a good range of activities including on Thursdays the Eggtots!

The Eggborough Power Station dominates the village - it is directly in line with the straight road through the middle. However, it was supposed to close last year but has been given a short new lease of life as it is part of the standby arrangements which can be turned on if needed. It was built in 1966 and, at 2000MW was then one of the largest in the country. With these two large employers ni longer demanding workers (not to mention the former Kellingly Colliery) one wonders how the village will far. At the moment it seems quite lively.

Kellingly Colliery, opened in 1965, ceased operations almost two years ago. Its former ambitions now rather sad - many miners relocated to the new pit from Scotland when their previous place of work closed. Perhaps ironic that a large part of the site is now covered by a huge solar panel array.

By now bright blue skies had arrived and it was pleasantly warm - almost hot, even. We turned onto the River Aire and descended Bank Dole lock. Not easy to see in this photo but look carefully and two sets of upper gates can be seen. The outer pair face the 'wrong' way and are used only when there is a flood.

A huge spout of water leaking from the lock wall managed to position itself right opposite our side hatch window which was, alas, open to the fresh sunny air. Christine had quite a clean up operation later and we were fortunate (keep fingers still crossed) that the spray that even reached the laptop, has not caused any lasting damage.

The river meanders around some very tight bends - a sign warns boaters not to cut corners even if avoiding water skiers. (We know as we came stuck here five years ago doing just that!)

By now it was a most pleasant cruise eventually coming to an end at Haddlesey where a flood lock takes the navigable route off the river and onto the Selby Canal. As planned we found space on the visitor mooring just below the lock (ie on the canal)

Christine went for a short walk and returned with some photos of a wheat field - the last one looks quite arty!

We have not mentioned the third power station on view today, Ferrybridge but we will pass closer to that next week, all being well.

17.2 Miles - 5 Locks


  1. We passed Ferrybridge by boat on Friday evening. She was on the trailer though not in the water!

    Part of the A1 was shut so we had to take a diversion.

  2. Our paths will cross properly one day!