Thursday, 3 August 2017

Colne Bridge

Today's Canals - Calder and Hebble, Huddersfield Broad

Very mixed weather today - at times very pleasant but intermittent showers crept up almost unnoticed at times. They could be a bit heavy as well. When we set off, however, is was dampness in the air.very forlorn.

Before we left, Mike walked up to the next road bridge. Alongside is an imposing pub building - now closed and looking rather forlorn. Not really living up to its name - Providence Inn.

In some ways five miles and six locks does not sound very much but at the end we did feel well exercised. Why? All of these locks are short - not really meant for 60 foot boats. They were designed for barges that were wide and stubby - no more than 58 ft in length. However, narrowboats up to 60 foot can just be accommodated by taking advantage of extra length on a diagonal line in the lock. Operating the locks also takes a special technique, different up and down. Today we only ascended.

Shortly after setting off we passed through an open flood lock, just above a weir.

The first lock, Greenwood Lock, was very slow as not all of the paddles were working and there was a large leak through the bottom part of the lower gates. (Over time, boats wear away the vertical edge of the gate just above the waterline where their gunnels catch)

On these locks, the windlass fits further onto the spindle than in most cases - Mike is having to take care as he has caught his arm several times on the sharp end and has the scars to prove it! This lock, however, has been extended at some time so there was plenty of length for us.

Not so at Shepley Lock which was sufficiently short that the fenders have now had to be lifted. A a result we do need to be careful when coming into a lock as there is no buffer at the end! We just managed to squeeze our stern past the lower gates.

It looks as if, in this case, the lock as been shortened - just where the gates might once have been are the old water gauge marks - in the days before red, yellow and green bands.

There is a boat club and boat trust just above the lock and they run several trip boats. We had seen one going down but there were at least three now ahead of us. One set off just as we were coming up out of the lock!

In any case, we then spotted a service block and decided to pull in as the water level was well down, thanks to hair washing last night.

Just after Gill Bridge we met a couple of pairs of adventure canoes for people with learning disabilities. They both enjoyed lifting their paddles in what looked to us as if it was a Royal Salute!

We continued on to Legard Bridge in Mirfield so that we could pop to the nearby shops.

There are several useful supermarkets within a few minutes walking distance - the not-very-old-looking Lidl store alongside the canal bank is about to be replaced by a much larger unit on the other side of the bridge. The old site has been sold for housing development. Apartment blocks are currently under construction on the space adjacent to the current store.

The designers clearly think that they are imp[roving the landscape.

There are several sculptures-on-a-pole: as there was no explanation we could find, that name will have to do for want of something better! This looks as if it is a reminder of the former woollen mill industry around here, ling since disappeared along with the many collieries.

Whilst stopped we also had our lunch. A little earlier than usual but it saved us looking for another mooring place further on - they are not too frequent. Most of the Calder and Hebble is a series of short cuts with river sections in between. The river does not offer anywhere to stop.

On again and we came to Battyeford Lock where we began to meet the trip boats making their way back to base.

Battye Cut End flood gates mark the abrupt end of one cut - we came out directly onto the river once again, just above a weir.

At Cooper Bridge Lock we found the lock full to our surprise - perhaps the trip boats had all turned around just before it where the river is quite wide. We also met another boat ready to come down by the time we had emptied and started to fill the lock again.

At the end of this cut there is a very sharp turn to access the Huddersfield Broad Canal - straight ahead is the rest of the Calder and Hebble. Furthermore, after completing the turn a weir is right in front with the initially hidden sharp turn to the lock landing for the canal.

No more handspikes needed but the locks are still short length.

Saw this unusual remains of former bridge abutments. wonder what it was and why its owners went to such lengths to have this inscription. (The old OS maps appear to show a footpath crossing the canal at this point but it terminates just the other side)

After coming up two locks we opted to moor up even though only mid afternoon. There was not time to get as far as Huddersfield itself today and we only need to be there by the end of tomorrow. After checking our photos from previous trips, it looks as if there is no useful mooring until after the final seven locks on the canal.

5.0 Miles - 6 Locks

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