Monday, 7 August 2017

Kirklees Top Lock - Almost Going Nowhere

Today's Navigations - Huddersfield Broad, Calder and Hebble

The weather forecast was for a bright sunny day, especially welcome after the overnight rain. Our plan was get at least as far as Brighouse or, with a little luck and a good start, above Salterhebble (one of the two shortest locks on the Calder and Hebble.

We were almost all ready when Mike checked his emails and just in, a notice from CaRT that the water levels had risen so much that the flood gates and locks from Anchor Pit to Wakefield (the canalised river section) were now close until further notice!

A quick walk down to Lock 1 where the Huddersfield Broad joins the rive showed that the level was indeed well into the red. We made a call to Customer Services but, unsurprisingly, all they could do was to read out the email and suggest that we just wait to receive an update.

Jess and Mike filled in the first part of he morning by walking along Leeds Road from the junction bridge to a Tesco Express, about a quarter of an hour walk. Oh how noisy was the traffic!

Jess spotted some chocolate digestive biscuits - we had watched a documentary last night about the factory where they are made. One of the surprising things we learnt was that the chocolate is put on the bottom of the biscuit as it goes along the production, line, not on the top as almost everyone expects! She also exchanged one of the free tokens for Coca Cola that we were given at the Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival on Friday.

On the way back they took a look at the flood gates on the Calder and Hebble which were definitely closed. It too was well into the red zone.

So back to the boat and the rest of the morning was spent reading or tableting. (Is there such a word? There ought to be!)

Jess made another of her salads - there are still some ingredients left for tomorrow.

We made regular checks on the river level and by lunch time a thin line of amber had just begun to emerge. We agreed to wait until after lunch to decide what to do for the afternoon. We could go for the walk over the railway viaduct the Alice and Mike did a few days ago or we might get lucky and the water drop sufficiently.

Around 2 o'clock Mike walked around to the flood gates - they were still shut even though there was no difference in the water level either side. He then spotted a couple of CaRT people waiting in their vans. He asked whether they had any idea about how long kit might be  before we could navigate. As we were going upstream and the level was mid-amber by now, they confidently advised that we might proceed with caution (what it says on the notices!)

We left another hour before pulling out our mooring pins and set off for Lock 1. This lock seems always to have water flowing over the top gate - perhaps it is designed this way rather than have another overflow. In any event it did mean that Mike, on the stern of the boat, did get really soggy trouser leg ends when a couple of chaps helped Jess pull the bow across but did so a bit too enthusiastically, backwards! We concentrated so much on operating the lock that we forgot to take a picture of the water level as we left!

Getting crew back on board below the lock is a bit tricky as the lock landing is at an unhelpful angle with the river stream flowing past. In the end we managed it safely, albeit by taking a line ashore to keep the boat from being pulled around to face the wrong direction under the road bridge!

As we passed through Cooper Bridge Junction we could see that the gates were still shut.

We made good speed upstream - the flow did not seem much more than normal - and before long we arrived at Kirklees Low Lock where the navigation leaves the river for about a mile. This, and the next lock, needed a handspike at the top gates. The gave Jess a new task to learn, even if she had been a bit disappointed to lose her role with the bow rope (not needed now we are back to going uphill)

It was by now a pleasant afternoon and much warmer than this morning. It was only a short distance to Kirklees Top Lock. The top gate paddles were a bit stiff so two sets of hands were needed.

The canal section comes to an end with Anchor Pit flood gates but they are almost underneath the M62. Overall this would not be a good place to moor and, as well, there are proper moorings above Kirklees so we decided that it was not worth the risk of having to reverse back a kilometre if the gates were not open.

If the gates are open we have a good chance of making kit to Salterhebble tomorrow even if we stop for shops at Brighouse. We certainly need a service station.

1.2 Miles - 3 Locks

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