Sunday, 31 July 2016

Mill Towns, a Wedding and a Splash.


On Wednesday morning (27th) it was short hop around the corner from our moorings at Café Cargo to the 1640 yard long Foulridge tunnel. The traffic lights were on red so we had a half hour wait before the 15 minute very wet tunnel journey.


Once through the tunnel we were into Lancashire textile mill country rather than the open moorland of West Yorkshire ……..


……….. but, among the industrial backdrop, we still had views of the massive Pendle Hill which has looked down on us for the last couple of weeks as we skirted around it’s flanks from one side to the other.


After descending the seven locks at Barrowford and passing through Brierfield we found delightful moorings for Wednesday night just short of bridge 133. 


On Thursday our approach to Burnley seemed quite rural …………


…….. but soon we were traversing the massive embankment across the valleys of the Rivers Brun and Calder. The embankment is 60 feet high (and 3/4 mile long!) and to one side Burnley town centre and to other were row upon perfect row of the original housing for all the Victorian mill workers.


Amazingly, virtually all the chimney pots are still original and intact – thousands of them standing like soldiers on parade.


At the end of the embankment as the canal does a sharp turn right was the unusual sight (on the disused Finsley Gate Wharf) of a wooden egg-shaped construction with doors and windows and a set of steps to get into it. A perfect garden house for someone perhaps?


On a little further and we passed the rather splendid Burnley Wharf ………


….. and, beyond that, an aqueduct carried us across the M65. It always gives a good feeling of superiority to pass “above” a major motorway rather than having to creep underneath as is usually the case.


Hot on the heels of the M65 aqueduct was the 650 yard, dead straight Gannow tunnel which was beautifully lined with huge limestone blocks.


After the Gannow tunnel  we were away from Burnley and passing Rose Grove, Hapton, Clayton Le Moors and Church before getting to the moorings at Rishton where we were to spend two nights.


Friday morning we took delivery of a hire car (Enterprise Car Hire are making good profits from us these last few weeks!) and, in the afternoon, drove into Blackburn. We were rather impressed with the city and, as with all northern cities, there was splendid architecture to be seen. This is their Town hall ……………


……. and this is St. George’s Hall where we popped in to have a look around.


Asking whether we could look around the very kind lady in the box office closed up shop and took great pleasure in showing us around – even though the place was closed for wedding preparations.


Another “gem” was the glorious old Technical School.


Blackburn’s cathedral is said to be one of the newer ones in the country. Although started in the mid 1800’s there have been several enlargements since then.


Inside there is a marvellous juxtaposition of ‘old’ and new.


There is a distinct lack of stained glass in the windows which gives the interior a very light feel’.


The walls and ceilings are exquisitely painted.


After sightseeing and a bit of shopping in Blackburn we headed out to the delightful little town of Clitheroe.


Climbing the many steps up to Clitheroe castle gave superb views over the town and surrounding moorland.



We got a great, almost birds-eye, view of the town centre ……………


……… and, of course, looming over all of it is the great mass of Pendle Hill.


The real reason for the hire car was to make the journey back from whence we’d come (Bingley) as we’d received an invitation to the evening wedding celebrations of Barbara and Graeme. Due to our recent ‘meet-ups’ with so many friends in the recent few weeks Barbara (who we didn’t know!) contacted us to ask why we knew so many of HER friends!


The subsequent result of our “communications” lead to Barbara inviting us to her and Graeme’s celebrations on Friday evening and to meet up with ……..


…….. many of our Lake District and Cartmel races friends! – Doug, Geoff, Pam, Sandra, Bernard, Peter, Chris and James. What a treat to meet again after such a short period of time!


The evening celebrations continued with us meeting up with (yet again!) Anne and Chris (owners of nb “Snail’s Pace”). Here’s Chris and Anne flanked by bride and groom Barbara and Graeme. We had a splendid evening and have to thank Barbara and Graeme for asking us along at such short notice. We wish them every happiness together and hope to see them aboard “Chance” for a little cruise sometime soon.

Arriving safely back in Rishton at midnight on Friday James decided to fall into the canal again! Being stone cold sober, having just driven back from Bingley, he can only claim the pitch dark and the black staging, which we were moored against, as the only reason for the rather unceremonious dunking! This time it wasn’t wine, nibbles and cheese that were launched into the canal but camera, phone, phone charger, wallet, glasses, best watch, best shoes, best trousers and the rest! He also got very friendly with some stinging nettles to add to the occasion! However, everything is now drying out or being washed and the only casualty has been the camera (again!!). Oh, and his pride!


Today, after returning the hire car, we made our way through Blackburn and beyond. Having already seen the city on foot we now saw it from the canal. The town once boasted over two hundred factory chimneys, 87,000 looms and 42,000 workers to operate them. Today, with most of the chimneys gone, two massive mills still stand next to the canal. Imperial Mill, which is now derelict, and this one – Daisyfield Mill now fully restored to it’s former glory.


They must have known we were coming as they had the flags out at Eanam Wharf!


After descending another 55 feet through the six locks at Blackburn we headed out into some peaceful countryside and found a perfect mooring just after bridge 91A.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Five Miles of Heaven

On Monday (25th July) we left lovely little Skipton (actually it’s not quite so little!) and headed westward. To our left, as heading towards Gargrave, were the River Aire, the Pennine Way and the Settle to Carlisle railway line.


Having passed through Gargrave and Steg Neck lock we were soon at the bottom of the Bank Newton flight where we teamed up with another boat (much to the delight of us both) to tackle the locks together.


Being the height of summer the canal sides are teaming with flora and the trickle of water through the bye-washes at the side of the locks, with their little stone bridges across them, are an added beauty bonus.


During the whole of our “Pennine journey” this year the locks, and the operation thereof, have been both a fascination and a challenge at times. The top ground paddles (those that let most of the water into the lock by means of underground culverts) can be of various designs. This one uses a great bit of engineering with a massive lead screw which raises and lowers the paddle.


“Chance” traversing the ‘pound’ between the first and second locks. (Don’t worry, the lock gate will be closed by the lady on the left of the lock!)


On the subject of the operation of ground paddles – this is another design! Known as a clough it’s simple and very easy to use. It’s a wooden blade which ends in the paddle itself. Just lift the handle and it swings to one side and opens the hole down which the water pours into the lock. Brilliant!


Bank Newton is a very attractive flight of six locks, all very close together ………


…….. but the second lock (no.37) is by far the prettiest. After finishing the flight we travelled another 1/4 mile or so and found the most delightful mooring for the night ………….


……… - it  was truly idyllic and remote enough to have no canal map feature to locate us. We were on a direct line between Hulber Hill and Turnbers Hill if that helps and we looked directly across to Scaleber Hill (behind Doug) with the Pennine Way running along its right flank. 


As we started our journey on Tuesday we were to embark on five lockless miles of the most stunning scenery one could wish for. All these “hills” with the wonderful names (Moorber, Langber, Swillber, Bell Flat and Netcliffe to name just a few) are, in fact, ‘drumlins’. Underneath the soft round green covering is debris left from glaciers as they retreated at the end of the last ice-age.


Here’s a perfect example of a drumlin, and today it’s decorated with cows!


In the vicinity of our mooring the canal dramatically twists and turns as it follows the contours of the land. Some bends are so tight that, during the days of horse drawn working boats, rollers mounted on stout wooden posts were positioned on the apex of the bends to guide the ropes. This one is a lone survivor.


The canal was so twisty that about half a mile from our moorings we could look across the valley and see where we had moored the night before! (to the far right where the canal banking can be seen)


Far reaching Pennine views from every angle.


At East Marton is a very interesting bridge on a bridge! Ages ago, when the level of the road was raised, the decision was made to build the ‘new’ bridge on top of the original. Also next to the bridge is a milestone reminding us that we’ve travelled 38 1/4 miles from Leeds. Not quite a third yet of the 127 miles of canal between Leeds and Liverpool.


Having said so may times before, there’s always a surprise somewhere along the canal and we were quite taken aback by this one! There is no boat, as such, that we could make out beneath this creation. In fact, there weren’t any real walls either. Just someone sitting on a settee in the middle of it all. Well, “One man’s meat ……” as they say!


After refuelling (with 120 litres for £70) at Lower Park Marina in Barnoldswick (pronounced Barl’ick) we were welcomed into Lancashire further along the canal at bridge 150 (or thereabouts). Which is strange as the canal companion book says the county boundary was about 4 miles back! Never mind, we’re now moored up for the night at the delightful moorings at Café Cargo, just before the Foulridge tunnel (and definitely now in Lancashire!)



But here’s the last two photo’s of Yorkshire with one of the very tight bends we negotiated on our wonderful “Five Miles of Heaven”.