We dragged ourselves away finally one beautiful morning on Sunday last, completing a most memorable stay at Skipton.
The Sun was shining, the air was calm and it was a pleasure to stand once more at the stern of ‘Futurest’, to feel the beat of the big engine beneath my feet and the pressure of the gently gurgling water on the rudder. Everything behaved wonderfully well, as if the ship herself was happy to be on the move again after such a lengthy stay, while not far astern ‘Roots and Wings’ showed plainly her approval by pushing contentedly a wide bow wave in front of her.
We were on our way towards Leeds.
‘….while not far astern ‘Roots and Wings’
However we tied up early in the afternoon that day, not because we were bored already and unused to our new cruising routine, but simply that we had seen a sign on the towpath advertising afternoon tea, scones and jam at a local parish church. Also over the nearby bridge was a beckoning country footpath that both Janis and I find hard to resist always.
The village of Kildwick below the canal embankment
Down the main Street at Kildwick
So we climbed the narrow walkway up a steep incline bordered by tall healthy looking Stinging Nettles and arched with unkempt Elder and having admired the outside of Kildwick Hall at the top, then followed a small road back into and through the picturesque village of Kildwick. A pot of tea at the parish hall was most welcome by the time we reached it and though the local ladies serving it asked for a modest fee in return, they kept our pot filled up most satisfactorily and the home made scones and jam were delicious.
On Monday we travelled six miles further south to Riddlesden, part of Keighley, where we remained for two very quiet nights securely at the local moorings and we planned this so we could spend the whole of the following day at the National Trust property, East Riddlesden Hall.
East Riddlesden Hall
A house was first built here in the twelve hundreds but the current building dates from the late Fifteenth Century with additions up to the Victorian era and very suitably the dark looking buildings were used in the filming of ‘Wuthering Heights’. Of course at this time of the year all gardens are at their best and this one was well up to the National Trust’s excellent standard. Having visited the house in the morning, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on a rustic seat in this abundant one, while listening to suitable medieval music provided by a trio of flute, clarinet and cello.
On the way from Kildwick to Riddlesden my stern gland bilge pump had decided not to work. However conveniently nearby was the well known and respected chandlery Puffer Parts who were able to sell me a suitable replacement.
We left Riddlesden with everything working well ready for the two staircase locks down to Shipley, the Bingley Five Rise and the Bingley Three Rise. These were cheerfully worked for us by a team of lock keepers, while I took the two ships down breasted up together with Janis helping at the paddles and heavy gates.
Looking back up the ‘Bingley Five Rise’
The Bridge worker…..
…. and the lock worker
After spending Thursday night at Bingley, we passed through seemingly endless heavy swing bridges the next day, impossible for handling by single handed boaters alone since the operation had to be completed from the off side of the canal. There was a strong cross wind blowing so having moored up ‘Futurest’ at the bridge landing, I hopped on board and took over the controls of ‘Roots and Wings’ while Janis worked the bridge mechanism. Having steered the first boat through and secured her at the landing on the other side I returned to ‘Futurest’ to take her through. My companion could then close the bridge and return to her boat to continue. This process was repeated endlessly it seemed all day.
The other thing that is difficult to perform on this canal is to find a suitable mooring deep enough to allow even ‘Roots and Wings’ to get alongside with her eighteen inch draft, let alone ‘Futurest’ with her much deeper stern, anywhere but at regular visitor moorings. So after working a long Thursday passing through more staircase locks as well as all the bridges, it was getting late and desperation was beginning to set in for finding a suitable mooring, when we came upon Calverley Lodge Swing Bridge, which opportunely was fixed in the open position. Quickly we moored for the night at the two ideal bridge landings, which were complete with bollards.
On Friday after yet more locks and swing bridges we arrived at Leeds and tied up at a very secure mooring behind a locked gate (for which we were happy to supply the padlock) just above Office Lock and then the one that leads down onto the River Aire itself.
We were happy to be here.