About Me

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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Stronghold on Tour 30.

Friday 5th August.

We both moved on towards Castleford this morning, through Knottingley, where I last visited when I was fourteen on a school trip, and then through Ferrybridge with its enormous power stations, with Paul’s daughter operating the locks all the way. There was a problem with Bulholme Lock, where the lock emptied, but the bottom gates only opened a few inches. CRT were called, but could not arrive for an hour. However, the lock was refilled for several boats coming down and the gates worked fine after that. A mooring was found at Castleford, as I had some shopping to do.

Just a small part of Ferrybridge Power Stations.

My friend Joyce was on her way from Hull to Worcester and asked to drop by, so we arranged to meet at The Boat Inn, Allerton Bywater, just a mile from Castleford on the River Aire. I set off through the stop lock and turned in the direction of Leeds at the junction. After half an hour on the move, there had been no sign of the pub and I passed beneath a bridge that was not shown on the map. A little further on, I asked some people on a barge if they had come from Wakefield, thinking that I may be on the wrong canal, but they confirmed that I was on the River Aire and not the Calder, so I must have passed the pub and not seen it. Sure enough, on backtracking I asked a fisherman, who pointed out where the pub was, almost totally hidden behind the trees. There was a commercial mooring there, so I tied up there and met Joyce in the pub garden at last.

After a drink and perusal of the menu, I decided that there would be more choice back in Caslteford; how wrong that turned out to be! There was only one Indian restaurant open, though several take-aways, so it was Hobson’s choice, which turned out to be quite good after all, despite the lack of customers on a Friday night.

Saturday 6th August.

We cruised up to Lemonroyd Lock, where Joyce had left her car and she departed for Worcester. I thought I saw a diesel pump in the nearby marina, so moved the boat towards it, only to find that it was a pump out machine and they did not sell diesel. Fortunately I had 50 litres in cans, so could refill later to get me to the next yard at Apperley Bridge, some distance away. Even in Leeds there were no bunkering facilities, which I find quite incredible.

I caught up with another couple later and we made tracks together towards Leeds, where I intended having a day off. On route there was Thwaite Mills Watermill and there were moorings outside, where we tied up and had a very interesting couple of hours at this water mill, used for grinding chalk to make putty and whiting.

Thwaites watermill on the River Aire.

A working steam crane on the wharf.

With twin cylinders exposed with Stephenson valve gear.

Just one of the waterwheels and chalk settling tanks in foreground.

Blacksmith's shop.

Many years have passed since I used any of these.

Most of these are familiar to me too.

My lathe is a bit more modern that this one.

Waiting for Leeds Lock to empty.

In the meantime, Colin had briefed me on all the safe moorings in the city, so decided to head for the first dock on route, which was Clarence Dock and sure enough there were several mooring spaces available, but getting on to them was another matter, because the strong wind was extremely turbulent around the tall buildings. With some help from the local boat taxi man on the bow line, I finally got the boat onto the pontoon.

Moored up in Clarence Dock.

Clarence Dock.

Outside the Royal Armories.

Another view of Leeds Lock.

Colin generously invited me to his house for a meal and picked me up in his car for a couple of pints in his local first. After a lovely roast chicken meal, I was very kindly driven back to the dock by Rob, his daughter’s boyfriend. A great way to finish the day.

Sunday 7th August.

After a rather lazy morning, I tried the plug on the pontoon pedestal, to see if there was any electricity available and to my surprise, there was. Normally, a card has to be purchased and plugged in, but any units that remain have to be left on the meter. Now I had a chance to get out the vacuum cleaner and blitz the interior, which took two hours and there was still electricity available, so I heated up the hot water as well – bonus.

I had intending paying the Royal Armouries a visit, but by four o’clock it was too late and Colin was arriving about five for a few beers and a meal out. One pub that I really wanted to see was Whitelocks, an Edwardian heritage pub built in 1715.  Colin enquired of the water taxi if he went anywhere near there, which he did, so we both had a free ride up the river to River Lock and walked from there. I was not disappointed – what an absolute gem of a pub. Colin compared me to an American tourist, taking these photos, but it was too good to miss.
More info here.

Entrance in Turks Yard.

Bar area.

Dining area.

The menu was not very inviting, so we made tracks for Mumtaz Indian restaurant at Clarence Dock, via The Lamb and Flag, where we had two pints of Leeds Pale from the Leeds Brewery Company. The Mumtaz Restaurant has a long history of Kashmiri cooking, when a lady opened a small shop in Bradford in 1979, specialising in that type of cooking, which has since expanded incredibly to what it is now, with two restaurants and a range of ready meals.

Monday 8th August.

I expected the other boat that I travelled with into Leeds to be moving on today, but at 8 am, there was no sign of life and it turned out that they were only moving up to Granary Wharf later today, so I set off on my own to River Lock. Fortunately, another boat followed me and I had company yet again as far as Rodley, where they stopped off. We both got caught by an unexpected cloudburst and scrambled for waterproofs, but not before we were all pretty wet. I had one more swing bridge to cope with before Apperley Bridge and made it to there after seven hours cruising. There were several staircase locks on route, but mostly manned by CRT volunteers, which made for a lot less work on my part. I am now well up into Airedale after all those uphill locks.

Wednesday 10th August.

Readers may well have noticed that I have lost a day somewhere along the way, which has happened before when I do not write up each day and rely on my memory. Please don’t ask what happened to it, coz I have no idea even which one it was!

Another day of rest at Apperley Bridge, but with a bit of shopping thrown in, as there is a small Asda and a large Sainsbury’s within half a mile. The only problem is that they are both uphill, but I am going with an empty bag and returning with a full one, so better that way. I also took the opportunity to defrost the fridge, which is not getting down to the recommended 4degrees at the moment. The remainder of the time has been spent writing this blog and coping with emails and the odd bill. Weather is warm and overcast, with light rain towards evening.

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