Thursday, 7 August 2014

Transporting a patient, but visitors none-the-less.

(Boat Chalice- posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Thursday 7th August.

Leaving Gannow tunnel
As we were finishing our evening meal last night, we settled down to try and go through the various photos we had taken on multiple cameras, with a view to trying to get the blog more up to date.  However, not long into that process, Cath complained she really wasn't feeling at all well, and shortly after she disappeared to bed, with a strategically placed bucket beside it.  Some time later, after we were all in bed, she was indeed very sick.  She made it through most of the night, but was sick again before morning, and the situation was very clearly that she was unlikely to get involved in any of the actual activity of boating for a while.

The rejuvenated "Weaver's Triangle" area in Burnley.
So, whilst trying to keep Cath looked after, David and I set about trying to do what we had planned to do had Cath been OK.  Fortunately it was a day without huge numbers of locks involved, so it was mainly about me spending much of the day at the tiller, although lock flights would need to be tackled by just two of us, for a change.

Looking out over Burnley from the massive embankment.
Yesterday we had travelled through Blackburn, and today's big conurbation was to be Burnley, and its environs.  Unlike Blackburn, Burnley has no locks within the town itself., but we had been contacted by long term Canal World Forum member "Janet S", who works very close to the famous Burnley embankment, and was keen to meet us if she could slip away from work.  (In fact she had tried to get the day off, but it had not been possible).  So I tried to stay in touch with Janet by Internet and by text, and it looked like we were good to meet, (she had been warned about Cath!).

Typical street, end on to the canal, and below it.
Before you get to Burnley though, you get a relatively short tunnel at Gannow.  Having been told it was a "go in if clear" one, I was surprised to see the signs at the tunnel mouth say it was "2 way working".  As we were well through, two boats approached the other end, and looked set to come in.  I imagine you can pass, if all narrow boats, because the tunnel is built for 14 foot wide barges, but I wasn't sorry when they decided to pull back, and wait until we were out.  If you are going in with something coming the other way, you would need to be confident it is no more than 7 foot wide.

Severely low pound at the start of Barrowford locks
We were a bit early for meeting Janet in her lunch hour, so pulled over for a while before Burnley embankment until she could join us.  Being a local to the area, and having done hand-overs at a local hire boat firm, Janet provided us with a lot of useful knowledge about this part of the Leeds and Liverpool.  It was good to meet, albeit briefly, and, if you are reading this Janet, I hope Cath didn't manage to infect you with anything, (David and I thankfully avoided catching whatever it was).

Low pounds mean it is even further down to the boat in the lock.
Burnley embankment is one of Robert Aickman's original "seven wonders of the waterways", although more recent versions of this seem to sideline it and replace it with the Falkirk wheel, which of course is a modern "wonder", aqnd might not have been to Aickman's taste, had it existed then.  It is indeed a massive piece of engineering, being dead straight, towering 60 feet above its surroundings, and incorporating an aqueduct, but like so many such things, attempts to picture all this from the top fail miserably.

The reservoir at Barrowford doesn't seem a very large one.
Shortly after 7 locks at Barrowford proved quite hard work, despite sharing all but one with another boat that only turned up after we had done the first.  These are deep locks, like so many on the L&L, but if a pound below one is badly down in level, as some were, the actual depth of the lock gets further increased by that deficit.  I am very grateful that Chalice is only 50 feet long - short enough to avoid the waterfalls from leaking gates and paddles that cause steerers of longer boats a lot of problems.  50 feet is good!

Only a very short wait, and we have green lights at Foulridge tunnel
After these locks you quickly reach the much longer Foulridge Tunnel, (which we are told is actually said more like "Foolridge").  This is definitely one way only, timed operation, with entry controlled by red and green lights.  Potentially if you arrive at the wrong time you could have to wait up to 50 minutes for "green", but we got lucky, and only waited about 3 minutes before going in.  Although you are warned about changes of height, it is all generous enough, and nothing dramatic happens.  Apparently the three air shafts more or less mark one quarter, one half, and three quarters of the way through, so knowing how far you have gone is easy.

When not broken this simple ground paddle mechanism is quite effective.
Since Barrowford Locks we had been on the summit level, but at Greenberfield locks this ends, and you start going downhill again, after all the climbing.  It became immediately apparent that with a single narrow boat in these very wide locks that going down is rather easier than going up, because when going up, the boat tends to be thrown about the lock by the strong flows created by the paddles, and you also have to be careful not to flood the front end by opening gate paddles too soon, (and often you are forced to open gate paddles straight into a deep empty lock with a boat in, because none of the ground paddles you would ideally open first actually work).

But this style is overall much more common, (and also often broken!)
Given that Cath had been ill, we were very happy not only to have made Greenberfield, but also gone down the locks there - this would have been our target had nobody been unwell.

Shortly after mooring up, someone knocked unexpectedly on the cabin side.  It proved to be Mike Clarke and his wife, who had made a point of coming out to find us.  Mike is a historian of these northern canals, and the author of specialist books on the topic. He is a mine of information about the history of the canals, and indeed the area generally, and topics strayed from canals to the geology of the area, a subject of great interest to Cath,  who, by now, although by no means fully recovered, was starting to be on the mend.

Moored in stunning surroundings at Greenberfield
We are deeply touched that people are following the progress of three people from the South who have brought a not particularly interesting boat onto these waterways, and are actually coming to find us to say hello.  Perhaps this backs up the idea of the friendliness of people up here, versus the often more insular way people behave down where Chalice spends much of her time.  We like it up here.

Near Hapton to Greenberfield Bottom Lock
Miles: 19.8 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks 10

Total Miles: 486.6, Locks: 246

(My thanks to Ray Butler for correcting me on an embarrassing error made in the post as published - now corrected, I hope!)

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