Friday, 8 August 2014

It just keeps getting even more stunning.

(Boat Chalice- posted by Cath)
Retrospective post for Friday 8th August

I woke up feeling somewhat better, but still couldn't eat very much. I did, however, manage to drink some coffee, which did diminish my caffeine headache.

Double Arch Bridge (The clue is in the name).
I was keen to start pulling my weight again, so I volunteered to steer for the first section. This was particularly delightful scenery, with the canal weaving around the low hummocky, egg-shaped hills called drumlins (caused by deposition from glaciers during the last ice age). The fields were green, and bisected by dry stone walls and dotted with white sheep.  I was sitting on the back of the boat looking at all of scenery and feeling slightly nauseous, but very happy and rather smug.  Being a contour canal, it winds back and forth around any hills, including at one point going a mile to travel a distance of maybe half a mile.

Simple, but effective paddle gear, (if the handle's not snapped off!).
Bank Newton is a flight of 6 locks, which suddenly opens onto a vista of the Yorkshire dales - quite stunningly beautiful landscape. Then, shortly after we came up to the locks at Gargrave, which are somewhat more strung out. This is  the furthest north that we have ever come by canal, from now on it is south of this point.

Gargrave locks, with truly magnificent distant views.
I tried hard to do my bit with the locks, and I found that I had very little strength, but the many turns that these northern locks require was most draining, I didn't seem to have stamina to keep turning for 40 or so turns, both up and down.

A sight we have not seen in many years, (except at preservation sites!).
It was at this point that we began to meet the swing bridges that characterise the western end of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Nearly all are left closed to boat traffic, and need to be opened, and that operation almost invariably means being on the non-towpath side - making them a nightmare for single-handers, as nowhere is provided to get on or off boats on that side.  Nearly all are meant to be left secured, with most using a crude chain lock operated by the so called "handcuff key".  Others require the other type of key, (the Yale style "Watermate").  Most don't have barriers, but busy crossings do, mostly required to be hand operated, but occasionally everything is mechanised.  You can't be sure what any one will involve, so need to be armed with both types of key, and a windlass just in case.

Just perfect, really.
We had been warned that it might be difficult to moor in Skipton, so we grabbed the very first gap that we could see, just as the rain started.

I was very keen to spend at least a little time looking around Skipton, but Alan and I got very wet just walking around the town. Then I found Purl and Jane, the knitting and crochet shop.....

Perfect, again.
I've knitted and crochetted since I was a kid, I knitted a lot of practical, hardwearing and easily washed jumpers for the boys about 20-25 years ago, without even being aware of what yarns I was using, and then more recently have done crochet rugs for the boats. Very recently I've started to look into the technology of yarn - I am very much a geek, and I really love to know how things work - I had no idea that so much goes into yarns. I've also started to knit again.

Alan operates one of the least sophisticated types of swing bridge.
I loved Purl & Jane. Everything in there is made of natural fibres, I just wanted to touch everything, to feel the softness of the wool, alpaca and cashmere, to look at the sheen on the silk/merino blends. No, it wasn't cheap, but then, you wouldn't expect it to be, this yarn was a quality I'd never seen before, not in this quantity.

A very wet Alan stuck his head around the door and said that he was going back to the boat before he drowned, but we agreed that I would be quick, and that we would meet for coffee in a few minutes.

I could happily have bought half the shop, but we have little room on the boat, and too much of it is already stuffed with my wool, so I could only get myself a few skeins. Another reason to come back another year.

"I think you may have forgotten me"......
We bought some ready meals from Marks & Spencer, so that I didn't have to do much cooking. Then, after eating, Alan and I decided to go out to try at least one of the pubs recommended by people on Canal World Forum. We went to the Narrowboat in Victoria Street, but I'm afraid that the long day, and still recovering from my bout of sickness, so I couldn't finish the glass of wine that Alan had bought me, and we headed back to the boat.

Greenberfield Bottom Lock to Skipton
Miles: 11.9 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks 12

Total Miles: 498.5, Locks: 258

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