Saturday, 9 August 2014

The third of our "Seven Wonders of the Waterways" in this trip alone.

(Boat Chalice- posted by Cath)
Retrospective post for Saturday 9th August.

If David took it, we are probably heading away from a swing bridge!
Alan was keen to get on to Saltaire; he is increasingly worried about the journey back to Alvecote for the Historic Boat Festival over the bank holiday weekend, and whether we will make it in time. However, one hour in Skipton in the pouring rain wasn't really enough for me. We negotiated that I would go to Morrisons at 8 am, for general supplies, then I could have up to an hour shopping in Skipton before we set off.

More scenery, more clouds.
As Skipton is on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales it is very well stocked with outdoor shops, some of which were having sales. I did a whistle-stop tour of the shops and bought a few things, including a bright pink pair of extremely comfortable, and very rugged, 'waterproof' sandals. I was somewhat bemused by this description as waterproof to me suggests that you can keep the water out, and these being sandals... well, you get my drift, however, the shop assistants said that they could be used in water: rivers, lakes, the sea, etc.

Looking down the Bingley Five Rise
At the end of the hour we filled with diesel at Pennine Cruisers, and set off towards the very many swing bridges. We were accompanied by a number of the Pennine Cruisers day boats, some of which were zigzagging back and forth across the cut. The Nicholson's Guide said that if we wanted to have a passage through Bingley 'Five Rise' and 'Three Rise' locks, we had to arrive at the top by 3:00. Because of this we just didn't have time to wait for all the day boats to stream through the swing bridges with us, so we waited to be waved through by one of them, and then set off in earnest. David got the bike off and rode off, opening the bridges ahead of us, and shutting them behind, before cycling on to the next one. We were barely slowing for some of them.

And looking up the Five Rise
We arrived at Bingley Five Rise in good time, about 2:30, and I went to talk to the lock keeper.  I was expecting to be told that there would be no problem, but apparently they had been at work since 7:00 am, and hadn't stopped. There was a boat waiting at the bottom of the 'Three Rise' still waiting to come us, and that had to pass through the two flights first. Were we in any kind of hurry?

David on the ground paddles at the Five Rise
I did try to explain that we needed to be back at Tamworth in two weeks time for a historic boat rally, but I doubt he had any concept of what that really meant. He said he'd come and let me know in half an hour, so we filled the water tank at the tap in front of  the cafe by the locks. A family was having a meal, and one of the young girls kept saying "why can't we go on the boat, Mummy?" To which Mummy replied, "because it isn't our boat". I tried saying that it is our home, but Mummy asked, "do you live on it then?" I wasn't going to invite them in, we were still trying to catch up tidying up etc after my illness, but I don't see why anyone should have the right to be invited in anyway - they wouldn't invite complete strangers into their houses.

Deep locks, very big gates
The lock keeper came and said we could go down, so we set off.

The Bingley Five Rise is famous; considered one of the 'Wonders of the Waterways'. There are other staircases with five chambers - the Foxton Flight has two, one after the other, but those are narrow locks.  The 'Five Rise' is five full sized chambers emptying one into the next. From the top you look down on a steep drop, and a view of the Damart factory at the bottom of the 'Three Rise'.

A less common variant of gate paddle
With Alan steering, David mirroring the lock keeper down the other side of the locks, and me keeping an eye on Odin we set off. The drops in each lock are about 12 feet, so the gates between each chamber are particularly massive. They are well balanced, but still very heavy to move.

It didn't take very long to empty the full top chamber into the empty one below, and then on down the rest of the flight, and we headed for the 'Three Rise'. These are less spectacular, although the rise/drop in each lock is still about 10 feet.

Descending the Three Rise - Smaller, but still impressive.
We carried on towards our planned mooring at Saltaire, but suddenly realised that we were  passing the 'Fisherman' at Dowley End, which has been recommended to us. We moored up and Alan and I went to check the menu, not one, but 5 different vegetarian options - spoiled for choice.

Skipton to Dowley Gap
Miles: 14.5 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks 8

Total Miles: 513.0, Locks: 266


  1. Glad to hear you have shaken off your sudden bout of illness.

    Was it just a 24 hour bug?

    1. Perhaps a bit more than 24 hours, and Cath realised she was tiring more than usual afterwards, (but we are doing a lot of physical effort, and she had had a day eating nothing, so not surprising).
      No idea what caused it - neither David nor I succumbed, and we had all eaten similar things, so just some transitory bug, I guess.
      If we had had more than one crew member down with it, we would have had to rethink our challenging trip.


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