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The 1999 "Earnest" Maiden Voyage Cruise

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4. Sheffield to Huddersfield, involving S.S.Y.N., New Junction Canal, Aire and Calder, Calder and Hebble and Huddersfield Broad Canals.

Monday 12th July saw Neil, Julian and Colin leave Sheffield at 8.20am. We were hoping to get well up the Aire and Calder Navigation that night, which meant doing all the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation, The New Junction Canal and onto the Aire and Calder navigation Main Line. We got to Tinsley Top Lock at 9.05am, we were booked in at 9.00am. The lock keeper filled the locks ahead of us then left us to our own devices. We passed the bottom lock of the Tinsley Flight at 10.55am and Sprotborough Lock at 3.05pm, no yobs were about. Doncaster was passed at 4.15pm, Barnby Dun Lift Bridge at 5.25pm and the New Junction Canal started at 5.40pm. Kids were swimming from the guillotine gates protecting the Don Aqueduct, they posed no threat, but then we went straight at them at normal cruising speed. They soon scarpered from the water, but tried to splash us by jumping in as soon as the stern had passed! Neil got off to do Sykehouse Lock, then walked on to do Kirk Lane and Sykehouse lift bridges. The Aire and Calder Navigation was reached at 7.30pm and we headed West (left) towards Wakefield / Leeds. After this Julian started to prepare dinner as we intended to stop on the visitor moorings below Whitley Lock. You don't stop on un protected moorings without rings on the Aire and Calder, as there is still some serious traffic! We just got out of Pollington Lock when we caught up with a serious oil barge, which almost seemed to be struggling for water on this large (By British standards) canal. Neil got fairly near its stern at one point, but there was such a surge of water coming from it's propeller it sent us bobbing up and down, we were nearly sea sick. We backed of into the still choppy and thrashed water in its wake. At Whitley lock they went straight in and we waved them good bye and gave the lock keeper a set of crossed arms to state that we were not going through. Unfortunately B.W. had turned all the visitor moorings into permanent moorings but we managed to find some pilings just below to chain ourselves to. As soon as we were moored up, Neil quickly walked up to see the maximum size oil barge leaving. This barge must be supplying the refurbished and re opened oil berths just above Lemonroyd Lock on the Leeds branch of the Aire and Calder Navigation. It was yet another nice evening and we relaxed outside after enjoying the first of Julian's excellent meals. 


The next day (Tuesday 13thJuly) we started fairly early at 6.40am, the next few days schedule was to be fluid. We were heading up the Wakefield arm of the Aire and Calder Navigation, the Calder and Hebble Navigation and then onto the Rochdale Canal. The Tuel Lane entrance lock is only manned Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Weekends during the season, we wanted to get on the Rochdale Canal Wednesday, the cut off time being 4.00pm. If there was time we wanted to do the Huddersfield Broad, up to the first restored but shut lock on the Huddersfield Narrow. After working through Whitley Lock you pass under the M62, the A19 bridge and Whitley Bridge, just beyond and near to the Jolly Miller P.H. there were some new visitor moorings to replace those lost at Whitley Lock. Bank Dole Junction with the River Aire / Selby Canal was passed at 7.35am, not long after this you are in the narrow section through Knottingley. Experience has led us to always have a lookout on the front through this section, this was just as well as we met a graveler and a coal pan train at inopportune moments! Ferrybridge Flood Lock was passed in straight through mode without meeting any commercial traffic. At Ferrybridge Power Station there was a bit of activity round the pan unloading dock, but not as much as in previous years. After the A1 bridges you come out onto the River Aire proper, no traffic was met until Castleford Flood Lock, which was controlled. Here we were stopped on a red while a loaded coal pan train negotiated the offset bottom gates. Beyond the Castleford "Cross roads" we took the Wakefield branch. As in 1997 no lock keepers made their presence felt on the mechanised section up to Fall Ing Lock, not a single craft was seen moving and we locked through at 12.05pm. Fall Ing Lock is fortunately considerably longer than 57ft, which is just as well as it is filled by a pair of particularly fierce gate paddles. From here onwards the Navigation becomes the Calder and Hebble, we ploughed on until 1.30pm when we reached one of our favourite pubs, "The Navigation" at Broad Cut. We stopped for lunch and a drink until 3.00pm when we pushed off for the hastily formulated destination of Huddersfield, could this be the drink talking?! Cooper Bridge Junction was passed at 6.45pm and we got stuck into the Huddersfield Broad Canal. The 57ft 6ins locks of the Calder and Hebble had not been a problem, not many were of this minimum dimension anyways, Shepley Bridge Lock seemed the tightest so far, especially as it was quite deep, 9ft 4ins. When we did the Huddersfield Broad Canal in 1997 we thought that this canal could prove a problem in a maximum length boat, especially as some of the locks did not have by weirs, and all the water went over the top gates. Fortunately B.W. have installed a lot of new by weirs and this was not a problem. Julian was a bit keen on cranking up the rickety Turnbridge Loco Lift Bridge and the chains became entangled on the capstan. Neil got off with one of our large mooring pins and sorted it out. It was yet another pleasant evening, which was just as well as we did not get to Aspley Basin until 9.30pm. Moorings were just outside "The Aspley" Brewers Fare pub and we chained the boat up not knowing what Huddersfield was like. We had eaten well at lunch time, so after a snack we set of for one of Julian's selected pubs, "The Railway" which was in part of the splendid and fortunately listed Huddersfield Railway Station.


Rotherham Town Lock, Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation.

Conisborough Railway Viaduct. Part of the abandoned Great Central Main Line, beware of yobs throwing capping stones at you!

One of the totally little green men! The only lock keepers on the S.S.Y.N.

Exiting Long Sandall lock. Neil made strap to stop Julian losing this straw hat!

Just started on New Junction Canal, looking back. Swimmers back in River Don Aqueduct. 

Lift bridges on the New Junction Canal.

Sykehouse Lock, New Junction Canal.

Kellingley Colliery, heading up the Aire and Calder Navigation.

Loading pans at Kellingley.

Ferrybridge Power Station. Aire and Calder Navigation.

Ferrybridge Flood Lock. A1 bridge beyond.

Old and new Great North Road bridges at Ferrybridge. Aire and Calder Navigation.

Ferrybridge Power Station coal dock.

Bulholme Lock, Aire and Calder Navigation.

Leaving Bulholme Lock.

Castleford, B.W. office to left, lock in distance.

Coal pan train has just negotiated banana shaped Castleford Flood Lock.

Coal pans and tug just gathering speed.

Just leaving Castleford Flood Lock, straight on for Wakefield.

Old Stanley Ferry Aqueduct, swan just hopped out of the way.

Posh cottage at Stanley Ferry.

Broadreach Flood Lock. Section up to bridge can be incorporated into the lock for passing long vessels.

Looking back at Broadreach Flood lock, just above Stanley Ferry

Julian in "Safe Mode", sporting his new self inflating life jacket. We have just passed onto the River Calder through Wakefield.

The tour continues...


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