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The 1999 "Earnest" Maiden Voyage Cruise

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6. Sowerby Bridge to Leeds, including Salterhebble and Dewsbury branches, via Calder and Hebble and Aire and Calder Navigations.

Sunday 18th July saw us start off in the direction of Leeds at 8.00am with no particular stop for that night planned. We reached Salterhebble Top Lock at 8.45am and decided to go straight on and do the Salterhebble Branch, the stub that is left of the Halifax Arm. There was room to wind right at the end and we reversed right up to the point where the canal used to continue on to Halifax. We were back at the top lock at 9.00am and continued down the Salterhebble Locks, having no trouble length ways getting out out the locks. We stopped at the bottom for hour to have breakfast. Cooper Bridge was passed at 12.55pm an we got to the bottom of the two Thornhill Locks at 3.05pm. Here we did the sharp turn and under the tiny bridge to go up the Dewsbury Arm. As we reached the end there seemed to rather a lot of boats, many decked out with bunting and balloons, apparently we had arrived on the Dewsbury Basin Gala day! As we reached the final turn in the basin which is the winding point we realised that we could not wind as the trip boat was in the way. At this juncture Neil thought sod it and took the helm from Julian, we were going right to the end! Apparently the end was a procession of boats and we had become one of them. The commodore of the cruising club starting ranting with the veins sticking out in his neck. "You can't come up here!","Your too long!". Neil assured him that the fact that we were here meant that we weren't too long, we had a valid license, we had come up specially from London to do un-cruised sections and we were going to the end! We heard our un-official arrival announced on the Tannoy! We touched the bow fender on the end and then with Julian on the bow thruster (Neil never needed it) we shot back to the corner, winded  at the corner (the trip boat had just left) with out touching the bank or any other craft. We then started to leave with arousing cheer from some of the boat owners. One bloke beckoned us to moor up beside him, but Neil declined saying we were just some of those miserable Southern been there, seen it, done it types. The large trip boat let us pass as he wanted to wind at the junction. He gave us a broad grin. This detour had only taken 20 minutes. At the next lock down, Mill Bank, a cruiser was just entering and he beckoned us in. This chap was at the Rally and had seen it all. He said the Commodore is a right old Mr Hitler and we had put him in his place, our exploits will be laughed about for months to come! This made Julian feel better as he was a bit apprehensive about our gate crashing. We had decided to stop for the night at our favourite pub in the area, "The Navigation" at Broad cut and we got there at 5.30pm. We locked down with the cruiser but he moored just below Broad Cut Top Lock. He said that this was because the smell from the nearby sewage works was not so bad there. The only spot was right outside the pub. It was a hot evening and the sewage smell was certainly bad, we have never noticed it before! Julian asked the landlord if he would mind us taking his glasses on the boat, he replied that he did not, as he was more likely to get these back. Apparently those used by the youngsters normally ended up in the canal! Julian had a celebratory meal to prepare, so we stayed on the boat all evening, drinking the very powerful Elland Brewery Nettlethrasher. The occasion was the 30th anniversary of Neil's first canal holiday. Neil had made up a CD compilation of all the hits around at this time and horrified Colin by crooning along with Glenn Campbell! This singing (and the amount of Nettlethrasher he had consumed) disagreed with Neil and he was rather poorly afterwards!


We left a bit late the next day (9.00am) as Neil was still nursing a hangover! We were going to get to Leeds this night (Monday 19th July) as we wanted a day off in Leeds where we would take the train to Keighley to visit the Worth Valley Steam Railway. The journey proved as fast as we had anticipated, we never had to share a single lock. We needed diesel, so Neil phoned Stanley Ferry Marina to check their price, someone eventually answered the phone , but they were not doing diesel as they had just been taken over by Blue Water Marina. They said the nearest place was Hargreaves dock at Castleford. Neil did not fancy this, as it meant going back through Castleford Lock. We had to have diesel as there was not any until Snaygill on the Leeds and Liverpool, they must have large tanks around here! The only hope was Wakefield Boat Centre at Fall Ing Lock, the last on the Calder and Hebble Navigation. On the way up this looked derelict, so Neil was surprised to find that they answered the phone, they said they did do diesel and to moor just below the lock. We stopped on the lay-by below the lock at 10.30am but there was no sign of a diesel pump. Julian and Colin wandered across the field to the road, here was the boat centre, not actually on the canal. But there by the back gate was a diesel pump with a very long hose! At 10.50am we were once on our way for our fly run to Leeds. Yet again no craft were met until the new Lemonroyd Lock on the Leeds section of the Aire and Calder Navigation. Here we had to wait for another large oil tanker to come out of the lock. When we were in we had another wait for a "Dony" sized B.W. work boat to lock up with us. This boat stopped in the new marina above the lock. Just above the lock is the re-furbished Oil Dock which is obviously getting a lot of waterborne deliveries. Another fast clear run followed to Leeds Basin where we arrived at 5.15pm. Although a bit noisy from the station and in need of some work we still prefer to moor here than the out of town Armouries mooring basin. That night we ate on the boat, afterwards Neil stayed in and Colin and Julian went to an uninspiring city pub.


The next day was a day off and we took the train to Keighley and went on the Keighley and Worth Valley steam railway. At dinner time we were back to Keighley, where the Timothy Taylor brewery is. Here we had fish and chips and a pint of all types of Timothy Taylors beers in an actual unspoilt Timothy Taylor pub, "The Boltmaker's Arms". In the evening when back in Leeds, we went out to an excellent Italian Restaurant, "Bibi's", 16 Greek Street, Leeds.

 


Dry dock near the end of the Salterhebble Arm.

The end of the Salterhebble Arm. The canal used to continue under the bridge to Halifax, this is now a footpath, any chance of restoration?

We drop in as the star attraction at the Dewsbury Basin Festival!

The large trip boat lets us pass.

We have just come from Dewsbury basin, under the bridge.

Our evening of over imbibing at the "Navigation", Broad Cut, Calder and Hebble Navigation.

At the "Navigation", Neil singing along to Glenn Campbell from the 30 year anniversary CD!

Sharing Lemonroyd Lock with B.W. "Dony" workboat. Leeds Branch Aire and Calder Navigation.

New motorway bridge just after Fishpond Lock, new link between M1 and A1M, Aire and Calder Navigation

On the River Aire in Leeds.

Brewery Wharf, the Tetley Museum. 

River Lock No1, Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Basin just above.

The tour continues...


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