Tuesday 14 July 2015

Giant Slalom

With a target of reaching Skipton by tomorrow evening, we divided up the journey in line with a recommendation from CanalPlan, and made a reasonably early start.

We were on the summit – the highest section of the Leeds and Liverpool.

First point of interest was the Foulridge tunnel. This is 1640 yards long and takes about 15 minutes to get through. It wasn't all that much more gloomy than the general weather on the hill-tops.

It's one-way traffic, and there's a 10-minute period every hour when the traffic lights allow you to enter. We'd timed our start for the 8.30 slot and just made it.

At the far end there's a café serving breakfast, but we'd had ours, so we just filled the water tank.

Off to the side of the tunnel are the Foulridge reservoirs, but the local topography doesn't allow the passing boater to get a view or a photo. So we carried on for four miles to the first of the three locks we'd planned for today.

The Greenberfield locks are the first going downhill since forever (actually, since Dutton Stop Lock, where the Trent and Mersey joins the Bridgewater Canal, but since that's only about 6 inches, the last downhill lock was really in Middlewich, on 22nd June). They have a stunning location. Going down a lock is far less bumpy than coming up one, especially these wide locks. The main thing to watch is the cill at the back, because it's hidden under the water as you drop, and these locks are 10 feet shorter than those we're more used to.

The other noticeable feature of this stretch is the way is twists and turns as it follows the contour.

It involves you in some very sharp bends (one of 160˚).

Here it doubles back on itself around the head of a little valley, with the opposite arm just 100 yards away.

After some interesting structures…

we arrived at what we'd thought would be our stop for the night – just before the top lock of the Bank Newton flight.

However, we hadn't reckoned with the helpfulness of CRT volunteer Hugh, who was just assisting two hired widebeams through the top two locks. We were well past lunchtime, but it seemed too good as opportunity to pass up. So down the flight we went, assisted by Hugh and some others, all six locks.

Thank you, Hugh. You're a star!

Would there be moorings at the bottom of the flight? We were assured there would. But when we got there we found they were long-term, not visitor moorings, so we had to push on. Before we knew what was going on, we'd arrived at the top of the next set of three going down into the village of Gargrave. Oh well, we thought, in for a penny, in for a drachma.

So down we went and fortunately, given the lateness of our arrival, found a mooring in a delightful spot in the middle of the village.

So then, that was twelve locks instead of three, no lunch and some sore bodies. But at least we've reminded ourselves what it's like to zig-zag downhill!


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