Friday, 11 September 2015

The longest day

The Aire and Calder Navigation is mostly big and wide.


Leaving Castleford this morning we encountered very little traffic, let alone the huge barges full of coal that used to service the power stations


We only had to negotiate one automatic, key-operated lock. Two of the others we encountered were flood locks, permanently open while water levels are relatively low. But after about 6½ miles we turned left at the junction with the branch up to Selby, and found ourselves back in manual territory.


There were only two that needed to be worked, but they were really stiff. One gate beam needed both of us to move it. For a while we were on a section of the River Aire as it followed its own meandering path, carrying the risk of going aground if you cut a corner too fine. But after a while we went through the final flood lock and found ourselves on the Selby Canal proper.


It was narrower and straighter than the river section, but not all that interesting as it was hard to see beyond the trees lining the banks.


This feller wasn't interested in the view to the side, of course. He was interested in finding his dinner in the water. I'm not sure I've seen a heron fishing from up a tree before – most stand on the bank. We also saw cormorants silhouetted black, and the blue flash of a kingfisher.

We'd noted some mooring-up places in the guidebook, but none were very appealing. In the end we were making good time and got all the way to Selby, tying up in the basin just before the lock that leads down onto the River Ouse. We'd done it in about 50 minutes less than the CanalPlan website suggested it would take. We've done six hours boating before when we needed to, but I don't think we've ever covered over 18 miles in one day.

So now we have a day in hand before we head onto the river – the first tidal section we'll have ever done. Better find something interesting to do tomorrow to take our mind off the terrors of the flood tide, or it might be an even longer day than today!

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