Sunday 6 September 2015

Bingley locks

It's been a great day for cruising – first thing on the agenda was a few more swing bridges.

Soon, however, we arrived at the top of the (in)famous locks in Bingley. We pulled in for water, and then waited our turn to go down the flight.

We waited a long time – about two hours. These five locks are a staircase – the bottom gates of one lock are the top gates of the next. A few minutes after you exit these, there's another flight of three built on the same principle.

The way they operate them means that it's better use of water to bring several boats through in one direction, and then several through in the other. So we waited for a wide beam to come up, and then a single narrowboat.

The need to stick to a system means you don't operate them yourself – it has to be done by CRT staff, with just incidental help from boaters. We went down in company with NB Deolali.

The view as we came out of each lock chamber into the next was pretty stunning – you feel you're about to fall down the hill. Looking back, however, the view was not half so enticing.

A number of the lock gates were leaking badly. Since Erin Mae only just fits into these locks, I had to reverse into the flood to allow the gates at the front end to open past our front fender. We ended up under more than one cascade, and although some water sluiced out via the channels, a good deal found its way down into the engine compartment. This happened once before on one of the locks further back along the canal, and is quite scary. This is the first time I've ever noticed our bilge pump kick into action.

A couple more notable things about Bingley. First were some gate paddles of a type I haven't seen before. A horizontal ratchet arm, operated by a handle, pivots the paddle sideways. Most gate paddles slide up and down. Second was the Damart factory, which everybody but me seemed to know was in this town.

We haven't needed any thermal underwear today – it's been really warm. We've tied up by a pub just before the final staircase locks, a set of two. We were hoping it might have provided a nice Sunday meal, but it doesn't seem that sort of pub. We also thought we'd come out of the town into a slightly more rural section, but at the moment we are being bombarded by car audio systems playing at high volume from a car-park somewhere near.

Win some, lose some.


  1. You might want to check that your diesel tank breather isn't in danger of being under the deluge such that water enters the tank. Having had just that happen to us last year on the Don we now slip a cut-down plastic drink bottle over the relevant dolly when going down short locks.

    1. That's a great idea, Halfie. Bottle will be prepared first thing in the morning (Hm, might have to drink something first!).