Tuesday 8 September 2015


On this grey, dull day, as we completed all but the final lock of the Leeds and Liverpool canal, we've had good cause to be thankful.

We had two more triple staircase locks to go down, but they had seasonal lock-keepers.

Craig had been a school teacher, but decided to swap it for this role. This is his first season of keeping the locks trim, in good working order and free of weed, and of helping boaters through the first staircase we encountered.

Paul was on duty on the second staircase. With a background and family in Tasmania, he's looking forward to heading out there in November, when the lock-keeper season has ended. Both of these guys were friendly and helpful, and made it much quicker to get down the flights.

As we approached the next, single Kirkstall lock, which we had been told could be a bit tricky, we found a boat emerging from it – a remarkable event since this and the one behind waiting to come up were almost the only boats on the move all day long. As it happens, the two women who were operating the gates were from the boat behind, and ably assisted us with a quick descent.

We had one more double staircase to do, and this time got into a bit of a pickle. Somehow we managed to leave a set of paddles open that should have been closed, and only noticed when I was half-way down in the first chamber. That meant a speedy closing of all paddles, followed by taking Erin Mae back up and starting again.

But once again we were not without help. Derek (on the right) is an experienced boater, and lives in the old lock-keeper's cottage. He came out to push and pull and turn and help us through. Don, cycling the towpath but stopped for a while, also gave a hand.

So tonight we're tied up at Granary Wharf in Leeds, in the middle of a new restaurant / hotel / business complex.

The final lock, just yards away, is called River Lock, and leads down onto the Aire and Calder Navigation, which will be a different affair altogether. Tonight I emptied three buckets of water out of Erin Mae's engine compartment – the consequence of having had to sit back right under leaks from lock gates, paddles and other structures. I'm just hoping that, when we go down River Lock tomorrow or (more probably) the day after, it doesn't turn out to be the worst of the lot and fill the compartment up again.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful that we've just about made it along the L & L!


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