Saturday 19 September 2015

Life, limb and buoyancy

On a bright, sunny morning we moved on to a stretch of the Aire & Calder where the industrial wasteland gives way to rich farming country,

though, because it is very flat, the power stations are never out of sight. Along the way we came across several of these houses-on-a-pole, but since they didn't appear to have any residents, we're none the wiser who they were for.

Other local residents were out and about,

enjoying the wind and the weather,

and eventually we arrived at our junction, where the New Junction Canal cuts off to the south west, as straight as a Roman road.

The long, somewhat tedious stretches of the Aire & Calder were positively meandery compared with what now faced us, but the interest was sustained by a regular diet of these.

We can't remember the last time we saw a lift-bridge. Fortunately these were nothing like the manually operated examples on the Montgomery Canal – it's electric all the way here.

And, to our delight, an ex-boater and his missus were cycling along the towpath, had their key with them, and opened a couple of the bridges for us. Thank you, guys! Extremely helpful! That, coupled with the only lock on this stretch being operated by CRT staff today, meant we made very good time.

We've only passed under one pair of guillotine gates before – at the start of the Stratford Canal in Bourneville. You have to hope they're not going to drop in an untimely fashion!

This pair are at either end of the aqueduct over the River Dun Don.

Looking back at the gates from the sunny side, they didn't seem half so lowering!

Just a little further on we turned very sharp left on to the canal that will take us up to the River Trent. You meet Bramwith lock immediately, looking charming in the afternoon sunshine.

But this lock nearly sank us! It was quite short – a bit like some on the Leeds and Liverpool, so I was holding tight onto the stern line, which I'd passed around a bollard, to hold Erin Mae in position and well away from the cill at the back of the lock. As my best beloved let the water out, I suddenly realised that the boat was caught on the rough bricks and stonework of the lock wall. The right side of the boat was dropping, fast, but the left side was being left high and dry, and Erin Mae was tilting right over. I pushed against the wall as hard as I could, but she wouldn't budge.

We dropped the bottom paddles at emergency rate. We also had to raise the level in the lock quickly, to right Erin Mae before she took on water. But as my best beloved was racing back to open the top paddles, the boat freed itself at last from the ledge, and with a considerable splash and a certain amount of paintwork damage, fell into the water at the right angle.

Well – we'd thought it would have been the leaky short locks on the L&L, the tidal waters of the Ouse, or the (actually non-existent) commercial traffic on the A&C that would have offered the most serious threats to life, limb and buoyancy.

And it turned out to be an innocuous-looking lock that should have been a doddle! We're glad to be tied up safely tonight, a little beyond Stainforth.

1 comment:

  1. Oops! Hope nothing inside was damaged. And you missed Sheffield!