Saturday, 7 July 2012

Leeds to York

Captains Log         Still on a slightly delayed Plan B of World Cruise
Canal Date                             7th July 2012
Location                                 Selby North Yorkshire

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal has been nothing other than truly stunning. The only down side is that it does and should, go through big industrialised towns. A small price to pay for such beautiful scenery and unobstructed views of the open moorlands and fells. The fist of these towns was Leeds it’s self. We were welcomed by a police officer. He informed us that the tow path was closed due to “a police incident” he would not say any more and would not let Pam walk to the next lock so I had to pull in to the bank, pick her up and carry her 50 yards past the police incident and drop her off again. Such fun. We later found out that there had been a sexual attack in broad daylight. This is not the best possible way to make you feel safe & welcome in the town.
We were told by the BW guys that most of the mooring is the town were private and chargeable but they did point us to the only available free one. Bless them. Leeds city centre is not unlike Birmingham. Very busy in the working day but very quiet in the evening and all night. No where near as threatening as I imagined it would be. We moved on the next day a mile to a mooring basin. This time we had water & electricity available. Such luxury! We made full use of it and were soon up to date with all of the washing and drying! We were moored right outside the Royal Armouries Museum. A most interesting collection of killing machines that you could ever imagine. It is a huge building and full of weaponry from pre Roman to modern warfare. I so wanted a light machine gun to fit on the top of our boat to ward off the unwanted attentions of board teenagers in the towns. Apparently the use of machine guns on narrowboats is somewhat frowned on these days!
We moved on to Lemonroyd Locks. We could not proceed any further as we were joining the river and it was in flood. So we waited it out there. Miles from a pub, a shop or a bus stop. Totally stranded. Don’t get me wrong though, it is a very nice place to be stranded. We spent out time there doing really useful and adult things, like playing “Poo Sticks” on the bridge and playing “I Spy”. We were there for 4 days before we could move on through Castleford and on to Ferrybridge. After what seemed like an eternity of living on nothing more than healthy diet of home cooked food we were relived to be within walking distance of a good old proper Chinese Take away. We sat outside the boat, on a lovely summers evening, munching on oriental food, drinking wine and putting the whole world to right.
From there we went on to Selby. This is where the Selby canal joins the River Ouse. It is very tidal here and the lock is only open when the tide is just right. We took advantage of our wait here to restock the food cupboards and replenish the drinks locker.
When the time came to exit the safety of the canals and risk life limb and boat on the fast flowing river I was more than a little apprehensive.
I came out of the lock and was immediately slammed by the tide. The boat rocked over alarmingly to the port side. A good burst of power and a handful for tiller soon corrected thing and we were pushing our way us stream.  I was using loads of power and making an impressive bow wave but when you looked at the bank I was just about making progress. Quite soon the tide changed and for a while it was pushing us. That did not last long but we were soon at Naburn locks and off the tidal section.
We moved on from Naburn to York City Centre. There were plenty of moorings there but all of them were covered in river mud from the earlier floods. While in York we did the tourist bits. We went to the railway museum and York Minster. I like York a lot. I am not a person that normally likes towns but there is just so much to see and do there.
On the first night, at 4.30 in the morning. Some idiots thought it would be good fun to bang on the side of the boat. They had long gone by the time I had opened the rear door. The next night we had a crowd of youths out side the boat. They were not doing any harm, just sitting by the river drinking larger and talking. As the night went on the talking was louder, the language more colourful. It was one of those nights that you just hope for a good heavy rain storm. That would move them. It did not rain and they were there until the small hours. Another bad night’s sleep. This is why I don’t like staying in towns!
We could not stay much longer in York as there was a river festival over the weekend and all the moorings had been booked. We left the next day, we could have stayed longer but it was time for a bit of piece. We went back down the river. This time we had the flow with us all the way. Even with the engine off we were travelling a 5mph with it on we were doing 8mph that is fast in a narrowboat. As we approached Selby Lock I started to think on how on earth I was going to slot a 58 foot boat into a lock entrance at 90 deg to the river flow. I came sideways down the last 100 yards and gave it a burst of full power just before the entrance. I flew in to the lock; I did not touch the sides. I was so impressed with that. Even the lock keeper applauded my entrance. I don’t think I could do it again!
Next morning I Selby basin, the rains started. It came down all day. I contacted BW who informed me that all of the flood locks in this area are now locked “for the foreseeable future”
It looks like we may be here for quite a while!

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