Thursday, 10 September 2009

Rivers or canals?

Following another boat on the Calder & Hebble

One of the back page Q&A questions in Canal Boat mag and a bit of a tough one to answer. After the grind of the lock-a-minute Huddersfield Narrow with its stiff paddles and shallow sides the sudden sense of space and freedom on the Calder & Hebble came as a huge and largely welcome change.
Alright so it's not as easy to moor up but you've got depth, width, big skies, scenery in exchange. It helped that the weather was warm and sunny just for a change.
The locks, though, were big, deep and heavy to match the waterway. We eventually teamed up with another narrowboat (one of only two boats we saw on these eerily empty navigations) and shared the burden. They were a couple heading for Castleford - or "Car-stleford" to us southerners. He steered; she worked the locks. He had a beer gut that was all bought and paid for; she was as fit as a butcher's dog. Surprise!
We left them and the Calder & Hebble behind just after the start of the Aire & Calder where we moored for the night at a vast stretch of moorings. Here was every sort of boat from tiny cruiser to vast converted commercial barge. Another reminder that these are big waterways for big boats.

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