Thursday, 5 July 2012

I'll swing for this

The view from the top at Bingley
This morning we went up the magnificent Bingley Five Rise staircase and with that crowning achievement said goodbye to the staircase locks that drive the canal up the Pennines from its Eastern side.
Not before time really - the day before had been a step too far for staircases when we climbed through three of them; including one with leaky gates and non-functioning paddles where locals gathered to observe "everyone has trouble at this one" while I poured sweat trying to work paddles and gates. But you still can't fail to be awed by the Five Rise which rises the canal up an incline so steep that you're out of breath just walking up alongside the locks.
Anyway, today no more staircases. Instead the L&L brought us swingbridges. We've had them before on this canal but on the stretch from Bingley to Skipton they're like a rash. Nineteen of them, I think, in a ten mile stretch. Most of them are manual - e.g. you unlock and push like **** to open - and generally they are there to let a few cows or the odd rambler across.

The familiar white railings and red sign come into view...again
Those across roads are generally electric and pretty foolproof - insert key, press button, barriers come down, bridge swings round. Press other button and it all reverses. I've done dozens. Poor Starwoman did her first today...and it broke! Jammed with the barriers down so traffic couldn't pass. We did traffic management (everyone was very polite) until a man from Bradford council came out to re-set it.
Starwoman battles with yet another bridge
The manual bridges were much nicer. The promised thunder held off and on a beautiful sunny day Starwoman walked the towpath along the edge of a glorious wooded hillside above Airedale with Stardog Brian, opening and closing while I pottered along. Until we reached the odd one that was too heavy to open or shut and we both heaved on it. After lunch we swapped jobs and I enjoyed the delights of scenery that was opening out towards distant peaks. Then we found another heavy one that needed both of us plus two passing walkers to get open.
All the while we were keeping an eye out for diesel but passed boatyard after yard that no longer sells it until, finally, we reached the friendly and super-helpful Snaygill Boats. And just as we left came the long awaited torrential downpour - soaking us before we could even get coats on. And stopping almost as quickly.
The promised thunderstorm finally arrives
We meandered on into Skipton, the enticing aroma of fish and chips getting ever more powerful from the town's famous canalside chippie, squeezed in to the last mooring spot, had tea and watched the skies explode again as a tumultuous thunder and lightening storm hit town.
Apparently it's Clogfest this weekend with town-wide displays of clog dancing. Can't wait. (I'm not being ironic, honest!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know about this weather it should be a 'Welliefest'. As to Skipton, I have only ever been there when there when it rains....but yes, the Fish and Chips are fine, some grand cake shops and market day worth a look at. Enjoy