Monday, 2 July 2012

Slow boat to Leeds

At the back of the queue for the lock

The canal out of Leeds is one of the legendary stretches of "bandit country". So much so that when we were last here you booked your way through and lock keepers supervised your progress through until you'd reached friendly territory.
 BW ground staff seem to be a disappearing breed (no lock-keepers in the big commercial locks these days for instance as there were in 2009) and there was no advice forthcoming on how to make our way through the enemy territory of Scroteland. So we set off early(ish) from our mooring south of Leeds and headed into the city, hoping that we might meet someone on the way to ride shotgun through the locks.
At the first lock we met two. Great - except that we got the lock ready; they went in first; they left first and we were back to third in line. By the Leeds locks two more had squeezed in and we found ourselves at the first of the canal locks back to fifth in a very, very slow moving queue. Damn.
An hour later (but now nearly three hours after we first un-moored) we were out of the lock. And met the BW lockies who said that because of staff cuts the bandit country locks ahead of us were shut at three p.m. and that we wouldn't get through. So, here we are moored in Leeds.
River Festival in Clarence Dock
It's not a problem; at least we won't be crawling in a queue. To be fair, today's line-up was the result of boats returning from the weekend's Leeds River Festival. We visited that yesterday - a bargain three quid return train ride from our Woodlesford mooring. It as a fun affair and had brought out a lot of visitors to the riverfront, though I have to say it didn't quite live up to the hyperbole of its publicity. Still, it was fun to see the U-boat narrowboat - I'm not sure what was funnier, the half-baked exterior conversion to U-boat look-alike or the extremely portly 'captain' in a British navy uniform. I'm told the interior of the U-boat is more convincing but I couldn't face joining the queue of small boys waiting to view it.
Some gourmet burgers and very indulgent cream cup cakes completed our visit.
The U-boat with its British captain
We also took a turn round the city centre – and what a marvellous place it is. Street after street of elegant buildings and the stunning the Victorian Quarter, thankfully unspoilt by their modern shopfronts, and some imposing classically proportioned municipal buildings like the Corn Exchange and Civic Hall.
Magnificent Civic Hall
Plenty of modern stuff, too. Any number of blocks of flats, some, pleasingly, in converted canalside warehouses, and striking commercial developments – nonre more eye catching than Bridgewater Place, nicknamed 'The Dalek' for obvious reasons.
And 'The Dalek' towering over the canal
Still, it will be nice to get free of the Sushi restaurants, wine bars, and fast striding young executives and see the hills and some country pubs.


Anonymous said...

I think Martin did a review of the Sub (and Captain) last year in CB.

Good luck with the bandits!

Becca@Locksmith In Brisbane said...

What a good time to travel here... you will surely enjoy the views and I'm sure this is going to be a memorable to you.