Meeting at the compound on a bright Saturday afternoon we had an uneventful journey to Burnley. The following morning we launched our boats at Clayton Le Moor and we rowed off in an easterly direction for the second stage of our Liverpool to Leeds Canal Row.
Having left the heatwave of the south behind we were meeting the Arctic conditions of the north! It rained most days and the wind could be bitter, but spirits were high. It was fascinating to see the remains of the industrial revolution in the Weavers’ Triangle with many reminders of Lowry paintings. As we progressed through these industrial remains we were shocked to see the amount of plastic waste and rubbish strewn across the river banks and even up into the trees. We were especially aware since we had recently done our own clean up of the Essex marshes and Canvey Island – and we had thought that was bad!
Progressing eastwards towards the Pennines we thankfully left the rubbish behind. Ron had carefully prepared his outboard motor for the mile long Foulridge Tunnel but at the time when he needed it most his faithful motor failed to start!! We had no alternative but to face this mile long tunnel which stretched into the blackness of the bowels of the earth with starboard side rowing and portside bowman fending off the wall. We made slow progress and hoped no craft would come in the opposite direction. Luckily when we emerged from the tunnel two brightly lit barges had not quite started their journey into the tunnel towards us!
As we approached the summit of the Pennines the scenery was spectacular and as we climbed up we were filling the locks with water and of course after the summit we were emptying them. Some swing bridges could be negotiated without opening them in the same way as we had done in the first half of this journey last year – by lying flat in the boats with our heads below the gunwale line. Spring time had brought the blossom, tulips and daffodils out and swans on their nests were being watched over by their protective cobs. It was truly a picture of nature in full flight.
Mid week we visited the picturesque small market town of Skipton with fourteen ale houses counted in the centre alone – obviously there are a lot of Happy Yorkshire people around! We approached the notorious Five Rise Locks in Bingley with trepidation but there were many assistants from the Canal and River Trust there to help us (thank you!). We donned our life jackets and got out of the boats to lead them through the locks by their ropes. This marvel of engineering dates back two hundred years. Before reaching the famous philanthropist Titus Salt’s Mill at Saltaire we stopped at the Bradford Rowing Club where we enjoyed an hour or two of their hospitality thanks to Mark Edwards who is a friend of Steve Ramm’s. So after 91 locks covering a rise of 487 feet and over 50 swing bridges, we reached our destination – Lock One in Leeds. We had successfully rowed the whole 127 Miles of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal! Pic 1 – the finish (in Leeds) Pic 2 – by the Bingley Five Rise Locks Pic 3 – in the Five Rise Locks Pic 4 – Rowing beside the abandoned mills
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