It was quite a landmark day for us. On and off over the past 30 years we have visited the 5 Rise staircase locks at Bingley and today we finally travelled down them. The lock keeper has been looking after the Bingley locks for 33 years so he has been there for all the years we have visited which is quite something.
We actually started the day with a succession of electric swing bridges, all on relatively busy roads. They didn’t give us any angst (mind you I was steering, Alan and Liz were operating bridges) but we passed a boat moored just before bridge 198A and while I was hovering the boaters told me that they had had problems yesterday. Bridge 198A registered as emergency operating and they couldn’t read the instructions because of the sunshine on the panel. Worse still, a car drove onto bridge 199 just as they were lowering the barriers. The bridge went into emergency mode and the barriers couldn’t be raised again so the car was trapped. It took over 15 minutes to sort it out by which time there was a sizeable traffic jam apparently.
Both boats required a pump out and Hainsworth’s Boatyard was showing on the map just before the 5 Rise locks. When we got there we found that there was very little space in front of the yard. We had to moor the bow up to a large traditional Dutch barge and back the stern into the small gap which meant manoeuvring over a mud bank. Then Blue Point came alongside us and both boats were pumped out.
It was just before 12.00 when we reached the top of the locks and we once again breasted up at the water point. The hose had just transferred over to us when another boat came along and the lock keeper asked that as the locks were set for us would we start asap. We aren’t quite running on empty but should take on water on Sunday when we next reach a tap as our tank filling was abandoned. The lock keeper worked us down the five locks in the staircase, with Alan and Liz helping. The locks are very leaky and Robert and I had to fasten ourselves behind our hatch doors as we were getting soaked. We have also discovered in these short locks with water pouring over the cill that Lazy Days’ bilge fills as our run off can’t cope. The design isn’t nearly as efficient as that on Blue Point. In retrospect I don’t feel that I was able to appreciate going down the staircase as I had to concentrate on not getting hung up at the front or swamped at the back and the deep locks empty quickly so I spent most of the time with no view at all!
It was a short distance further to the 3 Rise staircase where another lock keeper was on hand to help us down. What good service! As we descended we had views of the warehouses lining the canal in Bingley. It all looked very Italian. By the time we got to the bottom it was raining and we scrambled into waterproofs as we headed to the 2 Rise at Dowley Gap which we had to manage on our own. Finally we had a single lock with a swing bridge immediately in front. The stretch between the 2 Rise and Hirst Lock followed the River Aire which was just below the towpath and looked wonderful. I think that as I was walking I had the best view.
When we reached Saltaire we discovered that the moorings at Salts Mill are 6 hour only, the next moorings were full and we have ended up on the towpath in Shipley, where we hope we will have an undisturbed night. If not we will move on tomorrow!
Today we did 6.74 Miles, 11 Locks and 9 Swing Bridges
Statistics so far:-
2598.36 Miles, 1533 Locks, 164 Swing Bridges, 90 Lift Bridges, 45 Tunnels