Sowerby Bridge

Bye bye Calder and Hebble, hello Rochdale. We certainly won’t be sorry to see the end of the Calder and Hebble locks. We don’t mind using the spike, that’s quite fun, but it’s not fun fitting into the short locks, trying to get the bottom gates closed while holding up the fenders and keeping the bow up against the top gates simultaneously. And even less fun when one of the boats has to reverse out because the gates can’t be closed when they are both in together. And then there are the streams of water pouring out of the top locks in great arcs into your cockpit if you don’t keep the bow in the one foot or so that is free of water. And all this in a howling gale.

Otherwise the Calder and Hebble, while not one of the great canals, is attractive, it has some great river sections and the stretch today from Brighouse to Sowerby Bridge was green with great views over the Calder alongside and woodland on the other side.

We had spent last night moored in Brighouse Basin. We started our Saturday Night Out with a drink in the Ship Inn. Good beer, pleasant surroundings and friendly locals. Then we went on to an excellent meal at the Greek restaurant which was deservedly busy.

We made a later start today, going up the first lock at 10.00 to moor at the water point to both fill up. While we did that we took turns to shop at Sainsburys and then Catherine and James went off home and we set off towards Sowerby Bridge. There was a real gale blowing and it made manoeuvring very difficult, especially getting out of the basin into the first lock. There was also quite heavy rain at first.

According to Pearson it should have taken us three hours or so to get to Sowerby Bridge but it was actually nearly six hours, probably because of the difficulties with the short locks. At Longlees Lock we caught up with a Shire Cruisers hire boat and Lazy Days went through the lock with them as they were only about thirty feet in length and then we worked Blue Point through. We caught up with them again at the first of the triple Salterhebble Locks. The lowest is an intriguing lock because it is accessed under a substantial road bridge (the towpath goes through a small tunnel) and because of the bridge’s proximity there is an electronic guillotine bottom gate. We helped work the hirers through and then followed. Because there weren’t traditional gates there was easily room for the two boats but that wasn’t the case for the next two locks which were so short that we had to take them one boat at a time. The top paddles were mostly spike operated (our last use of the spike this trip) and there were torrents of water over the bows. The hire boat had moored up and the lovely couple came back and worked both our boats through the top lock. I think that chap was pleased to get off the boat and experience the lock operating. They thanked us for helping them: I assured them that they had done more to help us!

We are now moored at Sowerby Bridge in front of the first Rochdale Locks. There are high buildings to our right and the river to our left. Tomorrow we will explore: tonight we are exhausted!

Moorings at Brighouse

Manipulating a Spike

Spike poser

Imposing Mill


Guillotine Lock

One of Salterhebble Locks

Today we did 6.52 Miles and 11 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2650.34 Miles, 1595 Locks, 175 Swing Bridges, 90 Lift Bridges, 45 Tunnels


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