We had been away from the boat for three nights at a family wedding in Northumberland. By the time we arrived back on Sunday evening we were ready for early nights and detoxing. We did have an early start this morning because the hire car had to be returned to Halifax, so we set off before the car park started charging at 8.00 and went to a big Tesco supermarket before dropping the car and being driven back.
Robert and Liz on NB Blue Point had waited for us at Hebden Bridge and had had quite a difficult time of it. They loved the town itself, who wouldn’t, but had a lot of trouble with fluctuating water levels which tilted the boats over on a very steep lean. They were constantly trying to keep the boats off the bank and the ledge alongside. Most of the boats that came up from Sowerby Bridge were long weekend hirers who turned in the mooring pound which made the water levels even lower. There was also a diesel spill which we could smell when we arrived back at the boat. They were relieved to be heading off today.
Our journey started through the outskirts of Hebden Bridge. It’s so attractive with rows of old houses and the hills beyond. There was a terrace of houses fronting the canal with colourful early summer gardens between the houses and the canal, followed by a community of canal boats, gardens and a teepee. Steering through the pound after Stubbings Wharf I had great difficulty because the water level was so low (about a foot below normal it seemed). We had filled up with diesel at Bronte Boats and were light on water so our stern was sitting low. I found myself scraping on the bottom even in the middle of the canal. Then I came to a tree that had fallen over most of the canal. Robert got through OK but as I went round it I ran aground and couldn’t move the boat. Finally I went along the side to get the pole and started back along the side to push off the stern. As I did so water rushed down, presumably as the lock ahead was emptied, though I couldn’t see it or the others. This refloated the boat which also rushed backwards as I teetered along the side with the pole. I made it back safely to the tiller to stop the boat as it went back past the tree and managed to get round this time. Progress was painfully slow until a wide curve into the lock when I ground to a halt again. I attempted to reverse to find another way through and finally managed to get the stern across to the bank with the bow across the canal. Alan jumped on and together we got the boat round and into the lock. Thankfully the water levels improved from then on and it was even pouring over some lock gates.
A few locks further on, just after Alan and I had swopped over, I had great difficulty budging a very stiff ground paddle and the windlass flew off giving me a nasty graze and bruise on my shin. A man sitting on a lockside seat said “You know what would make your life easier. Learn to drive the boat”. I resisted the urge to throw the windlass at him and set him straight.
As we went on towards Todmorden the surrounding hills became higher and more rocky and the valleys more picturesque. There were meadows filled with yellow buttercups and in one a horse with its baby foal. The outskirts of Todmorden were a tad dour but the centre is very interesting. There’s some fabulous architecture and we had a lovely time in the Bears wholefood store. There are gardens everywhere filled with thriving herbs and a variety of vegetables available for the use of all and I picked some dill for our meal this evening. The market was closed for the day but we will return there and to Bears before we go on tomorrow.
Today we did 4.34 Miles and 10 Locks
Statistics so far:-
2660.03 Miles, 1612 Locks, 175 Swing Bridges, 90 Lift Bridges, 47 Tunnels