Saturday, 13 August 2016

More about Family

Having overstayed in Granary Wharf in Leeds, our fresh water tank was getting low. It was time to move on.

We had had a brilliant time in Leeds and I think it is safe to say, we would love to return sometime. However, new adventures await so on Monday 25th July, along with Jan and Colin on nb Polako, we untied the mooring ropes, descended through River Lock and continued onto the River Aire, where the Aire & Calder Navigation meets the Leeds & Liverpool canal. Heading East, the river passes under several bridges and is overlooked by tall buildings right on the edge of the navigation as we leave Leeds behind.

The locks along this stretch of the river, although manually operated are electronic so for a while at least, I can put my windlass away and take out the watermate key. In addition, it was with relief that we say ciao to the shorter locks. In contrast, we felt rather overwhelmed in the large commercial locks.

We were heading for the mining village of Allerton Bywater which is just a mile from Castleford junction. We thought it would be easier to find mooring, and indeed we were right to do so as we subsequently discovered, all mooring at Castleford was taken. However that still gave us seven locks over nine miles to navigate.

The Nicholson Waterways Guide warned that it would not be easy to moor Allerton Bywater and I can honestly say that it wasn't! Fortunately the river flow was benign giving us enough time to attach mooring ropes to the rings embedded in the embankment wall. Due to the low water levels, I had to climb on the roof of Winedown and leap off with the centre line in order to hold the boat while Ian picked up a mooring ring.
Once securely moored, we set off to find the riverside pub only to discover that they don't serve food on a Monday. After a sociable drink with Jan and Colin, Ian and I returned to the boat to cook a meal, while Colin and Jan went in search of a pub that was serving food.

Later in the evening, the setting sun bathed the surface of the tranquil river in a light blush. This, and the warbling of the river fowl was quite a juxtaposition to the bustle of the inner-city mooring we had recently left behind in Leeds centre.

Setting off at a reasonable hour on Tuesday 26th July, we continued to follow the River Aire downstream, turned at Castlefield junction, through the flood lock and on to Bulholme Lock. We would have no trouble with short locks on this stretch as the navigation from Castlefield to Goole was built to accommodate commercial traffic of up to 200ft in length.
The stretch of river between Castleford and Ferrybridge, known as the Five Mile Pond is surprisingly pretty as it meanders along and owes it's pleasant character to the recent landscaping of the now-abandoned mining works and successful tree planting.

It was an easy run and Winedown loved the deeper water, responding with smooth passage and soporific beat of the veteran engine all the way to Pollington. At times, Colin on nb Polako struggled to keep pace although we were running at a little more than tick-over.

Before long however, the industrial nature of the river returned as the massive cooling towers of Ferrybridge Power Station dominate the landscape.

After 15 miles and only three locks to work, we stopped for the day at the very pleasant mooring spot at Pollington Lock. We were now only eight miles from our destination at Goole Dock which we completed easily the following morning. Goole Dock is not the prettiest of locations, but it would be 'home' to us for a week, while we visited family.

Leaving Colin and Jan to keep an eye on Winedown, we packed an overnight bag and set off (courtesy of cousin Tony, who kindly collected us in his car) to spend the night with my uncle and aunt, Ivor and Shiela.

After a comfortable night sleep - on land, we had just finished breakfast when Tony called in for a cuppa. A short while later, we all piled into his car; Tony had a full day planed for us.
First stop was the Lilly lakes at Burnby Hall Gardens, situated in the charming market town of Pocklington on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds. Often referred to as 'a haven of beauty and tranquillity', Burnby Hall Gardens are a particular favourite of Ivor and Shiela.

After enjoying ice-creams and coffee, we wandered through the lush gardens and fed the over-fed fat koi carp fish in the lakes while enjoying the wide variety of lilies that had been planted. At lunch time, Tony whisked us off to Shiela's favourite garden centre that has a particularly good restaurant for a light lunch. After which, we returned to 'Highfields' (Ivor & Shiela's home) for afternoon tea. Later, after much hugging and kissing, we bid a now exhausted Ivor and Shiela goodbye, and Tony took us to meet his son Gavin and Grandson George.

The following day was Gavin's birthday and he wanted to keep that fact quiet from his local pub. Needless to say, Tony had arranged that we all meet at the same pub so we had to whisper our birthday greetings (in loud voices) to ensure that Gavin's secret was kept!

Before long, Tony's significant 'other half', Jo, joined us and the prosecco freely flowed followed by copious amounts of red wine - for Jo and I that was, the fellas all drank beer.

As the evening wore on and the food had been cleared away, Gavin suggested that we all adjourn to his home. Once again, Ian and I piled into Tony's car and were whisked away to 'I don't know where' - Gavin's home.

It was quite late by the time we were all ready to leave and return to the boat. What Ian and I hadn't realised was that the gates to the docks would be locked, and we couldn't get back to Winedown. Fortunately Jo runs the Normanby Guest House in Scunthorpe and she hastily made a room available for us so we had another comfortable night on land.

Tony had the following day (Friday 29th) off work and while we enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast at the guest house, he suggested that we take a drive to Lincoln to see the 'Poppy Wave' and who would we be to refuse such a wonderful invitation. Ian and I readily agreed.

Guessing that Jan and Colin would have worried that we hadn't returned, we gave then a quick phone call to put their minds at rest, before piling into the back of Tony's car once again.

The original ceramic poppy display was called 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' and displayed at the Tower of London in 2014. Each of the 888 246 poppies represents the fatality of a member of the British and Colonial Forces in World War 1.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Once the entire display had been dismantled, the 'Wave' from the Tower's south entrance and the 'Weeping Window' sections went on tour of UK, The tour will be conducted between 2014 and 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the 14-18 war. It was the 'Wave' section that was on display at Lincoln Castle.

The sweeping arch of red poppies over the wall of Lincoln castle was originally a dramatic key element to the entire display at the Tower of London and although it is just a small part of the original, it was nonetheless poignant and has attracted many visitors. I heard that the 'Wave' was to represent the soldiers 'going over the top' out of the trenches to attack enemy positions, but I haven't yet found any confirmation of that. However, with a little imagination, you can certainly see how that can be.

There is a rich history behind Lincoln castle dating back to 1068 and it is presently the home of one of the only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta dating back to 1215. We would need more time to explore this historical icon so we will definitely be back! Perhaps next year.

In the car once again, Tony took us to have tea with his parents, Ivor and Shiela. Tony had promised Ivor a trip to our boat, so we went to collect him to fulfil that promise. They were certainly surprised to hear that we hadn't been 'home' yet!

We hadn't realised that Goole Docks and the Yorkshire Waterways Museum in particular would be hosting the FolkSail Festival that weekend of 30th and 31st July. The highlight was the heritage boats that would be on display and in particular two fully rigged sailing barges; the Humber Keel 'Comrade' and the Humber Sloop 'Amy Howson' owned by the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society.

A number of privately owned boats had also joined in the festivities. (I'm not sure when a boat becomes a ship - there are differing theories on this however some were certainly much larger than others)

On Sunday 31st July, a number of the privately owned vessels  joined a helmsman competition in the Docks. Each skipper, with the help of only one crew member had to display his skills in a number of manoeuvres. Ian and I took up a position where we could clearly see and appreciate what was going on. Ian really enjoyed 'Playing with the Big Boys' and redoubled his efforts with regard to hunting for our next boat.

Before leaving Goole Docks, we decided to take a waterside Dock Tour that was offered by the Yorkshire Waterways Museum. I must say that it was very informative and we were taken past enormous commercial ships that were loading or off-loading.

In and amongst the commercial ships was this Tom Pudding Hoist.
Tom Pudding was the name given to tub like boats used on the Aire & Calder Navigation. Up to 40 Tom Puddings were strung together in a train and they were used to carry coal from the colliery at Stanley Ferry to Goole Dock where each Tom Pudding was lifted in the hoist and tipped into waiting cargo ships. This method was successfully used for over 100 years until 1986 when road transport took over.
The Yorkshire Waterways Museum hope to have this hoist operational again for demonstration purposes by next year!

Tuesday 2nd August was our last evening at Goole Dock and we couldn't have been treated to a more beautiful sunset.

On Wednesday 3rd August we continued on our way. There was a strong wind blowing as we manoeuvred onto the diesel point but we managed to tie up without incident. Once the fuel tank was full we headed into the wind along the very long and very straight Knottingley & Goole Canal - part of the Aire and Calder Navigation. For the next five miles the wind howled along the navigation whipping the surface into waves that sprayed us in the face. Surprisingly, after we turned onto the equally long and straight New Junction Canal, we were sheltered from the wind by the canal banks and enjoyed a more pleasant ride.

Just before reaching the intersection of the New Junction canal and the Stainforth & Keadby, the canal is carried over the River Don on an aqueduct that has strange guillotine gates at either end. Fortunately, both gates were raised. I can't say that I was too sad about that as I really wouldn't have known what to do had they been closed.

We moored near the New Inn pub in Stainforth and enjoyed a great 'Surf 'n Turf dinner. Cousin Tony was bringing Ivor and Shiela to spend the following day with us and we needed to be in a position that had easy car access for Ivor and Shiela, but I must admit that I would hesitate to moor there again on a Friday evening. The New Inn pub has a karaoke evening that continues into the early hours of the morning. Ok if you like that sort of thing!

With Ivor and Shiela on board, we set off from Stainforth heading towards Crowle Wharf, some nine miles down the canal. It was a perfect summer's day. There was a light breeze which complimented the warm sunshine and blue sky. Ivor thoroughly enjoyed his day but when Ian invited him to brush-up his skills on the helm, he was delighted. He smoothly steered Winedown along the canal as if he had never been away from the helm. Shiela, in the meantime was equally delighted just to sit and watch the passing scenery.

Later that evening, after Tony had arrived to collect his parents, we finished the perfect day with a light meal and drinks at the prestigious 7 Lakes Country Park.

It had been a wonderfully precious time with family. I haven't spent so much time with my cousin in many long years, and I can't say just how much I enjoyed the company of my Aunt and Uncle. To nostalgically quote David Jason...

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