We woke up on Sunday morning to our last full day on 't canal. It was another glorious blue sky day and once again, Daffy had been up hours earlier to take atmospheric misty photos of the canal.
Stephen and I were only too happy to let her get on with it and I found it hard enough to get up at a much more reasonable 8am.
For someone who is more used to getting up at 10am or later, 8am was quite early enough, thank you very much. Once we'd had breakfast and got on our way, it was more like 9am and, being Sunday on the canal system, we quickly came to a traffic jam.
Thankfully a traffic jam on a canal is slightly different to one on the roads.
For a start you're slowing DOWN from 4mph and not going along at that speed. You can get off and chat with the others who are stuck with you. You can boil the kettle and even have a bacon butty (or buttie) while you discuss advanced narrow boat technology and the ever changing British weather. New friends are made, email addresses exchanged and promises made to meet same time next year.
Yes all very different from the M62 at rush hour.
In our case, we were one of 5 boats waiting to go through the next set of locks.
As you go through two at a time, we knew we had a bit of a wait and so we tied up and chatted with ourselves and our fellow boatees.
Here you can see Stephen on the tow path discussing the political situation in Zimbabwe with Captain Birdseye while the next boat in turn is untied in preparation for it's trip through the lock.
The 3rd boat in line was a wide barge and those on board decided to take the opportunity to have some breakfast and this allowed us to pair up with boat 4 and go though the lock early. This took me by surprise and as I unhitched the rope at the back of the boat and pushed us away from the canal bank, I totally forgot to remove the large (expensive) iron peg that we'd hammered into the banking and tied the rope to. Opps.
We went through the lock, settled into a stretch of open water and Stephen took the opportunity to tidy away the pegs and the lock gate handle and said......one peg is missing. I thought about blaming Daffy. I thought about saying a rogue swam nicked it. But I owned up and even said I'd go back on the tow path and get it......if it was still there of course.
But we sailed on and the pin was never mentioned again - even to the rental people who probably realised the price they'd charged covered the loss of a poxy metal pin. And the radio aerial. But that's another story !!
This was the view from one of the many lock gates looking down on the next one.
Glorious scenery, relatively good weather and the water was so calm.
It was all quite relaxing - apart from having to leap off the boat to pass though the locks.
It was all enough to give us an appetite and by lunch time, we were ready to find a pub, pull over and have something to eat.
We DID find a lovely pub, right beside the busy main A65 at Gargrave, and due to it's location plus the fact that it was Fathers Day, it was packed and we had quite a wait before we got our meals. If memory serves me well (ha !), we each had a different roast meal, lamb, beef and turkey and jolly nice they were too.
It was strange to see other patrons heading to the car park to get in their cars and 'enjoy' the delights of the A65 on a busy Sunday, while we headed down the steep hill to the water to board our boat and continue at leisure along the Leeds/Liverpool canal.
The afternoon continued much as before with lovely long stretches of lock free canal to enjoy and we all took turns steering or taking photos or just relaxing by taking in the beautiful Dales countryside.
Then we'd come to more locks and it would be time for a bit of activity.
In this case we were joined by another boat and we went through this series of locks together.
Here we have come from the higher level of water as seen in the picturesque circle behind the gates and we're being lowered down in the lock to get us to the next level.
The other boater felt the urge to burst into a short operatic aria for which the rest of us were very grateful - that it was short I mean !
The idea on Sunday was to get fairly close to the rental location by nightfall as we had to return the boat and be off it by about 9am the next morning so we didn't want to have to travel far. Just as well because at a max of 4mph and with going through a lock taking anything from 30 mins to an hour, we weren't going anywhere fast.
This is one of the last locks we passed through on the way to an evening mooring not far from Skipton.
I've included it simply because it was indicative of the scenery we found everywhere on our weekend on the canal.
You don't mind doing a bit of manual labour when you have scenery like this to look at though your sweat.
And thankfully for me, neither did Stephen. By this time on the 3rd day, I'd decided to pretend it was the 7th - and I rested. Well it was a Sunday too. I just couldn't fight tradition and I spent most of the day taking photos, mostly of Stephen opening and closing lock gates ! I didn't feel too bad though as the very fact that the lock areas were busier than we'd experienced before, meant that there were plenty of lovely, friendly boating people around to work one side while he worked the other.
My conscience was clear.
By about 5pm we were gliding smoothly along the canal which was meandering across the Dales countryside like a random streak of mayonaise on a plate of lettuce. The sky was mostly blue and there wasn't a breath of wind. I was steering and it was such a pleasure to guide the boat around gentle bends and under picturesque bridges and all was well with the world.
Then I glanced behind me and saw the storm clouds approaching. No worries as we were heading away from them. Then they appeared from both sides as well and in a moment straight out of 'Close Encounters', the evil black rain clouds converged around us and for a few, sadly brief, moments, we were in a small pocket of sunshine that was rapidly growing smaller.
For some bizarre reason we were looking at all this as if it simply wouldn't affect us. Then the realisation, and the rain, hit us hard. We needed to find somewhere to moor the boat and do it fast. This wasn't as easy as it sounds as in many places, you dare not approach the bank because the water is very shallow there and you end up beaching the boat.
I beached the boat.
We were stuck fast and the combined pushing efforts of Stephen and myself achieved nothing. We tried going backwards but we didn't move. Forwards, nothing. We both got off and tried pushing from the bank - nothing.
Finally, with all of us drenched, we managed to set the boat free and moved further along the canal until we found a better, safer mooring and tied up. The rain continued to fall for a few hours and we decided we might as well stay there for the night.
By 10pm the rain had stopped and silence once again descended on the canal.
I went outside and noticed a swan with her cygnets keeping close to us in the hopes that they would get some food.
Daffy duly obliged and although it was almost pitch black and hard for the camera to focus, I got some good flash shots.
And that was it for Day 3.
There is no point in creating a new post for Day 4 as it only lasted a few hours.
Because of the rain, we'd not exactly been interested in our location when we moored the previous evening.
So it was quite a pleasant surprise to get up on the Monday and see where we had ended up.
It was another glorious morning and with the weekend over, we seemed to have the whole canal to ourselves again.
Stephen showed enough faith in my steering ability to allow me to get us through Skipton which as previous posts have shown, can be a busy place to pass though with a narrow boat. No sweat.
Due to mooring a bit further away from the rental location than we'd planned to, we were a bit late arriving there - but nothing was said. We tied up, removed our belongings and loaded up the car for the short drive back to Leeds.
It was a wonderful weekend and I'd like to thank my hosts, Daphne and Stephen, for their very generous offer of inviting me to join them. I heartily recommend spending time on a canal to anyone and I'll never forget my first time.
Of course if you've read my previous post or know me at all, that means very little. I'll have forgotten all about it by tomorrow week.