We thought about staying the day, then the clouds rolled in only to clear as soon as we’d pushed off. It wasn’t far to Stanley Ferry, a busy place with moorings, boat yard, dry dock, pub – topped off with the Stanley Ferry Aqueduct. Built on the same principle as Sydney Harbour Bridge, which it predates by a whole 100 years; Stanley Ferry Aqueduct is a two-pin cast iron arch…almost 7000 tons of stone and 1000 tons of cast iron were used in its construction between 1836-9. James, a 160 ton schooner drawn by three grey horses was the first boat to ever pass over on the 8th August 1839.
Fall Ings Lock separates the Aire and Calder and the Calder and Hebble navigations. Leaving the Aire and Calder behind locks shrank from bodies of water so big they’re difficult to process as locks when thinking normal size and scale. Gargantuan got replaced with tricky. Made to fit 57’6″ we have to go in Calder and Hebble locks sideways, watching out for the potentially tiller crunching walkboards over the back gates. With water levels so low our journey has been a doddle but it’s hard to shake the feeling that all the water up here is only just about tamed – when levels rise it must be wild.
We skimmed the outer edge of Wakefield, the water turns left and away. After 22 months Murk has finally made himself useful and does a pretty good job of carrying the Calder and Hebble spike although it probably won’t be too long before he happily watches it tumble to the bottom of a lock. He also continues to add another dimension to what should be the most simple things – watching him charge into the midge screen was entertaining the first time round but it probably wouldn’t survive a second battering.