Sunny River

North YorkshireAire and CalderTurning out from the Selby Canal onto the Aire and Calder it was lovely to be free of weedy water. The wind was gusting and motoring upstream the whole big water experience felt quite exhilarating, with sunshine thrown in too we finally moored and lit the barbecue feeling as though we’d been whipped through an outward bound water world. As the sun went down we realised the factory opposite was probably going to run all night and also spotted quite a few air riffle shots on the Canal and River Trust sign, but after forcing our eyes to stay open for the penalty shoot outs we fell asleep and didn’t hear a thing.

Shorts again today – read it and weep you soft southernerCastlefords! Another long river run before returning through the flood gates at Castleford and crossing over to new waters. Passing a lock now only used by permanent moorers at The White Rose Boat Club we quickly tied at the lock landing to make lunch, Nick disappeared and after a while I began peering around the base of the boat on the off-chance he’d taken a tumble and was bobbing about down there while I was eating crisps. No nasty slips, Nick reappeared from the boat club with a Calder and Hebble spike, the very kind people haCalder and Hebble spiked got their chain saw out, sliced a chunk of wood to shape and refused to take a penny for their trouble. Will try not to loose this one.Aire and Calder

The Aire and Calder continues to be brilliant for water points and most locks come complete with a long stretch of beautifully maintained visitor moorings. By 3pm having just risen through another big lock under blue sky and sunshine we decided to pull over for some roof top sunbathing. Still water and sun-baked fresh bedding tonight, winter radiator drying feels a world away.

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Selby Lock

boat turned for Selby LockThe Selby Canal is weedy, a little while of whizzing round the prop leaves one variety almost felted. Five miles today took a while but in no real rush it didn’tSelby Canal matter. Through the swing bridge we arrived at Selby Lock just in time to see today’s boats make the tricky lock turn manoeuvre. No surprise to see the cruisers appear first, they wobbled about awkwardly but then they’re a whole different kind of boat. We looked up river waiting for the main event. Next up, the first two narrowboats, screaming down on theOuse Selby tide. Yikes they were moving fast, turning involved some loud engine revving and what seemed to be a painfully long time being swept sideways before straightening up into the flow. Not sure if I’m glad to have seen it or not.

moored at Selby LockWe’ll be shooting off on the tide at 8.30am. Heard a fair few warnings about York that we didn’t expect: ‘Have you got chains?’ ‘Stop River Ouse to Yorkat Naburn, catch the bus in.’ ‘We had kids on the roof before we called the police.’ even opening this month’s Towpath shouted more of the same with an article on a spate of boats graffitied on The Ouse at York. Suck it and see. We might end up Marpisser yet.

Thanks to the very friendly lock keeper who offered us an overnight, offside, floodlit Selby mooring we’re only a lock length from the river, so we’ve been on river watch…checking the tide is still working? And watching very big bits of wood drift on by.


Coal Gone Cold

Aire and CalderIt was bleak out there today with barely a boat about. The flow is almost non-exiAire and Calderstent, there wasn’t a breath of wind but with rain setting in all around and the water opening up, it was one of those occasions when the boat felt very small. Power stations injected unsettling interest along the way.

For the most part surrounding land is still owned by the Coal Authority – massive subsidence over the last 50 years has left the area waterlogged andAire and Calder - Ferrybridge Power Stations unsuitable for everything other thAire and Calder - Ferrybridge Power Stationsan birds, long runs are protected with giant metal piling in order to prevent the whole lot seeping into one boggy mess. Up until recently the navigation provided a watery conveyor belt to over 30 collieries throughout the North East. Oil and grit are now main cargos. Ferrybridge Flood Lock

The last leg was on the SelbWest Haddlesey moorings - Aire and Calder y Canal where a cow stood firmly stuck in the water, a fireman watched from afar waiting for the rescue operation to begin. It did, with a speeding boat on a blue light, carrying a vet with a tranquilizer gun.

A picturesque mooring this evening considering the trip here, mountains of Himalayan Balsam overhanging lilies poking up through thick green sheets of duck weed – a water enthusiast’s beautiful nightmare.