We like to think of ourselves as country bumpkins at heart, we love mooring in the middle of nowhere surrounded by wildlife and the incessant birdsong. But oh boy do we get a buzz when we enter a big city, and Leeds was to prove no different. Canals by their nature, being part of the industrial transit system, tend to occupy the backwaters of most locations. There’s always dereliction, but sometimes regeneration and always graffiti. But not all graffiti is offensive. And this was our welcome into Leeds.
Leeds has its fair share of victorian factory warehouse buildings. It’s a tall city, but we quickly saw some highly desirable waterfront properties as we approached the centre.
Our aim was to moor in “Leeds dock” a regenerated wharf surrounded by trendy eateries and in our case pylon moorings with electrics. But alas, despite the potential for a lot more visitor moorings CRT and the local management team only provide space for 3 or 4 visiting boats and we weren’t one of the lucky ones. So we had 24 hours outside on the island high wall. (At this point we are still on the River Aire with weirs and flood locks) but this gave us a brilliant view of the Royal Armouries Museum. A pity the weather had turned everything dark and grey
The following day we were on the ball waiting for spaces in the dock and were able to reach our destination.
And get one of the prized pontoon places
With 48 hours to go exploring our first stop had to be our overshadowing neighbour the Armouries. Especially as it was now pouring with rain. I was a bit sceptical at first, thinking that this huge purpose built building might just be full of guns, not my idea of a fun day out. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It is a fascinating venue, so much so that after a few hours we got museum overload and left before we’d seen it all. The impressive glass tower housed a display of historical weaponry, and whilst you could say that once you’ve seen one sword and spear do you need to see more, the impressiveness was in the way in which they were displayed. Symmetrically and artistically, as they would have been in castles and kingdoms of old. And of course with the view through the round window of Firecrest moored below.
The displays weren’t only of weapons of war, but went way back to early mans esential hunting tools, and modern man’s non essential, but visually more impressive hunting tools.
It didn’t stop at what we know now, there were futuristic film weapons for zapping aliens, just in case. And the beautiful swords from the Lord of Rings trilogy. We were treated to guides in costume giving talks and actual displays of sword fights. All in all it was a very impressive and well done museum, and the best bit is that it is free admission and we got a good view through the rain streaked windows of Firecrest.