Granary Wharf, Leeds

We’d found ourselves facing the same conundrum, country bumpkins at heart, but fascinated by city life. Reluctant to move on but Leeds Dock only permits 48hour visitor mooring. But we’d been told Granary Wharf was a nice place, a mile upstream, next to the railway station. So off we set.

Under the fancy Victorian bridges

alongside the trendy warehouse apartments,

and past the yellow water taxi, a hidden gem of Leeds ferrying passengers between the station and Leeds dock for a pound.

 What we hadn’t fully comprehended  was that the section between Leeds dock and the wharf is still river and therefore liable to flooding. And with Leeds Dock being inbetween the last river lock and the first canal lock, we hadn’t seen the flood warning before we set off. The River Aire flows underneath the fancy gold domed railway station and as its mighty waters are channelled through this restricted passage there is always a strong flow.

There doesn’t need to be a huge amount of rain to create a hefty flow.

and much to our horror, as we tried to traverse onto the lock landing we  lost control of the boat, resistance was futile and the best course of action was to allow ourselves to be swept back downstream until we could regain control. There have been very few times I’ve been scared on Firecrest but this was definitely a mistake.
Luckily Eric has a lot of confidence in how Firecrest handles and once I’d walked the long way round and got the lock gates opened Eric was able to use maximum throttle.  Much to the entertainment of the watching crowd he ploughed straight through the torrent and into the lock. And he was able to stop before he hit the other side. He got a big round of applause, and a silent prayer of thanks from me.

And so this was it. After a fraught 20 minutes, we were finally on the L&L. Moored up in Granary Wharf, nestled under the arches of the railway.

And over towered by the Doubletree Hotel

And it won’t come as any surprise that I went to investigate whether or not I could go to the top. It’s actually a Skylounge open to the public. And the view is worth the cocktail. Looking south sees the area of Leeds currently being gentrified and the canal starting it’s journey West.

To the east the sky line is dominated by “The Dalek” building. River Lock, the first lock on the canal can be seen below, and the River Aire flowing East. I think the white building in the distance is the Armouries next to Leeds Dock

Looking north is Leeds city centre behind the covers of the train station.

And again to the north but looking down over the station and the bars and restaurants under the arches

And finally the view we wanted to see the most, looking down onto Firecrest.

The highs and lows of Leeds

I’m talking about the buildings. Leeds seems to be full of tall buildings, both old and new, regenerated and tumbling down. And some inbetween.

The River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool canal obviously helped the city prosper back in the 18th century.  Warehouses dominated the waterfront,

and the merchants created a stunning city centre with ornate arcades and offices designed to show off their wealth.

Today’s society is also cashing in by regenerating the warehouses into very desirable housing and enhancing the centre with open spaces and trendy retail experiences.

But it was the old buildings that grabbed my attention the most. We particularly liked the Corn Exchange with its unusual oval domed glass roof, it’s now full of small independent retailers and the eateries. There’s a piano in the middle for anyone to play.

And the market hall is a worthy detour for any tourist, as some of the original pitches are still in use today and the decorative structure of the building is stunning.

Leeds market is where Mr Marks and Mr Spencer first started trading at their penny bazaar. And although this is not quite on the spot M&S maintain a historic presence in the market hall.

Leeds city library might be full of interesting books but again it was the building that I came to see.

It’s not a city that is standing still but despite the glamour we saw a lot of dark alleys that quite frankly we wouldn’t walk down in broad daylight let alone after 5pm. And it feels like, despite a lot of prosperity, the downtrodden and undesirables get pushed further and further down, out of sight and out of mind, Leeds is certainly a city that made me think and at least some are making a conscious effort to keep a welcome door ooen