Arriving in Leeds

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.

Colourful 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.

Looks a nice place to live

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

Looking towards the Armouries

The following day we were on the ball waiting for spaces in the dock and were able to reach our destination.

Entering Leeds dock

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.

And the view through the round window is firecrest

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.

Getting back to Plan A

Having detoured from Plan A – ie to do the Leeds and Liverpool over the summer, before CRT imposed any closures due to water shortages- meant that we had to backtrack on our route for the next 30 miles. We waved goodbye to York and headed downstream to Naburn to await our booked passage along the tidal section to Selby. We’d spotted this giant wire creation on our way into York so we were prepared to take a closer look this time. The fisherman is sitting on a disused rail bridge, and that’s a train he’s caught not a fish. But we loved his doggy companion, cocking his leg against his bike. And it’s not just any old train, it’s the flying Scotsman, which used to use this line in it’s heyday.  I’m sure there’s more detail that we failed to notice, but I do like art with a sense of humour.

The fisherman and the flying scotsman

 
Naburn is a haven of peace and tranquillity after the bustle of York and before the race along the Ouse. The warm and balmy evening was another opportunity to sit with my spinning wheel outside.

Spinning a yarn in Naburn shade

The imposing building by The lock landing isn’t a house, it was the banqueting hall built in 1823 for the wealthy businessmen who took advantage of river transport.

The banqueting hall in the moonlight

It’s in the process of being transformed into a cafe serving cream teas and other delicacies but at the moment to garden is home to a flock of obliging free range chickens. This one is BBQ ready.

Roast chicken, anyone?

Our given time for leaving Naburn Lock, meant we would be pushing against the tide for an hour.  Although we had been warned about the speed of the River and the amount of debris, we hadnt encountered either on our way up so it took us quite by surprise, seeing 20foot logs hurtling towards us.

Is it a lot of a crocodile

It was a challenging journey and we both had to be on full alert not wanting to suffer the same fate as the Titanic. The green duck weed had been pushed out of Selby, in an attempt to clear the canal. But the intrepid cruisers told us they were banned from entering Selby lock as the quantity of weed would block their cooling system and overheat their engines before they’d gone 100yards. They had to run the gauntlet of floating logs and giant crocodiles all the way to Goole.

Selby basin in the green

It wasn’t nice and was so thick we had to manually push it out of our way so we could moor.
It didn’t stop us enjoying another day walking around Selby though, I even got to enjoy an organ recital in the Abbey, (and just to confirm that is grass around the Abbey not duck weed. )

Selby Abbey

We didn’t linger though, as we had an offer from nb Albion to share the locks and swing bridges.  Our companions suggested we went first, I wonder why….

Not sure we’ll beat the land speed record

Selby canal is a short canal, and we were welcomed back into Knottingley on the River Aire that afternoon by the locals

Knottingley has one of the prettiest towpaths I have come across. It is known as Freda’s garden. Freda lived in one of the cottages adjacent to the canal but didn’t have any garden of her own, so she adopted the land she walked along everyday, scattering seed and planting shrubs. Although she is no longer with us, the community embraced her love of nature and colour and maintain this half mile stretch for everyone to enjoy.

Freda’s garden

Knottingley is in the heart of the Yorkshire coal mine fields so suffered appalling deprivation when the mines closed down, but we’ve seen many towns and villages that were also affected by this policy, and some have gone on to thrive and although its obviously not a wealthy area, there was a  sense of community pride here. I hope these places survive the closure of the power stations. Fennybridge dominates the Knottingley sky line.

Fennybridge power station