Monday, 7 November 2011

Driffield Navigation by kayak - Snakeholm Lock

Driffield Navigation by Kayak - Part 7
Snakeholm Lock
August 2011

The navigation runs straight and true from Trout Inn to Snakeholm Lock, one of only two navigable locks on the currently accessible route. 

Upstream from Snakeholm Lock at the trout farm inlet

The trout farm is located to the north of the lock, drawing all the flow of water out of the channel and passing it through their many lakes and ponds. The pound is kept low and exiting the kayaks is on the south bank, via the dry bywash channel.

Snakeholm Lock standing open and ready

This lock is interesting in that immediately below the current chamber, restored in 2003, there are another set of gate recesses which date from the days when this was the head of the Tidal River Hull. It appears that before Struncheon Lock was built in the mid 1880's the incoming tides often failed to offer enough water to get boats over the cill of Snakeholm. To remedy this a small lower lock was built, effectively creating a staircase pair to raise boats the few inches needed to access the main upper lock. Its got to be the strangest staircase I have ever seen.  Today the recesses lie empty, but the gate hoops make useful hand grips and double up as mooring points for the few boats which cruise to this point for a quiet night.

Snakeholm Sea Lock

The channel is remorselessly straight below the lock stretching on for nearly a mile before the tedium is broken by a bend. But there is one distinctive feature all kayaker's should be aware of: the return of the water to the river from the trout farm. It sluices in ferociously at a 90 degree angle to the channel, sending a torrent into the side of the kayak before scouring away the bank on the far side. I opted for a stylish ferry glide which nearly saw my tip over, much to Jeff's amusement, whereas he took the more prudent approach of easing along close to the far bank and so avoiding the worst of the rapids.

Downstream from Snakeholm Lock

This section is perhaps the dullest of the route, ok on a fine day but less inviting in a cold windswept afternoon with rain spitting in your face. But don't give up, things soon take a turn for the better.

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