Friday 15 June 2018

Fooling around in Foulridge

Burnley to Barnoldswick
June 2018

After a few twisting miles through Nelson we approached the seven locks of the Barrowford flight which would lift us to the summit pound of the Leeds Liverpool canal. 

A very empty Barrowford Reservoir

As usual, we hauled the butty alongside to allow us to breast the boats up, a process we have got down to a fine art and one which can be achieved in the time it takes to empty a lock. On this occasion the towpath was on the right, the same side that the butty needs to go so I tied the bows of the motor to the bollard and did the whole procedure while dangling on a bit of rope - messy to look at but effective.

Barrowford top lock

We had help up the locks which slowly lifted us up to the level of the Barrowford Reservoir and revealed its depleted state following a couple of rainless months. If we don't see some rain in the north I can see boating restrictions ahead.

From the top lock it is a short hop to the end of the 1640 Foulridge Tunnel. In the midlands this would be a "Two way working" tunnel but given the volume of wider boats it is controlled by traffic lights which allow entry for 10 minutes each hour. We arrived a bit late to had to tie up and wait for 40 mins.

All stop at Foulridge

Whilst waiting we decided to experiment with towing in tunnels. We usually pull the butty through on short cross straps but having experienced the uneven nature of the Huddersfield Narrow tunnel at Standedge, we think that it may be better to steer it through. But the thing is that we don't want to try this for the first time at Standedge.

Good to go

The times entry at Foulridge meant that we had the tunnel completely to ourselves so we dropped the butty onto a 40ft stubber and when the lights turned green, Helen jumped aboard and a pulled her through on a rope. As a navigational experiment it was a great success. We moved through nice and quickly, I could steer easily (although the boats pivot point came y back) and Helen found the butty easy to control and hold in a centre line. The only issue was lighting for the butty - the LED's we used tended to blind her so we will have to have devise a mark 2 illumination system.

Helen on a string

Foulridge really did mark the watershed of the canal and soon after exiting we passed the county border, moving from Lancashire to Yorkshire. We also found we had moved from an area of handcuffs (keys) to hire boats with loads darting about, including some terrifyingly large wide beams. The canal can cope with them but there bulk can be a bit intimidating.

A couple of shots from the butty

We had no wish to start on any downhill locks so moored at an old wharf in Barnoldswick, a classic mill town and went in search of fish and chips. Sadly all three closed by 6.30 so we switched to an Indian take out  which was great, but we were a bit startled that they don't accept any plastic - just cash. 

This appears a peaceful little town and the mooring will benefit from an Aldi which is being built next to the Rolls Royce works. 

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