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Customer blog

29 April

April Adventures with Norfolk

Posted by Steff Green

We have hired Norfolk several times and find she is the ideal size for us (2 adults and 1 dog) and the convertible settee/bed has allowed us to bring some friends for a couple of days too.
She is a go-anywhere size and does everything asked of her.
The semi-trad rear area is so useful to sit and chat with the steerer so they don't feel abandoned by the crew.
She has plenty of storage space and is equipped with everything you need. Lovely and warm with the heating on when it's a bit parky outside. A comfy bed and lashings of hot water for a shower makes her a home from home.

The route
Sowerby Bridge to Barnoldswick (Barlick) via The Calder and Hebble, The Aire and Calder and The Leeds and Liverpool.
Through cityscape and beautiful countryside, the joy of a one way trip is the decision of "when to wind" (turn) doesn't have to be made.

A lovely Spring day and super-excitement is bubbling up...I'm off to collect a hire-car as mine is kaput.
We are so lucky that Shire Cruisers is only 30-40 minutes away from where we live  and we can't contain ourselves any longer so off we go arriving early to find the wharf bustling with musicians (photo shoot) and staff from Shire buzzing about. All the boats being readied adds to the air of anticipation.
We had a quick handover, a centre line and longer handspike appeared and we were off. First stop the picturesque Salterhebble locks. Looking behind another Shire boat hove into view, it's Cambridge with A and A and their 3 dogs, also heading for Brighouse today. Pairing up saves water and time too if you only have 1 crew per boat, so we made good progress and arrived at Brighouse basin shortly before 6.
Mooring in the basin can be a bit of an art as it has curved/sloped sides but it's quaint and quiet.
In preparation for the trip we had decided not to do much shopping beforehand rather do it as we travelled so there will be mention of various super markets along the way.
A dog walk, delicious tea and an early night.

What a beautiful morning...I'm off to Sainsburys, just over the bridge to do a big shop including sunglasses for Jus as he's forgotten his and the day is shaping up to be lovely.
Our friends arrived by train from Leeds at 10 am, so we are off by 11, a short day planned, The Bingley Arms at Horbury is our destination, it has a good few moorings outside and a donkey in the beer garden! Such a smashing afternoon, chess and cider outside the pub..Happy Boaters!

We are off to Woodlesford today. Sun out, shorts on (yes I did pack them optimistically). It's hot, we had a picnic at Stanley Ferry, who would have thought that in April.
When we reached Woodlesford we moored below Swillinton Bridge rather than the VM's above the lock. From here you can walk about 1/2 mile to the Co-Op in Woodlesford, it's small but has most things.

We know this is going to be a long day as we are heading for Rodley and getting through Leeds takes more time than you may think. Up early and cracking on, we reached one of the big electric locks (not sure which) and a boat was just exiting so we went in..
Urgh now I have to do something I really don't like...climb the lock ladders before I can use my key to operate the lock.With a white knuckled climb I managed it, way outside my comfort zone but never mind it's done!
Coming into Leeds is straightforward for us but for those who may not know there are water taxis that operate from Leeds Dock to Granary Wharf.
Keep a sharp eye out for them and keep your speed down as they may be using the lock landing at River Lock , just float about until they move.
Check your times too as some of the locks above Leeds have opening hours and lockies.
It took most of the day to reach Rodley and the mooring next to The Barge, so thirsty tired boaters went to the pub to decide what we were going to have from the Chinese round the corner, Ellie made friends with one of the locals who seemed to enjoy sharing his pork scratching with her, it's not something she's ever had before!
Bad news, the Chinese is shut but clever Matt said "Let's do Just Eat"
and indeed we did and got a delivery to the boat from Cathay in Horsforth.
Delicious washed down with a bottle of wine.
Donna and Matt caught a taxi home.

We are heading for Shipley today, not going to try to moor at Saltaire. We have seen a mooring on the map just below Gallows footbridge, on the offside and hurray when we reach it is empty, it's really only big enough for one boat.
A quick litter pick and it's fine, some benches, a gate out onto the road and a gate off the footbridge. Really handy for an Aldi round the back.
That evening we heard a bump and when I looked out there was a drunken teenage girl on the back deck within the seating area and her boyfriend was just watching her..."Oi" you need to come off the boat... with a bit of crying and wailing she couldn't work out how to undo the bolt so I just let her out with a little muttering and they wandered off.. no harm done.

The wind's getting up and we feel a little rain, no worries, waterproofs ready to deploy if necessary.
Today is 3 and 5 rise day.
Top Tip for those travelling this way, when you reach the bottom of the 3 Rise ring the number on the gate and the lockie will give instruction and come down to you. Today it's Richard.
There's only us going up but boats coming down.
At the 5 Rise I get a secret message for the lockie at Bank Newton from Clare (the lockie there). She also told us a swingbridge ahead of us was closed for repairs with limited opening times to go through so we pressed on.. this is Stockbridge or Bar lane, both names seem to apply.
The bridge mechanics let us through about 5 minutes after we arrived as they were nearly done. Tonight is wild mooring at Holden.

It's windy and rainy and we are heading for Skipton. I forgot to say my hat blew off yesterday, I am bereft. So the cunning plan was to do some hat shopping.
We arrived in the afternoon, tried to take Ellie with us but it was just too busy for a little blind dog and so Jus took her back to the boat and I went and found just what was needed.
More food shopping required so I went to Tesco just round the corner for that too.
When I got back I discovered Jus and Ellie had been having their picture taken with the Community Police Officers.
I'd just like to take the opportunity to thank Ken on The Chilling Machine for lending us some tools to do a bit of fettling.
We treated ourselves to fish and chips from Bizzy Lizzies, heaven.

Today is a short day, weather is improving, we are happy boaters.
Very busy around this area with narrowboat and widebeam hire going on.
Top Tip; Don't assume that everybody can steer, take your time and keep your wits about you.
We are heading to Gargrave, it's so pretty, great moorings and handy for Jussy's favourite shop ever... The Dalesman Cafe and Sweet Emporium.
Also a Co-op, handy for a bit of shopping.
Toot toot, what is that? Could it be a steam train?
No, it's "Whistle Down The Wind" a steam narrowboat coming in to moor up ahead. We have seen her moored before but what a treat to see her with the boiler fired up, Great stuff.

We just love it round here, so pretty. Love all the wildlife, some early ducklings to be seen, some angry swans too!
We put on some water at the bottom of Bank Newton and I get to deliver my secret message to Nigel the lockie (It made him laugh but as it's a secret I cannot tell you what it was). We were going to moor at Langber, where the curly-wurly bit is but the wind wouldn't let us get in so we pressed on to East Marton where it's a little sheltered and moored up.

Last day is another short one. Going to head for Barlick and stop there tonight so we take out time pootling along, meeting Chris the lockie at Greenberfield all is well and we reach our destination in the afternoon. Walk the dog and start getting packed up. Eating any food that's left and drinking any drinks, it's an early night.

Today is departure day. Pack. Clean up. The other boats have all appeared last night and this morning. We jump into the taxi vans and travel back to Sowerby, a very scenic ride back takes about an hour (keep your eyes peeled for Alpacas) Back at base the time for home beckons...
Won't be long before we come back again, maybe another trip up The Rochdale next!
Many Thanks to Susan and Nigel and all Shire staff for another unforgettable adventure.
Steph, Jus and Ellie xxx