Gargrave and Aground

We decided that being Saturday, and quite busy with boats in Skipton, that we would leave promptly and only go as far as Gargrave and hope to get a good mooring. We hoped for better weather and certainly less wind. The wind was indeed not as strong, and although it was cloudy, the weather improved throughout the day - the sun even shone for a time in the afternoon.

View near Gargrave

We went through the junction at Skipton and immediately met the hire boats with the stag party we boated with yesterday. They were on the move early because they wanted to get to East Marton. Again we operated the swing bridges together. The countryside became more like the dales we know,  rugged and remote. At Highgate Swing Bridge a steam train passed by along the Settle to Carlisle railway; unfortunately I hadn't got a camera available.

A Group of Aged Boaters at Niffany Wharf
At Holme Bridge our stag party friends let us go ahead at operate the lock. We gave them tips on what to do, although the ground paddle mechanisms were new to us.

View from Higherland Lock

Where the Pennine Way crosses the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Ground paddle mechanism, Leeds & Liverpool Canal

We stopped for water, and for the day, just above Higherland Lock. They were numerous other boats but a convenient space just before the winding hole.  We moored up and immediately found that water levels were dropping. Just as we were about the talk to the lock keeper, who was in a small office by the lock, he left. Some time later, after Albert had been firmly aground but refloated as water levels rose, the lock keepers arrived back and informed us that we were moored over an old slipway. By then, there were few spare paces so we stayed put. We explored Gargrave in the afternoon and returned to find the pound well down and all boats on the bottom unable to move. There was general consternation and there were lots of calls to BW, including from me. Eventually, after around an hour, a BW operative arrived and water was sent down the flight. We are now afloat. Let's hope that we are still afloat tomorrow.

So what of  Gargrave? It is a delightful pretty village. We particularly enjoyed our time in the Dalesman Cafe Tearooms and Sweet Emporium. We had tea and that great Yorkshire delicacy, fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese. The cafe is full of memorabilia, including a room decorated as a narrowboat back cabin. The proprietor used to own a narrowboat and had been  to classes led by Phil Speight. It is appropriate that the latest version of Pearsons Pennine Waters Canal Companion contains a photograph of the cafe.

Back Room (or Back Cabin) of the Dalesman Tea Room

River at Gargrave
We also visited St Andrews church. The churchyard contains the grave of Iain Macleod who was Chancellor of the Exchequer for three weeks before he suddenly died in 1970. It was the day before Maggie & I got married and for some strange reason we discussed his death as we posed for the photographs outside the church.