Leeds Bridge, River Aire

We left Leeds today to start our journey along the Leeds and Liverpool canal and it was a bright mostly sunny day with the odd shower. Leaving Clarence Dock and going up the River Aire, we got to River Lock, the start of the canal at about 9:30.

Typical Leeds & Liverpool Canal Ground Paddle Mechanism

We had to get used to the L & L lock mechanisms, the ground paddles are operated by a vertical screw mechanism. At the second lock, called Office Lock because it is alongside the former L & L offices, we met the local British Waterways lock keepers who told us that they would help us go up the staircases (risers) at Forge and Newlay and indicated that we should plan to stop until after Newlay. At Oddy Locks we found the hotel boat Teal behind us. Although they caught us up we didn't see them until we were moored up; they must have stopped for lunch.

Ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

Newlay Three Rise

The lock keepers met us at the risers, as promised. With the heavy mechanisms and tight dimensions their help was welcome. The ground paddles, in particular, are often very difficult to move. We had wondered how Albert, at 60ft, would fit into the L & L locks . It wasn't that easy - we had to lift our stern fenders, move our tiller so that it wouldn't foul the gates, and then put Albert at an angle. However, once in the lock all is straightforward. Discussing how we fitted into the lock with the lock keepers, they didn't appear too bothered about Albert's length stating that they used to regularly handle 62ft boats by placing them diagonally across the lock.

Whitecote House, Rodley

The route the canal follows along the Aire Valley out of Leeds is suprisingly rural and is quite a contrast to our more familiar Southern waterways and other city routes. Close to Kirkstall the lock keepers reported seeing a stag running along the towpath. After Newlay we started meeting the swing bridges that are an L & L feature. We will meet a lot more.

Moored up at Rodley

We stopped late afternoon in Rodley at visitor moorings near the swing bridge. It was sunny and we enjoyed pottering around and visiting the local pub. The canal runs close to the centre of the village so shops, pubs, restaurants and buses are near by.