Tuesday, 12 July 2016

After the rain – the sun

Sunshine and scenery: what more do you need
A weekend's boating with our 'northern daughter' turned into a weekend sitting on her sofa watching the rain hammer down outside and every sort of sport on the tv - British GP, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, the Tour de France and the Euro 2016 final.
Well, at least that's what I did while the rest of the household dodged the rainstorms and gardened, shopped and cooked.
Yesterday we got back to the boat at Foulridge moorings, just north of the tunnel, still in the rain but this morning at last we woke up to sunshine and headed on towards that glorious stretch of canal that winds its way round the lumpy hillsides of the Pennines.
Volunteers at work tidying the first of the locks
When you're on it, the far reaching views make this feel like the summit of the canal but in fact we've already dropped down three locks. We'e also passed through the small town of Barnoldswick – it's something of an oddity is this place: a relatively remote country town that's home to a Rolls-Royce Aero Engines factory, the Silentnight Bed factory and the Esse Stoves factory. The RR plant was originally a former mill bought by Rover cars to produce Whittle gas turbine engines (yes, there really was a plan for a gas turbine powered Rover!) and sold on to RR.
At the top of the locks volunteers from 'Barnoldswick in Bloom' were doing fine job sprucing up the place. At the bottom of the locks was something that looked rather less tidy. More like a floating wood pile than a boat but as we came past it turned out to be an eccentric masterpiece in creation. Every piece of the exterior was a piece of reclaimed or re-purposed old wooden furniture. There was even a piano in mid-dissection on the back deck.
It ain't exactly pretty but it's certainly ingenious
Beyond the town and the locks, the trees gradually give way to open, rolling hills and beyond those the high moors. The climax is a tortuously routed two miles, twisted up on itself like a python with indigestion.
We are properly in the Pennines here; so much so that the Pennine Way trail uses the towpath for a brief stretch.
This afternoon we followed the trail a couple of glorious miles acros country to Gargrave, the next small town on the canal and then nearly twice the distance back along the twisting towpath. Fortunately we were fortified by some very excellent haddock & chips at Gargrave!
We had to sniff them out. It's a bit posh is Gargrave: the fish & chipper isn't allowed a sign outside – you have to be guided by your nose to the door.

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