Monday 24 October 2011

The Leeds-Liverpool Canal Apprenticeship Scheme

If you head North through Leeds, as we are this half term, you serve an apprenticeship on the locks.

You begin with Leeds Lock Number 1, a key operated electric lock in modern urban surroundings. It's easy to operate, and once past the Royal Armouries Leeds Waterfront is lined with imaginative recreational architecture.

The next locks are standard fare for Northern waterways: leaky; complicated; inconsistent with each other; and never left in the proper condition. BW staff are helpful, local waterway professionals take on the role of 'critical friend' but are definitely worth listening to.

But whatever else you do, don't believe the advertising hype surrounding Granary Wharf. The reception from staff is unwelcoming and surly, the noise from the railway and nightlife unpleasant, and the facilities overpriced.

Then the lock apprentice faces their first test: Oddy Locks, a leaky two-rise with low water in the pound above. The trick is to transit both challenges, but without draining the waterway for the poor sods behind you. Pass this test and you are rewarded with the long Aire Valley Pound.

Then, the apprentice faces a pair of three rises. These are more of a challenge, requiring a more advanced understanding of lock operation. By transiting two in quick succession, the apprentice learns and demonstrates competence. If you can pass this test, you are ready for the Bingley Five Rise.

We're having a break first...

An evening with good friends with a walk in Calverley Wood. This is why we bought a boat.

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