I did mention that the Leeds and Liverpool lumped locks together in staircases, where the upper gate of one lock is the lower gate of the next. Depending on the number of locks, these are referred to as a two rise, a three rise, or, in an insane overindulgence of the canal maker’s art, the Bingley Five rise.
You look at it an you think, what the hell were they thinking when the built that? The water level rises 59 feet 2 inches in 320 feet horizontally, making it the steepest stretch of canal in the UK. The gradient is about 5:1 which means if you opened all the lock gates you could water ski down it without a boat.
But this was not the start of our day. The canal engineers of the L&L had time to soften us up first, with a single lock, a two rise, and a three rise. Someone had left a ground paddle open on the single lock, which took us some time to discover. The pound above it was about six inches lower than usual when we finally got up. Luckily we were able to pair up with another boat called Cuz’ We Can for the two, three, and five rises.
Paula was driving by this time, so she got to chat while I was working the paddles. Some of the gates paddles were an interesting design that pivoted sideways rather than lifting up. Since all the canals were built by different companies there is very little standardization in the design, and maintenance must be a nightmare. For my programmer friends, imagine two hundred years of technical debt.
If people on the towpath are interested in the boats or the locks, we will often offer them a ride up through the lock. When we got to the three rise we took on three kids, two little girls and one boy, while their parents watched from the bank. The boats got into the bottom of the middle lock, and we discovered that the top lock paddles were padlocked closed. Trapped! There was a phone number for the lock keeper, so we called. Apparently there was someone out sick, so one lock keeper was managing the three rise and the five rise. As the kids were trapped on our boat now, Paula got them playing hangman, and confounded then with LYNX.
The lock keeper turned up soon enough, and helped us up the rest of the way, so the kids could escape. It was a short cruise to the five rise, but we had to wait for the apologetic lock keeper to wrangle a huge broad beam boat down through the five and three rises. Then up through the five rise with the lock keeper working the paddles and gates on one side and me on the other. Here’s the view from the top.
Considering that at Gooooooooole we were only a few feet above sea level, we have done a fair bit of climbing.
There’s a pleasant canal side cafe just past the lock, with Canal and River Trust services in the same building. We started the water tank filling, and I had to empty our sewage from the cassette toilet. The cassette is like a plastic carry on with wheels and a handle, and it is well sealed, but I did not want to carry it past our open water tank just in case. Instead I took it out the back of the boat and past all the people having coffee at outdoor tables. So much for gentrification of the canal.