As we moved from our overnight mooring we passed a BW yard where new lock gates are made, I think this is now the only yard that makes the gates for the whole of the BW network, quite a few where stacked up on top of one another and water was being sprayed all over them, obviously to stop them drying out and shrinking in the warm weather.
All of the locks on the Aire and Calder are electrically operated and entrance is controlled by traffic lights, the lights were set at ‘amber’ which meant that the lock was unmanned and we would just have to turn the key and press the buttons ourselves, this was not what we had invited Ann and Brian on board for, lucky blighters!
The canal rejoined the river at Woodnock Lock and a gravel barge was being unloaded at Whitwood Wharf. We heard some radio chatter on the VHF regarding Castleford, this was a busy cross road, with the River Aire from Leeds joining us from the left, to our right the combined Aire and Calder rivers departed on their way to the weir and we would continue trough Castleford and back onto the canal. Our radio call to Castleford Lock was responded from Bulholme Lock with the advise that the gates were open both ends and to proceed through with caution. Apparently a small train of Tom Puddings had been pulled through a little earlier and this had been the reason for the radio chatter. This procession was a historic reminder of the hundreds of small floating coal tubs that were upended and emptied when they reached the coal fired power stations and a couple restored loading chutes were visible at what remained of old loading staithes.
As the lock-keeper at Bulholme waved us on our way we were again back on the river and as we passed the cooling towers of the Ferrybridge Power Stations we could clearly see the route that the Tom Puddings would have taken and the apparatus for tipping them up and returning them empty. Back on a canal section and past the King Mill flour mill.
The River Aire swung left away from the Aire and Calder Navigation which would eventually lead to Goole. Our route was a couple of miles up the river to a scheduled mooring in the Beal Lock cut and a wander around the farming village culminating with a drink in the very friendly Jenny Wren pub.