Saturday 1st July 2017
South Pennine Boat Club (SPBC) and Calder Navigation Society (CNS) hosted a rousing last night of the Explorer cruise in the excellent club facilities at Battyeford.
Even the sun came out as CNS lock-wheelers helped 9 boats down the Huddersfield Broad into the Calder & Hebble. Christine and Chris brought their 59 foot long narrowboat Ketura through the 1776-built locks without a hitch. The 150-year old Locomotive Bridge was hosted and dropped 9 times as the convoy left Huddersfield. By early afternoon all the boats were found moorings in the well-appointed marina taking the places of boats which were cruising elsewhere on the network. SPBC catering team supplied tea and scones as crews relaxed in the pleasant surroundings.
By 7pm around 70 had gathered for the final evening. Guest boaters and some of the Huddersfield Canal Society helpers joined SPBC and CNS members for an evening to remember. The three crews whose boats exceeded the dimensions of the Broad all made their way by car or bus to join in the fun. CNS provided a complimentary pie and pea supper and a fine range of desserts courtesy of Avril Davies and her team. SPBC operated their splendid new bar. The real ale, wine and soft drinks flowed. Peter Davies welcomed guests and club members resplendent in shirt jacket and tie, almost unrecognisable from the waterproofed biking lock-wheeler of Wednesday. Richard Stead gave and informative potted history of the Calder & Hebble navigation including images of the 2015 flood damage and an insight into the unique C&H hand-spike. The raffle helped defray some of the costs and the prizes were happily shared between hosts and guests. Frank Auffret warmed up the audience with a ditty or two ably assisted by the SPBC male voice choir and the excellent Kirkpatrick trio provided live music to listen and dance to.
It was an opportunity to thank all who have been involved in the cruise – the boaters for coming, the canal society (HCS and CNS) and boat club (Tudor Cruising and South Pennine) volunteers for helping with the passage and final night mooring respectively, all those organising and hosting evening events, Canal & River Trust staff and volunteers for ensuring that no challenge was left unresolved.
Was the cruise a success? By common consent it was. Hard at times when the weather was at its worst but all will take home happy memories of their Pennine transit. Some will retrace their steps (or should I say Locks) in the coming days. Most will carry on their adventure via the Rochdale, Leeds & Liverpool or River Trent. We wish them safe and enjoyable cruising. Will it ever be repeated? Who knows? It has certainly demonstrated the resilience of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. When was the last time 12 boats made the same passage on the same day in the same direction? If it has ever been done before it will be in the early 19th century. It is doubtful whether 12 boats have ever started from the same pound and moored in the same pound. It required careful water management each evening and morning particularly at Milnsbridge.
Pat Stow of Diligent Too summed it up: ‘It’s been a fantastic experience’.
Pennine Explorer narrowboats mingle with club members’ boats at Battyeford.
Assembled guests and hosts listen to Richard Stead’s presentation.
Guest and host boaters emulate the ‘Tiller Girls’
Chair Huddersfield Canal Society – tired, happy and getting back to ‘normal’
(All photos: Alan Stopher)
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