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Wallsend Explorers - Narrow Boat Weekend

posted 19 Oct 2010, 03:44 by Ben Hudson   [ updated 19 Oct 2010, 04:04 ]
After months of planning and a cancellation, W
allsend Explorers Canal Boat Trip finally happened last weekend.

It was touch and go on the day before as to whether the trip would go ahead as the boat required a new Starter motor fitting. Keith – the leader in charge of the boat’s maintenance worked his miracle and managed to get the boat started before we were due to leave Wallsend.

Half the group arrived at the boat on Friday Afternoon with Ben to pick up the keys and were able to take the boat on a short journey through a couple of locks and back before it got dark. The second half of the group arrived about 7pm bring our tea with them.

We then had a good meal of Pasta and Bolognaise with Pitta breads before having an early night to make sure we made the best of the daylight on the Saturday.

We were up at 7.30am to check the engine over before setting sail at 8am upstream towards Sowerby Bridge. We had a fantastic day. The weather was very kind to us and aside from a short stop to fill up with water we hardly stopped all day. The team were getting very efficient at operating locks by mid-afternoon and we managed to get it down to about 4.5 minutes per lock.

We wrestled with the Guillotine lock at Salterhebble Basin but after some gentle persuasion from Scott, the lock decided to let us through and we were able to make the last leg of our journey to Sowerby Bridge where we moored up so the crew could see the lock that marks the entrance to the Rochdale canal. A fantastic lock constructed a few years ago as the original two locks had been removed and replaced with a road, it was necessary to tunnel under the road and replace the two locks with one massive lock.

We then began the long journey back to Wakefield to return the boat to its mooring. We were able to get as far as Elland before the light failed and spent the night moored in a rather spooky cutting where we had a feast of Chicken Curry followed by the standard Cake and Custard.

Again we had an early start on the Sunday leaving the mooring at 7.30am to make the long journey. We had a brief stop for breakfast and again for lunch but other than that we continued our journey without a break.

As we were missing gang show rehearsal, Norman had brought his song book so we were able to practice on the boat. Singing ‘Riding along on the crest of a wave’ to passers by did get us some funny looks.

We finally arrived back in Wakefield about 5.30pm and were met by Jean, Roy and Keith form Wakefield Scouts who helped us retrieve our cars and empty the boat and return it to its moorings.

The final part of our adventure was the drive back to Newcastle. On the edge of falling asleep, we fell back on Campfire songs to see us back home.

Despite the fact we all still feel like we’re on a boat (swaying back and forth) I think I speak for us all when I say we had an excellent weekend. It was well worth the planning, the training and the wait. We’ve already booked to return again next year!

Thanks to Jean, Roy and Keith of Wakefield District Scouts for making sure our adventure came off without a hitch. We shall see you again soon!