Visit the Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal.
From Bingley to about 3 miles downwards the noblest works of the kind are exhibited viz: A five fold, a three fold and a single lock, making together a fall of 120 feet; a large aqueduct bridge of seven arches over the River Aire and an aqueduct and banking over the Shipley valley ....... This joyful and mucj wished for event was welcomed with the ringing of Bingley bells, a band of music, the firing of guns by the neighbouring Militia, the shouts of spectators, and all the marks of satisfaction that so important an acquisition merits".
You get a nice view looking back down the locks, over Bingley with its mill chimneys and the nice rolling hillsides beyond. The large chimney is at the Damart factory that we passed on the way to the locks.
Right before you get to the 5 Rise Locks you have to negotiate the 3 Rise first. The two sets are so close together you might as well call them an 8 Rise set. I've no idea how long it takes to get a boat up or down all 8 locks, I've never stayed long enough to see, but kit will be well over an hour, maybe two.
Next to this scene that mixes a bit of rural tranquility with some derelict industrial architecture is the brand new "Millennium Bridge". I don't know if it's truly a Millennium Bridge, but it's certainly in the style of those things. It links the canal with the town, going across the newly built motorway.
Eventually you leave the rural tranquility behind and enter the old industrial areas of Bingley. A lot of the mills etc seem to have closed down, but one that is still running is the Damart factory. Damart are famous worldwide for their thermal underwear, not that I own any!
Even the closed and semi-derelict mill buildings make an interesting and attractive backdrop to the walk (or the cruise). This section is just past the Damart Mill at Bingley as you begin to leave the industrial area again and head out into the countryside once more.
After the locks and the swing bridge at Dowley Gap there's a clear run for a while. It's best to make the most of the rest, as after this brief respite the boats will soon be at the 3 Rise Locks and then the 5 Rise, and there'll be plenty of work to do there.
Locks aren't the only obstacle facing the boatmen. There are a number of manually operated swing bridges too, which you have to open by hand by hauling them round on their pivot. A well drlled crewman will jump from the boat, run ahead and open the bridge, close it and then run to catch the boat up. I've seen that done before, but this guy was taking it more gently than that ;-)
(In the background is an ice cream van, as mentioned in the "restuarants" section).
Some of the boats are more elaborately decorated than others. These two were gorgeous, and this type of paint job is quite traditional for canal longboats. If I hired a boat I'd insist on one with a great paint job!
There are some lovely views along the canal, especially around the locks and the bridges and at Dowley Gap you get both at once. Dowley Gap is a double set of locks as you can just about see from this picture.
Two narrow boats can fit into the lock side by side, and if you know there's another boat coming it's only polite to wait for it, otherwise delays and backlogs can occur. I'm not sure if you can get four boats into the locks or not (2 behind 2), I've never seen it done.
It can keep you quite fit on this section of canal as there are a lot of locks to go through. At each one you have to open and shut the gates and the sluices. The guy here is opening the sluice to let the water in to raise the boat to the higher level.
Some of the locks have lock keepers to help, at others you're on your own. Friendly passers-by sometimes help out too.
When your boat is narrow enough you can get away with only opening one of the gates and squeezing through. The lock is at the lower level here, when the gates are shut behind it it will be filled with water to float the boat to the higher level.
Even at a gentle walking pace you'll be able to keep up with the boats, or even get ahead of them. This is because every so often they have to stop to negotiate the locks, and there are a lot of locks on this stretch of the canal. Even allowing for watching them in the locks, or helping with the gates, you can still usually arrive before the boat does.
The best thing you can do if you visit Bingley is to do a Canalside walk. In fact the walk that we do starts at Saltaire and ends at Bingley, at the famous 5 Rise Locks. It's quite a beautiful walk on a sunny summers day, and it's not too strenuous because it's all on the flat - except for some slight climbs at the lock sections.