We really enjoyed our visit to Leeds. It also seemed that Leeds liked us, in that it didn’t seem to want us to leave. After some time struggling to get Leeds Lock to work, we called the Canal and Rivers Trust and they sent out a couple of engineers who re-connected the chains operating one of the gates and after some time managed to get us on our way. While waiting for the lock to be fixed, we met a photographer who was taking pictures for CRT and was thrilled to be able to take pictures of both an interesting historic boat and CRT staff at work.
We retraced our route out of Leeds passing Thwaite Mills and back down the Leeds branch of the Aire and Calder. We made our way back to the Castleford Junction and turned into the Wakefield branch of the Aire and Calder. As we approached Fairies Hill Moorings we slowed down to check that we were not going through the lock directly ahead. Having confirmed the lock only led to the moorings I engaged forward gear only to find that we were firmly aground, even though we were a good 6 metres from the bank. We could not get off using the engine and so I took a long rope across to some piling on the opposite bank and we managed to haul her off. As we passed the moorings, a friendly resident kindly informed us that there was a sand bank there and we should keep well away from it. We thanked her and asked why it was not marked with a buoy. She told us there used to be one but that it had been washed away in the last floods!
After another very pleasant stretch of waterway we came to the bustling Stanley Ferry, where we moored for the night. There were some interesting boats moored there. The ex-steam keel Swift was having some very substantial steel work added to the top sides. We were impressed by Freda Careless, a 40 metre barge built by Harkers in 1964. She has been converted for residential use, but in a way that maintains her original external appearance as a working barge. The following day we completed the short trip into Wakefield. We had been told of a suitable mooring place by local boaters who helped us through one of the locks. Following their advice we passed through the flood lock, turned back on to the river and moored outside a modern development, next to a beautifully restored stone warehouse. While there we visited a very old chapel built on a medieval bridge. We also went to the Hepworth Gallery that, in spite of its very bleak exterior, houses a stunning exhibition of sculpture by Hepworth and other artists.