Saturday, October 4, 2014

Retracing Our Steps

We have left Wakefield behind and are retracing our route on the Aire and Calder heading towards Leeds and the next stage of the adventure. On the way out of town Mike and I managed to scavenge a few more logs for our stove from the conveniently provided brush pile.  We could "harvest" some of the bigger ones this time since we got ourselves an early Christmas present:  a petrol powered chain saw.  It will make cutting things to the appropriate size much easier.  The hand saw could only do so much.

Mike has purchased some new canal guides, Pearson's Canal Companion, and in one I was browsing I cam across the author's description of Wakefield which sums up my impression of so many of the towns in this part of Yorkshire where heavy industry once thrived but is no more.  I have included his description below.

Wakefield:  "scarred by an acne-like rash of Sixties architecture, Wakefield reminds you of Dr. Johnson's adage that some places are 'worth seeing but not worth going to see'."  But, hidden among all the less than beautiful buildings are such treasures as the Cathedral (if only the local kids didn't use it as a hang out and pepper the air with four letter words starting with "f"), the town and county halls, some of the older stone built warehouses along the waterfront, and the very historic and rare Chantry Chapel.

The Chantry Chapel is located on the medieval bridge over the River Calder. and is the only survivor of four chantries in Wakefield  it is also the oldest and most ornate of the surviving bridge chapels in England.The chapel was used for worship until the Reformation and Abolition of Chantries Acts when all Wakefield's four chantry chapels were closed. The bridge chapel survived because it is a structural element of the bridge.  The chapel was transferred to the Church of England in 1842 and its restoration was undertaken.  The chapel opened for Anglican worship in 1848.  Currently, it is again being rehabbed.  You can, however, go to Holy Communion there the first Sunday of the month if you would like to do so.

Coal was actively and unattractively mined in this area until fairly recently.  Open pit mines left the countryside with massive "scars" instead of the original beauty of nature.  But now the blackness of the coal mines is returning to the green of fields and meadows as the necessary long term and massive work is done to reclaim the area.

In fact, the area is now a major grower and supplier of rhubarb.  If you like, you can attend the Rhubarb Festival every year in late February.

Sydney Harbor Bridge
Stanley Ferry Bridge

At Stanley Ferry, where we moored last night and will probably spend today due to the 100% likelihood of rain, is an elegant aqueduct of iron suspended between girders.  It was this bridge that is said to be the inspiration for Australia's Sydney Harbor Bridge. 

Next week we will be mooring the boat at Lemonroyd Marina near Leeds, where some friends have their boat moored. 

Next up:  the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

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