We left Saltaire and went up through one lock, then up Bingley 3 Rise and finally to Bingley 5 Rise. What an impressive set of locks – we’ve done a few flights of locks but this one has got to be the most magnificent - rising up from the canal. The Bingley 5 Rise is the steepest flight of locks in the UK, with a gradient of about 1:5 (a rise of 59 feet 2 inches over a distance of 320 feet). The intermediate and bottom gates are the tallest in the country and Mary H looked completely dwarfed in the lock! There are 2 Lock Keepers, one of whom is Barry Whitelock, who, after twenty years based there is now almost synonymous with the flight. Barry was awarded an MBE in the 2006 New Year Honours List for "Services to Inland Waterways in the North". I’m not sure which one he was (there were two on duty) or if he was even there! The locks were opened on the 12th March 1774 and are a major feat of engineering of their time and are now Grade I listed. In January this year, a 25 year maintenance overhaul took place costing over £250,000. The locks were drained to allow the installation of new lock gates which are made of English green oak and, when installed with the balance beam, weigh over 5 tons. While the locks were drained about 3,500 people were able to go inside and see for themselves how deep the locks are.
We pulled over in the basin at the top of the locks to get water and have lunch. We were joined by a very strange duck family – not one of the babies was the same. They were all fluffy still and I could have picked them up and cuddled them! We then motored on through numerous swing bridges before finally pulling over close to Holden Swing Bridge, not far from Silsden. It was a very nice evening and we sat on the tow path for quite a while before retiring inside for dinner and a game of Scrabble.