2018 has been one of the snowiest winters we have ever known, with repeated snowfall from January right through to April. In late February and March we were hit by two onslaughts from the Beast from the East (see snow sculpture portrait below) bringing icy blasts straight from Siberia. The combination of blizzards and strong winds caused deep snowdrifts on roads and footpaths, so our guests in Elmet Farmhouse were (happily) snowed in for several days.
The snow proved a big hit with our February half-term guests, who borrowed our vintage wooden sledge. The gently sloping fields at Elmet Farmhouse are ideal for sledging. Many of our visitors come from parts of the country which rarely see snow, whereas for us, 1000 ft up on top of the Pennines, it’s a fairly regular occurrence during the winter months. This year has been exceptional though and we’re not even sure whether we’ve seen the last of it yet. The last snowfall was over Easter.
Less than 3 miles from Saltairealong the Leeds and Liverpool Canal are the famous Five Rise Locks at Bingley, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Built in 1774, the five adjoining locks raise boats over 59 feet (18 metres) over a distance of 320 feet.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal, connecting two major cities on either side of the Pennines, spans 127 miles and is the longest canal in the UK. Bingley’s Five Rise Locks are 16 miles from Leeds. Known as staircase locks because they open directly into each other, with the top gate of one lock forming the bottom gate of the next, Bingley’s Five Rise Locks are the steepest in the country. A few hundred yards along the canal is another shorter flight of locks: the Bingley Three Rise Locks.
Designed by John Longbotham of Halifax, the Five Rise Locks were built by four local stonemasons: John Sugden of Wilsden and Barnabus Morvil, Jonathan Farrar and William Wild of Bingley.
The locks are a remarkable feat of engineering and are still in use today, operated by lock keepers. The photographs show two narrow boats passing through the Five Rise Locks.