Calder Canoe Trail trip report – 1st Dec 2013

Calder Canoe Trail 1st Dec 2013

A bright wintry Sunday morning saw us launching two tandem Canadians, two solo Canadians and a couple of kayaks into the Aire & Calder navigation at Calder Grove near Wakefield. Heading west, we were hauling the boats out again after only 75 metres in order to get around the first lock. Fortunately, after this, the canal offers a long uninterrupted run for over 3 miles, past Horbury Bridge to a double lock near Healey.

haligan 2The scenery is picturesque on this part of the waterway – probably even more than the nearby river. It was really nice to see Kingfishers darting around the banks as we paddled through the still water. At Healey, we hauled our boats out of canal and ate lunch before sharing the portage duties between us necessary to cover the couple of hundred metres which would allow us access to the adjacent river. We put in beneath one of the concrete railway bridges serving the Horbury marshalling yards and where there was a small wave with a grade 2 rapid to provide a playspot for a half-an-hour of messing round.

haligan 1

Eventually, we turned downstream to paddle back towards the way we had come. The river meanders and is largely flat for long stretches. However, a very small drop and a rapid at Horbury Bridge gave us a little more fun as we dodged the rocks amongst it. A couple more gentle rapids and an hour or so of paddling brought us to the sloping weir At Horbury Junction. This was easily shot by everyone, the only hazard being the low, bare branches our boats seemed to career through in the moving water at the bottom.

A short distance later, a high lock provided access back on to the canal, allowing us to turn west once again. The high banks tested everyone’s endurance at this end of the day as we hauled the boats up the banks to the towpath high above. Portaging around lock as barges came the other direction, we put in again into the still, leaf strewn water of the canal. A couple of hundred metres paddling returned us to the exact same spot we had put in approximately 5 hours before. (Ok – I thought it would be a lot less… I’ll know better next time!)

Lots of fun – hard work – ached all over the next day.

Chris Halligan

To view the short film click on the link below: