Awesome Yorkshire engineering made beautiful by snow

Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Bingley in the snow.
Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Bingley in the snow.
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It is a spectacular sight in any weather but the Five Rise Locks in Bingley looks especially stunning in the snow.

The most striking feature of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the waterway’s staircase is an incredible feat of engineering that has attracted countless visitors ever since it was opened in 1774 in front of a crowd of 30,000 people who marvelled at seeing the first boat pass through in under half an hour.

Icicle's hang from one of the lock gates at Five Rise Locks, Bingley.

Icicle's hang from one of the lock gates at Five Rise Locks, Bingley.

While the canal has many lock staircases, in which locks open directly from one to another, with the top gate of one forming the bottom gate of the next, most are made up of only two or three rises each.

The steepest flight of locks in the UK was created to cope with the huge gradient which rises 60ft over a distance of just 320ft – making those who tackle the walk up the path alongside the locks in icy and snowy weather rather brave.

The Five Rise Locks can be found about half a mile north of Bingley Station, about 17 miles north-west of Leeds.

As can be seen from this picture, the locks attract visitors in all weathers but crowds are particularly drawn to watch the spectacle when the special job of replacing its giant gates takes place every 25 years.

Dog walker's brave the snow on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Five Rise Locks.

Dog walker's brave the snow on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Five Rise Locks.

The last time the work, which involves the locks being drained before engineers can begin their work, took place was in January 2012 when about 3,500 people turning up to witness a little moment of local history.

The latest set of gates are made of English green oak and, taken together with the balance beam, weigh more than five tons.

Carpenter Russell Clarke, who was responsible for putting in the new lock gates, told the BBC at the time all sorts of unusual items turn up when the locks are drained – from wallets and mobile phones to frying pans and even a child’s tiara.

He said the ingenuity of the design is astonishing even to modern eyes. “The engineering that went into it was amazing. We’re in awe of what went on.

View to Bingley from the top of  Five Rise Locks in a snow shower.

View to Bingley from the top of Five Rise Locks in a snow shower.

“I think if you asked us to build a lock like this now we would just stand there and scratch our heads.”

Technical details: Nikon D4 camera with Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 lens, exposure of 1/500th sec @f8, 400 iso.

A dog walker braves the snow on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Five Rise Locks.

A dog walker braves the snow on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Five Rise Locks.

View from the top of Five Rise Locks to Bingley.

View from the top of Five Rise Locks to Bingley.

A cyclist on the tow path at Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Bingley,  in the snow.

A cyclist on the tow path at Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Bingley, in the snow.

View to Bingley during a snow shower from the top of  Five Rise Locks, Bingley.

View to Bingley during a snow shower from the top of Five Rise Locks, Bingley.

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