It was quite some time after completion of the new river construction that we decided to go and see it for ourselves. The plan was to drive to the marina car park and then walk down the new river bank and back again.. However, roadworks in Woodlesford had caused long traffic delays in Oulton and we changed course and headed back to Methley to walk from that end. We parked at the Commercial and walked down Pit lane to the new bridge.
We had only just arrived as a pretty young lass walking downstream approached us and asked with a foreign accent if this was the way to Castleford. Well it was, but the path would have taken her round the Mires to the Waterbridge at Three Lane Ends, neither Mary (my wife) or myself thought that she should be walking along the bank alone.
It turned out that she had become detatched from her parents pleasure boat after walking separately and she indicated that they may be in front and that they may have continued to their destination at Castleford. It was difficult to assess where the boat might be due to language difficulties but one thing was certain we were not going to let her walk on her own. We found out that her name was Irena and that she was from Russia (would you believe) and that her family were sightseeing on a canal boating holiday. The lass was a tad unsure about our offer to go back to the car and search for the boat, fortunately Mary was able to re-assure her of our intentions.
We decided against going to Castleford as I realised the probability was that the boat could be behind her. The first stop was the access to the river at the former Savile site. Here we asked one walker if he had seen any boats (what a question) or anybody looking for a young girl. The answer was no and there were no craft visible on the river. The next stop was the access at Methley Station, at this point it started to rain quite heavily and while we sheltered near the United Kingdom Inn two young lads on bikes went as far as the locks and then returned having seen nothing.
By now it was a bit worrying but we decided to drive through Oulton to the new marina and if that failed then back to Castleford and possibly the police.
Our journey took us down Fleet lane from Oulton, past the water treatment centre, under the railway bridge and what a sight met our eyes…… On the petrol terminal bridge were two police cars with flashing lights, one a dog handler van, the police helicopter immediately overhead and any number of searchers on bikes and on foot.
Mother and child were re-united, that was good to see, the police officers were equally relieved as were all the other people and Mary and I were heroes for a short while (if only we had gone there first). It seemed obvious now, that the boat had pulled into the marina expecting their absent rambler to be waiting for them. Well all’s well that ends well and the family were able to share an hour with us in the Bay Horse.
Irena, well she was studying music and had aspirations to become a concert pianist, she later sent us a postcard of her progress, and again thanked us for our help.