The boss of a canal boat business is shipping his vessels across the Pennines to prevent them being marooned when a section of the drought-hit Leeds-Liverpool canal is made off limits today.

Lee Shepherd is moving his hire boat outfit temporarily from its base in Lancashire to Apperley Bridge.

And, in a way, he is coming back to his roots, for the 40-year-old former soldier was brought up in Airedale.

The retired Warrant Officer, who saw service in Afghanistan, was born in Shipley, brought up in Wyke and lived for a time in Haworth at Low Brow Farm, before joining up in Bradford in 1988.

Now he is returning to Yorkshire to run his hire boat business, Hapton Valley Locks, which he set up in 2009, from Apperley Bridge until the closure is lifted.

A fortnight ago British Waterways announced it was to close a 60-mile section of the canal from Gargrave, near Skipton, to Wigan, because of a shortage of water.

It left Mr Shepherd’s business trapped in the locked section and facing the prospect of cancelling holidays. However, he has arranged for holidaymakers to sail East through Skipton, and Bingley Five Rise locks to the new temporary base.

He said: “The customers are happy to be going towards Yorkshire and the beautiful countryside and going through the famous Five Rise locks.