|One if several large former mills|
|This is marked as a visitor mooring, but it's not easy to get on and off|
It's an attractive and largely rural canal with a lot of lock free miles, although occasionally you pass a massive and impressive former mill. One of these is at Bollington, and shortly after we stopped for gas and diesel at Bollington Wharf, run by Brian and Ann-Marie McGuigan, who also operate coal boats in the area. Brian advised us of a few bridges that might still be a bit shallow, and which we might bounce through or get slowed by, but reckoned that otherwise we should hit no further problems on the Macclesfield canal until we joined the Trent and Mersey.
|Dredging in progress - a very welcome sight|
|Stop for fuels at Bollington Wharf - great people, great service!|
However at lock no 6, we found the lock was a lot narrower than others had been, and realised we needed to proceed with some additional caution. Lock no 7 was fine, but at lock 8, once in the chamber it was fairly obvious that the lock is much narrower across the coping stones at the bottom gate end than it should be - at least 3"narrower than other locks in the flight. We measured it, and it really is only just 7 feet and half an inch. This is the width that "Grand Union" boats like Flamingo were actually built to, so even as delivered brand new, and fully to specification, such a working boat would rub the edge, and possibly "hang" as the lock is emptied. Many "Grand Union" boats have developed a bit of "middle age spread" over the years, and Flamingo is known to be around half an inch wider than its quoted design dimensions - not particularly unusual. This will not normally be a problem in almost all narrow locks, as usually they are at least 7' 3" minimum, and on some canals as much as 8 feet. However when you find you need to get a boat through a lock that is wider over the "guards", (the rubbing irons that protect the extremes of the hull) than the lock structure it needs to pass through, you generally have a problem - as we now did!
|The only swing bridge encountered|
Needless to say we were all mightily relieved, as the prospect of working backwards up 8 locks, reversing a mile to a winding hole, (where we might well not have been able to turn anyway - many are too silted),and then retracing our steps to Manchester for several days, only to start South again by a different route was more than any of us wanted to even think about, after all we had endured so far on the "escape from the Rochdale"!
|The early part of descending Bosley locks was as it should be|
|But "there may be trouble ahead"|
Marple Junction to Bosley Bottom lock
Miles 17.4, Locks:16
Total Miles 251.3, Total Locks:296