Sunday, 17 August 2014

Leaving Manchester, (and back to narrow locks).

(Boat Chalice- posted by Cath)
Post for Sunday 17th August.

Secure overnight mooring at the Telford Basin, Picadilly Village.
Another early start, because the Ashton Locks out of Manchester are notorious. Nicholson's guide says 'do not do this flight in school holidays', and 'begin it before 10 am'.

So we got up early, ate breakfast, said goodbye to Richard and Kathy who have been so helpful over the last couple of days, and set off before 8:30. The day started fairly dry, but quickly degenerated into dry patches, interspersed with cold, very windy squalls - probably the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha that is due to hit the UK today.

Setting off up the Ashton - Our first narrow locks for many days.
At the second lock we met with the local lock keeper, who said that it isn't nearly as bad as it used to be. There is a lot of prestigious new housing, and 'they have moved a lot of the troublemakers away' - where to wasn't clear. We saw loads of joggers in brightly coloured clothing, and a few dog walkers, but no trouble of any kind. The lockie said that he 'lives on the Ashton Canal', but spent 13 years working on the Rochdale. He seemed pleased to be working back on the Ashton, and talked about 'getting it working right'. He told us to leave top gates open, and anti-vandal (AV) locks off, as there were boats coming down the flight - that made our lives a lot easier.

One of the stgriking new developments
Despite that it was slow going, although we didn't meet up with any of the downward boats until midway in the flight of 18. Unlocking every AV, even if we weren't re-locking them, takes time, and the locks fill quite slowly. At one point we had a problem with a very low pound, but we took some water from the pound above the next lock to float the boat through. It took us the best part of 5 hours to do the whole flight.

Lock 10 failed and closed the canal recently - the new gates need more work!
Near the end we came across a young couple coming down - even if the flight isn't as prone to vandals as previously, this was a very late start to finish the flight by a reasonable time. I asked where they were mooring overnight. Central Manchester said the young woman.

Not obvious, but Alan is stuck solid here, waiting for water to be let down.
Did she know that to get to Castlefields she would also have to do the Rochdale 9? No, she didn't, but she didn't intend to go that way, they were heading up the Rochdale, the way that we had come down last night. Had she got a map? No, there was supposed to be one waiting for them in Manchester - someone had posted it to the wrong place.


Does this seriously look like a tunnel where 2-way traffic is possible?
I showed her our map, pointing out that the locks are very close together, and she wouldn't be able to moor between them. Also, she really didn't want to be mooring just anywhere in Manchester. I told her how to get the Thomas Telford Basin, where we moored last night, and told her that would be a good starting point for the Rochdale Canal tomorrow. I also said that she needed to get quite a long way up the Rochdale to find a safe mooring. She seemed a little bemused, it really didn't seem to have occurred to them that some cities need to be treated a bit more carefully than others. I don't know where they had come from.

The sign says it is!
I suppose that I am just extra careful, I can't imagine going boating without a map of where I'm going, well, not into unknown territory, anyway.

At the top we saw our friendly lock keeper again. I told him about the young couple and he said he'd go and find them, he had a few more boats coming up anyway, which would make life a bit easier for them.

Afterwards we boated through windy squalls, until we got to Hyde, where we spent ages trying to moor up - the towpath was mostly concrete, even under the grass - and I went to Aldi. Isn't Aldi a weird supermarket? Ladies cycling gear next to tree loppers and jam. I have a real difficulty telling myself that, no, I really don't need a collection of multi-coloured mixing melamine bowls in a variety of sizes.

Marple railway viaduct, with the canal aqueduct largely hidden behind.
There are several short tunnels, all of which are quite narrow, but are described as 'two way working' on the boards immediately before the tunnel entrance. I suppose that this means that boats are able to go in either direction, however, most 'two way working' means two boats going in opposite directions, at the same time - I certainly wouldn't want to try that on any of these.

We took Odin for a walk under Marple aqueduct and went to get a proper look at the railway viaduct.  Although both are impressive, the aqueduict, both lower and shorter, can only be seen in small parts through the railway viaduct arches.  Even much of that is obscured by some exceedingly tall trees.

Afterwards we didn't eat curry.

Footnote by Alan, by way of explanation.

Cath was planning to cook a curry, and was convinced she had appropriate sauces bought and ready in the cupboard.  She didn't so the curry will have to be another time.

Manchester Picadilly to near Marple Aqueduct 
Miles:  13.6 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks:18

Total Miles: 617.1, Locks: 423

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cath and Alan, I am really enjoying reading your blog and following your trip. We cruised this part of the Cheshire ring in 2012 and having had a mooring at Bollington, know the Lower Peak Forest well.
    I can totally agree about the confusing/just wrong information boards on the tunnels on this stretch. We had a 'coming together' in the Hyde Bank Tunnel!!
    I let Damien on the CRT Facebook know and he suggested contacting the local office which I did - heard nothing back.
    Our incident could had been a lot worse - it was still stressfull.
    Here is the link to the blog entry for that trip.
    Enjoy the continuation of your cruise - I will be following it with interest.
    Best wishes
    nb Song of the Waterways
    ps We are on the Southern Oxford at the moment


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