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Archive for November, 2014

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – day 38

Posted by indigodream on 27 November, 2014

Rewind to Wednesday 10th September

Sale to Stockton Heath

We decided to give the boat a good clean while we moored up in Sale - the dogs beds ended up on deck - nice :-)

We decided to give the boat a good clean while we moored up in Sale – the dogs beds ended up on deck – nice πŸ™‚

We had a quiet night on the Sale moorings and were up reasonably early. We weren’t in a hurry so we started the day with an aimless wander around Sale town centre. The town has a useful high street with all the shops you could want, including a decent butcher’s shop. It does feel a little down-at-heel, but it was a nice morning and we enjoyed our window shopping.

We took the hounds with us and the people of Sale admired them properly. A bit too much in the case of one man, who was a little detached from reality. He had a kind heart and an interesting story to tell – he had a family connection with the RSPCA and has been involved in dog rescue. He now has dogs of his own (whom he’d left at home), one of whom he’d rescued from terrible abuse. He gave the greyhounds a fuss (fine), but then we had to ask him to stop – he just went too far and was trying to put his glasses on Archie’s nose and then tried to check Ollie’s teeth – too much!

Mooching around Sale...

Mooching around Sale…

I topped up on our boat supplies in the town’s Sainsbury’s, but I was spoilt for choice – there are at least three supermarkets in Sale town centre!

After our bimble, we went back to boat, had lunch and generally pottered around for a bit. We had guests joining us later and by now the boat was looking a bit lived in!

We eventually left Sale at 2pm, and enjoyed the afternoon’s cruise as the canal became increasingly rural. The stretch by the River Bollin aqueduct has lovely views over to a fine mill building and would be a perfect mooring for hounds. In fact, there were several hound-perfect moorings between Sale and Stockton Heath, with some lovely views. Of course, being such attractive moorings, it’s hardly surprising that other boaters/landowners liked them too, so we had a very slow passage past miles of online moorings around Lymm.

After last night’s chill, the afternoon was glorious – the sun was hot, but the minute we passed into shade the chill was back – I guess that’s the difference between a warm day in summer and one in autumn!

Look carefully - Archie's protecting our diesel from thieves....

Look carefully – Archie’s protecting our diesel from thieves….

Our target for the day was Stockton Heath – we were meeting up with old friends Ken and Sue, who last came boating with us when we came cruising northwards in 2009. They have since acquired a dog of their own, Poppy, a nervous little rescue collie cross and Pluto, a substantial golden retriever that belongs to Sue’s son. We moored up just short of Bridge 15, on the towpath side. We couldn’t work out whether there were moorings on the offside outside the pub. We might have been a little bolder if we’d realised that it is a bit of a faff to get up to the road and across to the pub (the London Bridge) from the towpath.

When Ken and Sue were close, we mooched over to the pub so that we could introduce the dogs on neutral territory. The introductions went well, with the two packs largely ignoring each other – this was important as they were staying the night on board!

I believe that the pub is dog-friendly inside, but we chose to sit outside as it was a lovely evening (and we’d have more room). The pub food was good, though I don’t have a note of whether there were sausages – for some reason I think there weren’t (so it won’t be featuring in Henry Beanz’ pub league). We did have some argy bargy with other hounds – just barking – some other people in the pub had let their dogs off lead and they were being annoying, especially the one trying to mount Pluto (not that Pluto was bothered or even noticed!). However Archie Beanz leapt to Pluto’s defence, not that the randy dog cared, they never do!

Historic Grade " listed Linotype Works in Altrincham...

Historic Grade ” listed Linotype Works in Altrincham…

We walked the dogs back to the boat and everyone soon settled down – we had a remarkably quiet night considering that we had four people, four big dogs and one little dog on board πŸ™‚

Today’s Trivia

When I came to look through our photos, it was a nice reminder of the imposing Linotype Works in Altrincham. This what I like about the Victorians, they weren’t shy to put names and dates on their buildings – wish they did this now!

I was interested to find that this grand facade was an office building rather than part of the main works. In its time, this was a large site, manufacturing printing machines and employing hundreds of workers. As well as a factory, the site included houses for the workers. It is a Grade 2 listed building because of its “ambitious scale and the richness of its exterior detailing distinguish from many other commercial buildings of the period it from and its clock tower ensures its continued prominence in the landscape.”

Photoblog:

Classic canalscape...

Classic canalscape…

A more modern canalscape

A more modern canalscape

Great views from the aqueduct over the River Bollin...

Great views from the aqueduct over the River Bollin…

Dog -proof decks are a great feature - we've met nb Soddum Hall before - I think teir deck doors are looking more complete now...

Dog -proof decks are a great feature – we’ve met nb Soddum Hall before – I think their deck doors are looking more complete now…

r_ID-0875-10Sep14

 

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 37

Posted by indigodream on 26 November, 2014

26th November 2011

Before we rewind the blog to a bit of boating we have some sad dog news. We heard this evening that Richard’s sister’s dog, Polo, another Indigo Dreamer, finally succumbed to a brain tumour. He had been one of the great characters of the dog world, one loved by every hound and human that he met….he will be missed. Run free Polo.

Even Lou liked Polo!

Polo with Lou and Lynx, Run free…..

 

 

Rewind to Tuesday 9th September

Manchester (Bridge 2 Ashton Canal) to Sale

The top of the Rochdale 9 - ready to descend into darkness...

The top of the Rochdale 9 – ready to descend into darkness…

Although we had the Rochdale 9 ahead of us, we weren’t in any rush, so while Richard took the Beanz out, I had a nice lie-in with Ollie. We eventually set off late-morning, just as the special brew drinkers were starting to gather at the top of the flight.

We’ve read about how Manchester has embraced its canal – it even goes under buildings, says the blurb. Yeah, that’s right, the city has buried its canal and I found it to be as dismal a stretch as I’ve ever cruised. I love an urban canal, you’d go a long way to beat Birmingham and Liverpool, but much as I tried to like it, I couldn’t wait to get out of Manchester.

But there were 9 notoriously heavy wide locks in front of us – the first two really being buried under buildings and bridges, with the pound in a shadowy culvert inhabited by wretched homeless men and by signs warning that lewd behaviour would be prosecuted – delightful! There has been some attempt to brighten the place up with aΒ  colourful mural, well out of reach of graffiti taggers. I appreciated the sentiment, though maybe some better lighting would have been more helpful.

This is a dispiriting stretch but the mural does add a bit of welcome colour...

This is a dispiriting stretch but the mural does add a bit of welcome colour…

There followed a long pound with no towpath – now that’s a sign that a city has turned its back on a canal – Richard and the hounds were confined on board. I really disliked this bit, despite the fact that the ever-lively Gay Village was happening on the street above our heads.

We flew down the flight, and I felt a bit more charitable when we got to a stretch where the hounds could come off for a supervised bimble. But overall, the Rochdale 9 failed to charm – what a wasted opportunity for the city. Mind you, I’ve been to Mancester on business many, many times and I’ve never liked it, so maybe it just had too a big prejudice to overcome :-p

We didn’t have any difficulties with the locks, or with water levels, and had a smooth passage until we got to the last lock. We just couldn’t get the water levels equalised and, in the end, it took two of us to manhandle the gate open. It did give us the opportunity for some banter with canalside diners and for one woman, who was celebrating her birthday, to admire the hounds – greyhounds are her favourite!

The view from Pomona Lock - can't wait to cruise the Manchester Ship Canal :-)

The view from Pomona Lock – can’t wait to cruise the Manchester Ship Canal πŸ™‚

When we got to the bottom of the 9, we were gobsmacked by the sheer range of choices at the junction (Castlefield Junction?). There were no fewer than five little branches and we poked our nose into two wrong-uns before we finally worked out which one had the water point! We filled up, had a late lunch and had a discussion about what to do next. We could have moored in the vicinty of the junction and explored Manchester, but we’d had such a good run down the Rochdale 9 that there was plenty of cruising day left. In the end we decided to press on – a local boater on the waterpoint had advised us that Sale was a good place to moor so that became our new target.

The hounds were a bit disconsolate today, maybe because they were tired, or maybe because there were fewer rummaging opportunities. Nonetheless, they enjoyed a little exploration of Pomona Lock and the long fall down to the Manchester Ship Canal – it’s quite a view. They failed to be impressed by Manchester United’s Stadium πŸ™‚

We soon turned onto the Bridgewater canal – more new ground for us, though we have cruised the southern stretch up to Runcorn. It’s famously lock-free and a nice contrast to the big flights that we’ve tackled in the last few days.

All wrapped up - the Kings Retreat in Sale is a nice pub but it was chilly for al fresco dining...

All wrapped up – the Kings Retreat in Sale is a nice pub but it was chilly for al fresco dining…

When we got to Sale, there was one mooring space on the offside rings. We ummed and ahhed for a bit, but we were hailed by widebeam Pukeka, whose friendly welcome persuaded us to moor. We tied up behind them and were soon giving guided tours of each others boats – their boat was sheer luxury (the extra 3′ width makes such a difference)! They were very complimentary about Indigo Dream, which we enjoyed, and they also loved the hounds – can’t go wrong….

One advantage of this mooring is that it is right by the King’s Retreat pub. Dogs are not allowed inside but we just about managed to sit outside, though it was a bit chilly. The food was good pub grub, so that got the seal of approval. It was quiz night – we’d normally join in but it was just too cold (the hounds were curled up in their blankets). I was tempted to stay because there was a little drama being played out at the table next to us. A young man unwisely told his girlfriend that he would marry her if they won the quiz. She took his offer a LOT more seriously than he intended and was checking her connection to Google when we left πŸ™‚

Today’s Trivia

The Beetham Hilton Tower is to the left of this photo....

” The Beetham Hilton Tower is to the left of this photo….

There is a very tall tower that soars above Manchester’s skyline. This prompted me to investigate,, and I found out that is it the Beetham Hilton Tower completed in 2006. At 170-ish metres (one report said 169m and the other 171m), it seems to be Manchester’s tallest building. But according to Wikipedia, plans are afoot (but currently on hold) to build a taller tower, though the profile of the planned Piccadilly Tower looks a bit more sturdy.

From what I can gather, construction started in 2004 and was hailed as a wonderful new place to live, with a BBC article quoting a psychologist who believes that ” ….high-rise homes could offer a sense of calm. If you look out your window don’t see anything above you or nearby, that gives you a sense of privacy and security which you don’t have in a conventional flat surrounded by your neighbours.”

 

Photoblog:

The Picadilly culvert is quite errie, but I had my bodygards on deck :-D

The Picadilly culvert is quite eerie, but I had my bodyguards on deck πŸ˜€

Unusual paddle gear...

Unusual paddle gear…

The light at the end of the tunnel :-)

The light at the end of the tunnel πŸ™‚

Apparently these crude step were fo rhte use of lock crew to bet to/from the street. The new perspect screens now thoroughly separate the cana from the road...

Apparently these crude steps were for the use of lock crew to get to/from the street. The new perspex screens now thoroughly separate the canal from the road…

Bridges...

Bridges…

You can add this to the list of jobs I never want to do!

You can add this to the list of jobs I never want to do!

The hounds enjoyed a bimble along this stretch, though they did startle some passersby when they raced back to the boat...

The hounds enjoyed a bimble along this stretch, though they did startle some passersby when they raced back to the boat…

City view..

City view..

These canalside bars at Deansgate must be buzzing at night..

These canalside bars at Deansgate must be buzzing at night..

There are some elaborate railway bridges in Manchester and, as in many places, the railway is set way above the canal, though I suspect for reasons of spave rather than supremacy here (though I may be wrong!)...

There are some elaborate railway bridges in Manchester and, as in many places, the railway is set way above the canal, though I suspect for reasons of space rather than supremacy here (though I may be wrong!)…

Manchester United - that close to the canal!

Manchester United – that close to the canal!

 

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 36

Posted by indigodream on 10 November, 2014

Rewind to Monday 8th September

Dunkinfield Junction to Manchester (Bridge 2 Ashton Canal)

Dunkinfield Junction - the Huddersfield Narrow called to us, but not this time, we were bound for new waters on the Ashton Canal..

Dunkinfield Junction – the Huddersfield Narrow called to us, but not this time, we were bound for new waters on the Ashton Canal..

We set off bright and early this morning – the warnings in Nicholsons about the Ashton Locks are quite pronounced “…cruise the Ashton Canal early in the morning and avoid school holidays if possible. Moor only at recognised sites in this area, and do not offer anyone you do not know a ride on your boat. Keep the front doors locked”.

The navigation notes also advise that “passage through locks 1 – 18 should be commenced before 10am”.

Hmmm, despite these direful warnings, we were light of heart as we set out – it was another lovely morning and, as we waited at the top lock, I got talking to a passing dog-walker (our hounds were on board) who was very chatty. My opinion of the area went up proportionally.

When we got to the top lock, there was a boat doing random things in front of us. It was a hire boat, and I hoped that they were winding and that we’d go down the locks first. But they were faffing around and did intend to go down the locks – small sigh! Actually we got into a good rhythm with them and things were as smooth as they could have been but it would have been nicer not to have a boat in front of us all day!

The top of the Ashton flight is surprisingly pleasant, with neat little houses and quite elaborate gardens flanking the canal on one side and high fences flanking the towpath, which was largely deserted. This meant that the hounds could come off for a bimble whenever they fancied.

Some elaborate canaside gardens on the Ashton Canal..

Some elaborate canalside gardens on the Ashton Canal..

The landscape got less attractive as we descended towards Manchester. At Lock 10, there was a penetrating smell of rotten fish – I looked in the canal for the offending corpses, but there weren’t any. As we moved on, the smell became worse and worse – then I realised it was probably coming from the chemical factory flanking the canal (see Today’s Trivia!). I got onto to my Facebook friends later – there are a few scientists among them – I had this nagging recollection that the rotten fish smell was characteristic of a particular chemical. The consensus was that it was an amine of some sort – ah well, it’s better than i-spy while you’re waiting between locks πŸ™‚

We were having a good passage down the flight until Lock 8, which marked a 3-lock fiasco involving not enough water and a log-jam of boats as the early starters coming down the flight met the early starters coming up!

There is a long-ish pound between lock 8 and 7. We saw the hire boat go down and the crew of the boat coming up which had lock wheeled up and drained the lock even before the hire boat came down. But there was no sign of the upcoming boat. Richard cycled down – the upcoming boat could barely move in the shallow water and kept running aground. We brought Indigo Dream down the lock, hoping that a lockful of water into the pound might help us and the upcoming boat. I guess it must have done, but only barely. We each managed to move out of the lock jaws and upcoming boat managed to get past, leaving me grounded with Richard on the bank!

Aground! Between locks 8 and 7 - there's no-one at the helm because Richard was on the towpath and I was busy at the boq with the pole...

Aground! Between locks 8 and 7 – there’s no-one at the helm because Richard was on the towpath and I was busy at the bow with the pole…

Luckily,Malcolm our trainer (we’ve thought a lot about him since coming Marple-way!) taught us a few tricks for getting unstuck so I did eventually manage to get her back mid-channel. We then met a hire boat coming up but fortunately they were stopping to pick up crew so I had the mid channel to myself. They told Richard that the pound below was low and that there was no one coming up behind them, ha! There followed a horrible passage down to Lock 7, where the baseplate must have been scrubbed to a shine by encounters with trolleys, nameless tat and the bottom of the canal.

If I thought that passage from lock 8 to 7 was stressful, it was nothing compared to the drama between lock 7 and 6. By contrast, this is a very short pound with barely enough room for two narrowboats. The hire boat had just gone down, the crew obliging cracked a paddle for us and as the lock filled Richard found out that there were boats coming up – except they weren’t – the short pound was nigh on down to mud and the hire boat was stuck halfway across the short pound.

I hardly know where to start the saga of the next hour – it was a bit of a black comedy and I still think that it’s a miracle that Indigo Dream came out unscathed. Richard was not worried.

Right, we (as in all the boats waiting to go down/up) needed to get water into the pound between 7 and 6. But the pound above was hardly full to brimming either, so it seemed to make sense to take Indigo Dream down with a lock-full of water rather than leave her on a drained pound above lock 7. So far so good….

Indigo Dream's rudder - this should be under water!!!!

Indigo Dream’s rudder – this should be under water!!!!

Once we were down, we opened the bottom gates and realised that the pound below was so low that one lock-full of water hardly made a difference – we’d need to run more water down. At this point Indigo Dream was in the lock with the bottom gates open, I asked Richard to shut the bottom gates before flushing water down but he thought if would be ok not to; he got that one wrong! He took the stern rope and tied it round a bollard on the lock edge. He started to flush water down, Indigo Dream shot forward, the rope snapped and I screamed at Richard to drop the paddle. He responded quickly, but it was too late, Indigo Dream was now almost halfway out of the lock. This sadly coincided with the guys on the lock below opening paddles to come up and draining the pound further leaving Indigo Dream perched on the bottom cill with her front half suspended a foot or more in the air above the mud below – not good!

At this point I had a sense of humour failure and with a bit of wriggling, I put Richard on the helm while I went to manage the paddles. By now, the man in the boat stuck in the lock below (let’s call him Mr Nuisance) had come up to see why we weren’t running water down faster. He was a pain in the proverbial, he was trying to bully me into opening the paddles fully, but I refused, and had to be quite assertive about it. Why? Because with Indigo Dream stuck in the lock jaws, there wasn’t enough room for the water to flow past, so it started to bunch up behind the stern. Mr Nuisance was obscuring my view, and by the time he got out of my way, the water had ponded over the first of our stern tunnel markings. We had to go slowly rather than risk swamping our engine bay or washing her over the cill and damaging the prop – sigh!

Water rushing past as we run water down to refloat

Water rushing past as we run water down to refloat

Eventually, we got enough water down to pound below to get Indigo Dream afloat; Richard reversed Indigo Dream back into the lock, we shut the bottom gates and opened all four paddles – with the boat secure we could run water through at top speed. It still took an age, but eventually we got enough water into the short pound to allow the upcoming boat out of lock 6, for the waiting hire boat to get in to lock 6 and for us to get out of lock 7 to wait in the pound. But the drama wasn’t quite over, Mr Nuisance was so anxious about running aground in the short pound, he came right up to the narrows below lock 7 at a sharp angle before we were out and almost T-boned us as we tried to more forward to the passing place – a”Β£$!

We had been managing 3 locks an hour up to lock 8, then lock 7 and 6 took 70 minutes to get through! I was very stressed by the time we came into Lock 6 and was worried about the rest of the flight, but from then on it was actually fine!

Sadly, with all the to-do at the locks, I missed seeing the old Commonwealth Games site and the sculpture “the B of the bang” – I was disappointed as I’ve always wanted to see it in real life having seen many photos when it was first built. However, I don’t want to see it enough to go back up the Ashton flight!

Zoomies! The hounds were as glad to be free of Lock 7 as we were :-)

Zoomies! It took a while to get through Locks 8Β  – 6 so the hounds enjoyed a run when we let them out…

We got to the bottom of the Ashton by 3.30pm and stopped for a late lunch. We contemplated going on down the Rochdale 9, but we’d had enough really, so we stopped for the day.

We had some to-ing and fro-ing around Piccadilly, trying to decide where to moor. There are super-secure moorings offside around the gated housing development. It looked appealing enough, but we’d have been trapped as the caretaker was on holiday and his deputy couldn’t give us a guest code for the gate. I’m sure a limited walk would have been fine for the hounds, but it was early enough for us to explore, so we went to the junction with the Rochdale Canal. There were plenty of mooring rings at the junction and some moored boats but we weren’t sure, so we turned back (we later found out that it is regarded as a safe mooring). While we were on the move, we thought we’d fill with water, but sadly the waterpoint marked on our Nicholsons (by lock 2) was long gone.

In the end we moored up on the rings opposite the gated development – it seemed civilised enough and was well covered by CCTV. We figured that if we didn’t fancy it as night fell, we could always move across the canal to the gated moorings. As it happened, the mooring was fine and we had a quiet night.

With plenty of evening left, I took the dogs for a walk and pottered around while Richard went foraging for a takeaway. We had thought about exploring Manchester but I was exhausted so we had a quiet night in. The hounds didn’t mind, they’d had quite enough and were up for an evening of snoozing πŸ™‚

Today’s Trivia:

Just part of the huge chemical works flanking the canal..

Just part of the huge chemical works flanking the canal..

Regular readers will know that I have a fascination with canalside industries, and, as I’ve often said, it should be a legal requirement for them all to display a sign with their name and the products that they manufacture in order to enhance the lives of nosy boaters like me! A lot of manufacturing industries are a bit shy to reveal their identities – I’m sure this is innocent enough, you don’t need a shop front if you’re not retailing to the public. But some searches take longer than others, and some industries e.g. chemical and pharmaceutical, do seem a little coy when it comes to revealing details of their plants.

I set about finding out more about the factory that I believe had generated the “dead fish” smells around Lock 10. I had several clues to work with – I knew the exact location of the works and I knew that fishy smells are associated with the chemical group “amines”. You’d think it would be easy-peasy but it still took a few hours to put the jigsaw together…

First I searched for “chemical industries” and immediately found a factory “East Lancashire Chemicals”, but a search of their website showed that they manufacture various varieties of washing soda – all odourless and highly unlikely to involve amines. Hmmm, back to the drawing board….

End of the day's locking :-)

End of the day’s locking πŸ™‚

Photographs that we took (and a subsequent search of Google Earth and Bing) highlighted a number of large gas cylinders marked “Air Products”. Now, I know Air Products from my other life as a pharmacist – they supply medical gases and I’d assumed that their cylinder was on site as a manufacturing component rather than it being an “Air Products” plant. I was wrong!

Now, before the lawyers get excited here are some possibly unrelated facts:

  • A bit more digging (including a look at some Manchester Urban Regeneration committee notes about the compulsory purchase of land from Air Products) confirmed that the site flanking the canal around Locks 10 and 9 belonged to “Air Products”. I carried on the search, because as far as I’m aware, fishy amines do not feature in any medical gas that I know.
  • A search of their global, then their UK, websites revealed that the company manufactures a wide range of chemicals including amines. A quick look at their product data sheets confirmed that many of their amine products have a “characteristic amine odour” – which generally ranges from ammonia-like to the full aroma of rotten fish.
  • I found it quite difficult to find exactly where Air Products’ plants are located. They list their Head Offices and I eventually got to something like a list of UK plants by going through their “careers” website, but the Manchester/Ashton site wasn’t listed, so I can’t confirm whether they manufacture amine products at the Ashton factory.

Interestingly, when the nearby area was assailed by the smell of rotten fish back in December 2013, the source was never found, so I’ll probably never make the link between the factory and the smell…

For people who like a bit of history, my researches into the chemical industry did unearth this photo from the 1950s – I thought the Ashton Canal looked run down even then 😦

Again for the historians, a lot of my searches were overwhelmed by news articles of an awful explosion at a munitions factory not far from Portland Basin back in 1917 (there’s a map at the bottom of the linked article) . There’s a brief account here.

Photoblog:

 

The Ashton Canal, overall, is a bit grim, but theres some little gems - like this painted bridge...

The Ashton Canal, overall, is a bit grim, but there are some little gems – like this painted bridge, a sort of Belfast Truss but has both chords curved and a pig to calculate by hand…

Some of the old buildings have elaborate brickwork...

Some of the old buildings have elaborate brickwork…

Although it goes through a densely populated area, we could let the hounds off for a bimble for most of its length...

Although it goes through a densely populated area, we could let the hounds off for a bimble for most of its length…

And nature soon moves in to cover our dereliction...

And nature soon moves in to cover the dereliction…

There are several low bridges along this canal...

There are several low bridges along this canal…

Oh dear, our Olympic Looking team has folded - they really must learn to pace themselves :-)

Oh dear, our Olympic Looking team has folded – they really must learn to pace themselves πŸ™‚

Henry Beanz makes a good pillow...

Henry Beanz makes a good pillow…

Fairfield Junction and the start of the day's locking...

Fairfield Junction and the start of the day’s locking…

It was a lovely day for locking...

It was a lovely day for locking…

View from Lock 7 towards the converted Commonwealth Games Stadium...

View from Lock 7 towards the converted Commonwealth Games Stadium…

More low bridges....

More low bridges….

Urban regeneration - not sure what I think of the building onn the left -cutting edge design or wine-soaked architects?? :-)

Urban regeneration – not sure what I think of the building on the left – cutting edge design or wine-soaked architects?? πŸ™‚

Mind your head Richard! The logic-defying steps down from Lock 1!

Mind your head Richard! The logic-defying steps down from Lock 1!

Picadilly Village at the bottom of the Ashton Canal - secure (gated) mooring to the right, good towpath ring moorings on the left. We moored on the towpath side and had an undisturbed night...

Piccadilly Village at the bottom of the Ashton Canal – secure (gated) mooring to the right of the photo, good towpath ring moorings on the left. We moored on the towpath side and had an undisturbed night…

We weren't sure of the status of these mooring pontoons - the sharp right turn under the building takes you to the Rochdale Canal,,

We weren’t sure of the status of these mooring pontoons – the sharp right turn under the building takes you to the Rochdale Canal

Archie checking out the cat action at Picadilly Village - he was disappointed :-)

Archie checking out the cat action at Piccadilly Village – he was disappointed πŸ™‚

We last met this little cruiser on the Buckby flight - he's the chap who'd bought the boat for a song and was cruising to the far North while doing it up on the way. His boat does look a bit more water-worthy and he now has water and tea-making facilities :-)

We last met this little cruiser on the Buckby flight – he’s the adventurous chap who’d bought the boat for a song and was cruising to the far North while doing it up on the way. His boat does look a bit more canal-worthy, quite smart really and he now has a proper engine, not a funny electric thing, water and tea-making facilities πŸ™‚ The photo below/opposite was taken soon after he started out in April…

On his way North - on the Aire and Calder - hope he makes it :-)

On his way North – up to the Aire and Calder – hope he makes it πŸ™‚

 

 

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Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 35

Posted by indigodream on 2 November, 2014

Rewind to Sunday 7th September

Gurnett to Dunkinfield Junction

The looming mills of Macclesfield...

The looming mills of Macclesfield…

Having stopped short of Macclesfield, we needed to shift today and had an early start, by Indigo Dream’s low standards!

We enjoyed cruising the rest of the Macclesfield Canal. The contrasts are tremendous, from the rural beauty of the landscape to the looming mills of Macclesfield. We’ve wandered around the town on previous visits and enjoyed the silk museum – it’s well worth a visit. But we were just passing through today…

The Macclesfield Canal has some attractive stone bridges, though they are very narrow. This brought happy memories of our second rescue hound, lurcher Indie, for whom the boat was named and designed. Our old share boat, nb Dragonfly, had a semi-trad stern and Indie would jump off at these narrow bridges in a gesture of defiance – she wouldn’t run away, she’d just stubbornly park herself on the towpath and make it obvious that the problem of how to get her back on board was entirely ours! She hated boating – not in a scaredy wuss way like Ty, oh no, she was far too feisty for that! It was because of Indie that we have a dog-proof cruiser deck to discourage random escapes πŸ™‚

Such a picturesque flight...

Such a picturesque flight…

It was another fine day, and as we passed through Higher Poynton, it wasn’t hard to spot the Braidbar Boats, who were having spectacular weather for their annual gathering. We stopped briefly to see if we could catch up with fellow bloggers Bruce and Sheila from nb Sanity Again. Sadly for us, they were in a Braidbar meeting, so I had a chat with the marina manager instead. The hounds got a huge amount of attention from the many visitors to the cafe, but the Beanz were a bit subdued after the busyness of Bosley.

We stopped for lunch a little way up from the marina – I wanted us to have a civilised meal before we tackled the Marple Locks, which were just round the corner on the stunning Peak Forest Canal.

Naturally enough, my notes stop there because for the next few hours we were busy locking down the mighty Marple Flight.

But luckily I don’t need notes for this bit – it’s a memorable stretch of water which takes the canal down around 200′ – but not to a valley – the canal is still ridiculously high even at the bottom of the flight.

The view from Marple aqueduct - now....

The view from Marple aqueduct – now….

But I’m ahead of myself, the reason that Marple looms so large in our memories is because this is where I learnt to drive a narrowboat! When we bought our share in nb Dragonfly I felt I HAD to learn, even if was just for emergencies. By chance I found us an excellent teacher – Malcolm Allcard at Top Lock Training (sadly retired now). I learnt so much and by the end of the day I was amazed to be handling his boat by myself; Richard, being a bloke, thought he was just coming to keep me company but as he says, he learnt so much it was embarrassing!

But there was no time to reminisce, the flight was ahead of us, and they are mighty locks – deep and heavy. We kept the hounds on board at first, the first few locks are close to town and associated roads – they didn’t mind – by this stage of the holiday they really were winding down.

There was a CRT man taking photos around top lock. We tried to get our lock-wheeling routine going, but we didn’t get into a rhythm. Closing the top gate behind the boat was fine, but I was struggling to crack open a bottom paddle – the mechanisms were dry and ridiculously stiff. But once I did get the paddle open, the water drained so fiercely it was a race to get back on board before the boat dropped out of reach! The CRT man came across as a bit cynical and was quite happy to watch me struggle – I don’t mind that he didn’t help, but to sit and watch was too much. I crossly thought that he shouldn’t have been taking photos, he should have been busy with a bucket of grease on those paddles!

....adn then - on nb Dragonfly with Cousin Denise and Wyn back in 2004...

….and then – on nb Dragonfly with Cousin Denise and Wyn back in 2004…

The passage down the first few locks wasn’t as smooth as we hoped – some of the pounds were low and I got thoroughly grounded below Lock 13. Unfortunately, Richard had cycled ahead and had left his phone on the boat so I tried every which way to move the boat, but to no avail. He did eventually wonder where I’d got to and came back up to run some water down from the pound above. I was stuck mid-cut, so he couldn’t get on the boat to help, but I was able to hand him the pole so he could add a shove to get her moving into deep water – phew – all hard work on a very warm day!

Below Bridge 17, the flight enters a long stretch of parkland and things got a lot easier. Archie and Henry had a little bimble, while the population of Marple and beyond came out to enjoy the sun. We were followed down by one family who had such a curiosity about the locks that we gave them a lift down through a couple of locks just for the experience. They were charming and immensely grateful – the mum said that they didn’t expect to ever go boating themselves (hiring is expensive) and this would be something her kids would remember for a long time. A little further down, we picked up another family and gave them a lift – this was a slightly different experience as the boy (10/11 year old) got yelled at by me for not staying within the profile of the boat, then his mum gave him a thorough b”££”$%^&*! I felt a little bit sorry for him, but only a little bit, safety is paramount on board!

I hopped back on smartly here - there's not much between Henry Beanz and the fall on the offisde - though it's much better than the edge of the trough on Pontcysyllte...

I hopped back on smartly here – there’s not much between Henry Beanz and the fall on the offside – though it’s much better than the edge of the trough on Pontcysyllte…Β Β Β Β  The crowds dwindled as we got further down the flight – I think people were daunted by the long walk back up the hill!

I had forgotten how awkward the bottom lock is – there is no landing step in the jaws below the lock for picking up crew – luckily the hounds were on board, but I had to pick Richard up at the next bridge (the towpath landing was occupied by a fisherman!).

Despite the problems of the stiff paddles and low pounds, we had a good trip down the flight in under 2Β½ hours and still had a good afternoon’s cruise ahead of us. Marple is hard work but it is a gorgeous, beautiful lock flight. It is 10 years since we last went this way, we must not leave it so long again!

After the lock flight, the first highlight is the Marple Aqueduct, which flanks the railway viaduct, set above the canal to emphasise the dominance of rail over water. The Aqueduct at 90′ is the highest in England though not as high as Pontcysyllte at 126′.Β  It was finished in 1799 and is an extremely graceful way of spanning the River Goyt. We think that it’s a worthy rival to the more famous Pontcysyllte, but hardly known which is unfair! BW tried to demolish it in 1962!!!

The thing with big lock flights is that they tend to be flanked by long lock-free pounds where you can while away the hours, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. The roar of the M67 and the abrupt appearance of the odd lift bridge was a good wake-up call!

There is a mish-mash of styles here - the graceful stone sweep ot the turnover surmounted by a utilitarian steel deck...

There is a mish-mash of styles here – the graceful stone sweep of the turnover surmounted by a utilitarian steel deck…

We had a little drama at Bridge 1 – a lift bridge in a surprisingly wooded and rural setting considering its proximity to Manchester. As I took Indigo Dream through the bridge, there was an almighty “clonk” and the prop stopped dead – uh oh! I managed to stop the boat with a rope lassoed round a handy bollard and held her in the jaws while Richard lowered the bridge ready for any traffic. He thenΒ  came on board to investigate the prop while I took the hounds for a bimble. One important thing that our trainer, Malcolm, taught us, was to turn the engine off, take the key out of the ignition and then the person clearing the prop should put the key in their pocket to avoid any possibility of another crew member accidentally starting the mincer, sorry, engine. This we did, and Richard got to work. The culprit was a sizeable log, which Richard soon dislodged – there was no damage to the prop, so once I’d rounded up the hounds we were off again.

There wasn’t far to go. We had thought to moor at Portland Basin Marina (there’s a little stub to the right before the junction), but we hadn’t made any arrangements and it looked jam-packed. Our next thought was Portland Basin itself (directly opposite the junction), but that all looked private – hmm, what to do? It was getting late, so we decided to moor just to the right of Dunkinfield Junction, on the towpath side of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Again, Ashton has a fearsome reputation but the mooring was covered by CCTV from the flats opposite and it seemed civilised enough so we stayed. At first, the towpath was busy with walkers, but by sunset everyone had gone and we had a very quiet night.

Today’s Trivia

There’s a photo below of a huge engineering works built/opened in 1885 by Joseph Adamson (it’s now an industrial estate) – here’s a hyperlink to some more information about the man himself – http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Joseph_Adamson. There’s plenty of canal interest here – Joseph’s uncle, Daniel Adamson was the driving force behind the Manchester Ship Canal. Jospeh’s company keptΒ  making boilers and cranes till the 1970s when it merged with Butterley Engineering who did all sorts of wonderful things, but perhaps their most recent claim to fame was that they made the steelwork for the magnificent Falkirk Wheel. Their main factory used to be by the Cromford Canal but after a series of takeovers they ceased trading and their massive works by the Cromford Canal was demolished in 2009.

Photoblog:

The uncompromising walls around Gurnett Aqueduct...

The uncompromising walls around Gurnett Aqueduct…

Then a sudden opening and you realise that you're perched far above the surrounding landscape :-)

The a sudden opening and you realise that you’re perched far above the surrounding landscape πŸ™‚

There are manay canalside Mills here - can you imagine the bustle on this canal in their heyday...?

There are many canalside Mills here – can you imagine the bustle on this canal in their heyday…?

Waiting at Marple Top - oops, the lock moorings are on the other side...

Waiting at Marple Top – oops, the lock moorings are on the other side…

Lock flights make for lovely views :-)

Lock flights make for lovely views πŸ™‚

Boat wash! Something tickled my memory at top lock and I shut the side hatch as a precaution just before setting off down the flight - phew!

Boat wash! Something tickled my memory at top lock and I shut the side hatch as a precaution just before setting off down the flight – phew!

Deep locks....

Deep locks….

On the Peak Forest, the locks are deep and the narrows are narrow!

On the Peak Forest, the locks are deep and the narrows are narrow!

The wooded coolness beyond Marple aqueduct as a nice refresehr after the hard work of the flight :-)

The wooded coolness beyond Marple aqueduct as a nice refresher after the hard work of the flight πŸ™‚

Reflections...

Reflections…

Here's a space-time conundrum - here's the inside of the Woodley Tunnel - the signs at the portals say it's two-way working!

Here’s a space-time conundrum – here’s the inside of the Woodley Tunnel – the signs at the portals say it’s two-way working!

Who was Joseph Adamson? A member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and part of an engineering dynast by the sounds of it - http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Joseph_Adamson

Who was Joseph Adamson? A member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and part of an engineering dynasty – see “Today’s Trivia” above..

This is a huge block of polystyrene - I have no idea where it came from - it seems so wooded and lovely here...

This is a huge block of polystyrene – I have no idea where it came from – it seems so wooded and lovely here…

Bridge 1 on the Peak Forest Canal - you wouldn't believe how close we are to the conurbations of Ashton, Salybridge and Manchester!

Bridge 1 on the Peak Forest Canal – you wouldn’t believe how close we are to the conurbations of Ashton, Salybridge and Manchester!

 

 

 

 

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