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Archive for November 2nd, 2014

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 🙂

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…     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 2½ 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′.  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 then  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 kept  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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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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