Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Monday, Tuesday 29, 30th August
The beautiful River Aire at Gargrave
Ducks for company at East Marton
After spending a lovely relaxing day on Sunday we continued our journey towards Leeds. This side of the tunnel the traffic has increased dramatically and we see moving boats frequently, which is good to see.
We travelled as far as Gargrave today, a pleasant village at the head of Airedale. This gives a clue to the fact that the River Aire runs through the village, close to the canal. The river and canal now follow each other to Leeds where the canal drops onto the river to become The Aire and Caulder Navigation.
It soon becomes apparent why there are more boats on this side of the tunnel. The scenery is stunning. the canal winds its way around the hills and every turn reveals a new vista.

At Gargrave we paired up with another boat for the trip to Skipton. There were 3 locks and 5 swing bridges on our route today (Tuesday) and having a partner makes life much easier. Helping at locks, and then at bridges the first boat opens the bridge letting the second go through and then they are first at the next, and so on. The rain held off while we were moving and we managed a good mooring here in Skipton, but it's raining now. Tomorrow doesn't look too bad on the forecast and we intend to spend it here in this tourist trap in the heart of the dales.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 25,26,27 August
After ploughing on to the bottom of Barrowford Locks we moored up to await the arrival of our guests. They had set off in good time, but as usual the best laid plans and all that. The bank holiday traffic started early and to compound matters the turbo on their car seems to have given up the ghost, and although the car kept going  it made progress slower.
They duly arrived just in time for dinner and we managed to get the car right alongside the boat to make luggage transfer easy. Paul had brought me a modification for the tension adjustment on our Travel Power generator belt that he had made for me. I'll fit the next time the belt needs adjustment.
Friday morning we were up and at 'em, and while Paul started taking the car to the next destination we started up the locks. Before we had reached the top Paul had cycled back to meet us and was already off hunting for geocaches. There is still one, at the bottom of the locks which defies all efforts to find it.
With the climb up the locks we had reached the summit level and soon entered Foulridge Tunnel, a mile long tube, controlled with traffic lights to allow only one way travel. Emerging from the Foulridge end we moored up next to the Cafe Cargo, where we had lunch. A nice place.
Unfortunately the service block here is now permanently disabled, we were told because of an error in re-laying the drains.
Friday night we all piled in to the car and set off to Haworth meet an old friend from our days working at Cauldron Foods. Jamie and his wife Liz made up a party of 6 at a very good restaurant in this small town, more famous for its association with the Bronte sisters. It was good to see him again and it was our first time meeting his wife Liz.
After the great night out we got a slow start this morning (Saturday) and started the long descent into Leeds with the 3 Greenberfield Locks. We then carried on for about 3 miles to East Marton where we will stay tonight and probably all day tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tuesday, Wednesday, 23,24 August
After a lovely quiet night at the out of town mooring (see last entry) we set  off  for Burnley. The weather was lovely as we once again found ourselves enjoying the wonderful views of hills and valleys from our position on the canal.
Here the Leeds & Liverpool winds its way, following the contours of the land in this long, lock-less section. This gives the boater the opportunity to see for miles over the countryside.
Burnley is another of the typical mill towns around here. A lot has been done to try to overcome the effects of the loss of much of its industry, but the low house prices and closed shops still tell of a community with high unemployment.
Despite mooring fairly near to a pub we were not disturbed at all overnight and this morning we set off for Nelson where there is a Morrisons close to the canal, with its own secure mooring. After a short expedition to get essentials for tonight I took a walk into the town. It looks like they are doing a great job of trying to make the place clean and modern. There is much being done and it looks good, but once again the house prices look like a steal if you live anywhere that there are good employment prospects.
We'll stay here tonight and move off late tomorrow to meet Paul and Jacqui at the bottom of Barrowford Locks.

Monday, 22 August 2011

At the bottom of Johnsons Hillock Locks
Sunday, Monday 21,22 August
After early bright sunshine Sunday settled to dull with the occasional show of the bright orb.
Cath set off for a bit of a walk while I started preparing the boat for the day's move. Everything done (or so I thought) I set off in pursuit. After picking her up we continued as far as Botany Bay. Not Australia, of course but an old mill converted to a shopping mall. As we approached I noticed that there was only 1 mooring hook on the hatch cover. Sudden memory flash of intending to pick up the back hook and then not doing it. Ah well, we're only about a mile away, so out comes the bike and I cycle back for it. That'll teach me to be more careful, or will it.
We soon reached Johnson's Hillock Locks, 7 locks raising the canal 65 ft. This is a well kept flight and at the top is a pub, appropriately call 'The Top Lock'. They have a sign outside declaring they have an ice cream parlour and I can resist anything except temptation and ice cream! After using the facilities we move across onto the pub mooring and I dived into a large cone.
After lunch we continued along as far as Riley Green where we've moored up for the night.
Monday started very promising, bright sunshine as we set of towards Blackburn. The canal is strangely lonely with no sign of other moving boats.
As we approached Blackburn it quickly became obvious we were near an industrial town. The amount of rubbish, mostly discarded drinks bottles increased exponentially.
At Burnley Locks we met the first moving boats of the day, a pair heading down to Chorley. They just beat us to the facilities point so we didn't bather to stop as we weren't desperate for them. Continuing on up the flight, 6 locks 54 ft., which takes the canal to over 400 ft high.
Later on we were passing a moored boat when they asked of we had any jump leads. I have so we stopped to try to assist. Unfortunately we didn't succeed because the trouble was with their starter motor, and we couldn't tow them as we were going the wrong way.
We continued on as far as a place called Rishton where there is mooring marked on the map. That was a bit of an over statement. There is only one place, but we've managed to get 2 boats on it with our back end sticking out because of the shallowness of the waters's edge.
After being in Rishton for a few hours and been bothered by some local youths pulling on the ropes and jumping on the boat, and then noticing older lads eyeing us up we both decided to move out of town.
A mile or so up the canal we've found a lovely spot with glorious views, so here we'll stay.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

After a great night's sleep (courtesy of all the work yesterday) we set off about nine this morning and in lovely sunshine chugged along the lock free section as far as Chorley.
The canal winds through some beautiful scenery, with views of distant hills and rolling pastures.
At Chorley we moored up and I went into town to raid Morrison's for some provisions. As usual they're doing a great deal on some wines, so I couldn't refuse.
Not long after returning to the boat the sun disappeared and once again the rain started up. Hope it clears up by tomorrow morning.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Paired up for the "Wigan 21"
Last night, while we waited for BW to fill the Wigan pound Malcolm, from nb Bart came around looking to pair up for the flight. I had nearly given up hope of a pair as all the boats I had spoken to were heading the other way at the junction.
This morning we set off with 2 locks to do before the junction and then the "Wigan 21". A 214 ft climb up to the Chorley pound. Having a pair, as usual made the task much less daunting and we made steady progress, only hindered by having to follow another pair who were a bit slower than us, also some of the pounds were very low and both our boats grounded in one of them.
At the top of the flight we moored up for the night and I decided to go looking for a shop because we had run out of wine. I ended up walking all the way back into town! My legs feel shorter!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

High and dry after vandals drain the pound
We set off this morning with the hope of reaching Wigan. We flew along the wide, deep Bridgewater Canal, passing through Leigh where the name changes to Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool.
Here the canal becomes isolated and passes through sparse, open countryside. there are several 'flashes' here, formed by mining subsidence. In fact the canal had to be built up quite at bit due to this shifting of the ground. You could say it was a victim of its own success because the prime object of the canal was to move the coal which then caused the subsidence.
When we arrived at the first lock, quite close to Wigan, we found several boats waiting. It was all stop! Some charmless nerk(s) had open the sluices and drained the pound where the branch joins the main canal. it looks as if we'll be here at least until morning now while BW try to refill it. We're at least better off than the chap in the boat above. This picture was taken after refilling had started. At 4 o'clock this morning he nearly tipped right over because of his rounded bottom.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Daniel visits us at Piccadilly Village, Manchester

Passing through The Rochdale 9

Nearly finished The Rochdale 9
Monday 15th August
On Saturday evening we decided not to try and get to Castlefields on Sunday but to meet Damon, Liz and Daniel here at Piccadilly Village. This proved to be a good decision as the locks would have taken us a long time and a lot of effort.
They duly arrived, after a slight scare on the motorway when the car started to overheat. They then took us in the car to a Harvester for lunch and afterwards we took a little trip on the boat just to give Daniel a taste of the water life.
When we returned to the village we decided to moor up in the basin, which is all part of the Piccadilly complex, where one of the residents asked if we would like to join them for an afternoon street party. What a great place this is.
This morning we set off to tackle the 9 locks down into Castlefields. When we got to the top lock we found it chained up. A quick call to BW and they told us that it was stopped for maintenance for a couple of hours but someone would come and open it in a few hours.
It only took them about an hour for a BW man to turn up and unlock so we were off. This must be the hardest 9 locks on the system. Several of the pounds are flooded by the water pouring over the gates, so wet feet are the order of the day. The flooding also makes the gates very difficult to open. Because space is limited, some of the locks have an ingenious, if crude, chain mechanism to pull the gates open where there isn't  enough room for  full size beams. We finally made ot to the bottom and are now safely tied up in Castlefields where we will stop at least until Wednesday. I'm looking forward to visiting the Science and Industry Museum where there is an exhibition of custom Harley Davidson bikes.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday 13th August
We've just finished a very hard day. The day began at 6 o'clock this morning and after a quick breakfast we set off. First call was the service block to dump cans and fill with water. Then it was into the thick of it, 18 locks down to the Rochdale Canal.
It was an eventful trip! Several of the paddle gear mechanisms were not working making those locks very slow. Several times we stopped so that I could dive into the weed hatch to remove plastic bags and/or rope from the propeller, while stepping across the boat I stood on one of our plastic folding stools and it collapsed into several pieces sending me sprawling, and last but not least on another occasion I slipped and put a foot in the water.
The last time we were at this junction we had a very disturbed night courtesy of some yobs, but now the area has been re-developed and there are safe 24 hour visitor moorings.
Once we had tied up I went to have a look at the next task. The notorious Rochdale 9. We ascended this flight 4 years ago and it was hard then, but now we are going down which is harder. The water constantly flows over the top gates making opening them extremely difficult or even impossible. Going up you can use the boat to push the gates against the flow but going down you can't.

Damon, Liz and Daniel are visiting us tomorrow and we would like to be down in Castlefield by the time they get here but seeing the state of the locks today I'm not sure we'll make it. Looks like another early start tomorrow.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A magnificent mill chimney at Ashton u Lyme
Friday 12th August
At last we've moved again. The weather has been terrible over the last couple of days, at least the weathermen got it right for once.
The mooring we took in Stalybridge was very handy, right outside Tesco, but it was a bit noisy. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights the rain kept any yobbish elements from outdoor antics but last night it was dry and they were out again. There was no trouble, just very noisy with both girls and lads yelling well into the small hours.
This morning we set off intending to get to the top of the 18 lock flight down to the Rochdale canal junction. British Waterways advise that it isn't a good idea to stop anywhere in the flight because of trouble with local youths. However once we get to the Rochdale Canal will find ourselves at the top of a flight called The Rochdale 9. It was here 4 years ago that we were banged on several times in the night by drunken louts. This flight leads down to Castlefields, a nice safe mooring in the middle of Manchester.
We're now tied up just above the 18 locks and hopefully will get down them tomorrow if the weather is kind.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A much better day today. The sun shone for  most of the time as we dragged our way along the bottom of the canal. After a couple of locks the situation improved, and as long as we stayed dead centre we didn't hit the bottom too often.
We continued until the services at Bywith Lock where got rid of rubbish, filled with water and chucked a can. After a spot of lunch we carried on as far as Stalybridge and have moored up outside the big Tesco.
I took a walk around the town and it's depressing, there are a huge number of shuttered shops and for sale signs. Makes me wonder if this huge Tesco has devastated the small businesses around here.
This afternoon I remembered that we had a bit of juddering on the tiller as we came out of the last lock so I took a dive into the weed hatch and sure enough came out with a length of rope. I then decided it would be a good idea to transfer the fuel which we carry as extra in barrels on the back deck into the main fuel tank so that I could put the empties down in the engine room. I don't think it's a good idea to have fuel sitting around on the deck on a city mooring.

Monday, 8 August 2011

After looking at the weather forecast last night we decided to make a start on the journey back towards Manchester. Just after setting off there was a sharp shower but it let up as we approached our first stop, the marina we may spend this winter in. I wanted to have a word with the manager and have a look at the facilities.
As we have found a great deal on this canal, we couldn't get to the side to moor up properly so Cath stayed to look after the boat while I met the man. The heavens opened and poor Cath got a real soaking.
After she changed we set off again hoping to get as far as Roaches Lock, which is the first place we know we can get a mooring. Despite the assurances of The Meteorology Office the rain persisted down and by the time we got to the mooring we were both fed up and damp. Our plan has always been to moor up and wait out any really bad weather but here that wasn't possible because we couldn't get to the side with the shallowness of this canal.
Tomorrow, once again, they say the weather won't be too bad but Wednesday and Thursday will be foul. We'll see!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sunday 7th August
Yes, look at the date! I still can't believe it. The temperature outside is 12 C, the barometer is 985mb, and it's tipping it down out there.
We have spent a pleasant few days here in Uppermlil, and on Thursday Cath went to the local surgery to try to get her repeat prescription signed by a doctor. They were less than helpful! Having asked her to fill out the usual temporary resident form they then told her that the earliest appointment would be Friday week, and her best bet was to visit the Walk in Centre in Oldham.
Friday we moved a couple of locks further up to visit the facilities block to carry out the usual tasks. We then came back down again as we didn't think it was worth doing the final climb to the  summit if we couldn't get through the tunnel.
Yesterday we waited out the very heavy morning rain and then grabbed a bus into Oldham to visit the Walk in Centre. It's very handily located right next to the bus station so in we went to a desk signed " NHS walk in centre" to be told we're not really a walk in centre, we're a GP surgery but we do offer an emergency service.  Now, what the difference is we don't know. So we filled in the usual forms and waited to be called. To be fair the wait wasn't too long, and when we got to the doctor he was very helpful and did sign the repeat forms without too much persuasion.
Looking back on the encounter at the local surgery it seems as if the staff have been told to make it difficult for transient people like ourselves. For instance, Cath wasn't told that they always keep appointments open to be made 'on the day', just told come back in 10 days time, when she had already told them her present prescription would run out in 7 days. Ah, the joys of being itinerant.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Shady mooring at Uppermill, Huddersfield Broad Canal
We continued our climb to the summit this morning. In lovely sunshine we struggled along due to the shallowness of the canal. At several points we were nearly  stopped by the drag. However we still think it's worth it for the surroundings.
After 7 locks we came to Uppermill, a lovely small town on Saddleworth Moor where we have stopped and may well spend a couple of days here. The local trip boat owner is an expert on Standedge Tunnel and he says we won't get through with our top boxes in place. They're too big, heavy and full of kit to remove so once again I think we won't be going through.
Approaching Uppermill we passed a marina with a 'mooring available' sign outside. On the off chance I gave them a ring and it looks as if this could be the place we spend winter. The price isn't too bad, the surroundings are beautiful, and there's a supermarket only a few yards away.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


 Waiting for lock 10W
Just north of Mossley
After a peaceful night at Heyrod we set off again this morning in light drizzle, climbing steeply through a series of deep locks. It is wonderfully peaceful around here, the canal is almost completely shrouded in trees for most of the time keeping us isolated from most things. 
The canal follows the course of the River Tame and the occasional sights we get of it show an idyllic picture.
We've moored up near Mossley for the night.
After considering the options we've decided to try for the tunnel. It seems a waste to come this far and not try it. There are many 'ifs' to look forward to at the moment: if we wait, if we can fit through, if we get through can we continue up the Broad? Our length makes this problematic, some say we should make it others say it's dodgy. We'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Awkward place for a pylon
Monday 1st August
My idea of 'doing' Standedge Tunnel is now probably not a runner. When I rang up this morning to book passage this coming Friday I was told they'd call back to confirm. They didn't, so after climbing through 8 locks I called again to be told it was completely booked up until the 12th of August. I don't want to hang around that long, and there is another consideration, there is a chance we may be too tall. The top boxes we have could turn out to be a bit too much and I don't want to get to the tunnel, wait a week only to be told I'm an inch or so too tall.
We are presently moored up in quiet surroundings 8 locks up from Staylybridge. As we started the climb out of the industrial area there were the ususal signs of our industrial past, with several derelict mill buildings, but some that had been converted to other uses like smaller units for starter businesses. There are also new water side flats, with people paying over the odds for a view of canal.
The city seems to end very quickly, and soon we were out in countryside with the locks coming at regular intervals. One of the interesting sights around here is a huge electrical sub station with one of the incoming pylons built across the cut.
Our options now are to turn around at the first opportunity and head for Manchester, or to go to the top just for scenery, then come back down again. We'll make the decision tomorrow.