Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Hector and Sally popped in for a quick coffee then we set off for our long day heading for the Peak Forest Canal.  It was generally quiet on the canal today – most people back at work but we did enlist the help of Charlie (7) and Jess (4) for a couple of locks.  They were fishing with their mum and dad but decided helping us open the paddles and gates was more fun!

Sixteen locks later we stopped at Stalybridge to run into Tesco and restock the fridge then we carried on, the locks on this stretch are quite hard work but not as bad as some that we have encountered before.  All was going well until we got three locks from Ashton-Under-Lyne when we realised we had something stuck around the prop so we got into the lock then lifted the weed hatch – 20 minutes later when Steve had pulled several plastic bags and cut a long piece of blue nylon rope from the prop we were free to carry on with our journey.

As we went into the next lock there was, what I thought, a clump of weeds but it turned out to be a chunk of wood covered in moss which wedged itself between the side of the boat and the lock wall – we couldn’t reverse off it so Steve had to get the axe out and break it down which he managed to do eventually.  I stayed on the boat and he did the lock this time – this is where he met a chap who told him he was on surveillance and kept talking to his watch, sleeve and shoulder – he then apologised for being in his pyjamas (which he was) and ran off down the towpath. 

Finally 21 locks later we made it out of lock number 1 (the last for us on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal), then through the Asda Tunnel (only 166 yards), through Portland Basin where we took a sharp left and joined the Peak Forest Canal. 

After helping a long narrowboat trying to make the turn into a marina we went through the lift bridge – and suddenly the surroundings are all much more pleasant.  We chose a mooring spot in the middle of the Haughton Dale Nature Reserve.  Lovely and quiet except for the fact that we are directly under the flight path into Manchester Airport, which, thankfully, is not as busy as Heathrow! 

Goodbye Hector and Sally - it was nice meeting you.

This is Saddleworth Moor where Moira Hindley and Ian Brady buried some of their victims.

Strange choice of garden ornament!

Over Royal George Aqueduct.

Bye Charlie and Jess - thanks for your help.

Through Scout Tunnel (205 yards)

Looks like this was dug through Granite too.

Looks like their yard could do with being restored and promoted!

It's very handy when there is a supermarket right on the canal!

Not sure whether this photo was taken of the duck or me!

It's a wonder that we actually managed to empty this lock with the back gates leaking this badly.

Over the River Tame on Tame Aqueduct.

It's lucky we only had plastic bags and rope stuck round our prop - it wouldn't have been much fun running over this shopping trolley! 

The canal's answer to a car wash!

What a great idea - we've had no TV signal for three days now!

but you can  see the effort this chap has had to go to!

Under Asda Tunnel.

Through Portland Basin.

And a sharp left into the Peak Forest Canal.

Go on Steve go and give these people a hand getting that boat into the marina.

Getting quieter - I think we will moor up soon.

Moored under the flight path!

They keep on coming!

But at least the surrounding nature reserve is quiet and peaceful.

Monday 29 August 2016

Happy Birthday Graham!

As I am typing this I realise that I gave up work two years ago today - I can’t believe it has been that long – how did I ever have time to work!

7.00am and the CRT are arriving and are busy getting all their stuff together for the chaperoned trips through Standedge Tunnel – we had better get up.  And the sun is shining.

After being measured we are introduced to John who is going to escort us through the tunnel.  Hard hats and life jackets on and we are ready for the off.

The tunnel was surprisingly dry compared to other tunnels that we have been through other than the ventilation shafts where water pours down – John called these the cardiac arrests as they give you a drenching of cold water as you go underneath.  The tunnel walls vary as you travel through from granite like rock to limestone and the more recently added brick arches.

Yesterday somebody told us that they started to dig the tunnel from both sides and it didn’t meet in the middle hence the reason there is an S-bend half way through, but John told us it was because the granite was so hard to dig away that the workmen took a detour around it carrying on through the softer limestone.

It took us a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete the 5686 yards which we were told was a good time (the fastest being 1 hour 10 minutes).  We had to stop at three points through the tunnel for John to call back to base to confirm that everything was ok.  We (or rather Steve) did hit the sides about three times – I’m glad they told us to take the cratch cover off the top of the boat as if we hadn’t it would have been ripped!  I also thought the hard hats were a bit over the top but Steve managed to knock his off his head three times!

Once through the other end the surrounding countryside opens up to parkland and the start of the locks descending down to Ashton-Under-Lyne.  We are 645ft above sea level at this point and by the time we reach Ashton-Under-Lyne we will have dropped 334ft.

After two locks I asked Steve where his life jacket was…..he had taken it off and left it at the end of the tunnel!  As I walk quicker I volunteered to go back for it – thankfully it was still there!
Lots of people on the towpath today as it is bright and sunny and it’s Bank Holiday Monday.  Not many volunteers to help but I did enlist a couple of guys to help me when they were watching me struggle with the odd gate or paddle!

We made our way to Saddleworth where we stopped to grab some lunch and moored next to “Hectors House” who invited us to join them for a glass of wine that evening so we had a wander up the High Street and went next door to meet Hector and Sally.  I recalled seeing their boat somewhere before and during our conversation we realised that they had passed us coming out of Liverpool as we were stuck at the top due to the lack of water in Sid’s Ditch.

Getting ready to go - we have the canal tunnel in front of us, the railway tunnel just above to the left and where you can a wall fence half way up is the road going around the outside of the hill.

Being waved off!

And in we go.

Looking back I can still just see where we came in.

Granite rock.

and the limestone - you can see how tight the tunnel is.

John calling back to base to confirm all is ok.

You can see how low it is in places - it's no wonder Steve lost his hat a couple of times!

The brick arches at the start of the S-bend.


Another battle scar to add to the collection - I'm glad we did this before we do our painting in September.

Thank you Thomas Telford - it was an experience.

And out the other end.

Lovely countryside.

The locks are so close together on this stretch of the canal that there is no point in me getting back on the boat.

Another boat - a rare sight - this is the trip boat that offers 1 hour rides from Saddleworth.

Moored up at Saddleworth - It's a shame the moorings are lined by trees as it is sunny out there but pretty chilly under here!

Another impressive church.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sunday 28 August 2016

It rained a lot through the night (and yesterday afternoon!) and the water level had risen quite considerably this morning.  It’s really muddy on the towpaths which is a shame as they are well used by dog walkers, joggers and cyclists.

We had a TV signal at lock 39 so we were able to watch the Grand Prix!

One boat came past us whilst we were sitting there – he was a lone boater and had been all the way down to Huddersfield only to find that at 62 foot long he couldn’t fit in the locks on the Huddersfield Broad Canal so he had had to turn back – he is not booked to go back through the tunnel until Friday so he will have to hang around.

At 4.00pm we set off and as usual on a Sunday there were plenty of people to talk to along the way.  At the last lock we were glad of some help.  For some reason the lock wouldn’t equalise because the bottom gates were leaking so badly that there was about an inch to go and the lock just wouldn’t fill so we enlisted some help – it only took Steve and five people to push it open – I was at the other end making sure the paddles were down as far as they could go!

The last lock is right next to the station and being bank holiday weekend the pub crawlers were out in force.  As we approached we thought there was a football match going on somewhere but when we got to the lock it was people on the station platform waiting for the train singing…at full volume – apparently they go from station to station getting on and off the train to complete their pub crawl in each of the villages!

The locals are not happy – they’ve tried to ban it but I bet the pub owners don’t mind!

5.00pm and we are moored up at the tunnel with only one other boat and the odd train rumbling past for company.  No TV signal but I do have internet so can catch up with the blog!

Lock 39 - our home last night.

Harmless row of cottages opposite until at 11pm and 3am - somebody was trying to wake up whoever was inside - the door has the footprints to prove it!

Looking down from a lock bridge.

Our five happy helpers!

I'll tell you tomorrow what it was like.

The Visitors Centre - seems to be a popular day out.

Peaceful setting - the railway line is just behind the trees to the right!

You can get an idea of how deep the tunnel is by seeing how high the hill on top is - I haven't told Steve yet but I think he may have to duck in places from what someone has said!

5686 yards is a long way to leg through a tunnel - I won't be trying to beat David Whiteheads record - I bet he didn't have to wear a hard hat, life jacket and hi vis jacket like we do today!