What a day!
But first, I forgot to mention that we crossed the county boundary yesterday at the last lock. We’re now officially in Lancashire.
Anyway, back to today. We were still floating, just, when we were ready to go at 08:30. Ray, the BW lock-keeper decided to send Thetis, travelling alone, through first, and then bring a Shire Cruisers hire boat back across the summit before we set off. So it was 09:45 by the time we got into the East summit lock.
On the Summit Pound
A 15 minute cruise at 600 feet, then we arrived at the West summit lock and the start of the long descent into Manchester.
Leaving the Pennines on the horizon behind us, we dropped down the locks reasonably fast, with the help of Ray until Lock 45.
Leaving the Pennines
Overflowing top gates at Lock 44. We could have done with this spare water yesterday!
At this point we met another Shire Cruisers boat coming up, so he worked them back up to the summit. We’d heard about this boat, the crew had been hassled by a gang of youths yesterday late afternoon, hurling stones and abuse at them over a 2 mile stretch at Rochdale. Finally they called the police, and BW gave them an escort to Littleborough.
This episode concerned us, as the later start and slow turn round on the water point just above Littleborough meant that we would arrive in Rochdale about 16:00, just as the schools closed. So we tried unsuccessfully to moor at Littleborough, then “bit the bullet” and chose to carry on, down through Rochdale and on to Slattocks. This was the second mooring advised by BW Ray, the first being Littleborough.
As expected, we arrived at the Rochdale Locks at just after 4, and, also as expected, there was a group of youths hanging around the top lock. I jumped off, leaving Mags on the boat in the channel rather than mooring up. As it turned out, I had less to worry about than I feared. After fending off the requests for a ride and a guided tour through the boat (as if!), they pretty much ignored us, which was just as well because it took nearly ½ an hour to fill the lock! They did give me a hand with the gates, though. Even though they were in no way threatening, it was still a tense time, and we were glad that the lock emptied quickly and that we were not followed down to the next lock.
The rest of the trip was a bit of an anticlimax, just picking up rubbish on the prop and getting rid of most of it with a quick squirt in reverse. We did a bit of unusual rubbish spotting, though. The final tally was:-
1 x padded armchair
1 x 2 seater settee (different style to the above)
1 x brown wheelie bin.
1 x shopping trolley – only 1!
1 x wheel barrow (without wheel).
2 x TVs
These are the highlights, there were also several car tyres or complete wheel and tyre assemblies, a quilt, an unidentifiable sheet steel fabrication (could have been a filing cabinet) and a few submerged hazards that we scraped over, usually near bridges.
Settee and something battered, near Rochdale.
The final mile or so took us through the 3 locks at Castleton, where resides the infamous Farmer Jones, recently released from serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure for several instances of damage to the canal or structures. He has an ongoing legal battle with BW and the local council over access to his land since the canal was restored. A culvert under the M62, previously used by the aforementioned Mr Jones, was reassigned to take the canal, on a short diversion, under the motorway. He now has to take a longer route to gain access to part of his property, a route he believes is not suitable for his heavy vehicles.
The M62 culvert.
The old line of the canal
A short while later we arrived at Slattocks Top Lock, where we stopped the night. Not an ideal mooring, being alongside the main road, but at least we can get into the bank! It was 19:00 when we tied up, an exceptionally long day by our standards. But we’ll have a shorter one tomorrow; 10 locks over a couple of miles.
I cleared the prop when we stopped, not a bad haul by anyone’s standards. The star was a pike lure, seen at the front. It gave me a nasty surprise when it stuck in my finger 18 inches under water!
Locks 18, miles 9½