It’s not just that it’s wet; yesterday it was horizontal as well! In common with most boaters, I reckon, we stayed put yesterday. Poor old Meg is barely getting dry before we go out again, the windows are permanently steamed up with drying wet clothes and dog towels near the stove.
The wind had dropped this morning although it was still cloudy, so I did some shopping at the handy Co-op and we set off.
Leaving Marple, looking across the Goyt Valley
The Upper Peak Forest Canal hangs on the valley side all the way to Whaley Bridge, where it branches into two, south to the town wharf, and east to Buxworth Basin.
The 16 locks at Marple are all deep, dropping the canal 209 feet, below which it’s known as the Lower Peak Forest. The navigation was built in 1800, at least the channel was finished then, but there was no money left to construct the lock flight. It was another 4 years, with the two sections joined by a tramway, before money was raised and the locks built, finally allowing boats to navigate the whole length of the canal without transhipping cargo.
It was built to carry limestone from the quarries at Doveholes, over the border in Derbyshire, to supply demand for building material in Manchester. To this end it linked with the Ashton Canal at Dukinfield Junction.
At Buxworth (Bugsworth), extensive wharves were built to load boats coming over the tramway from the quarries. The quarries were around 500 feet above the canal, and it would have been impractical to extend the route any further east.
The short Whaley Bridge Arm leads to a basin and covered transhipment warehouse, where the canal connected to the Cromford and High Peak Railway. This horse drawn line was built in 1832, linking the Cromford Canal near Matlock to Whaley Bridge. In it’s 33 miles it went up 5 inclined planes from Cromford Wharf, hauled by stationary steam engines, then across the moors roughly following the contours before dropping down to Whaley Bridge on another 4 inclines. The last one was operated by a counterbalanced horse-gin. At it’s highest point it was 1266 feet above sea level. The route now constitutes a proportion of the Midshires Way, a 225 mile long distance footpath from Buckinghamshire to Stockport.
We didn’t get very far before showers started again, just a mile, past Bridge 21. We’ve good views up the Goyt Valley from here.
Looking up the Goyt Valley.
We’re in no rush, so we may stop here tomorrow, or move on to Bugsworth Basin. Depends on the weather.
Locks 0, miles 1