We were dropped back into the ‘oggin yesterday, but it was such a miserable damp day that we chose to stay put, on Red Bull Wharf. Meg was delighted to be able to hop on and off the boat without being humped about like a sack of spuds!
Busy this morning at Red Bull Services
The boat immediately on the right had a leak repaired yesterday afternoon, there’s another up on the slipway (just visible through the boatshed) for blacking, and the blue one is having a new drive plate fitted. It’s all go for Tony this week!
It was 09:15 and I was just getting ready to take Meg out when a familiar boat came under the footbridge. It was Bruce and Sheila, with guests, on NB Sanity Again. I knew they were on their way, but they do like those early starts. They’d left the mooring at Hightown at 7 o’clock this morning.
We cruised back to the junction first, today. Two reasons; it would have been tight to make the left turn towards Hall Green from where we were moored, and mooring at the junction means it’s only a short walk to Tesco’s. Me, lazy? I‘d already had a 7½ mile run, then a 2½ mile walk with Meg, that’s enough exercise for one day!
After shopping we turned around and retraced our wake to Red Bull Basin, passing three boats coming the other way.
A bit congested at Red Bull Basin
Turning right here we’re now heading almost due north, away from the weather moving in from the SW.
Replica Mount Fuji against blue skies
It was a mainly sunny trip, and we avoided most of the showers, but the wind made it a bit cool.
Up till reaching Hall Green Stop Lock we’re strictly speaking still on the Trent and Mersey, the Hall Green Branch, 1½ miles long. Above the lock the Macclesfield Canal begins it’s 26 mile course to Marple. These stop locks were often built where two canals meet, to prevent valuable water being lost into a competitors navigation. This one is only about 8” deep.
Hall Green Stop lock
There’s a narrow lock-width channel leading to the bottom gate, and I found out today what it was for. At the present time the T&M is at a slightly lower level than the Maccie, so the lock prevents a continuous flow of water from one to the other. But this was not always the case. When the mines under Harecastle Hill were in operation, water was pumped from the levels into the canal. This often raised the water level at the summit of the T&M to a higher point than that of the Macclesfield, which would have meant that the lock would be reversed and water would flow from the T&M. A wholly unacceptable situation for the shareholders!
Another lock was built below the current one, but with the gates in the opposite direction, preventing “uphill” flow of water. Either one would be used, depending on the respective levels, the other left open. All that’s left of the lower lock is the chamber, but the gate recesses are still visible.
I always enjoy the sight of the “Hobbit Hole” bridge arches at this end of the canal.
Elliptical arch on Bridge 92 You could almost imagine the curve continuing under the water and back up the other side. Maybe it does…..
We filled the water tank just above Hall Green, then carried on, past the the impressive 18c Ramsdell Hall.
When the canal was built the then-owners of the hall didn’t want their view restricted by the ubiquitous hawthorn hedge along the towpath. So a compromise was reached; the canal could be built in view of the house, but a fancy wrought iron fence had to be installed instead of a hedge.
You can understand their point of view…. and what a view!
The fence has recently been restored to it’s original glory.
We pulled in just a little further along, before Bridge 86.
Bridge 86 moorings
With the number of boats about today we were surprised that the moorings were empty, but we’ve been joined by another since.
Locks 1, miles 3½