On Saturday evening NB Alton came by and we topped up with diesel at 88p per litre and got some more solid fuel. Surely that’s going to last until summer?
They do work hard, these two. Who else would be still hard at it at gone 8 o’clock on a Saturday?
Good service, Brian and Ann Marie, NB Alton They were heading down to Bugsworth and Whaley Bridge, then returning to run down to the Trent and Mersey and up to Anderton. We saw them again last night when they stopped over in Marple on the way back.
We moved from this spot into Marple on Sunday, watering up and emptying refuse before lucking into a mooring slot opposite the wharf. These are popular and rarely vacant. Poised then for a good start down the locks.
This morning dawned bright but breezy, and we were ready to go fairly early so pushed off saying hi to Mike on NB Sarah Kate as we passed.
Under Bridge 1 at the junction, back onto the Peak Forest Canal
I was hoping that we’d be first down this morning, indeed no-one had passed us before we got away. But dripping walls in the chamber of Lock 16 told us that someone was ahead of us, and not that far, either.
Dropping down Lock 16
The 16 locks drop the navigation 214 feet in just a little over a mile. Starting in the built up area on the edge of the town the flight passes into woodland below Station Road Bridge before ending up above the river valley at the bottom. As with all the architecture on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest Canals, they are well engineered with a rugged, no-nonsense design.
Off down to Lock 15
Although the canal itself and even the fine aqueduct over the Goyt below was finished in 1800, lack of money prevented these locks being built, until Samuel Oldknow stepped in and raised the required £27,000.
The flight was completed in 1804, replacing the temporary tramway used in the interim.
Oldknow was a local landowner and millowner, providing money for the building of the earlier Church of All Saints on the ridge, as well as being a sponsor of the Peak Forest Canal and the Stockport Turnpike.
He had a cotton mill beside the Stockport Road, now the site of the Co-op, which was serviced by a short arm from the canal below Lock 13.
Stockport Road Bridge below Lock 13 The arm left the basin on the right near the bench, but was filled in in the ‘60s. The tunnel at the right hand end of the bridge was provided for the boat horses, the foot traffic had it’s own passage under the road from the lockside.
Boatman’s tunnel under Stockport Road
Heading down past Memorial Park, towards Lock 11
Near Lock 10 there’s another of Samuel’s commercial properties, a warehouse that’s now been converted to offices.
At the tail of Lock 10 there’s some fancy stonework and a set of steps leading up to the back of the warehouse. I wonder if this was once covered, to provide an additional loading point for goods?
Below Lock 10
The fine stonework, even on the tail bridge, is still looking good after over 200 hundred years.
Just below Lock 9 the canal ducks under Station Road, but this time there’s no provision for horses or pedestrians to go under as well. Instead a roller was fixed to the parapet to carry the towrope, the horse getting the boat moving then unhitching and picking up the tow after crossing the road.
Rope roller at lock 9
From this point on the houses are left behind, the locks dropping down through woods with another park opening up on the right.
Bottom half of the flight
Mandarin Duck in one of the pounds
It looks like his companion might be a hybrid…
There were a lot of people about enjoying the pleasant morning, walking dogs and children. We met Milly, a three year old rescue dog who could have been Meg’s sister…
Milly the dog
They even wagged their tails in tandem!
The railway was cut under the flight near Lock 4, I bet that caused a few sleepless nights for the engineers…
Lock 4 over the railway
Bottom of the flight, Lock 1 and Lock-keeper’s cottage.
Fern Gully on the bottom gates
The flight is very pleasant, but quite hard work. The bottom paddles are difficult to raise against the pressure exerted by 13 feet of water. A long-throw windlass would be a distinct advantage….
We only saw one other boat coming up, and that was at the bottom. It was quite a slow trip down; the boat we were following was single handed, so I finished up closing all the bottom gates as he left them, and even then we had to wait a couple of times. Still, the rain stayed off.
The canal swings around below the locks to the west, cutting a straight line across Marple Aqueduct then through the cutting that used to be Rose Hill tunnel before it was decapitated.
Marple Aqueduct over the River Goyt
The railway viaduct alongside.
Rose Hill Cutting
We pulled in just past the bridge in the distance. This is pretty much the last bit of open country before we start heading through the outliers of Manchester.
Moored near Rose Hill
Our neighbours tonight
Meg and I had a walk down to the river below the aqueduct. These structures always look so much more impressive from below, but there’s not much to be seen here through an overabundance of foliage.
Marple Aqueduct, railway viaduct through the arch.
Designed by Benjamin Outram, the aqueduct crosses the valley on three arches. The railway viaduct alongside has twelve arches, was built in 1865 and is 20 or 30 feet higher than the aqueduct.
Locks 16, miles 1½