This morning was just too pleasant not to make good use of it, so Meg and I set off up to the monument we could see from the moorings. It was a fair pull, 830 feet in around a mile, and the wind certainly blew the cobwebs away but the views as the sun came up behind were stunning.
The object of the walk, the memorial to the casualties from Saddleworth in both World Wars.
Built in 1923 from stone quarried a little further along the ridgeline in the forlorn hope that the “war to end all wars” would be just that, it had to have another plaque added following WWII. The Tame Valley is below, with a scattering of settlements along the river. On the horizon to the right is Oldham.
The valley squeezes between Alphin Pike (left) and High Moor past Greenfield
Across the valley High Moor gets it’s first touch of sunshine
Looking north along the ridge the area of outcropping gritstone is known as the Pots and Pans.
Pots and Pans
The stone for the memorial was quarried here, and the high ground to the right is Dick Hill, on the edge of Saddleworth Moor, which rises to 1600 feet. Sadly, the moor will forever be associated with the Moors Murders the 1960s.
We came down a slightly different route, past a farmhouse with a steep access road paved with gritstone slabs.
Built to last
We needed some essentials like bread, milk and a paper (see, you’re not the only one, Bruce!), so I had a walk up the High Street after a shower and breakfast. There’s a good butcher up here, called Paul's I think, and the pork pies are first class. I had one (only a small one…) for a late lunch. I wish I’d bought two…. Got some other meaty stuff, some proper bacon and a handful of pork and apple sausages. Then it was back to the Co-op for the mundane stuff.
After all this fannying about it was gone eleven by the time we left Uppermill moorings. The first lock was a mere fifty yards away, so I untied Mags and walked down to set it.
First one today, Lock 21W, also known as Wade’s Lock
There’s an interesting aid to opening one of the bottom gates, there’s no room to swing a conventional balance beam so there’s a geared solution.
Lock 21W offside bottom
The valley slope eases as the River Tame heads towards Manchester, so the locks are further apart. There’s only one in the next mile, then two close together at Royal George.
There’s a fair bit of water in the canal after the rain, over the towpath in places.
Flooded towpath near Bridge 82
Someone’s got a macabre sense of humour…
But it is nearly Hallowe’en, after all.
Locks 18W and 17W maybe date from the early days of the restoration. The gates are rickety and leaky, with stiff paddles and their own eco-system.
Foliage at Lock 17W
Sorry about the wrist strap in the bottom right!
These locks have unique “pepper pot” style sluice vents at the top end.
Marked Huddersfield Canal Society
The canal crosses the river between 18W and 17W, and this was the only pound that was shallow. Not short of water, mind, just shallow. Any throttle above tick-over raised gouts of mud from the bottom, and deviating from the centre of the channel meant running aground.
Shallow Pound and Tame Aqueduct
Roaches Lock is alongside the pub of the same name.
Roaches Lock, 15W
Below here were two anglers on the lock landing, but Mags picked me up just below the lock to avoid them. They still scowled a bit as we passed, ignoring my cheery “Good Morning”.
Maybe it was afternoon, or maybe because we’d stirred a load of dead leaves off the bottom as we emptied the lock…. This was unusual (the reaction, not the leaves). Most of the maggot-drowning fraternity we’ve encountered up here have been friendly.
Looking back from 13W, the steeple of St. John’s on the skyline against the grey sky.
Unusual place to put a datestone, underwater when the lock is full!
Datestone in 12W
Just below L12W is Standedge’s baby brother, Scout Tunnel. A mere stripling at 205 yards long.
With brick-lined ends and rough-cut rock in the middle it’s much like it’s larger relative in construction, but it has something the other lacks; a towpath.
Entering Scout Tunnel
In the middle
A lot of years ago I came through here on foot. It was during the restoration (no, not 1660-1685) and the tunnel had just been reopened.
I was with brother-in-law John, sadly no longer with us, and our dog Bruno. We’d walked up from Droylsden following the Hollinwood and Fairbottom Branch Canals, then eastward over Hartshead Pike and joined the canal at Mossley.
Bruno wasn’t the sharpest canine around and decided that the middle of a very dark tunnel would be a good place for a drink. Of course he fell in and the only way I could haul him out was by lying full-length on the towpath. You can imagine what we looked like back in daylight.
It was March and we had to walk back to Droylsden wet, muddy and to cap it all it started to snow as we headed down the Ashton Canal through Guide Bridge.
Not one of my finest Sunday morning excursions.
We decided to call it a day just after the tunnel, mooring on the offside on the bollards normally used for waiting boats when the tunnel is occupied. I don’t think we’re going to be in anyone’s way….
Moored outside Scout Tunnel
We timed it well, we’d had a few drops of rain as we came down, but by 5 o’clock it was chucking it down. Stalybridge tomorrow.
Locks 10, miles 3