Monday, April 30, 2012

End of the line.

After a short cruise today in fine sunny weather we’re at the top of the Peak Forest Canal, Bugsworth Basin.

Although there has still been a bit of a breeze, a legacy from yesterday’s gales, it’s been warm and sunny. Such a change from yesterday!

Across Goyt meadows this morningpano Goyt Meadows

There has been a watermill on this site at some time in the past, but now only the mill stream and weir is visible.

Old mill streamDSCF0542 Mill Leat on the Goyt
We got away at around 11:00, Mags steering as Meg and I walked up to open Carr Swing Bridge.

Mags through Carr Swing BridgeDSCF0546 Carr Sw Br 
Furness Vale Marina is the also the home of Andy Russell’s paint shed. That’ll be why there’s so many smart boats with elegant signwriting around here.

DSCF0548 Andy Russel's Boat shed

We passed quite a bit of evidence of the strength of yesterday’s wind. TV aerials hanging by their wires from chimneys, and several trees leaning at drunken angles.

Wind damage. This’ll have to come down. DSCF0549 Casualty of the storm

Passing under the bypass bridge carrying the A6 around Whaley Bridge, the junction where the canal splits is reached.

Whaley Bridge JunctionDSCF0550 Whaley Br junction

Right takes you to Whaley Bridge and the connection to what was the Cromford and High Peak Railway, left to Bugsworth Basin and the transhipment wharves and lime kilns that were the reason the canal was built.
Straight on is a large Tesco…

Heading towards Bugsworth, canal cottages.DSCF0552 Canal Cottages

We pulled up to use the services at the entrance to the basin complex, then headed up to turn in the Upper Basin, returning to moor in the Middle.
There are three main basins, with various arms and loading wharves branching off.

Looking back at the site of the gauging narrows where boat loads were calculated and tolls paid.DSCF0554 Filling up The Wharfinger’s (wharf manager’s) house is on the right. Just this side of the house (out of sight) is a stable for the wharfinger’s horse, provided for him “…to better attend to his duties…”. Early version of a company car, then.

The Lower Basin, with Lower Basin Arm on the right.DSCF0553 Lower Basin
Half a dozen boats were tied up along here, so we went right up to the Middle Basin.

Moored in the Middle Basin.DSCF0557 Middle Basin
The Upper Basin and winding hole are through the arch above our fore-end. The arch behind leads to a short loading arm.

There’s lots of info about the area here, including the story of the restoration and a map of the complex.

Locks 0, miles 2

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Every cloud has a silver lining..

Or so they say. It’s been extremely blowy here today, with more of that horizontal rain that seems to be a speciality of northern climes. Just along the towpath from us the wind has uprooted a hawthorn bush, so I did my civic duty and removed it from the towpath with a bit of work with my bowsaw. Of course, the fact that I got a couple of of sizeable logs to supplement the coal ration is immaterial, isn’t it?

Blocked towpath. I couldn’t just leave it there…

Brian and Ann Marie came past this afternoon, NB Alton still supplying customers even in these bad conditions. A little later they went past again, backwards, going to the assistance of the trip boat, NB Judith Mary. She’d broken down at New Mills with a full complement of guests aboard.
Unable to turn her around, she had to be towed in reverse back to Whaley Bridge.

 There’s nothing like a challenge…DSCF0532

Meg hasn’t done so well for walks today, we had an hour out this morning but this afternoon she just had a  ½ hour on the meadow alongside the river.

The windswept look….DSCF0541

There’s not been that many boats around today, hardly surprising under the circumstances. But yesterday was quite busy, quite a few heading up towards Bugsworth.  I hope there’s still room there for us tomorrow.

On our way up the Macclesfield I was told by another boater to stop at New Mills and have a walk along the river, it’s well worth it. Well yesterday we did, and I can’t disagree. In fact I’m delighted.

New Mills was originally just a scattered hamlet with low scale coal production. But late in the 18c as the cotton spinning industry started to grow the potential for power from the fast flowing Rivers Goyt and Sett in Torr Gorge was recognised, and mills began to pop up down in the depths.
Most of these are now gone, fire, flood or general decay finishing them off, but the relics are a fascinating insight into a unique industrial landscape.
With the coming of industry better bridges needed to be built over the gorge, the first of which was Queens Bridge, carrying Church Road.

Queens BridgeDSCF0502

Under the bridge runs the remains of a mill leat, carrying water to the waterwheels of Torr or Schofields Mill.

The mill leat to SchofieldsDSCF0503

Little remains of the mill, it was substantially damaged by fire in 1912.

Schofields Mill today. It stood 5 stories high, and from 1846 was steam powered.pano

The large viaduct in the background carries Union Road. The pack-horse bridge in the foreground was once the only crossing point. The mill was on the right, rising 5 stories. Beyond the mill foundations can be seen the chimney built when it was converted to steam power.

Next to the remains is a modern take on harnessing water power; the town has it’s own hydro-electric generating plant!

Hydro power.DSCF0514

Unfortunately you can’t see much through the safety cage, but the water drives an Archimedes Screw which in turn runs the generator.

Click to enlarge picture.DSCF0510

Walking downstream under Union Street Bridge there were two more large mills facing each other across the gorge. Rock Mill is almost totally demolished, but Torr Vale still stands and was still in use till 2000.

Rock Mill (appropriate)DSCF0520
Torr Vale MillDSCF0518
This mill was considerably extended, with a weaving shed added and an engine house and chimney. Up until 1940, though, it still used a combination of water and steam power. The mill stream went under the arch just to be seen below the lean–to.


Jarringly modern in this rugged, stone environment, the Millennium Walkway starts here and swings around the rock wall, cantilevered out over the water.

Millennium WalkwayDSCF0523

We didn’t take this along the gorge, instead we headed up the steps to Market Street.

A lot of clogs have been up and down here…DSCF0526

The town itself seems to be doing well, plenty of busy shops and small industry in the still standing mill buildings. We’ll stop here on the way back, so we can check out the rest of the gorge.

The wind seems to easing a bit and the rain has stopped, so it’s looking good for moving on tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 0

Friday, April 27, 2012

Two to lift, one to swing.

We moved on again a little way today, better weather encouraging a bit of cruising. We toddled on to between New Mills and Furness Vale, taking in 3 moveable bridges as we went.

Before we set off Meg and I took a walk up onto the ridge overlooking the mooring.

Looking up at MarpleridgeDSCF0478 Marpleridge

It was worth the bit of a climb up the slope, good views across the Goyt Valley opened up as we got higher.

Looking back at the canal and mooringDSCF0468 Canal from Marpleridge

Looking north-east from the top of the ridgepano

We dropped down off the ridge, picking up the canal again at Strines Aqueduct.

Strines Aqueduct
DSCF0473 Strines Aqueduct

Amazingly it was still dry when we moved off shortly after 11:00, with just about 10 minutes to go to the first lift bridge, Turf Lea.

Approaching Turf Lea Lift BridgeDSCF0479 Turf Lea Lift Br

This and the next at Wood End are hydraulically operated, but powered by winding the pump by hand. For short bridges they’re quite hard work!

Higgins Clough Bridge, at the edge of Disley, is a swing bridge, similar to those on the Leeds and Liverpool. It just needed unlocking then a gentle shove. Bliss.

New Mills is the home of the Swizzels factory, Matlow’s. It sits alongside Bridge 26, but I couldn’t smell any sweets in the air today; maybe they weren’t cooking.

Matlow’s sweet factory at New MillsDSCF0483 Mattlow's at New Mills

We intended to stop in New Mills but couldn’t find anywhere we fancied so went through the town and pulled in with some other boats before Carr Swing Bridge. It’s a popular spot, with open views across the valley but close enough to the town for supplies.

Looking back towards New Mills, the Sheffield to Manchester railway viaduct in the foreground, the spire of St George’s Parish Church just visible , Lantern Pike (1217 ft) on the horizon.DSCF0485 New Mills and railway

View from the galley window this afternoon.DSCF0487 From Moorings

There have been odd spits and spots of rain, but nothing of any substance. I think we’ll probably stay here for the weekend.

Locks 0, miles 3½

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Nasty wet stuff.

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 ValleyDSCF0466 Leaving Marole

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.DSCF0467 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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A fine, dry day.

Not only that but the sun came out this afternoon! We started out with a cool, grey morning as we moved to the Trading Post to get a gas bottle.

Heading for the Trading Post at Bridge 15DSCF0440 Higher Poynton
After loading up the fresh cylinder we pulled back to the water point to top up the tank while we were running the washing machine.

Through the bridge on the left is Lord Vernon’s Wharf, a colliery wharf built to service Nelson’s Pit. It’s now occupied by Braidbar Boats, a well respected boat builder.

Braidbar at Lord Vernon’s WharfDSCF0441 Braidbar Boats
It looks like someone’s soon to take possession of No 135…

Can I get off, Dad?DSCF0442 Meg waiting

It was getting on for midday by the time we got away from Higher Poynton, past the long line of moorings on the offside.

Floyd FanDSCF0444 Floyd Fan

The bridges come regular, counting rapidly down to the junction with the Peak Forest Canal at Marple. At High Lane, Towpath Bridge 12 crosses the entrance of another arm, this one leading to the Macclesfield Canal Company’s wharf and warehouse. This has also got a new lease of life as moorings, this time for the North Cheshire Cruising Club. The oldest narrow canal boat club in the country, they were established in 1943 and moved onto the unoccupied wharf. They then approached the owner, by then the London North-Eastern Railway Company, and were given permission to rent the whole arm.

High Lane ArmDSCF0446 High Lane Arm

Coming round the corner at Hawk Green you get the first sight of the impressive Goyt Mill.

Goyt Mill on the skyline DSCF0448 Goyt Mill
Built as a cotton mill in 1905, it sits alongside the canal near Bridge 3, situated to take advantage of water transport for raw and finished goods.

Goyt Mill dominates the view from Marple.DSCF0451 Goyt Mill
The Macclesfield Canal Company built a warehouse, stop lock and gauging lock just below the junction. We made use of the facilities here to empty the loos, then motored under Bridge 1 and out onto the Peak Forest Canal.

MCC warehouse, now BW’s local office.DSCF0454 Burn out I hope no-one was hurt when that narrowboat caught fire, but I couldn’t help having a chuckle at the sign on the wall….

Yeah, right!DSCF0454 Burn out

Looking back, the stop lock gates have been removed but the narrows remain.DSCF0456 BW Marple
There’s some doubt whether the lock was actually ever used, as both canals run at the same level.

Bridge 1 just before the junction is another of those now familiar but still delightful snake bridges, carrying the PFC towpath across the Macc.DSCF0455 Marple Junction

We turned right, away from the top of the 16 locks of the Marple Flight. We’ll be back here later in May, to head down into Manchester. But for now we’re heading for Whaley Bridge and Buxworth Basin.
DSCF0458 Marple Junction

We moored just past the junction opposite the marina. Looking at the forecast we’ll be staying put tomorrow.

Looking back at Marple Junction, the locks to the right and the Macclesfield Canal under the bridge to the left.pano

It’s a tight turn for a 70 footer!DSCF0464 NB Norman
That’s us, middle top.

Locks 0 (there’s no gates on the stop lock…), miles 4.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ducks, Mills and Higher Poynton

On Saturday morning we moved on a little, just a mile or so to between bridges 25 and 24. The towpath is a little quieter here, less muddy and wider. I wanted to get the wood that we’d acquired near Oakgrove cut up, and you can’t do that if there’re folk trailing back and forth all day.

Clarence Mill sits on the right hand bank of the canal, just beyond the aqueduct.

Clarence MillDSCF0391

You can only see one half in the picture above…
DSCF0413 Clarence Mill stretches the same distance again the other side of the stair tower. I wonder who cleans the windows.

It was built in 1877, replacing an earlier (1831) building on the same site. At the time of the first structure there were 16 other mills along the river and tributaries, using water power to drive the machinery. Clarence Mill, built to take advantage of canal transport for raw materials and coal, used steam power, hence the tall chimney.
It was a cotton mill with weaving sheds, built by the Swindells family, who also built Adelphi Mill on the other side of Bollington. Both now house residential  and small business units.

Before we left today Meg and I took a short walk along Middlewood Way, once the track of the Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway, now a walking/riding/cycle way running the 10 miles from Macclesfield to Marple.

Middlewood WayDSCF0398 Middlewood Way
At Bollington the railway crossed the River Dean and Wellington Road on an impressive viaduct of 23 arches. When the line closed in 1970 a local campaign prevented demolition of the viaduct. From here to Macclesfield the Way is tarmac, making an excellent ( if a little hilly where the original rail route has been lost) running track. North of Bollington it’s just gravel and mud, OK in dry weather but a bit gooey in the current conditions. Above is a good bit!

Bollington ViaductDSCF0401 Middlewood Way, Bollington Viaduct
And from belowpano

Walking back across the recreation ground, you come to the canal aqueduct, with Palmerston Street  and the river cutting through it.

Bollington AqueductDSCF0410 Bollington Aqueduct
Back along the towpath there’s a couple of geese who are quite combative…DSCF0416 Geese

Here’s why…DSCF0418 Goose eggs
Hmmm, gonna need a bigger eggcup…

Mum and Dad will be lucky if they get them to hatch without having a nervous breakdown each. They have to warn off every walker, jogger and dog coming along.

We had a passing shower, then decided to head off a bit further north.

We passed a pair of mandarins in company with mallards….DSCF0419 Mandarins
…..a couple of muskovys (or hybrids)….DSCF0423 Muskovys
…..some Jacobs lambs….DSCF0432 Jacob's Lambs
…. and proud parents with their brood.DSCF0429 Family

Also a heron who couldn’t make his mind up.

Just ignore it, it might go awayDSCF0436
No, gotta look…DSCF0437
That’s it, I’m off!DSCF0438

We pulled in at the wide bit at Higher Poynton.

Higher Poynton moorings.DSCF0439 Higher Poynton

It’s pretty busy here, only a couple of spaces left after we arrived and they’ve been filled now. We’re only stopping here tonight. We need to pick up a gas bottle from The Trading Post (typically we ran a bottle out just after we’d filled with diesel from NB Alton), and then up to Marple for the services.

Locks 0, miles 3¼