Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bond Cars Special

I meant to mention this on the earlier post. If you missed the Top Gear special last night, and you’re any sort of petrol-head, you missed a treat. I watched it this morning on iplayer and really enjoyed it. Do the same if you didn’t see it last night. Interesting as well as entertaining, and I particularly liked Hammond’s enthusiastic style.
Another good thing about the show was the complete lack of any appearance of the insufferable Jeremy Clarkson…

One of the original Aston Martin DB5s from the film Goldfinger is now in an enthusiast’s collection in the US, having been sold at auction for £2.6m two years ago.

Bugsworth to New Mills

A change of view this afternoon; instead of looking across Bugsworth Lower Basin, we’re looking across the Goyt Valley towards the edge of New Mills and the hills on the far side.

Chinley Churn lies over the horizonSAM_4189

Yesterday we had a change of pace; we hired a car and went up into Yorkshire for Mags to visit the doc. She’d due her annual MOT which involves two trips. The first is for tests and samples, the second, 10 to 14 days later, involves a review of the results with her doctor. This was the first one, I’m now planning our itinerary around the second. It wouldn’t have been a pleasant day for boating anyway, wet and windy. Ok inside a climate controlled cabin of a nearly new Vauxhall Insignia, though. I‘d ordered an Astra or something similar, but this was available for a discounted upgrade, so why not? Good old Enterprise, eh.

We had a good day, unfortunately not able to see Mag’s son George but I popped in to see an old friend in the outdoor equipment shop in Ingleton, and we spent a couple of hours with Melanie, Mag’s grand-daughter. We couldn’t hang about though, the hire was for 24 hours and  had to get the motor back by 4 o’clock.

So last night was our last in the basin. Strictly speaking moorings here are 48 hours only, but this period can be extended with agreement from the IWPS people.

We had tanks to empty and fill on the way out of the basin, and there were a smart looking pair of boats moored just up from the facility wharf.

NB Unspoilt by Progress and butty TewkesburySAM_4180 Unspoilt by Progress and Tewkesbury
Painted on the sides of the fore-cabin of Unspoilt… is, on one side, – The Longest Narrowboat Journey in the World, and on the other – Black Country to Black Sea Expedition 1992.
SAM_4181 Unspoilt by Progress and Tewkesbury
Intrigued, I’ve trawled the interweb for information, but to no avail. Anyone out there know anything?

We had a very gentle cruise back to the good moorings just beyond Carr Lift Bridge. Although dry it’s been overcast, with a brisk wind.

Peak Forest Canal near Furness ValeSAM_4184 PFC

Lots of leaves in the water now, making it necessary to clear the prop frequently, especially in the narrows where redundant swing bridges have been removed.

Mags bringing Seyella through Carr Swing Bridge.SAM_4188 Carr Swing Br
We moored a couple of hundred yards further on.

Locks 0, miles 2

Monday, October 29, 2012

Still at Bugsworth

We’re still here, enjoying the walking around and the atmosphere of this unique place.

During the Industrial Revolution demand for limestone went through the roof,  as burnt or quick lime is an essential ingredient in lime mortar. The mill towns and industrial cities were expanding at a phenomenal rate as workers left the land for the towns and work in the new factories.

Limestone quarries at Dove Holes were able to supply the demand, but the problem was getting it to the building sites. Packhorse and cart were just not viable means of shifting the quantities required, so the new-fangled transport system of artificial waterways was used to provide fast and efficient transport.
The Peak Forest Canal Company was set up in 1794, with the aim of connecting the new Ashton Canal at Dukinfield with Chapel Milton and a tramway from the quarries at Dove Holes. The plan was revised to reduce costs, the canal terminating just below the village of Bugsworth (now the more genteel Buxworth) in a complex of loading wharves, basins, lime kilns and warehouses.

Bugsworth Basin

View Larger Map

The site was awarded Scheduled Ancient Monument status in 1979, and as such cannot be touched by development, but this was not always the case. The complex was abandoned and dry in the 1960s, and was earmarked as the route for the new, widened A6 bypass. A vigorous campaign by locals, the Waterways Recovery Group and spearheaded by the Inland Waterways Protection Society was successful in getting the threat removed, and in 1968 work started to clear the basins and re-establish boat access. This was mainly volunteer activity, the IWPS badgering and cajoling local authorities and businesses for equipment and materials.

Thirty years later and the basin welcomed it’s first boat for over 70 years. It now provides excellent moorings (although there is some traffic noise from the A6) and a glimpse into the past. I love it.

The Lower Basin, the most popular mooring spot.
 The Middle BasinSAM_4157The arch on the left leads to the short Middle Basin Arm, ahead goes to the Upper Basin.

Looking back at the Upper Basin from the tramwaySAM_4159
The setts in the foreground carried the rails for the horse-drawn trucks on the tramway. Limestone was tipped into the boats from above.

While the tramway was being built seams of coarse grained gritstone were uncovered and provided another good source of revenue for the canal. It was used for paving slabs and cobbles.
Not being suitable for tipping into the boats, it had to be craned into the holds.

Meg investigates the remains of a post-crane alongside the Lower BasinSAM_4179

The Middle Basin Arm was once covered, and had a small warehouse alongside.SAM_4173

Up the tramway a spur ran off, over Black Brook, and supplied lime-kilns on New Road.SAM_4160

The route of the tramway has been surfaced for a fair distance, now forming a cycle and foot path. Further up the stone track setts are still in place.

Meg cools her feet in Black BrookSAM_4163

We had Mags’ sister Dot, and her son Paul over for Sunday dinner, a good afternoon on a pretty miserable day, weatherwise.
Brian and Ann-Marie (NB Alton) turned up in the dark and rain, about half past five, and suggested we take on diesel and coal this morning. What a fine idea!

Today started bright but has gone downhill, and we’ve much the same for the rest of the week. Still, we shouldn’t complain. I’d rather be here than in New York at the moment!

Sunlight just gilding the treetops.SAM_4166

Buxworth Village.SAM_4167
Locks 0, miles 0

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gently on to Bugsworth

That’s it, the end of the line of the Upper Peak Forest. Although, strictly speaking, there are two ends, the canal forks before Bugsworth, the other arm heading for Whaley Bridge.

We were going to go that way just for the fun of it, using the facilities at the winding hole in front of the railway transhipment warehouse, but we’ve been before and it’s nothing to write home about. It’s difficult to moor at the end, to visit the town it’s best to moor at Bugsworth and walk the ¾ mile back.

That high pressure that the weatherman have been talking about is moving in; there’s a cold wind from the north but today dawned fine and bright.

New Mills in the sunSAM_4135 New Mills

I walked along to open Carr Swing Bridge, just 200 yards up from where we’d moored, then we had a very slow amble along the canal to the basin.

Furness Vale Marina on one side, cottages on the otherSAM_4139 Furness Vale Marina
Andy Russell was emptying his dry dock/paint shed as we came past.SAM_4140

In the wooded sections floating leaves repeatedly clogged the propeller, but a quick burst of reverse threw them off.

LeafySAM_4142 Leafy

We had a pause at the junction to allow a flotilla of canoes to sort themselves out.
SAM_4145 Basin Junction
There’re from Edale Youth Hostel. I guess it must be half-term already.

We turned left here, under the bridge. A right turn takes you to Whaley Bridge.

Watering up at Bugsworth.SAM_4147 Bugsworth

It took a while to fill, we were down to out last ten gallons, then we turned around and, with me fending off and Mags on the tiller, we reversed down the Lower Basin (dead ahead) and moored.

Moored in Bugsworth BasinSAM_4148 Bugsworth
We’re just where we wanted to be; the access road to the service block is just on the right, handy for Tescoman later this afternoon. We’ll probably push across to the other side of the arm after the delivery, though.
We may have visitors while we’re here, and Brian and Ann-Marie on coal boat Alton are due here at the weekend, so we can top up with solid fuel and diesel.

Locks 0, miles 2

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Small Potatoes?

Has anyone else noticed that spuds seem to be getting smaller? I’ve just peeled some for tonight’s shepherds pie and none of them were bigger than a tennis ball!

Little spudsSAM_4134 Spuds
At one time in a bag of spuds you’d get mostly decent sized ones, now you have to buy those that are labelled “baking potatoes” and pay a premium. Of course, the smaller the spud, the more peel (by weight) in the bag. So pound for £ you get less spud for your money.

Not done much today. Had a run this morning (first since the Great North), taken Meg for a couple of good walks, and rewired the nav lights on the cabin sides. I was advised to remove them or lose them to go through Standedge Tunnel, and had screwed them back on afterwards but not reconnected the wiring. Also organised a Tesco delivery for Bugsworth tomorrow afternoon. That’s it really.

Locks 0, miles 0

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Winter Cruising Mode

I know it’s not strictly winter till 21st December, but we getting into the swing of not going so far each day.
There’s some discussion over the actual days when the seasons change. The Autumn Equinox (equal length day and night) was 22nd September, and the Winter Solstice (shortest day) is 21 December. Spring begins on the Spring Equinox, March 20th, and summer starts on the Summer Solstice, June 21st.
This is the traditional way of measuring the changing seasons, although as far as the weather is concerned you can get anything, anytime!

We’ve not moved since Monday, spending the last two nights moored above Strines.

Meg and I have had some good walks down by the river while we’ve been here…

Roman Lakes, a popular Victorian boating lake.pano Roman Lakes

And Roman Bridge, a 16thC packhorse bridge.SAM_4115 Packhorse Br
Neither of them have anything to do with the Romans….

It’s peaceful and wooded along the river now, but in the 19thC it was a busy area, Samuel Oldknow’s huge Bottoms or Mellor’s Mill producing cotton. At it’s busiest it had 500 people working here, in fact Oldknow’s demands on the local labour pool were so high, he had to bring in workers from as far afield as London. Driven by three water wheels, it stayed in production until a disastrous fire in 1892, nearly a hundred years.

Bottom’s Hall, also built by Oldknow and one of the few remaining buildings from this period.SAM_4099 Bottoms Hall
The mill’s apprentices were housed here.

Octagonal house below the railway viaductSAM_4110 
Meg has to have a paddle!SAM_4112

There’s cooler weather moving in from the north for the weekend, and there was a hint of it this morning. Not as mild as it has been, and a bit of a breeze was stripping the dead leaves from the trees.

Leaving our mooring near StrinesSAM_4116 Leaving Strines
Three miles and three lift or swing bridges on the agenda for today, to take us to just the other side of New Mills.

Mags takes Seyella through Turf Lea Lift BridgeSAM_4117 Turf Lea Br

Fine views across the valleySAM_4118

Even a splash of sunshine Stawberry Hill!SAM_4120

SAM_4127 Autumn Leaves
Leaves are falling rapidly, now. If the forecasted colder weather materialises there’ll not be many left in a week or so.

Leaves in the water tend to clog the propeller, especially in shallower, confined sections like bridge holes. A quick “chuck back” (burst of reverse) usually gets shut of them, though.

Matlow’s, the Swizzels sweet factory, was smelling fragrant as we passed. Must be cooking up a batch of something today.

New Mills, Matlow’s in the backgroundSAM_4132 New Mills

Moored just beyond New Mills. Meg wants to get a ball….SAM_4133 Carr Br Moorings

There are some fine walks in the valley here with which we’ll reacquaint ourselves tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 3

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just a mile…

That’s all we moved today. Such a contrast in the weather to yesterday! Dry, warm and sunny is replaced with damp, overcast and breezy. It’s still mild, though.

Meg and I took a good walk down along the river, getting back just before the rain started.
Then we took our time getting ready, finally moving on at around noon during a lull.

Marple JunctionSAM_4097 Marple Junction

There’s been a few boats about, two even went down the flight before we left. But the majority have been coming from or going towards Whaley Bridge and Buxworth.

Smile!SAM_4098 Smile!
The boat’s called So-So-Appy.

The rain came on again not long after we set off, and we pulled in about half-way between Rawton Walls and Turf Lea bridges. Can’t get the stern right in, but that seems to be the norm on country moorings these days. After the Huddersfield Narrow getting one end in is a luxury!

I seem to recall the weatherman saying something about an Indian Summer this week. I guess that’s passed us by, with just Sunday giving us a touch. We’re back to autumnal weather for the week, getting colder towards the weekend.

We’re having a steady cruise to Bugsworth Basin, intending to be there for the weekend, then having an equally steady cruise back to Marple, turning left onto the Macclesfield Canal.

Locks 0, miles 1

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Up we go again.

It’s been a bit up and down, this trip. Yesterday we finished off the downhill section from Diggle, today we’ve climbed up again to Marple.

We’d decided to have a late start today, this would give any boats coming down a chance to get well into the Marple flight, setting locks in our favour. So it was eleven o’clock by the time we got away. Unfortunately a boat had passed us at around 10:15, so we knew the first locks would be against us, but there’d still be the anticipated downhill traffic to help us out later.

The narrows at Rosehill used to be a short tunnel before instability necessitated removal of the roof.

Rosehill “Tunnel”SAM_4083 Rosehill Tunnel
But the short gloomy bit leads to the spectacular aqueduct and viaduct crossing the River Goyt side-by-side.

Over the GoytSAM_4086 Marple Aqueduct and viaduct
The aqueduct was finished in 1800, the railway viaduct 65 years later.

Just around the corner the Marple Locks start to raise the navigation to meet the Macclesfield Canal at Marple, climbing 214 feet through 16 deep locks.

Mags holding off as I set Lock 1SAM_4090 Marple Lock 1

Sunlight and shadow as we head up the flightSAM_4091 Sunlight

With it being a fine Sunday, the flight was busy, not with boats but with walkers. The concentration steadily increased the higher we climbed, but I also noticed the demographic changing.
Lower down there were mostly dog walkers and hardy souls with rucksacks. Higher up, as the flight leaves the tree-lined section and enters the built up area, there are more elderly people, and young children with parents.

Wherever we were, though, we attracted interested spectators.

“Tour group” around Lock 4SAM_4092 Gathering

Autumn is coming on apace…SAM_4094 Autumn above L8

Above Lock 8 the locks get closer together but we’re halfway up.
We’d gained a family group out for a walk, Grandma and Grandad, daughter and the two grandkids. Quinn, the young boy, was a bit shy for a start but he was soon heaving on lock gates and asking all sorts of questions. I got so involved with talking to them as we worked up the flight that I forgot about the camera!

Last shot, looking down from Lock 16, Top LockSAM_4096 Top Lock
We’d lost our helpers by then, much to Quinn’s disgust as they headed off to the park.

As you can see it’s been a beautiful day. I had to change back into shorts part way up, it was so warm. No, the hoped for stream of boats coming down and setting the locks for us didn’t materialise; we didn’t see another boat all day. No records smashed today, a nice gentle toddle up taking around three hours.

The moorings directly above the lock are shallow, large coping stones have been dislodged and are sitting in the water, But, with a bit of shuffling about, we managed to get in. I made a trip to the Co-op for provisions, then we settled in. We’ll probably be moving on a bit tomorrow.

Bruce pointed out that I'd got my Upper Peak Forest mixed up with my Lower yesterday! Oohh, missis!
Thanks mate. All safely in the right places again, now.

Locks 16, miles 1½

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Back on familiar waters.

After our somewhat unsettled night we were up and about early this morning. I would have liked to have had a look around the town, but we felt we wanted to move on.

Dropping down Lock 6W at not long after nineSAM_4040 Stalybridge L6W

I’d popped across to Tesco for a paper and had a chat with the clean-up crew working outside. One lass said that the piles of food packaging, empty bottles and cans and general detritus are normal at the weekend. Unless it rains.

It’s such a shame. Stalybridge could be a real haven for boaters, with good moorings, pubs and shops. And the amount of effort and money that’s been thrown at making the canalside  presentable has been well worth it. But the attitude of the local youth has certainly put me off. There’s a fine set of pictures here showing the extensive work that was carried out in the town.

Under Caroline StreetSAM_4041 Stalybridge

There are three locks to negotiate to the edge of town, and there are possibly quieter moorings below Lock 5W. We should have dropped down to here, but we didn’t know. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing.

Offside moorings between 4W and 5WSAM_4042 Good Moorings L5-L4

Until the restoration, the canal through the town was culverted, basically a drain with pipes under the roads. The winding hole alongside the Wharf Tavern was the limit of the canal in water, although if you could get a boat this far it’d be a miracle.

Limit of the canal until 2001. SAM_4044 Edge of Stalybridge
The bridge is new, replacing a dam with drainage pipes running through.

The aqueduct over the River Tame caught me unawares. One minute we were pottering along with a brick wall on the right, the next I was looking down 20 feet to the river. I just got a hurried shot as we left the iron trough…

Tame AqueductSAM_4046 Tame Aqueduct

Three more locks left now of the seventy-four up and over from Huddersfield, Lock 2W has severely cranked balance beams to clear a widened road.

Lock 2WSAM_4049 Cranked Beams on 2W 
Old mills as we head in towards Ashton under LyneSAM_4048 Ashton Mills

 The Huddersfield Narrow wasn’t going to let us go without playing one last, evil trick in the guise of Lock 1W.

First there was the narrow, shallow tunnel under Bridges 108 to 110….SAM_4050

….then the lock itself.SAM_4053 L1W

Looks all normal and innocent, doesn’t it. But at the bottom end lurks hydraulic gear that you would sell your granny to avoid.

Hydraulic gear for paddles and gates.SAM_4054 L1W
The two hydraulic motors for the paddles (nearest) were much as expected, twenty to thirty turns each way to raise or lower the sluices.
But inside the box lives the evil gnome who controls how easy and how fast it is to open the gates. You wind, and wind….. and wind. It gets harder the further open the gates get, and I lost count at 100. I guess the Gate Gnome must have been enjoying himself…

Mags was waiting below after I‘d let her out, now with badly aching shoulders as I got the gates closed behind her, then a chap came puffing up the slope under the bridge.. “We’re coming up! Your wife has been shouting!” I’d have heard nothing above the blood roaring in my ears…

Anyway, off we go again… 1, 2, 3… oh bugger, I don’t want to know how many turns it takes!

There were three boats waiting at the bottom, a bit of a treat really as they were all wooden boats of the WCBS fleet.

Wooden Canal Boats Society’s wooden canal boatsSAM_4056 Wooden Boats

Asda Tunnel was the final landmark, burrowing underneath the Ashton superstore. Unlike the Tesco at Stalybridge however, Asda has missed a trick by not providing moorings for passing boaters.
Tut, tut.

Asda TunnelSAM_4060 Asda Tunnel
Out of the other side of the Asda TunnelSAM_4061 Mills
The large mill is now apartments.

Portland Basin or Dukinfield Junction is where three canals meet.
Ours, the Huddersfield Narrow, ends it’s journey over the Pennines, the Ashton Canal sets off on a short but intense trip down to Manchester, meeting the Rochdale Canal at Ducie Street Junction. And finally the Lower Peak Forest heads to Marple where it connects with the Macclesfield Canal and the Upper Peak Forest.

Dukinfield JunctionSAM_4064 Dukinfield Junction
Straight on to Manchester, left turn under the elegant stone bridge to Marple. That’s us then.

Been here before once or twice….SAM_4065 Onto the Peak Forest
The junction bridge here is remarkably slender for such a long, low span.

There’s a lift bridge to deal with just around the corner, another of those hydraulic pumps to wind, and today we had a couple of anglers on the bridge landing on the far side, preventing Mags from picking me up.
She struggled with the shallow water but managed to get in beyond, then I had the last laugh, giving it plenty of wellie and sending a wave of silt down to their ground bait. Do fish cough? They would have in that lot. Childish I know, but it got their attention. And it did feel good.

The rest of the trip was water we’ve covered several times before, though only once in this direction. Odd, that.

I spotted and purloined a couple of logs near Newton Hall, we met another boat just by the M67 motorway bridge, and struggled to get over a floating obstacle in Woodley Tunnel.

Autumn comes to Greater Manchester near Bridge 2SAM_4069 Autumn shades

Leaving Woodley TunnelSAM_4074 Woodley Tunnel

The tunnel cuts through the ridge which separates the Tame Valley from the Goyt Valley. Our companion since Standedge, the Tame now heads west to keep an appointment with the Mersey, and the navigation shortly turns east, now following the Goyt valley to Whaley Bridge.

Reflected sunlight in the railway bridge arch near WoodleySAM_4075 Railway Br

There’s another, slightly longer, tunnel at Hyde Bank, then our planned stop for tonight just a few hundred yards shy of Marple Aqueduct.

Hyde Bank Tunnel hidden behind a leafy bend in the canal.SAM_4078 Hyde Bank Tunnel

Our mooring for tonight, less than half a mile from the foot of the 17 Marple Locks.SAM_4082 Moored below Marple

I got out the chainsaw and sliced up the logs, took Meg for a short one to the bottom of the locks and back, then we had tea. Now the towpath walkers have gone home it’s a delightful contrast here to last night. Just the odd train rumbling by. Lovely.

Thoughts on the Huddersfield Canals.
The climb up to Marsden on the Broad and Narrow Canals has to be the best section. The locks are in remarkably good condition, and the pounds are, with one exception, deep enough. Slaithwaite is a pleasant spot, about halfway between Huddersfield and Marsden, but there are no other good opportunities.
That said, there’s so few boats, especially in the off season, that a lock landing will do. We met one boat crew who’d spent the night in a lock with the top gates open!

The tunnel itself is well worth the effort of getting there. A unique experience, combining the qualities and pitfalls of all the canal tunnels we’ve passed through in it’s 3¼ miles. The C&RT crew here were really good, helpful and informative. We didn’t need to call anyone out on the flights either side, but if these are the same guys there’ll be no problem.

The downhill side from Diggle is not in such good condition, some of the locks are a bit past their sell-by date, and there are some shallow pounds. But on the plus side there are more mooring opportunities, Uppermill being about a third of the way, then Scout Tunnel. And the views are great.

I’ve had my say about Stalybridge, OK for a shopping stop but I’d have to think about stopping overnight. Maybe on those moorings between 4 and 5?

The lock gear reflects it’s origins, having been “borrowed” from a lot of the redundant networks elsewhere. Working the locks is sometimes like a whistle-stop English canal tour.

Would we come again? Yes, I think we would. Maybe south to north. Probably harder work that way round, to be fair. Low pounds would be even lower by the time you’ve filled your lock….

Up Marple Locks tomorrow. That’ll probably do….

Locks 6, miles 9½