Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Warmer as we move to Bollington

Yesterday was pretty grim, weather-wise. A cold blustery wind bringing across showers of rain and hail decided for us to stay put.
Today was a huge contrast, bright sunshine after a chilly night, and NO WIND!

We were on the move at around 10:30, heading down the Macclesfield Canal towards Bollington. I’d taken Meg out for a walk earlier in shorts, but bottled it when the sun went in and cruised in trousers. Back in shorts when we stopped, though.

Leaving the deer park moorings
SAM_5234 Deer Park Moorings

Leaving the village of High Lane, the short High Lane Arm disappears under a towpath bridge on the right.

High Lane Arm under the bridgeSAM_5235 High Lane Arm
The arm was built as a coal loading wharf in 1830, servicing Middlewood and Norbury pits. It was “adopted” by local pleasure boaters when the pits closed, and has been home to the North Cheshire Cruising Club since it’s formation in 1943. The NCCC is the oldest cruising club on the narrow canals.

The influence of local coal-mining is apparent at Poynton, where a shallow flash, caused by subsidence, has been filled by canal water.

Subsidence at Poynton.SAM_5236 Poynton
On the towpath side are popular moorings overlooking the playing fields. These are about 15 feet below the level of the canal; rumour has it that when the canal was built the adjacent land was at the same height!

Typical Macclesfield Canal cruising, tree fringed channel and stone-arched bridge.SAM_5242 Typical Macc

Hag(g) Footbridge bears a remarkable resemblance to those found crossing the lines at railway stations. This is no coincidence; it was constructed during the canal’s period of ownership by LNER.SAM_5240 Hag Bridge
The swivel bridge (you can see the swivel support on the right bank) carried, I think, a tramway from a quarry or pit on the east side of the canal.

More evidence of the area’s mining past can be found in the name of the hostelry near Bridge 18. It’s called The Miner’s Arms.

We toddled on to Whitely Green, where M2L and us managed to grab the last two mooring slots between bridges 24 and 25. I’m hiring a car for the day tomorrow, to nip up to Yorkshire for some bits and pieces, and the mail. So we’ll stay here for a couple of days before returning to Marple, this time to drop down the locks on the way to Manchester.

Our friends, Malcolm and Barbara on NB Pilgrim, who set off for a trip over the Huddersfield Narrow and from there up onto the Leeds and Liverpool, are having to return the way they went. When they arrived at Shepley Bridge Lock on the Calder and Hebble they saw that the heel post on one of the top gates had split, making the lock inoperative. Calling out C&RT caused much shaking of heads and sucking of teeth, resulting in this stoppage notice…

Shepley Bridge Lock
Monday 29 April 2013 until further notice
UPDATE (30 April 2013): Following our assesment of the lock gates, unfortunatley, a temporary repair is not possible.
We are carrying out an emergency lock gate stoppage to replace both head gates.
This work will involve craning both the gates out of the lock and taking them to our workshop at Stanley Ferry where replica's will be made. Once complete they will be transported back to Shepley Bridge and crained back into the water and adjusted to fit.
Passage will not be possible through the lock at any time until the work has been completed
We anticpate the works will take in excess of 3 weeks. We will issue regular progress updates. The first one will be on the 3rd of May.
Stoppage history:
The heel post has snapped on the upstream gate, on the towpath side. Our Engineer will be on site this afternoon to assess the situation. Passage is not possible through the lock at this time. We will issue an update tomorrow morning
Enquiries: 0303 0404040

I really do think that whoever writes these should use a decent spellchecker

Shepley Bridge Marina, with the lock on the right, taken last October SAM_3763 Shepley Br Marina

This stoppage won’t affect George and Carol on NB Rock’n’Roll. They’re going “over the top” to Huddersfield as well, but have to turn around and come back as the boat is too long to pass through the 57 foot Huddersfield Broad Canal locks.

Locks 0, miles 6

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sunshine and hail see us back on the Macclesfield.

On Thursday we were left on our own at the moorings near Carr Bridge on the Upper Peak Forest. First, George, Carol and little Molly set off on the first leg of their trip up to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal…..
…then later Charles, Ann and big Molly set off in the opposite direction to collect a parcel from Whaley Bridge Post Office.

The “Lifers” returned later in the day, just in time to join us for lunch.

We decided to leave moving on till today, not, as it turned out, the best of decisions. Keith and Joe (NB Hadar) walked back from their mooring at Furness Vale to have a chat, and so it was gone 11:00 before we got away.

Approaching New Mills in bright sunshine….SAM_5218

…leaving New Mills in a hailstorm!SAM_5220

This set the pattern for the day, sunny periods punctuated by sharp showers sending hailstones down my neck.

Ann hopped off M2L to open Higgins Clough Swing bridge, then walked the ¼ mile to Wood End Lift Bridge.

Ann on bridge duty

At Wood End there was a bit of a delay; Chas pulled over to allow an oncoming boat first dibs at the bridge, we got stuck on the bottom trying to reboard Meg and the day boat out of Whaley Bridge turned up behind. We weren’t going anywhere for a bit, so I waved the day boat through, then dislodged Seyella and followed, passing M2L with Chas waiting for Ann.

Letting the hire boat go ahead was a good scheme, they looked after Turf Lea Lift Bridge for all three boats before joining the back of the convoy again.

We had to back off the bottom three more times as we ran aground avoiding oncoming boats before we got to Marple Junction.
Both boats needed the use of the facilities but we had to wait for another boat to finish a comprehensive pump-out of the loo tank before we could get on, Chas and Ann were away first, heading towards our planned weekend mooring at Hawk Green, we followed on about 45 minutes later.

On the wharf at Marple Junction.
The wharf building is now used as a maintenance depot by C&RT, through the arch is an undercover dock beyond which is a gauging lock, used to check the depth marks on boat hulls.
When a new boat was launched it had to be “Gauged”, calibrated weights loaded aboard and the waterline marked accordingly. Tolls were payable by the ton of cargo, so these gauging marks were used to calculate the correct fee.
As this was a junction between two waterway companies, the tolls had to be paid before movement from one to the other was allowed. A typical toll (in 1797) on the Upper Peak Forest Canal was 1½d per ton per mile for limestone from Bugsworth, so from the basin to Marple would have been charged at 10½d per ton.

There’s a very inviting looking 100 yards of piling here between bridges 5 and 6, we’ve moored here before but unfortunately there’s only a couple of boat-lengths that are deep enough for mooring. These were occupied so Plan B swung into action and we’re now moored opposite the deer park, just before Bridge 8.

The park seems a bit under populated at the moment, we could only see these two from the canal.SAM_5229
The darker animal beyond is one of several cows sharing the pasture.

Several bloggers have posted pictures of this year’s first ducklings, not me alas. We’ve not seen a one. However, I did get a shot of a young Hereford…SAM_5222
That’s mum’s back in the foreground.

M2L has pulled in just in front of NB Just Imagine, (we’re a little bit further on) and Michelle popped out to say hello. We met last November as we passed through Marple. Good to see you again, glad you survived the winter OK!

Since we’ve moored the sky has brightened and the rain stopped. The weatherman is predicting a frost overnight, then more wet weather moving in tomorrow afternoon. Never mind, it’s May next week…

We’ll be staying put tomorrow, then heading down to Bollington on Monday. Maybe.

Locks 0, miles 5½

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meg gets the all clear and makes a friend.

Meg had a follow-up visit to the vet in New Mills this morning. Ann and Molly came with us, intending to wait outside, but a torrential hail shower forced them in. Normally Molly would turn into a jelly when in a vet’s waiting room, but today she seemed to know that she wasn’t to be tampered with. And it wasn’t very nice outside…

The nurse was pleased with Meg’s progress, the sockets where the teeth were removed are healing nicely, and the infection is well on the way to clearing up. We’ve antibiotics to last till Monday, that should sort it out.
Then we discussed dental hygiene, I’m going to try to start cleaning her teeth, but I’ll leave it till she’s completely healed. Then I’ll slowly introduce her first to the toothpaste, then to the brush. She’s very sweet natured, but she may object at first…

On the way back we came back up through the town, stopping off at the Co-op, then dropping back down to the river to return to the towpath.

The lane to Goytside Farm passes between fields containing, on the one side, nursing mums…DSC_0103
…and on the other, llamas.

Meg was fascinated by these large woolly animals, and they were with her.DSC_0101

We could her the beat of a vintage engine up on the canal as we came up the track to Carrs Bridge, just arriving was NB Hadar, heading through to Bugsworth.

Joe and Keith, NB Hadar
We had a quick chat then they pushed on down to the basin. We’ll maybe see them for a better talk next week.

Locks 0, miles 0

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dogless for the day….

I mentioned that Meg had a consultation with the vet in New Mills last evening; well the upshot is that she needs to have a couple of teeth out. She’s damaged them, catching sticks or something similar, one was slightly displaced exposing the root and allowing an infection to take hold.


She was as good as gold during the examination, allowing the vet to poke and prod with only the odd wince.

So this morning I took a very hungry dog (no food since half-eight last night) back and left her for her operation. All being well I’ll be able to collect her this evening. The 15 minute walk there will likely be rather longer on the way back as she’ll still be recovering from the general anaesthetic.

Our little convoy is breaking up a bit this morning. The Rockers are moving down to Marple, then tomorrow heading down Marple Locks on the first leg of their trip up, through and down to Huddersfield on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. That’s 32 locks up, 42 down with a mere 3¼ mile long tunnel at the summit All in 20 miles.
We did the same trip last autumn although in the opposite direction. R’n’R is too long for the Huddersfield Broad, so they’ll have to turn around and come back the same way. Suckers for punishment.

We had a bit of a going away party on R’n’R last night, “Come round for a drink, it’s the last we’ll have together for a bit” said Carol. 4½ hours and several empty bottles later we staggered the 20 yards home…..

Since I’ve written the above George has been to tell us they’re waiting till tomorrow before getting going, they want to see that Meg is OK before they leave us.

We’ll obviously have to continue to hang around, there’ll be a follow-up consultation with the vet early next week to make sure all is well before we can follow as far as Dukinfield Junction. From there we’ll turn left, travelling with M2L down into Manchester.
During this pause I’ll try to get new zips fitted to the cratch cover, two have failed now and it’s a nuisance having to unclip it from the cabin side to get in and out. Roger Olver has found me a contact in Macclesfield who may be able to do the job. Roger is a mobile narrowboat engineer based on NB Fizzical Attraction and knows most folk around here.
I’ve also got a new-second-hand digital recorder/DVD player/DVD recorder to collect that I “won” on ebay last week. It’s going to Mags’ grand-daughter’s address, and it’s silly to post it on again. So I’ll wait till my entry pack for the Manchester 10k arrives then we’ll hire a car for the day and collect everything in one go.

I’ve got to ring the surgery in about an hour to see how Meg got on, and I expect I’ll be able to collect her around 6 o’clock. It’s very quiet on board at the moment…

Back to the boat repaint, thanks for the feedback, folks, particularly Adam who points out that if we know that red fades more quickly than other colours, why use it for the name panel? There’ll be an expensive signwriting job on there. Good point, well made. Red on the handrails only, then.Grey Dk Blue preferred option 
Locks 0, miles 0

Monday, April 22, 2013

What a cracking weekend!

The second time of trying our friends Arthur and Wendy made it away from work commitments in York and joined us for the weekend.
We’d moved back to Bugsworth to meet them on Thursday, giving me the day to give the boat a good going over before they arrived on Friday evening.

Chatting and the odd drop of whiskey kept us occupied till well after midnight, but we were still up and ready to go shortly after 10 on Saturday morning. The fact that it was a fine, sunny morning may have helped….

We cruised the 6 miles back to Marple, Arthur keeping me company at the stern, the girls chatting at the fore-end and keeping us supplied with brews and bacon sandwiches, although the odd prompt was required. “Stick the kettle on” works well…

We were lucky enough to get on the last space just through the old stop lock on the Macc, between the two snake bridges.

Moored on the Macclesfield Canal at Marple.DSC_0098 marple moorings

Bridge 2, one of the delightful snake or turn-over bridges that are a major feature of the canal. DSC_0097 Bridge 2, Marple
On Sunday morning the distinctive beat of NB Alton’s vintage engine echoed under the bridge, and the boat settled alongside the charity trip boat moored opposite us.

I chatted to Ann Marie through the side hatch as she filled and emptied the trip boat, while Brian struggled to replace Alton’s rudder, lifted out of it’s lower cup by an underwater obstruction under the bridge.

Brian checking to make sure that there’s nothing stopping the rudder post from dropping back in.
SAM_5203 Brian refitting rudder
The engineering for the rudder mounting is basic; the post goes through a bearing on the counter, then down and into another on the skeg, welded to the base plate. Gravity normally keeps the assembly in place, the whole lot is pretty heavy. But riding over an object in the water can lift the rudder out of the lower cup. Although it can be difficult to line up and refit, it’s preferable to having a fixed assembly in these circumstances that would probably bend the post or rudder.

Repair effected, they pushed on towards Bugsworth, we had to go back to Goyt Mill to turn around, then followed in their wake. We passed them filling up a customer at Strines.

Arthur on bridge duty, winding up….SAM_5201 Arf on bridge

….and swinging.SAM_5204 Arf on bridge again

The return trip yesterday wasn’t as warm as Saturday, still dry, at least till we got back to the basin, but cloudy and cooler. Still, it didn’t dampen the enjoyment of cruising in good company.

We got back in the early afternoon, just avoiding the first of the showers, then our guests had to had back to York, after a quick lunch.

A really good weekend, it was great to catch up and talk about old times. It was Arthur who drove us to our wedding in his maroon Humber Sceptre, over 30 years ago.

Weekend crewSAM_5207 Weekend crew

Today we’ve had a steady day, catching our breath. Tomorrow we’re moving back to Carr Bridge after taking delivery of a Tesco grocery order.
Later in the day Meg has an appointment with the vet in New Mills, probably nothing but she may have an infection in her lower gum. It certainly doesn’t look right. Professional opinion required.

I’ve been working on this year’s major project. Seyella is starting to look a little tired, time for a new coat of paint. I’m shying away from red, it doesn’t last as long as other colours, so we’re going for a blue/grey/red (just a bit) colour scheme, like this….Grey Dk Blue preferred optionWhat do you reckon?

Locks 0, miles 13 since last post.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It’s all go!

Or not, in fact. We’re just pottering, and will be for the next couple of weeks, filling the time before dropping down into Manchester for my 10K race towards the end of May.

We spent the weekend at Bugsworth Basin, taking in the scenery and enjoying the fine weather, although it was extremely windy.
SAM_5118 bugsworth
SAM_5119 bugsworth

On Sunday we decided to have a bit of a leg-stretch, so Ann, George and I took the dogs up onto Chinley Churn, a moor that overlooks the village of the same name and rises to 1474 feet.

814 feet up and the views to the south and west are opening up.Panorama_0

At the top and the dogs are still chasing each other around.SAM_5129 Walk to Chinley Churn

We didn’t hang around at the top, the wind was gusting strong enough to blow you off your feet, so we dropped down to Cracken Edge and worked our way down through the quarries.

Heading down.SAM_5132 Walk to Chinley Churn

SAM_5135 Walk to Chinley Churn

Even on the way down it was pretty blowy…
SAM_5136 Walk to Chinley Churn

We dropped down onto the line of the tramway which ran from the quarries at Dove Holes to the basin. Mills were built along the line to take advantage of the transport route, some are still here, but have changed use.

Stephanie Works must be this way….
SAM_5144 Walk to Chinley Churn
I think the factory was originally a paper mill, but now houses several companies specialising in plastics manufacture. A pond alongside the buildings, probably part of the earlier process, is now home to a family of black swans.

Stephanie’s black swansSAM_5147 Walk to Chinley Churn

Ann wasn’t sure whether she’d make it to the top or not, in the event she surprised herself. Her feet were a little sore though, so she took the opportunity for an impromptu foot spa in Black Brook.

Therapy for hot feet.
SAM_5155 Walk to Chinley Churn
Molly is catching water that Ann kicks up.

We got back to the boats after a very enjoyable three hours, ready for lunch and a settle down to watch the Chinese Grand Prix.

Yesterday we moved back out of the basin to the good moorings near Carr Swing Bridge.

We made a detour to Whaley Bridge Basin on the way, turning round and mooring alongside Tesco to top up the cupboards.

Whaley Bridge Basin, the listed buildings of the transhipment warehouse ahead.SAM_5158 Whaley Br
The basin and connecting arm were built in around 1830 to link up with the Cromford and High Peak Railway, which in turn met the Cromford Canal at High Peak Junction.
The railway is now a popular walking route, the 17 mile High Peak Trail.

It was Ann’s birthday yesterday, so we all congregated on Seyella for tea and cake, then joined Carol and George on Rock’n’Roll for something of a more alcoholic nature in the evening. A good time was had by all.

This afternoon we had a walk down in the River Goyt valley that cuts through New Mills. I didn’t take my camera, I’ve previously posted about this fantastic insight into a lost industrial past. Still enjoyed the walk, though. Always do.

Locks 0, miles 3

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Two days to Bugsworth

On Tuesday we had a steady day, then joined Baz and Ali on NB Mickey Jay for tea, followed be a pack walk.

The gang ready to goSAM_5073 Pack WalkFive humans, five dogs.

Everybody decided to move on yesterday, Mickey Jay first at the ungodly hour of 9 o’clock, us next at a civilised 10:30, followed by the Rockers and the Lifers.

For only the third time since we moved aboard in 2006 we ran out of water – while I was having a shower! Just about enough of a dribble to rinse the majority of the suds off, and enough in the kettle for a brew. So the first port of call had to be the water tap just under Bridge 15.
A bit of a worry was the C&RT workboat moored there, the guys preparing to do some towpath repairs. Luckily they were happy for us to pull alongside.

Watering up alongside NB Gailey
SAM_5074 Watering alongside Gailey

We’d hailed Lewis and Pawel across the water the previous evening, their boat is moored on the offside further up the canal, and they came down to say hello properly while we were filling up. Sorry guys, I didn’t get a picture, and I guess you weren’t back on board as we cruised past.

Past the Victoria Pit moorings at Poynton.SAM_5075 Poynton
It’s often forgotten that until the early part of the 20thC the main employment for the area was coalmining. Poynton is at the edge of the East Cheshire Coalfield, and mining has been going on for hundreds of years. One of the reasons for the building of the canal was to service the many pits in the area.
Braidbar Boats occupy what was a loading wharf, the site of Nelson’s Pit is now a car park and a museum stands where Anson Pit was dug.
Water was always a problem, and the most modern pumping engines were employed to extract the inflow. At the end of the 18thC several steam engines were used for pumping and shaft hauling.

Remains on the surface at Canal Pit
SAM_5068 Canal   Pit
The last pits closed in 1935, and little of the underground gear recovered, as the cost of keeping the workings dry made it uneconomic. In a couple of weeks of the pumps being switched off water had risen to within a few feet of the top of Park Pits Shafts. There’s an excellent resource here, from which I’ve purloined most of this info.

High Lane sits astride the canal, and the North Cheshire Cruising Club have made an abandoned LNER transhipment wharf here their base.

NCCC under the towpath bridge.SAM_5076 High Lane

High Lane and Bridge 11
SAM_5077 High Lane
There’s moorings both sides of the bridge here.

That snow just won’t go, will it!
SAM_5079 Still snow

Approaching Marple there is a stretch of piling, popular for mooring, opposite fields where deer are often seen grazing. Not too many there at the moment, though, and a long way away!

Long shot…SAM_5082 Deer Park
I’m surprised I got them at all; maximum zoom (x20) from a moving boat!

Goyt Mill marks the edge of Marple, standing on the east bank of the canal. Built in 1905 as a cotton mill, the architecture owes much to earlier Victorian buildings, with decorative brick strings to emphasise the height. The tall chimney, a local landmark, was demolished in the 1980’s, and the mill now houses around 80 small businesses….SAM_5087 Goyt Mill
….and an impressive array of mobile phone masts!

Nood Game for a boat…
SAM_5088 Nood Game

It was busy around the junction with the Peak Forest Canal, the moorings opposite the service wharf all full and boats queuing for water. I‘m glad we got ours at Poynton.

Marple Junction up ahead.SAM_5089 Marple junction

When the Macclesfield Canal was built, the Peak Forest Canal Company insisted that a stop-lock was installed at the junction to protect their water supplies. The lock is long gone, but the chamber is still there, a narrow channel just before the junction bridge. I was well into this, approaching the bridge, when a heard a horn just before the bows of a boat appeared around the corner, heading my way. I hooted back, and I made it very clear that there was no way I was going back. So I stayed in the old lock till he turned and reversed towards the top lock of the Marple flight. He still didn’t give me enough room to swing, coming forward to butt our cabin side with his bow button. He pulled back again when I scowled at him.
Through all this his missus was sitting impassively in the front cockpit, without a care in the world.

We did manage to complete the turn, now on the Upper Peak Forest.SAM_5090 Peak Forest 

Looking out across the Goyt ValleySAM_5092 Hazy Hills

Old Blue Bell was here last autumn, the winter and local plunderers have not improved her condition.

Blue Bell, such a shame.
SAM_5094 Blue Bell

Around the corner, above Strines, there’s another boat that’s suffered a major misfortune, this time by fire.SAM_5096 Burn out
It obviously started at the back end of the cabin, but most of the interior is gutted. Doesn’t look that old, either.

More hills to the north and east
SAM_5098 Hills again

We had three of the four moveable bridges on this stretch to do, two to lift and one to swing.

Mags brings Seyella through Higgins Clough Swing BridgeSAM_5100 Higgins Clough Swing BrLeft a bit, dear!

Matlow’s at New Mills must have been cooking, we could smell the sweet aroma of confectionary from a mile away!

Matlow’s sweet factory, New Mills
SAM_5101 Matlows, New Mills

There’s no-where decent to moor in the town, but a bit further along, before Carrs Bridge, there’s a popular length of piling with fine views across the valley. We pulled in here, once again right behind NB Mickey Jay. Totally unplanned, we’d no idea how far they were heading.

Moorings near New MillsSAM_5106 Near Carrs Br

Good views across the valley….
SAM_5107 View from mooring
…shame about the railway 100 yards on the other side of the canal. Still, it doesn’t run late at night.

It was a fine, dry day, little wind and warm enough to dispense with a jacket for part of the time.

Today we’re back to the cold wind, but now there’s no sunshine to make it feel warmer. It seems to have got colder as we cruised the last 2½ ,miles to Bugsworth.

Baz and Ali opened Carr Swing Bridge for usSAM_5108 Baz and Ali at Carrs Br
accompanied by the delightful Yorkies Archie and BellaSAM_5110 Archie and Bella
Sweet, huh.

Then it was an uneventful trip to the junction with the Whaley Bridge Arm, where we turned left to the basin.
SAM_5114 Whaley JunctionSAM_5115

After watering up again and emptying the loos we pulled into the Lower Basin Arm behind Malcolm and Barbara on NB Pilgrim, who cruised past us before we set off this morning. We haven’t seen them for a while, so we had a good catch-up this afternoon over a cup of tea.

Moored in BugsworthSAM_5117 Bugsworth

Here for the weekend, now.

Locks 0, miles 10½ (2 days)