Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A mare of a day - beware of obstacles!

We set off yesterday morning from our mooring below the Marple Lock Flight at 9:30 and what a day it was. We travelled a total of only 11 miles in 7.5 hours due to numerous obstacles on and under the very shallow water, having to clear the stern weed hatch twice, the bow thruster weed hatch once and getting stuck solid under a railway bridge for 20 minutes!

 Definitely spring when the bluebells are out!

Sun is shining although the air is still a bit chilly as we approach Hyde Bank Tunnel ...

… 308 yards.

Holehouse Fold Bridge is two joined together, modern(ish) engineering brick at the south portal ...

… and old dressed stone to the north

Looking back, after 2 very slow miles and an hour’s cruising, through the very narrow channel at Woodley Tunnel just 167 yards long

No, it’s not floating, it’s stuck firmly!

C&RT boat Audlem is filling the potholes in the towpath just after bridge 9 at Haughton Dale Nature Reserve …

… but I couldn’t help thinking that they’d be better employed clearing the muck from the canal.  Having said that the towpath is obviously used more than the canal - today anyway!

In contrast to the waste and detritus along and in the canal there are some surprisingly lovely houses dotted along - usually on the off-side!

Another hour and another and we’ve not even got a mile further as we reach Captain Clarkes Bridge - a delightful crossover or roving bridge.

Hyde and above the wall are signs of old industry, the buildings still in good condition and appear to still be in use -1885 Joseph Adamson and Co. at the end there.

New buildings too ...

… and a fabricator too showing off his workmanship in this lovely fretted fencing.

Approaching the M67

… and more half demolished buildings ...

… but industry continues in a very different format.

At Newton Hall Bridge (4) whatever obstacle was submerged lifted Rock n Roll’s stern out of the water - in fact there was only a couple of bridges today that didn’t have any suprises!

Half twelve and I’m stuck solid under the railway bridge between Ashton Street Bridge (2) and the Lift Bridge (1).  My bow is about 10 feet from the end and my stern about 10 feet inside, I can’t get off and no-one can get on.  I’ve already dropped George off to go ahead to open the lift bridge and praying that I’d got a phone signal I rang him to let him know the situation.  If you look carefully at the picture above you can see a boat coming towards me - too far away for me to shout for help so I sounded my horn and flashed the headlight.  One of the men walked down and called to me (I couldn’t see anyone) - had I ‘conked out?’ - ‘No’ I said ‘I’m stuck on the bottom’  ‘We’ll give you a tow’ said he, ‘thanks’ said I!

Thank you so much to this father and son on nb Edith for rescuing me.  If they hadn’t been there goodness only knows how long I’d have been stuck there as we didn’t see another boat all day!
Once I’d passed by my rescuers I waited to make sure that they managed to get through the plastic coated bridge in case they too needed a tow!  The did manage but only by shuffling backwards and forwards - so beware Seyella and M2L when you come this way!

Still a bit shaken I slowly continued towards the lift bridge where this monument to David Livingstone is mounted and I was surprised to see that the bridge was not lifting - oh no, not more trouble! ...

It needs a handcuff key as well as the windlass!

I’ve managed successfully to get into the side to pick up George and Molly after the lift bridge and George takes over the helm as we approach Dunkinfield Junction.

Not seen any duckings yet but here are some Canada goslings hurrying to escape from the water in front of the boat.

Walk Mill Bridge crosses the Peak Forest Canal at Dunkinfield Junction and facing us is Portland Basin Warehouse. To the right is the start of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and to the left the Ashton Canal.

We need water and we don’t want to have to moor in Stalybridge overnight so we turn left onto the Ashton where the canal continues with new, old and half demolished buildings and shallow water and debris.

Another railway bridge, let’s hope that’s ok - it was … this time anyway! 

The ubiquitous upside down shopping trolley - a must for every canal!

China Bridge (24) 150 years old this year - and signs of boat life beyond!

Not much clearance under Ashton Hill Bridge (21)!

Could things get any worse?

Yes, of course!  We arrived to this sight at Fairfield Junction and couldn’t see the water point … had it been removed by the contractors who have the edge dug up?

Looking down Clayton Locks at the junction … that’s for another day!

We found the water point - it’s that dark shape right of the picture and we can’t get any closer.  Fortunately we have 2 hoses and here George has connected one, the other will cross the locks to the boat.

Fed and watered it’s now 2:30 as we wind (turn) and head back to Dunkinfield.

This is a lovely Victorian Mill …

… a beautiful structure ...

… just look at that detail - they didn’t ‘need’ to do it - they just did - they certainly knew how to make an industrial building look good!

These arches to just a short distance away - aren’t they superb?

16:45 - remember that railway bridge (not the one I got stuck under) well ...  after we’d taken on water at Fairfield and were on our way back to the junction George lost control of the propellor as we came through that bridge.  We tried unsuccessfully to pull over and even had to resort to using the boat pole to get us off the bottom, we pulled in at the other side of the bridge so that both weed hatches could be cleared.  They were both full of bubble wrap plastic - just like that being used at that railway bridge. 

We decided that enough was enough, winded again and returned to the Peak Forest Canal, moored up for the night before the lift bridge, asked a family passing by if there was a chippy close by and had a tasty fish n chip supper.

Thankfully we’ve had a quiet night - what will today bring I wonder?


  1. You have our sympathies! We picked up upholstery cushioning at Bridge 24A on the Ashton last year and it took 2 very long hours to clear the prop.
    In your photos the Lower Peak Forest did not look particularly low from the marks on the piling so I bet it was rubbish from the contractors working on the railway bridge that caused your grounding.
    Again last year we moored at Mossley, just below Lock 15W on the Huddersfield, very pleasant and peaceful.
    Sue & Ken nb Cleddau

    1. Thanks for your comments, we shall certainly look at mooring up below 15W tonight instead of going up to lock 21.

  2. I just know when you've finished you will say it was worth it!