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Thursday, 4 May 2017

Nearly there.

We set of not long after 0900 as the plan was to arrive as early as possible and then catch the bus to Rochdale.

Before the first lock was this silhouette sculpture. The man on the bench told us that it was Gracie Fields, George Formby and Leonard Cheshire as that is what it said on the plaque! When I had a look it seems he somehow had the wrong information as it is Gracie Fields (with the microphone andwho became the highest paid movie star in the world in the 1930's after winning a talent contest in Rochdale), Lynee Coxell, with the two children, who was a head teacher at St Edward's School nearby and pushed ahead with the eco style school, with an urban farm and emphasising the sustainability of the the school, as well as promoting it to other schools. The third figure is Harriet Ellis who learned to windsurf on nearby Hollingwortth Lake. In 2011, aged 18 she competed in the International Raceboard at the World Championship in Spain in both the youth and senior classes and won both of them! She has passed on her skills back at the lake since then.

My Dad worked for Fenner's of Hull from the end of WWII to his retirement. Most of the bottom gate paddles of the Rochdale canal so far have been fitted with Fenner reduction gears on the paddles. Despite my Father's association with the company I have learned to loathe these paddles as despite requiring  little effort it takes 49 turns. The other paddle gear takes more effort but only between 8 and 13 turns!

The resurrection of the Rochdale Canal made use of a culvert designed for a farm track to pass under the M62. The height is fine, unlike on the Droitwich but to add a tow path they have need ed to place these fixed, but floating pontoons as a tow path. It means there must be great expense to move them clear to allow the passage of a wide beam.

The canal tunnels under the A627(M) and a junction with the A664 which means a pretty long tunnel.

At Lock No. 50 we get as close to Rochdale as the eponymous canal gets. On the left is the remainder of the Rochdale Branch Canal that led up to the town. 

The wind was getting pretty strong by now and we were suffering by the fact that there was no water along side at the landings for locks and bridges etc. Helen was struggling to release the bridge lock and then I was finding it difficult to get off the mud the other side of the bridge!

Heading into the wind and with the canal seemingly very shallow and many reeds on either side too, we had a distinct impression that we were heading up hill! The views of the hills over ruled any doubts we may have had about ever getting to the top.

The wind turbines were making a good fist of converting wind to electricity and made me wonder how high we would have to go to get over the top.

Clegg Hall was originaly built in the early 1600's and later became a pub. By 2000 it has almost derelict. It was saved and refurbished in 2008 and is now on the market for £500,000, which if you live south of Birmingham will seem a snip to you.

Birch Hill Hospital is prominent on the hill side to the west. It was opened in 1877 as a work house with wings for imbeciles, fever wards and an infirmary. In 1902 a 'modern' hospital was built. It contributed in WWI and WWII. The 28 acres was sold in 2007 to Persimmon for £21.5 million and the last section of the hospital moved out in 2012. The tower will be preserved.

The landings for locks and bridges were very shallow and it didn't help that boats were left in the these places. Yet still the views into the hills were dragging us onwards.

We finally got to Littleborough and went to the Service station to fill up with water. Once again half the mooring was taken up with a boat that appeared to be permanently moored there. So much so that he had his own hose moored up and the elsan point was used as a storage shed for himself. After filling up with water and emptying the loo we moved over to the moorings.

We went into town to post some letters and find a bit of food. We descended on the Red Lion and I sampled some of their Red Lion Bitter which I believe is brewed by Phoenix in Heywood. I liked it as it was a bit like a pint of Joule's and it was only £1-80.

We have decided to take the train into Rochdale and spend the day there tomorrow. It is only £5-65 return for the two of us. Mind you it is only a 7 minutes journey.

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