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Friday 31 October 2014

Sunday 26th October.

We set off in good heart today as it was to be dry but overcast. After immediately getting into the first lock we set up a system whereby Helen steered the boat, Chris walked ahead to prepare the lock and I opened/closed etc ready to catch him up. Of the thirteen locks we did today  most were separated by a bit of a walk so we got our exercise in.

The canal remains narrow and shallow but Helen kept the boat on the straight and narrow too.

The whole journey down from the summit follows the River Colne which is nevere very far away from you, just as the River Tame was close by on the way up to the summit.

The River Colne separated from the canal by the width of the towpath and about 12 feet in height.

We carried straight on past Linthwaite but we will stop there on our next journey. At Lock 16E the valley has widened somewhat and good views can be had. I'm not sure why Papa Smurff isn't in his make up but it was good of him to help with the locks!

A view across to Linthwaite from lock 14E The mill in the distance is Titanic Mill that was built in the 1911, the year the ill fated liner was also launched. It started to be converted in 2004 now houses 130 flats and a day spa. The chimney has been lost though.

I love the old paths and tracks in the disused industrial areas. They look rural and quaint now but must have been very busy with workers and folk passing from village to village. This track looks as though it is just begging to be explored.

Three locks take you down into Milnsbridge. Chris is taking the boat into the middle one that Helen is just opening the top gate of.

The lowere lock has some lock poetry carved into the beams. Some folk are critical of this but I like it as it doesn't impinge on the working of the lock but definitely adds to the whole picture.

Once moored up it was the fire lit and a cup of tea. After a brief sit I dragged my self off the chair again and outside. Nobody was up for an explore of the town after a hard day but as the boat was the unpainted side to a nice low towpath I decided that I would give it a wash in readiness for painting. In the end I washed, de-rusted and completley painted the st'bd side. It does lock better for doing but I know that it wont look like it after tomorrow!

Thursday 30 October 2014

Saturday 25th October.

After the excitement of the tunnel transit we had to now knuckle down and descend from the heights down to Slaithwaite (or Slough'it as it is pronounced locally). This involved 21 locks in about 3 miles. The good thing was that there were three of us we could work ahead. The locks are named East on this side of the Pennines.

Lock 35E is in a wooded valley with the River Colne that stays very close all the way to Huddersfield. The tow path is busy with walkers and bikers all the way too. The locks are spaced a nice walk between so it was good for one to walk ahead and set the locks so that good progress could be made.

The canal passes right by the Spath Reservoir and as we lowered down the lock there were two ladies swimming in the reservoir. I had heard that wild swimming had got popular and I was pleased to see that they weren't naked but it is the water that they swim in is wild! The valley side and the cottages make this a lovely spot.

We had been told at Marsden that lock 31E was locked as tgeree had been a bit of a collapse behind the lock wall on one side. The lock was working but as there was still a large hole there a C&RT official had to work it for you. Actually they unlocked the padlock and I worked the gates and paddles!
 The canal is not wide and not deep but it is very scenic. The valley has plenty of old mills and lovely wooded valley sides, especially with the colours of autumn.

After leaving Lock 31E we were finding that all the bottom gates of the locks were left open. I thought that there was a single hander ahead so was a little mollified but reckoned that you should ask before you get others to do work for you. Anyway We finally caught up with the boat ahead at the guillotine lock at Slaithwaite. It turns out that the Lockie at 31E told them that there was a boat coming up so leave the gates for them. When we arrived at 31E he did say to me that he thought that we were coming up!
Chris wrapped up nearly as much as Helen at the helm. There was a bit of a wind that when you weren't trudging the towpath did tend to get you cold.

Helen checking that Chris was doing it right.

Despite the heaviness of some lock gates I much prefer them, even a broad beam lock, to winding this guillotine gate up and down.

The canal runs in a narrow trough next to the main road through Slaithwaite and the road tunnels are very low. The Globe Worsted Mill on the left has been saved and is to become an innovation centre.

After tying up we went for a walk round the town. We were a little late so many of the more individual shops, like Blackburn's, the Gents Tailors and Grange and Sons the butcher and pie shop were both closed. We did get to look round the Emporium which had several sections of different types of shops within it. It is well worth a look. We were going out for a meal but in the end decided on a take away that filled us up fit to bust. We were half way down and broken the back of the descent into Yorkshire.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Friday 24th October.

For entering the tunnel east bound the time is 1130. We moved up to the tunnel entrance about 1000 and filled with water. We  needed the water but I would have filled up anyway just to get the how down a little. We cleared off the top of the boat and dropped the solar panels as the tunnel is very low in parts.

Holderness at the entrance to the tunnel with the railway next to it. In actual fact this tunnel entrance is about 200 yds away from the original tunnel entrance. When the fourth tunnel was built they covered over the canal and so made the tunnel 200 yds longer.

I heard an engine start up and went out to see what it was. C&RT have a little container at the portal that has a generator to provider electricity for the pilots etc. I went for a chat to the chap that had been escorting through the tunnel and watched as the hire boat came out. This trip there was a pilot and a trainee. It seems there are only about 8 'qualified' pilots and some of them are not now in the area. The trainee was a volunteer from the Rochdale flight. They have to do loads of courses like full first aid, helmsman, deck hand, etc plus a minimum of eight transits under supervision. They aren't allowed to touch the helm unless everybody else id incapacitated! 

The west bound boat coming out of the Standedge Tunnel.

Entering the Standedge Tunnel. The date stamp above the portal is the date of the opening of the extended tunnel, not the original one.

I had to be kitted out with hard hat, hi-vis vest and life jacket. They also carried an oxygen meter and powerful lights. After a brief safety talk we set off.

A brick lined part of the tunnel. Both ends are like this but the middle section can feel like you are caving as the tunnel seems to be quarried out of the solid rock and some is cement washed. There are parts that are bolted to stop the roof coming in!

The pilots were full of information about the tunnel and the system in the area and the time passed quickly. We regularly had to speak with the tunnel escort who drove through the unused rail tunnel. There are actually 31 addits between the canal tunnel and the railway one that were used to assist with the building of the later. The canal was used to take spoil out and this helped to make the second tunnel built to be completed faster and cheaper than otherwise.

1 hour and twenty minutes later we popped out into the light at the Marsden end.

We stopped and went to get a cup of coffee and a look round the shop at the tunnel. The pilots said that we had had a very smooth trip, but I bet they say that to everybody. The trip boat left soon after to enter the tunnel and we were off to find a berth near the first lock on the east side. Helen went down into the town for a bit of a shop and Chris and I went back to look round the transhipment warehouse near to the tunnel entrance.

At the tunnel mooring with the transhipment in the distance.

Later we all went down to the Riverhead Tap where I sampled a couple of their own brews. I must say that I do like the pub and the beer too.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Thursday 23rd October.

We were off in good time but unfortunately the sun didn't get up with us it was dull and overcast all day. We left Uppermill and were soon at the second lock of the day that was almost underneath the railway viaduct that carries the trans Pennine route. The canal also crosses the River Tame on an aqueduct at this point.

A big and a much more little arch at Dobcross.

Just round the corner from the viaduct is the old terminus of the canal whilst the completion of the Standedge Tunnel was completed. The canal arrived here in 1799 but the tunnel wasn't completed until 1811. There is a small stone built canopied warehouse where cargoes were stored and is now the HQ of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal Society. You are soon in to the regular arrival of locks. The canal curves up to the tunnel portal and you can see the locks stretched ahead of you.

Our guest Chris getting into the locks

The trouble started at the next lock 26W were there wasn't enough water in the pound to get over the sill. I went up to the next lock to see that that pound was down too. The next three pounds are pretty short so you can't run too much down without making them short too. In the end we had to go up to 30W to get enough for us to clear all the lower pounds. I though that as we had the same trouble last year it must be that the pound itself is leaking  rather than the locks but apparently it is the paddles that have no guides so that when the pound is low there is no pressure keeping the sluice tight and they just leak. They are going to be fixed during these winter stoppages.

Looking down the valley from Lock 25W.

In Lock 28W with little water in the next short pound.

Aground in the pound between Lock 29W and 30W.

There were lots of 'helpful' people saying thinks like there is a 'load more water than yesterday' and 'you will have to wait until it rains'. There was a pair of anglers in one of the pounds and they asked me not to run the water in too fast so as not to disturb the fish!

As we rose up we passed the Dobcross Iron Works where powered looms were made. The buildings are listed and seem to be partly in use. Further up is the Warth Mill that was built for the Cooperative Wholesale Society in 1911. It has been used for both wool and cotton and is also in use for various small companies and is even being re-roofed at the moment. I had been looking forward to Lock 31W all the way up as there is the ice cream shop right next to the lock. I was teased by the others as they wouldn't let me stop and had to continue up through the last lock and moor up before we could walk back down for a sample. The place does lunches and hot drinks but the highlight is their ice cream. Grandpa Green's Ice cream is some of the nicest I have tasted, and not expensive. It is so popular with walkers, boaters and cyclists that it going to stay open right through the winter. It was so good that after my vanilla cone I had a white chocolate flavour whilst I was waiting for the others to finish! We then went back to the boat for lunch!

To make room for tea Helen and I went to the Warth Mill to have a look at the wool shop. We then toured the village and the tunnel entrance and the spoil heaps from the tunnels that have been landscaped. After another rest in front of the stove we walked up to the Diggle Hotel that seemed to be very busy before coming back and settling for the night.

Monday 27 October 2014

Wednesday 22nd October

It was overcast but dry when we set off, and stayed that way all the way. We soon passed a sculpture of a shuttle from the mills but I can't find any information about it. It seems to be stuck in a back garden.

 Shuttle sculpture.

There wasn't a lot of water about. Well there was plenty of water it was just not in the right place as the canal bottom was too close to the top. However we didn't get stuck or anything, it just meant slow progress.

Heading up into the hills. 19W lock is to be replaced during the winter stoppages.

Frenches Mill at Greenfield has been converted to accommodation.

The top is in sight, in the distance.

The Pots and Pans monument above Uppermill that is a memorial to the fallen of WWI. A service is held there every Remembrance Sunday.

We arrived at Uppermill and filled up with water. When then pulled over to the other side moorings as we were here to pick up our friend. We had lunch and then went to the Saddleworth Museum that was just across the car park. It was quite interesting to see the area of old and just how many mills there were in Uppermill alone! The car park is on the site of one that has gone. The museum was well laid out and gave homely details that brought it alive for us. Traffic held up our friend but it was good to see him and his chauffeur when they did arrive. He is particularly welcome with the coming of the locks to reach the summit and down the other side.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Tuesday 21st October.

Today was the day we were to get the tail end of the American Hurricane. It was a bit drafty through the night with the boat banging occasionally on the side but we were away at a reasonable hour and straight up into Armentieres Square, named after the twin town of Staylbridge. It was here that the canal was closed with over building etc and the council agreed to demolition the obstructions and have the canal right through the centre. It seems that people still seem to gaze at you with wonder but soon weary of the sight and carry on. Maybe better times in the future will bring back a sparkle to  the town.

Armentieres Square, Staylbridge.

Once clear of the town locks it was more gusty and I was a little worried that wer may have trees down in the canal that would prevent us getting to Standedge in time but we were okay. The valley would have been very different 50 years ago as there was a large power station in the valley with the rail lines either side of the valley busy shunting coal wagons about to feed Hartshead power station. The pylons are still there from the substation but the power station has disappeared with nothing replacing it.

A pylon was built right over the canal giving a different view of it as you pass below.

Today was my birthday so I had the pleasure of emptying the compost toilet. Actually it is not an unpleasant job and there is a great feeling of a job done on completion and it doesn't need doing for at least another three weeks.

This is the service block but looks more like a prison block to me.

This is what is left of a conveyor that transported  coal from marshaling yards on the east side of the valley to the power station on the west. They partly demolished it when it became redundant but have left this.

There have been  several sinkings at lock 9W as it seems that the water can run out as you are crossing the sill going up. C&RT have installed the warning and level indicator to ensure that you don't trey to leave the lock with a low pound. There is plenty of water at the moment so no problem for us  today.

Later in the afternoon there were several  very heavy gusts and they did bring down a few branches but not to cause any problems. The rain came down in  short sharp showers so  we were able to almost dry out between each one so all in all not too bad at all. This photo may give a dramatic idea of what it was like at the time. Mossley Church.

The canal climbs higher and higher and we are really getting into the hills now.

It was nice to arrive at Woodend and batten down for the night with the fire lit and a book to read. I bought some Supertherm smokeless fuel at Portland Basin and I must say that it makes a good fire. There is plenty of ash mind. All in all not a bad birthday and even a card from my Mum in Law. Oh yes and a lovely birthday cake too, baked by my beautiful wife's own fair hand. All is right with the world.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Normal service will be resumed.

For all you folk out there that may have been wondering what has happened to our blog I can now reveal that the usual blogs have been halted  due to 'The Great Bake Off' and 'Strictly Come Dancing'! It seems that our 15 GB per month has been used up by watching these over the month. But we are back!!

Monday 19th  October 2014.

In the morning we went into Ashton for the market and the haberdashery shop and walked back via Portland Basin to see if they were open on a Monday. They were so we backed down to the junction and in to their arm to  load up with diesel and we also took a couple of bags of coal. We were soon on our way again and heading up the end of the Ashton. As we approached the first bridge I was thinking the  we  would be stymied at the first hurdle as it looked like there was the parapet of the bridge or nearby mill sitting in the middle of the cut. As we got closer I could see that it wasn't brick or stone work but it wasn't until we got really close that I realised that it was a huge chunk of expanded foam! Fortunately there was just enough room for me to push it round the boat as I didn't fancy having to break it up. I have no idea where it may have come from.

Tony just managing to move the floating obstacle aside.

As we got to the first lock on the Huddersfield Narrow there were a couple of blokes measuring up as on 4th November they are replacing the gates. At present they are worked with  a quadrant mechanism rather than a beam and one or both sides are to be reinstated as beams. The first part of the canal passes long disused mills and rubbish filled pounds.

The first mill that looks like it has been reused is the Barnet Mill and with the sun shinning on it and no billowing smoke from the chimney (that is now redundant) it looks quite picturesque. 

A cormorant and bushes using the top of the chimney of the Ray or Premier Mill.

There is a delightful aqueduct that crosses the River Tame in a stone trough and with an arched tow path. Anywhere else and this would be almost a place of pilgrimage for canal buffs but here it seems to go down the years forgotten. That is one of the joys of this canal.

We stopped after Lock 5W, almost outside the Chinese restaurant. Today was supposed to be the start of the tail end of the hurricane but we missed out other than the wind rising a little. Once moored up and settled we went off up the road to the Staylbridge Station Buffet. It is a must for real ale drinkers and anybody that likes a pub with a bit of character. It is right on the platform and with a nice fire burning and a good range of beers.  I tried a couple of local brews before heading back to the boat. We stopped for  a bag of chips to have with our meal before settling down for the night as the wind rose.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Marple Locks, tick.

We woke up after a very quiet night and after coming to we both decided that we weren't feeling on top form so we rolled over again for another few minutes. It was warm last night and very windy so this morning we were covered in leaves and all the little creepy crawlies that were living in the sycamore tree above us. There were loads of different ones but I think that oak trees hold the record as they host hundreds of species. We finally got away after 1000 but only as far as water point. As this is a notoriously slow tap I had time to brush all the leaves and insects off before setting off down the locks at 1045.

The covered warehouse built by the Canal Company which was for perishable items. The narrows by the warehouse were originally a stop lock between the two canal companies but it seems it was never really used.

I love this building at the junction It was once part of the Jink's boat yard and dry dock.

We were the first boat down but with the leaking gates etc it need almost all of them to be emptied. I set off with gay abandon but as we descended I could feel the steam running out.

Helen leaving Lock 13. There are 16 locks that drop the lock over 200 ft so all the locks are over 10 ft. The gates are very easy to swing but the depth of water makes the gate paddles very heavy to start off.

I love this horse tunnel under the road. The first set of steps go up to the gates then right by them the white handrail leads down to a side tunnel for the boater to get back on the boat and also down to the horse tunnel. It is a shame that the path is concreted rather than cobbled.

Samuel Oldknow was a promoter of the Peak Forest Canal. He brought baled goods from his mill to this warehouse that he had built for onward shipment. It is a nice conversion and if your are interested there is an office for rent with in it.

Helen had to keep the boat well forward to avoid filling the engine hole with water from the leaking top gates on some locks. It shows how deep the locks are too.

By the time we got to Lock 5 the energy levels were really failing. Fortunately the flight is really lovely to work down and there were lots of walkers that were asking questions and passing the time of day.

I was very pleased to see the bottom and the railway bridge as I knew we didn't have far to go then. It took us 2 hrs 30 mins today. Our best is 2 hrs. I must be getting old!

Marple aqueduct is the highest in England about 30 feet less than Pontcysyllte. It was nearly lost for ever when British Waterways ignored leaks in the trough and in 1962 one of the outer arches collapsed. As the canals were more or less derelict the plan was to knock it down. Fortunately Conservative Minister of  Public Buildings and Works Geoffrey Rippon did a deal with the Cheshire council that they would pay over what it would have cost to knock it down! The system would have been very different if it had gone. In 1966 it became a listed structure. The canal and railway aqueducts would be a real tourist attraction if it was down south!

We went through the narrows of what used to be a tunnel and just afterwards the north bank opens up and gives you a panorama. We have stopped here every time we pass this was. No sooner were we moored that I sat down and din't feel like moving again. However I felt chilly so lit the fire and then fell asleep in the chair for the best part of two hours! I felt a bit better afterwards so I hope that by the morning we will be okay to head for Ashton.