Stockton Heath to Littleborough
Trip Start Apr 29, 2009
34Trip End Oct 01, 2009
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We had a short cruise from Stockton Heath to Lymm where James had a haircut and hazel went shopping. We then moved on to some facilities to empty the loo and fill up the water tank. This was the only tap we saw on the Bridgewater, and only one of two elsan points. facilities not very good.
We found a pleasant mooring on the Bollin aqueduct, and we went to visit Dunham Massey, a National Trust property a short walk from the canal. We had a conducted tour which lasted nearly an hour, but there was a lot more to see. We visited the sawmill powered by a waterwheel, and looked round the lovely gardens. Next time we will spend more time in the house.
Hugo met a small yappy dog, and stood his ground - unusual for him.
Tue 8th June
We set off along the long straight run through Sale into Manchester, past Manchester United Football ground. As we were cruising along we heard from other BCF members the sad news that Charlotte Sykes is in a hospice. She is the lady who was so helpful to us when James had his accident near Halifax two years ago. We are planning to visit her and Alan when we get to Sowerby Bridge.
As we arrived in Castlefield, we spotted Ayer Rajah, another BCF boat. Hui-yen and Geoff were not there, so we rang them, and discovered that they were visiting the Lowry Centre. We also met Frank and Irene on Autumn Daze, who said they were also doing the Rochdale nine tomorrow, the escorted passage out of Manchester the following day, and the summit level on Tuesday 16th, just the same as us. We agreed to travel together.
We discovered a pub called Peverill of the Peak which had a live folk music jam session that evening. We returned to the boat around 4pm and found that a man on Irwell, an wide beam barge, had started his generator. He was to keep this running until 11.45pm!
Hui-yen came to visit. We couldn't spend much time together because she had her daughter coming to visit.
We went for a buffet meal in Chinatown before moving on to Peverill of the Peak, which has survived unspoilt despite efforts to "redevelop". The jam session consisted of four guys - bodhran, Northumberland small pipes, a fiddle and a guitar. The guitar and the bodhran were OK, but the fiddle player was excellent. The piper was an unusual character. His face was covered with tattoos and piercings, and he wore a string vest attached to his nipple piercings. He also wore fish net tights and a black leather mini skirt! Once you got past his appearance, he was a friendly bloke, and he was brilliant on the pipes. It was a very entertaining evening.
Wed 10th June
We had a cuppa on board Ayer Rajah before emptying our cassette and heading for lock 92 on the Rochdale, in the company of Autumn Daze. The "Rochdale Nine" never closed, but they are quite hard work, with a chain mechanism to open some of the gates where there is not enough room for balance beams.The only way to cross the locks is by the top gates, but they are very high off the ground, so this is a challenge. At one point the towpath disappears, so everyone has to get back on the boat. We had a very heavy rainstorm which took us by surprise, so we all got soaked. This is Manchester where they say it always rains - it seems to be true. We arrived at Ducie Street and went for a walk round the shops to buy some milk and send a card to Charlotte. Two other boats arrived for the escorted journey tomorrow: Tagula Blue and Jacob.
Thu 11th June
The man from BW arrived early at 8am, and we were in the lock at 8.05. Most of the locks had vandal locks, and other padlocks which only the BW man could undo. He had such a broad accent that we could hardly understand him! There was a lot of rubbish in the canal, unlike at Castlefield, which was spotless. There were some very shallow sections,which had previously been filled in with concrete, and not fully excavated again. Tagula Blue had a tarpaulin round the prop. We had a load of plastic bags and had to stop to get them off. We ended up mooring by the Irk aqueduct, which was very scenic, with a field for Hugo. We had a meal with Frank and Irene at the Rose of Lancaster pub. Nothing special, but no-one felt like cooking!
Fri 12th June
James found a baptist church for the BCF church directory before we set off through the picturesque locks above Chadderton. One of them had leaking bottom gates, so we couldn't get it full. We had to use the boats to push open the top gates. We arrived at Slattocks after 2 1/2 hours. The bollards were very close to the road, so we moved on 200yds to a quieter spot with a field. James went to see the local church, and found the organist having a practice. They also have a worship group, and overhead projection system. It all looks fairly up to date. The details have now gone into the directory.
There was meant to be a water point at Slattocks top lock, marked in Nicholson's on the towpath side. This was not apparent, but later we discovered that we were expected to use the hose in the garden of the cottage opposite. There was no sign to say so.
James walked up to the next lock, which is the one sabotaged by Farmer Jones by taking a chain saw to the balance beams. He also earlier took a JCB to the canal bank, flooding one of his fields and emptying the canal. There were two boats moored there facing down towards us.
Sat 13th June
Started with a visit to the weed hatch to clear a few more bags from yesterday. Still in company with Autumn Haze. Todays target - 5 locks and 7 miles - should be 3 1/2 hours. We took six. Castleton locks had a lot of rubbish, and then there was a new tunnel under a roundabout. Another weedhatch visit yielded more bags, then 60 seconds later, we collected a large block of foam rubber which rendered the steering useless, so we hit a wall as we entered lock 50. The rubbish here was even worse, with bottles, footballs, fridges, shopping trolleys. This is the outskirts of Rochdale. We then got the two boats jammed in lock 49, due to a lot of polystyrene floating about, which had to be fished out before we could move out of the lock.
As a contrast, the area near Clegg Hall was very interesting, with old weavers cottages, a historic hall and a nice view. We arrived at Littleborough, and decided that the visitor moorings were too near the busy road, so we moved up two more locks, which was more pleasant. Lock 47 was only wide enough for one boat due to subsidence. Above the lock we found the first elsan point since Castlefield, plus a tap.
We visited the shops, and managed to buy an OS map we needed. We then had drinks with Frank and Irene in the pleasant evening sunshine.
Sun 14th June
We went to the Vine Fellowship at 10.30, and were made very welcome. A very challenging talk about how much we need the Holy Spirit. We then had a leisurely afternoon, and a barbecue. No boating today.