Friday, 21 August 2015

The Long Way Round.

We got to Marple on Wednesday evening ready to meet up with friends Les and Chris on nb “Eleventh Heaven”


The 16 lock Marple flight has been subject to restrictions for a while, due to a bulging lower gate on lock 14 – so we were up and ready at 8 o’ clock on Thursday morning for the flight to be unlocked and the C&RT rep to see us safely through. The flight was to be closed at noon for repairs lasting a couple of days.


The environs around Marple are lovely and things are still fairly well kept. The town council obviously take their canal heritage seriously which is shown nicely in these street lamps.


The lock flight at Marple, for us, is one of our favourites – very pretty and a bit quirky (you need to be strong to operate the paddles and fairly athletic to dodge and dive around the gate arms). As the flight leaves behind the canal side dwellings it takes on a jungle-like feel with trees and damp atmosphere. Some of the lock gates have a good protective coating of flora indicating how damp things can be!


The descent took us down a total of 208 feet with each lock being a very similar 13ft deep.


Very pretty ………


….. and quite quirky. This is an original rope roller on top of the wall. Quirky also, as these gate arms are virtually sticking out into the road when open!


Leaving behind the town and entering the “forest”.


Some of the locks offer a free boat washing service! Both “Eleventh Heaven” and “Chance” had to be mopped out back and front when we’d finished.


The two tired but accomplished lock workers having a rest at the bottom.


Straight after the lovely Marple locks came the splendid Marple Aqueduct. Very reminiscent of the Chirk Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal with the adjacent, and elevated, railway viaduct.


Our two happy friends Les and Chris. (They obviously enjoy aqueducts!)


The Marple Aqueduct was opened in 1800 and elegantly carries the canal 100 feet above the River Goyt.


Heading towards Romiley, Hyde and the end of the Peak Forest canal at Ashton-under-Lyne the pleasant feeling of the waterway continues.


At the end of the Peak Forest canal is Portland Basin and the start of the Ashton Canal. The basin is dominated by a fine mill chimney topped off by a beautiful crown.


In contrast to the Marple flight the 18 locks from Ashton to Ancoats – comprising the Fairfield Locks, the Clayton Locks and the Ancoats Locks were dreadful. Not the fault of the waterways authorities but every single paddle mechanism had to be unlocked and locked with a “handcuff” key. However, what is the fault of C&RT was a worrying number of paddles out of action - with any further failure in the effected locks making the whole flight inoperable (Doug reported it to C&RT with a quick response of “we know”!). One pound was completely dry – but thankfully a very short pound. Here’s lock 15 coping with the regenerative water being flooded through it.


Well, at the end of the day Les and James, who were working the boats, offered grateful thanks to Chris and Doug who worked their respective socks off to get us to the bottom where moorings were waiting for us in the Thomas Telford basin in Piccadilly village. It’s been a blooming long haul to get to our favourite city outside London (and Chichester!) due to the Bridgewater Canal being closed but - Manchester here we are!!!!!

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