Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Huddersfield (Narrow) (West)

It’s all very different “up north”! Well the Huddersfield Canal is. We got to Portland Basin, having negotiated the Ashton flight of locks. Sadly, there’s so much metalwork chucked into the canal on that flight that we bent the prop on “Chance” when we hit something hard. James attempted a repair with a huge adjustable spanner through the weed hatch but, suffice to say, we will need a new prop at some stage.


After Portland basin (the junction with the Peak Forest canal) we were then onto the Huddersfield (narrow) canal and virgin territory for us.  A very different canal to ones we’ve been used to. For one thing there’s not a lot of water in it! Which means very slow progress and, with our 30 inch draft, we were scraping the bottom quite often. The architecture can be very different with some tight and strange approaches to the locks as in this case at lock 23W. W, by the way,stands for West (of the Standedge tunnel).


We had to cope with security locks on all the lock gear coming out of Greater Manchester as well as some very strange operating gear.


As we left Greater Manchester behind the scenery became very spectacular. Here’s someone contemplating the views.


We definitely knew we were beginning to cross the Pennines – there were 32 locks in the 8 miles from the start of the canal to the Standedge tunnel. It was hard work and the weather was dreadful for most of the way but the scenery began to make up for it.


The Huddersfield (narrow) is a very narrow canal mostly but occasionally there are “breathing spaces” where it opens out a bit.


Oh! James is always fascinated by physics. In this case the whirlpool made by the water being sucked into the lock chamber made a wonderful sound!


Well, after an uphill slog we reached lock 32W and entered the top pound of water on the canal and just around the corner was the entrance to the famous Standedge tunnel which we were booked to transit the next day (Wed).


We moored up outside the tunnel for the night and took on fresh water - partly because we needed some and partly because it would make the front of the boat lower. The tunnel is notoriously low and narrow and any form of modification to make the boat lower has to be a good thing!


The tranquillity of our mooring was broken mid afternoon when, at 2:30, a hundred school children descended onto the towpath for a spectacular event that was about to happen. 


The famous “Flying Scotsman” came speeding past at 3 o’ clock! It was an awesome sight and a great surprise to us as we’d only been told about it by a dog walker just before the school children arrived.


After a bit of a lie down we walked up to the Diggle Hotel in the evening for a meal together (to build up our stamina for the tunnel tomorrow!)


Just thought it might be fun to squeeze in this pint size pic of pint size Pauline with her pint size pitcher. (She borrowed it from Neil really!)


Doug, Pauline and Neil – enjoying very good food indeed in a lovely quaint, family, villagey sort of hotel / bar /pub / community-get-together sort of place.


Walking back “home” after our meal we could look over the railway bridge towards the trees where “Waterlily” and “Chance” were lying hidden. In the background is the brooding mass of Saddleworth Moor …….


……. and, in among the trees, as we crossed over the tunnel entrance our “homes” wait for us. Tomorrow was going to be another day and one not to be taken lightly but one not to be missed either.

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