Five Foot Three By Five Foot. 6th October

Roach Lock to Wool Road Winding Hole

The chaps on the other boat were out and about this morning as we pushed off. One chap was measuring their cabin, he wasn’t sure they’d fit through Standedge Tunnel. There are strict maximum dimensions that your boat must fit due to the dimensions of the tunnel, yes it does get tight in places. Maximum height above the water 6ft 2″, maximum draught 3ft 3″, width 6ft 10″, length 70ft.

Roach Lock moorings

Then there is the height of your cabin corners above the water compared with the width across the top. There is a handy chart here. When we were on the River Wey we measured Oleanna at a bridge where we knew the height. Oleanna measured 1.87m or there abouts to the top of her horns, so just under the maximum height for Standedge, we can always remove the horns if we need to.

Blue skies and hills!

The chap with the tape measure said they had discovered that their booking wasn’t until a week on Friday, not this Friday. They are heading back to their mooring and with the Rochdale and Leeds Liverpool both closed it was the Narrow or the Trent to get home and there is a matter of flying away on holiday in a couple of weeks time too.

We left them to it and turned to face the hills ahead.

What a sky

What a stunning day!


I could just leave it at that, because it really was glorious. The sun shone, bright blue skies, views across the valley, trees on the cusp of autumn. Yesterdays dampness just evaporated away. Wonderful.

Bridge 85 is called Division Bridge. This used to mark the boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire, the name suggesting the counties rivalry with each other in times gone by. Oleanna crossed the old boundary, the next lock in Old Yorkshire was the first to not have locks on the paddle gear! This of course didn’t last long as they were reintroduced at the next lock.

And breath

Views through the trees across the valley, the peaty water and the sunshine. I soon had to make a change to my leg attire and layers came off from walking and paddle winding.

Royal George Mills sits by Lock 19W which shares it’s name. Built in 1786, by 1870 it specialised in the production of felt and the manufacture of flags. During the 20th C they specialised in two forms of felt, Technical felt used in machinery and Taper Hammer Felt used on the hammers on pianos, the mill was renowned for it throughout the world.

A couple of community raised beds sit alongside the lock, it looks like strawberries, tomatoes and mint were the main crops. Only green tomatoes today, all the strawberries long gone.

Spire and mast

The spire of Christchurch Friezland reminded Mick of a wedding he’d once attended there.

Frenches Wharf

Next Frenches Wharf Marina. Here six years ago we’d wondered if the grey box was a pump out machine, it turned out not to be. We also wanted a Saturday newspaper so paused to head to Tescos behind, there being no rings handy Mick was left holding Lillian whilst the shopping was done.

Hmm! No chimneys

Beside the marina there is a big new development, houses and flats all built/clad with stone that has been given a black tint presumably to meld in with other buildings in the area. I wonder whether this coating weathers in time and will be self cleaning returning to a natural stone look rather than the grimy mill look?

We now started to get gongoozlers, the area around Uppermill and Dobcross a magnet for tourists. Oleanna ducked under the new High Street Bridge and I walked up to open the lock, the off side gate windlass operated as there’s not enough space for a full length beam.

Only one boat on the visitor moorings here which was a bit of a surprise, but then the road is close by and there is a lot of tree coverage for solar to be any good. One day we will stop and have a bit more of an explore, the Saddleworth Museum going on the ‘next time’ list.

A couple sat with their two dogs and watched us come up Dungebooth Lock. As Oleanna started to appear from below the side of the lock one of the dogs was not happy! He barked and barked at this growing thing from the deep. When the chap decided to tap Oleanna’s gunnel I suggested he should watch out as Tilly might make an appearance!

Saddleworth Viaduct

Then Lime Kiln Lock, the sun being out gave me plenty of photo opportunities. Saddleworth Viaduct towers high above the canal. The arch that spans the cut adjusted to make everything work. The pillars are all square on until you get to the canal, here the down hill face is narrower and angles towards the lock, the curved arch above set on a skew.

15th August 2015

This is where I took my favourite photo of our last trip up here with Kath (Mick’s sister) and Sean walking up to the lock. Mick says he’s glad we don’t have a 70ft boat as it was hard enough to line Oleanna up to get in the lock.

Think this is my favourite photo from today

Here I met my first angled paddle gear, there is most probably a better name for them but angled will do for me. Normally paddles are lifted straight up. The deeper the water the more pressure on them. These paddles lift at an angle. This increases the water pressure on them, making them that bit harder to lift (my theory). Repositioning the windlass was needed to get more purchase, but with patience you can avoid getting a hernia.

Will the tunnel be able to stop this tag?

Gongoozlers stood and watched, asked questions, but no-one had that glint in their eye wanting to open the gate for me. Ah well! A chap warned us that a boat was coming down the locks above. Time to claim a mooring.

There was one boat moored by the car park opposite Wool Road Service Block, we pulled in behind doing our best not to annoy a fisherman. This would do us for the day, the last nine locks reserved for tomorrow. Sadly being almost part of a car park Tilly had to just sit and look at the sideways trees.

A downhill boat

As we had lunch the downhill boat came past, the only boat through the tunnel, east to west today and Shire Cruiser Hire boat, the first on coming boat we’ve seen since being on the narrow. After lunch we headed off for a walk, well we couldn’t waste the sunshine! We walked up Standedge Road then veered off onto Huddersfield Road taking the lower route through Diggle. Diggle Chippy looked inviting, but as there was no mention of gluten free fish we refrained.

Warth Mill was built in 1919 and in 1929 it started to produce tyre fabric for the growing automotive industry. In it’s heyday it was producing nearly 50 tons a week. Thankfully when production ceased the Mill was made available for a collection of small businesses which still use it today.

We walked up to the tunnel entrance where the railway thunders alongside. All calm on our side of the fence.

Mick peeked through the gate and said ‘Hello!’ Either nobody was at the other end to respond or we didn’t wait long enough for their greeting to come back to us.

Space in front for us

Returning to the boat we followed the canal and locks downhill. Plenty of room for us to moor up away from the tunnel entrance. Then Grandpa Greens Chilled Medication Emporium, we’ll be visiting there tomorrow!

Summit pound

We took note of any low pounds, the same as they were six years ago between 27W and 26W. Maybe overnight the levels would improve, maybe they’d get worse, we’ll see. A quick measure of our cabin corners from the water level just incase. 5ft 3″ then 5ft across the cabin top, well within the limits. Phew!

What a day

9 locks, 97ft 3″ climbed, 2.66 miles, 1 downhill boat, 1 shadow boat, 0 shore leave, 1 glorious day boating, now you don’t get views like that on the Ashby