Smiles All Round. 29th March

Salter Hebble Bottom Basin to Hebden Bridge, Rochdale Canal

Heading ton the top Salter Hebble Lock

A boat was coming down the middle Salter Hebble Lock as we were getting ready. Mick walked up for a chat and got them to leave the gates open for us. These top two locks are the shortest of the Calder Hebble Locks. On NB Lillyanne we had to come down these two locks backwards just so that we could get out of the bottom gate, we only had an inch to spare. We must have been so careful back then working these locks.

Sunny morning and smiles

The lock cottage alongside the top lock was fairly recently for sale, it’s certainly in desperate need of some tlc the roof couldn’t even be considered to being classified as a sieve! The last use of the Hebble Spike to get us up to the top and then the turn towards Sowerby Bridge.

Is that this outside?

We’d called ahead to Shire Cruisers to see if they’d sell us some diesel, so we carried on into the basin ready to back up to their pump. All the hire boats were lined up, front doors open and some engines running. A chap popped his head out of a door, ‘Are you wanting the services? The hire boats are about to go out, maybe you should come back after lunch’ I relayed this back to Mick. We reversed back out of the basin and pulled into the first space on the Rochdale Canal. Mick walked over the lock and went to see the people in the office, they of course said just come in and reverse up to the pump.

Topping up the tank the first time this year

We reversed back to the junction, and headed back to the pump where a helpful chap was stood waiting to grab our stern line. He filled the tank up then Mick went into the office to pay. We both remember the slightly stern lady here from when we’d hired from them years ago, she rightly wanted hirers to listen to her instructions on how to work a lock!

Another reverse back out of the basin. We discussed what we should do, maybe have a quick lunch and try to get going before all the hire boats came out and grabbed the moorings in Hebden Bridge, or maybe we’d be able to join the first one going up in Tuel Lane Lock. Three quarters of an hour later we pulled back out, no other boat had come along to share with so we’d be on our own.

What a pretty view

Spring blossom brought a smile to my face framing the scene below Lock 1. People stopped to watch, a couple of gents tried to open a gate for us but failed, they did help close it. Oh how stiff the paddles are! Am I out of practice? Or are they worse than five years ago?

Crossing the pound between 1 and 2 was very slow, it took a lot of effort getting into the lock, Oleanna sitting on the bottom! The paddles only just opened, one click on each side and then no amount of adjusting the windlass helped they simply wouldn’t budge. By now we had one of those silent crowds watching us. Thankfully some water was going into the lock and Oleanna was afloat again.

I walked up to Tuel Lane Lock to let the Lock Keeper know we were wanting to come through. You shouldn’t enter the tunnel below the lock as it may need to be emptied of it’s 130,000 gallons of water first! The Lock was full, thankfully the extra water would help us get over the cill at Lock 2 as the level looked quite low. We were instructed to sound our horn as we entered the tunnel. We paused to let the initial wave of water coming from the lock to settle, closed Lock 2 behind us, Mick had only just managed to raise one of the paddles when the water pressure had reduced. We sounded our horn on entering the tunnel and got three whistle blows back, not sure what that meant, the chap hadn’t told me.

Coming into the lock

The lock was waiting, all grey, dripping wet. It’s a modern interior to a lock, concrete built in 1996 to replace locks 3 and 4 as part of the restoration of the canal. Most of the canal had been closed to navigation and officially abandoned by an Act of Parliament in 1952 and parts of the route through Sowerby Bridge had been filled in for a road widening scheme. The IWA petitioned against various building proposals keeping the possibility of connecting the Rochdale to the Calder Hebble alive. In 1991 £2.5 million of funding meant the connection would be possible. The original plans were for the lock to be 57ft 6″ long, similar to the shorter Calder Hebble Locks, but a reworking meant they could accommodate a standard length lock of 72ft. The first boat to use the lock was on the 11th April 1996, the official opening in May.

Part way up Tuel Lane Lock

Passing a rope around the riser at the bow we then moved Oleanna forward to get the stern line around one too. The huge gates were wound closed behind us then a thumbs up from Gary the volunteer and a paddle was raised.

THANK YOU. Dave to the left and Gary to the right.

Down in the depths of the deepest lock on the network I was glad of the bright blue sky overhead. I was also surprised how still Oleanna stayed as we rose up, our ropes hardly needed. Gary was assisted by Dave, who had come down to see what was happening today, he will be a volunteer at the lock after his training which is to be on Monday. I think he was imparted some pearls of wisdom by Gary. As the noise died down I was asked if we’d been through before, ‘Yes our fifth time’. ‘You’ll have got a certificate then.’ ‘No, we’ve never been offered one!’ He returned and handed one over.

Now we wiggled our way along the side of the valley, views stretching out. Oleanna had smiled in the lock, now a smiley face beamed at us from the wood followed by a very happy jumper walking along the towpath.

Views don’t come without some work

Where to moor for the night? Should we stop part way to Hebden or carry on to ensure we got a space. Locks 5 and 6 were pretty heavy work, but I got the paddles up and Oleanna rising. However when it came to Lock 7 it was a different matter all together.

Sunny

In came Oleanna, gates closed, I went to lift one of the paddles. I tried repositioning my windlass to make the very most of umph power to get it raised and onto the first notch. Nothing! I walked all the way round to the other side (no walkway on the top gates) and tried again. Nothing! Oh B***er!

It’s when you can feel your steel windlass bending that you know you’ve got a problem! Mick climbed the ladder, we roped Oleanna up. It took a lot of doing and Mick’s extra weighted umph to get them shifted, they eventually moved.

Mile posts, they don’t mention how many locks there are though!

Thankfully we were through and headed for Lock 8. I’d re-read the blog post from five years ago which mentioned how hard it had been to close the near side bottom gate, Frank and I had serious problems with it. So this time we avoided it opening in the first place. Mick opened the off side gate whilst I kept the problem gate closed. It worked and the paddles were a breeze! Just the short distance now to moor up for the day.

Lucy in the sky

It was just gone 6pm, too late for shore leave for Tilly but there was plenty of room on the moorings to choose from for the weekend. The cruiser we’d seen at Brighouse was sat on the service mooring facing downstream. Is he waiting for someone else to share locks with? Don’t blame him if he is.

Hello Hebden!

9 locks, 7.9 miles, 19ft 8″, 5th time through Tuel Lane for us, twice for Tilly, Lock 7!!!!! 91 litres, 3 reverses, 1 left twice, 1 certificate, 2 boaters with weather worn cheeks.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/imAHKXsu6HuH5AA17

Click the photo for details

PS if you’ve a spare million pounds take a look at this house we passed today. The gardens were immaculate.

5 thoughts on “Smiles All Round. 29th March

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Heptonstall would have been nice, but my knees wouldn’t then be capable of lock gates for a few days sadly.
      I use I can do all the photos in one go and then upload them to the blog in one go. Been using it since I got fed up with Open Live Writer

      Reply
        1. pipandmick Post author

          Thanks Paul. I did put a link in, but it vanished. Hopefully it’s there now.

          Reply

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