Category Archives: Bridgewater Canal

Tick Tock, Tick Tock, oops! 9th May

Moorefield Bridge 6 to Dutton Breach Moorings, Trent and Mersey Canal

Who ordered this rain?! We certainly didn’t, oh well not far to go today, but we did have to move.

A balcony for all that secret food

We snook past Daresbury, nobody taking advantage of the inclement weather on the balcony to eat their secret scones. My drawing board came out, but I only managed to draw a couple of cart wheels before we reached Waters Meeting. Here the Runcorn Branch of the Bridgewater heads off to the west and the main canal continues to Preston Brook tunnel where it ends. The busy M56 crosses overhead at the junction and heralded our arrival at Midland Chandlers.

We pulled in on the mooring and squelched our way into the shop. Our mooring pins have served us well through the last five years, but many of the rings on them have cracked or even snapped off and several are now quite bent. Time for a couple of new ones. A new bottle of Fertan and a spare key to open the water cap as we have had a spate of them jumping overboard recently.

As we paid I looked up at the clock 12:15. The next window to get through Preston Brook Tunnel was in 15 minutes, could we make it in time? Or would we have to wait another hour? We quickly pushed off and made our way towards the tunnel portal, we reckoned we’d just make it for the ten minute window to head south.

Claymoore Boats base

Claymoore Boats went out of business earlier this year and the gap where their fleet once moored is very obvious. It’s as if the boats just evaporated, very sad.

Going in and off the Bridgewater

A boat came towards us slowing our progress, would we be in time? Yes, we arrived at the north portal well within the ten minute window, our bow entered the tunnel at 12:32, Phew! We believe it’s a short distance into the tunnel where the boundary is between the Bridgewater Canal and the Trent and Mersey Canal. At last we had left Peel Holdings water.

Fifteen minutes of tunnel

Oleanna in Tunnel mode, life jackets on and the big torch shining up at the roof of the tunnel we made our way through, popping back out into daylight fifteen minutes later where several boats were moored waiting for the north bound ten minute window. As nothing was following us we let the chap at the front of the queue know so that he could get ready.

Familiar numbers on a Trent and Mersey Lock

A lock! Well sort of a lock, we’d even forgotten to get a windlass out for it. As we approached Dutton Stop Lock a boat was coming towards us. The level in the lock was in between, so I went to set the lock for them, lifting a paddle to top it up by an inch (it’s only about 2 inches deep). A Diamond Resorts boat, a lady came to help leaving the rest of the crew with the boat. She waved them on, they waited, we opened the gate, she waved them through again. ‘Oh is it for us?’ Err yes! At first it looked like they were about to bow haul their boat which made me wish I’d set the lock for us instead.

Our turn

Eventually the boat was in the lock. The lady lifted the bottom paddle slowly, not wanting to cill their boat! You could tell that they were all having a Great time! Bickering at every opportunity, the lady had suggested as much. As they picked up the last crew member, I said ‘Enjoy!’I wonder how long they will all be on board for. A small space with four grumpy people doesn’t make for a happy holiday.

Quite a view

We pootled onwards in the constant rain to the Dutton Breach site. Here more rings have been added to the original few where the view is the best. Only two boats moored up today so we managed to get in pole position, on the line of the breach.

Tilly admiring the view

From here the view should be great across the valley to Dutton Railway Viaduct, it is, just a shame that a hawthorn hedge has been planted so there’s no view from inside your cabin anymore.

The box is getting fuller

After lunch we dried off, I put a pot of bolognese on the stove top to cook away and fill the boat with tasty smells. Then I did more drawings and made model bits and pieces, the box is getting quite full now. It’ll soon be time to put it all in the model box and see if it all works together and what things I want to change.

Just going to check out My boat

Tilly did her Cheshire Cat bit, having a good nosy up and down the towpath. I even have my own boat here this time. I promise I didn’t go on board.

I demand more Dreamies for not standing on your plans today with my wet paws

1 lock, 4.84 miles, 1163m of tunnel, 3 mysterons, 2 foot prints, 2 new spikes, 1 key, 1 bottle fertan, 1 Happy boat! 2 waiting, 50 minutes more like 1 day, 2 barrows, 1 nick, 3 candelabra, 1 Cheshire Cat, 1 assistant wanting a raise in Dreamies, 3 very noisy peacocks.

Shhhh…. Secret Scones! 8th May

Grantham’s Bridge 25 to Moorefield Bridge 6

Despite the weather being of a very wet nature today there were plenty of boats on the move. Maybe because it’s the Bridgewater Canal and C&RT licence holders have 7 consecutive days on the canal before the enforcement officer jumps out from behind the hedges at you, so the majority want to keep moving. So did we, we wanted to tick off a few hours of cruising. Well that was Mick’s choice as I’d be down below working on my Panto model.

Before we set off though there was an important job to do, print out forms so that we can vote by proxy in the forthcoming European Elections. We’d missed the boat on the local elections so Mick had made the journey to Scarborough so that at least one of us voted. Dawn our usual proxy voter will be away so yesterday we’d approached our friend Duncan to see if he’d be willing to visit the Polling Station for us. Duncan was, so we needed to inform the officials in Scarborough. We just needed to find a post box now.

Brolly time

Mick donned his waterproofs and took the umbrella out the back. Many people with pram covers cruise with them up on wide canals, some people think that rainy day cruising is why you have them. Our opinion differs. Yes they keep the stern dry when it rains, but the visibility is really bad. Even with the front rolled up you end up with tunnel vision. So we tend to drop the pram cover, wear waterproofs and when needed use an umbrella. The cover gives us more space when moored up and really helps with draughts through the back doors. It also means Tilly has a place to nosy at the world when she isn’t too sure about it whether from inside or on the top of it!

No Sooty today

Every now and again I’d look up to see familiar sights. No Sooty in the window at Lymm in Matthew Corbetts house, which is always immaculate.

Rubbish boat

Near Thorne Marine the engine tone changed slowing right down. Under the bridge coming towards us was Waterwomble. A wide beam that collects rubbish along the Bridgewater, we just managed to squeeze past each other.


A couple more miles and I could tell Mick was pulling in, it was lunchtime and he’d found a cheery yellow field to moor opposite. Having crossed the Pennines we’ve missed much of Spring springing, we’ve been too high. Now we are surrounded with plenty of greenery, rapeseed fields and the hedgerows are full of Hawthorne blossom.

Next crop

We decided to let Tilly decide if we’d be continuing today. After a couple of short explores she gave up, not enough friends to justify the time getting wet! From here it was a short walk to a post box, so I stretched my legs and walked along to post our proxy form whilst Mick brought Oleanna to meet me at the next bridge.

That looks like a good potting shed

In Moore there is a big house on the off side with a high walled garden with little windows through into out houses. One day I’d like to have a nosy around, the house on Google earth looks like it’s had extension after extension.


A short distance on we both spotted the tower. ‘Shhhhhhhhh!!! Secret!!’ we said in unison with fingers on lips. Daresbury National Science and Innovation Campus. Here they have a Vandegraff Accelerator in the tower and do nuclear research. Since first coming past 11 years ago we’ve kept our voices down, its’ a secret place where secret things happen, they drink secret milkshakes and eat secret scones whilst giving each other secret handshakes. So Shhhhh!!!

Tilly was reluctant to go out but once the rain stopped she was happy hunting for friends. The wall covered in brambles however proved a little problematic when it was time to come in, I found a suitable gap which she managed to jump in one.

Hawthorne blossom

Six hours worth of work have been ticked off, still a few days more of flat cruising before the Cheshire Locks start so I should get most of the model made before I’m needed again. I’m quite looking forward to giving my fingers a rest and working nice narrow locks again.

0 locks, 8.81 miles, 1 constantly wet day, 1 vault, 1 morris minor, 1st yellow field, 2 outsides, 4 soggy paws, 1 troublesome wall, 1 brolly, 3 new yummy treats, 2 Duncan mentions (3 now!),  1 tower, 1 power station, 3 secret falafels, 1 strawberry milkshake, 2 chocolate, 1st bag of excell in an age, it’s nice to have a fire that behaves again.

Maybe it’s something to do with Shhhhh but I can’t put a link to where we are! See it’s a secret. Shhhh!

Around And Around. 6th 7th May

Dunham Massey to Sale to Granthams Bridge

Spending time in the Boozer on a bank holiday Monday

Bank Holiday Monday was spent working for me, numerous bar stools, optics and giant mixers, it’s what every bank holiday should be filled with. Tilly roamed the fields below and Mick got round to swapping the fuel filter back to the new one. However, this new filter, bought from RCR, has a different profile to its gasket and he’s not too sure if it is sealing properly. Time with the engine running will tell.

A little bit too long to turn anywhere, he realised his mistake and carried on to the winding hole half mile further on

Many of the boats we’d seen over the last couple of days have passed us again today, all heading back to their moorings after a couple of days out over the long weekend. By the end on the day we were the only boat left on the embankment.


During the day I’ve woken my Sour Dough starter up. I can keep it in the fridge for a fortnight without it needing any attention, but to keep it alive it then needs a feed. Now that I’ve got some sweet rice flour, I wanted to have a go at making a different sour dough loaf. This time without any added yeast, this would prove to me whether it was working or not. So, during the day I woke it up by putting the container in some warm water bringing it up to room temperature. Then I fed it with more brown rice flour and water. This then had to sit for an hour or so before I could decant off an amount to make the sponge for my loaf. Various flours and more water were mixed together and then left covered overnight for the sour dough to ferment.

Tilly’s playground shortly before sunset

As I seem to have ended up with a lot of starter, I also decided to take advantage of it having just had a feed and made some pizza dough for tomorrow night. The dough was kneaded and then put in an oiled bowl and sealed tightly with clingfilm and left for 24 hours to do its thing.


Ready to rise

Before we set off I checked the pizza dough, it was sweating away in it’s own little world, hopefully a good sign. The bread sponge I added the remaining ingredients to, sprinkled my new bigger 2lb loaf tin with sunflower seeds and poured the batter in. Scattered a few more seeds on top and then placed it on the proving shelf for it to prove itself.


Now we could cruise. We pootled up to the next winding hole, turned around and headed back to Sale whilst I got on drawing up the next few settings for panto. I now know which piece of scenery will be the big heavy b**tard, last year it was a revolving door.

Around again

Just past where we wanted to moor up Mick winded and turned us around again. We gave my parcel a little bit more time to arrive and had lunch before heading into the Post Office. Here I was told that they didn’t accept personal mail and that I would be charged for it! I don’t think the chap I was talking to knew about Post Restante. Most of the time receiving mail this way is easy, in smaller villages by canals it’s a pleasure, but every now and again it is so frustrating, especially as the chap who’d checked on Saturday had been so helpful.

I managed to get the phone number so that I can call in a couple of days time to see if it might have arrived. The chap said he would check it when it arrived and make charges accordingly. We’ll see, I just want my parcel!

We’d taken a bike with us to act as a mule, which was just as well as leaving Sainsburys we had four very heavy bags.

A favourite of mine

Tomorrow the weather forecast is for rain all day and the Bridgewater clock is starting to run out of ticks, so Mick wanted to get as far as we could today. I stayed up top for a while so that I could see what was happening at the Linotype Works. This is one of my favorite buildings along here. The site around it is being redeveloped into housing. Last time we passed a couple of years ago the site was cleared and ready to go, today lots of terraced houses have risen up.

Nothing special, but they could be worse

They are okay, nothing special and could have been so much worse. It does make me smile though that they want to boast about the date they were built, not quite in the same style as the main building.

Back below my loaf had now risen by a third, it had only taken 5 hours. The sour dough starter doing its thing. The oven ready to go and a kettle of boiling water to add to a tray to create some steam, I carefully, without knocking the tin popped it in the oven.

The Dames car kept me busy for some time. I could create a wonderful vehicle, but there’s only 3 ft to get it on stage, and it needs to seat four! I may have to come up with two versions of this, but we’ll see.

Work boats round here are big

The water point at Ye Old Number 3 pulled us over, here we emptied the yellow water for disposal later and topped up the water tank. Then we pushed off just as it started to rain. Mick would continue until he’d had enough, which wasn’t that far in the end. He pulled us in about half an hour away from Lymm, a suitable place for Tilly to pounce for an hour. But sadly, the internet is appalling here. I now need to think of a suitable symbol for the internet, to go with the thumbs up/down/sideways for TV signal.

Sunflower seed sour dough
Pizza dough about to explode

The bread looked good and had to be sampled, tasty with a very crunchy crust. The pizza dough had certainly been happy. It was a touch scary the way the clingfilm had expanded as the dough had fermented. An extra five minutes in the oven before putting the toppings on worked well. It was a very tasty chicken pizza.

Yummy, better than the one ten days ago

0 locks, 14 13.73 miles (a bit of a guess today), 2 winds, 1 filter swap, 4 tables, 8 bar stools, 1 mixer, 3 pumps, 1 loaf bread, 1 explosive bowl of dough, 0 parcel, 48 hours left, 1 car, 23 bars, 1 very big hinge, 3 boxes wine, 1 big pizza, 7 pounces, 0 friends except Ben.

Ten Hours, Is Exhausting! 5th May

Dunham Massey

Blimey, no chance of sleeping in this morning! The sun rose opposite our bedroom window and was dazzling even with our eye lids closed. This of course isn’t helped by the four legged member of our crew not closing the curtains after she’s had a good nosy. We keep asking her to close them, but she just keeps ignoring us!

Close the curtains when you’ve finished please!

Sadly the bright blue sky and sun didn’t hang around all day, but then again it didn’t rain that much. It didn’t really matter to us as today was to be a work day for me and a full shore leave day for Tilly. Because of work, I may not be posting every day for a while, especially if we haven’t moved. We’ll still be here, just a little bit busy.

10 hours! Pawtastic!! I even got two outsides today. Both had big banks, one had trees near the top and all the way down, the other had trees right down at the bottom with a little stream and good pouncing friendly cover all the way down there. I did have to share some of this with the Moos. I don’t understand these huge things, they eat the friendly cover and never seem to find friends, they certainly don’t pounce! What is life without friends and pouncing I ask you?!


Mick pottered away the day, drying the washing on the whirligig between short rain showers. I worked my way through references, printing off the most important ones for ease of looking and then set to making a London Boozer, 25 times smaller than it will be.

When the boat ahead of us moved off we decided that we’d move up, they had a better view over both sides of the embankment. Tilly was encouraged home before we pulled Oleanna along. We’ve learnt that she’d only get confused if we moved the outside with her in it, so better that she’s tucked up inside. The TV signal seems to have improved too, just as well with the last day of the Tour de Yorkshire keeping Mick busy and the final episode of Line Of Duty tonight.

Boozer doors

Today we have been astounded at the number of boats passing us. Around about 1pm there seemed to be a constant stream passing us. As we are quite near a narrow section there was even a queue at one point to get through. Since the New Year we’ve been in areas that are not highly populated with boats and now we are back amongst the throng. We’ve possibly seen more moving boats today than all year put together.

The London Leckenbys have been training hard for the Moonwalk next weekend. Last Sunday they conquered a 21 mile walk and tomorrow they will have a leisurely stroll of 12 miles, just to keep the legs limbered up. Next Saturday at 9pm Jac and Andrew will be setting off from Clapham Common to walk the 26.2 miles around the capital, taking in the sights as they walk through the night. A big thank you to those who have sponsored them, they are almost up to £1800, just brilliant. I hope Jac has sorted a good disco bra to wear as this years theme is Disco Inferno, I suspect there will be quite a few influenced by Madonna.

0 locks, 200ft, 10 hours, 2 snoozing for more energy, 16 pointless Moos, 4 friends, 3 trees, 7 annoyed crows, 7 sheets reference, 4 sliders, 4 doors, 1 final episode or will there be a sixth series?

Parcel Delay. 4th May

Staffordshire Arm to Little Bollington

One redish sock
One yellowish sock

Just over a week ago I succeeded in finding some yarn for a lady who is wanting me to knit her some socks to replace a pair she had lost. The hunt for the yarn has taken some time, trying to find the nearest thing to the original German brand. I’d visited all the online warehouses a month ago having no luck. So now I started the hunt for some options she might like instead, only to come across what possibly was the original yarn. We were both very excited. I placed my order.

I will be when my yarn arrives

The company I placed my order with deliver by MyHermes, so I selected the nearest pick up point to Telford Basin, Spar Tower, Piccadilly Gardens where it should have been sat waiting for me on our arrival. They tried to deliver it twice, but for some reason the driver couldn’t deliver to the address I’d taken from their website! Maybe they missed the great big tower in the middle of Manchester! The email telling me this suggested I might want to send a parcel myself from the nearest parcel shop some 0.05 miles away! Grrrr!!!

Reversed out now to wind

I contacted MyHermes twice. The first time they agreed that the address was correct and would have it delivered, except the driver couldn’t! The second time I contacted them I was informed that the parcel had been returned to the retailer. A bigger GRRR!!!!!

Luckily the returning parcel showed up in the system of the retailer and they could send out a special order for me to pick up. MyHermes was not an option this time, but good old Royal Mail was. A check for Poste Restante places on our route out of Manchester gave me Sale Post Office, handy as we could do some shopping whilst there.

Leaving the arm

So today we left Manchester, reversing back from our mooring slowly, both of us fending off as we went past boats on both sides. Mick then winded Oleanna and brought her in to the water point. Here we filled up the tank whilst the washing machine was on, emptied the yellow water as it was on the right side and Tilly had a freshen up of her pooh box. With chores done we pushed off under all the viaducts and past all the arms, taking the third right.

Pomona Lock will have to wait

We’d considered going down Pomona Lock to Salford Quays, but hadn’t got round to ringing to see how much it would cost us, so that expedition will have to wait until we’re here the next time.

The tram being extended

So much building work is going on in Manchester, just about anywhere you could squeeze a new building one is going up, even the tram is being extended to the Trafford Centre.

Manchester Bees

Now it was time for me to go to work. We’ve been along this stretch many times and my assistance isn’t required, so as we cruised along I sorted out the basic setting for Panto. With the drawing board out I worked out sight lines and a design to go on the portals.

Waters Meeting

Mick turned left at Waters Meeting and soon pulled in at Stretford Marina for some coal and a refill of diesel. Then we were on our way again, passing The Watch House Cruising Club Moorings, under the M60 and pulling us in outside Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. Having Waterway Routes on my phone tracking where we are I can pause work at a suitable moment to pop up from below to help moor up.

First the Post Office for my parcel. The nice man had a look everywhere, but sadly my yarn hadn’t arrived. Next delivery to them would be on Tuesday, we’d have to come back. Here’s hoping Royal Mail know how to find their Post Office! A shop at Sainsburys followed, enough to last us until Tuesday when we’ll bring a bike with us and get heavy things like wine and cat litter.

I’ll just hold this here for you

Then we carried on out into the countryside whilst I made a start on cutting circles out of white card. I wanted to lend a paw or four so that when the outside got tied up She could come out and play. But She wasn’t too impressed. She didn’t want paw prints all over the box and She won’t let me sit in it! So not fare!!

Stormy skies and swallows zooming around

The moorings by Dunham Woodhouses were busy, but that didn’t bother us as we prefer to be further along on the embankment with a view towards Dunham Massey. Once tied up Tilly had her cat tags and collar put on, neck nearly dry dry now, and was given a couple of hours of shore leave.

My old house up that street

As I carried on working Mick settled down to watch the Tour De Yorkshire, ending in Scarborough today. Sadly the TV signal isn’t too good here. They passed the end of my old street as they headed into town and The Big Picture, produced by my friends Dawn and Lee at Animated Objects Theatre Company, laid out in the grounds of the castle got a shot from the helicopter. A blustery day on the Yorkshire coast with waves coming over the sea wall narrowly missing the riders towards the finishing line.

Circles circles everywhere

0 locks, 10.38 miles, 1 wind, 3rd right, 1 left, 67 litres diesel, 40kg excell, 1 composite drawing, 3 round portals, 5 paw prints, 1 floor, 0 parcel, 0 boxes wine, 1 missing best man, 2 Albert Street just out of shot, 1 very very big picture, 1 favourite mooring.

Bomb Scare! 3rd May

Staffordshire Arm


I have a very wet neck! The sort of wet neck that means I’m not going out for a while. She says it’s for my own good, I say it’s horrible having a wet neck trying to crawl all over your body. It just won’t dry!

I know it’s going to happen when she reaches up high in the bathroom, then she takes my cat tags off. No matter how much I try to avoid her She still succeeds, at last this time Tom didn’t grapple me to the floor.

Poached egg on crumpets with mushrooms and a few veg

Back to normality and tea in bed this morning, with last weekends newspaper. Followed by the breakfast we’d planned to have on Wednesday before coming into Manchester, but decided against as we’d have had to be up earlier. Poached eggs on crumpets, yummy.

We took our time doing things today, well we have been rather busy this last week. Our mooring is reasonably quiet for a city centre. The fans from the gym swimming pool sound like the next boat have got their webasto heating going all the time and this morning there must have been a class going on as I could hear instructions being shouted. We’re also just around the corner from the Youth Hostel, so during the day large groups of youths pass by taking their suitcases for walks. Today we had one group leaving as another arrived, hope they all ended up going in the right direction.

I had various things I wanted to buy for work. We are unlikely to be near to an art shop for a while, so I wanted to get another sheet of mount board ‘in case’ for my model and some red paper to be able to make some scale red velour tabs (curtains). So I set off on foot to Fred Aldous on the other side of the city centre.

Boy time at the museum

Mick opted to visit the Science and Industry Museum which is almost next door. We had a great day looking round a few years ago and it is well worth a visit. So we parted ways, girl shopping and boy engines and planes. Just a shame that yesterdays downpour meant that half of the exhibits weren’t available as the building had leaked so much. After ten minutes he returned home to keep grumpy Tilly company.

Lots and lots of rice flours

I took a slight detour into China town to visit an oriental supermarket. I was wanting some gluten free soy sauce, not easy to come by, and some more white rice flour. In amongst the huge selection of rice flours there were bags of Glutenous Rice Flour. You may wonder why I’d be wanting flour with glutenous in it’s title as I follow a gluten free diet, well the glutenousness (I know that’s not a word) is because it is made from sticky rice the sort you get in sushi. This is also called sweet rice flour or Mochi flour and is apparently good in moderation in cakes. Happy with my purchases I carried on across the city centre.

Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall is currently closed for refurbishment. I remember one Christmas when my brother was at the University here they had a giant inflatable Father Christmas climbing up the clock tower. A lovely looking building, which one day I’d love to have a look around, it’s meant to be splendid inside.

Lock down

Onwards to Piccadilly Gardens. Except my path was blocked. Police tape flapped in the breeze from every lamp post to bollard. A bus had been positioned across the road and numerous Police stood around giving directions to the masses of people who had been stopped in their tracks. I’d wanted to go to Primark and Debenhams on my way to the art shop, but it looked like they were in the cordoned off area. Someone said there was a suspicious package in the gardens.

Time to get to know some of the back streets then. I wiggled my way round and headed to M&S instead, all the staff from Debenhams were congregated on the footpath here, some had sought warmth inside.

Police tape everwhere

A walk through the Arndale Centre brought me out to another cordoned off side of the gardens. here trams sat empty at the tram stop. People wearing Metrolink high vis were giving people directions around the locked down area and where they could get the next trams from. I wiggled my way round more streets until I got the the right one.

Fred Aldous had the things I wanted and I could have my large piece of card cut in half to make it easier to walk through the streets with. This was handy as my route back to Oleanna would take me along the other two sides of Piccadilly where people were now gathering as they wanted to get home.

Checking on line later, there had been three suspicious packages, two at Piccadilly and one in the toilets of Oldham Library. The police reported the packages to be ‘non-viable’ whatever that means. A 26 year old man had been arrested and some reports were that he had an arsenal of weapons, but the bombs had been a hoax. The city centre was still locked down this evening.

A DIY gluten free burger

Ernie had been good to us this month so we decided to blow our winnings on a meal out. A good burger was in order (I miss them), so we headed to the Handmade Burger Company where they do gluten free buns. We stuffed ourselves with burgers, breadbuns and chips, with a side of coleslaw and a glass of wine each. Mine came so that I could assemble it myself. Very tasty they were.

More tower blocks going up

For a Friday night everywhere was that bit quiet. We suspect the bomb scare had both put people off coming into town but also with half the trams and buses not running it was hard to get there. We resisted an invitation for cheap shots at a bar along the canal and headed home to sit with the grumpy one and drink some of our cheaper still wine.

Back to the Staffordshire Arm under the viaducts

0 locks, 0 miles, 6 miles walked, 1 cooked breakfast, 1 slow morning, 2 Green, 1 Labour, 1 boy museum, 0 planes, A1 into 2 A2, 6 sheets red paper, 2 bags flour, 1 bottle soy sauce, 1 city on lockdown, 3 non-viable devises, 2 burgers, 2 glasses of wine, 1 mardy cat.

It Wouldn’t Be The Famous Canal Street Without …. 2nd May

Thomas Telford Basin to Staffordshire Arm, Bridgewater Canal

We were awake before Houdini spoke this morning, are we getting used to these early mornings? Maybe tomorrow we’ll get chance to have a cuppa in bed again.

2 Varieties

Mick lifted the weedhatch to see what goodies had been caught yesterday. Our steerage hadn’t been inhibited, but it was worth a check anyway. He found quite a lot of urban jelly fish (a Tom term from Waiouru), with them removed we were now ready for more as we made our way down the Rochdale nine.

There being three boats going down, 2 in one lock and one in the other, we aimed to leave a lock in between. This would mean that as the boat in the lower lock emptied their chamber it wouldn’t be filled up by emptying the one above.

NB Lottie Jane
NB Mr Blue Sky
A touch tight

Each boat turned out of the basin in turn, NB Lottie Jane leading the way, followed by NB Mr Blue Sky then us. There seemed to be only just enough space to get round out of the basin, Oleanna touching the edges on two sides whilst there were a few inches spare to pivot round until the next bit touched.

Starting the nine

Turning back out onto the Rochdale we could see that NB Lottie Jane had already set off down the first lock on their own, leaving us to share with Clare and Graeme. We filled the chamber and I walked down to help Sue at the second lock.

Walkway into the dark

Lock 85 Piccadilly Lock, sits underneath 111 Piccadilly a tower block. A walkway across the water leads you to the lock where Sue was stood on the off side the lock still emptying. I helped open the bottom gate and dropped the paddle. Once they were clear I lifted the paddles to fill the chamber for us.

As I stood waiting for the lock to fill, two chaps climbed over the top lock gates. They didn’t look like gongoozlers, boats were the last things on their minds. One chap headed off again almost straight away, the lock was now nearly full. I made a call up to Mick as they obviously couldn’t see that they were clear to empty the lock, I then headed up to open and close a gate, not wanting to be on my own kicking around used needles.

Back at 85 I crossed over the top gates and opened it whilst Graeme made his way down from the previous lock. The chap who’d disappeared came back, climbed onto the still closed gate and very nearly carried on crossing, just stopping in time before he ran out of somewhere to put his feet. ‘Sorry you’ll have to wait for the boats to come in’. I said morning to the other chap as the two of them exchanged looks. There was obviously something that couldn’t wait for the boats, so whilst standing on the bottom lock gates they passed a thin 10 inch silvery object between them.

Signs everywhere to try to discourage people from falling in

Mick was bemused, what was Graeme doing? He hadn’t realised that the chap climbing the gates wasn’t him, why wasn’t the second gate open? As both boats came into the lock I decided that nobody should be on the off side. We should leave the two fellas to do what they were doing. So I said we’d only be using one paddle and one gate. This would mean that we’d be in the lock longer, but neither Graeme or myself would have to walk past two men rolling their sleeves up, shooting up, throwing up and what ever else was going to happen. I suspect they were far too occupied to have harmed us, but I still didn’t know what had been passed between them. Better to go slower but safely through the lock.

The chamber took forever to empty. As it got close the amount of water coming over the top gates was going to make it hard to open the bottom gates which are moved with a windlass, pulleys and a chain. Both Graeme and I put our windlasses on, our combined effort got the gate to move enough to help equalise the water. At last we were good to go.

We hopped onto our boats as there is no access to the next lock from land. I remember managing to walk there eleven years ago whilst on a hire boat holiday and squeeze through a gap in the wall, clamber down stone steps to the lock. But that entrance has long since been blocked off.

Back in the open

Waiting above the lock was an old college friend of mine Doug. He is currently the Lighting Designer for some plays at HOME, he’d taken the morning off to come and meet us, see Oleanna and ask us questions about life on board as he’s considering downsizing to a boat. Quite fortunate that we happened to be here whilst he was.

All he could do was watch from on high as we worked our way down to the next lock where he was handed a windlass so that he could learn the ropes and lend a hand.

Doug catching a ride

Manchester then started to do what it does best, Rain, quite a lot of it. Doug had no waterproofs so quickly popped his bag inside Oleanna meeting Tilly and retrieving a brolly from our bathroom. This did though mean he got chance for a little ride into the lock before helping with paddles and gates again.

It wouldn’t be the famous canal street without …

Lots of catching up to do, questions about boats to answer whilst we worked our way down the locks. The sun would show it’s face just long enough to consider taking a layer off, but then the heavens would open again. Well it is Manchester!

Floating flower beds

A wicker sculpture of a horse sits by a bridge, floating flower beds line one pound. At one lock we gained some shelter as a new building straddles the canal. Will this be an attractive section of the canal, redeveloped, shiny and new or another dark hole for the druggies to inhabit away from sunlight?

Mick giving some bowthruster assistance to NB Mr BS

Ian the Volunteer yesterday had suggested that if there was more than an inch of water coming over the top gates on the bottom three locks, then we should lift a paddle at the bottom of the lock to lower the level of the pound above. This would mean we’d have a fighting chance to open the bottom gates.

Got to have a photo of that viaduct

At Lock 92 NB Lottie Jane was just exiting. We’d not seen them since the top of the flight, so hopefully the water we’d been sending down hadn’t caused them too many problems with gates. Another boat waited to come up and swapped with them. One paddle only wound up by a couple of turns, the other went all the way. Gradually they rose and it was our turn.

Last Lock on the Rochdale

As we entered the lock I lifted a paddle to help reduce the level above. This is when the heavens opened. Torrential rain slammed down on us, Doug managed to find cover at the canal side pub whilst the rest of us got a very good drowning of water. You could tell it was the last lock of the Rochdale, we all showed signs of fatique. The boats took longer to bring in and as we dropped it soon became evident that the sticking paddle at the top was still open. This wouldn’t help open the bottom gates.

On our hire boat we’d had great difficulty opening these gates and I was prepared for a fight with them. Doug once the rain had stopped was on hand with a second windlass should it be needed for extra umph. But Ian’s handy hint had helped, the gates opened with hardly any straining. We were down, off the Rochdale , the 7 day clock now ticking on the Bridgewater Canal.

She wouldn’t put her phone down so I could get a photo!
Bedraggled Graeme

Clare and Graeme were planning on carrying on out of Manchester today with NB Lottie Jane, we planned on finding a mooring. So it was time to say our farewells. Hugs all round in our soggy water logged waterproofs. It’s been a great few days of hard locking with great company. Our paths may not cross again this year, but hopefully they’ll be back from New Zealand sometime and we’ll meet up again.


We pulled over into the Staffordshire Arm where there were a few spaces. We’ve not stayed on this arm before, but decided to give it a go. Once all our wet layers were off we could sit down for a cuppa with Doug and chat boats. There is a lot to take in, he’d got his eyes on a lovely 10ft widebeam down in Oxford, but we pointed out that he’d not be able to cruise it up to Liverpool as it would be too wide. But he quite fancies the idea of being able to cruise up and down the country. He left us to head to work with plenty to think about.

Railway map at Victoria Station

Now (as the sun came out!) Mick headed off to catch a train to Scarborough. We’d not managed to register for a proxy vote in the council elections, but could turn up in person. With a special ticket for over 55s and his OAP railcard he could make the journey for a fraction of what it would cost me. So off he went to cross back over the Pennines, passing through Leeds 45 minutes after leaving Manchester, it’s taken us four weeks!

At the polling station Micks name was eventually found, not alongside our address there, but at the end in a list of Special People. He made his crosses, popped the ballot paper in the box and left heading back to Manchester on the next train.

A tasty yellow fluffy morsel

This outside was deemed not suitable! Why had they tied it up? Rubbish!!! I had to spend the afternoon watching tasty looking yellow fluffy things walking all around everywhere. She took over the table and spent the afternoon listening to music and drawing lines all over this big white board. Something to do with a Puss, but I’m the only Puss in her life and she gave me no attention all afternoon!

9 locks, 1.77 miles, 3 miles walked, 62 ft 9 inches down, 164 ft lower than Sowerby Bridge, 2 lefts, 3 canals, 3 boats, 2 druggies, 2 windlasses, 1 college friend, 1 boat coming up, 4 drowned boaters, 1 soggy lighting designer, 2 farewells, 10ft, 1 parcel returned, 1 stroppy email, 2 trains, 1 tram, 1 bus, 1 special person, 3 crosses, 4 hours tech drawing, 1 bored cat, 3 games of paw ball, 1 dish of chickeny pasta ready on Micks return.