Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Plan. 20th May

Barlaston

Chimneys only just visible behind the railway, just off centre

Whilst googling Barlaston the other day a photo came up of Barlaston Hall, ‘That looks nice’, I thought. I mentioned it to Mick. He looked it up on the map, ‘It should be just about there’. He pointed out of the hatch and sure enough behind the railway and some trees we could make out the brick work of a rather nice looking big house.

Whilst I was working he went for a walk and came back reporting that the hall looked as though no-one was in, maybe it wasn’t occupied. He’d also been to have a look at the nearby village that had been built for workers at the Wedgewood Factory, a similar style of village to New Earswick near York, built for Rowntree employees.

From the bridge

It all sounded far too interesting not to have a look myself, so on Monday we did his walk in the opposite direction. We walked back along the towpath to Oldroad Bridge, here we crossed the canal and walked up to the level crossing.

The platforms
Seen better days

Wedgwood Station was opened in 1940 to serve the Wedgwood Factory, but in 2004 the line was temporarily closed for major works on the line. When the line reopened the station didn’t, the platforms now in need of repair. According to Wikipedia the area is now served by a rail replacement bus service, times can be found on the National Rail Journey Planner.

Avenued road

The new electric factory was built in the 1930’s, moving the factory from Etruria out to Barlaston where it was built in the grounds of Baralston Hall, which the Wedgwood family had bought. The road runs straight from the station up the hill, lined with giant oak trees. Younger trees are planted in between ready to take over when the older ones give up. The factory sits to one side of the road followed by the village.

Four houses not just two

The houses are much bigger than I’d imagined. They give off the impression that they are even bigger, double fronted even. But this isn’t true, each building is actually four houses the end properties having their front doors tucked around the side. A rather nice place to live with work a short distance down the hill, just a shame that the convenience store is now closed, possibly no longer that convenient for those with cars.

Long grass swaying in the breeze

Crossing the road we followed a vague footpath through long grass further up the hill. The sky blue and the view improving across the valley with each step. This brought us out onto the road near to what was most probably stables for the hall. One converted barn currently up for sale here.

St Johns

High hedges mostly of rhododendrons enclose the road. St John The Baptist Church has a wonderful Lych Gate which invites you into the grave yard. The tower is 12th Century, the rest of the building rebuilt in 1888. Inside there are memorials to the Wedgewood family but sadly the church closed in 1980 when large cracks appeared in the masonry due to subsidence. The windows have been replaced with perspex and grills and the face of the clock on the tower is smashed.

Just what would Tilly make of it here?

Next door is the Hall, what we’d really come to look at. The photo on Google really didn’t do it justice. A Grade 1 listed Palladian house built 1756-7 is attributed to Sir Robert Taylor with his trade mark windows.

Not a bad drive

A circular lawn sits in front of the main entrance, the other side of the building having a view that stretches to the canal and beyond for miles right across the valley. Wow!!

What a house!

Woods stretch off to the side, providing spinney like places to play in as I’d had when I grew up in Fulford, York. Our garden bordered on one side by a bank of rhododendrons just like here. This all felt very homely, the house however a couple of hundred years older than the one my Dad had built, it is also about ten times it’s size. But what a house!

What a view!

As we walked down through the fields below the views showed themselves even better, the view of the house wasn’t so bad either.

The garden pond

One field away from the railway a large pond sits, not quite a lake and possibly no longer part of the land that accompanies the house. What a place!

Just look at it!

Yesterday when trying to find out more about the house we’d come across sale details. The house has had a LOT of restoration carried out to it. Wedgewood cared for the hall until the 1960’s when it then fell into disrepair and was vandalised. Lead was removed from the roof, major subsidence from coal mining occurred and the fact that it had been built over a fault in the geology meant that it was only a matter of time before 4 inch large cracks appeared in the brickwork.

Wedgwood twice tried to get the hall demolished, but in 1981 a rescue plan was put into action by SAVE Britains Heritage (big article here). The hall had been offered for £1. If in the following five years the hall was not completely restored then Wedgewood would have the right to buy it back for £1. The subsidence from extensive coal mining in the valley was put right, the Coal Board ending up paying £120,000 in compensation and funded preventative works. With more funding from English Heritage and a loan from the National Heritage Memorial Fund work commenced. The hall is one of the biggest success stories in English heritage.

A house with 24 chimney pots

By the time we had walked back to the railway station we had concocted a plan. If we were to sell our house in Scarborough, NB Oleanna, scrape together all our savings we’d have just enough for a reasonable deposit. But that would mean we’d have no income and I doubt one panto design a year would be enough for a bank to give us a mortgage. So where could we get the remainder?

One way would be to share the house with our family. Siblings could sell their London properties, this would most probably mean we’d not have to sell our house in Scarborough, instead someone from the family could move to the seaside away from smoggy London. The Hall would be large enough to house more than Mick, Tilly and myself, so other siblings, now no longer living in London could also move in.

If anyone want’s to stable their horses we’d have a big paddock for them

With four reception rooms, 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 attic rooms, a study, galleried landings, 3 garages, stables, an orangery, a self contained flat, 1 large kitchen, wine cellar (bigger than under our back steps) we’d most probably have to arrange to have a family get together once a month so as to see each other.

What would we do with Oleanna? Well the pond/lake could be dredged and could become an end of garden mooring. We’d need to build a couple of locks to reach the Trent and Mersey canal,, but these would mean we’d be able to get under the railway line. The station would be the next thing to improve, if we won the Euro millions, we’d be able to have work done to the station and make it into a request stop.

All perfectly possible. We just need to dissuade the people who have put an offer in already.

I think we have a plan!

I’m in love.

No Ducklings Harmed 29th April

Littleborough to Slattocks Top Lock

The voice of Houdini (our emergency phone which acts as an alarm) wasn’t required this morning as both of us were wide awake due to the bickering of the Canadian Geese. Blimey they were noisy. But it did mean that we were up and ready to set off ahead of time along with Clare and Graeme.

Heading out with NB Mr Blue Sky following

The sun was out and the hills glowed around us as we pootled along the long pound towards Rochdale with Oleanna taking the lead. Two swing bridges to negotiate before we reached any locks.

Swing bridges

I hopped off to do the first, Clare who’d been walking came and helped, they would do the second one. A couple of ladies were picking up rubbish and warned that the bridge landing would be too shallow at the next bridge so to carry on before picking crew up. They were doing a good job as once we passed them the rubbish started to build up.

Grand buildings

Views stretched out across the valley. Large red brick buildings with clock towers upstaging the terraced houses. But soon these vanished and barbed wire took over as we came into Rochdale. Graeme and I went on ahead to set the lock, Clare needed a push off from the side once the lock was full the bow having grounded.

Rochdale

Today we would start to get our rhythm at the locks worked out. The next few days we’ll get plenty of practice to hone our method. With the next lock within reach, once the paddles were lifted I walked down to the next lock to set that ready, leaving Graeme to close up.

No ducklings today

When I arrived at Moss Lower Lock there was one chap sat watching, by the time we left there were another three plus one man and his dog. Five years ago we’d had very helpful advice from the chaps drinking cheap lager here, they were most worried that we didn’t harm the ducklings. Today there were none, so the chaps kept quiet and chatted amongst themselves, maybe it takes a few cans to get them to be more vocal.

Going down

Mick left the lock first, Graeme and I closed up behind, I walked over the road bridge to follow the towpath under it. The wide bridge an ideal place to stop and pick up crew. But Mick had headed on, to leave space for NB Mr Blue Sky, he was on the off side some distance away. How on earth did he expect me to get there? There was no obvious means. so it was decided that I’d get a lift over by boat.

Easier said than done, a bywash made positioning that bit harder and submerged obstacles clanked at the prop, but we got there in the end and I stepped back onto Oleanna. Mick all the time stood patiently with a slight look of bewilderment on his face. He’d abandoned me! But then he pointed out the bridge now behind us. The wide bridge was infact two. The modern road bridge with an old canal roving bridge right up against it. Yes, I could so easily have wound my way up and over the bridge to reach him. In my defence this was not evident in the slightest from beneath the bridge.

Ahhh, it’s a roving bridge!

NB Mr BS went on ahead to the next locks. We soon had to stop. At Bridge 62 I hopped off with the centre rope, the engine was turned off and the weed hatch cover was undone. Our first collection of rubbish! Coming the other way five years ago, dealing with low pounds we would have been able to furnish a whole house and have quite a good wardrobe from what came off Lillian’s prop, so we know this won’t be the only time the weedhatch cover has to come off.

At Blue Pits Higher Lock Clare and Graeme were waiting patiently for us. As we descended we discussed only opening one gate to leave, that would be the one in front of NB Mr BS. Graeme would then either head off to set the next lock or get on board, Mick would bring Oleanna out of the open gate and I would then close up behind. This makes less work closing up, that is unless a gate opens itself again!

New houses

New houses sit alongside Lock 52. This is where there used to be a glimmer of a view across to where Mick’s sister Anne lived at Buckley Barn Cottage, known as BBC in the family. Today the trees have grown blocking the view totally. We still waved.

Five years ago, BBC with the blue windows
It’s still there somewhere!

Below the lock a long jolly mural covers the wall. Cats, boats, chilled medication it’s all there.

One last lock before we reached Slattocks. As we pulled in just after the petrol station (handy for a jet wash) there was a really tantalising smell of toast and cheese. A roadside caravan food stall was doing very good business and nearly had our custom too. But we were good and retired indoors for our lunch.

Ducklings

The towpath was at a suitable height for me to have a go at the gunnels. Last year I’d only managed to attack the starboard side before winter hit. This now shows as the scrapes along the gunnel on the port side have allowed water in and rust has done it’s thing, now being chipped off at ease. So I set too with a scraper, followed by sand paper and then a coat of fertan. Clare was also out touching up their gunnels so we managed to have chats to break up the sanding back. Next opportunity I’ll do a coat of primer where needed, this may well not be until we get to the flashes on the Trent and Mersey where the towpath is good and low. But at least the fretan will stop the rust from progressing.

Happy to have company down the locks

5 locks, 6.57 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, 1st trip down the weedhatch, 0 ducklings harmed, 12 at our mooring, 5 old soaks, M62, 1 wave, 1 huge patch of rust, 1 hour sanding, 1 coat fertan, 1 lasagne, 0 shore leave, 2nd amendment of 4ply sock pattern looking hopeful.

Wednesday Roast. 24th April

Lock 31

Time for a tidy up and to put the oven on at 10:30am.

A grey day, but still a lovely mooring

Years and years ago we had invited Mick’s niece Ruth to join us for a Sunday roast in Scarborough. This was to include Mick’s other niece Fran, several dates were muted, but the plan never came together. So far Fran has managed a couple of roasts with us, but Ruth has missed out.

Us with a bottle of Guzzler

Five years ago Ruth and James helped us up through Rochdale, Ruth being local she could sweet talk the locals for us. That day was busy and we ended up being invited round to theirs for food. So as we were in the area we had to invite them over for the long awaited roast.

Ruth managed to squeeze in behind the dinette

This trip over the Pennines we are letting them off assisting, as Ruth is seven months pregnant. It was lovely to see them as we’ve not been together for a couple of years. Plenty of news to catch up on from both sides.

Shame there’s not much left over!

The joint of pork, having sat in the fridge uncovered overnight, almost had good crackling, the nearest I’ve got so far on a boat. I think the LPG keeps the air in the oven a touch too damp. This was followed by the last of our apple and blackberries from the freezer made into a crumble. Very tasty even if I do say so myself.

I took advantage of them having visitors to have a better look around. Today I made a new friend. It’s a shame there was a wall in the way to bring it home and I suspect it might have been too much of a mouthful!

I could play with you for hours!

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 plus 1 bump visitors, 1 shoulder of pork, 20 roast potatoes, 16 carrots and parsnips, 1 head brocolli, 8 garlic cloves, 1 apple and blackberry crumble accompanied by chilled medication, 1 lovely afternoon, 1 swooshy tailed friend.

Back in 2014, during our first summer afloat, we got the news that my sister-in-law had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been on quite a journey but is now very well and enjoying life to the full. To celebrate this and also to help other people, she and my brother will be taking part in this year’s London Moonwalk on 11 May. The Moonwalk is a marathon length walk through London at night in aid of breast cancer. It is quite a challenge which they have been training hard for.
If you would like to help them celebrate and help others by making a financial contribution please visit their sponsorship page at https://moonwalklondon2019.everydayhero.com/uk/jac-and-Andrew

A Third But Only A Fifth. 23rd April

Todmorden to Lightbank Lock 31

incredible edible todmorden

Chores first thing. Water, rubbish, yellow water, Tilly’s pooh box and a loaf of bread that we’d forgotten yesterday, then we were ready to push off.

Todmorden or Library Lock 19

Mick untied whilst I went on ahead over the busy road to get the guillotine lock ready for us. Here a key of power is required to power up the bottom gate, but a windlass is also needed to empty the lock. The gate wouldn’t lift so a few turns of the crank on the other side lowered the level, once this was done I could lift the gate. There is a level switch on this gate which played up when we were on a hire boat years ago. This necessitated our first call out to British Waterways, who sent a chap who knew just where to poke and prod to get it to work again. Today it all worked as it should and the ground paddles to fill the chamber were quite restrained compared to most on the Rochdale.

This was Lock 19 and we have so far travelled 10 miles along the canal from Sowerby Bridge. The canal being 32.3 miles long, so we’d just about reached a third of the distance, but there are 92 locks (if you count Tuel Lane as two) so we’d done just over a fifth of the locks. From here on the locks will keep up a steady pace and often it’s not worth getting back on board. When we headed to The Tour de France five years ago, Frank and I joked that we’d walked all the way from Manchester to Hebden Bridge. This was almost true, certainly walking round the locks adds to the steps you do, making up for the distances you ride.

The Great wall of Tod

Round the bend is the expansive wall known as The Great Wall Of Tod, said to contain 4 million brick. This brings the railway out from Lancashire into Todmorden high above the canal.

Gauxholme Railway Bridge with the locks

Soon follows the first batch of locks, five close together, but one just out of view round a bend. The fourth lock was over flowing with water so I suspected a boat was coming down and soon they came into view, this saved me emptying one of the locks as we rose. It’s amazing how much water can come down with a boat, flowing over gates and keeping the bywashes going. I walked up to help them down a small top up of water for the lock to be in their favour. Once in and descending, water was still coming over the top gates and they were concerned that the level would never equalise. So we walked back up and closed the gates they’d left for us on the lock above. I suspect this had little affect as we still needed Mick to help open the bottom gate.

Rising into a low pound

We swapped locks and we started to rise, it’s amazing how much water one lock can take out of a pound. The level dropping by several feet. We could of course have emptied the lock and used it ourselves, filling it with the water coming from the emptying lock above, but they had already started to empty the lock before I got there, so the water was going to waste anyway.

We were soon up and crawling along the next pound to the next lock. Once up Gauxholme Highest Lock we pootled on towards the next lock, where we pulled in for lunch, refueling halfway up todays locks.

Bit of a leak there

Smithylane Lock needed emptying and the level in the pound above did not look good. A very large bubbling up from under the top gates looked like it was causing the problem. We rose up the lock which brought the level in the pound above down by about four inches. I stayed to close the gate instead of leaving it for Mick. Oleanna cleared the top cill, but the water in the pound was bubbling, shallow water which was very obvious to us.

Stuck

With the gate closed I walked to the next lock and emptied it. A phone call from Mick, he was stuck mid channel, I’d need to let water down from above. With the lock gates still closed I lifted both bottom paddles and opened one at the top, hoping not to have to send too much water down as the next pound looked a touch low too. After four inches had gone down Oleanna was moving again, I closed the top paddle.

Oleanna rose in the next chamber, a leaking bottom gate not helping matters as the pound above started to bubble as it got shallower. Mick got off to open the gate, taking his time, I could see the cogs going and chivied him along. The longer it took to get out of the lock the less water we would have in the next pound as the one below was now taking advantage of being topped up.

I closed the gate again and let Mick slowly bring Oleanna up the straight to the next lock. No extra water needed this time, just a bit of a lumpy bottom. The next pound was just below the bywash so there’d be no trouble filling the lock.

Opposite the chippy

Quite a bit has changed around Hollings Lock 27. New houses are being built where a car park for Grandma Pollards was five years ago, a textile mill before that, a lady was watering her new grass at her newly purchased house right by the lock. I nearly asked if the main attraction for buying the house was the canal or Grandma Pollards opposite.

Grandma Pollards is a well renowned fish and chips restaurant, some would say the best fish and chips ever. A double decker bus sits out the back where you can eat and alongside the canal there are benches for walkers and boaters to use. This is our fourth time passing and it still wasn’t the right time of day to stop, only having had lunch a short while before hand. One thought was maybe we could catch a bus or train back in a couple of days to finally sample them.

One more to go

The next couple of locks had flowing bywashes as we approached them, the last lock full to the brim and overflowing, a welcome sight. Our chosen mooring for today was between locks 30 and 31. Here there is a longer pound that curves around a hill. We were surprised at there not being any other boat moored as it is a lovely spot, we could get into the side too! This will do for a couple of days as tomorrow rain is forecast.

Nearly there

I decided to see if I could find the opening times of Grandma Pollards so that we could plan our return. The first things that came up on Google was that after 70 years of frying up the best fish and chips and homemade cheese and onion pies Tony the owner had decided to retire. What!!!! None of his children wanted to take on the business so the shop had closed shortly after Christmas. No more Grandma Pollards and we’d never managed to sample their wares.

12 locks, 2.12 miles, 4 miles walked, 119 ft 9 inches rise today, 289 ft 11 inches up from Sowerby Bridge, 2 lumpy pounds, 1 loaf bread, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 1 guillotine, 23 years of SJT, 0 fish and chips, 2 disappointed boaters.

To Tod. 22nd April

Lock 15 to Todmorden Services

Sorry Tilly not this morning. Somehow we’d slept in. We wake when we wake and normally that is at a similar time each morning, but today neither of us stirred until an hour later than normal. Maybe it was the six month old halloumi cheese we’d had yesterday on the barbecue. The extra hour in bed meant that the rest of the day was an hour late.

A load of washing did it’s thing whilst we had breakfast, then another load put on as we pushed off, the linen drawer had got quite full and we wanted to make the most of the sun today.

The approach to Lobb Mill Lock

Approaching Lobb Mill Lock we could see where the floods had taken their toll.A large chunk of towpath had been washed away below the lock. A new manhole had been installed and now the towpath needed to be made back up, in some places the gash was three feet deep. A chap sat outside his lock side cottage eating a bowl of cereal.

Nice breakfast location

The cottage had escaped the flooding as they have gates that cut the water out, but with the canal on one side and river the other they must have been a little dry island in amongst a rushing sea. He pointed to how high the water had been against his garden wall, only a couple of inches from the top!

Mill chimneys and sunken boats

Now in the Pennines properly, mill chimneys punctuate the landscape and houses sit high up on top of the steep valley. Before Old Royd Lock we passed where we’d moored up for the day on Lillian, leaving our locking companion Derek to continue on his own. Warning signs decorate the metal fence and it looks like one boat didn’t heed their message.

The Green Route

Gradually we entered Todmorden. The canal towpath bordered with edible plants. Fruit trees, raspberry canes, gooseberry plants and rosemary were all visible. Many of the flower beds in Tod have been given over to the community. Here are grown herbs, fruit and veg. In return for a bit of weeding you are welcome to help yourself.

Tod services on the left, guillotine lock off centre

Up Shop Lock and we could see the moorings by the service block. We’d been warned of an abandoned boat sitting right in the way, it was still there, but there were signs of activity on board. As we pulled up tucking ourselves right at the end furthest away from the pub a chap asked if we’d be going up the lock. No, we planned on doing some shopping at least before continuing. Thank goodness as when he started his engine up the clouds of smoke took us back to the height of the industrial revolution!

by Morrisons

After lunch we walked into town. it being a bank holiday I didn’t expect much to be open, however Mick was more hopeful. No butchers, in fact no shops open at all. Bear Wholefoods shop and cafe has gone after thity years on Rochdale Road, replaced by Yakumama a Latin American cantina. I’m sure it is very nice, but I was looking forward to perusing all the ingredients. Oh well! Morrisons had to do for a stock up shop.

Whilst Mick wandered up the canal to see if there was anywhere else we could moor I got on with some work, trying to catch up with my sketches. I was doing quite well until there was a voice outside ‘Pip are you in there?’ ‘Pip are you asleep?’ I couldn’t really pretend that I wasn’t in as our whirligig was full of washing. It was an old friend from Croydon College who for a time I used to make models with. Alan had been chatting to a mutual friend and had heard that we were in Tod, so he’d come down to say hello.

Local residents

Fortunately he understood about me trying to get work done and we’ve tentatively arranged to meet up sometime over the next few days. Handily we’ll be on his route home from work for the next week.

At 8pm I finally put together my email to send off to Chippy, only a few days later than I’d wanted.

3 locks, 1.48 miles, 30 ft 7 inches risen, 170 ft 2 inches since Sowerby, 1 sunk boat, 2 inches away, 2 loads washing, 3 bickering white geese, 34 illiterate Canadian geese, 0 bear, 2 versions, 21 sketches, 1 old college friend, 1 bored cat, 0.5 worming pill finally eaten.

Canal Closed. 21st April

Lock 15

It may be Easter Sunday/Monday/Friday, what ever Easter day it is I needed to do some work. Panto may be months off, but my first design deadline is mid May, so a pause in cruising was needed so I could get some sketching done. My hope is that John will return to work on Tuesday after his Easter break to lots of sketches from me, feed back will follow then I’ll be able to get on with a white card model.

It’s too busy! Make them all go away

10 hours! Wowee!! That would be great if only everyone in this outside would just go away! Too many bicycles, woofers, runners, walkers, all busy moving their outside leaving us where we are. All a bit too busy for my liking.

A couple of boats came past late morning heading down the locks, Mick asked about water levels higher up and was told there was plenty of water. He warned them about the levels further down towards Hebden and on they continued. About 3:30pm a C&RT notice came through.


Due to low water levels between Locks 7 and 13 on the Rochdale Canal the navigation is currently closed.
We will continue to monitor the water levels and will update the notice as soon as possible.


Thank goodness we’d got to above Lock 15, it did make us wonder if the two boats going down had got stuck needing assistance from C&RT to get floating again. Weekend and day boats would only come so far up the locks before turning round back to base, therefore gradually diminishing the water in certain pounds. We were surprised that the closure included through Hebden Bridge.

Hot Paw Buns

After watching Mick and Frank devouring their big fat hot cross buns the other day I decided to make some of my own. The recipe I’d found last year had been quite successful and I had everything I needed on board. So whilst I worked on sketches the dough was allowed time to rise, three times before going in the oven with marzipan paw prints on their tops.

Inspiration for Puss in Boots

Mick spent some of the day packing away the spare bedding. This lives under our sofabed and sadly the mechanism has torn through the vacuum bags. We had one bag spare, a giant one. This would hold everything, it’s just that it wouldn’t fit under the sofa with or without air in it. As this was all going on in my studio, it was hard to ignore and I had to take over get involved.

They won’t get very far!

Late afternoon another boat came past heading for the lock, Mick went out to inform them of the stoppage. The couple moor just this side of the summit and were heading to Hebden Bridge for blacking in a weeks time. They are used to lack of water on the Rochdale, they also had plenty of tales to tell of the floods.

New piling to hold the landslip back

In 2015 the river and canal just about became one, in Hebden Bridge where we’d moored the towpath was under 18inches of water and you could only wade through the park where everyone had been sunning them selves on Friday. I’d have been fine up my tree! Up ahead of us there is a stretch where the bank is still washed away and alongside our current mooring is where there was a landslip, now held back by piling. This stretch kept the canal closed for quite sometime.

They decided to continue on down and see where they could get to before they could go no further. Mick helped them through the lock and waved them goodbye.

Everyone on the towpath

As it was such a lovely evening and I’d been cooped up all day trying to work we decided to have a barbecue. We had just enough coals left from last year to cook some veg kebabs and a couple of turkey steaks that I’d marinated. Because we’d had a Hot Paw Bun when they’d come out of the oven we refrained from our usual banana with chocolate for pudding. This meant Tilly had extra time outside which with fewer people about she enjoyed much more.

Yumm!

Will this summer be like last? Will we be having barbecues instead of Sunday roasts until autumn now? I hope so.

Not a bad spot to spend the evening

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 Easter eggs, 12 sketches, 3 boats down, 1 boat up, 6 scanned illustrations, 10 hours of watching, 1 hour of enjoying, 2 holey bags, 1 big bag, 1 squished up sofa, 9 hot paw buns, 2 turkey steaks, 4 kebabs, 1 block of Haloumi left from last year, 1st evening on the towpath.

Gongoozeled. 20th April

Hebden Bridge Wharf to Shawplains Lock 15

Frank had requested a cooked breakfast this morning, Stephen Maskill Butchers had provided the chunky cut smoked back bacon, the freezer on board provided the chipolata sausages left over from Christmas and the Co-op provided everything else. Frank ate his breakfast before I could take it’s photo, so you are saved photos of more food.

A Hebden Scene

With the last Scarborough Athletic match of the season to catch Frank was soon heading off for the station. It’s been a lovely few days with Frank. He has now worked through all the locks on the Rochdale apart from the Rochdale Nine, who knows he may just turn up when we get over that side!

Time to carry on rising up and over the Pennines. First the water tank needed filling, we were almost out. We pushed over to the tap, not the strongest of pressure and with the washing machine going too it took well over an hour to fill. This gave me time to hunt out a bumbag, I’d thought of going to one of the nice independent shops to see what they had, but changed my mind and headed to the nearest charity shop. Here I had two to choose from at £2.50 a bargain. My new camera now has a new cruising home, no longer in trouser pockets, maybe it’ll last me three years this time.

Surrounded
Up the lock

Black Pit Lock had a good crowd of gongoozlers keen to watch us. I felt sorry for the juggler as I think we upstaged him somewhat, but he chose to perform next to the lock. The crowd seem puzzled as I went back to empty the lock, just doing as instructed.

As we made our way towards Stubbing Locks a boat came past saying that the levels up ahead were very low, so much so that they’d turned round. Oh well, we had no choice but to carry on and see for ourselves, we wouldn’t be turning round, we’d be carrying on.

That’s a touch low

They’d been right, the water between the two locks was very low, drawing off another locks worth of course made it worse but there was enough water to get Oleanna over both cills. The next pound looked better to start with but got worse as we continued. Slow progress, the occasional lumpy bit and then a trip boat meaning we grounded for a while.

Not Large Marge, just the Barge

Just before Rawden Mill Lock is a winding hole, the boats on the permanent moorings all sat on the bottom at very jaunty angles. The level was too low to be able to get off Oleanna at the stern so I tried at the front. It was a touch too high and a touch too far away to have enough confidence to jump off from the closest Mick could get her. Luckily a young couple were passing, I asked if I could have a steadying hand to get off. Phew that worked, we were able to get out of the pound before anybody emptied any more water out of it.

Clinging on for dear life

The mooring above Callis Lock looked reasonable, just a shame about the wiff from the sewage works! We carried on, not really wanting to reach Todmorden today. There were plenty more boats sat on the bottom, one chap at an alarming list said he was waiting for a mooring higher up. His dog seemed more alarmed than he was, would he ever get off the bottom?

Scenery

Another couple of locks before we found enough depth to get close enough to the side to moor. The canal, road and railway all follow the valley, so no peaceful moorings, but the scenery is rather good. All Pennine crossings have their difficulties and numerous locks, but what that brings with it is wonderful countryside that you simply wouldn’t get without the effort.

Not a bad view
Mine
All Mine

7 locks, 2.85 miles, 59ft 10inches climbed today, 79ft 9inches day before yesterday, 2 Saturday papers, 1 pair of reading glasses, 8 sausages, 6 rashers, 3 eggs etc, 2 hot cross buns, 1 hour plus filling, 3 knives, 1 ball, 37 gongoozlers, 1 helping hand, 2 big lumps, 3rd mooring lucky, 7 out of 10 OS eggs, 2 hours, 1 wall, 1 field, 1 post claimed, 1 very dusty path, 1 grey cat!