Time for a tidy up and to put the oven on at 10:30am.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Will this summer be like last? Will we be having barbecues instead of Sunday roasts until autumn now?I hope so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
A sunny sunny morning. Tilly wanted to be out and about, just a shame about the park filling up with people spoiling her fun.
Late morning we all headed into town to have a look around. I was on the hunt for some sock yarn for a commission, but sadly Hedben Bridge doesn’t have the indy dyed yarn I thought would be here.
Hebble End is still going with it’s artist and crafty shops. My friend Julia used to have a space here, but the floods that affected Hebden a few years ago made her leave Hebble End and work else where, she now runs a B&B in Hay on Wye. Most of the units were closed this morning, but out on the towpath was the Blacksmith boat, his wares along the towpath for all to buy.
One place we had to visit was Saker Bakery. The window was full of black Russian bread and a large bakers tray was stacked high with fat freshly baked hot cross buns, these ensured we went in to join the queue. Frank insisted on us buying half a dozen even though I wouldn’t be having any, he’d be able to take my share home with him, he’s thoughtful like that! A small Sour Dough Rye loaf was added to the shopping then we moved out past the constant queue.
I picked up some chestnut flour in the wholefood shop across the way. Frank bought a couple of books and Mick just enjoyed perusing. One thing was sure, Hebden was heaving! Back at the boat Tilly stayed in the pram cover watching everyone whilst I made some sausage rolls for us all.
A couple of boats came up the lock below, dropping the pound. One boat winded and then reversed past, almost bumping into us, but the cheery chap fended his boat off explained that he’s had his boat lengthened and he’s far from used to it yet. We later had a look and it’s almost been doubled in length. A cruiser with a noisy crew also came in to moor, they were enjoying the sunny afternoon.
A family found themselves a nice little spot alongside the canal to enjoy their fish and chips, right by the elsan and pumpout! A birthday party with bunting and much singing went on in the park as the recycling bins filled with empty bottles and cans. Tilly plucked up the courage to venture off the boat to join in.
A dash across the towpath and I was in amongst the sideways trees, one leap and I was in the safety of the big tree. Climbing high up I could keep an eye on everyone down in the park, some of them had balls, I was tempted to go and play too, but stayed up high instead. Some birdies chatted away to me the higher I got, soon I couldn’t see much outside,I couldn’t see my boat! She called for me, I could hear her so I called for her, but she couldn’t hear. Tom came out too, he never calls for me, but that doesn’t stop me calling for him.
I climbed down a bit and could just see them, both looking up into the tree, just not at me! Who else was up here? Then eventually she spotted me and her voice changed, ‘Come on we want to go out! Numpty Bum!’ The noisy man from the boat behind offered to climb up and get me, as if I’d go anywhere near him! All it took was some calculations and remembering to do the last bit backwards and I was down.
Fish and Chips all round at The Shoulder Of Mutton was very nice. Especially for me as I don’t think I’ve had them for a couple of years,my batter was gluten free, not as bubbled up as the normal ones, but very nice all the same. A pint followed at Calan’s Micropub, being able to sit outside a bonus on such a lovely evening.
0 locks, 0 miles, 0 yarn, 6 hot cross buns, 2 books, 9 sausage rolls, 1 lazy afternoon, 4 fish and chips with added aroma, 1 cat right up the tree, 1 hour to find her, 1 helpful chap, 3 portions of fish and chips, 1 portion of mushy peas left, who needs pre-masticated peas!
A visit from Sharon started off the day. Sharon is an old flat mate of mine from York in the years just after school, she thought she wanted to be a nurse and I didn’t want to go on to further education so sold books and maps instead. We had a good year in our flat and have kept in touch since. Unfortunately last year I missed her 50th Birthday as we were busy celebrating Mick’s 60th, so it was lovely to be able to spend a couple of hours catching up this morning. It also gave me an excuse to do some baking, chocolate chip and almond biscuits, Yummy!
A crane was moving boats around on the hard standing across the way and three boats came past, all booked into Tuel Lane Lock at 11am. A chap from a cruiser in front tapped on the roof and said that he’d be coming up the locks with us at 1 pm. A busy day for the volunteers in Sowerby today.
We rolled up the covers and pushed off before 1, the Lockie heading down to give us our instructions. Tuel Lane Lock would be ready for us, they were dropping the 134,250 gallons of water which was flowing over the top of the lock gates and keeping the bywashes very busy.
We worked up Locks 1 and 2 with Summer Breeze, he went ahead whilst Frank and I were picked up. As we entered the tunnel a blast of horn announced our arrival to the lockies and we turned under the road and popped out into the light at the bottom of Tuel Lane Lock.
Here you put a rope, stern and bow, around risers to hold you steady, hopefully keeping us away from Summer Breeze as we didn’t want to crush it. Gates closed behind, ropes passed round, I took a deep breath (risers and me don’t go together) and the chaps way above started to gradually fill the lock.
In front is a sheer cliff of concrete that angles away just below the lock gates a bit like the bow of a nuclear submarine sitting waiting below the level of the canal. Tuel Lane is 19ft 8 inches deep, the deepest working lock in Britain. It replaced two locks which when the canal was derelict had a road built over one of them, so the new lock was built to bring boats back up the full level.
It takes some time to rise the near 6 meters, flicking your ropes up the risers. Keeping away from the cruiser meant I didn’t get many photos, Mick managed a few at the back.
A pause for lunch and then we were on our way, four more locks to do to get us to Hebden Bridge. Immediately the canal showed us it’s character, narrow hugging the valley sides and stone bridges similar to those on the Macclesfield, they just don’t quite curve inwards at the bottom.
Blue bells amongst the trees shone out in the sun light, geese sat on their nests, ducks taking their new offspring for swimming lessons and the odd butterfly darting through the warm air.
We passed several hire boats due back tomorrow and came across Nb Adagio a Carefree Cruising boat based up at Sowerby for the summer. The ladies weren’t too enamoured with the locks, they looked glad to be heading back to base. I then in turn was glad to have Frank with me, heavy gates and stiff paddles to lift.
There were plenty of people out on the towpath and it turned out they were doing a sponsored walk. 70 Wigan fans were walking 58 miles to Leeds. A fan had promised to walk the 58 miles if his team beat Aston Villa in January, if they beat them by three goals he’d do it backwards. There he was walking backwards, 40 miles already done the remainder they hoped to achieve in time for their next match in Leeds tomorrow.
Lock 8 was a b**ger. Empty when we arrived the near side gate opened easily, but trying to close it was impossible. With both Frank and myself heaving on the beam we succeeded only for it to open itself again by the time we’d walked to the other end to start filling it.
This second time Frank held it closed until I’d opened a paddle. With all the heaving and cursing under our breath I hadn’t noticed the big signs asking you to leave the lock empty, but a chap walking by pointed it out to us. If left full the lockside buildings get flooded. So we happily lifted the bottom paddles.
Under Princess Bridge and we were back where we’d moored Lillian for the Tour de France in 2014, we had a yellow boat so had to take her to watch the cycling. Frank had helped us up from Piccadilly Basin, the two of us walking most of the way from Manchester. So now the only locks he hasn’t done on the Rochdale are the Rochdale Nine, big brutes of locks. Unfortunately today the pound was quite low, so trying to pull in where we wanted to be wasn’t possible unless we wanted to put the gang plank out.
Across the way was a familiar face, Diana from the local IWA, she’d organised the moorings for the Tour de France. She and her husband suggested to try nearer the footbridge where the canal would be a touch deeper. We pulled up in front of the three boats that had come up the locks before us today, no wonder the level was down if everyone was staying in Hebden for the night.
Tilly was allowed to make her own mind up about Hebden. Too many people, that whistling man here too, but one very very big tree that had to be climbed. As Tilly worked on her climbing calculations I dug our yellow bicycle out and popped it in the window, not quite the same as when it was in Lillian’s porthole.
7 locks, 19ft 8 inches, 5.5 miles, 1 school friend, 1 easter egg, 8 yum biscuits, 3 before us, 1 plastic to share with, 134,250 gallons, 2 lockies, 1 tunnel, 58 miles backwards, 0 pipe bridge, 0 winding hole, 1 not so sure cat, 1 cat not a woofer! 1 vat of chilli, 1 bottle of English bubbles, 1 new camera in action.