Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Down the Ashton

I'm sure last time I did the 18 locks on the Ashton Canal they weren't the slog they were today. Perhaps it's because last time we were ascending. Or perhaps it's because last time we weren't following a boat and having to turn almost every lock.

I'd set the alarm for 0715. Five minutes earlier and we'd have been down the locks an hour sooner, I'm sure. Oh well, there's no rush, and we're all set for new (to us) waterways tomorrow. Actually, we're already on new water as we have tied up having turned right onto the Rochdale Canal from Ducie Street Junction. 100 yards ahead of us is the first lock, Lock 83.

There's a rich feast of old mills and warehouses on the Ashton. Here's a sample of lovely brickwork at the water's edge.

There are occasional surprises, such as this garden and mooring.

At Audenshaw, in the vicinity of Guide Bridge and a historic railway junction, is a boatyard full of railway memorabilia and some interesting boats. (I've mislabelled the photo as "Droylsden Marina", it isn't.)

I think Maria operated on the Peak Forest Canal and was used in a re-enactment of loading with limestone when Bugsworth Basins reopened after restoration.

Samuel Barlow boat Daphne is there ...

... as is Clio, on the inside of Daphne.

Just beyond, under the motorway bridge, is an old (day?) boat with mooring pins jammed in the 'ellum as a tiller. It's there, presumably, to keep the rain out of the hold to stop it sinking.

As we got nearer the centre of Manchester we began to see more 20th and 21st century buildings. Downstream of the Clayton Locks is the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City Football Club. For a time, while I was at university, I lived within walking distance of their old ground at Maine Road.

Today we saw the first dumped supermarket trolleys of this trip. (We've been away for three weeks now, but it seems much, much longer. "Home" seems a different world, somehow.) Back to the trolleys - this is the second of two today, in a side arm.

Nearly all the locks on the Ashton have Lockgear hydraulic paddle gear with large spindles. I got used to them, but it was a relief to be able to wind one or two conventional rack-and-pinion type paddles. All the paddle gear had "handcuff key"-operated anti-vandal locks in various states of repair.

Incidentally, the out-of-focus sign behind reveals that CRT have yet to plaster one of their stickers over the original BW notice. Are these really the badlands? We saw no evidence of trouble.

The buildings got increasingly wacky. This one looks to be a stack of three giant playbricks, only approximately aligned, with huge lettering on them. The words are the names of waterways in the area, including Bridgewater Canal, River Irwell, Rochdale Canal. I couldn't read it all as I was too close.

And so to our mooring for the night, just on the Rochdale Canal. After a walk through the city we had a barbecue. A brick wall and a bench provided the perfect place out of the wind.

I had to attend to the prop just once - a thick bramble was round it. Easy to remove. I've been warned to expect worse on the Rochdale, but I can be in and out of the weed hatch in seconds!


eeyore said...

I am really enjoying your blog of these canals.

I want to do them soon to get to the area where my sister lives but, so far, we haven't turned off the T and M onto the Macclesfield. Middlewich is as far from hime mooring as we have been. That you have got so far in only three weeks is very encouraging.

You take lovely pictures.

Halfie said...

Eeyore, thank you for your kind words. The Macclesfield is a great canal, well worth exploring - and, once you're up there, do the Peak Forest as well. The Upper PF has excellent views as well as the historic Bugsworth Basins.