Saturday, 9 August 2014

On top of the world - Rochdale summit reached

It felt great to have reached the summit of the Rochdale Canal which we did this afternoon, having worked our way up from Manchester starting on Thursday. Two and a half days to do 47 locks and 17.5 miles, which has been a comfortable rate of progress in that we are not whacked out. Our intermediate stops, at Chadderton and Littleborough proved good ones; now we are at Walsden, a few locks down the east side of the summit.

My first task of the day, as yesterday, was to top up a low pound just above our first lock. This didn't take long and we were soon on our way. We had a small amount of light drizzle at one point, but it didn't last long. For most of the day we enjoyed excellent bright and sunny weather, albeit with a stiffish breeze.

Immediately above Lock 46 is a wonderfully secluded arm with bollards and no apparent restrictions. This would make an excellent overnight - or longer - mooring. There's even the stump of an old crane to add interest. If we'd known we might well have gone up the extra two locks yesterday.

At Lock 43 was more evidence of the bracing framework provided in former times to support weaker bottom gates. Bill S. had left an illuminating comment on yesterday's post explaining some ironwork I'd asked about, and here was a real life example. (More about Bill later.)

The Rochdale Canal towpath seems to attract cyclists in huge numbers. Here at Lock 41 a posse of them gathers at the top of steps leading to the towpath. The braver (or more reckless) among them cycled down the steps, which include a turn. I didn't manage to capture one of them pulling off the feat, I'm sorry to say.

Here they are whizzing down the towpath.

Now I have to say I'm a bit miffed that my camera has developed a nasty smudge in the lens system. It is worse when I (optically) zoom in, but I tend to operate zoomed in - at least partially. There is another piece of dirt in there which I can zoom past. All a bit complicated to explain, but the upshot is that I need a new camera. I'd like to stick with a compact as I love being able to have it with me all the time. (The current, now not very good, camera is a Fujifilm Finepix F50Ffd.)

The following photo of Jubilee cruising the Rochdale Canal is ruined by the horrible splodge!

At about 1430 we rose up West Summit Lock 37 onto ... the summit! I took a self-timed photo of us to mark the achievement.

This lock, Lock 37, is supposed to have a water point. Indeed, it does appear to have a water point. The appearance was so convincing that I got the hose out of the locker, removed the filler cap, untangled the hose and connected it to the tap.

Then I switched on. Nothing. On closer inspection I saw that the pipework inside the water point had been disconnected. Oh dear. Coil up hose, put away. (Did I remember to screw the water filler cap back on, unlike last time?)

At the head of the lock I put my bike on board and joined Jan for the short cruise to the first of the descending locks. This was the first time I'd steered today. I've done the Rochdale Canal more by bike than boat; next time we'll have to get more crew so I can do a bit of steering!

The next photo illustrates the reduction from "normal" level of the summit pound: possibly six to nine inches. We just steered a middle course and had no problems. We'd actually traversed much lower pounds than this earlier on without grounding - our draught of only two feet proving a distinct advantage.

Just down from the summit we came to the sign indicating the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire which I had been expecting.

We shall be in Yorkshire now for some time.

Warland Gate Swing Bridge could have been where we came unstuck, had it not been for the timely assistance of a passing walker. A recent rain storm had left the iron track on which the bridge runs covered in mud. The mud stopped the bridge's supporting wheel from revolving, and needed the brute strength of the passer by, Jan and me to push the bridge open. Once the bridge was open I cleaned the mud off the track with a stick, and it closed sweetly with no undue effort. No doubt it will work like that until the next rain washes mud onto the track again. I'll have to e-mail CRT and suggest they clean all the mud away.

And now back to Bill S., an occasional commenter on this blog. He lives in Rochdale and appeared on the scene to explain in great detail some of the finer points of lock construction, overspill weirs and much more. Fascinating stuff, and I hope I am able to retain some of what he told me.

Naturally a windlass was thrust in his hand!

It was good to meet you, Bill.

There is much more (as always) to say, including writing about meeting Lindsey Lindsay and Paul on Happy Daze and fellow bloggers Iain Ian and Irene on Free Spirit, both moored in Walsden which is where we are.

And this is tonight's mooring: Jubilee on the left; Happy Daze on the right.

For now though ... it's well past my bedtime!

edited to correct spelling

1 comment:

Jim said...

Good to see that although dated 1990 the boundary sign says "Lancashire " and "Yorkshire". Some people would have you believe you were passing from "Greater Manchester" into. "West Yorkshire "