Monday, 11 August 2014

No, you steer on the RIGHT!

After a weekend in Walsden we pulled the pins and moved on down the locks. This canalside garden colours the scene nicely.

The black clouds were a sign of the heavy showers we were to encounter all day. They were interspersed with warm sunshine, but it was rather windy too.

All the rain we've had lately has meant there's been no shortage of water. It's been cascading over both top and bottom gates of most of the locks. This is Lock 24 on the approach to Todmorden.

I'd been looking forward to this sight the whole trip: the railway bridge below Lock 22.

At the next lock (I believe it was) a CRT man asked if he could come on our bow to try to clear a fallen tree across the lock tail. He couldn't budge it, but we were able to squeeze past with no problem. It was not a very big tree, as you can see.

Next came the Great Wall of Tod - another feature I'd read about but not seen before. Its millions of bricks hold up the railway (and stop it falling into the cut).

In the centre of Todmorden is Todmorden or Library Lock 19 which has an electrically operated guillotine bottom gate. The vast amount of water pouring over the top gates, coupled with the fact that only one bottom paddle worked, meant that it took an age for the lock to drain sufficiently for the electrics to come to life.

We attracted a crowd of gongoozlers (three's a crowd, we're told), all keen to record the spectacle of the guillotine gate rising!

We tied up immediately below the lock and used the water, Elsan and rubbish disposal facilities.

It was as if a switch had been thrown. Suddenly there were other boats, including a moving one. We no longer had the canal to ourselves. No hire boats yet - we'd see them in Hebden Bridge - but there was one remarkable incident. A narrowboat was approaching, and it was obvious that we'd pass right by a moored plastic cruiser. Ordinarily this would not have been a problem; the canal was plenty wide enough. I steered well over to the right, giving bags of space for the oncoming boat to get between me and the moored boat.

BUT ... the approaching narrowboat steered straight towards us, seemingly intent on a head-on collision. I had slowed right down by now. Frantic hand signals indicated that I should pass on the wrong side; a course of action which I'd already decided on. As we passed, the oncoming boat grounded on the shallows on the offside. I had almost stopped by this stage, so we had a short conversation during which it transpired that she thought you pass oncoming boats on the left. I gently corrected her, and pulled her boat, Bumpkin (say no more) off the mud.

photo taken looking back: I had come through between the two boats

And then we came into hire boat territory. As we approached Hebden Bridge a Shire Cruisers boat, heading towards us, was dithering at the head of a lock. Fair enough, it had just come up and was probably collecting its crew. I was very surprised to see, though, that the lock it had presumably just ascended was empty. Then I saw that the bottom gates were being pushed open to admit another Shire Cruisers narrowboat. Why the first boat didn't wait for the second one to share the lock with I don't know. Jan had, by this time, arrived with Jubilee and had to wait on the Black Pit Aqueduct while we worked the second boat through.

After all this excitement we stopped on the 24 hour moorings by the park, where I washed the mud off my bike. Then we had tea on board and walked round the town.

coming in to land ...

Ooh - Sowerby Bridge tomorrow - I must book Tuel Lane Lock ...

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