Thursday, 15 September 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (4-4)

Thursday September 15th
Dale Street Basin to River Irk Aqueduct
Day 25

Up early and out with the dogs for their morning constitutional walk. We were under way by 8am to arrive at lock 83 at 8:30 to meet the lock keeper. There are a minimum of 19 locks to get through on this section of the Rochdale canal. We must be at lock 65 before 4pm as it will be locked down for the night.

The weather today has taken a turn for the better with a warm start to the day. We soon had the pram cover down and the dogs enjoyed sunbathing on the back counter.

From Lock 83 to Lock 65 the canal is a boating challenge, Today was no exception. Just after lock 82 some canal side construction work is being done on a short arm. Part of the safety barriers had fallen into the canal and it looked like top soil had also been tipped in at the same point. We managed to get a bit of scaffold pole stuck between the skeg, tiller and prop which stalled the engine. I managed to leaver the pole clear of the skeg and propeller. Later, I checked down the weed hatch and this has caused some damage to the propeller. (A bent blade and a chunk of the blade edge is missing) We reported the incidence to BW and to the construction staff working on the canal side for them to check and make the canal safe for navigation.

The damage to the propeller is manageable for us to continue our cruise. We will have to make arrangements for the boat to be lifted out of the canal for inspection and the necessary repairs to be made. Castleford boat yard is the nearest place with a slipway on our cruise that we can get this done. Balfour Beatty will be getting a bill for the repairs.

As we continued our climb, some canal staff were busy flushing the locks above us. We were just about to enter one lock when a surge of water came down the bywash. This pinned us to the bank and the boat was tipped at an angle until the amount of water passing through the bywash subsided. The Memsahib did a bit of quick thinking and closed down the bottom lock gate sluices and then opened the top gate sluices to draw some of the surge into the lock. Water was also pouring over the lock top gates and was flooding a section of the towpath above the lock in places.

As we progressed along the canal, the situation of a lack of water and the amount of rubbish piled up in the canal proved to be a real challenge.

As we passed a block of canal side flats, a young mother appeared on a balcony and threw a used baby's nappy into the canal. There were twenty plus other nappies floating in the canal. We counted 24 shopping trolleys. I had to go down the weed hatch at every other lock to clear the propeller. Bottles, plastic bags, sacks, broken plastic toys, car tyres, even complete cars the list of rubbish disposed of in the canal defies description. Add to this recipe a long queue of people wanting to "work the lock for you for a bottle of beer". The "Rochdale" is one to avoid, we will never go back. When we passed over the summit the lock keeper presented us with a certificate for completing the climb up to the canal summit from Manchester. He told us that most of the boats crossing the summit actually go down into Littleborough and then turn back. Not many actually make the trip to and from Manchester.

We had an exchange of friendly banter in Failsworth with a few locals enjoying a pint of beer at the Failsworth Home Guard Club. Everyone of them claimed to be Captain Mainwaring, even the ladies! However, most of them looked like either Private Godfrey or Corporal Jones including the ladies!!!

Later, we met up with Oliver who was only 15 weeks old and out for a walk in the good weather with his mum. Everyone was interested in how the locks worked and then mum and dad had a quick look round inside the boat. It seems that boat passages through this section (Limited to four boats a day in each direction) means that the locals don't see the locks in use very often. We were given a culinary tip by Oliver’s dad about the Cheese and Onion pie at the Rose of Lancaster canal side pub.

We stopped for the night just after the River Irk aqueduct. This is a tiny river that runs alongside a small park where we exercised the dogs. We walked back along the canal to the Rose of Lancaster for a pub meal. We would recommend the nachos starter to share if you like spicy food. The Cheese and Onion pie is also top nosh!!! The moorings at the pub are in a bad state of repair and should be avoided.

A better place to stop with good moorings would be the Boat and Horses at Chadderton. We had a friendly exchange of “Cheers” with the clientèle sat outside the boat and horses in the warm sunshine as we passed - we were the only ones drinking tea!

Only Pipistrelle detected tonight – but in good numbers. (10) The sky is clear and the temperature soon began to fall so I lit the stove. The dogs soon positioned themselves in close proximity to the stove!

Daily Total
Distance: 7 Miles.
Locks: 21
Swing / Lift Bridges: 1
Tunnels: 1
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1892.1

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