Saturday, 30 May 2015

Wednesday 27th May; Droylsden marina.
By this evening we should have been well on our way to the Standedge Tunnel for passage on Friday, but the best-laid plans …. there is a stoppage the other side of the tunnel.  A hole has been discovered in an embankment and the canal is closed between locks 12 and 13E for a couple of weeks.  So we’ve done a bit of rescheduling.  We have commitments at home later in June so can’t just put everything off for two weeks!  So we decided to go up the Rochdale and see how things are when the next CRT update is due at the end of the week and with a bit of luck we’ll be able to complete the South Pennine ring in a clockwise direction instead.  Or maybe not.

No pictures today – after a tedious journey up from Devon we unpacked in light rain and just got everything on the boat before it tipped down.  Later on we popped over to the convenient Tesco for some supplies and in the hope I could get some clothes … we usually forget something on our trips – thermals once in winter, my phone charger – this time I completely forgot any jumpers apart from the one I was wearing!  and shorts, though they may not be needed of course.  I thought I could at least get a cheap jumper from Tesco for locking, but no, it’s summer – no jumpers.  I did get some shorts though and I’ll see what I can get in Manchester tomorrow.

Thursday 28th May; Droylsden – New Islington

We planned an early start to get down the Ashton locks but not only did we oversleep but the Black Prince which came in last night was up and away before we were anywhere near ready.  So we relaxed for a while and I took a couple of snaps of Oscar, one of the resident dogs.  He’s extremely energetic and doesn’t keep still for photos, even though he and Meg had been charging up and down just before!

We set off before 9, leaving a forlorn Oscar watching his friend sail away.

We were expecting the locks to be against us, but there was such a strong wind that many of the bottom gates had blown open too, so that was extra work.  However, as we are now the proud possessors of a folding bike, courtesy of some friends who have had to give up their boat,  lockwheeling was much quicker than it was coming up the Ashton a few weeks ago.  As we started down the Clayton flight we were delighted to see a boat coming up – perhaps there would be at least a few locks in our favour now!

It was a single-hander.  He had set his alarm for 3.45 this morning and we suspect had just stopped for breakfast as the next lock was empty, whether because the Black Prince had used it or through leakage we don’t know. Anyway, this was the only lock I didn’t have to turn.  Below lock 11 is the junction with the Stockport Branch.  It looks good from the lock -

but is now a bit shorter than it was.

According to the deepest narrow lock on the system is Vinegar Lock, no 10 on the Clayton flight.  Unfortunately the locks are nor named either lockside or in Nicholson’s, so here are some pictures of what I think is Vinegar Lock!  I’d forgotten which number to look out for when I took the pix.

On the Beswick flight, opposite the Etihad stadium, the Moscow State Circus was setting up.  We went to see them once in Devon when the children were small, around 1990.  We would have been impressed with the beautiful black horses ‘dancing’ in synchrony,  but we had seen them in their stalls before the show when they just stood there, blank-eyed and still, not like any horses we had seen before or since.  They performed with the same lack of expression.  It was quite disturbing.

This is the second deepest narrow lock on the system – Harry Garner’s lock on the Beswick flight.

Close by are the tennis courts of Sport City.  There were several games going on and Meg was beside herself, running back and forth crying piteously to be let in to play.

At last we reached the Ancoats flight.  We were quite tired; Dave had been fighting gusting crosswinds all the way and I had been battling to stay upright on the unfamiliar little bike.  In the not very pretty surroundings of Ancoats bottom lock there was this little treasure to cheer me up.

It’s an orchid but I’m not sure which.  We turned at Ducie Street junction to rise up two double locks and arrive at New Islington marina shortly before 3, where we squeezed in on the visitor moorings for a late lunch.  Then I nipped over to the nearby Go Outdoors and managed to get a couple of fleeces in lieu of the locking jumpers I left at home!  We strolled up to Piccadilly Gardens later on for a meal in Zizzi – unfortunately not as good as the one in Paddington.

4 miles 20 locks (18 narrow, 2 broad)
We saw just one boat on the move though two came into New Islington while we were there.

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