Thursday 11th June; Uppermill to Scout Tunnel/lock 11W
This morning Meg was bouncing around as usual and you wouldn’t have known anything had happened yesterday. It was fortunate that the hook caught in her lip – it could have been her throat or further down. Doesn’t bear thinking about. After breakfast Dave took her off for a walk while I did a bit of shopping and called into the pet shop to thank the man for his help. As I returned to the boat I could hear a rustling at the edge of the towpath and spotted two moles! I dumped the shopping and grabbed my camera for a hasty photo - a tarmac towpath is not the best place for moles.
They were clearly trying to get out of sight and I guess they must have fallen from the bank above the towpath wall, or just burrowed out between the gaps in the stones. I have read that moles are solitary outside the breeding season and the young leave the maternal burrow at five weeks so these were probably just starting out by themselves. There was hardly any soil for them to burrow into so I picked this one up and put it back on the bank - pointing away from the drop - and it quickly disappeared. The other had vanished so it must have found some soft ground and burrowed out of sight.
I walked up the towpath to meet Dave and Meg. We went down to the steeping stones over the river by the park so she could get a drink.
Although I had to get the shears out to cut back the nettles so we could moor last night, this is a good spot if you can avoid the shelf below the waterline. Here we are, the nettles behind us catching the sun, seen through bridge 77 -
and bridge 77 seen from the water-point mooring.
Last night’s forecast for Saturday, when we had been intending to arrive back at Droylsden marina, was dreadful so we brought everything forward by a day and set off mid-morning. Dave dealt with the lock by the mooring while I crossed the busy main road to see where to get back on the boat. The bottom gate on the off-side was operated by a windlass system as there was no room for a full length balance beam.
It was another beautiful day, with stunning scenery. The wooded hillsides rose steeply to Mossley, but although yesterday we could see from the taxi down into the valley where the canal runs, we couldn’t see anything of the town from the canal and had only brief glimpses of the road.
At about bridge 20W there was another sympathetic conversion of mill buildings. A local told us that all the buildings were once in use for manufacturing, though now it looks like a group of cottages around the larger building in the middle.
There was a CRT notice we haven’t seen before on several lock beams – we suppose that the idea is to give the pounds a chance to refill from the bywashes. It reminded us of the motorway injunction to ‘keep two chevrons apart’.
The thing that looks like a pepper-pot under the balance beam covers the breather hole from the ground paddle culvert. Attractive, and also saves you from an accidental drenching as sometimes happens at the simple gratings you stand above to wind the paddle gear!
We had been warned that the moorings at Roaches were very shallow, but one boat was moored close in so we thought we’d try too and had no trouble at all. If it hadn’t been for our change of plan we would have stayed put until Friday, but even so it was a nice change to have a relaxed lunch out in the country. I took this photo from the path leading across the meadow to the river a couple of hundred yards away.
Below, Meg investigates the river Tame at Roaches. The pink flowers in the foreground are of Polygonum bistorta, or Sweet Dock, the leaves of which are used to make ‘dock pudding’, a local delicacy. The World Dock Pudding Championships are held in Mytholmroyd, near Hebden Bridge on the Rochdale Canal.
If we ever come back this way, Roaches would be a place to stop – walks for the dog and a pub a few hundred yards away.
We didn’t fancy mooring in Stalybridge tonight, having been told by a boater at Uppermill he’d had youths rampaging over his roof last time he did. We’d heard that the area south of Scout Tunnel was ok, and the depth of water was fine between locks 11 and 10W so we moored up. At last there was time to start washing the the boat - there was still mud from the Rochdale towpaths to be dealt with! Dave assessed the damage we sustained from our tunnel passage, yesterday having been rather too busy. There were a couple of scratches down to the metal near the back of the cabin which had to be seen to, as well as some scuffing along the handrails. And the black below the gunwales hadn’t been touched up for a while – not much point the route we’ve taken - so he was a busy lad.
It was a lovely warm evening; long cool drinks were in order and the side hatch was open till late.
11 locks, 3 and a half miles.