Monday, 8 June 2015

The weather closes in as we approach Summit

Monday 1st June - Littleborough to West Summit Lock

We woke to brilliant sunshine but the forecast was dreadful.  It was nearly 9.30 before we left though as we had to get in some supplies – at least the shops weren’t far.  At the first lock there was a lone CRT chap re-siting the cobbles for bracing your feet against – apparently when the Rochdale was restored a lot were put in the wrong place and there is much work to be done!  We met another couple at the next lock, who said there was plenty of water except for one pound to avoid mooring in, 39-40.  We stopped at Littleborough service area to get rid of the rubbish, including the stuff cut off the prop the other day, take on water and empty a cassette.

As the countryside gets more rugged, so do the locks!  They have been fairly heavy so far, though perfectly manageable, but today the paddle gear is stiffer and I needed help on one of the worst gates.  The Pennine hills are steep here and we could see the tops of hills round the summit, but the course of the canal winds about a bit, so there are no clear views now the trees are in leaf.  As we approached the last couple of locks before the summit the rain started spitting, and the wind, which had been getting up all morning, was strong.  I took this pic from somewhere near the top, looking back downhill.

1view down the west side of the rochdale

This was the last lock we did today, First Below West Summit.  I love these names.

2 last lcok of the day

There are 24-hour moorings on the offside below West Summit Lock, provided by the Rochdale Canal Society, and as it was lunchtime we pulled in, hoping for a pie and a pint at the Summit Inn.  But it was closed!  Doesn’t open till 2, an odd time, but we thought we’d pop over in the evening.  The weather was now appalling, pouring rain and huge gusts of wind, so we hunkered down for the rest of the day.

There was a lull towards teatime, so I took Meg for a walk along the summit pound.

4a summit pound

The road is less than 50 yards away, which is hardly surprising as the canal and road follow the lowest way over the summit. The railway has disappeared into a tunnel by now.  The other bank is too steep for anything other than rough grazing.

4 summit pound

Half way along the pound is this unusual bench.  It’s made of some kind of metal, and has a poem, Watershed by Andrew Macmillan, written on it.

5 watershed bench 1

6 watershed bench 2

The bench is an odd elongated shape and continues down to the ground each side.  You’d probably slip off if you weren’t careful where you sat!

7 watershed bench 3

At ground level is inscribed (embossed?) the places the water will eventually reach from the summit.

8 watershed bench 4  9 watershed bench 5

Soon after we got back the storm started again.  We checked the mooring ropes but decided against going to the pub as the rain was torrential and the wind bashing us about.  We checked the ropes again before we went to bed – stern and centre ropes on bollards, crossed pins for the bow as the bollard was too far away.  The stern was below the level of the bank, so we thought we’d be held even if the pins came out.

A mile and a half, 11 locks, 3 and a half hours.

We saw no boats on the move today.

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