Sunday, 7 June 2015

Through (un)lovely Rochdale to Littleborough

Sunday 31st May; Chadderton to Littleborough

It was a shame to leave this lovely spot but needs must. 

1 preparing to leave Irk aqueduct

It had been wet overnight and the showers continued this morning.  The first three locks were all empty and it was a pleasure to lock ahead even in the rain.  There are two little signs at these locks about two lads’ fishing experiences.  Rather touching as the authors sound quite young.  It is a shame some idiot has thought fit to damage them. 

3 tench plaque  4 pike plaque

I spent most of the morning zooming back and forth on the bike between locks.  At railway bridge 69a I noticed the change of paint colour which Nicholson’s mentioned – the railway bridges in Manchester are red and cream I seem to remember.

5 railwy bridge 69a change of colour

The rain came and went, not particular heavy though it was windy.  The six Slattocks locks were close together, which was good, and in our favour, even better, but as yesterday the towpath round the locks and bridges is cobbled.  Bumpy and uncomfortable!  At one of these locks we met a group of cyclists who were cycling to Hebden Bridge and back.  It’ll take us several days to get there ….

We moored up above the locks for a lunch stop and a bit of shopping in the garage shop.  It was very windy by now so it was not easy to moor.  At Slattocks top lock bridge was this wheely thing which we reckon was to run the towrope round in the days when horses provided the motive power.

6 horse rope thing slattocks top lock bridge

It was cold when we started off again.  We could see the Pennines up ahead, with a lot of wind turbines, none of which were operating, which seemed a waste of the wind.

8 pennines ahead

We continued to climb, though the locks were now further apart.  The recommendation is not to stop in Rochdale – a CRT guy we spoke to said someone had left his boat there for three days against their strong warnings, and on the third night it had been thoroughly trashed.  We found Rochdale from the canal didn’t look bad, quite pretty in places with lots of trees….

9 partas of rochdale not too bad

but then you looked again and saw the rubbish amongst the bluebells.  At one point we saw our group of cyclists on their way home from Hebden Bridge, which they had reached for lunch.  We were advised by a friendly local couple not to stop before Belfield on the outskirts of Rochdale, but we nearly got stuck there at the swing bridge when I couldn’t shift the locking mechanism.  In the end it came free as I waggled the beam about till Dave could free the latch.  We tried to moor at Smithy Bridge but the sides were too shallow, and even the swing bridge moorings at Clegg Hall were too shallow.  We ended up at Littleborough on the rings below the locks, guided in by a volunteer on his way home.  It’s a funny town – quite a lot of shops though I am hard pushed to remember more than a lot of cheap takeaways apart from a couple of butchers and bakers and a big Co-op!

8 and a half miles, 15 locks, 2 swing bridges, 8 hours.  We passed a grand total of two boats today.

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