Marple to Whaley Bridge
Monday 12th April 2010
Peak Forest Canal 6 Miles - 18 locks - 5 hours
After my adventures under the Marple Aqueduct we made a start on the Marple Locks at 10.30, and what a pleasure it was. The sun cast it's rays through the still leaflesss branches getting warmer and warmer as the morning progressed. Whereas we started out in fleece jackets with the chill nipping our fingers we seemed to discard a layer every couple of locks and ending up in just tee shirts as we approached the summit.
Mooring below Marple bottom lock
This is one on my favourite flights, with its deep stone chambers and small duck filled pounds. Some of these pounds are a trifle too small and run low on water leaving boaters grounded on the mud. This isn't surprising when the water level can fall by up to 2ft when filling a single lock.
Marple Bottom Lock
After the soliture of the Lower Peak Forest, the upper reaches were a veritable hive of activity with boats bustling to and fro - more than we had seen since leaving Preston Brook all those days ago.
Rather than progress to Whaley Bridge itself we opted for a tour of Bugsworth Basin, exploring the various quays and deciding where to moor for the night. For all its attractive looks this location does have the drawback of the busy A6 which runs along it's southern perimeter and can be rather noisy. We opted for the lower basin which is furthest from the road and tied up in the lee of the stone bridge which deflected a good amount of the noise away from us.
Warehouse on the Marple Flight
Belle and Tilly joined us for the night to celebrate ny 49th birthday. This event was marked by a family meal at the Navigation Inn within the basin complex. It is no gastro pub but it does offer a decent range of menu options and some good real ales in an atmosphere of a traditional boatmans boozer - all within walking distance of the boat. At the time of our visit the chef had walked out contaminating some of the food on the way. This limited the menu a bit but the landlords wife stepped into the breech and produced a good meal far more promptly than we expected, all washed down with a couple of pints of Stockport Strong.
Marple horse tunnel
We also used the event to hold a present opening ceremony which was rather overshadowed by Jeffs loss of his phone into the canal - again. The did the same thing last year on the Rochdale! I returned to the boat to find him dragging the bottom with a landing net, covering the boat and himself with slimy mud. Had I not felt so sorry for him I would have taken a photo of this creature from the black lagoon - but I didnt.
Nearing Marple summit
All in all a lovely evening rounded off with St Trinians on the DVD in front of a cosy file. No a bad way to celebrate the last birthday of my 40's.