Thursday 10 October 2013

Rochdale 2013 - Irk Aqueduct

Rochdale 2013
Smithy Bridge to Irk Aqueduct / Rose of Lancaster
5 Sept 2013

8 miles - 15 locks - 6 hours

As I suspected, there were no boat movements overnight (nor were there over the preceding or following days) and our unofficial use of the mooring bollards at Smithy Bridge caused no inconvenience. Whilst we only draw about 2ft, we couldn't get the stern anywhere near the bank so we left it hanging out 18 inches or so - the margins are terribly shallow.

I cant believe that last time I came this way we managed to go over the summit and all the way own to the Rose of Lancaster in a single day. True, we started over the summit at 8.00am and Jeff and I were prone to heroics, but even splitting it into two legs is proving sufficiently taxing for Helen and I. 

Clegg Hall looks like a nice alternative mooring, but again I could see nowhere deep enough to get into the bank.

The run unto Rochdale was uneventful and free of the running hassle of stone throwers we experienced four years ago. In fact, the area round the canal is being re developed and it all feels more "gentrified" and therefore safer. The Rochdale locks are unchanged - dirty, broken and generally unloved. But that said, all that landscaping 10 years ago has left a legacy of lots of interesting foraging potential so, naturally, out progress slowed to a crawl.

Of course, urban canal means poly bags and we had a ruff of them round the prop all the way through to Blue Pits Lock when I retrieved them. Nothing heavy - just a lot of them. The locks then progressed in a mind numbing procession, interspersed with concrete gymnastics and the canal threaded its way under the roads built after the canal was abandoned. Impressive in a brutal unlovely sort of way.

Slattocks stands out, a group of flight tightly packed locks where we secured a big bag of Bramley Apples and discovered the delights of the Slattocks leak. With no boat traffic I felt comfortable walking down to the bottom, filling the chambers as I went. On my return to the boat the towpath passed through a small tunnel and I was met with a torrent of water which would give a slalom canoe club good value! It was pouring out of the lock wall and all I could do was find the shallowest part and wade through.

Finally, at Boarshaw Lock (60) I met another boater, appearing with windlass from below the lock like a modern day Dr Livingstone. A pair of boats had been held up by a stoppage on the Rochdale 9 in Manchester and has come up from Picadilly that morning. Interestingly, the second boat was Pippin, with who has alerted me to the stoppage issue from their temporary base in Castlefields.

And so, after a modest 6 hours on the move, we crept onto a mooring at the Irk Aqueduct, just short of the Rose of Lancaster. Today it was a balmy 20C which made for sticky lock working but all is set to change tomorrow - 12C and incessant rain. Just the thing for the "big push" into Manchester on the last day of the trip.

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