After spending a wet Jubilee weekend with our family in Chester and down to Ellesmere Port our new adventure is about to start. In recent years we have got as far as the Anderton Boat Lift but this year we have carried straight on and Manchester is now our aim. Todays task was the three tunnels to Preston Brook and then to moor up at Midland Chandlery for parts to be picked up in the morning.
After picking up some battery monitoring bits we headed towards Manchester and after passing the Man U football ground moored up in the lower Manchester Basin (this basin is patrolled by security Police and is safe to stay overnight). The following morning our Journey began in Ernest with the first 9 Rochdale locks (right in through the Center of Manchester), these locks were the heaviest locks we have encounted so far. After the first 9 heavy locks, we moored in a brand new Marina just outside the city centre, that evening we were joined by a couple of friends (Mark and Karen) and had a great meal at a Brazilian Restaurant.
As the first 16 locks locks on the main Rochdale canal are very difficult with hidden rocks and very shallow sections we were to be escorted by and ex working boatman (Ian) who was familiar with the canal, the down side was that we had to be at the first main lock by 8.30 to meet Ian. After a great day with our friendly boatman we moored at the Rose of Lancaster to recover and attempt to “dry out”.
The following day we set forth with our wet gear on (it was still raining cats and dogs) and after passing Rochdale, moored near a swing bridge at Todmorden.
OMG another day of lashing rain and with 11 locks it was a very heavy day. Moored at the lock before the summit. It just won’t stop raining. After going over the summit (in the rain) we moored early to do some essential maintenance on Xilion Rose (an oil and filter change).
On Monday the 18th June (note a crafty date check) we moved on to Todmorden where Phil (our cruising partner) intended to buy oil and filters from the boat yard in Todmorden, only to find that the yard had closed down, however we moored overnight there as there was nobody around to move us on.
We were surprised to find the sun shining when we woke up on the Wednesday, so with shorts and sandals on we set of for Hebden Bridge where Annie bought a pair of Clogs directly from one of the few remaining Clog Factories in the UK. We then made our way via another 10 locks to Sowerby Bridge and the deepest lock in the UK.
After staying for a day in Sowerby Bridge and topping up our supplies we set of for the start of the Calder and Hebble where we were introduced to the Handpike (to open paddles) and the short locks. As we were new to these wide but short locks, we both (Phil and Glennis on their boat Minna) entered the lock and emptied the water, but found that it was not possible to open the bottom gates as our boats were too long (you need to position the boat corner to corner in the lock to be able to open the gates), therefore we had to refill the lock and one boat had to reverse out and wait until the lock was free again, added to this small problem was the method used to open the lock paddles i.e. the dreaded Hand pike.
The following day we set of for Brighouse and after a very long day with constant rain we arrived in Brighouse and decided that we would stay the night there rather than move onto the river Calder in preparation for our next stop in Leeds, this proved to be a very good decision as when we woke in the morning, the Calder river had risen 12 feet overnight and caused floods from Hebble Bridge all the way down to Brighouse. As we were now not able to get onto the Calder, we made ourselves comfortable and settled down to wait for the river to go down before we continued our journey to Leeds and the start of the Leeds to Liverpool canal.
After waiting for 5 days for the Calder to return to a safe level we set of for Leeds and after a long day we moored in the new small basin right in the centre of Leeds near the Hilton Hotel.
After a peaceful night we set off on our next destination, Appleby Bridge which was 12 locks away and included 3 sets of “Staircase Locks”. The following day (Saturday 30th June and still raining) we set off, but after just 8 locks we called it a day and moored up just outside Bigley.
Well the weather has certainly dominated this month, let’s hope for better in July.