Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Tunnel


IMG_2662The day had finally arrived for our passage through The Standedge Tunnel which is the deepest ,longest and highest tunnel in the UK . We had been told that our passage through wouldn’t be until 11.30 as boats from the East always comes through first. But we were surprised to get a phone call just after 08.00 from Canal and River Trust to say that there were no boats coming through from Marsden in the East so could we be ready to go in an hour.

IMG_2654The Crt guys arrived just after 09.00 and proceeded to measure every part of Inca . They did our air draught our beam our depth and anything else they could think of . We had already removed our cratch cover and rear cover . The Solar panels had been dropped down and we were ready to go.

IMG_2660Heath and safety seems to rule here . With Carolyn and Curly deciding to stay down in the boat I had to put on all this gear. It felt just like being back at work again and that’s not good !!!.

IMG_2664You are not allowed to go through the tunnel by yourself and have to have a Canal and River Trust employee on board with you . They are not Pilots but are called Chaperones . I guess that ever anything went wrong you wouldn’t have any comeback on the trust. Anyway our Chaperone was Terry (on the left) and a new guy who he was training. Terry said that he had been through the tunnel over a thousand times.

There are in fact 4 tunnels at Standedge with one being the canal and the other 3 railway although only one railway tunnel is now used.

IMG_2668The canal tunnel which was completed in 1841 is only wide enough for one narrowboat for much of its length and to save on cost, as in some other canal tunnels in England, a tow-path was not provided in the tunnel. As canal boats were horse-drawn, the boats had to be legged through the tunnel – a process where one or more boatmen lay on the cargo and pushed against the roof or walls of the tunnel with their legs. Professional leggers were paid one Shilling and six Pence for working a boat through the tunnel which took one hour and twenty minutes for an empty boat and three hours with a full load

IMG_2671 As well as the Chaperone there is also a crt worker who drives his van through one of the disused rail tunnels to check out our progress. There are also communications in four places to call in to the tunnel manager to say we are OK and ask if it’s alright to proceed.

IMG_2673Off they go to find out where their mate who is driving the van is, as he hasn’t shown up at this point.

IMG_2677The Standedge Tunnel is the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in Britain. It is 5,500 yards (5,000 m) long, 636 feet (194 m) underground at its deepest point, and 643 feet (196 m) above sea level. 

IMG_2676We stopped at another point and saw this smoke ,but didn’t have a clue where it came from

IMG_2669After closing in 1944 The canal tunnel was the beneficiary of a £5 million restoration project as part of an effort to re-open the entire canal. Several rock-lined parts of the tunnel were found to be unstable. Where possible, these were stabilised by rock bolts, (one can just be seen at the top of this picture) or where impractical, concrete was used to stabilise the rock face. The tunnel re-opened in May 2001.

IMG_2679After one hour and twenty minutes which we were told was a very good time for coming through we left the tunnel at Marsden in the pouring rain . It was a good trip through and no damage was done to Inca on the low ceiling and all the rocks that stick out . It’s been a hard old slog coming up the 32 locks from the junction to Diggle and it will be just as Hard going down the other side which is 42 locks to Huddersfield . We decided to moor up after we came out at Marsden and spend the night there before moving on.

                                                                                                                   Happy Days

Thursday, 27 April 2017

To the Summit

IMG_2622After a good night at Uppermill and a very enjoyable takeaway Chinese meal we popped in to the town to stock up before making the final push up to the summit of the Huddersfield canal . The quickest way from the town to our mooring was over these stepping stones .It was easy when you had no shopping ,but not so easy when you are loaded down.

IMG_2635After a filling the cupboards we pulled pins and headed up to the lock above the town of Uppermill . this is the first time we have seen paddles like this . It seems like this canal is a mixture of all sorts of paddle gear.

IMG_2640With myself and Curly on lock duty Carolyn brings Inca in to lock 23 West after passing under this magnificent Viaduct

IMG_2644Curly and Carolyn having a well deserved rest as we lock up the Huddersfield Narrow canal as we travel through the upper Tame valley.

IMG_2648After 4 hours and 12 very hard heavy locks we finally reached the Summit and the West portal of The Standedge tunnel .To be honest it doesn't look very spectacular and I think I was expecting something a bit more grand. We are booked to go through at 11.30 tomorrow morning ,although a couple Canal and River Trust workers told us it could be a lot later as they bring the boats through from the East first.

IMG_2652Not long after mooring up we were told by a local walker that 9 Ducklings seemed to have lost their Mum . No one had seen her for at 4 hours so the RSPCA called . Curly and Carolyn kept an eye on the Ducklings until they arrived and then helped to catch all 9 of them. It was thought that a Fox may have taken the Mother Duck as there are several in this area. Anyway at least the Ducklings should have a reasonable chance now of surviving.

                                                                                                                         Happy Days

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Marple delay


For some bizzare reason this post was deleted from our blog. It was posted before our cruise through Staylebridge . Thanks for pointing out that it had vanished Della , NB Muleless ………..Hopefully you can now seee it !!


IMG_2444After a good night moored just before Marple junction we pulled pins at 07.50 with the 16 locks of the Marple flight in front of us . This is now where I am in my element as we have never done this part of the Peak Forest before . In fact for the next few months all the canals we visit will be new to us . I just love not knowing what is around the next corner and just love any new challenges we may come across on the way.

IMG_2449The flight of locks will drop us down 208 feet ,so most locks are fairly deep.

IMG_2458Just after lock 13 Carolyn and Curly have to go below the busy road and walk through the old Horse tunnel.

IMG_2463Then at lock 12 we couldn’t believe our eyes . The top gate was hanging off and there was no way we could carry on down the flight. I immediately rang Canal and River Trust and explained the problem . They said they would have a gang out within the hour to start repairs .After half an hour these two friendly operatives turned up . Not having the gear to fix it they had to call out reinforcements.

IMG_2466Eventually an engineer turned up with a ratchet strap and after a lot of struggling including three of us sat on the balance beam the gate was finally back in place . It seems that a boat might have hit the gate and knocked out the Feathers which are the strips of metal on the floor . They are used to keep the top of the gate in position.

IMG_2483With the lock repaired I was told to drop down to the pond below and wait there for a couple of boats coming up . But unbeknown to me the pound below the one I was in was empty ,so they let down water from my pound to fill it . Needless to say my pound soon started to empty and I started to tilt over .

IMG_2469This is the empty pound below where I am . After a bit of shouting one of the Canal and River Trust guys opened the paddles above me and started filling the pound and eventually putting me level again.

IMG_2501After a four hour delay we eventually made it to the bottom of the flight and soon started to cross The Marple aqueduct over the river Goyt . With Carolyn hiding down below myself and Curly enjoyed the short trip across.

IMG_2506The aqueduct carries the canal 100 feet above the river . Unfortunately because there is a wide edge you don’t get the same experience as crossing The .pontcysyllte aqueduct which is in Wales.

IMG_2522We were then surprised to see this Fox out in the middle of the day . It wasn’t at all bothered by us passing in Inca and seemed to be enjoying the Spring Sunshine.

After a longer day than we had anticipated we picked up a mooring just before Dunkfield junction . We had been told by The Canal and River Trust guys that there was no way should we moor anywhere near Ashton or Stalybridge. We have been advised to have an early start and get through this area as soon as possible.Having never been here before it sort of makes sense to this to folk that have local knowledge.

                                                                                                                     Happy Days

A near disaster


IMG_2594Another early start for Curly and we pulled pins from our mooring at 08.10 . With full Sun we soon started to put in the miles and the locks towards are destination of Uppermill . We have been told by several other boaters that it was worth spending a day or two here at this lovely town on Saddleworth Moor.

IMG_2606At least these sheep will keep the grass down in their garden.

IMG_2593We passed this burnt out Wheelie bin on route and where shocked to hear from a local lady that the local Scroates had some how got it in to their heads that if they burnt Blue wheelie bins they would get high on the smoke given off from it . She said it had become a real problem in the area with people having their blue bins stolen and then burnt. I did Google it and it seems to be a bit of a myth and a total load of rubbish (pardon the pun) that it gives you any sort of high.

IMG_2603Come on Curly , put your back in to it.

IMG_2607Entering the small tunnel that takes you under the road and in to the lock below Uppermill.

IMG_2611Now this is where disaster nearly struck . As you can see Inca is at a bit of a strange angle as we are going up in the lock and I snapped this picture just as total panic set in. We had somehow got caught up on the side of the lock and with the lock filling and Inca stuck we were a little bit close to sinking. I shouted at Carolyn to close all paddles which she immediately did . I scrambled off the boat and with the top gate paddles dropped we started lowering the level in the lock from the bottom gates. Eventually Inca somehow dropped off the side of the lock and we then started to fill the lock very slowly. Not a good experience and not one we would want again . It turned out after talking to some local boaters that this lock which is 21 West is well known for being narrow and causing problems . So why hasn’t Canal and River Trust done anything about it ? . At least some signage to warn boaters of the problem would help.

IMG_2625Above the lock there is a lovely long line of newly installed mooring bollards with signs stating 48 hour moorings. The only problem is that it is so shallow you can’t get within 4 feet of the edge . What a total waste !!!!!

IMG_2614We managed to pick up this mooring just before the next lock where it was just about deep enough for us to sit with out touching the bottom. After the shock at the last lock we decided to have a rest here before making our way up to the canal summit at Diggle where we are booked in to go through the Standedge tunnel.

                                                                                                              Happy Days

Monday, 24 April 2017

Up the Huddersfield


IMG_2528We pulled pins just before the Dunksfield junction at 07.50 and turned right onto The Huddersfield canal . Turning left would have taken us along the Ashton canal and in to Manchester .

IMG_2533Another first for us as we travel underneath a Supermarket.

IMG_2535In to the first lock of The Huddersfield narrow canal and we soon got an insight in to how hard it would be to lock through this canal . The Huddersfield narrow canal runs just under 20 miles (32 km) from Lock 1E  near Aspley Basin in Huddersfield, to the junction with the Ashton Canal at Whitelands Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne. It crosses the Pennines by means of 74 (bloody) hard locks and the Standedge Tunnel.

IMG_2561We had already been told by Canal and River Trust workers and local boaters to get through Staylebridge as quick as possible due to anti boat behaviour.

IMG_2543To be honest as we past through at great haste all the locals seemed friendly enough ,but at every lock landing  through the town there was broken glass ,beer cans and used needles . It also made it impossible for us to let Hamish off the boat during our cruise through the town . Such a shame as there looked to be several good mooring spots .

IMG_2545You can tell by the sides of this lock that it’s not very well used . From what we have been told there are very few boaters that use this canal . We are now slowly but surely finding out why this is such an under used waterway.

IMG_2546At the top end of Staylebridge we cruised past the Wooden Canal Society's wharf.

IMG_2551This is a first for us . We have never travelled between the legs of a pylon before. We even had the pleasure of a Goose flying over us at the same time.

IMG_2564We then picked up this mooring for the night which is next to the srvices above Staylebridge . We were told to not stop before we reached this as we would still be in Bandit country.

IMG_2571 Being on the main flight path in to Manchester Airport we enjoyed watching the planes passsing overhead . We will now have a night here before moving up and hopefully picking up a mooring at Uppermill on Saddleworth moor.                                                                                                      

                                                                                                Happy Days

Sunday, 23 April 2017



IMG_2380With a planned couple of days off from cruising we settled in to life at Bugsworth basin.There’s loads of history here and it all started when work on both the Peak Forest Canal and the tramlines from Dove Holes quarry were completed in the late 1700’s.This enabled limestone to be transported from the quarries by horse drawn waggons, and either be transferred as limestone to canal barges, or burnt into lime in kilns at the basin, and then shipped out.
Once Britain’s largest inland port the basin became dis-used in 1927 as a result of the dominance of the railways.

Thanks to the efforts of the Inland Waterways Protection Society and financial assistance from local councils and the EEC, the basin was re-opened on 3rd August 1999. Bugsworth Basin is classed as an ancient monument.

IMG_2359This is the Navigation Inn that stands at the head of the basin . It’s famous because it was once owned by Pat Phoenix who played Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street and was regarded by many as being the first ever sex symbol on uk TV.

IMG_2391The Moon (well half of it) over Bugsworth Basin.

IMG_2397There is also a small museum which gives a bit of an insight in to the history of the basin.

IMG_2398I don’t think I would have liked working here . With lime kilns chucking out all sorts of horrible chemicals and all the hard manual work it must have been a nightmare.

IMG_2407We soon got friendly with the basin warden who is called Pablo . He really works hard to keep the area in tip top condition . Having had our 48 hours in the basin he said we could stay another couple of days if we wanted to. With Curly loving it here we decided to have an extra day as Carolyn and Curly fancied taking the bus from near by Whaley Bridge to Buxton.

IMG_2409Eventually our time was up and we had to make a move as we are booked to go through The Standedge tunnel . Before leaving we stopped off at the services to top up with water and get rid of waste.

IMG_2383I’ve told Curly that she needs to be competent in all aspects of Narrowboat life and that includes emptying the toilet cassettes . But as you can see by the look on her face there is no way she will ever do that. She told me that it was a Blue job and not a Pink job . I wonder where she got that from Sharon (Nb Oakapple) .

IMG_2425After topping up the cupboards from the Tesco and winding in Whaley Bridge we headed back out on to the Peak Forest canal and made our way past this sunken boat.

IMG_2438We had to laugh at this day hire boat as he had missed the winding hole further back the canal and tried to turn just by this lift bridge. Needless to say he got wedged between the banks good and proper. We did offer them a bit of advice ,but they seemed to know better so we left them alone.

We then picked up a mooring about a mile before Marple. Tomorrow it’s an early start and then down through the Marple flight of locks to the lower Peak forest canal and then hopefully pick up a mooring for the night before we join The Huddersfield canal on the following day.

                                                                                                                      Happy Days