WELL WHAT A CHANGE.
In the weather I mean.
At the end of my last blog I did wonder if the sun would ever come out, and now we are sat with everything open in sweltering heat, watching the ladies world cup.
We spent some more time on the Higher Peak Forest canal, staying at Whaley Bridge for a couple of nights. We found a great new micro pub had opened in the village called Whaley Nook, and called in at the Goyt Inn. Next day we caught the train into Stockport. The town has happy memories for us because it is where we first met 12yrs ago, it has a great indoor market and of course a few good pubs. To finish off a very enjoyable couple of days we had a kebab, a dirty little pleasure of ours now and again.
Then on to the wonderful Marple flight of 16 locks, but not so good in the rain. The flight had been closed for 20 months and only reopened at the end of May. There had been problems with the lock walls bulging, which meant boats were getting stuck in the lock. We had the help of two volunteer lockies which was wonderful, and it took us a very respectful 3hrs.
So on to Hyde, we moored here for about 3months before we moved on board fulltime and started our cruise to our winter moorings in Coventry. Captain Jack was our landlord and we were pleased to see him and stop and have a chat. We told him about our adventures over the past 5 years, and he was happy to see we were still living the dream and couldn’t believe how the time had flown.
Hyde is a pleasant town with a small indoor market and a good selection of shops, but it no longer has a Wetherspoons, but it does have a micro pub called the Tweed Tap, were I had the strangest tasting lager I have ever had. We also called in the Cheshire Ring, another great real ale pub, and the White Gates a Sam Smith’s pub so not only good beer but amazing prices. And then we had a chinese.
The chinese set us up for the next day and the 18 locks of the Ashton flight, this was hard work as the locks were, in the main set against us, but we got into a rhythm and we were soon moored up at Piccadilly village, private moorings but visitors are welcome to stay overnight. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the code for the gates, so we were unable to visit a brewery tap we had been told about nearby, but to be honest I was knackered and quite happy to chill out on the boat.
The last battle into Castlefield basin is with the infamous Rochdale 9 locks, but we were joined by our friend Neil thank god. These locks have a terrible reputation and haven’t improved at all since our last visit to Manchester 3yrs ago. They take you under the streets of Manchester and there is no shortage of water, but no by-washes to take the excess water away. So not only are you fighting with heavy gates and short lock arms, but the task of equalising the water in the lock chamber to be able open the gates. I was so pleased that we had Neil with us.
As we left the last lock in the basin and onto the Bridgewater canal I spotted a boat I knew, NB Ceiriog belonging to our friends Andy and Chris. We met on the Chesterfield canal last year and spent a very happy afternoon with them, in the pub of course. We had chatted about doing the Lancaster, and they indicated they would like to join us if our schedules matched.
I sent Chris a message to see if they were about.
The Bridgewater canal is owned and controlled by Peel Holding not CRT, but there is an agreement that CRT license holders can spend a week on the canal without any charge. Sonny, who is the notorious enforcement officer for Peel was not about, so we moored up without a problem and went to the pub. Of course.
Now I will have my little rant for this blog. Like with all households we produce household rubbish, being it food waste or packaging, bottle cans etc. Well there are no bins on CRT water from the top of the Marple flight all the way into Castlefield basin, a trip of 15miles and 42 locks, which took us 5 days to do. And there were no bins in the basin either. In fact there are no bins on CRT waters from Marple to Parbold on the Leeds Liverpool canal, which is 45 miles and 50 locks. So CRT what are we meant to do with our rubbish????
We had a quiet day next day and called in the John Rylands library again, this was to jog the Captains memory, as we visited on our last time in the city but he couldn’t remember it. It is such an amazing building and his memory soon came flooding back. There was a special display for the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre. This took place on 16th August 1819, when a crowd of between 60,000 and 80,000 gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation at Saint Peter’s Field Manchester. The local magistrate ordered the crowd to be dispersed by the local militia, and they charged the crowd of men women and children with sabres drawn. 18 people were killed and 500 to 700 injured. It was a pivotal moment in our history, and ironically named after the victory at Waterloo some 4yrs earlier. That’s history done for this blog.
We went to Try Thai once again with Neil, Cath and Rosemary, and had a wonderful meal, and to end a lovely day we managed to catch up and have a drink with Andy and Chris before they left the next day, once again in the opposite direction to us.
The next day was vey hot, and after a slow walk into the centre we had to queue to get into Sinclairs Oyster bar, which is the only Sam Smiths in Manchester, and at £4.60 for 2 pints and a lovely outside seating area you can see why we had to queue.
The Captain had done his homework, and discovered that the next day was Manchester day, and there was a parade and stalls and other bits and pieces going on, so of course we had to stay and take part. But then it was time to say goodby to Manchester, and head of in the sunset to Sale and then Lymm
At Lymm we had a chance meeting with a boat called Avalon Dreams and her Captain also called Peter, and his crew Ruth.
As usual the Captains planning was spot on and we called at Stretford marina for a pump out. The lady who served us was lovely, and very very chatty, she rinsed our tank out a good few times (we think just to keep us talking but we didn’t mind) and only charged us £12.
Our last cruise was up through Worsely, and we were joined by our mate Neil, his Mum Pat, and Dad Norman. They had never been on a narrowboat and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We parted company at Astley Green, but not before we had visited the Mining museum there. The pit had closed in 1970, the head stocks were saved from demolition by the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire. It still has the enormous winding equipment which they run on occasions, and a miners house from the turn of the 20C. But what I loved was that they had the headstocks that Fred Dibnah had built, when he sunk a shaft in his garden in Bolton for a TV programme. Wonderful.
It is run by volunteers and open every day and is well worth a visit. We ended a perfect day in a perfect way, in the pub of course.