Saturday, 31 October 2009

Just when I decide..

Just when I decide to change my mobile broadband provider things start looking up. I am currently with T-Mobile and Joe has a 3, now, calm down. It seems Joe is likely to be able to continue his contract with 3 for the current £7.50pcm so keeping that is a no brainer. We have had good service from 3 for the most part and at that price it is worth hanging on to. On the other hand (I won't say, 'four fingers and a thumb') T-Mobile at £15pcm is, or rather has, been disappointing and I have been looking about for an alternative supplier. My mobile phone contract is with Vodaphone and it seems I could get mobile broadband for £10pcm as an existing customer which is very, very tempting.

Now, however my T-Mobile broadband is working just fine!

What do I do?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Leaving Town

We stayed overnight in Marple on Wednesday. Having turned onto The Macclesfield Canal and serviced Caxton at the Wharf we found moorings just past the second bridge. Long hot showers had been taken whilst we filled with water so as soon as we were moored up we were off to find a much deserved pint - the pint of choice in Marple is Wags to Witches by the way.. A take-away Chinese meal, a VERY good Chinese meal, and that was us sorted.

At lunchtime on Thursday we winded and returned to the Wharf to top up the water tank. Moored across from the BW services was Nb Sanity, Bruce and Sheila's boat and a fellow blogger.

We headed off after watering, back onto the Peak Forest canal towards Bugsworth Basin. We will hang around hereabouts for a couple of weeks now the stoppages are about to start before we venture back down the Marple flight and take a trip up the Huddersfield Narrow.

Above, the old transfer warehouse on the town wharf.

Turning back onto to Peak Forest. When I had sorted washing and transferred some into the tumble dryer I decamped at the first available bridge hole, along with the two dogs, and walked the towpath towards our destination just below Disley village.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Coming UP

Sixteen locks, one mile, two hundred and ten foot rise and three and a quarter hours to complete. A wonderful late autumn day, sunshine all the way up the flight with numerous families taking a walk and watching the boats work up the locks - God was in his heaven and smiling on Wednesday when we came up into Marple.

The locks on this flight take the lower Peak Forest Canal up into Marple, completing the link the Upper Peak Forest and the Macclesfield Canal with the Ashton Canal and the markets of Manchester. The locks are all thirteen feet deep, roughing double the depth of most locks elsewhere and take 44000 gallons of water each time they are filled.

Above is Lockside Mill, just above lock nine. Now converted into offices but originally built to allow the transfer of raw and manufactured cotton between canal and road. The boats could enter the warehouse and load/unload under cover.

Above, the horse tunnel at Posset bridge and locks. Apparently the supply of 'possets' of ale from the nearby Navigation Inn, paid for by Samuel Oldknow the local mill owner, encouraged the prompt completion of the locks - hence the name Posset Bridge.

The locks cost £27000 in 1803. The building of the Peak Forest Canal had commenced in 1794 but financial constraints meant that there was no money for the proposed flight of locks until nine years later. Goods were transferred from boat to tramway and back onto boat at the bottom/top of the hill.
The locks are well maintained and pass through a route lined with mature beech trees. Marple associates itself with its canals, describing itself as a 'historic canal town' and this is reflected in the condition of the towpath and immediate environs.
The additional bonus was that only one lock turned against us by a holidaying family - not bad considering it is half term....

Monday, 26 October 2009

Yes, yes, yes, its an Autumn Aqueduct

We set off from our mooring at Romiley this morning at about nine. It had rained heavily overnight so things were a bit mucky underfoot but we only planned to move a mile and a half if we could find a suitable mooring below the flight of locks at Marple. Once started up the flight you are unable to moor up so its do the sixteen locks or leave well alone - the consensus was 'leave well alone' and enjoy this glorious setting.
Above the entrance to the Hyde Bank tunnel, at 308yds. The towpath goes up over the top and through Hyde Bank Farm yard where we met the pair below. In the field opposite was another Shetland pony and her foal who was galloping about showing off to the dogs. We came down to the tunnel just as Matilda Rose emerged - timing, timing!
Here we are moored up and almost ready to go exploring.

Above, the Marple Viaduct from the top of the Marple Aqueduct.
Off out for a walk with the dogs and Daisy cat decides to come too.

Above, the River Goyt - perfect for a little doggie swimming.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Portland Basin to Romiley

We left our moorings close to Portland basin this morning and headed off towards Marple. Our aim was to pick up a supply of cut timber we had spotted whilst walking the dogs and get ourselves closer to the start of lock flight that will get us up to Marple.

Our first bridge, a lift bridge opened by yours truly with the help of four supervising dogs and closed by Jill.
Here a rather attractively renovated canalside warehouse...

Graham at the helm of Matilda Rose as she comes through a turnover bridge.

Interesting stern on that boat on the left, could it be a cut and shut perhaps? Caxton looming into view in the background.

The four dogs heading up and over yet another turnover bridge.

Alone again, Jill has been summoned back aboard Matilda Rose to 'get the bread out of the oven' whilst I continue alone the towpath with Floyd and Fletcher.

Here we are three hours later moored at Romiley. The plan was to stop for lunch at a pub and move on after lunch to the bottom of the locks. The heavens opened, the Friendship Inn was doing Sunday lunches for a fiver so plans to continue our cruise were put to bed - another day tomorrow....

Birthday BOY

Floyd is four years old today - that is fours years going on eight months. Happy little chap that he is...

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Oh Yes, the Ashton Canal

The Ashton Canal links the Rochdale Canal in the heart of Manchester with the Peak Forest and Huddersfield Narrow Canal to the east and is an integral part of the Cheshire Ring. It has the unenviable reputation of being a no-go area. British Waterways advice is to start early and just keep going, lock everything up, don't offer lifts to anyone and don't moor up. So with this in mind we set off at 7.50am in a state of some trepidation - some were more 'trepped' than others you understand but whatever, it was going to be a dirty dash, eyes front, no fraternising with the locals...

Here is Caxton slipping out of our overnight mooring at Ducie Street Basin and wending our way through the newly developed Piccadilly Village - very nice too. Lots of private moorings in little basins along here - no boats moored on them though which was a bit of a waste because opening the moorings to visitors would encourage more usage.

Here we are at the first lock, Nb Matilda Rose had already gone through and I was getting calls from Graham to tell the BW guys that the next couple of pounds were very low on water and there was an obstruction at the next lock entrance. I sorted the lock for Caxton and hared off down the tow path to relay the message - then I hared back again.
BW got on the phone and Caxton slipped carefully onward - the water levels were very low over the next couple of pounds but Joe brought Caxton through OK. Leaving the new development of Piccadilly Village we were soon into a mix of building sites, derelict or semi-derelict buildings and housing.

We were amidst industry or at least the remains of some industries and that after all was what brought about the investment and development of canals - and I was enjoying the variety.
However, things were going so well for Matilda Rose. Graham spent a goodly part of the cruise with a lot of his bodily parts down the weed hatch. Five times MR had to stop to clear, carpets, wire, tyres and assorted debris from around the propeller. Caxton following, picked up so many carrier bags we could have started a recycling business.
At the final lock, 18, we had to bow haul Matilda Rose into the lock - the propeller was jammed yet again. Joe removed the bicycle frame below from the entrance to the lock whilst I flushed more water down into the pound to stop MR going aground.

MR on the move again.
But not for long....more carpet Vicar?
With the locks behind us we head off to safe moorings a 45min cruise away at Portland Basin.

Lovely tree lined cuttings
Above a preserved Mill chimney adjacent to new housing development at Ashton.
Portland Basin with its renovated Warehouse which is now an interesting industrial and social museum - well worth a visit.
Turning onto the Peak Forest Canal.
Looking back at the entrance to the PF and the Portland warehouse. We had expected the 'dash' up the Ashton to take four and a half hours or thereabouts - it took eight and a half. The locks were in good repair but the amount of rubbish in the canal is no joke. As a lock-wheeler on a glorious autumn day I was enjoying the Ashton but five times down a weed hatch and going aground because of lack of water and underwater obstacles was extremely tiresome for the helmsmen.
The BW men I spoke to tell me that where there were once seven men responsible for the Ashton there are now only two and to make matters worse those two men now also have to spend half their day tending the Huddersfield Narrow.
I feel an email may be winging its way to BW quite soon. As for no-go areas we experienced no issues at all but we have met other boaters who have. I don't see why anywhere in the UK should be a no-go area, its not Baghdad or Beirut, but perhaps I am being naive..