Thursday, 21 June 2012

Over the Pennines to Yorkshire

Well we’ve done it.  We’ve crossed the Pennines and are now at Todmorden in Yorkshire.

First we had to find our way through Rochdale.  I’m sure there are nice parts of Rochdale but they are certainly not to be found adjoining the canal.  This was another place where the canal was filled with shopping trolleys, all the locks have anti-vandal devices and you are recommended to lock the boat even when you are using it lest someone slips on at the front when you are at the back or vice versa.  We were stopped for a while by a boat in a lock above ours whose crew were unable to close the bottom gates.  British Waterways were called and extracted a sunken oil drum caught in the gates.

On another occasion I cleared all the assorted rope and plastic bags off the propeller and I was still unable to turn it by hand.  The answer proved to be a fat log caught between the propeller and the skeg (the protective iron keel below the prop.  David kindly volunteered and most of our son disappeared into the weed hatch to reach below the propeller and strain to clear the obstruction.  Here is a picture of what we removed from the prop on that occasion:
Propeller Rubbish
A few miles out of Rochdale we once more breathed fresh country air and here is a picture of where we moored that night:
Clegg Hall Mooring
 Notice the Pennine hills in the background.  From here an easy day took us to one lock short of the summit of the Rochdale Canal.  It is necessary to book the crossing of the summit so we had to stay here till 8.30 the following morning for the lock keeper to let us through.
Below West Summit Lock
From our mooring below the lock we climbed into the hills above for a view of the whole of the summit pound about a mile long:
Rochdale Canal Summit Pound

You can see the canal to the left of the houses.  The hill in the distance is Blackstone Edge on the Pennine Way.

On Wednesday we crossed the summit and here is a photo of us in the West Summit Lock and you will see from the sign that this is the highest broad canal in England.  Broad in the sense that you can get two 7 foot wide boats in each lock, except for a few locks where subsidence has pushed in the walls so that only one boat at a time will fit.
In West Summit Lock

From a lovely country mooring just the other side of the summit we went cycling back a few miles to Hollingworth Lake which is a reservoir built to provide the canal with water.  It is a lovely spot with the fine M62 viaduct crossing above the lake.
Hollingworth Lake
We even met an old chap who had worked as a pile driver in building the motorway bridge in the 1960s.

Today has not been quite as idyllic as yesterday in that it has poured all morning as we came down 13 locks to Todmorden.  In past years the Rochdale Canal has suffered from a water shortage.  Not this year: the water poured over the lock gates and emptying one lock flooded the towpath because the bywashes around the locks just had too much water already to cope with.
Niagara (Lock) Falls!
On the final bend into Todmorden is one of the wonders of the railway or canal world – the Great Wall of Tod.  This holds up the railway and prevents it falling in the canal.  Apparently 4 million bricks were used in its construction.
Great Wall of Tod
From here our way follows the valley of the River Calder on the Calder and Hebble Navigation before we turn up the river Aire towards Leeds.

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