Today we took "Forget me Not" and "Hazel" to Marple. Our guests were people who have been dealng with depression. It was wonderful to see them enjoying the positive ambience of the boat and the waterway. That's what "Hazel" is for!
The 18 locks of the Ashton Canal between Manchester and Droylsden are not the best loved locks on the system. Many are the tales that go around of boats fouled up by rubbish, faulty locks, empty pounds and occassional ambushes. We've certainly had some difficult passages in the past. Not the kind of place you'd think to go bowhauling a butty for fun, but that's exactly what we did today.
"Hazel" had to be moved from Ducie St up to Ashton. We had an excellent good natured team of Tony Hewitson, Aaron Booth, David Basnett, Mary Francis and myself. We set off at about 10 AM and steadily worked up the locks with no fuss. Everyone worked as part of the team and needed next to no direction. The weather was dry and sunny but not too hot. We stopped above lock 7 to eat some excellent vegetable chilli supplied by the wonderful Em. At the summit we were met by our friend Fred who towed us the last couple of miles with his steel boat.
Aaron shafting the boat back towards the winding hole. We discovered that you can't wind a full length boat in the entrance to the private basin in Picadilly Village, but you can in the silly litlle arm on the towpath side.
David Hauls "Hazel" towards lock 8 under Ashton New Road.
Mary steers into lock 8.
Approaching Clayton Lane.
Passing the entrance to the Stockport branch.
Droylsden swing bridge.
Water sports adventure centre.
Entering the final lock.
"Hazel" needs to earn some money so that she can do more good work taking people who need their spirits lifting away up the cut. We decided to try taking her to Manchester as we earn more for overnight stays down there. Today Tony, Aaron, me and new volunteer (though he helped dig out the boatyard years ago) Lee, bowhauled her down the locks to the velodrome. On Tuesday she'll carry on to Ancoats.
We did a trip with "Hazel" from Portland Basin to Lumb Lane and Back for People First Tameside on May 31st. Here are some pictures. Everybody enjoyed it.
We decided to take "Hazel" down to the Castlefield Food Festival. The trip along the Ashton summit and down the 27 Ashton and Rochdale locks to Castlefields, Manchester, was wonderful. We had 6 guests on board, the weather was wonderful and there were no problems.
I usually take the butty through locks as this is more complicated than the motor. This time I took the motor and left Tony Hewitson in charge of the butty. All went smoothly.
In some ways the festival was a disappointment as we were fenced off from the main festival site and so didn't get to meet as many people as we would have liked, though we made some good contacts. We also found that having guests stay on "Hazel" in central Manchester is a good way of making money. Could be useful.
Lovely dog on the next boat.
I like the constant passing of trains over the viaducts at Castlefields.
The return trip was a lot more difficult. It rained all day, we only had 3 people and we had multiple problems with rubbish and low water as we tried to get through Openshaw. I bowhauled "Hazel" singlehanded through the most of the 18 Ashton locks. I didn't take any photos! Having set out at 09.30 we finally reached Ashton sometime after midnight.
At the end of March we organised a trip from Ashton to Bugsworth and back over a long weekend, Friday to Monday. Unfortunately only one couple, Mary and David, booked a cabin, but we ran the trip anyway.
The weather was glorious, if a bit chilly at night. The Friday took us to Chadkirk, where lovely gardens run down to the canal and there's a mediaeval chapel, holy well and is handy for access to Romiley. On Saturday we worked up the 16 Marple locks and along the upper Peak Forest canal, turning off up the Bugsworth arm where we tied in the former interchange basins.
Sunday was an easy pootle back as far as Strines, where we tied under magic oak trees, then on Monday, down the locks again and back to Ashton. Our guests have now signed up as crew.
"Hazel" between Hyde and Gee Cross.
Kim steering at Romiley.
"Hazel" at Strines.
Phil demonstrating where not to stand when steering "Forget me Not".
A tight turn on the upper Peak Forest.
One of the drawbridges.
Peak Forest scenery.
Joan steering "Hazel"
Declan enjoys sitting on the roof.
while granny steers round another turn.
David tries motor boat steering.
While Mary steers the butty.
Magical oak at Strines.
Brewing up on Monday morning.
Aaron works the drawbridge.
Woodley railway bridge.
"Hazel" was restored to be a Well Being Boat, specifically for people who have been suffering from depression, stress related illness and other mental health problems, but really, for everyone who needs a bit of a lift. So far everyone who has travelled aboard her has reported that she has improved their state of mind in some way (even when we ran a trip in torrential rain).
We're now adverising a long weekend trip on March 24th to 27th. There are places available in the back bedroom, £70 a night for 1, 2 or 3, the side bedroom, £60 per night for 1 or 2, and the forward salon £25.00 a night per person with a reduction if you book all 3 places. If you're interested post a comment and I'll get back to you.
Yesterday I was working at Knowl St along with Dave, Kim and Stewart. I was mostly tidying up after the gales. Dave was welding various items for "Hazel" and "Forget me Not". Kim was renovating "Southam"s big ex army range and Stewart was making replacement sections for "Forget me Not"s temporary deck. There was a bitter cold East wind but we enjoyed our work in spite of this.
These are just a couple of pictures I took last saturday morning after spending the night on "Hazel" to get her batteries charged.