Almost to Heaven

Someone said the Rochdale Canal was heaven one side and hell the other. I chose to charter "Hazel" for my boating holiday and invite some long unseen friends along. The original plan was to go up the Caldon but with various stoppages this became impossible, so I decided on the Rochdale instead. We had to go through the Hell bit to reach heaven. Unfortunately, the water shortages meant that we could only get to the edge of the celestial bit, just above Littleborough. We nearly got stranded there as CRT declared a stoppage at 07.30 (Having assured us that it would be fine to stay where we were for a few days) and immediately started locking up the locks. It took much whingeing on the 'phone from me to get them unlocked. It was great to see old friends Neesa, Dan, Eric, Stuart, Adeline and Eloise as well as some of our regular crew who came along to help work the many locks. Hard work but I enjoyed it. Thanks to Lesley and Mary for many of the pictures as I didn't take a lot.

Green scum on the Ashton Canal.

"Hazel" having her batteries charged.

At New Islington Marina.

A small amount of what we removed from the blade.

As far as we got. Lovely place to spend the weekend.

Neesa

Dan
Early morning at Durn (Lock 47)
Waiting for CRT to let us out.

Rochdale in the morning.
Mary
Eric
Early morning at the Boat & Horses, Chadderton.
Kevan
Lesley
Niall
Sarah

Catching up

There's been so much happening I've not had time to take many pictures or post anything. Here's a few anyway, starting with theLymm Historic Transport Festival, which, as usual, was wonderful.

The view from "Hazel" with my old boat "Parbella" over on the left.

A good turnout of traction engines etc again.

Early morning, the engines wait for their fires to be lit.

I particularly liked this little steam lorry.

Joseph Garside engine, used for hauling sand at Leighton Buzzard. I used to work on the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge railway, originally constructed for the same purpose.

Our display panel with "Parbella" in the background.

I didn't take any pictures on the very hot trip back to Ashton or the Sunday recycling trip when we were joined by our great great nephew Marcus Kirby. However, Marcus drew a picture of "Hazel" with me in the hat perched on top celebrating the participation of the England football team in the World Cup.

The next time I got my camera out was on the Tuesday night recycling trip. I left the boating to Aaron Booth. We were also joined by Fliss Johnson, Lorrainne Howlett, Norman Lee and Geraldine Buckley. It was a lovely sunny evening for a trip in good friendly company.

Fliss, Lorrainne (with Missy) and Geraldine (with Snitch).

Norman perched at the bow, looking for wildlife to photograph. Note the parched grass in the background.

There was an anxious moment whenn I thought Aaron was going to put the stem through the window of the moored boat whilst winding at Fairfield. All was well though, missed by inches!

From Middlewich up the Weaver

Me and Tony are having to take turns on "Forget me Not" and "Hazel" because we both have commitments back in Ashton this week. I joined the boats at Anderton Marina where "Hazel" was having her reserve batteries charged up.




She's providing a holiday afloat for retired boatwoman Hannah Hinde with her son and carer Duggie Shaw. Hannah grew up on Claytons oil boats and later worked wooden headers like "Hazel", carrying coal to Runcorn gasworks.


After working down the lift we headed upstream. I enjoyed steering the butty for a change while Aaron Booth took the motor.

The plan was to spend the night at Winsford, but, unfortunately, Vale Royal locks were out of action, so we  had to return to Anderton . Tony will be in charge going downriver for the next couple of days, then its back up the lift and on to Runcorn on Friday.

Down the Locks to Manchester

We were seriously mob handed working down from lock 16 on the Ashton Canal to Lock 92 of the Rochdale, near Deansgate Manchester. Some were experienced, some were new to working a pair through a flight of locks, but it all went pretty well and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I'm back home now but the boats travel on to Middlewich for the Folk and Boat Festival.



When we reached Dale St lock, the first on the Rochdale, we were held up by a steel wide beam boat working down ahead of us. They were having trouble undoing the anti vandal lock on one of the bottom paddles and couldn't get the lock fully empty on one paddle. Our volunteers sorted it out and continued to help and advise as we followed them down the flight. We referred to them as the clown boat as all they lacked were red noses.
The clown boat, demonstrating where not to stand whilst steering.


Bin Too Busy to Post, Catching up.

I took a lot of photos of a short trip we did a fortnight ago. I'd decided to let our crew run it themselves and just hover about taking photographs. I did put the photos on here, then my internet went down (Windows 10) and I couldn't save it. So, here they are again.


"Southam" and "Lilith" tied out of the way for the day.

"Forget me Not" and "Hazel" on the wharf to load our guests.

The pair winding.

The butty steerer struggled a bit to get through the gap.

"Still Waters" backed out to begin a trip through the Asda tunnel as our pair did their best to get round the bend into Walk Bridge. Meanwhile the hireboat crew attempt to drag their boat into the bank at the visitor moorings. These moorings used to be deep but after the contractors repaired the bank boats can no longer get in close. Presumably they dropped their surplus stone etc in the water.

After a shaky start the boats were on their way.

That was when my camera batteries ran out.

Our guests on "Hazel" that weekend were a couple who were visiting Ashton so that one of them could do a yoga teaching assessment. They said they'd like to be somewhere nice and peaceful so I took the boat up to Dukinfield drawbridge, away from the sometimes raucus atmosphere on hot days at the basin. Here's some pictures.

The following weekend was the recycling trip. I didn't take any pictures on the Sunday or Monday trips, but on Tuesday evening I let Aaron take charge. He did very well.
Winding at Ashton.
The flats are on the site of the old Junction Mill. Now only the chimney survives.
Fliss and Steve chatting on "Forget me Not"s deck.
Aaron in charge.
Winding at Fairfield Junction.

2008 flats clearly modelled on 1970s Soviet architecture. These also are on the site of a mill.

The Kittens.

No, I'm not just harvesting likes. About a month ago we found that a feral cat had given birth aboard "Lilith". We couldn't take them with us on the recycling trip so I moved the kittens on to "Elton". Mother cat then moved them into "Queen", well hidden. Several people have been feeding the mother, who was rather skinny. She's now looking a lot better.

Today I saw the kittens out gamboling in "Queen"s fore end. They're lovely. We already have homes offered for some of them but I think some help is needed in catching them. We need to catch the mother too and get her speyed, otherwise a boatload of kittens will become a regular thing.

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Swans, Trees, Firewood and Trolleys.

I ordered a couple of fruit trees from the Henry Doubleday Research Association ages ago but they've only just turned up. don't know what took them so long. Anyway, I thought I'd better get them in quick before they start bearing fruit. At short notice I set up a tree planting trip to add them to the guerrilla orchard in Droylsden.


In the morning I pottered about on "Forget me Not" and found some important pieces of paper that I thought I'd lost (never give me important pieces of paper). The swan pair from Fairfield have been hanging around the basin a lot lately, probably because it's a good source of scrumptious but unhealthy white bread. I thought their last years cygnets had left home but one was in the basin today. Dad was not happy to see his prodigal and kept raising his wings to see the young whippersnapper off.

 

Cob and Pen swans.


Luke arrived and we set off. As we went through brewery bridge the rudder was lifted out of its socket by an underwater obstruction. We got to Droylsden and planted the trees, then on to Fairfield to wind.

The swans nest from last year is still there amongst the detritus. I expect they'll be using it again soon.

We headed back towards Ashton but stopped at Guide Bridge to load up some sycamore that me and Tony cut down last year to protect the oaks. They're now bone dry and will make good firewood. The level was about 6" down and the boat would go nowhere near the towpath. I had to use a plank. to get off. when we wanted to leave the boat was well stemmed and I had to unload a substantial sycamore to lever her back into the channel.

on the move again, we got back to brewery bridge and stopped to clear it. A bit of work with the keb brought out 3 shopping trolleys and a bike.

At Oxford Mill we passed a piece of floating furniture.

Back at the basin another cygnet had arrived and daddy swan was looking seriously displeased. These youngsters are supposed to clear off and start their own families and leave their parents alone. Swans are not alone in this problem, I know humans with the same predicament.

As the boat approached the cygnets didn't know what to do. One decided, shortly after the photo was taken, to try dodging round the bow, only to crash into the coping stones.

We winded ready for the next move on Tuesday and tied up, then moved "Hazel" over from the towpath, winding her too before breasting her up to "Forget me Not". A good enjoyable day.