Monday, 14 August 2017

Irk Aqueduct

Today's Canal - Rochdale

After heavy rain early morning, the weather today turned out much better than we had expected. For most of the time it was pleasantly warm with plenty of blue sky.

We planned to stop early today as we were aiming for the last sensible place that we know about to moor before Manchester itself. So we had a late (after 10 o'clock!), a good lunch break and an early mooring.

Before setting off, Mike and Jess took a wander to see how much they could discover of the old canal route before it had to be diverted during the restoration. The old line could be clearly seen leaving opposite our overnight mooring. The new line utilised a small under bridge that had been left for the farmer alongside the motorway to gain access. He, however, was never reconciled to the plan, despite the compulsory purchase and construction of two new bridges top give him a new road in, and pursued a long campaign of vandalism until he was finally sent to jail for his actions.

One result is that the towpath is carried through the canal bridge on a floating pontoon that leaves just enough room for a narrowboat. Anything wider has to make arrangements with CaRT to have the pontoon moved whilst they pass through.

Shortly after leaving we saw this ornate seat beside the towpath. Alas, we do not know which four characters are depicted.

The first of the Slattocks Locks, which come close together, saw us resuming the same pattern of lock operation that we honed up yesterday. Jess is now well verses in what her role is - although she did combine it with serial blackberry picker as well.

As these photos show, the canal is lined with rural scenery - even a long distance view of the hillsides that we passed close to much higher up the canal. There is one of the country's largest distribution centres very close but only rarely is there any opportunity to see that it is there.

Of course, housing estates are also not very far away and on a day like this in the school holidays, many onlookers are attracted to the rare sight of a moving boat. One young mother with a small girl - who helped Jess push a lock gate and hold the centre line, remarked that although they live in a house very nearby, she had not seen the lock operated before.

A couple of fields away from the canal we could see some sport of activity taking place. A short while later we could see a tractor pulling a train full of riders around a complicated route around the field. (we later discovered that it is Lancaster Park and Animal Farm see here)

Finally our last lock for the day and we arrived at the designated visitor moorings beside the Irk Aqueduct.

After a rest for a mug of tea we walked to the nearest supermarket, a Tesco Express that was about ten minutes away from the next bridge. Jess had requested Pork in Cider for the meal tonight and we were, unusually, totally out of cider. She also pointed out that at lunch time she had finished her favourite green peperami!

Whilst Mike and Christine booked on line the train tickets for Jess's return home trip on Friday, Jess decided that the boat roof really did need a clean and set about mopping it down.

2.2 Miles - 10 Locks

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