Saturday 20 July 2019


Today's Canal - Macclesfield

Today was forecast to be be rather wet for most of the time, with the possibility of sunny spells towards evening. In any event, we were not planning to go too far as the best option for church tomorrow morning is at Upper Poynton. Our calculations indicated that Macclesfield was a bit too far and we would arrive rather late for shopping. The church in Bollington is some distance from the canal and another village church- a 'tin tab' does not have a service this Sunday.

There was dampness in the air as we walked into Marple town centre. We found a greengrocery shop which was especially well stocked and excellent quality. We also returned to the bakery - yesterday they were out of their pork pies and we also rather enjoyed the eccles cakes we bought yesterday and needed to conform our judgement with some more!

We still had a number of other items to get which were supplied by Asda. We had wondered how the land for a late twentieth century supermarket came to be available in the middle of what looks a well established nineteenth century town. We discovered later that this was the site of Hollins Mill, built in 1830. At its height, almost every family in Marple had at least one person working there and it dominated employment. Eventually, as with almost all of the cotton mills, its trade declined and it was finally demolished in 1988, replaced by a supermarket, initially a Co-Op but now Asda.

As we left the store, very heavy rain was falling but by the time we had collected our eccles cakes (they were still being baked when we called earlier) it had eased off and we did not get too wet on the way back to the boat.

We cast off and moved the boat around the corner to the service block. As there were no other boats waiting, we opted to fill the water tank as well as empty the elsan and dispose of rubbish. The tap lived up to its slow reputation, giving Mike time to walk around the junction and capture a few  views.

The small building alongside the junction bridge, now used by Canal and River Trust as a Welcome station (occasionally) was originally the toll office.

The first part of the Macclesfield is narrow - at first the Peak Forest Canal, which was built much earlier, was concerned to prevent the newcomer from 'stealing' its water, as the Macclesfield falls away to Bosley. The protection was provided by a stop lock, with a very small fall which meant the only the small amount of water needed to operate the lock was lost. Without this there would probably have been a continuous drain.

Just after the lock was a small wharf (where the boater facilities now stand) and a warehouse. From the canal it looks very plain, with just an undercover unloading bay

but from the back, the town side, its operational entrance for transferring goods gto and from waiting horse drawn carts.

The first bridge on the canal is one of the iconic 'snake' bridges - much photographed!

Once the water tank was full we continued southwards and soon the former Goyt Mill came into view on the edge of town. It was a late entrant into the cotton industry, opening in 1905, with its peak production on the 1930's when it employed over 500 people. By 1959 production ceased and after a period making plastic foam, more recently it has been adapted to house over 50 small businesses. It is currently on the market for £6 million.

We spotted a notice on one of the bridges that warned boaters about the start of dredging at the visitor moorings in Macclesfield, starting at the beginning of this week. We soon came to the site where the silt is being disposed in an adjacent field. A number of hopper pans were moored up together with tugs to move them around.

The offloading of the pans takes place just the other side of the next bridge and we could see track across the fields where, presumably, trucks carry it to its eventual resting place.

Just after the bridge at High Lane, which carries the busy A6 over the canal, there are some visitor moorings with rings to tie up so we opted to take our lunch break here - even if it was a little early. Spending some time starting to read the weekend paper beats having to struggle to  locate a bit of the towpath with enough depth and then having to hammer in pins!

We spotted in the distance a fuel boat arriving - we had been thinking about filling up at the next marina with diesel but it is always good to use a fuel boat when possible so we flagged them down. Alton is one of the well known boats that ply this area - they said that by tonight they plan to be at Whaley Bridge and back through Macclesfield tomorrow!

Thus far, since leaving Marple, the sky had been grey but at least no rain, Gradually some sunny spells did arrive - as this photo of a later bridge shows.

We passed Lord Vernon's Wharf where Braidbar Boats are built - although down a side am and so hardly visible from the main line.

Just a short distance on from here we found a mooring alongside piling (for easy mooring). We were looking anxiously for a space as there was quite a long line of boats already tied up. There are no restrictions, other than the standard 14 days, to limit the time spent here. So we were relived to find space and, as it happened, right next to the access from the towpath out onto the road towards the church in the morning.

There are also some good views of the nearby hills - Lyme Park, a National Trust estate, is somewhere up there, perhaps just over the brow. The late afternoon and evening was pleasant and much sunnier.

3.9 Miles - 0 Locks

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