Sunday, June 30, 2013

Waiting for Standedge Tunnel

Only 6 boats may pass through the tunnel on the 3 days of the week that it is open, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  This is mainly because at 3.25 miles long and no special ventilation, there is a buildup of exhaust fumes.  Boats have to travel through at 45 minutes apart.  Those traveling East to West, go in the morning and those in the opposite direction (which we are doing) go in the afternoon.

Standedge tunnel is the longest (3.25 miles), highest (altitude 643ft) and deepest (636 ft underground) tunnel on the waterways. Probably one of the narrowest and lowest inside to, as the boat has to be properly measured before we can enter and each boat also has a C&RT chaperone :)   The tunnel takes the canal under the high Pennine spine of Northern England between Marsden in the Colne Valley (East) and Diggle in Saddleworth (West).

Originally opened in 1811, 17 years after construction started, it was officially closed in 1944.  After many years of restoration the tunnel was reopened in May 2001 for narrowboat passage once more.

Currently moored at Wool Rd visitor moorings waiting to move to the tunnel entrance holding point.

So we have been biding our time until Monday.  We took a walk up to the tunnel entrance, still 9 locks away for us and it is all very beautiful.  The lock pounds though are very low, one being almost empty.

Panorama of 5 images looking from the towpath between two locks

Juvenile Grey Heron in flight


Andrew checking out the entrance to the tunnel

Not sure what sort of 'Tree Hugger' category this falls under :)
Old Dobcross Loomworks
Andrew decided that feeding the fishes last evening would help pass the time. Surprisingly he caught a few :D

and then today I took another walk, back towards the locks we came through on Friday.

Railway viaduct crossing over a bridge and the small black section under the bridge is the entrance to a lock.

from the other side
and then the other nature pics

Grass seed head


Underside of slug

Grey Wagtail

Bee on a Daisy

Yellow Flag Iris

Lady's Mantle


blue aquilegia (columbine)

Friday, June 28, 2013

And so it happens again.....

We decided not to stay in Stalybridge for another night as Andrew did not get much sleep !  He spent the night worrying after a young 'adult' jumped on the back of the boat in the early evening.  Andrew grabbed the camera in hopes of getting a picture but he had scarpered back to the other side of the canal to join his 'mates'. When they saw the camera they all ran.  Andrew was concerned that they might come back while we were asleep.

So this was where we were:

Looking back

The Pearsons maps showed a few places where we could moor along the route, so we headed for the first one, stopping to refill the watertank on the way.

Well Pearsons steered us 'well wrong' ! It could be though that the water level might be a bit low but in all the places shown as mooring spots there were rocks just below the surface and in one of the spots there were reed beds all along the side.  So once more we ended up traveling far further than intended.  It did not help that not long after leaving Stalybridge the rain started and persisted for the remainder of the day.  I was not dressed for the weather at all !  Eventually, after the second stop was a no go I changed into winter gear and was much happier.

Andrew was volunteer lockie again for the day:


and the butterflies are lessening for me as I steer the boat into these deep locks.  Got caught out by a very strong side flow at the only lock where I had an audience (other than Andrew) as we met 2 boats coming down the other way.  I hit the side entrance with such force that a whole bunch of papers and knitting stuff had fallen on the floor as I saw later !  Well Andrew did tell me that boating was a contact sport, so he cannot complain :)  I think that he was rather enjoying doing the locks for a change, as I was enjoying doing the steering :)

Considering the amount of rain we were having and the very small number of boats that venture along this canal, it was surprising to find that some of the pounds between the locks were very low. Later as we finally reached decent moorings here in Uppermill, the boat just ahead of us mentioned that he had called out C&RT as he had grounded in one of the pounds. Lucky for us he was ahead of us making our trip slow but at least for us the pounds were navigable.

It really is very sad to see such beautiful scenery and not be able to stop anywhere to enjoy it.

These were taken between the raindrops :)

And some interesting bits along the way

Looks like a Mandarin/Mallard cross

Still trying to identify - again could possibly be deadnettle family

So today while the rain continues this has occurred

relighting of the fire AGAIN !!!  Not only to warm us up a bit but also to dry out the interior as the windows were covered in condensation, inside as well as outside.  It would be nice if the fire could dry the outside too ;)  The weather report has indicated that it will clear up later this evening and we should have a good warm and dry weekend :)

and on the last note, based on the amount of coffee beans we are going through (a packet a week) I would say that even though Andrew has not openly admitted that my insistence on buying a fancy coffee machine was a good idea, I am sure that inside he is rejoicing :D

another coffee to go :)
even if it does require the engine to be running for it to work, that is no problem as it is running most of the day anyway :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2 Miles A Day .... Out the Side Hatch

It is a bit difficult finding good mooring spots along a lesser used canal.  In order to be able to moor we need to bring the boat in to the bank, preferably by some metal armco which helps to make mooring easier.  The problem on the quiet canals is that the banksides are way to shallow with accumulated debris and silt.  This prevents the boat from getting close enough in to allow me with the short legs to hop onto the bank.  So as a result the 2 miles a day limit has already been broken twice!  We ended up doing 5.6 miles today and missed a few photo opportunities, mainly because I had the telephoto lens on.  Not good for landscapes.  Not to worry, I thought, I will go back once moored, well that was 2.5 miles ago.  Oh well, another time  but I did get some of the fox we saw at the start of today and the little Wren when I was in a lock :)

Yesterday we traveled in to Hyde, to do some more shopping and then turned around and went back to moor up near a nature reserve.


Common Spotted Orchid
Naturally I went for a walk while Andrew did all the jobs that he does when we moor up.

This is the result of my latest nature walk.

Female Blackbird

Avid fisherman on my return:

Today we planned on mooring in Portland Basin but there were no empty moorings there, so we turned into the Huddersfield Narrow.  Very industrial to start with and no 'nice' mooring spots.  Surprisingly enough, just after the tunnel under Asda (see following pics) there was a short section of towpath full of the common spotted orchid and the early purple orchid.  Unfortunately there was no place to stop and photograph them and no way of getting back to that section of the towpath between two industrial buildings.  That probably explains why they were able to flourish with no interference.

After 6 locks we are now in the center of Stalybridge.  It has been a while since we moored in a town environment.  Takes a bit of getting used to the traffic, buses and people.  On the bright side we are right by a Tesco superstore and the cupboards are bare :)

Fox in case you did not know :)

He looks like he has been woken from a sleep :(

Under Asda

Over the River Tame

Looking back from the River Tame aqueduct


Today's Lockie
There does seem to be a proliferation of flora and fauna images rather than scenery, but then that is what I prefer :)

On the plus side, since my wool purchase in Coventry, I have completed a baby blanket, cap and jacket to put into my baby trousseau :)  You never know when it might come in handy :)  And 3/4 way through a shawl for myself.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Not a Record Breaking Day

We picked up the new lockable diesel cap on Saturday afternoon and returned back to the same mooring we had left earlier that day.  A nice little spot.  I was a bit worried we would be woken by the Canadian Geese but although they were all around in the evening, the nesting area was a bit further away, thank goodness.  Sunday was spent in the same spot due to the high winds and rain that we woke up to :(

Mandarin duckling
Yup another Heron

Looking for lunch

No problem though as we had to wait until today to book our day for the Standedge Tunnel.  Andrew was a bit too late phoning in on Friday at 5:10pm.  So another call this morning and we are booked in for Monday week, 1st July.

Andrew 'admired' this boat each time we passed it - NOT :D

We moved on anyway this morning and descended the Marple Locks.  It ended up taking 4 hours! due to us unfortunately finding ourselves behind an elderly single hander.  Although I helped him on occasions, he had all the locks set in his favour as a boat had just ascended before us.  It still took him longer to enter the lock and open only one bottom paddle than it took us to re-set the lock for ourselves and descend !!  Somewhat frustrating for us and the 3 boats behind us but 'them is the breaks'.

Note added:  At the top of the flight there was a Dad and his 3 kids watching the boats at the lock.  The kids were having a great time and were quite enthusiastic about the boats going up and down the lock.  I suggested to Andrew that it might be nice to let them have a ride down the lock and see it from inside.  From the delighted squeals and rush to get on the boat, I gather the suggestion was accepted.  I think we have some future converts there.  It turns out they were from Cork and do not get to see many canal boats.
Waiting for the lock

and another one, with an old warehouse in the background.  now converted to offices with a rather nice view :)

Canalside house

One of the pounds between the locks.  You can just see a lock half hidden by trees.
Fancy looking fungus growing on a lock gate

We are now happily moored up just past the Marple Aqueduct after the last lock.  Andrew is cooking dinner, we are watching a Bond movie (no tv signal here) and I am putting up this blog.

Railway viaduct overlooking the Marple Aqueduct.  You can just see the River Goyt below.

Rose Hill Tunnel which had it's roof removed quite a while ago.

Life is sweet :D

So now we have another 6 days to complete the 12 miles to Standedge Tunnel, so more short trip days to come :)

And a final Happy Birthday to my Mum, 'cos I know she reads this blog.