Plan B (Back)

After coming down the Marple Locks yesterday, we heard that there was a tree down in the Ashton Canal ahead of us.  I’ve seen a number of alerts about events like this and they seem to clear pretty quickly.  So we decided today that we’d have a little explore on the tandem.  We set off through the nature reserve we’re moored up alongside.  This is the valley of the River Tame. It’s not the River Tame we saw at Hopwas – this one is a tributary of the River Mersey.

We paused at the spot where we saw two, or was it three, kingfishers yesterday – but none today. After a small amount of unpleasant traffic, we found the canal again and cycled along looking out for any problems.

Fallen Tree from Under a Bridge
Fallen Tree Viewed from under Guide Bridge

It wasn’t too hard to find this one.  A group of primary school children was being led up the adjacent steps to go over the bridge instead of under.  We clambered through to see what it looked like from the other side.

Fallen Tree on Approach to Guide Bridge
Fallen Tree on Approach to Guide Bridge

If anything, it looks even worse from that side.  Canal and River Trust (CRT) have decided they need a crane to lift the tree.  I guess slicing it up would be difficult anyway, but might also destabilise the bank if the roots fall further.  Another boater came to offer help lifting the tandem through – boat folks are nice like that!  We told him we were also on a boat wanting to come through.  He was heading for Bollington – a few miles  (and no locks) from Marple.  That should normally take him a day, now more like a week.  He told us that the CRT estimates for the fix ranged from 2 days to 2 weeks.

We took the tandem up the steps the schoolchildren had used and passed them again on the towpath.  After a pleasant lunch at the Portland Basin Cafe, we had a little cycle explore up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.  It looks very interesting, but the first few miles were beautiful and grim in equal measure, sometimes simultaneously.

When we got back to the boat we had a short cruise to a well-known discount supermarket (other discount supermarkets are available) to top up the store cupboard, and the battery charge.

This evening we have done a fuller calculation of our options.  We can sit tight where we are until something runs out.  The first thing would probably be water.  The nearest water point we can reach is either back (16 locks) to Marple, or a diversion up the Huddersfield that would involve 12 locks each way.

So we have decided that tomorrow we’ll turn round and head back up to Marple. We won’t be turning round as fast as the whirlpools that form when the locks are filling. We can still make our Ribble Link appointment, but we are going to have to speed up again. 

Whirlpool Behind Lock Gate
Whirlpool Outside a Filling Lock
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