Monday, 24 August 2009

Edging towards the tunnel

We've been creeping slowly up the HNC towards Standedge Tunnel. Creeping because you can't go fast – it's too shallow for that – and creeping because British Waterways phoned on Friday to say a lock was damaged and we might not be able to go through anyway so we might have to turn round.
It's been a bit of a love hate thing. Stalybridge was a mess (see previous rant!) and even well beyond it lock entrances were marked by floating rafts of crap.
After Stalybridge we met our first boat – at a blind bridge hole of course – and both of us went aground in the shallow sides trying to pass. After that we met another going our way and crossed locks with one bringing tales of woe (water shortages and damaged locks) from the other side. Amazingly, though, we've met three today, all coming back from trips to Uppermill, the pretty canalside village where we're now moored up.
It's a far cry from a few years back when, according to a local walker, "the canal was alive with boats – they used to have to queue for the locks at times"
Sad, really, for the canal's not that difficult even if the locks do come at the rate of two or three a mile! It follows the river through stretches made lush and green thanks to the frequent rain while the ridges of Saddleworth moor, splashed with purple heather, rise high and spectacularly above. It's an altogether bleaker, more harsh terrain than the Peak District we've just left.
And it's raining – again. Rain never seems far away here. But we're cheered up by news from BW that the lock is fixed and we're still on schedule for the tunnel trip on Wednesday.

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