Saturday, 2 May 2015

Marple revisited

On Friday morning we carried on heading North and soon reached Marple junction where the Peak Forest canal meets the Macclesfield canal.  We had come up the Macclesfield last Saturday to join the Peak Forest. 

This time we were staying on the Peak Forest and descending the 16 lock Marple flight which takes us down 214 feet, an average of over 13 feet per lock.  Climbing up and down the lock ladders wasn’t easy as they were rather wet and slimy.

All the locks had these brick bridges, many of which provided road access.  When the bottom gates were open then traffic couldn’t get through.

The flight was busy and we passed five or six boats on the way down.  The paddle gear was especially difficult and I would say that out of all the locks we have been through that these would be the most awkward for someone doing it on their own.  We had to use our windlass with an extended handle for most of the locks.  We can’t use it all the time as most of the sprockets are too close to the balance beams so a long handled windlass cannot be used.  

This horse tunnel (on the left) was smaller than usual and the boatman’s tunnel was even smaller.  When canals were first built the locks didn't have ladders so the boatmen had to jump off as the boat was going into the lock.  We have come across all sorts of ingenious designs that facilitate this.  The ones on the Grand Union are very simple and effective - steps straight up to the top of the lock that you jump onto with a rope as the boat goes in.  Problematical for getting the rope though when there is a bridge over which is why the Stratford had those splits in the bridges.

Between two of the locks was this lovely looking stone built mill now converted to offices.

We soon got into a good rhythm doing the locks even though they were hard work.  At one point the smell of the wild garlic was really pungent so we cut some leaves for one of our recipes.  We have seen so many Canada Geese sitting on their nests but only one family of goslings so far.

After the flight we headed for Marple aqueduct over the River Goyt but there were some emergency works going on so we were asked to wait for 20 minutes.  We took the opportunity to moor up and have our lunch. 

The aqueduct must be quite stunning viewed from the ground with the railway viaduct behind it.  We didn’t get the same view from where we were.

The narrow cutting behind me here was originally a tunnel but was removed because of numerous rock falls.

Nice tribute without any graffiti.

We met and chatted to a lot of people walking the lock flight today, many of them were on holiday in the area - the holiday season is starting!  The last week of rain and sunshine has really brought the Spring on and most trees are turning green now.

We weren’t sure how this wooden roller was used but it must have something to do with the horse drawn days.

Here are the 16 locks we went down today.

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