Getting out of Manchester

On Friday morning we set off at 7.30 to go down the nine locks in the centre of Manchester with Brian and Judith who we had met yesterday.  It’s much easier if you can pair up with a boat through double width locks.  At the first lock Karen couldn’t get the paddle open and a young lad offered to help.  He struggled and finally got it going but tipped over the lock gate – fortunately Karen grabbed hold of him by his legs to stop him falling in – unfortunately I didn’t get a picture.  At the same lock one of the commuters watching us from the bridge above recognised Karen – they used to work together!  Here’s Karen talking to her colleague; the young guy holding the gate is the one who nearly fell in.

 After the first lock we went straight under an office block.   

This is Brian waiting for the girls to get the next lock ready.

Here is the second lock – not much fun for Buddy.

We had been a bit concerned about negotiating these locks because when we walked down the flight on the previous evening the water was flooding over the top gates of quite a few of them.  When this happens it makes it very difficult to get the gates open.  As it turned out the levels had dropped and there was only one gate where we had to get three of us onto it.  

This sign appeared in several places along the tow path.

Everyone had to get on board after the second lock as the tow path has been removed around the third lock which is at the point the canal starts going through the gay quarter.

This is the third lock.  At the far end a couple of homeless people were fast asleep and the girls had to step over them to operate the paddles.  They woke up after a while  and Karen had a chat with them.  Karen got a bit of a ribbing for a while as it seemed she chatted men up at every lock this morning.

The office on the top right is Barclays’ new Manchester office.  When Karen used to come up here for work they were in Piccadilly.  She suspected that many people didn’t know of the canal when they were in Piccadilly but they can hardly miss it now as the office overlooks it at the edge of the gay village,

On the whole Manchester seems to be a lot cleaner than Birmingham and nowhere near as much dereliction.  There are some red sandstone buildings in this area that seemed to have survived the bombing.

The fourth lock was at the far end of the gay village.

At the fifth lock there is an original gas lamp still in place.

By the time we got to the sixth and seventh locks the buildings weren’t so high so the sun was shining on us and it didn’t feel so gloomy.

The railway arches alongside the eighth lock were all used as bars and restaurants and is in the Castlefields area.  It reminded us of an area of Bristol docks where there is a whole basin surrounded by bars like this.

The metro and railway lines were much higher than us at this point and this bridge was rather attractive.

After 3 ½ hours we were at the final lock and had travelled less than a mile through the centre of the city.  If you look carefully you can see four forms of transport - a tram, a train, cars and boats.

Many of the locks had short balance beams so had to be opened with a windlass rather than brute force.

This is the view as we left the last lock; we were now on the Bridgewater canal.  All the other arms and basins were dead ends but full of visiting boats – a bit like being in London.

As in Birmingham we went past many old wharf and basin entrances.

The Bridgewater canal was the first to be constructed in the UK in 1760.  It was owned by the Duke of Bridgewater and was also known as the “Dukes Cut”.  This canal marked the beginning of the golden canal era which followed from 1760 to 1830.  It runs for 20 miles down to the Trent and Mersey canal and has no locks.  It is wider than most canals and is also very straight.  

It runs through Stretford and Sale before heading out into the countryside.  The canal heads west out of Manchester through many areas of modern building.

This lock leads down to the Manchester Ship canal – one of the few areas heavily graffitied.

Here we were quite close to the Manchester Ship canal but we didn’t manage to see any ships.

This was the original link to Manchester Ship canal nearer the city centre.

In Old Trafford we passed the Manchester United football stadium.

At this junction we turned left onto the Bridgewater mainline heading west.

This is the first Speckled Wood we have seen for a while – not a very good picture but at least we got one.

Long and straight section in Sale.

As the canal is so wide the stanking planks are massive and require a crane to lift them in.  This is the first of many stanking plank cranes we saw.

I suppose these strange looking flats are meant to resemble a ship.

This is Oldfield on the very edge of Manchester and marks the start of the country.  We stopped here for lunch…

… and had a walk into the town afterwards – this bridge over the canal obviously gets struck by vehicles rather often.

We saw this guy drive out of his garage on his lawn tractor and then down the road – hardly street legal but very funny.  By the time we got a picture it was not so funny here as he was going across a field.

The afternoon was practically cloudless and we went through several little villages and this large mill at Bollington sitting on the river Bollin.

We rather suspected this guy of stealing stanking planks for his raised beds.

We moored for the day at Oughtrington just to the east of Lymm.  It was lovely to be back in the countryside and we sat in the cratch for a few hours watching the sun go down.


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