We popped out to M&S first thing, well 11 o’clock, to pick up Karen’s package and when we got back set off for the day’s cruise. The plan was to join the Rochdale canal, just around the corner from where we were moored at Piccadilly Village on Saturday night, and go down its final nine locks to where it meets the Bridgewater canal at Castlefield junction.
These last nine locks are known as the Rochdale 9 and have become a little notorious as some of them are hard to operate due to the large volume of water coming down from the Pennines. Some people don’t like the Rochdale 9 because a lot of down and outs tend to hang around there. To be honest we always engage in conversation with them or, at the very least catch their eyes so they are given the chance to talk. Much the same approach as both of us adopt with groups of likely looking youths. So far, we haven’t had problems and quite often youths, druggies/alchies or the homeless show an interest and want to help out.
|Getting ready to go into the first of the Rochdale 9
To be honest we found the locks a doddle, especially compared with the troubles we had on the Ashton on Saturday. Yes, some paddles were difficult but there were no end of men wanting to help Karen when they saw she was struggling. One old guy helped at three locks – he was as happy as Larry, but his wife was getting bored otherwise I think he would have helped Karen the whole way down.
|A couple of Karen's helpers
Some of the locks are right underneath offices that have been built over the canal. Thankfully, the canal wasn’t just filled in when the offices were built.
|Under the offices
|Another reason for the notoriety
|Water coming over the top gates almost quicker than we could drain it from the lock
Prop foul wasn’t as bad as the previous day and we only had to stop twice. The second time was to disentangle wire coat hangers that had become wrapped round it.
|Back in the weed hatch to remove more rubbish from the prop
I know the sweet peas are on the side lockers but that’s because I needed to get the engine bay cover up. They normally sit on the cover, so they don’t get caught at bridges or overhanging trees.
I’ve covered the delights and history of the Rochdale 9 before, such as spotting remains of gas lighting at the locks etc. Suffice to say, the views change from year to year with the amount of redevelopment going on in the city. When the canal is not in tunnels under offices, it is overlooked by a mixture of restaurants, pubs, offices, warehouses, derelict buildings and apartments. Here are just a few of the sights from today’s trip down:
The other issue with Rochdale 9 is young lad died falling in last year, so some locks have unattractive road barriers alongside them:
|More road barriers and I'm sure that tall building wasn't there last time
|With all the arches full of restaurants it reminds us of one of the moorings we were at in Bristol harbour
|In the last lock watched by gongoozlers
|Leaving the final lock
We carried straight on when we left the final lock; many people try and find a mooring in the noisy and vibrant Castlefields area but that wasn’t our cup of tea this time.
We were now on the lock-free Bridgewater canal and after a couple of miles were passing Manchester United’s football stadium.
I know I included a picture of Manchester City’s stadium yesterday even though I have no interest in either team, but we do have friends who support both – well they support one or the other if you see what I mean.
After another mile we were at Water’s Meeting, the junction with the main Bridgewater canal that runs from Runcorn and Preston Brook in the east to Leigh in the west, linking the Trent & Mersey with the Leeds & Liverpool.
|Coming up to turn right at Water's Meeting
We were turning right to head towards the L&L which was the first time we have been on this bit of canal. The last time we went on a new bit of canal was on 3rd November 2015 when we went up to Runcorn, also on the Bridgewater. From now until August, when we have the boat booked in at Skipton (N. Yorks) for French conversion works, we will be on new waters which is a new kind of excitement 😊.
We haven’t really thought what we’ll do over the winter yet but suspect we may head for the Midlands before we move to France.
|Our first new canal for 2½ years
After a couple more miles we moored up outside the Trafford Centre. I know it sounds awful, but there were no other boats moored there, we couldn’t see it and there were rings, which is unusual for this canal.
|Moored outside the Trafford Centre on Sunday evening
We’ll probably head for Pennington Flash tomorrow which is the other side of Leigh, but you never know 😊
PS. We had our first rain for a while, around 8.30 on Sunday evening, but it didn’t last long: so far we've avoided the thunderstorms