|The final lock with the impossible looking Beetham Tower behind|
|Into the underworld at Lock 85 – and no lewd acts please|
Fortunately for Mrs B's delicate constitution none of that was actually going on at 11 o'clock in the morning and we headed on down to Lock 86 at the start of Manchester's famous gay village of restaurants and bars along Canal Street. Well, Mrs B got to the lock; I found myself in Canal Street with no way of reaching the lock landing except by a trip through a private car park and climbing over a fence.
|The canal runs beside the Canal Street Gay Village|
After the lively street scene of Canal Street, Lock 88 is back in old Manchester, hemmed tightly in by dingy high rise commercial buildings. Here water from the pound was pouring over the top gates and on over the bottom gates without the lock itself ever reaching a level that would let me get it open. A bit of diy balancing by fiddling around with the paddles at either end eventually got the water levels balanced and in we went.
From the gloominess of this lock we emerged onto the smartest on the flight: it sits between a modern pub and smart offices with benches for workers to eat their lunches on while watching the boats. It's also the filthiest with the remains of take-away lunches everywhere. Rubbish bins? All rammed full and overflowing – I don't think I've seen an empty one in Manchester. I'm starting to wonder if they do actually empty them.
|Revamped Deansgate railway arches with twin level shops and restaurants|
|This medieval chain and drum system pulls the lock beam in tight space|
And finally to Lock 92, the one that all the tourists to Castlefield Basin see and therefore the cleanest and tidiest of the lot. You do get plenty of time to admire the surroundings as it takes the best part of half an hour to fill up thanks to a combo of slow filling and fast leaking. We stopped for a lunch break and a cup of tea before locating a couple of volunteers from the adjacent pub to join me to heave on the lock beam and finally forced the beggar open.
It's notorious for these slow filling antics; the rest of the locks get a bad press too but I found they work well enough – a bit on the heavy side but, hey, this is the Rochdale Canal it's got a reputation to live up.
Tonight we're in Castlefield but tomorrow we are back on our way and frankly I won't be sorry to leave the dirty old town behind.