|On our way - heading across the summit pound of the canal|
|The hills have very quickly given way to canalside mills and factories|
It really is remarkable how quickly the canal changes after one has crossed the summit. The glorious hills of Yorkshire vanish abruptly and we are straight in amongst the 'dark Satanic mills' of Lancashire, the smoke stained gritstone of the canalside buildings emphasising their foreboding appearance.
Things started to go wrong almost straightaway. Harry went aground on a shallow stretch of the second pound and only a lengthy combination of pulling, poling and me running up and down between the locks flushing more water through got us free and into the next lock.
More problems after that: the next two locks had been narrowed by subsidence and could only take one boat at a time, rather than the normal two at a time, meaning each needed two lockfuls of water to work us both through. And two lockfuls out of a short pound means the second boat – us – goes aground. Cue more rushing about flushing more water down.
And a couple of locks later we were both in trouble again: I emptied the lock and discovered that both boats were sitting on the bottom and couldn't move. So...more flushing of water to get them away.
Fortunately that was the end of our issues for a while and we locked on down to Littleborough where we stopped for water and the others carried on to moor up. In the end, they struggled to find one and ended up sat out from the bank on the edge of town so we decided to carry on.
It's a long – by Rochdale standards – three mile lock-free stretch after Littleborough that ends at two locks in Rochdale. Lock-free it might be but it was still shallow, narrow and slow, with the odd shopping trolley and three piece suite for local colour.
|Foreboding derelict industrial buildings line the canal in Rochdale|
|And rubbish litters the towpath and the locks|
The first of the Rochdale locks gave us more problems as we found ourself once more sitting on the bottom of the emptied lock but by now we were getting practised at sorting this stuff.
|You're never far from a decaying factory through Rochdale|
|A clever re-design takes the canal under the M62 motorway|