Monday, 15 September 2014

Night and day action

Passing the extraordinary Great Wall of Tod
A group of youngsters were having a Saturday night impromptu festival in the canalside park at Hebden which is the sort of thing that makes moorers a little nervous of what might happen on the towpath later.
But the noise started to die away and things were quiet when we disappeared to bed at about 11pm. Until about 2am when we were woken by our guard dog Brian growling. Vicky heard a scuffling on deck and thought it was a rat – but it was a scrote busy trying to undo our front rope. "Oi! Clear off." she shouted and he did as fast as his drunken legs would go.
I re-tightened our knots and then we noticed that the Shire Cruisers hire boat had been more successfully 'scroted' and was drifting in mid-stream. I was able to gather its lines and have it partially re-moored before a sleepy face appeared from inside.
It's the first time in ten years boating that we've been un-moored and how ironic it should happen in a place so safe and boater-friendly.
The canal cuts a spectacular route through the steep sided valley
Marooned in mid-stream in a shallow pound
Next morning we decided it was time to move out and head for the hills. Not that we got very far, grinding to a halt in mid-stream after only a couple of locks. We came afloat after I flushed some water through from the next lock but after it happened a couple more times we were beginning to wonder about the sense of the whole attempt. Fortunately at that point the water situation improved itself and we motored steadily on to Todmorden where the lure of a Lidl and the promise of an interesting little town to look round saw us moor at the town mooring under a huge metallic sculpture of fishes. It looked impressive in daylight but spectacular at night when the street lights reflected wildly off the curves of the steel.
The handsome Lob Mill lock
Moored by Tod's aquatic sculpture and, below, the steel glittering in the night lights
Todmorden is an intriguing place. The outskirts look ropey with large areas either down at heel or demolished but some of the arty sheen of Hebden has rubbed off on the centre which has a little clutch of arty shops in its pretty streets. But its the striking architecture which sets Tod apart from many other Victorian towns, most notably its massive Neo-Classical town hall. Much of the municipal buildings - and a large Unitarian church were financed by the wealthy mill-owning John Fielden (who was also a radical campaigner to improve workers' rights) and his sons.
Todmorden's magnificent town hall
For a small town it also has some surprising, and quirky claims to fame. So here are some things you didn't know about Tod.
It's a centre of UFO activity - a police constable claimed he was abducted by aliens and a mysterious murder was said to have been carried out by aliens too.
Tod is the home of two Nobel prize winners: Sir John Cockcroft (physics) Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson (chemistry) both went to Todmorden Grammar School.
At one time, Tod had the biggest weaving shed in the world.
It used to have six railway stations.
It was only the second town in Britain to have buses.
The Yorkshire/Lancashire boundary originally ran through the middle of the town hall.
Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer; John Helliwell of Supertramp and Geoff Love the big band leader were all born in Tod – as was John Kettley the weatherman.
Even Tod's Lidl is in a handsome old stone building
That's enough of Tod for now! We left at lunchtime today – and went past the town's other remarkable feature 'the great wall of Tod', an immense, curving wall holding the railway embankment and built of some four million bricks.
As we headed on upwards the the locks were coming closer together and the surrounding hills more lumpy, trees giving way to scrubland and fields to coarse grass. But despite our fears there was no shortage of water; in fact the stuff was pouring over the top of some of the locks.

Grandma Pollard's famous fish n' chip shop at Walsden was sadly closed today
Rugged hillsides and more locks as we head on to the summit

We were travelling alone which slowed us down in the double width locks but we managed to keep a slender lead over a pair of Kiwi boats coming up behind us - competitive locking lives on!
We passed the famous Grandma Pollard's fish and chip shop in Walsden – the sign 'car park for 100 cars' shows how famous it is – finally stopping for the night in one of the longer pounds just below the summit where Mrs B was unlucky enough to unship the rudder from its bottom mount when she ran over some rubble while mooring. Fortunately  half an hour of crowbar work got it back into place and saved us an expensive call-out to our remote location.
We are now just six locks from the summit and then it will all be downhill - though to judge by the comments of a boater who'd just come up from Manchester, it might be downhill but it will be an uphill task.

No comments:

Post a Comment