Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Stuck in the middle

Stuck at the border – our stopping place tonight
The official boundary between the red rose and the white
Tonight we have been cooking in Yorkshire, we'll be sleeping in Lancashire and I am writing this right on the border between the two.
We are sitting at what – in a spy movie – could be a border crossing, a swingbridge bearing a large 'Stop' sign bars our forward progress beyond the last lock in Yorkshire.
We got a bit further but the water ran out so we had to reverse back
Not that there is anywhere to progress to. We are stuck. The canal beyond is closed; the lock gates padlocked. The summit level has run out of water. We reached here about 11 this morning, just after the last two boats had been shepherded through and the lock closed.
The summit level looks beautiful but water levels are very low
When will it re-open? Hopefully tomorrow morning after the water supply from the summit reservoir has replenished it. On the other hand, maybe not. The Rochdale has always been short of water. The reservoirs that supplied it were sold off when the canal closed and now it's been restored water supplies have to be paid for and are carefully rationed.
And the locks are padlocked shut until levels rise
Plenty of water and fine views up at Warland Reservoir
But we are not unhappy. There are far worse places to be stuck than on a sunny day in the glorious Calder valley with steep Pennine hills rising all around us. This afternoon we went for a walk up one of those hills. On the OS map it looked little more than a mile up to a reservoir at the top but, of course, it was an almost vertical mile and took a solid hour of climbing. It was well worth it – the reservoir is fabulous but the views stunning in every direction.
On the way up we had passed someone doing fencing; on the way down he was still at it and we stopped to chat. Turned out he owned the farm whose castellated, mock-castle wall we had seen as we approached on the canal. Dave and his partner Monica had returned from 25 years in Australia and used the proceeds from the sale of their beachside home to fund their dream project – to create an environmentally conscious farmstead at Warland Farm.
It's a bold scheme; they want to ensure that the land and buildings are brought into use in ways that restore the social value of the farm and benefit the local community as well as demonstrate ecological management of the farmland. To that end they've planted 11,000 trees to stabilise the steeply sloping land and, in due course, to help alleviate the flooding the local Calder valley has suffered. They are also creating an orchard, vegetable farm, blacksmith workshop and woodworking shop to bring craft skills back into use. "Come back and see us in a few years and see how we are getting on," said Dave.

1 comment:

  1. Run out of water....it does make you wonder....the Met office reckon we have had the wettest August for years, September has also had its share of rain. Yet our local Reservoirs are low ?