Saturday, 3 September 2016

There's no such thing as bad weather...

Marvellous Marple Aqueduct with the rail viaduct beyond
Only inappropriate clothing, as the saying goes. And we certainly had the chance to test the appropriateness of our wet weather gear to the limit – and sometimes beyond – today.
It pretty much chucked with rain the whole day so, instead of following the way of every other boater and hunkering down, we decided to tackle the 16 locks of the Marple flight. Daft? Well, we have a pretty low threshold of boredom and besides the 3G signal was minimal where we had moored. We stopped to refuel the larder at a canalside Aldi and pressed on in full wet weather kit – apart from Seadog Brian who sensibly huddled inside.
An elaborate floral tribute to a brutally killed dog
On our way we passed an elaborate floral tribute by the towpath; the sort found where someone has tragically died. Except this one was to a dog called 'Troya' which was stolen and then brutally killed and dumped in the canal. The story made headline news in the national press. For the full story read the link but I warn you - it's not nice.
Back to boating: building a canal round the precipitous side of a steep hill was an impressive achievement back in 1800. Today's stretch included two tunnels and a famous aqueduct before climaxing in the lock flight that takes it up a final 214 feet in just a mile.
The canal weaves a pretty, tree lined route around the hills
The tunnels are short but the first was still an evil affair; narrow, tight and slow with its curved sides threatening to scrape slices off our smart paintwork every few yards. We survived unmarked, did the wider second with no problem and reached the stunning Marple aqueduct that carries the canal 100ft high above the steep River Goyt valley. It's a beautiful piece of work and even the taller railway viaduct beside it cannot shade it for sheer elegance.
And so to the locks which curve up a steep passage through thick woods. It's a beautiful setting (or would be if the rain wasn't thrashing down). But the spacing of the locks is demanding: most are a good 100 metres apart so walking backwards and forwards on the towpath to set the locks ahead soon gets tiring.
By halfway up I could feel I was reaching the limits of appropriateness of my waterproof trousers as a clammy dampness started to grip my legs (and no, I hadn't had an 'accident').
Fortunately the rain started to ease and we finally reached the summit three and a half hours after starting. Time to get rid of the wet kit - or in my case, all my kit since what wasn't damp with rain was damp with sweat as waterproofs don't let the hardworking lockwheeler's body breathe.
A beautiful little ship and its builder
We often spot boats we've met before but rarely one as pretty and unusual as the one at the summit today. It's a pretty-as-a-picture home built two-berth wooden motor-sailing cabin cruiser. We met boat and owner a couple of years back just after his first trip: since then he's been all over, trailing it from the Broads to the Mon&Brec. Just goes to show that you don't need a £150,000 narrowboat with granite worktops to enjoy the canals.
Marple is where the Macclesfield Canal leaves to head south-west; we will be on it soon but we have unfinished business on the Peak Forest with another seven miles to the famous terminus at Bugsworth Basin.

No comments:

Post a Comment