|Marvellous Marple Aqueduct with the rail viaduct beyond|
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|
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|
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|
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.