Friday, April 30, 2010

Macclesfield to Gurnett Aqueduct

As we left Macclesfield work had started on the burnt out hulk.  The interior of the boat looks an absolute mess and there will be very little if anything that can be salvaged.

There is plenty of evidence of the amount of dredging that is being carried out.  Apart from the empty barges at the exit from the marina I was passed by another workboat (Pollard) with digger onboard.

At the end of Macclesfield one goes through a cutting with well buttressed walls.

Soon out in the countryside again. The chipper is needed here.  The canal is narrow and the overhanging trees aren't a help.

It piddled down with rain so stopped at the Gurnett Aqueduct. Below the aqueduct is The Old Kings Head.  Dating from 1695 it fits in well with the many old buildings that make up this small hamlet.  It was a coaching house and smithy and was once visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie.  The house to the right of the pub is called The Forge and there is another small house at the back of similar age.

An oddly shaped house across the road from the Brindley cottage. There is a house below this view overlooking a stream.  I wondered what the shuttered window was for.  It does look like it was opened to sell something from.  

The brick building on the far right has a letter box and is twice the size of an outside loo.  It also has a 'serving hatch'. Anyone got any ideas?

Wikki - James Brindley - Born into a well-to-do family of yeoman farmers and craftsmen in the Peak District, which in those days was extremely isolated, he received little formal education but was educated at home by his mother. 

The cottage beneath the Gurnett Aqueduct it is also known locally as Sutton Aqueduct..  There is a plaque on the wall saying that James Brindley lived on the spot during his apprenticeship to a millwright (Abraham Bennett) from 1733 - 1740.

At age 17, encouraged by his mother, he was apprenticed to a millwright in Sutton, Macclesfield and soon showed exceptional skill and ability. Having completed his apprenticeship he set up business for himself as a wheelwright in LeekStaffordshire. In 1750 he expanded his business by renting a millwright's shop in Burslem from the Wedgewoods who became his lifelong friends. He soon established a reputation for ingenuity and skill at repairing many different kinds of machinery. In 1752 he designed and built an engine for draining a coal mine, the Wet Earth Colliery at Clifton in Lancashire. Three years later he built a machine for a silk-mill at Congleton.
Brindley's reputation brought him to the attention of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater who was looking for a way to improve the transport of coal from his coal mines at Worsley to Manchester.
In 1759 The Duke commissioned the construction of a canal to do just that. The resulting Bridgewater Canal, opened in 1761, is often regarded as the first British canal of the modern era (though the Sankey Canal has a good claim to that title), and was a major technical triumph. Brindley was commissioned as the consulting engineer and, although he has often been credited as the genius behind the construction of the canal, it is now thought that the main designers were Sir Thomas Egerton himself, who had some engineering training, and the resident engineer John Gilbert. Brindley was engaged, at the insistence of Gilbert, to assist with particular problems such as the Barton Aqueduct. This most impressive feature of the canal carried the canal at an elevation of 13 metres (39 ft) over the River Irwell at Barton. (In 1893, on the building of the Manchester Ship Canal, the aqueduct was replaced by the equally impressive Barton Swing Aqueduct.)
Brindley's technique minimized the amount of earth moving by developing the principle of contouring. He preferred to use a circuitous route which avoided embankments, and tunnels rather than cuttings. Though this recognized the primitive methods of earth-moving available at the time, it meant that his canals were often much longer than a more adventurous approach would have produced. But his greatest contribution was the technique of clay puddling to make the bed of the canal watertight.

The view from bows looking down towards the Brindley cottage

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Before I left for a walk around Macclesfield a BW workboat came past.  Pushing an empty barge that looks as though it will be used for the dredging of the canal further along.  Nothing unusual there but the helmsman this time was unusually a female.  

The Puss in Boots sits next to the bridge over the 24 hours moorings. Undergoing renovation inside it is a nice friendly pub with real ales on tap.

This is Buxton Road.  The town centre is at the church tower you can see in the back ground.  The railway station is between here and there.

The town is most famous for its once thriving silk industry, commemorated in the local Silk Museum. Although "Silk Town" seems to be the preferred nickname these days, Macclesfield's traditional local nickname is "Treacle Town" — supposedly from an incident where a merchant spilt a load of treacle on Hibel Road, and the poor rushed out to scoop it off the cobbles. Another, less picturesque, reason has it that the mill-owners used to provide barrels of treacle to the unemployed weavers

On the way down the road is the rather nice looking Fence Court. Nothing came up on Wiki.  On the gable end over the main entrance to the court are the words T.U.B. FENCE ALMS-HOUSES F.D.B and 1895

At the top of the hill is the church and the Town Hall.  Very impressive.  The town itself feels quite small with few of the larger shops but many small ones.

The town is not very high but the feeling is a little like that of Lincoln near Steep Hill

The main street is pedestrianised and seems to go on for ever with a number of side streets full of shops.  There is also a covered area and I guess that this is where the bigger shops may be hidden.

Lovely cobbled lanes run down the hill.  I was way-laid here by a young lady on the way down.  Not as bad - or should that be good - as it sounds. Just wondered why I was taking photos of the back lane.

Off the lane is one of the little streets running back up the hill.

Back at the boat.  Outside the boat is one of the old milestones.  One way we are 11 miles from Marple and the other says that there is 16 miles to Hall Green.  Hall Green by the way is just before the junction at Kidsgrove.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adlington to Macclesfield

It's bit of a wild life day today.  Before I left the basin at Aldington this chap turned up.  He is another with a top knot. I thought it might be a disease of some sort.

Next minute the two white ducks turned up with the same problem.  I now started to wonder if they are a cross with something else that has caused the extra feathers on the head.

A bit further on and there are three Mandarin ducks paddling away in the shallows.  I wish I knew if there were males and females in the wilds today and about to breed.

But what on earth is this.  Its not a bird box just two pieces of wood together with some ornamentation on it.  Do they go in for curses on boaters that moor here? :-) 

There is a lot of the woodland on both sides of the canal along here.  Very scenic.

Moments later you are out in the open with views across to the hills and down the valley.

We are heading for Bollington and the boatyard.  They sell diesel and gas here so its time to top up with both.

The large mill is the home of the Canalside Community Radio.

There is another mill across the canal from the boatyard. One is the Adelphi and the other is the Clarence.

The chap in charge of the boatyard is very helpful and today the cost of derv was 70p a litre.

A number of boats are moored along here.  This one is moored on the bottom and is full of water.  It looks as though it has been there some time and it really needs moving.

After Bollington there has been a lot of dredging of the canal banks.  I don't think that a lot has been taken from the middle.  My knocking is still there at this point.

The trees are coming into blossom and the cherry trees are looking really nice.  Anyone want to share it? :-)

The heron kept taking off and moving slowly up the canal in front of me but only just.  There are many ducklings about now and when the heron flew rather low over them (herons are partial to duckling dinners) the ducks soon saw him off.

However by now the knocking at the stern has stopped.  Is there more water here?  I wish I knew.

More open countryside to one side with the start of the Pennines and the Peak National Park on the other.

Moored up at Macclesfield.  The large mill built in 1820 belonged to Hovis but has been turned into apartments.

Had a couple plus pints at the Puss in Boots and heard the tale of the narrowboat that I saw with much flame damage.  The gent that owned it was cooking a meal and dropped off to sleep due to medication.  The boat is now just a shell.  He had only had it for a few weeks.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

High Lane to Adlington Basin

Shortly after leaving High Lane there is a quaint little bridge that leads off to a local boat club.  There are a couple of arms going away from the canal.  The second one did look a little ramshackle.

In and out of the woods as the canal follows the contours of the land.

This particular stretch has large areas covered with celandines and now that some of the shrubs have been cleared lets hope that they spread to fill in the gaps. 

Along the canal are several small communities of narrowboats and two larger marinas.  Plenty of movement around here in good weather I'll bet.

Now and again we head for the hills but at least we know that we will go around it and not over.

BW have been clearing trees along the canal.  There are plenty of piles of chippings all the way along to show where BW have been hard at work.

The canal is fairly narrow in places and when you meet up with three boats at once it can get a bit tricky.  No problems in this instance but I had to look twice at the first boat.

Don't let Abz see this picture.  She and I had been talking about pulling a little boat behind to carry her pony or as a floating goat shed :-) Mind the lead boat is not a 60 foot so will still be able to get into locks in one piece.

There are decent moorings at Adlington Basin. It looks smart and tidy. 

I had a chat with someone who used to moor here and had come back for a visit.  They had moved their boat to Llangollen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Disley to High Lane

A decent mooring last night.  Plenty of bollards which is handy.  Heading on to Marple to go to the bank and Post Office.

The views across the valley keep coming up through gaps in the hedge and gate holes.

The canal is narrow and winding and on meeting another boat coming in the other direction I can feel the bump as we touch bottom.

Straight across the junction and into the Macclesfield Canal.  Now to find somewhere to stop for an hour.

After Bridge 2 there is work going on repairing the canal edge and towpath.  I was bumping stones as I moored here and shan't hang about.

Leaving Marple and one of the last buildings one sees is the large Goyt Mills

No longer just looking over a valley.  The view now is right down to and past Manchester and the Pennines beyond.

And for something different there is a herd of deer taking things easy under the trees.

We reach the outskirts of High Lane and start looking for tonights mooring.

There are 48 hour mooring here and this is were we will spend the night.