Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Walsden to The Summit

We have now reached the last leg of the journey to the highest point on this highest broad canal in the country. Every lock that we go through takes us up another ten feet.  The locks around here are not of the easiest to use with very stiff sluices and in one case the winder that Tim was using got bent in the effort to life one of the paddles.   

Where there is a lack of room at Lock 31 there is only a very short arm to the gates and it needs winding gear to open the gate.  Only one of the gates is fit to use even though the gate itself is relatively new being put in in 2001.

There is still evidence of the old canal and here there is an old milestone hidden next to a bridge telling us that it is 19 1/2 miles to Manchester and that we have only covered 12 1/2 miles since leaving Sowerby Bridge. Somewhere along here the railway line that runs parallel to the canal disappears into a tunnel.  When the tunnel was built in 1839 it was the longest one in the world.  

The hills are getting lower or is it that we are getting higher.  Either way even though the valley has steep sides next to the canal there is not the towering height above us that has followed us all the way up for many weeks.

With only a short distance to the final lock and the mile approx long pound at the top there is a little pub sat on its own next to the road.  Bird i'th Hand is within walking distance of the canal and stands out on the moor.

Lock 36.  In many places in the last few sections the water level is low and the boat has gone aground while getting alongside to open or close locks.  

Here we wait to pass through the top section. Only four boats a day can go through to conserve water.  Today there are three of us waiting unless that is someone is coming from further down to catch the 0930 start.

Across the little valley is the small Toll Bar house that was there to collect the tolls when the road became metalled. 

Looking back down the valley from the Toll Bar the view is not dramatic as it is further down and the place must be very isolated in a bad winter.  With all the locks coming so close to one another it must have seemed like hell on earth for the boaters of the 19th century with few comforts and a schedule to keep.

I hope to stop at The Summit for a while as Abz is coming out for a few days today.  It lovely to have a companion on board and she is one of the best. :-)

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