Our passage through the very deep Tuel Lane lock 3 was booked for 10.00 this morning. The lock has to be operated by a lock keeper. Yesterday we were told by the normal lock keeper that we should travel through the first two locks and wait before the tunnel leading into the deep lock. We were ready to set off at 9.30 but found that the bottom gates of lock 1 were fastened with a chain and padlock that we couldn’t open. After waiting for some time I walked up to lock 3 and found the replacement lock keeper cleaning out the lock with a net. It seemed not to have occurred to him that we couldn’t get through the first lock and he said that he would come and unlock it when he had finished what he was doing. It was 10.15 by the time we finally got underway through the bottom lock. We were all on the boats in the deep lock, with ropes held front and back. The paddles were open and water churned around the boat, so much so that it flooded through the cockpit to over an inch in depth and over the stern into the back bilge to several inches in depth. Alan was concerned that we might sink at the stern. If we had been the operating the lock ourselves we would never have released the water so quickly and he didn’t seem to be checking that we were ok.
On we went through a further four locks. There are 92 locks altogether on the Rochdale to Manchester Castlefield so we have 84 left to go in 29 miles, a daunting prospect as they aren’t the easiest of locks to manage. We found that the first two had been left with a bottom paddle open to let down water which meant that there were floods over the top gates followed by a very shallow pound where we kept running aground. Every lock has been handcuff locked and I slammed my hand in one lock mechanism as I closed it – it was warped and I was forcing it shut. I also managed to drop a handcuff key in the water though I found it with the sea magnet, and dropped a windlass on my foot. The scenery however is wonderful and that’s a great compensation for our travails. It’s great to be up in the hills again. The weather was much brighter today and people were out walking or cycling, and some helping us through the locks!
We had thought that we might moor in Mytholmroyd but couldn’t get near the bank on the moorings. After several further failed attempts we ended up in Hebden Bridge. The moorings aren’t brilliant here either but what a lovely place to be. It’s the most beautiful town with interesting shops and so many things happening. We had just missed a blues festival and there are shows on regularly at the Trades Hall, seemingly a couple each week. We have spotted something to go to tomorrow evening. There’s also a Little Theatre and a cinema. We think that we will enjoy our time here.
Today we did 5.35 Miles, 7 Locks and 2 Tunnels
Statistics so far:-
2655.69 Miles, 1602 Locks, 175 Swing Bridges, 90 Lift Bridges, 47 Tunnels