Bottom Marple Locks to Dunkinfield (Outer Manchester)

Wednesday 15th June 2016

We hit the sack last night at 10.00pm and didn’t raise our heads until 9.00am. Two very tired little ducks.

Where we had moored at the bottom lock was just around the corner of the very well known Marple Aqueduct. It is very hard to do these structures justice unless you see them for yourselves. You do have to remember though that this was built in 1800 when they only had horse and dray to lug around these enormous stones that were used in the construction. The Aqueduct took five years to complete but they ran out of money to complete the 16 locks. It took a number of years to get the funds together to complete the locks so that the Peak Forest Canal was complete but this canal really only had a significant life of about 50 years as of course that is when the iron horse started to take over from the canals.

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We went for a wander along the canal towpath to the aqueduct to really appreciate it. When you are on the canal you often cannot see what infrastructure was built to support them. Many a time you are on built up embankments that are over 100 feet high but due to the heavy vegetation in Britain a lot of it is obscured from you vision.

We have included a few photos for you of the Marple Aqueduct. Over the years it has had to be reinforced with metal straps but if you were over 200 years old you would require a few straps to keep you together also.

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You can just see the rail bridge in this photo. This took about 1 year to complete. We did hear a lot of trains last night as this is a fairly major rail line.

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This photo is one of our favourites. We are still skirting the edges of Manchester but it is always so close to beautiful countryside.

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Photo whilst on the aqueduct to the rail bridge.

After our walk which included rounding up three recalcitrant sheep that had got out of their field we went back to nb Lucy and W+M were just mooring up after having come down the final 6 locks this morning. They invited us aboard for a coffee which we duly accepted and it was not your instant muck but the real thing out of an espresso machine.

We all know how the Brits are with their social class system and with boaters this is no different. W+M told us that at the top of the pecking order is the private owners followed by hire boats and then lastly day hire boats. Well at least we are not quite at the bottom of the food chain. We should explain though how our nb Lucy compares to W+M’s boat which they own. The best comparison to use is imagine the difference between a Jaguar XJ6 to a Datsun (Nissan) 1600 – ours being the Datto of course.

After our lovely coffee and chat we were both off onto “the cut” again as they say. The photo demonstrates that we really are into Manchester now in amongst the motorways.

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As we got closer to the built up areas the flotsam and jetsum becomes more prolific. The canals are also dangerous places for animals as many farmers fields come right down to the edge and unfortunately today we saw a young lamb that had succumbed to a slippery bank where it was unable to get out and drowned. We had to stop the boat twice to clean out around the shaft as we were losing steering. Fraser pulled out plastic bags and weeds. The other items that are quite a concern are shopping trolleys. You often feel the boat scraping over the top of something metallic and best bets it is one of those escapee trolleys from the local supermarket.

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It’s not that unusual to see this sort of thing along the sides of the canal which is rather sad. In this case a fire had gutted the boat. We are not sure who is responsible for removing these hazards but one thing is for sure, it would not be cheap. One of the biggest problems is access for heavy machinery down to the canal edge. Many of the canals follow the contour of the land so you can imagine that often there is either a drop off down one side and a hill on the other side.

As you can see, the deck hounds are hardly assets at the best of times. We have set into a great routine with them on the back of the boat. They are secured by their leads in case they decide to jump off the boat in pursuit of another dog and to keep them from under our feet. This photo demonstrates that at this stage Maples is the proud owner of the new bed. They really enjoy just hanging out on the back of the boat with us and are rather pissy when they are put inside because of rain.

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Our final task of the day was this lift bridge. We are now into suburban west Manchester which is a pretty rough area and vandalism and graffiti is rampant. Saw our first drug deal go down on the towpath and all the bridges have vandal proof locks on them. Took a while for Di to work out how to use the vandal proof key but she finally got there.

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So we pulled up at a place called Dunkinfield as this is where the laundrette was. Meet a lovely Indian girl managing the laundrette who showed us how to fold those ever annoying bottom bed sheets into perfect squares.

 Where we moored tonight is a little spooky as we pulled up in front of this boat with their weird tenants. Don’t ask us what it all means except there are certainly some strange people “on the cut”!!!…but then again, is it different anywhere else.

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