Bugsworth Basin to Bottom Marple Locks

Tuesday 14th June 2016

Here we are on Wednesday 15th June sitting in yet another laundrette catching up on our blog from yesterday. Below will explain why we are a day late as a lot happened.

We knew today was going to take us a bit of effort as we had to do the Marple set of locks which consist of 16 altogether. Ourselves, BFF W+M and another boat (Kiwi captain) all set out together from Bugsworth Basin around the same time and met together on the main part of the Peak Forest Canal. As each lift bridge came up we were leap frogging one another so that as one crew opened the bridge for the other two boats the one in front then went ahead and opened the bridges for the ones behind it. All was going well until we got to the swing bridge that was operated with a key. Initially we thought a key had broken off inside the lock but it turned out it was the key lock going out of alignment. W+M with their trusty tool kit and Fraser with his engineering nouse and also his long history with locks having to be replaced at home, dismantled the lock and we go the bridge opening manually. Di meantime rang up CR+T and let them know that they would also be required to come out and repair the lock. We also spoke to the local farmer who relied on the bridge to be able to access the main road. She informed us that the bridge was a bugbear as it often broke.

So off we went (Kiwi had fallen behind) to Matlow where the Twizzle factory was. Our canal guidebook told us that there was a shop at the factory where you could purchase lollies. Alas, they were correct yet incorrect. The shop was not able to sell directly to the public any longer but only to employees. Di was devastated as this was going to be her birthday present to herself – gorging on lollies. It was not a total loss though as we found a store that was selling all sorts of animal food, harness, bedding etc. We finally purchased another dog bed as Mapes and Toques were arguing who got the comfortable £3 bed we had bought in a charity shop back in Leek and who got the motely blanket. Now they will argue over who gets the £3 bed and who gets the brand new luxury one.

It was raining off and on most of the way to Marple but really only nuisance stuff. When we got back to Marple we went back up the Macclesfield Canal as we wanted to do some laundry. After doing a 10 point turn in the winding hole and mooring up we trudged up the towpath with our two trolleys of laundry and found the laundrette only to be told that ½ their machines were not working and if we wanted any washing done it would be by “service” only at £14 a load – stuff that!! So off we trudged back to the boat complete with our still dirty washing.


A good photo of nb Lucy at the start of the locks.

You cannot see in the photo but there was a convertible Bentley parked in the driveway – noice for some!


Where the Maccesfield Canal goes off from the Peak Forest Canal

We went back to the junction of the Peak Forest Canal and Macclesfield Canal where we met up with W+M again as they had stopped further back for lunch. This meant we could start the lock flight together and help one another.


Unfortunately all the locks were against us. As we were going down the locks it meant that we would need to make sure that the lock was full so that we could go into it. A boat had gone down in front of us so that meant that they were all against us and we would have to fill up each one before we could go into it. This meant for W+M that they would have to do the same as they were following us. W and Fraser worked together as best you could and were filling up locks in front of us as well as emptying the locks that we were going down.


A picture of the locks and how the canals meet.

All was going well until lock 9. The numbering started at 16 and worked backwards. Di managed to get nb Lucy marooned on the far side of one of the ponds between two locks. She got stuck because she was trying to avoid coming between a mother duck and her ducklings – not a good move. She tried to pole off with no luck and no-one could help her as she was on the far side of the pond and there was no access. After about 10 minutes W+M who were in the lock above let out their water into the pond that Di was stuck in. This raised the level enough for Di to float off the edge and proceed into the next lock. Whilst in the lock Di decided to tidy up the roof of the boat as she had just plonked the pole she had been using to pole off onto the roof and not into it’s proper holding slots. This was a job well done until she stepped off backwards onto the side of the lock onto uneven ground and twisted her right ankle and smack onto her backside and hit her head. What is it with her always hitting her noggin. She seems to routinely make this a habit. No real harm done except bruised ego from getting stuck in the pond and falling over.

So off we go again to do the other 7 locks. W+M decided to moor up for the day in the pond at lock number 7 for the evening as it was getting very late in the afternoon. Di and Fras continued on. All was going well until lock number 2. Fraser had gone ahead to get lock number 1 filled up and left Di in lock number 2 whilst it was emptying. Now things got interesting. As the lock empties there can be leaks from the bottom of the gates as well as the side walls.

Lock Leaking

Good example of a leaking gate.

At the bottom of the steel vertical steel plate is the bottom of the gate and under that is the cill.

The Gates are only about 8 foot high but the actual depth of the lock can vary considerably and in this case the locks were very deep indeed – about 13 foot.

Lock Depth

One of the locks we were in but we were still going down.

As the boat went down in the lock the bottom of the back gate was leaking so badly it was like a fountain spewing a heavy amount of water about 4 foot into the lock. Di could just maneuver the boat to the front of the lock which resulted in only a small amount of water coming onto the back of the boat. Then as the lock emptied more the left side of the lock started pouring water onto the back deck of the boat. She promptly and unceremoniously threw the pooches and their beds into the boat and shut the doors to the boat up and tried to work the boat back into the lock to avoid this deluge. This of course put her back under the waterfall from the bottom of the gate. She became extremely concerned as the back deck was awash in water and started going into the engine cavity. Of course she couldn’t go forward as the gates were closed so she sat on the horn hoping to attract Fraser’s attention to open the gates but he wasn’t able to hear the horn as she was down in the bottom of the lock. She started pushing the bilge pump but this was not able to keep up with the water coming in. She also kept on the horn and thankfully Fraser heard a faint blast and raced back. We use the horn as a warning system for one another. He quickly opened the bottom gates and Di took off like at bat out of hell. The boat had taken on a lot of water and we were very concerned that it could have killed the engine and sunk the boat. Lucky for us this didn’t happen. We spent quite a bit of time pumping out the bilge prior to doing the final lock.

By this time we were both utterly exhausted and it was after 7.00pm. We threw some dinner together and then just crashed into bed. Who said this boating thing is easy work!!!



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