Marple Flight and Nephew Alistair –  18th June 2022

Well, it was all happening today. Frasers nephew Alistair finally arrived from Australia today after a 10-hour delay leaving Sydney and an extended layover in Doha. At least they provided him with a hotel room in Doha for the layover. We mentioned to him back in Melbourne in April that we would be in the UK whilst he was there and would he like to join us for a canal experience. We were honest and told him that we were after the odd lock slave. Silly boy, he didn’t know what he was up for. He is only with us for the one night as he is then off to London for a few days and then making his way to Denmark where he has a three-week university exchange course to attend. It is his first time out of Australia and to bring him straight to the underworld of the canal system might just have shocked his system.

This is what we have in store for him today. The Marple flight of 16 single locks. This map shows you the Marple lock flight with us commencing from the bottom up.

So, he was on board by 9.00am and after a quick orientation it was off, we did go. We don’t think he believed us when we said he was going to be put to work straight away. He did do it with a smile on his face though.

We were in a benevolent mood, so we did allow him a short break on the boat now and then.

It was then out into the slog of it again.

They had run a lot of water down the locks so that we could progress up the flight, but the pounds were still low in some spots. They allow only two passages a week between the hours of 8.30am to 12.30pm on those days.

We were under the impression it was due to water shortages caused by lack of rain but a volunteer on the locks informed us that of the four reservoirs feeding the Peak Forest Canal, the largest two were out of action. One due to the Whaley Bridge Dam wall being damaged by overflow caused by heavy rains back in August 2019. Some of you may remember this making the international news as the town of Whaley Bridge and some surrounding villages were evacuated due to the threat of the dam bursting.

As of yet, the dam wall still has not been repaired, and levels are being kept low in the dam to prevent undue pressure on the wall. Not too sure why the other large reservoir is out of action, but they are pumping water from the River Goyt to fill up the two smaller dams.

The weather wasn’t quite as nice as we would have liked but we did make it to the top of the flight before it started to rain.

We had several volunteers, so we made the distance in just under three hours and at this stage young Alistair was still standing.

We went towards Bugsworth Basin and moored a little further along the canal. It was then into our glad rags and out to dinner.

First port of call was to a very small micro brewery which use to be a bonnet shop in the day. It didn’t take us long to get fun conversations going with the locals who always want a bit of a yack when they hear the Aussie accent.

Amazing who you might meet on an evening out in a little town like Marple. We had booked an evening meal in another pub and were hoping to let Alistair experience a typical English pub meal but alas, they were only doing an Italian set menu – oh well, we are sure he will get to have one whilst he is in the UK. We let the poor boy go to bed at 9.30pm as wanted him to adjust to the correct time zone as soon as possible.

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