Portland Basin

On Sunday morning we left Piccadilly early to get up the Ashton Canal to Portland Basin. The Ashton has a long history of being difficult for several reasons including security and rubbish. The guides point out that security has been much improved over recent years (there are high security fences over many sections) and we found no problems at all. However, its reputation for having lots of rubbish was well founded. 

The environment close to Manchester city centre was good but from the start we hard some difficulties. We had to let down some water from the pound above to fill the first lock and getting over the cill was a problem. We were followed by NB Bleasdale so we only had to unlock the paddle mechanisms but all have handcuff locks.

Ashton Canal near Piccadilly

As we progressed slowly up the flight, we picked up debris on the propeller. It got gradually worse and just after the Manchester City Stadium I had to take my first trip down the weed hatch. The first item out of the hatch was football supporters scarf. A passer-by asked if it was City or United. Neither I reported - Middlesborough. Maggie said she was relieved that the supporter was not still attached. The debris was mostly polythene bags but it also contained copper wire.

City of Manchester Stadium

Lock 11 Ashton Canal

On several occasions we ran over objects that felt and sounded like shopping trolleys. We also collected a traffic cone in the prop but that came out easily without a removing the weed hatch.

Powerful flow down the bywash on Lock 13

At Lock 13 we were greeted by a powerful bywash at the lock entrance. We assume that this was because BW were trying to send some water down to the lower pounds. The only way to get through the flow without being pushed into the wall was to enter the lock at some speed. 

Water sports at Fairfield Locks, Ashton Canal

At the top of the flight a group of young people were having a great time in kayaks. We were impressed how they moved over when requested. We took on water at Fairfield "Junction" and watched BW removing rubbish from the lock. They were unable to use the "spare" former duplicate lock to send down water because the paddle mechanism was blocked with rubbish - mostly logs.  We found the Ashton Canal locks surprisingly benign although the amount of rubbish was a big issue.

Along the section between Fairfield and Ashton there are a number of low bridges. One took us a by surprise but we squeezed under with the chimneys removed and the exhaust folded down. It turns out that the bridge we had most trouble with had only 6' 4'' headroom.

An Ashton Canal Shopping Trolley

Mill and River Tame, Portland Basin

We decided to moor up  Portland Basin Marina for the night. Five pounds gave us a secure quite mooring.

Portland Basin, Junction of Huddersfield Narrow, Ashton & Peak Forest Canals