Piccadilly, Manchester

Dover Lock Inn, Abram

We left Dover Lock on Saturday with the intention of having a shortish day's cruising to Castlefields which is our usual mooring spot in Manchester. The hot weather was forecast to continue and we got off early for this lock-free cruise.

Plank Lane Lift Bridge, now customer operated

Although it was sunny, the wind, as the BBC forecast stated, was noticeable. We certainly noticed it at Plank Lane where we stopped to negotiate the lift bridge and found it difficult to get away from the bank. We stopped at Worsley and had lunch. When we stopped here in 2009 this was the furthest north Albert had been - now that spot is Gargrave.

Spinning Mill at Leigh

Mooring at Worsley

The rest of the journey towards Manchester was straightforward although it was livened up by an incident near Patricroft. We came up to a very slow boat that beckoned us to overtake and they then promptly steered into us. I stopped it hitting our cabin by pushing it off at the last moment. The boat was appropriately named Meander!

We crossed the Barton Swing Aqueduct and I again took lots of photos of one of  my favourite (perhaps the) waterways locations.
Manchester from Barton Swing Aqueduct

Containers stacked six-high near Old Trafford, Manchester

At Waters Meeting we turned into Manchester and moored up in Castlefields. Since our last visit the area has gained a beach (yes a beach!) and the bar under the railway bridges that was closed is now operating. The moorings have gone down hill slightly with weeds growing in profusion. However, the whole area was busy with people enjoying the warm sunshine. We moored up with the intention of going up the Rochdale Nine on Sunday. That was until the crew of the boat moored up next to us, Bleasdale, invited us to join them going up the locks that afternoon so we could tackle the Ashton Canal on Sunday morning. Having a boat with a crew familiar with the locks to accompany us was an offer we couldn't refuse.
Castlefields Beach on a hot Saturday

The journey up the Rochdale Nine was a revelation. The crowds of revellers spilling out from the many bars that line the route were amazing. At the first lock there were "bouncers" ensuring that customers didn't get too close to the water. All the nine locks are individual with an assortment of mechansisms to raise paddles and open gates. In places there isn't even a towpath and the canal dissappears under buildings. One lock, Dale Street is directly under a building.

Lock One on the Rochdale Nine

Operating a lock with "Bouncers" controlling the crowds

Operating a gate using a winch

Deansgate Locks

Canal Street

Underneath Manchester

Operating Dale Street Lock, Rochdale Nine

Notice & Graffiti by Dale Street Lock

The revellers were very good natured all along the route, and some offered help with gates. There were some who asked questions about boating, some more coherent than others depending on their alcohol intake. A negative part was the large amounts of broken glass that littered the towpath.

Moored up in Piccadilly

That night we moored up at the top of The Nine near Dulcie Street in Piccadilly - it was quiet.