Sunday 19 July 2009

The Summit

Longterm followers of this blog will know that this narrow-boating thing is now in its third year, and that in 2007, our mission to climb up the Rochdale canal over the summit and down to Littleborough (in Lancashire) was thwarted by a water shortage and some canal "pounds" with too little water in them, forcing us to turn back.
We climbed up through Todmorden but the shallow run-aground pound that thwarted us, between locks 25 and 26 (Smithyholme and Pinnel) meant that we got only 100 yards past lock 25 and had to reverse out (then reverse all the way back to Todmorden (not easy in a 56 foot boat - a matter of much roping and poling).
In 2008 we chose a different kind of route - a hard charging one-direction mission through Leeds to Burnley, but this year we opted to try again at the Summit. The guys from British Waterways have now got it a lot more organised so that numpty tourists can't leave paddles open and fail to close locks correctly, so water is conserved much better up there. You have to book passage over, and the numbers and slots are severely restricted.
Their man (In our case a westie owner called Dave) then collects you at the bottom of the restriction (lock 34) at the allotted time and pretty much shepherds you through, helping you with locks and letting extra water into the pounds to make sure you get through. You must also go in pairs of boats to maximise efficiency (of which more later). You then part company with him on the way back down, as you drop out of the poorly locks (subsidence, bellying sides and leaky doors) back into better maintained bits of canal.
So - we made it, and had plenty adventures on the way, which I will regale you with as we go through the next few days.
Look after yourself

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