Wednesday 20 July 2011

Falling Royd Tunnel

Days 2 and 3 of the narrow boating saga and the adventure begins in earnest. Our first choice to do the Pennine Ring of canals clockwise is thwarted by a broken lock cill (more accurately the threshold of the cill) near Huddersfield which will have closed the canal just when we wanted to ascend through it, so we are on plan B, the same route anticlockwise. We must ascend to the summit of the Rochdale canal where we are booked through on Thursday.

But first, let me introduce young Maxwell who readers nwill have only seen as a small ball of white fluff curled up among the cats at Steak Lady's abode. Look at him now - a fine figure of a man at only 7 months old, almost the same size as me. That's him on the right. He's good fun and great company, all be it I have to shout at him now and again when he gets a bit too uppity or tries to take over my Dad's lap or his bit of the seats. Green Eye? Moi?

Here too, we meet two human characters and another dog, who will be very much part of this circumnavigation. "Commander Dave" and his wife Fran, plus collie cross Bonnie are in a baby-sister ship the "Oxford" and are doing the same route as us with the same bookings through pinch points, so the rules are we should pair up through locks to save water. It is brilliant, in these cases, if the paired boat crew are good, nice people as you are going to spend a fair amount of time with them and co-operate. Conversely it is a real pain if they are incompatible, as we have seen in the past but superbly, this time, we get lucky and Dave and Fran are great fun, easy to work with, a lovely couple, and we dogs quickly get on with Bonnie, who is a natural at hopping on and off boats and nipping round locks, bridges, towpaths etc.

So, on Tuesday we leave Brearly and chug gently upwards in good weather through Mytholmroyd (where Dad is proud to have not hit anything in the first big helming challenge, Falling Royd Tunnel - from blazing sun to pitch black just as the canal, in the dark does 4 turns inside the narrow tunnel!) and Hebden Bridge as far as Todmorden, where we moor by the "Great Wall". On Wednesday we move on again up through Gauxholm to the pre-summit pound from where we can walk back to the famous Grandma Pollards chippie (an annual treat).

This pond is very low, with great dry mud banks either side on top of one of which is perched a cruiser completely high and dry. We plough the mud and manage to get our bow against the bank so that we can get on and off, but the stern has to sit out mid channel on a long rope and we all sleep the night at a rather jaunty angle, bows high and listing considerably to port!

At one stage both Maxwell and Bonnie try swimming for a laugh, Max lepping unseen from the back deck into a lock so that Dad, helming, is only aware of his going from the sploosh noise, but can quickly wrangle him back onto the deck, grabbing him by the collar - no harm done. Bonnie does hers trying to leap from boat to boat and we all see her go.

Lucky we brought dog towels


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