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  • clivenmel

Oct 19th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Waking up on the boat in the middle of a city is a weird experience. We have been so used to being in the countryside by preference that this was a really new experience. There was one other boat moored with us, facing the way we had just come but we didn�t see hide nor hair of the owners at all so off we went.   Now I have to say, this was a truly crazy place to put locks! ( of course, the locks came first � it�s the building that are new and have had to be built around the canal!) The first one is just the other side of the basin and as you can see it is nestled under office blocks with apparently nowhere to go�the route, of course, is down!   The strangest waterway we have yet been on, it literally dives under the building and you end up floating amongst huge concrete pillars up to the next lock gate!   The amount of water pouring down from the hills must have been something else, as each lock had a torrent poring over the back gates�the pressure is enormous and it�s impossible to just push the gates as normal � we had to open one paddle, let more water into the lock to help equalise the pressure and then both push like crazy! We even recruited the odd interested passer-by to help us if they were willing.   This part of the canal takes you through the heart of the city, wandering westwards between tall office building, cafes, warehouses and other assorted brickwork�one of the more interesting being the area of Canal Street, known to all as the Gay Village; For those Little Britain fans, we were �The only naaaara..boat in the Villaaage!� (Excuse the welsh accent!) Here, the Gay population of Manchester have created a vibrant and colourful area which, of course, is now a tourist attraction and we arrived just as tables were being set at outdoor restaurants, doors were being opened for the first morning customers at selected cafes and we even saw a bunch of actors with cameras and sound-booms making use of the locality (no idea who they were, I�m afraid; if they�re part of any Soap programme, I don�t watch any at all so couldn�t tell you any more)   Access to some lock gates was a problem as space is limited and Mel had to do her �mountain-goat� impression occasionally climbing over walls and around odd parapets just to reach the winding mechanisms�(plays havoc with her knees, evidently �bless!)   Eventually, at lunchtime, we arrived at our first planned destination, Castlefield Junction. This is a really old part of the canal system, now ultra modern and is where the Rochdale stops and becomes the Bridgewater. It�s named after the Duke of Bridgewater who built it to transport coal from his mines at Worsley to the marketplace in Manchester. It�s amazing to think that in 1765 when his canal finally arrived at Castlefield, George III was on the throne and America was still a British colony! We wanted to stop here as we knew there was a water-point round in an adjoining basin and we were getting low and both looking forward to a hot shower!   Once filled up, we set off again about 2.15pm or so and started a new journey on a new canal.   The Bridgewater is so nice � wide, deep, litter-free, quiet � And NO locks - just how we like �em! As we wandered past Old Trafford and with the Manchester Ship Canal to our right, we quite quickly came to a place called Waters Meeting, which as the name suggests is where the Bridgewater splits North and South; a left turn for us, and an easy 2 hours or so took us through Sale. Almost unexpectedly, at Oldfield Brow, the Urban sprawl of Manchester and its suburbs are left behind and open country beckons once more. We both looked at each other, smiled and agreed we had just about had enough of old buildings, nice though they were. It was time to enjoy rural England again. We didn�t need to travel far to find a pretty, out of the way little village called Dunham Massey with lovely moorings so we stopped and called it a day. A local pub seemed only a step or two away (funny that) called the Axe & Cleaver (where do they get these names!) For those interested in such things, the guest beer was Wadworth�s Malt & Hops! � yummy!   No photos again tonight I'm afraid - appalling signal!  Watch this space cos we have some great photos taken as we came through Manchester.

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