Friday, 19 September 2014

The Summit

After dinner last night I decided to go foraging for blackberries as dusk was falling and to my surprise managed to fill a 2 litre container.  However another major reason for the walk was to check the number of moored boats before the summit.  Walking past the seven locks I noted 10 moored boats, only three of which were facing in the opposite direction.  Of the other seven at least 5 were showing signs of occupation.  This coincided with the information we had received from a resident whilst passing through Walsden.  He had informed me that it must be a busy day on the canal as he had counted five boats going towards the summit.

On reaching the Summit Pound at dusk I could see the water level was at least a foot (30cm) down.  Even more disturbing; the pound immediately below the summit lock was almost empty and there were two moored boats obviously waiting to go up in the morning.

Walking back to Waiouru I formulated a cunning plan which was subsequently discussed with Ray & Leonie.  We would start cruising at 6.00am and quietly pass those five moored boats arriving at the summit lock around 8.00am.  Obviously a suggested 6.00am was not something that was wildly popular.  But then we didn’t want to be stuck on the Yorkshire side of the summit beating our rain drums!

I should have checked the metrology forecast because it was still dark at 6.00am this morning.  However there was sufficient light to move at 6.15am.  By that time I had very quietly tiptoed past three moored boats and set the next two locks.  We slowly and quietly moved up through the locks.  Perhaps not quiet enough, as curtains twitched in two of the boats.

Waiouru was in the lead going to the lock below the empty pound with Firefly NZ following.  As Firefly passed one of the boats a side hatch was opened and the male occupant told Ray we couldn’t go through the lock and Summit Pound without the approval of a CRT lockkeeper.  A lady then appeared at the hatch and told him the same thing.  We managed to get both boats into the lock and I ran some water down from the Summit Lock.  However it wasn’t enough for us to get over the cill.  The man from the boat then appeared at the lock and again advised us that we needed CRT permission to proceed.  The information we had indicated this wasn’t correct and we had a suspicion there might be some “sour grapes” about our early arrival.  Ray phoned CRT whilst I telephoned Paul Balmer (Waterway Routes) as his excellent (and up to date) maps didn’t mention this requirement.  Paul confirmed that CRT had removed the booking requirement last year.  A CRT worker also arrive and, after observing what we were doing, departed without making a comment.  By this time there was sufficient water in the affected pound for us to cross it and enter the last lock below the summit pound.  There is a CRT sign at Longless Lock and I noticed the requirement to book passage had been masked out.  So Paul’s maps are spot on and the Pearson/Nicolson books are out of date <surprise>.

Paul had advised me that whilst the Summit Pound water level might look low the pound was deep.  This proved to be quite correct and we had no problems crossing the pound.

In all the excitement I failed to take any photos of our arrival at the summit.

  On the Summit Pound looking back to Longless Lock.

Summit Pound

Note how the sign at this end implies you need to book your passage

As we arrived at the Lancashire end of the Summit Pound a CRT vehicle arrived with four staff.  Initially they told us to wait in the Summit Pound as they needed to run water down.  Apparently the first five locks below the summit were dry.  I then suggested to them that it would make more sense to let us into the lock rather than wasting yet another lock of water after they had finished running down the water.  Moreover it would ensure we weren’t trapped on the summit if they ran the water level too low.  They accepted my suggestion and we sat in Western Summit lock for almost an hour whilst they ran water from the summit down through the top of the flight.

So there we were sitting in the lock slowly going down after the CRT staff had raised the paddles.  We were almost at the bottom of the lock when I noticed Waiouru was starting to get bounced around.

We hadn’t realized one of the upper ground paddles had been partially raised.  The water was entering the lock chamber under Waiouru’s stern with quite some force.  Rather than attempting to hold Waiouru in the flow I allowed the front fender to rest against the gate.  One positive thing from the strong flow was that it cleaned all the weed off the stern rubbing strake.

Immediately below Western Summit Lock is a property we’d previously seen on TV.  If my memory is correct it was shown in an episode of “Locks & Quays”.  Either the house or garden has the byewash from the lock running through (under) the property?  I might have to go back through our DVD’s to find the relevant episode.

We dropped down another eight locks before deciding to stop for the day.  It might have only been 1.30pm, but we started at 6.00am.  I did notice the original stonemason’s marks in one lock whilst going down.

There are another 38 locks before we reach Ducie Street Junction so we might be taking it easy for the next few days.


Pip and Mick said...

All sorts of people advise that you do the lower reaches into Manchester in one go and early on a weekday morning. There are safe moorings below lock 63 near the Rose of Lancaster pub. From there it is advised that you don't stop overnight until you reach Ducie St Junction (20 locks) then turn left onto the Ashton and moor in Picadilly Village.
However we did that journey in reverse on a sunny Saturday afternoon and we are still alive! We did get asked if we had any guns on board though!

Tom and Jan said...

The plan is to go from lock 65 to Ducie St Junction in a day.
We'll have to see if the plan works!

Ade said...

Brilliant crack of dawn raid!
Surprised Waterways Routes Paul was answering the phone that time of the morning.
Been waiting for this post since I saw Firefly NZ's on Tuesday was it?
Worth waiting for although Ray is more graphic "he enemy were still asleep, well they were until we used the water in the pound they were moored in two locks from the summit to fill our lock and it drained the pound with the result their NBs sat on the bottom and tipped over about 40 degrees" no wonder the natives were restless! Top marks team WU & FF an entertaining read.