Day 21

It’s three days to midummer, so why am I typing this in my sleeping bag? Beginning to wish I’d spent less time on Seren’s electrics and making the fridge work and got around to fitting heating instead. but here’s how the day went:

The usual early start, ablutions, breakfast make sandwiches for lunch in case it’s a busy day make bread dough and leave to rise. Wash up, tidy, anything to pass the time until 09.00 when I phone CRT. Explained the situation to a woman with a lovely Manc accent and asked if there was any chance of finding out what was likely to happen, and when. She said she’d speak to the project manager and get back to me.

So at 10.30 and no wiser I pottered around to the New Islington marina to fill up the water tank, still hoping to get away soon. At 11.00 phoned CRT again and explained again and a different woman with a lovely accent (and habit of calling me luvvie) promised to check and call back. This time she did but was unable to advise. As the job cannot proceed without building consent it’s out of CRT’s hands. So reluctantly I abandoned the plan to go to Liverpool and decided to go up the Rochdale canal to return home via Yorks, Notts and Leics.

For two nights I’d been just above lock 82 so out of the marina to lock 81. It was all a bit stiff and slow but OK, and helped by a young lad and his mum who were passing.

Lock 81 was slow to fill, and never actually did, so I couldn’t open the top gates. Phoned CRT to report it then had lunch sitting in the lock. By the time I’d finished it was empty so I backed out and moored and waited. Eventually a helpful CRT guy showed up and opened and closed the paddles and I put the boat back in the lock. Eventually we got enough water to open the gate and get out, but by then the pound above was nearly empty.

Interesting to see the shape of the canal bed here. Apparently when the canal was closed the bed was tarmacced so it would be low maintenance and mostly kept dry but available as a storm drain. When reopened a channel was cut down the middle of the tarmac but clearing it all would be too expensive so the sides of the canal are only about 30cm deep, but you don’t know until you hit the edge of the tarmac, or see a pound empty.

CRT man let water down from the next pound and helped me through lock 80. And again for lock 79. He left me watching 79 fill slowly and went to let yet more water down. But even with the lock full I still couldn’t open the gates!

There’s no way I was going to manage without crew so I broke it to the CRT man and backed out of 79, turned around and went back to where I was this morning, just above lock 82. Tomorrow morning I’ll go back to the Ashton Canal junction and start retracing my steps…

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