|Boater and Son statue at Sowerby Bridge|
We had been moored in the basin at Sowerby Bridge for nearly 2 weeks while we visited family, but on returning to the boat I was itching to get going again.
Sowerby Bridge is at the start of the Rochdale canal so it was to be a new canal for us to explore.
While refuelling, we discovered that 6 boats from Shire Cruises were about to be going out in our direction so we thought we would go through the Tuel Lane Deep lock and tie up until the flotilla had passed. We spent a pleasant afternoon chatting to Billy, the lock keeper and watching the world - and 6 boats filled with excited holiday makers - go by.
Tuesday morning we had a hearty breakfast in the marketplace before setting off. Two full English breakfasts plus coffee for a total of £5.60 It was almost as good as the price we paid in Spain!
Finally, we set off in good spirits. The first mile and a half was mostly through the edge of industrial land with residential properties clinging precariously to respectability, but soon the countryside started to open up and we were rewarded with lovely views.
We had mapped out an easy day with our first stop being Hebden Bridge and although we had been warned that in places the canal was shallow just before that, we were sure that we had at least three miles and two locks before we came to the shallow pound.
Three miles along the Rochdale canal, we reached lock 5. I noticed one of the hire boats moored between locks 5 and 6 and thought that they hadn't got very far the day before. We soon discovered that there was a good reason for that. Five of the six boats were stuck in the shallow pound and the sixth boat had tied up just short of lock 6.
They were the lucky ones. Staff from Shire Cruises reversed their boat back through lock 5, turned them around at the winding and they were soon on their way back to Sowerby Bridge with the prospect of continuing their holiday in a different direction.
The cill on lock 6 had been badly damaged and was leaking water. This must have been happening for a few days, steadily getting worse which would explain the shallow pound. Finally, the lock failed and the pound above it drained, trapping the 5 boats in the process.
Although we could go no further, we still had water under us (unlike this poor boat pictured here) so we moored on the lock operation and walked the three miles into Hebden Bridge for the afternoon. If nothing else, we had time!
Returning later that afternoon, we discovered that the stretch of the canal (pound) that we were in seemed to loosing water too, so we reversed through lock 5 and moored below the lock. just as well because by the next morning the pound was well down and we would have been hanging on our mooring ropes.
By Wednesday mid-day (22nd July), CRT had filled the stretch above lock 6 to free the stranded hire-boats. All very well for them but we couldn't move because we were the wrong side of the failed lock 6.
Locking up the boat, we took the bus into Hebden Bridge with a rucksack full of laundry. I could at least get that done while we were forced to wait.
|Stop Locks being inserted|
True to his word, Billy arrived the next morning with 8 litres of bottled water. That solved the drinking water problem but we still had to be careful with our domestic water if we were going to be stuck for a while.
|Haworth Main Street|
On Thursday 23rd July Ian and I set off to enjoy the surrounding countryside. Haworth is Bronte country and a bus ride over the moors took us there.
|The parsonage - Inspirational home of the Bronte sisters|
We spent a lovely day steeped in the history of Haworth and the famous Bronte family. Beside the Bronte museum, we wandered around the restored Parsonage, the family home of Patrick Bronte (father), Barnwell Bronte (brother)and the three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
After a full day, we caught the bus back to Hebden bridge. Expecting to see some progress, we were disappointed to find that the scaffolding was still being erected. Work hadn't even been started on the cill problem.
Oh well, we knew that we would be stranded for another full day at the very least.
Friday 24th July, 3 days after having been stopped at Lock 6 on the Rochdale canal, we decided to enjoy a 'Steam Adventure' along the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
Taking the bus again over the south Pennine hills which gave us glorious views over the moors, we headed for the town of Oxenhope. In the 1800's Oxenhope along with Haworth was a working village with the main industry being the production of Worsted yarn and cloth (Worsteds were fine cloths using long-fibre wool). Today the typical long, narrow window structure of the handloom weavers cottages is still evident and even more modern houses are being built with the old architectural feature.
Ian bought two 'Rovers' tickets which gave us a full day of hop-on hop-off activity on the steam train as well as access to the vintage bus and entrance to the museums at Ingrow. We had a fabulous day.
On returning to Hebden bridge we were delighted to find that the lock 6 cill had finally been repaired and the scaffolding was being removed. Billy phoned us later in the evening to tell us that the canal would be opened on Saturday morning - four days after the problem was found with the cill on lock 6.
With our heads full of Bronte history, steam trains and railway museums, we look forward to continuing on our way along the Rochdale Canal.
I am pleased that we were forced to slow down even further and look around us. We may not have discovered as much as we did if we had sailed right on past Hebden Bridge.
A huge 'Thank You' to Billy, CRT lock keeper at Tuel Lane Deep Lock who looked after our welfare!