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The Tuesday Night Club on Tour


The 1999 "Earnest" Maiden Voyage Cruise


5. Huddersfield to Sowerby Bridge, via Huddersfield Broad Canal, Calder and Hebble, Rochdale Canal to Summit, then back.

Wednesday 14th July saw us leave fairly early at 7.30am to go under the new road bridge and up to lock1E of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The thick blanket weed immediately felt worse than when we did this in "Beatty". In 1997 it was fairly free up to the short winding point, only after here was it bad. We still managed to reach the lock, but had a jolly time reversing back through the bridge to Aspley basin. While Neil was cleaning the prop, Julian and Colin did a quick shop in the Sainsbury's just by the Turnbridge Loco Lift bridge. These moorings beside Sainsbury's look OK and even have rings, but it has not been dredged and it is impossible to get into the bank completely. After a while Neil got a bit eager and worked the boat through the lift bridge on his own. At 9.00am we were all back together and shot off down the Huddersfield Broad Canal to Cooper Bridge Junction. As we (rightly) thought we would be the next boat movement after we came up we left the top gates open. We had an uneventful trip back to the Calder and Hebble Canal even the kids seemed friendly. Our impressions of Huddersfield was that it was mostly harmless if not a bit run down and need of "regeneration". 

Cooper Bridge Junction was passed at 11.15am and we ploughed on, hoping to get to Tuel lane and the Rochdale Canal by 4.00pm. There was no traffic and we made good progress, Brighouse Top Lock being passed at 12.30pm. Salterhebble Top lock ended up as the shortest on the Calder and Hebble, we adopted our normal method going up, this involved putting the bow in the centre of the upper sill (there was often a notch here), swinging the stern over to close one bottom gate, then swinging back again to close the other side. Neil has calculated the ultimate length  of "Earnest" with fenders and the rear fender stool as 60ft 5ins and we just managed to squeeze the stern passed the first closed bottom gate. As the upper sill was so high there was no advantage coming up, of hanging the bow over the sill. so we realised that this maximum length would be OK for coming back down. We came out of Salterhebble Top Lock at 3.10pm and arrived at Sowerby Bridge at 3.45pm. Malcolm the lock keeper was not about, his hut by the Deep Lock 3&4 was locked up, but the light was on and there was a notice saying that if the lock keeper was not about he would either be on Locks 1 and 2 or in the Shire Cruisers hire base workshop. Eventually he materialized carrying his trusty boat hook. Malcolm then prepared the deep lock while we worked through the first two conventional Rochdale Canal locks. After the normal whistle blowing we entered the "Tunnel" and into the lock and were soon at the top. Neil paid the license fee and gave the lock keeper his bribe of some cans of larger. Malcolm seemed a bit miserable, maybe he was worried about the impending B.W. "takeover". This time he was most unhelpful saying that it would be impossible to go over the top and down to Littleborough, something he positively encouraged us to do in 1997. He implied that there was to much politics involved at the moment. The Oldham Metropolitan Council Section started at the swing bridge just before the summit. They had had an argument with the Rochdale Canal Trust and had given maintenance of their section back to the private (owned by Land Securities a Leeds based property company) Rochdale Canal Company. The Rochdale Canal Company had recently bodged a repair on one of the top lock paddles and nearly drained the Summit.  The Canal Trust had only just regained control of the summit and repaired the paddle, so we were lucky to be allowed on to the Summit, but we might find that the water level was still low up there. Malcolm did say that there was now two padlocks on the Western Side top lock, one belonged to the Rochdale Canal Company, and the other by the Parks and Recreation Department of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council! 

We asked Malcolm if was alright to moor at Luddenden Foot as we had in 1997. He replied that there had been trouble there and our best bet was to go a bit further to Mytholmroyd and moor on the wharf behind the "White Lion". He also said that there was a fish and chip shop in Mytholmroyd and that his favorite pub was the "Shoulder of Mutton", about 15 minutes walk from the canal. We took Malcolm's advice, left Tuel Lane at 5.30pm and arrived at Mytholmroyd at 7.25pm. We eventually managed to find the one spot where "Earnest" would float and moored up, at this point a Shire Cruisers hire boat arrived from the other direction and moored in front of us. Neil had a word with the crew of this boat, they were not going out and would keep an eye on "Earnest" for us. We had been held up for 25 minutes at Brearley Upper Lock No6, Neil had walked up from the Lower Lock No5 and had found a bloke in a wet suit who was apparently trying to make love to a lot of floating weed in the lock chamber. The guy turned out to be a very helpful trust employee who had just cleared a blocked paddle culvert of all this weed and was trying to marshal it out of the lock and pull it out on the bank. By this time Julian had moored "Earnest" up and Neil went back for the boat hook to help the guy. The bloke told us the low down on the summit problem. It was he who had repaired the paddle, the summit should be full up now as The Rochdale Canal Company had let some more water down from the reservoir. The Western summit lock only had one padlock on it at the moment and he thought that it belonged to Oldham Council, when he was packing up he found the contact name at Oldham and phone number for us, incase we tried to organise a trip down to Littleborough.

We had all had showers in the long pound before the Brearley Locks, so we were all ready to march off to get some fish and chips and go to the pub. The fish and chip shop was found, but it was closed for the owners annual holiday. Julian was bit upset by this so he decided we would take the bus back to Luddenden Foot, where we knew from 1997 there was a fish and chip shop.  The bus soon came and we were soon sitting on the canal bridge eating our excellent fish and chips. Julian did not fancy the pubs in Luddenden Foot, so we took the bus back and went to the excellent, recommended "Shoulder of Mutton". When we were buying our tickets for the outward journey we heard the bus driver pronounce "The M word", and it certainly was not Myth-holm-royd! When we got the bus back it was the same driver an we had to resort to ask him how you pronounced "The M word". Apparently he had been born there and he said the best way of remembering it was "The ride to Mythm" i.e. Mythm (rhymes with rhythm) - ride!

Thursday 15th July saw us have a totally peaceful trip up to the summit, not a single other boat movement was witnessed. All the paddle gear gave in to our long throw windlasses and we did not bend one this year! It took 8 hours to get up, we arrived at West Summit Lock No 37 at 5.30pm. Above Todmorden we saw three moored boats, one at Nip Square Lock, our old friend "Petronella" which we see every year in afar away place and one other boat just above the East Summit Lock. The only difficulty we had was a low pound below Sands Lock No32, when we caught a piece of rusty old chain link fence round the propshaft. That evening Neil cycled down to Rochdale, the summit was overflowing and all the locks and pounds down to Littleborough were full up, perfect conditions to go down, but is was not to be. Read about the reason for this and view images on The Rochdale Canal Restoration Pages. After Neil came back from his cycle ride he was a bit knackered, so he jumped in the shower while Julian finished off another of his excellent meals. Yet again we stayed in, we still have not checked out the nearby "Summit Inn".

After our initial aborted attempt to get down to Littleborough we left at 11.35am. This involved reversing all the way back along the summit pound as the winding point is right by the east Longlees Lock No 36. we shot along at a good speed as it was deep and we had perfected our two steerer approach,  (one on the tiller and throttle and the other on the bow thruster. We stopped at the good "Cross Keys Inn" for dinner and a pint between 1.30 and 3.00pm. We moored the boat on the water point just above the lock and left it filling with water as it was nearly empty. Yet another uneventful trip back to Mytholmroyd followed, arriving at 8.00pm, it had taken us 7 hours to get down. Again there were no other boat movements to hold us up. Neil thinks this is incredible as the section after Todmorden is one of his favorite canals of all time. Other T.N.C. members think the lack of other boats goes a long way towards achieving this! That night we went back to the "Shoulder of Mutton" and ate there.

The next morning we shoved of at 8.00am as we wanted to get to Sowerby Bridge by 10.30 ish as we were going to stop there and take a train to Manchester and the tram to Bury so we could go on the East Lancs Steam Railway. We arrived at Tuel lane at 9.40 and the still miserable Malcolm shot us through in record time. by 10.30am we had got the boat through the last two locks , moored, locked up and were on our way to the station. We went the direct route following the Rochdale Canal, but came back via Huddersfield and Leeds so we could travel on the line following the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We had a good time with some very tight connections and got back in time to freshen up as we were booked into the excellent "Java" Indonesian restaurant where we also went in 1997. This restaurant is in a large old pub just opposite the main entrance to Sowerby Bridge Basin. Being an old pub it still sold a well kept Timothy Taylors Landlord, one of our favorite beers.

Thornhill Locks, just above junction with Dewsbury Arm, Calder and Hebble Navigation.

Lock1 E, Huddersfield Narrow Canal, as far as you can get up from Aspley Basin.

On our way up the stub of the Huddersfield Narrow, passed the Polytechnic campus.

Looking back at the new narrow bridge entrance to the Huddersfield Narrow, under by-pass road.

The start of our passage up the stub of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Our kind of graffiti. Did read "US warships get out of the Persian Gulf"

Lock 2 of the Huddersfield Broad Canal. 

Lock 1 of the Huddersfield Broad Canal, you lock straight out onto the River Calder. Large weir to right, junction with Cooper Bridge Cut to left.
The next set of images are from our journey up and down the open east side of the Rochdale Canal. All in order starting from the Summit.

Longlees Lock (East Summit) No36. Summit pound in distance. Winding point is to left just before moored boat.

The much photographed Longlees Lock cottage.

Looking up at Longlees lock No36. 

"Petronella" as seen on our way up, pops up every year in obscure places! Warland Lower Lock No34 in distance.

The long Warland pound.

The long Warland pound.

On our way back, Bottomley Lock No33 in distance.

Nip Square Lock No29. (This and the next two images taken on our Feb 2000 visit.)

The "Cross Keys" at Walsden.

Travis Mill Lock No28

On our way down Julian steering through rebuilt and once dropped Copperas House Bridge No32. Neil on bike lock wheeling.

On our way down, Gauxholm Highest Lock No24, rebuilt Gauxholm Arch bridge No31 below.

On our way down, coming out of Gauxholm Middle Lock No23, note bracing to line up bottom gates. These as well a lot of others are new Ekki replacements for original restoration ones.

Gauxholm Lowest Lock No22, on our way up. Neil lock wheeling, notice long throw windlass, essential on some of the paddle gear!

Gauxholm Lowest Lock No22, on the way down, and of course that famous railway bridge. Notice windlass stuck on paddle to hold it up, many just slip down again.

Looking up at Gauxholm Locks from Shade Lock No22 .This is one of Neil's all time favorite canal spots.

Julian steering "Earnest" on the way up, approaching Shade Lock No22.

"The Great Wall Of Todmorden", railway on top.

Todmorden Lock No19, Paddles manual, guillotine electric.

Just below Todmorden. 

Lobb Mill Lock No16. 

Looking up at Lobb mill Lock No16.

Below Lobb Mill. 

Stubbing Wharf, boats moored at popular "Stubbing Wharf" pub, we have not tried this yet.

On the way down, approaching Stubbing (outskirts of Hebden Bridge).

On the way down, Stubbing Upper and Lower Locks. 

Calder Aqueduct and Blackpit Lock No9, just above Hebden Bridge.

Hebden Bridge, excellent little town with "proper" shops, visited in 1997.

Hebden Bridge Wharf.

Going down in Tuel Lane Lock No 3&4. 

The tour continues...

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