Bugsworth Basin was not as idyllic as I expected, the noise from the dual carriage way A6 that completely cut Buxworth in half runs right beside the Middle and upper basins. I got up during the night and there were 3 helicopters just over the tree line.
This morning we visited the visitor centre, this is a container but there is a lot of good information in there about the working days of burning lime and carrying stone, so it was 1030 before we set off. At the junction with the Peak Forest canal they were pumping out the sunken cruiser in an attempt to refloat it. Back in the canal we turned right and retraced our steps back to Marple Junction. We only met 7 boats all day. The first obstacle was one of the two swing bridges by Furness Vail Marina which Diana soon sorted out.
The electric lift bridge was no problem, on our was to the end yesterday it didn't want to release Diana's key, then the manual lift bridge, Diana almost got there with windlass in hand and it started opening for us.There were two chaps there armed with brushes, buckets etc. presumably to scrub and maybe paint it and one of them operated it for us.
We stopped for lunch a short way before Marple Junction, there was a nice bit of piling to moor to and I got to at least 3 foot of it before I was hard aground. Just as we were about to leave this flotilla of geese came along the canal behind us.
As we approached Marple Junction a boat went through the bridge towards Macclesfield, good we thought, the locks will be with us, but when we got closer there was a boat at the top lock, just filling the lock to go down. It seems the other boat came from the Macc turned round and was going back. The boat ahead of us was well crewed and were setting ahead, as we also set ahead, ie. the next lock down is filling while the one we are in is emptying we made good progress down the first 4 locks. This lock has a road bridge over its tail so the canal company mounted a roller on the edge of the bridge so that the horse could pull the boat into the lock when going down hill and it is still there.
After lock 13 we met a boat coming the other way, yes it saved us filling lock 12 but it seemed to take for ever, then we met another at lock 9, If there had been any more coming up the flight we would have still been there. This meant the boat ahead of us now had all the locks set ready for them and we never saw them again even though we carried on setting ahead.
One of the locks has some interesting fancy stone work as you approach it from below, lots of landowners insisted on all sorts of things where the canal crossed their land, some had fancy bridges, others had the canal widened to look like a small lake, so probably this one wanted fancy stone work.
The Marple locks are quite an unusual design, the single top gate has a gate paddle as well as just one ground paddle and they can both be operated from the towpath side of the lock. Below the lock there is a stone foot bridge to reach the offside bottom gate so no walkways on the gates themselves. Both the bottom gates have gate paddles, but at one time there was also a ground paddle on the towpath side.
On most of the stones used in the lock construction you can still see the mason's marks, each stone mason had his own mark which he put on the stone and this was what he got paid by.
There are 16 locks in the flight and some of the bottom paddles are a bit on the stiff side, plus if setting you walk the length of the flight twice. Just below the flight is a very large winding hole that has a couple of mooring rings and we were considering mooring there , but we knew there were some better moorings the other side of the aqueduct so Diana walked ahead to see what space was available and phoned me to say there was loads of room.
CRT have plans to put railings along the off side of the aqueduct just in case someone falls off, nobody has in the last 200 years but someone might just step off their boat as its crossing the aqueduct and then fall of the 3 foot wide piece on the off side. In the mean time while they wait planning consent they have erected these notices.
Our mooring spot proved to be a bit shallow, but we are not expecting any passing traffic and we are within 3 foot of the bank anyway.