Too soon, too short…

Uppermill to Mossley, 2.61 miles, 7 locks (and a long furrow)

Too soon into Uppermill this morning, on the doorstep of the Post Office before 9am,waiting for it to open…

Too short to push the boat’s stern out, when it was grounded above Uppermill  Lock…

Too shallow, the pound between Locks 19W and 18W…

Too weak to turn some paddle gear…

Too much rain in the thunderstorms this afternoon…

Too soon – searching for the Mossley Heritage Mill opted for the first mill found – needed to walk quite a bit further.

Recovered now from the Midge Attack Boatwif felt in fine fettle this morning, ready to face the two miles or so and seven locks downhill to Mossley, (The little, hilly, milly, three-cornered town of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire). The boat had been moored there before on the outbound cruise and it was the plan to moor up before the showers started… But just trying to leave Uppermill proved problematic enough. The Captain and another boater set Lock 21W and Boatwif moved (well, tried to move) ahead into the lock. The shallow banks made forward motion impossible. Use of the long pole still didn’t push the boat far enough out into the channel. Eventually, super-strength Captain (with his longer arms) managed to push the stern out into deep enough water. Forward motion at last was rewarded by a cheer and a short round of applause from a small group of locals. “Happens to us all,” said the man holding a windlass.

Under the long road bridge and out towards Greenfield. There were glimpses of green playing fields, of sharply defined hill ridges and soon, of a brash Tesco building. Just before Lock 20W another boat appeared, its helmsman kind enough to leave the top gates open. Down.  Though the sun was shining memory reminded the crew that they were in known shallow water territory. On past pretty gardens, goats at a small-holding and doves at a dovecote. At Lock 19 a local man shook his head.

 “ Don’t know how you’ll get on down there. Don’t know where all the water’s gone!”

Below the bridge the tide was receding, muddy banks exposed. Yet pouring into the pound was a fierce flow from an overflow drain, the water from the lock bypass and the water squeezing through leaky lock gates. The Captain didn’t seem to take matters that seriously, but did he expect Cleddau to navigate a ditch?! The lock was filled, the boat positioned within it – and the Captain set off to look for himself.  He was gone some time…

By the time he returned the boat was already much lower in the lock, its very walls and gates leaking…  “We’re going to need more water (obviously), put the kettle on.” Then began an emergency plan: Drop water from lock 19 into the pound, continue to run water down from the pound above until the Lock 18’s gates could be opened. Continue to drop water into the lock until the boat could get into Lock 18. Then close up Lock 19.

So, about an hour after arrival (and without the pot of tea), Cleddau had arrived in Lock 18. Extra stiff paddles here and stubborn gates but the cruise continued.  Then came Division Bridge, which marks the old boundary between Yorkshire and Lancashire (now between Oldham and Tameside). Finally to Mossley: three locks here in swift succession. At the last a small girl watched, wide-eyed: “Isn’t it scary, going down like that in a lock?”

“No, it’s like the water going out of a bath,” replied Boatwif – and thought how much scarier she finds it when water is in very short supply.

Mooring achieved (despite the shallow edge and gusty wind) lunch was had – and yes, the Uppermill butchers’ pork and rhubarb pie is rather good!

After a thunderstorm Boatwif set off in quest of the Mossley Heritage Mill where a small exhibition displays Mossley’s woollen and cotton mill past.  A trudge (under umbrella) brought her soon to a mill – but the wrong one. Directions were given and a useful clue provided, to look out for the cobbled street.  The same building is shared by Emmaus, an excellent charity which helps homeless people gain self respect and independence by repairing and recycling donated goods. A browse among the goods: the wringer was already sold (!), but for £2 five CDs and two pottery pieces seemed a bargain.

Despite the frustrations it’s been a great day – really!

Wonder if playing the Summer Classics CD bought in Emmaus today will bring out some lengthier sunshine tomorrow…!

Tomorrow: on towards Stalybridge.

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