Or so they say! Certainly we had a much easier day on the canal today (day 4). We worked well together and got into a little routine at the locks, and there were no dramas at all!
Parked up in a peaceful spot on the canal, we had a lovely night’s sleep. Then, before we set off to Todmorden, we had a walk up to Stoodley Pike, a 400m hill with a 37m monument on top, which commemorates the defeat of Napoleon.
It was all uphill to the monument. Once there, we were pleased to find we could get up to the ledge by climbing a dark spiral staircase inside it. We met an acrobat who had cycled to Stoodley Pike from the circus in Hebden Bridge. I took some photos of her doing handstand splits on the ledge!
Once I’d taken dozens of photos, we left the monument, followed the ridge and dropped down into Mankinholes, before returning to our narrowboat. It was a beautiful walk on a beautiful day.
After this, we wound up the mooring ropes, started the boat’s engine and set off to Tod. We passed through locks 15 to 18 with no problems. What a difference from the day before! In the town, John parked the boat at the service station and filled up with water, while I got rid of the rubbish.
We’d originally planned to go further up the canal to lock 30 but, unfortunately, the Canal and River Trust had emptied a section of the canal between locks 23 and 24 for repairs. Lock 19 was as far as we could go. John turned the boat beautifully in a rather small winding hole (turning place), without hitting the bank or any of the boats moored nearby. I was very impressed!
By now it was 3 o’clock and we were hungry so we moored the boat and went to look for a cafe. Sadly we couldn’t find anywhere open and, by now I wasn’t just hungry… I was hangry! A nearby Morrisons saved the day! Back at the boat, the canal was very quiet with few people on the towpath and no other boats on the canal. After treating ourselves to a meal out in a nearby pub, it was bedtime.
The next morning (day 5), while we were having breakfast, a guy from the Canal and River Trust was walking past and called to us to see what our plans were. He was struggling to manage the canal with there being so little rain recently. He told us that, as fast as water was pumped in, the community living on the canal below lock 13 were draining it into their section. This meant everywhere else was drying out… as we’d experienced!
After breakfast, we went for another walk. This time we climbed up onto the moors and passed some reservoirs before dropping down to Summit and returning to Tod along the canal. The route was quite straightforward apart from one point when the path completely disappeared in the heather and peat bog. Thankfully, the bog was dry because of the lack of rain or there could have been a tantrum!
Summit is the highest point on the Rochdale Canal and also the highest broad lock in England (600 feet above sea level). We stopped for lunch in the pub here then walked back along the canal from lock 37 to 19, past the empty section between locks 23 and 24, then alongside the Great Wall of Tod. This is a massive brick structure that rises straight up out of the canal. Apparently, it was built to support the railway goods yards above.
We arrived back at the boat seconds before the heavens opened, with torrential rain bouncing on the canal! This was another lovely walk. It really is a beautiful area.
Once the rain died down, we decided to travel back along the canal a bit. By now it was Tuesday and we need to be back in Sowerby Bridge first thing on Friday. We ended up doing locks 17 to 15 and stopped at the peaceful spot we’d moored at a couple of days earlier.
It was the first time we’d travelled downhill in the locks but all went smoothly. We really have got the locks sussed! Team work makes the dream work! I wonder if I’ll still be saying that tomorrow when we get back to the nightmare lock, number 13!