Monday, 27 April 2015

Ashton Canal,Lumb Lane bridge & Droylsden Marina.

Hi all,
We left Romiley last Tuesday morning after a quiet night on the Visitor Moorings and made our steady way to the end of the Peak Forest and onto of the Ashton Canal.Since our blog last week things have been a mixture of both relief and surprise for us.The relief was Lumb Lane Bridge 21 at the Eastern end of the Ashton Canal,a mile and a half West of Dukinfield Junction.Ever since we set off up the Macclesfield Canal back in December I have had this particular bridge on my mind.If you look at the Nicholson Guide number 5,North West and Pennines,it advises that Lumb Lane Bridge is very low.Well,I can confirm that it is low but not as low as I had expected,we squeezed through with about 5 inches to spare.It seems that the height of 6 feet,that I had heard mentioned,does in fact apply to the towpath and not the wet bit that we use.I watched a man walking on the tow path and he ducked as he went under the bridge so I cheekily asked him how tall he was and he replied 6 feet 3.The last time I checked our height we were a little over 6 feet high
Just floating under Lumb Lane Bridge,as you can see it's a bit on the low side but we got through ok,you can see the towpath is a bit higher than the canal, it's not the lowest bridge we've been under,that was on the Droitwich Junction Canal.There are a couple more low bridges on the Ashton as you get closer to Manchester and I didn't think they were a lot of different from Lumb Lane.One is new Viaduct Street Bridge 7 and the other is Cambrian Street Bridge 6,you do have to keep your head down through them both.
Now we have the first of the surprises,Droylsden Marina.We knew it was there on the Ashton Canal and we hadn't intended stopping but in the end we were glad that we did,and it all came about as a result of a mix up.Having checked out Lumb Lane Bridge and got through,the intention was to get to Fairfield Junction where the marina is and where there's a Water Point,top up with water,wind and go back to Portland Basin and moor just a little way down the Peak Forest Canal where we've moored in the past,it's not that far.It's never been recommended to moor on the Ashton Canal,historically there have been problems with children. Anyway,when we got to Fairfield Junction I missed the water Point,it wasn't where I expected it to be,and we sailed into the marina.The first person we spoke to as we looked rather vacantly around for the mysterious water point was very friendly and pointed to where we could moor,asking questions over 50 yards of water with the engine running was a bit pointless,so we moored.From then on everyone we spoke to was most helpful and friendly,they showed us the Visitor Moorings and the facilities,there's a Tesco just across the road,and so as a result,we decided to stay,saving us the trip back to Portland Basin.We had three very pleasant nights there and the days were all wall to wall sunshine.Thank you Jane and Tom,we will be back.
While at the marina we had a bit of a wander around the surrounding area and came across a couple of interesting bits,the first was a building below Fairfield Top Lock.Just above the Lock is the Water Point I didn't see by the way.
Fairfield Top Lock,this and the next lock were doubled in 1830 but now the left hand lock acts as a Byewash.Droylsden Marina is top centre,between the houses,on what was once the four and a half mile,eight lock, Hollinwood Branch Canal,sadly,this canal was allowed to become derelict after the 1930's.Look closely and you can see that the water point is on the grey wall to the left of the end of the disused lock after the tree,a little black box.
The Packet Boat House below Fairfield Top Lock.It was built in 1833 and the Ashton Canal Co. kept their Packet Boat moored in it.The Packet boat carried Mail,Passengers and freight on regular services between Ashton,Marple,Stockport and Manchester and the journey to Manchester from Ashton took two and a half hours which isn't bad when you consider that it took Lisa and I nearly five hours.There are 18 locks and they were all against us,I bet the Packet Boat had sufficient crew to work the locks ahead.
Just a few minutes walk along the towpath from the marina is the Fairfield Moravian Settlement which opened in 1785.just at the entrance to the settlement is the statue of a Moravian lady and child with a few books which we believe represents the fact that the Moravians believed strongly in education.The Post Box isn't all it seems though,it looks like a Victorian Penfold Piller Box but it is,in fact,a replica

Inside the Church on the settlement.As we were walking past the church,Phillip,the Minister came out and invited us in to have a look around,unfortunately,I didn't get his surname.
Lisa working the locks at Clayon on the Ashton,you can see Manchester City's Etihad Stadium in the distance.
There's me,see I do try and do my share of working the locks
The Towpath Bridge over the former Stockport Branch Canal.This canal was five miles long and lock free,it opened in 1797 and was officially abandoned in 1962.
OK,a bit of a question for you.This is a pic' of the side of an old warehouse/mill on the side of the Ashton Canal near Ancoats.The middle picture is,I think,Pete Postlethwaite,but who's the one on the left?I'm sure I know his face but can't put a name to it.
There we are,all moored up before it rained.We had glorious sunshine all the way down the 18 locks when we needed it and that's what matters.This is Piccadilly Village just before the end of the canal,the moorings are secure,you need a code to get through the locked gates,so it was a nice safe place to moor.Another surprise was the canal itself,I have to say that the whole of the experience of cruising the canal was good even though the locks were slow.It's nicely looked after for an urban canal and I felt that,had we had too,we could have moored overnight in a number of places,something that only a few years ago,would have been unthinkable.
Approaching Ducie Street Bridge just before the junction with the Rochdale Canal,this was on Sunday morning as we made our way to New Islington Marina for a few days.The marina is just a couple of locks up the Rochdale.
Lock 82 on the Rochdale,through this one and the marina is on the right.Royal Mill is the first big building on the left past the bridge.This was the New Old Mill when it was built in 1912 and renamed Royal Mill in 1942.Just beyond it and even bigger is Old Mill,built in 1798.There have been Cotton Mills on this site since at least the end of 18th Century in what was known as Murrays Mills,a complex of 6 cotten mills built for Adam and George Murray,two brothers from Scotland.It was the largest complex of it's kind in the world at the beginning of the 19th Century
Well,that's it again for this week.we are safely moored in New Islington Marina from where we are going to do a bit more exploring of the fascinating City of Manchester.Since last week we have done 20 Locks and cruised 12 Miles that gives us a Grand Total of 1,139 Locks and 1,811 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.


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  2. The left hand picture is a character from the TV series Breaking Bad. The character is a lawyer called Saul Goodman. There is now a spin-off prequel show centred around him: Better Call Saul.

    Droylsden Marina looks like a handy launching point for Manchester (since every guide book tells us we will be murdered at the tiller if we are spotted by any children). Do you think it would be OK to go there just for one night, and is there someone there to pay etc?


    1. Thank you Jemma. It's nice to put a name to the pic'.
      Droylsden Marina is a great place to stop on your way into Manchester from the East. Just ask for Jane or Tom who are moored there or,if youre coming from the Peak Forest or the Hudersfield,go into the marina at Portland Basin & see them. They're the people who actually run Droylsden Marina. It's £6.00 a night plus leccy at £0.14 a unit of you want. The prob's on the Ashton are historic in my opinion. Treat it as you would any urban canal & you will be fine. Remember,Nicholsons are rarely updated. Enjoy our waterways. Fred.

  3. Hi Fred and Lisa, lovely to meet you the other day! You are completely correct about Droylsden - although Sharon (at Portland Basin) wasn't entirely sure where they could put us, she told us to turn up anyway. Jane and Tom sorted us out and were full of local advice too - as are the other residents. Close to Metro and buses too if you need them. (I will update our blog about it in the next day or two).