The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finding the Manchester, Bury Bolton Canal.

Up to a few months ago i had never even heard of the Manchester, Bury, Bolton canal. In fact, asking my friends and neighbours, neither had any of them, except one who had been taken there on a day out with his photography club.

I contacted the society and enquired about getting a guide book. Well worth the money at only £4 plus p and p. It is, or rather was, a well used canal mainly ferrying coal but today most of it is in a sorry state and parts of it are filled in. However reading the book and learning about it's life triggered me into exploring what i could find of it in the Manchester City centre area.

As a brief intro, the canal was opened in 1790 between Bury, Bolton and Agecroft. The link from Agecroft to the Irwell in Salford, just on the outskirts of Manchester, wasn't completed until 1808.
It was built to take wide beam boats with wooden containers for ease of extraction.

Setting off on the south bank of the River Irwell, I first came to what I  thought was a dry dock next to the Victoria and Albert Hotel. It turns out that this is the start of another canal, the Manchester and Salford Junction canal, now unused and its route is mainly underground. It was built in 1839 to link the Manchester Bolton Bury canal and the River Irwell with the Rochdale Canal.It goes from here under Granada Studios across town and exits close to The Bridgewater Hall. It was closed in 1922.
The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal, the River Irwell is beyond the open lock gate. This section was rejuvenated when the adjacent Victoria and Albert hotel was built.

My route onwards was blocked by high fencing and a huge amount of work was underway. It was right where I had intended to go and I was a bit miffed that I couldn't get onto Prince's Bridge. It turns out that a new "Ordsall Chord" as its called is being built to join the railway line from Victoria Stn via Oxford Rd Stn to Piccadilly Stn. It's a huge undertaking but why the need for solid fencing which stops the general public from viewing progress is going a bit far. It seems to be the norm in Manchester to have these restrictive fences on all new works.
The link HERE is worth clicking on.

Within the budget for the Chord is also provision for a new pedestrian/cycle bridge which will cross the River Irwell underneath the railway bridge.
 The River Irwell, high fencing stopping pedestrian progress on the left. The new rail Chord will be going above the new yellow pedestrian bridge replacing Princes Bridge. 

 Construction ongoing of the Ordsall Chord.
The entrance to the Manchester Bolton Bury Canal is under the left arch. This is as close as i could get to seeing it in relation to the River Irwell.

I was determined to find the canal, I had to walk quite a diverted route onto Ordsal Lane where I managed to glimpse the canal and the first lock, again it was behind large screens and fencing but i managed to squeeze the camera through a gap. I had no chance of getting down to the canal itself. Across the new road more of the same fencing denying access to the public towpath.
The entrance to the River Irwell from the Manchester Bolton Bury Canal. 

Again, not giving up I did another detour onto Oldfield Rd where once more on both sides of the road enclosing massive building works, more high solid fencing. From the advertising fixed to the fencing i assume that thousands of new homes are to be built waterside with funding from China.
To my amazement I found a small access gap where the fencing had not yet shut off. Some workmen in high vis gear and hard hats watched my every move but didn't stop me getting down to the canal. It wasn't the old canal but a modern new section. It turns out that this section from the River Irwell up to Oldfield Rd was rebuilt and opened in 2008! I must admit that I don't remember reading or hearing anything about this development.  But here it was and I managed to walk the majority of the new towpath.

The old canal, just before its entrance or exit into the River Irwell used to turn north east into Canada Sidings and Canal Street Sidings which were rail goods yard. Although this area has now been bulldozed and cleared and behind high fencing the branch has not been reinstated. There also used to be a run off channel for when the canal water became too high. This channel or culvert, I am not sure which it was, may also be missing.
The junction between the canal and river is also in a slightly different location than the original was. The original can still be seen with a bit of investigation but I couldn't get near to take a photo.

This new section of canal ends at Oldfield road, the old Outwood, Oldfield and Crescent warves completely filled in and beyond that as it follows the railway past Salford Crescent Station for about 3.6km (2.25 miles) until you get to Park House Bridge at Agecroft.

LNWR bridge and canal tunnel under the new ring road.

Looking South East Into Manchester.

Looking North West from Ordsall end.

 Looking North West towards Oldfield Rd.

Winding Hole.

Under Oldfield Road.
 Algae growth.

 Looking South East. The building work and security fencing made access to the canal almost impossible. The area must have been a hive of activity in the hay days. Here three large wharves unloaded boats full of coal and stone primarily. 
Who goes there!

At Park House Bridge I joined the towpath proper. Some water was visible but mainly the canal is overgrown with bulrushes. The towpath is in very good condition and looks like it has been laid fairly recently. It had started to rain, quite heavily and prolonged and waterproofs were required.
Just about 5 minutes after joining the towpath a Kingfisher flew past, low and fast, a fantastic sight.
It was too fast to get a photo unfortunately.
The old canal proper, with towpath access at Park House Bridge.

 When we reached this point, SD 804013 it looked like a new road was being constructed. There was also construction excavators on the opposite bank. We thought it odd.
Our chatter woke many Greyhound Dogs which started barking loudly, loud enough to wake the dead we thought as we passed the Jewish cemetary.

Passing underneath the A6044 brought us into a section where the canal had more water. It was quiet, eerily so. No people, no birds, no cars, no sounds at all and then we heard a few dogs barking from Mayfield Kennels and a sign which gives "keep out" a stronger meaning.

The rain had stopped and the day had turned into a pleasant one. The towpath became muddier and the canal more and more overgrown. A number of paths headed off into the Clifton Junction area and then once across the aqueduct with the River Irwell below us, we lost the canal completely. Lots of fences prohibiting access to land, and the way forward not obvious. At this point we decided that we had done enough for today and so headed back along the banks of the Irwell which was a pleasure to walk along. 

Coming to the end of this section of canal.
The disused aqueduct that carried the line from Clifton to Radcliffe. its now a footpath and one to remember for another day.

The River Irwell from the canal aqueduct.
The Irwell from the footpath.
 It was an interesting day out and good to do something on our doorstep that we didn't know was there. The canal section through Salford is going to be a big job to re-instate and i am doubtful it will be done in my lifetime. However the section from Salford to Clifton should be easy enough if the funding is there for it. We are looking forward to doing the next section which i am led to believe is mainly in water with lots of interest along the way. Can't wait.

Some further reading:-
 Canal plan here.
Canal routes here.
Wikipedia, history. here.
Manchester Bolton Bury Canal Society. Here

Friday, September 30, 2016

'uddersfield to Marsden - along the Narrow Canal.

Thursday 29th September 2016
Walking with Terry

After the debacle we had with public transport a couple of weeks ago when we went to Adlington we took some Librium and set off again for Manchester by bus. From home its only 8 miles but it took us 1 hour 10 minutes. How folk do this on a regular basis commuting to work is beyond me and i think i would be seeking help from a psychiatrist.

Anyway we got to the re-vamped Victoria train station, and what a nice job they have made of it btw, in good time to get tickets to 'uddersfield and a coffee from the tax dodgers, you know who i mean.

On time and direct we were in 'uddersfield by 10.30am. It must have been 10 degrees colder  than Manchester, everyone dressed for winter and it was spitting with rain and blowing a hooley.

 Huddersfield's wonderful railway station with added water feature.
Heading south or down hill, the town was quite busy and although i had promised myself a bacon butty upon arrival, i wasn't going to queue up for it, and Gregg's was packed to the door.
The wind was bitterly cold and once out of the protection of the buildings it was almost blowing us over. 
We reached the narrow canal at lock 3, adjacent to the Kirklees College. The clouds were getting darker and no sooner had i taken the photo below did the heavens open. With blue sky around we took shelter under a tree rather than don waterproofs and as it happened this was to become the theme of the day. Only on one wide open area did we get caught out.
 Kirklees College with a rain shower approaching.
 Approaching the Longroyd railway viaduct. Opened in 1899. Clouds looking ominous.
 The Brittania fabric mill. 
Still operational and the weaving looms could be heard through the open windows. 

 Milnsbridge with the new-ish canal side apartments.
Just passed this point there was a huge Police presence, lots of vans and the regional marine unit. What looked like forensic units, all masked up. I didn't take photographs for obvious reasons and we guessed that maybe a body had been found in the river Calder, but that might be just our imaginations.
The Calder passes under the canal and since our last visit here a new path had been installed down to the weir which is quite impressive.

 Appleyard Bridge and locks.
 Going dark again as we approach Titanic Mill, now apartments.
 Dad, what are these two looking at.
 The section of canal from Linthwaite to Slaithwaite, (pronounced Slowit) is sheer delightful to walk but today quite a few sections were very low on water.
 The smell of cooking was too much to resist and tummies were rumblin', so we popped into the Lock 22 cafe and had FEB (full English Breakfast) with coffee. Wonderful, very friendly cafe and good value.
 Terry was eyeing up the Empire brewery and wondered if they had any free samples. The barrels outside were empty. There used to be a floating tea room along this section but it's not here today. We wondered if the Bakery cafe next to the Brewery had seen it off. Shame because it was a nice experience to have tea on the boat.
 A bit of blue sky followed us for a while and the sun made an appearance for us to enjoy. In the centre of the above photo is a solar powered flow meter, so they must get quite a bit of sun here. You don't see these meters very often.
 A fine walk up to Sparth reservoirs brought us to within distance of the train line to Marsden where we saw our train passing by. We had missed it by about 10 minutes and so would have to wait another hour.

 Going up the Marsden flight of locks.
 Getting to the station and having to wait 50 minutes for the train we did the only thing left to do and that was to visit the Railway Pub. Now we wasn't looking forward to this because last time it was a keg pub with no real ale but surprise surprise, they had 5 or 6 real ales on. Say no more, what time is that train.
Inside the railway Pub at Marsden. Outside it was horrible, gale force winds and spitting rain, we might be here some time.
We did just over 12km.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Heads in the Trough - just.

Today's visit to the Trough of Bowland was a follow up to our previous visit to the Lune Valley last month.
Then we did a beautiful river walk, so this time we headed up hill to the trig point on Whit Moor at 361 metres.
Parking was easy and free at Claughton Village Hall. It looked unloved and in need of TLC.
Crossing over the busy and fast A683 can be a bit precarious as the 40 speed limit is flouted by motorbikes doing double that. Care MUST be taken.

 Opposite the pub an old corbeled lane rises gradually following Claughton Beck where a number of waterfalls can be found.Today the water level was low but i would have loved to have been here during last weeks storms. The lane was showing signs of water degredation.

This area is shooting country, Pheasant, Partridge, Grouse and Ducks and most of it belongs to Claughton Hall, the home of the Oyston's.
We passed the Hall, although we couldn't see it from our path but as you rise up the moor the views open up to the east in spectacular fashion. Today the view was restricted by low cumulus clouds but on a clear day Yorkshire's renowned three peaks fill the scene.

Three Peaks in the cloud.
At SD573658 we had a little meander, Sheila was map reading, she told me i could say that, we carried on going west instead of turning south and up hill. It was only a short meander, maybe 200 yds before we cottoned on we had gone wrong.
Back on the right track there were hundreds of pheasant chicks all marching up hill with us. Never before have we seen so many.

At the top of the rise the path had been washed away, some temporary repairs done to allow quad bike access. This is where the old quarry workings are. There is an old overhead cableway with buckets on wire. From here they used to transport shale and clay down to the brick works at Claughton. Now disused the equipment is still in situ but rusting away.

Still the birds followed us, almost to Moorcock Hall farm. This is a fine building, recently renovated i would guess, and the dogs which were thankfully caged let their owners know of our presence.

Pheasant on the path
We now had fantastic views along the Lune valley and the sun shone where we were,  but the three peaks were rapidly disappearing into the gloom. At a picnic site with information board about the wind farm on the moor to the south, we checked the map again to make sure we didn't miss the change of direction required to visit the trig point on Whit Moor.

Sheila decided a sand castle was in order
There are 8 turbines in total and today with only a gentle breeze they were only just turning. The track is a good one all the way over the moor to the Roeburndale Road but we weren't going all the way. Once through a gate a quad bike track on the left and then a single footpath points the way to the trig point which came into view with a couple of hundred yards to spare.

A fantastic 360 degree viewpoint is the reward.

We stopped to enjoy our surroundings. Total silence, even the slow turning turbines couldn't be heard. Not even a Skylark broke the peace. No people.
After 15 minutes, coffee and sandwich eaten we made our way back to the picnic tables.
Morecombe Bay, Heysham Powerstation, Silverdale and the Cumbrian Coast relatively clear from this position.

A very heavy compass just in case we got lost.

The farm road down towards Caton was easy and although tarmac, was not unpleasant. Around every corner the views of the River Lune and it's flood plain opened out.

We took the footpath leading to Annas Ghyll Farm, following the signs which lead you around the farm rather than through it. The farm looked tidy and a lady looked up from her gardening and waved.

The path from the farm to Caton Green road is not worn but it's a straight line and easy to follow using a couple of stiles. To the south the sun was strong and difficult to make out the surrounding hills through the glare. To the east the Yorkshire Dales looked like they may be starting to clear. Whernside's top just appearing out of the cloud.

The road walk back to Claughton and the car was mostly on the back road rather than the A683, it's quiet  and pleasant enough.

 Walking down to Caton
 Sheila says this looks like something which i cannot possibly print.
 Up to Annas Ghyll Farm
 The farm comes into view with Whernside disappearing again in the background.
 Sheila has Stile.

 The Lune Valley from Caton
 Knotts Wood
The brickworks. Not sure what FM 1609 stands for, maybe a reader will tell.

The route was 13.5km.
All photo's taken with iphone 6.

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