Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Bandit Country!

I usually have our DAB radio on when cruising and I like to “ride the dial” changing stations frequently.  I especially like the local stations we encounter. When I turned the radio on first thing Saturday morning, Michael Jackson was warbling through the speakers that “You Are Not Alone”, a hit of his from the mid-90s.

This was quite apt for we actually saw a boat on Saturday. The first one we had seen, either moored or moving for nearly two days. Another two followed it, so we are clearly not alone on this waterway, though it certainly seems like it.

If ever there was a “ghost” canal, this is it. The Rochdale has very few facilities, or mooring opportunities and no marinas, unlike its neighbour the Leeds and Liverpool, that runs roughly parallel to it 20 miles to the north. It’s the canal that time and maintenance forgot. There is either no water between the locks, or it is fiercely cascading over the gates. It’s a real shame. I guess that having 83 locks in 32 miles puts a lot of people off cruising it. If you seek solitude and want a work out at the same time this should be your waterway of choice.
Ancoats, Central Manchester. This should be full of water. Be lucky to get a model boat down here at the moment.
We are cruising down it in the morning - probably.
The weather has not helped. The last week has been wet, cool and windy, and up here in the North-West, it was certainly all those three. On Sunday, we stayed put, battened down the hatches and only ventured out for Sunday lunch at the local pub.
Pat enjoys her roast beef at "The Rose Of Lancaster"
Now let’s move on to the subject of Canada Geese. I am pretty sick and tired of wading through their poo everytime I moor up anywhere. They are noisy, aggressive to other wildlife, and evidently they taste awful, so they aren’t even worth eating. They are everywhere. I despise them and wish they would fly back home to Canada (sorry to our Canadian relatives and friends). Right, another rant over.
Where's my shotgun?
The odd boat we have met coming the other way, reported that we were fast approaching “bandit country”. One boat had been stoned by kids on a bridge. When the owner took a photo of the perpetrators, one jumped on the front of the boat and threw a camcorder they had been using to take time-delayed pictures into the canal. Add to this the drug takers, prostitutes, litter and graffiti that one encounters along the way, we were bracing ourselves for our journey into, and then out of Manchester.
Looks like somebody enjoyed a lock-side barbecue recently
Who needs Furnitureland, when you cruise the canal system
Well we have arrived at New Islington moorings, about a half mile from the city centre. This has had a bad reputation for vandalism, but so far all is quiet, and the warden, Ben, is a nice enough chap. He played down any local issues, but a residential boater here suggested we moored on the side of the basin that was cut off at night for pedestrians. There are two other boats here as well, and we all breasted up last night, though tonight we are here on our own.

We took advantage of having a volunteer lock keeper to help us down the last 18 locks and CRT (Canal & River Trust) told us to look out for narrowboat “Mia” that was making the same journey, and would be joining us. When we woke up yesterday morning, it was moored behind us, so we cruised with them into the city.

And yes, there was rubbish, there were some sad-looking youngsters shooting up, and the burned-out bin (above) beside one of the locks, but we have not felt threatened or uneasy. As we approached the lock after where the burned-out bin was, the skipper of Mia, who was slightly ahead of us, saw a young fellow wheel a motorcycle up, throw it in, and coolly walk away. How’s that for cheek. Fabian; yes that was the other boaters’ name, rang the boys in blue, but I doubt if anything will happen. The volunteer lock keeper told us they are always dredging scooters and motorcycles from locks.

Today we have had a day off cruising, and caught a tram into the Trafford Centre, and did some shopping in the city centre as well.

We then have a few days to kill, in and around the city before we moor up and Pat and I go our separate ways.



  1. Don't worry about offending us in Canada... we've had enough of the "crappy" geese too!!!

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