Cruise 1 - Manchester to New Mills (via Bugsworth Basin)
29th March - 3rd April 2021 (5 nights)
From: Castlefield Basin (Bridgewater Canal)
To: New Mills (Upper Peak Forrest
VIA: Rochdale Canal, Ashton Canal,
Lower& Upper Peak Forrest Canal
HIGHLIGHTS: Rochdale 9,
Welcome to Covid 19 - the reprise... This is my 3rd attempt at beginning the 2021 cruising season - it's not looking good is it?
Oh well - these things are sent to try us... just so long as we're all as fit and well as we can hope for eh?
Right - So then, the Pre-season trip to Liverpool is cancelled thanks to the uncertainty over when the current 'lockdown rules' will be relaxed. That in turn has a knock on effect to the original planned 1st season trip out of Liverpool. AS no one had booked it (understandably) I've decided not to make the trek there and back... it's a good job really as to ad further insult to injury, there is currently a landslide blocking the route for cruise 2. An update on the planned START isn't due until 26th February from CRT... ergo, rather than have "the long way round" sprung onto me, I've come up with a cunning plan.
Trip 1 is now a 5 night sojourn from Manchester to New Mills - Via Bugsworth Basin.
We'll begin around 1.30pm as normal and after an introductory blah blah (and glass of something fizzy) we'll work our way up the infamous Rochdale 9 . The route passes through the Gay Village and I won't lie - it's blooming hard work ... the locks I mean, not the Gay Village... that used to be vibrant and full of life... now like the rest of the world, it's all closed up ... in hibernation waiting to bloom again.
Once at the top, we'll turn right and leave the Rochdale canal on to the Ashton. Rather than risk getting stuck in a less than nice area, we'll chuck a hairpin right into Thomas Telford Basin to overnight safely.
We'll plan an early start the next day and work our way up the Ashton canal. 18 locks lie ahead of us and the beginning of the canal are not very pretty. That said, it does serve up the occasion treat and once as far as Droylsden, it's ok to pause a while (and maybe top up the wine cellar at the convenient Tesco next to the canal) before we continue on to Portland Basin to over night. IF the weather is nice, we might make the turn onto the Lower Peak forest canal and travel a little further to more scenic surroundings.
Our next challenge will be Marple Locks - and once at the top, we'll take a view as to whether to stop a night in Marple or chug further along the (now Upper Peak Forrest) to a more remote section to overnight.
Next day, our journey will continue through New Mills (we're not stopping just yet) and on to Bugsworth Basin - perhaps taking a brief detour up the Whaley Bridge arm - just to have done it.
We'll spend an evening in Bugsworth so as to be able to explore on foot and after filling the water tank following breakfast the following morning head back towards New Mills where the trip will end following breakfast on our final morning.
The Lower and Upper Peak forest are both beautiful areas with stunning views - a little shallow and narrow inplaces but that's part of the fun.
Total distance is 24 miles, and 43 locks . There are 8 moveable bridges; 18 small aqueducts or underbridges and 3 tunnels (Deansgate Tunnel, Woodley Tunnel (176 yards long) and Hyde Bank Tunnel (308 yards long)) – a total of 2½ furlongs underground and 1 major aqueduct (Marple Aqueduct (105 yards long))
A Lovely start to the season which will put 'Ellis' in the right place ready for for the revised 2nd trip - Marple to Llangollen (or maybe Chirk if the Welsh aren't open for business by then).
It pays to be flexible these days!