Blowing Away The Cobwebs

After being cosied up and nesting for the last couple of days it was nice to go out this morning and blow the cobwebs away. Kevin and I went for a walk along the canal at Slattocks, just north of Middleton near where we live. It was lovely to feel the cold air on my face and to stretch my legs, but the weather wasn’t too kind to us and a storm was brewing so we didn’t go far.

Here are a couple of photographs from our chilly/stormy/wet/typical New Year’s Day walk today:

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The Rochdale Canal was built in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, taking around five years to construct fully and it was opened in sections as each part was completed. The idea to build the canal was conceived in the late 1770s, but there were lots of problems with land-owners and mill-owners who objected to disruptions to their water supplies among other things. It took two Acts of Parliament to get the project underway and to obtain the necessary funding for it, but once it was opened it proved a valuable transport link between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire. Different parts of the canal were used to transport goods and materials such as coal, lime, wool, timber, cotton, salt etc.

Originally there were 92 locks along the canal, with the summit (highest point along its 32 mile length) occurring just outside Todmorden in the Calder valley. After some restoration the two locks at the Manchester end of the canal were rebuilt into one single, deep lock resulting in only 91 today. The lock we photographed today is number 53 and occurs around halfway along the whole length of the canal. There are places where locks are close together owing to the steep rises in the landscape, and at other places they are spread apart.

Sadly, in the 1960’s the M62 motorway was built which cut across the canal not far from where we walked today. The canal itself had fallen into disuse for transporting goods and materials gradually since the 1930s, and when the motorway was constructed, the need for the canal was all but eradicated. It was used for leisure trips until the 1950s and it has only been in recent years that the canal has been cleaned up and re-opened to be navigable in large sections again. My observation is that the canal has two distinct characters – the more industrial south end character from Castleton to Manchester and the more picturesque and leisurely north end from Castleton through to Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire. You will find lots of narrow boats and other pleasure craft on the canal further north, but in the industrial section is popular with walkers, cyclists and anglers rather than boating or floating activities.

There is a more detailed history of the Rochdale Canal to be found on Wikepedia and if you ever get the chance to visit any stretch of it you will find something of interest along its length.



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