An unavoidably late start and finish – to avoid ‘Dead Man’s Stretch’!

We realised after last Thursday’s fiasco of a day that starting out early on this canal was probably a very good idea. The catch was we weren’t able to as we had to wait for a Home Brew Boat supplies delivery.

Finally starting out after lunch last Friday (27th June), within minutes we’d managed to breach the boat before even reaching the first of 15 locks. Actually, ‘we’ is Barry – he must’ve believed the ledge at the side of the canal for most of the previous day’s journey had been left behind. Sadly he was mistaken.

If I thought the boat had lurched and leaned previously, this experience was to show me how far it could tip! My lunch almost reappeared to feed whatever fish were living in the murky shallows below. Feeling a 60 foot hunk of steel, containing most of your worldly goods, leaning precariously, isn’t something I’d recommend as an experience.

This time we were both on board, no-one to walk ahead and let water through the nearby lock to see if that could help to extricate us. Barry, as usual, took it all in his stride.

Poling us out, bit by bit

Poling us out, bit by bit – with the rubbish from the prop and lock-side evident on the roof

It took about twenty minutes of heaving and to-ing and fro-ing, with passers by watching without interest, to move us off the ledge. I was fascinated with the reactions of people, it was as if they saw such sights frequently, no longer surprised, shocked or showing any sign of offering any assistance! Amazing.

I took a turn at locking. I guess I’d done my dash of the obstacle course and wanted to flex my muscles and get some exercise. I missed the camaraderie and extra support from Patrick and Shelley, but there wasn’t anyone else around to share with, so we had no choice but to go it alone.

The canal did appear to be deeper for this section of the route thank goodness. In fact Barry only headed down the weed hatch once, late in the evening.


Higher Boarshaw Bridge – leaving Chadderton and Oldham behind


Stone steps surviving the foot traffic

Reaching Slattock Top Lock cottage, our tenth of the day, I noticed a laminated sign and was aghast to read the owners of the cottage were freely offering their water to boaters. Very graciously and thankfully received – as we’d believed there wouldn’t be anywhere to fill our tank until we reached the summit, many miles away.


Slattock top lock cottage

Having begun late, we were hopeful of finding a mooring in the early evening, but didn’t manage to until we finally reached Littleborough. Barry did consider a possible mooring spot, but when he asked a couple of passers by whether it was ‘safe’ to moor there, they said “Probably not. It’s known as Dead Man’s Stretch here.“!

So we continued until another very late finish around 10pm. Hurrah for the long, light days of the british summer. We sneaked into the last available 24 hour mooring, with the intention of remain until Sunday to get a much needed day of rest before tackling the next 40 or so locks on Monday (30th June).


Must be a northern saying!


We weren’t quite bawling, but admittedly it was close at times!


Almost there now as the light begins to fade!


Something metal caught here – a shopping trolley or pushchair no doubt


So there you have it – the description of tireless campaigning that opened the full route and the fact that it’s a site of Biological importance. Sadly it hasn’t stopped some thoughtless people from discarding of an array of rubbish and household items into the waterway


Our mooring at Littleborough Friday and Saturday night

We’d been informed by numerous people that the surroundings become infinitely more pleasant from now on.

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