Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Sunday 30 August 2009

A hard day's graft

We opened the curtains this morning to what promised to be a sunny day and I was lulled into believing that I could wear shorts for our lock-day. It went downhill swiftly and before we’d set off just after 10am I’d already changed into my jeans and UG boots! Ah well, such is life in the north west it seems …

Fortuitously there was another narrowboat at the first lock just outside Castlefield Junction, so we shared 'The Rochdale Nine' double locks with them which certainly made life more pleasant! After the first lock the canal becomes the Rochdale (thanks to Starcross for pointing out our previous error!).  These locks are atrocious; many of them don’t even have any gate paddles on them, and of the ones that do most of them are so stiff I thought I’d sustain a hernia if I didn’t watch out!

 P1110536 The first of 27 locks for the day - exiting Castlefield Junction


The lovely little lock keepers cottage at lock 1


Interesting old architecture - row of bars and nightclubs along the canal edge

The locks were also dreadfully leaky and overflowing, apparently this is due to the water running off the Pennines into the canal and the fact that the side channels for the overflows had been built over so there was nowhere for excess water to go. At the front of the lock there's water cascading down – the driver has to be very careful not to get the front deck soaked or the boat could potentially sink. Our partner boat was quite long and they had to drive closer to the leaky end in order to shut the lock gates behind them.  Of course our little Northern Pride was OK, but there were a couple of anxious moments for them …

P1110548 Newer office blocks everywhere

P1110545 Some in keeping with the original style

P1110553This old lamp post had a gearing system inside; apparently to wind the lamp up & down to light it and extinguish it.









Going under a bridge then under the building behind


We’re on what’s known as The Cheshire Ring, which many hire boats do in a week; though it’s 120 miles long with 92 locks, 2 aqueducts and four tunnels, so there’s not a lot of opportunity in that time to stop and smell the roses, never mind see the villages and towns along the way.

As we passed by the gay village (there is literally a whole area of Manchester called this - isn't that cool?), with everyone still cavorting around having a whale of a time, we drew a large crowd.  Of course that gate paddle was one of the worst and I had to have help from one of the blokes on the other boat; the only way we could open it was to put two windlasses on and turn it bit by bit in unison


No towpath now, passing through the gay village







The chap with the blog card thought Sandra was trying to chat him up giving him her business card!







This is the one where Sandra almost got a hernia







The famous Canal Street and a couple of lovely ladies having a good time.




P1110569 Achieved an open lock gate at last!, much to the amusement of the crowd!

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Much of the canal goes under the city

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Surprisingly quite a clean canal, apart from debris from the Pride festival, especially in comparison to Blackburn!



The canal flows straight under this skyscraper emerging into yet another lock





It took us right through the city, showing the variety of buildings, old and new

P1110589 P1110584

 P1110591 P1110599










Choose your lifestyle; modern but with a traditional design ...


... or maybe modern with a bizarre style??

Once we left the Rochdale Canal and entered the Ashton Canal, we encountered single locks once more – we actually can’t recall the last time we were in them. We’ve been on rivers and broad canals for as long as we can remember now.

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These locks appear terribly narrow now, diligent driving skills needed in order not to scratch the boat's bottom and sides!

P1110603 P1110601

Leaving Manchester on the east side wasn’t quite as pleasant as the approach the other day. Here there is ‘Sports City’ where the Commonwealth games Stadium is, and also Manchester City’s football ground. However it looks as though money has been spent to try and upgrade the area due to the commonwealth games, so it wasn’t too bad.


Manchester City's football ground in the distance at Clayton Locks

The locks at Ancoats (3), Beswick (4) and Clayton (especially the 9 at Clayton I'm reliably informed), are notorious for kids running around and trying to cadge lifts on boats while running through and ‘picking things up’. All the guide books warn you to lock the boat up at the front and not to give lifts to anyone you don’t know.

We let the folks in the other boat go ahead of us as they had a time schedule, and we soon encountered a group of young boys. They were harmless enough I’m sure, but we didn’t offer any boat rides today – it was too blooming cold and was pouring with rain, never mind any other good reasons! The lads helped Barry with the locks, closing the gate after I’d driven through so Barry could run up to the next one, bless them.


Steven, Niall, Tyler & Owen (though the order may not be correct!)

At Fairfield Junction, having completed all of the locks, we encountered a larger group of kids who were quite ‘in your face’ and cheeky, and just jumped onto the side of the boat as I left a lock, saying in unison: “Can we have a ride on your boat mister? Please mister, can we have a look inside?” I’d already locked the front of the boat and had the back shut up against the rain, but we had to be a little short with them to get them off the boat rails – we were both tired and freezing by this time and had almost lost any sense of humour! It must be very tempting to them living so close to a canal, I’m sure when I was that age I’d have tried the same thing with my mates as we messed around if I’d lived in a similar place.

P1110609 The lowest bridge on this canal system, we took the flag off though nearly lost the plants etc off the top

We finally moored up around nine hours after we’d left this morning, having stopped only once to free some mangy clothing that had wrapped itself around the propeller (poor Barry, that's one of his jobs!). Exhausted and soaked through, we had the radiators on to dry off and get warmed up! A chilled day on the canals, but not in the best of senses!

P.S.  Wednesday 2 September - Sorry for the lack of postings, we've been literally 'powerless' for a few days due to various engine issues that I don't quite understand, so we're behind on the blog but will catch up over the next day or so and reveal all!


  1. Very glad to see you back blogging. I was getting worried - told you I would miss the blog when you return to NZ but didn't expect you to stop so suddenly!
    Back to school for me tomorrow - travel safely both of you.

  2. A Pedant writes..... Bit of confusion with your locks I'm afraid! The "Rochdale Nine" are the nine broad locks between Castlefield and Piccadilly in Manchester City Centre. This stretch of waterway is part of the "Rochdale Canal" (not the Bridgewater). The narrow locks notorious for unruly kids are the Clayton flight on the Ashton Canal.