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I just took my seat on a train at King's Cross on my way to crew for @Lingy, and realised I have nothing to do for just over two hours until we get to Leeds. Aha, let's post some rubbish on Canal world! As mentioned in other topics, he needs his boat moved from near Dewsbury down to near Nuneaton, and after some discussion of whether to brave the tidal Trent, we've settled on doing the HNC then going south via Stoke. Lingy has had to duck out, so the skipper will be Stephen, who I'll meet at Dewsbury this afternoon. We'll be doing Standedge tunnel on Monday, but I've already done the longest tunnel on my journey; the Northern Line from Tooting Broadway to King's Cross.
Hi all In case this is useful to anyone else planning something similar, here's what we got up to on the HNC and Rochdale over 10 days last week -- starting and finishing at Shire Cruisers in Sowerby Bridge. Many thanks to everyone for their useful suggestions and advice beforehand about stopping places, pubs and places to eat, it all went very much to plan :-) Friday -- got away before 2pm, no problems (except for *very* leaky gate at Salterhebble top lock, water over my boots on the stern deck -- and handspike lock gear is *crap*), stopped at Cooper Bridge just above Lock 1 (nice mooring just round the bend) just after 6pm, much quicker than the 6h Canalplan suggested. Dinner on the boat then beer at the excellent White Cross, highly recommended for a drink and chat (no evening food). Saturday -- 9am start, easy run to Slaithwaite (moored below 22E) by 5:30 including about 40mins pause while the inverter batteries were replaced (ran out overnight, no further trouble), 2 1/2 hours quicker than Canalplan -- but with a crew of 6 with 4 doing locks. Very good curry at the Monsoon Tandoori, followed by excellent and cheap beer at the Commercial. Sunday -- Excellent breakfast (and loaves of bread) at the Handmade Bakery, then a slower run than expected up to Marsden due to low pounds, CART having to run water down and staggering boats between locks -- delayed by a couple of hours but no problem, still arrived before gin o'clock (6pm). Very good dinner (last orders 7pm on Sunday) and beer at the Riverhead Brewery Tap. Monday -- First boat through Standedge (whoopee!), then easy run down to Uppermill with plenty of water this side of the summit. Planned evening at the Waggon Inn scuppered by it being the one day per year they close for staff training, fortunately managed to get the last table at the Navigation in Dobcross -- excellent food (last order 8pm) and beer as expected. Tuesday -- Another easy day (6h?) down to Stalybridge, early arrival at visitor moorings outside Phoenix City above lock 5. Popped into Bridge Beers (micropub, closes 7pm) for some pre-prandial drinks (excellent, bought a boxful to take away!), dinner at Phoenix City (strange interior like a warehouse but food OK), then strolled up to the White House -- decent beers but nothing special. Wednesday -- Trouble free short day (6h?) into Manchester pausing to pump out at Portland Basin (tight access due to stupid moored boats), stopped in Thomas Telford basin -- very nice, got exit code from residents. Dinner on the boat then off to the Jolly Sailor in Ducie Street for beer and cards, "quiet" in the reviews is an understatement -- the six of us trebled the number of customers when we arrived, for the last couple of hours we were on our own with the (very friendly) landlord. Still, he was happy (we bought plenty of beers), we were happy (quiet pub to play crib and Wordthief in). Thursday -- Up the Rochdale to the Rose of Lancaster, no problems unless you don't like the dope smoke from the (friendly) bridge trolls -- still much more pleasant than the run in on the Ashton. Best mooring is just past the aqueduct where you can get right in, all the others are too shallow. Food and drink perfectly fine (Lees chain pub) as expected but nothing special. Friday -- Moved on up to Littleborough, later on paired up with a German family on another Shire boat who know what they were doing. Some very low pounds in spite of the rain. Water point not where we expected it, about 300m above lock 47 on the offside where you can't moor. Another very good curry at the Bay of Bengal, then lots of good and ridiculously cheap beers (£1.80!!!) in the splendid Red Lion -- we needed them to replace the lost sweat, it was roasting in there! Saturday -- over the summit and down to Todmorden VM in less than 6 hours, paired up again (breasted up on some stretches) and going like sh*t off a shovel (3h quicker than Canalplan!). A couple of teatime beers at the delightful Bare Arts brewery shop, liked them so much we bought a boxful. Delicious and cheap Thai food at the Golden Lion which then turned into a reggae venue, we stayed in the back room so as not to go deaf, left about midnight but couldn't hear a thing from the boat 50 yards away. Sunday -- another easy day, stopped for lunch at Stubbings Wharf (great sarnies and beer), moored in Sowerby Bridge at the bend before Tuel Lane (got there after it closed at 5pm). Excellent tapas and pizzas (and beer) at the Firehouse, then walked up to the Shepherd's Rest at the other end of town for a last evening in the pub -- fantastic place, probably my favourite pub (as opposed to gastropub) of the whole trip, dominoes, crib, music session, conversation. Monday -- down through Tuel Lane when it opened, then a couple of locks back to the boatyard and home after breakfast at Gabriels round the corner. Apart from food and beer in the evening, the sheer energy to get us through 197 locks came from massive bacon and egg sandwiches every morning (we had 15lb of Slack's best dry-cured smoked with us...) and a 10 gallon selection of beer in mini-barrels from Rebellion Brewery -- anything else was purely incidental in comparison. All the warnings about problems in rough areas came to nought, and we didn't even have to open the weed hatch once in the entire trip. Water shortages and low pounds held us up a bit but this was expected and we'd planned in enough slack time on the likely problem sections for these to be no big issue. Both canals are now two of my all-time favourites, lovely scenery and stopping places, super food and beer ( I estimate about 50 different ones on tap during the trip, maybe 40 of which I've never tried before) in the pubs, friendly locals everywhere. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a bit less rain, but then this was August in England... Of course having a large fit crew (with 4 windlasses) who love locks helps, but we never felt rushed -- we never stopped later than 6:15, usually well before this. All the pre-trip planning with Canalplan and the invaluable advice from the members of this forum (thanks again!) paid off, we never had any real concerns about getting stuck or missing a critical deadline (like Standedge). A terrific trip, highly recommended to people with similar tastes (locks, food, beer) to us. Don't let Standedge put you off, it was the biggest highlight of the trip for us -- but also don't forget you need to book it well in advance, unlike one of the boats we travelled up to Marsden with who were faced with a 2 week wait for a free slot...