Our moorings by the lift bridge proved to be very quiet and peaceful. This morning, two boats passed us at about 6.45, heading for the junction. We followed just after 8. The water was flat calm as Adrian took us across the Tame Aqueduct and through the junction bridge, giving great reflections of the Portland Basin Museum and the tall crown-topped chimney (which the guide book says is owned by a chimney collector!).
Once on the Ashton Canal, it's about an hour to the top of the locks. We couldn't remember much about this at all. Some of it is residential, but it also passes a huge rail depot.
There are 18 locks on the Ashton Canal, in four flights of varying sizes. Again, some of the route passes back gardens, while other parts in through industry.
We had to turn almost every lock, and I had a feeling there was someone not far in front of us. At lock seven, one of the two boats that had gone past first thing was below the lock. It turned out he'd got his centre rope wrapped round his prop, and had spent 45 minutes trying to get it off. The chap asked for our help, so Adrian gave him a tow along this longish pound to the next lock, while I went to find his brother who was on the boat in front. I eventually found him at lock 4, and he said he'd come back with some cutting gear.
We carried on down the locks which had been set by the first boat, but I reset them behind us. The canal is passed by the Tramlink, and the Manchester Velodrome and the Etihad Stadium are on either side. You also get great views over Manchester, with the city centre tower blocks in the distance.
These locks are pretty hard work. All but a couple of paddles have hydraulic winding gear which take anything up to 30 turns to lift a paddle. And all but a couple have anti-vandal locks, which need a handcuff key to undo. And they're not like the ones in Birmingham, which need one turn of the key and they spring open; these are a screw mecahnism which takes a while to open and re-close.
The last three locks are in Ancoats, which is now home to lots of new apartment blocks, some of which weren't here when we last came this way four years ago. Some older buildings have also been converted.
At the bottom of the locks, we continued just a short distance and turned into the basin at Piccadilly Village. We were tied up just after 1pm, so the whole journey had taken five hours, which we thought was pretty good going. Piccadilly Village is a gated development, but a resident was happy to give us the code so we can get out and back in again. The two boats we'd past have also joined us, after not liking the look of the moorings further along at Ducie Street.
After lunch, we went for a walk to get our bearings. This evening, we're meeting a friend and her little daughter (who also wasn't around last time we were here).
6 miles, 18 locks. (171 miles, 107 locks)