Saturday, 6 August 2016

Four Men leave Manchester and head for open water

Once out of of Manchester's urban sprawl, the scenery started to get a little greener.  The region's industrial heritage was never very far away, though.

The submerged "keep left" sign had us puzzled for a while until we realised it had been placed in the canal deliberately to stop boats running aground in the shallows.

The wall decoration hinted at the multi-cultural nature of the area.

What we hadn't expected to see on the towpath in a major industrial city were orchids: dozens of them.

The canal was derelict when we walked it in 1979, but it is now navigable thanks to major restoration work around the turn of the millennium.  The dates on the lock gates are testament to the amount of work which when into the task.

Also in evidence was the "good taste" of some of the area's residents.

Who could resist buying an ice cream from this particular emporium?

I started to collect "sunken trollies" until they became too easy to find.

Now, a swan-shaped pedalo - I didn't expect one of those.  Nobody expects...

The sun came out for a few minutes, prior to a series of rain showers, but at least we had left most of the industrial dereliction behind.

We came across a lock which, from a distance, looked like someone was having a birthday party there owing to the number of balloons in evidence.  Sadly the reason for the balloons became all too clear as we got closer, as the side of the lock was littered with floral tributes to a 13 year old boy who had just drowned there.  It was very touching, and heart-breaking, to hear the story from his friends who had come to pay tribute after school.

By now we were all footsore and looking forward to a break, but at least there was some attractive scenery to look at.

Soon things started to get more urban again as we approached the metropolis which is Rochdale.  Whatever you say about the Lancastrians (and, let's face it, who doesn't?) they certainly have a talent for inventing memorable names.

As we left the canal to walk back to the car, we saw a signpost which confirmed we actually been on "Route 66".  Who'd have thought it?

Then it was back to the B&B in order to nurse swollen feet and manifold blisters.  If only I'd heeded my daughter's advice and brought some Compeed with me...