Pennine Waterways News

Friday, 10 August 2018

East side of Leeds and Liverpool to close

Following the worsening situation with falling reservoir levels, the locks on the east side of the Leeds and Liverpool are to be closed from Friday 17th August.

The navigation closure affects all locks between Skipton and Leeds. The main lock flights, i.e. Bingley Five Rise, Bingley Three Rise, Field Locks, Newlay Locks and Forge Locks will be padlocked closed, with the gates ashed to prevent leakage.

The Canal and River Trust says that "measures will be taken to make all locks inoperable" to prevent unauthorised use (e.g. by someone breaking the padlocks).

The Canal and River Trust says that it is not known how long the closure will last for but that it’s likely to be throughout August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall. The towpath will remain open.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Restrictions on Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals

The continuing dry and warm weather will result in restrictions and lock closures on the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals.

Marple Locks are closed again because of continuing movement at Lock 11 and will remain closed now until the lock walls can be rebuilt.

Access to Bugsworth Basin will be closed from Monday 13th August.

Passage through Bosley Locks is being restricted to between 8.00 am and 2.00 pm from today.

Bosley Locks will be closed completely from Monday 13th August.

The Canal and River Trust says that it has reluctantly taken these decisions due to the low levels of the reservoirs because of prolonged low rainfall and with the forecast for further dry weather.

The Canal and River Trust says that it is not known how long these closures will last for but that it's likely to be until the end of August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall. The towpath will remain open.

These restrictions follow a difficult time for boaters on these canals with long stoppages on the Marple flight, a recent stoppage because of a leak at Bollington and several stoppages at Bosley Locks. Some boaters may have difficulty returning to their home moorings before the closure at Bosley.

Lock 2 at Bosley

Water shortage to shut Rochdale and Huddersfield Canals

The continuing dry and warm weather will result in the closure of large parts of the Rochdale and Huddersfield Narrow Canals from Monday 6th August.

The sections of canal to be closed with locks padlocked are -

Huddersfield Narrow Canal:
Lock 1e (Huddersfield) to Lock 24w (Wool Road).

Rochdale Canal:
Lock 1 (Sowerby Bridge) to Lock 48 (Littleborough).

The section of the Rochdale Canal from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden (between Locks 6 and 19) will remain open but with navigation restricted to between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm under a local booking system.

Although the canal will remain open between Manchester and Littleborough it is unlikely that many boaters would decide to travel beyond New Islington Marina.

The Rochdale Nine lock flight in Manchester will remain open, linking the Ashton and Bridgewater Canals.

On the closed sections, the canal and River Trust says that "measures will be taken to make the locks inoperable" to prevent unauthorised use (e.g. by someone breaking the padlocks).

These closures will come into effect a week after the closure of the central section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from 30th July, meaning that all three trans-Pennine routes will be closed.

The Canal and River Trust says that it has reluctantly taken this decision due to the low levels of the reservoirs because of prolonged low rainfall and with the forecast for further dry weather.

The Canal and River Trust says that it is not known how long these closures will last for but that it's likely to be throughout August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall. The towpath will remain open.

Update 27th July:
Because of the serious shortfall in water supply, the closures on the Rochdale Canal are brought forward and go into immediate effect.

This involves the closure of all locks between Sowerby Bridge (Lock 1) and Littleborough (Lock 48). This includes the section between Locks 7 and 19, which it had been hoped to keep open on restricted opening times. The Canal and River Trust will liaise with boaters on this section so that  they can access vital services when possible, offering restricted, controlled passage.  Other than this all locks will be secured and out of use.

Looking towards the summit of the Rochdale Canal from Lock 38.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Leeds and Liverpool to close from Wigan to Gargrave

From next Monday (30th July) locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be closed between Wigan and Gargrave because of diminishing water resources.

The closure affects lock flights between Lock 30 (Holme Bridge Lock, Gargrave) and Lock 85 (bottom of Wigan 21).

The Canal and River Trust says that the lock flights at Wigan, Johnson's Hillock, Blackburn, Barrowford, Greenberfield, Bank Newton and Gargrave will be closed. They say that "measures will be taken to make the locks inoperable" to prevent unauthorised use (e.g. by someone breaking the padlocks).

Although this section of the canal is closed, there will be nothing to prevent boats moving along a pound as long as there is sufficient depth, although boaters risk becoming stranded.

The Canal and River Trust says that it is not known how long the closure will last for but that it’s likely to be throughout August and potentially beyond if there is no significant, sustained rainfall. The towpath will remain open.

Update 27th July:

The last passage for all affected flights will be 3.00 pm on Monday 30 July, with the exception of Barrowford, where the last passage will be at 2:30 pm and the Wigan Flight, where the last entry onto the flight will be between 8:30 and 9:30 am.

Holme Bridge Lock (30), near Gargrave

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Water shortage leads to restrictions on Leeds and Liverpool

Lack of rainfall over a period of weeks is leading to a shortage of water on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. This has now resulted in restricted opening hours at several lock flights.

On the Wigan flight, the top and bottom locks (65 and 85) will be padlocked shut except for the following times:
• 8:30 am to 9:30 am to allow entry onto the flight
• 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm to allow exit from the flight

Overnight mooring on the flight is only allowed at Rose Bridge, between Locks 77 and 78.

Assistance for single handed boaters is available on Thursday mornings at 8:30 am. Contact the Wigan Lock keepers on 01942 405774.

Restrictions are already in place between Gargrave and Barrowford, where locks are only open to navigation from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm daily at :
Barrowford Locks (45 to 51). Last passage at 4:30 pm.
Greenberfield Locks (42 to 44). Last passage at 5.00 pm.
Bank Newton Locks (36 to 41). Last passage at 5.00 pm.
Gargrave (Holme Bridge Lock 30). Last passage at 5.00 pm.
These lock flights will be padlocked at 6.00 pm. Boaters should make sure they enter the lock flight with sufficient time to get through, noting the last passage start times. Moorings are available at the top and bottom of these flights.

Update - 12th July:
The above lock flights are to be CLOSED to navigation from Monday 30th July. This closure is likely to last through August. Entry locks will be made inoperable during this time.

Wigan Top Lock, Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Friday, 29 June 2018

Marple Locks shut for another week

Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal will remain closed for a further week.

During the week from 25th to 29th June, CRT have been jacking stones outwards at Lock 11 of the Marple lock flight, where movement had caused to lock to become too narrow.

A large number of the stones have been successfully moved and are now at 6ft 11in, the minimum required to allow 6’10’’ boats to pass through the lock.

However, some stones have not moved back enough to allow sufficient clearance, so it has been decided that some masonry should be planed to achieve the require width within the lock.

This will be carried out next week, starting 2nd July. The stoppage will be reassessed at the end of next week.

Update - 6th July
Message from CRT: "The works to jack back the chamber wall at Marple Lock 11 have been completed.  Unfortunately our monitoring has shown that the chamber wall moved (very slightly) overnight, so we want to continue monitoring over the weekend and into next week to ensure that it is safe, before we can re-open the lock to navigation (restricted to 6’10”)."

Update - 11th July
Lock 11 has been deemed safe to operate for boats up to 6’10” wide under assisted passage from 12th July. There will be assisted passage through this lock between 9.00 and 10.00 am on Thursday 12th July, then only between 3.00 and 4.00 pm each day.

Update - 23rd July
Further movement of the lock walls of Lock 11 have taken place and the lock flight has now been CLOSED until the lock walls can be rebuilt, which is likely to take a number of months. The locks would have had to be closed from August 13th anyway due to water shortage.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Leeds and Liverpool Breach at Melling

The Leeds and Liverpool is closed at Melling after a culvert breached on Tuesday evening. This part of the canal is between Maghull and Aintree on the approach to Liverpool.

Nearby residents noticed the canal level dropping, with water disappearing into a hole near the side of the channel. Nearby fields are reported to have become flooded. Emergency services have dropped 650 sandbags into the canal in a bid to stem the flow although, as this is part of a 28 mile pound, a lot of water will escape until stop planks have been put in place.

There are reports of boats sitting on the canal bed. The extent of the damage to the culvert is not known at this time, nor how long it will be before this section of canal is navigable again.

Boaters with Liverpool Canal Link bookings will be contacted by CRT and kept updated. If you have a Liverpool Canal Link booking and need advice, please contact CRT on 03030 404040.

Update - 15th June:
CRT has obtained permission to access the canal across neighbouring land and are in the process of laying a track to get the necessary machinery to site. This should take one week to install. Dams will then be installed on either side of the collapsed culvert so that the damage can be assessed, and  the necessary repairs planned and started.

When CRT has established the severity of the damage, they will be able to estimate a timescale for the work. CRT's initial assessment is that the area will be closed for at least six weeks, although the situation is not thought to be as severe as Middlewich.

Update - 20th June:
CRT hopes to install the dams next Monday and Thursday. The Environment Agency has given permission to extract water from the River Alt, so CRT can start refilling the canal between Aintree and Liverpool, which may take some time. With the dams in place, work can begin on repairing the culvert.

Update - 28th June:
Next week, CRT will start to dig out the damaged culvert. It is hoped that the culvert can be replaced and the canal re-watered by the 3rd week in August.

Update - 1st August:
CRT today confirmed that the work on reconstructing the culvert is progressing in spite of minor problems and the canal is expected to re-open to navigation on 24th August.

Water escaping into a hole into the culvert on Tuesday evening. You can see from the reeds how much the water level had dropped by this time. Image: Lesley Lewis
Update - 13th June:
A dam has been created from sand bags at Bridge 10. This is the view downstream of Bridge 10 on Wednesday morning.
Canal near Bridge 10, Melling. Image: Les Nolan.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Marple Lock 11 re-opens with strict limitations

The Marple Lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal has re-opened again but with strict limitations on the size of boats allowed through, and with very restricted passage times.

As a short-term measure, the Canal and River Trust has moved back the coping stones that had been causing pinch points. They are now looking at whether they can jack some of the stones back further down the chamber wall to create enough width for boats up to 6ft 10in wide to pass through safely.

Passage through Lock 11 will be supervised and will only be available between 9.00 and 10.00 am and between 3.00 and 4.00 pm.

There will be no width restriction for boats up to 45ft in length, but boats over 45ft must have a beam of 6ft 9in or less to be able to navigate through the lock.

If the jacking proposal mentioned above can be implemented this should make the lock navigable for longer boats over 6ft 9in wide but there is no date yet as to when this might be attempted, although CRT hopes to do so as soon as possible. This will not be satisfactory long-term solution so CRT staff are also undertaking further analysis and design to enable a more permanent repair to be developed.

Update - 15th June:
Boats over 45 ft long have still been getting stuck, even though they are only 6ft 9in beam. Therefore passage through Marple Locks is now restricted to boats up to 45 ft length ONLY.

The locks will be closed completely from 25th to 29th June while CRT carry out a temporary repair to Lock 11.

CRT says the aim of this temporary repair is to enable unrestricted passage through the summer whilst they prepare for a permanent solution to be delivered in the winter stoppage season. However, there is a risk that this temporary repair will not be successful, in which case the lock will remain closed until they are able to complete the permanent repair.

Lock 11 at Marple

Monday, 4 June 2018

Marple Locks Closed Again

After been open for just over a week and following an 8-month stoppage, the Marple Lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal has been closed again.

As soon as the lock flight re-opened on 25th May, after a re-build of Lock 15, it became apparent that there was a new problem with Lock 11. Passage through the lock was restricted to times when CRT staff could assist boats through and a 6ft 10in maximum boat width imposed, but a number of boats were nevertheless still getting stuck.

CRT has reluctantly taken the decision to close the lock after more extensive problems were found than had been anticipated.

CRT engineers and project managers have been assessing things today (Monday) and work is ongoing to realign some of the copings by jacking them outwards. CRT will review the situation when this has been completed and decide whether or not to reopen the lock or if a more extensive repair is going to be needed.

CRT have said: "We know that this will be disappointing for people especially with the wait for the other work that that has happened at Marple. We believe that this is a new issue on the flight, not something longstanding. We want to assure everyone that we are doing everything that we can to reopen the lock as quickly as possible."

A further update is expected mid week.

Lock 11 at Marple

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Width Restriction at Marple Locks

CRT has imposed a new width restriction at Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal after a boat jammed in a lock. Boats over 6ft 10 in will not be allowed to pass through the lock flight.

The day after Marple Locks re-opened after an eight month stoppage to re-build Lock 15, a boat became stuck in Lock 11. There are fears that there has been some movement of the lock structure causing the lock chamber to narrow, as had happened at Lock 15.

At the moment passage for boats not exceeding 6ft 10in is safe but passage through the lock is being supervised by CRT staff. Therefore the locks are only open for passage between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm.

It would appear that the coping Stones on Lock 11 are moving inwards, creating a pinch point. Engineers will be assessing the lock to check for any ongoing movement and whether it is possible to carry out minor repairs, such as jacking the coping stones out, or whether major work is required as at Lock 15. Vehicle access to Lock 11 would be much more difficult than at Lock 15.

Most narrowboats will be unaffected by the width restriction but it will mean that many heritage boats will not be able to use this route.

Update 30th May:
Because of continuing difficulties with Lock 11, CRT will be carrying out emergency work on the lock tomorrow (Thursday 31st May). Passage through Lock 11 will only be possible between 11.00 am and 1.30 pm on this day. The previous hours of operation (10.00am to 4.00pm) will resume on Friday 1st June.

Update 4th June:
In view of continuing problems with Lock 11, Marple Locks have been closed again. Follow this link for more information.

Lock 11 at Marple

Friday, 25 May 2018

Marple Locks Re-opened

The Marple flight of locks on the Peak Forest Canal has re-opened this evening after an eight month stoppage.

Subsidence had caused the lock sides to start to come in, making the lock potentially dangerous, and which would have eventually led to a collapse. The rebuilding work has been plagued by several unexpected problems with the planned re-opening date having been put back several times.

In order to re-open the locks to navigation at the first opportunity there is still some work ongoing around the lock so boaters should take care, observing warning notices and staying within the areas publicly accessible.

During working hours there may be machinery operating near the lock and boats may be asked to wait for short periods.

This will be welcome news for many boaters as the stoppage has disrupted many people's journey plans and has especially affected people wishing to navigate the Cheshire Ring.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Marple to re-open while work continues

The Canal and River Trust has announced its intention of re-opening Marple Locks on the Peak Forest Canal even before the work on Lock 15 is complete.

The lock flight has been closed for 8 months and has caused difficulties for hire companies and local boaters, so CRT is keen to re-open the locks to navigation as quickly as possible.

All masonry work should be completed this week and next week the lock gates will be installed and scaffolding and temporary dams removed so that boats can pass through from 5.00 pm on Friday 25th May.

However there will remain work to be completed, such as re-laying the gate quadrants and landscaping work, so boaters are asked to follow instructions from the site team while work is taking place.

A recent view of the work at Lock 15.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Marple Locks Re-opening Delayed Further

A set-back to the work to re-build Lock 15 at Marple has led to the re-opening date being put back once again. The lock flight is now expected to re-open on May 25th.

The lock flight on the Peak Forest Canal has been closed since September due to serious subsidence at Lock 15, resulting in a narrowing of the lock chamber. As one side of the lock chamber was taken down to be reconstructed a series of unexpected problems arose.

The original completion date in March had to be put back when it was founds that stonework removed from the chamber wall was splitting and crumbling so that new stones had to be quarried.

It has now been discovered that the brick foundations of the chamber wall were in poor condition so that it would not be possible to construct the masonry wall on top. The brickwork had to be taken down to the invert to get a firm foundation.

The expected opening date of May 4th is no longer achievable and a revised schedule should see the navigation reopening on 25th May.

Thanks to Peter Stockdale for the following photographs.
Lock 15 as work starts on the re-building of the nearside chamber wall. Photo: Peter Stockdale
Newly-quarried stone arrives for the new chamber wall. Photo: Peter Stockdale
Photo: Peter Stockdale

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Do-it yourself approach to Liverpool Canal Link

From Monday 16th April boaters visiting Liverpool will be able to "do it themselves". Improvements have been made to swing bridges and locks to allow self-operation by boaters.
• Bridge 9 at Wango Lane (Handcocks Bridge) is now boater-operated using a new push-button console. However, boaters should note that, because it is a busy road, it cannot be used during rush hours. The bridge will not operate between 7.30 and 9.30 am or between 2.00 and 6.00 pm.
• Bridge 6 at St Oswald's Lane (Netherton Bridge) is now boater-operated and has new landing stages to make this easier.
• Stanley Locks Branch is now boater operated, following improvements to paddles and the installation of a pontoon landing below the bottom lock.
• Princes Dock now has a pontoon landing making easier access to the lock for boater operation.

Liverpool Canal Link times of operation:
The Liverpool Canal Link between Salthouse Dock and the top of the Stanley Dock Branch will be available for operation:
• From the top of Stanley Dock Branch, heading into Liverpool, 1.00 to 4.00 pm (except Tuesdays).
• From Salthouse Dock, heading out of Liverpool, 8.00 to 9.30 am (except Tuesdays).

Booking is still required for the link and for a mooring in Salthouse Dock.
Booking your passages in and out of the Liverpool Canal Link and your mooring in Salthouse Dock can be made online by logging into your CRT account. (You will be charged an administration fee if you do not turn up and have not cancelled your booking.)

Information about the Liverpool Link, along with downloadable skipper's guides and other useful guidance, can be found here.