What's that?, you say. It's the Rochdale Nine isn't it?
Well, yes, there are nine locks on the Rochdale Canal in Manchester between the junctions with the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield and the Ashton Canal at Ducie Street. But these days, if you are carrying on up the Rochdale and you don't fancy doing the slog from Castlefield to Failsworth in one day it makes sense to continue up the next two Rochdale locks to New Islington and the free overnight moorings at the basin there.
I'd seen from their blog that Barry and Sandra on AreandAre were planning to leave Castlefield last Wednesday so, once again, I blagged myself a place on board with the offer of a hand up the locks. I could see AreandAre on the water point from the train as we approached Deansgate station and by the time I'd alighted and walked down to Lock 92, Barry was reversing her very gracefully round the turn into the Potato Wharf and on to the lock landing.
Lock 92 takes an age-and-a-fortnight to fill, which was good as it gave Sandra a chance to return from wherever she'd been and me the opportunity to explain the lock workings and much else about the English canal system to a couple of German tourists. (German tourists - in Manchester - what is the world coming to?) I'd remembered to bring one of the handcuff keys I took with me from Starcross so with Barry and I doing the lock work and Sandra steering we fairly flew up the flight, catching up at the eighth lock with a single-hander who'd left about an hour-and-a-half earlier. In fact the only trouble we had all morning was between locks 81 and 82 where AreandAre simultaneously collected something on the prop and ran aground! Barry solved the second problem by letting some water down and whatever was fouling the prop wasn't serious enough to prevent us making the short journey to New Islington, where Sandra supplied us with lunch and Barry plied me with some of his rather good (and rather powerful!) home-brew beer.
I then left them to try and seek out one or more of the Manchester buses that have recently been re-painted into the 1960s liveries of the old municipal bus undertakings that once operated all the bus services in this area and left Barry and Sandra to ponder the delights of tomorrow's trip through Vile Splatting and Newton Death en-route, eventually, to their next destination: Hebden Bridge.
I didn't see any of the buses I was looking for, but I did manage a couple of pints of my favourite beer before getting the train home to Lancaster, where I just missed seeing a steam locomotive on "The Fellsman" special excursion, which had arrived back from its Settle & Carlisle trip almost an hour early!