We’ve been planning a repeat of the 12 boats cruise run west to east in 2017. However two issues have intervened to curtail it. Reduced reservoir levels and lack of spring rain on the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canals has severely limited the lock passages at Bosley and Marple flights and they will now both close for the forseeable future after 21st June. Water supplies on the Huddersfield Narrow have slightly improved after some recent rain but restrictions on use of Diggle and Marsden flight locks to the summit remain after their imposition on 9th May. On 30th May Canal & River Trust warned that passages through the Standedge Tunnel will be limited in availability until August. Against that background the 211 year old canal presented us with a serious culvert leak in the pound between locks 20E and 21E. A review of the circumstances with 2 weeks before the planned cruise resulted in a a notification from the Trust that it was highly unlikely that the leaking section could be repaired and a long stretch of pounds rewatered in time for the scheduled cruise to pass through. The section is currently drained and a CCTV camera was run through it in week commencing 13th June. Options for repair are being considered and a contractor is being mobilised imminently. A further bed-valve leak near Lock 26E also needs urgent work and this will be undertaken at the same time.
The upshot was that a joint decision between the Society and CRT on 9th June concluded that the complete cruise would not be possible and that a curtailed one would be consulted upon. As this is being written on 17th June the curtailed cruise will include 5 boats starting at Portland Basin on the morning of Sunday 26th June, taking part in the Stalybridge Festival that afternoon and then proceeding with overnight stops at Roaches (27th), Uppermill (28th) and Diggle (29th). The craft will pass through the Standedge Tunnel on Thursday 30th June. The gathering of 5 boats in mid-afternoon at Tunnel End Marsden om that day will certainly be a spectacle and plans are now being made to promote a lower key event for crews and spectators than had originally been envisaged. A notice will be put up on the Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre website news page during week commencing 20th June.
The same 5 boats will retrace their route on different days over the following fortnight.