Pennine canal routes begin to reopen
- Credit: Martin Ludgate
Two Trans-Pennine routes shut by water shortages reopened in September – but the Canal & River Trust says the Leeds & Liverpool is expected to remain shut until at least the end of October
Two of the three Trans-Pennine routes shut by water shortages reopened in September – but the Canal & River Trust has warned that the Leeds & Liverpool is expected to remain shut to through traffic until at least the end of October.
Following the exceptionally dry weather in early summer, closures due to low reservoir levels hit the Rochdale, Huddersfield, Leeds & Liverpool, Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Caldon canals, but following rain in late summer, CRT began to reopen some lengths:
. The Calder Valley length of the Rochdale Canal was reopened, followed by a restricted opening of the summit length (five days per week)
. The Huddersfield Canal began opening on one day per week for boats with booked passages through Standedge Tunnel
. The Gargrave to Newlay length of the Leeds & Liverpool reopened (subject to restricted hours at Bingley locks), followed by the Leeds to Newlay Locks length (also for limited hours per day).
That still left three sections shut as we went to press: the L&L from Wigan to Gargrave; the Macclesfield and Peak Forest from Bosley to Marple and Whaley Bridge; and the Caldon at Hazelhurst Locks (except for booked passages for boaters with moorings beyond the locks). In the case of the first two of these, CRT warned that “At least five weeks of prolonged rainfall” would be needed to reach a sustainable water level that would allow reopening, and that this would be unlikely before the end of October and “possibly later”.
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…but engineers take advantage of closures
The enforced closure of the Pennine routes has at least given the Canal & River Trust’s engineers an opportunity to get ahead with some maintenance work which had been scheduled for this winter’s stoppage programme.
At Bosley Locks on the Macclesfield, work at locks 3, 5 and 6 including gate replacement and canal wall repairs has been brought forward, and if (as expected) the closure continued into autumn, two further locks were expected to receive repairs. And on the Leeds & Liverpool, planned winter work has been brought forward at four locks on the Wigan and Gargrave flights.