Pennine Waterways News

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Rochdale re-opens with restrictions

The Rochdale Canal is to re-open throughout its length tomorrow for the first time since it was hit by floods a week ago.

As reported earlier, a stranded narrowboat that had been blocking the canal has been removed. This means that boats are now once again able to travel between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden.

However, because of the dangerous condition of the towpath and lock landings at Lock 12 and 13, west of Hebden Bridge, these locks will be operated by BW staff between 12.00 noon and 2.00 pm each day (7 days a week). Outside of these opening hours, these two locks will be padlocked so that they cannot be used.

The floods have eroded the towpath in this area and a lot of soil and stones have been deposited in the canal making it unsafe to attempt to get on or off a boat on the lock landings. The towpath is also not in a fit state for boat crews to walk between locks.

BW say that it is not safe for customers to try to use these locks without assistance in their current condition, which is the reason for them being locked when not manned.

BW also warn boaters to proceed with caution between Locks 11 and 19 as there may be unexpected obstacles below the water that have been washed into the canal. They ask anyone finding such an obstacle to tell them about it.

BW also warns that sections of the towpath are closed, being badly eroded or covered in slippery silt. Walkers are asked to avoid sections blocked off with orange fencing.

Lock 13 showing towpath erosion and material deposited in canal.

Towpath and wall washed away below Lock 12.

Towpath erosion at Lock 16.

BW say there is still a huge amount of work to be done to get the canal back to normal and that they will work towards that over the coming weeks. BW say they would like to thank customers for their patience while they have been working on the problems caused by the flooding.

See also:
Rochdale Canal remains blocked after floods.
Stranded boat re-floated.

Stranded boat re-floated

The narrowboat that has been blocking the Rochdale Canal since last Friday was re-floated in the early hours of this morning.

As river levels rose rapidly last Friday evening and engulfed the canal between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, the unoccupied narrowboat was pulled from its moorings and carried downstream, where it was swept onto an overflow weir. When the waters receded, the boat was left with its bow on the weir and its stern on the opposite bank. (See earlier article for photo.)

As there was no access to land beside the canal, the boat had to be lifted by a 300-tonne crane positioned on Burnley Road, on the other side of trees and the River Calder. The large crane was needed because of the long reach involved. The operation necessitated a road closure, which was why it took place in the early hours of the morning.

The boat was lifted from its position and re-floated and was moved down into Hebden Bridge.

As the section of canal between Locks 11 and 17 were the worst affected by the floods, the lock landings have been found to be unsafe to use, as access to them is blocked by silt and debris washed down the canal. Boaters will not be able to pass through this section until BW had set up a system of assisted passage.

The towpath is also closed over much of this section, with some parts having been washed away by the fast-moving flood water.

A short video of the boat being lifted can be seen here on the BBC News web site.

Photo: BBC News

Monday, 25 June 2012

Rochdale Canal remains blocked after floods

[Scroll down to see updates.]
The Rochdale Canal will remain closed for several more days following last Friday's flooding. There are also several blockages to the towpath.

Stranded boat near Hebden Bridge

The most serious problem for boaters is a boat blocking the canal near Hebden Bridge. As river levels rose rapidly, a torrent of water flooded onto the canal below Lock 12. A section of towpath was ripped up by the water and a moored boat was torn from its mooring pins and carried half a mile down the canal. The boat was then swept onto an overspill weir and was left stranded across the canal, with its bow resting on the overspill weir and its stern embedded in the opposite bank. Fortunately there was no-one on board the boat at the time.

British Waterways staff are assessing how the boat can be re-floated and the canal will remain closed to through navigation until this has been achieved.

Stranded boat near Hebden Bridge

BW staff are checking structures to assess whether the rest of the canal can be re-opened. It would appear that damage is confined to the towpath, with several sections being washed away.

Below Lock 12, where the towpath is separated from the river by a stone boundary wall, the river rose higher than the towpath, broke down a section of wall and washed away a length of towpath.

Boundary wall and towpath washed away below Lock 12

Meanwhile the river sections of the Calder and Hebble Navigation remain closed and boaters have been instructed not to open the flood gates.

Important update, Monday 25th June, 4.30 pm:
British Waterways say they are pleased that the main lock structures that have been checked appear to be unaffected by flood damage. However, most of the locks between Locks 11 and Lock 19 have been affected to some extent by erosion and the build up of materials at the lock landings making the locks unsafe to use in their current condition.

The navigability of the channel has not yet been tested, and it is possible that there may be new sand bars or underwater obstacles preventing passage.

BW say it is not clear when they can re-open the canal and warn that people should plan for the canal remaining closed for a period of a few weeks.

In addition to the washed-away sections of towpath mentioned above, BW warn towpath users that much of the towpath between Locks 11 and 19 is covered in a thick silt that is very slippery and walkers are advised to find alternative routes.

Update, Tuesday 26th June, 9.30 am:
The Calder and Hebble Navigation is now open to navigation again. BW staff are opening the flood gates but it could be several hours before these have all been opened.

Update, Wednesday 27th June, 3.00 pm:
The following sections of the Rochdale Canal are now open to navigation:
- between Lock 1 Sowerby Bridge and Lock 9 Hebden Bridge.
- from Lock 17 Todmorden westwards
Winding is available by the dry dock below Lock 9 in Hebden Bridge and at Baltimore Marina above Lock 17 in Todmorden.
The canal is navigable between Locks 9 and 11 but there is no winding point available.

The canal remains closed between Lock 11 and Lock 17.
The boat pictured above is still blocking the canal. BW is hoping to be able to move it tonight. The channel has not been tested. There was severe damage to towpaths in this area so the channel may be obstructed with sand bars and dislodged masonry.

When the stranded boat has been removed BW will start a system of assisted passages between Locks 11 and 17. In many instances it is not possible to bring a boat in to the lock landings because of silt and other debris washed into the canal.

BW will issue information about these assisted passages in the next few days. Even once this section has been re-opened, boaters should proceed with care as there may be unexpected obstructions below the water.

Update, Thursday 28th June, 1.00 pm:
The stranded boat was refloated in the early hours of this morning using a large crane positioned across the river on Burnley Road. It was done at this time as a road closure was required. The canal between Locks 11 and 17 remains closed until BW puts into place a system of assisted passage. The lock landings of many of these locks are inaccessible because of silt or debris that has been washed into the canal. BW will issue an update about assisted passage shortly.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Flooding disrupts navigation in Yorkshire

Very heavy rain yesterday in the South Pennines is causing disruption to navigation today.

BW reports that flooding between in the Calder Valley has made the Yorkshire part of the Rochdale Canal unnavigable and boaters are asked to remain moored up until water levels subside.

Although no announcements have been made so far, it is likely that the river sections of the Calder and Hebble Navigation will also be unnavigable, with flood gates closed.

This page will be updated if any further information is received.

Update 23rd June 4.30 pm:
BW says the canal is likely to remain impassable until the middle of the coming week at the earliest.

It is not believed that the flooding has caused any catastrophic damage but there are locations on the canal that are obstructed. BW will issue further updates when they have been able to complete the necessary engineering assessments on Monday.

Update Monday 24th June:
See Monday's news update [click here] for details of the problems left by the floods.

Update, Tuesday 26th June, 9.30 am:
The Calder and Hebble Navigation is now open to navigation again. BW staff are opening the flood gates but it could be several hours before these have all been opened.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Car blocks Rochdale Canal

Navigation on the Rochdale Canal has been blocked by a car in the canal at Bridge 34 (Hollins Bridge) in Walsden. This is on the section between Todmorden and the Summit level.

British Waterways say that police and Fire teams are on scene and British Waterways are making every effort to recover the vehicle.

Boaters are asked to moor up above Bridge 34 or below lock 26 and await further instructions from British Waterways staff on site. A further update will be issued.

Hollins Bridge, Walsden.

Half Day Huddersfield Hold-up

Boaters using the eastern end of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal could be held up by a half day stoppage at Lock 1e today (21st June).

There are problems with the gate paddles leaking water. British Waterways will close the lock between 12.00 noon and 4.00 pm so that investigations can be made to see what repairs are required.

Boaters travelling eastwards into Huddersfield should time their journey so that they do not arrive at Lock 2e during this period.

There have been long-standing problems with the pound above this lock losing water.

Lock 1e, Huddersfield

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Leeds and Liverpool bridge stoppage

A swing bridge is out of action causing a stoppage on a busy section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

There is an intermittent fault at Bridge 187, Warehouse Swing Bridge, at Kilnwick, on the popular stretch between Skipton and Bingley. The bridge has been closed to navigation until further notice while investigations are carried out.

Update, June 20th, 2.15 pm:

The problem with the bridge has been rectified and the canal is now open to navigation through Kildwick.

Any enquiries regarding this stoppage should be made to BW on 01942 405700.

Bridge 187, Kildwick

Monday, 18 June 2012

Rochdale Nine Stoppage

Boaters passing through Manchester found the "Rochdale Nine" flight closed today. British Waterways have announced that the pound between Locks 85 (Piccadilly) and 86 (Canal Street) had to be de-watered, although they did not give a reason.

BW said that it is expected that the canal will be navigable again by tomorrow morning (19th June).

Enquiries about this stoppage should be made to BW on 01782 785703.

Update, Tuesday 19th June, 4.15 pm:
The pound has been re-filled and the navigation has now re-opened.

Pounds between Lock 85 and 86, Rochdale Canal