The day after we got into Salford Quays proved to be a bit of an anticlimax. So much planning had gone into the trip across the Mersey and up the Ship Canal; so much anticipation and now it was all done and we were back to reality. The mooring at Salford Quays is a good one but is underused I think. To get to it you either have to negotiate the Ship Canal, or come down through Pomona Lock. Boats with a Bridgewater Licence can transit Pomona Lock without cost but CRT licensed boats have to pay £30 which puts many people off I think.
We had a wander around the complex and came across the site of the new Marina. It currently holds a large barge and a couple of narrow boats, but according to one of the canal magazines, will soon be expanding.
We also took a trip up the River Irwell past Old Trafford, some serious graffiti, the bizarre Gnome Island and into the centre of Mancester. There’s supposed to be a mooring up there but we didn’t spot it. It turns out that to have moved off our mooring we should have informed Eastham Port Control as they need to be kept aware of all boat movements in the area. Oops. No harm done though, the only other boat moving was the Waxi (water taxi) and he didn’t seem put out by our presence.
On Tuesday at we set off through Pomona Lock at our booked time of 8am and managed to get ourselves a mooring in Castlefield Basin.
It’s a great base for visiting Manchester but it is really popular so it’s not always possible to find a mooring. We had a great couple of days wandering around. There are some amazing buildings in the middle of Manchester including the Town Hall, the Prince Albert memorial statue and the old Campfield Market Halls. The upper hall is used by the Science and Industry museum to house their aeroplane collection but the lower hall is still empty. Such a waste of a beautiful building.
Near the Castlefield metro station you’ll find the remains of a Roman fort which are worth a look.
After a quick stop off for lunch in a nearby pub, we headed off to the Museum of Science and Industry. I’ve always had a fascination with virtual reality – I’d love it if the Star Trek Holodeck was a reality. For £6 we thought it would be well worth while to visit the Virtual Reality descent to earth from the Space Station narrated by Tim Peake. It was! Lying back in a comfy chair with headphones and a virtual reality headset, you’re treated to a 360 degree tour of the Soyuz space capsule and amazing panoramic views of the earth as the capsule descends from space, through the atmosphere and lands in Kazakhstan. When the experience finished it took me a moment or two to orient myself back to normality again. It was brilliant! It seems to be on in the Science Museum in London as well as in Manchester and we would really recommend a visit.
We didn’t manage to visit the whole of the rest of the museum – we’ll go again when we’re next in Manchester – hopefully in September or so. We did manage to visit the Power Hall with loads of large steam driven stuff that I really don’t understand – and some trains. Gordon was in his element!
Unfortunately, while we were doing all this (and visiting the odd hostelry) we missed a visit from Doug and James who used to own nb Chance and now have a city pad overlooking the canal in Manchester. Such a shame we missed them but I do hope we can arrange to get together when we visit again later this season. We did manage to have a brief chat with Roger from nb Artu. We met Roger last year when we did the BCN Explorer Cruise and have bumped into him again here and there. Like us, he’s hoping to crew on historic working boats Atlas and Malus for the BCN 24 hour challenge later this month so hopefully we’ll get together again then.
We left Castlefield on Thursday morning. The trip across the Mersey, up the Ship Canal and into Salford Quays and Castlefield had all been new ground for us but once we got to the junction at Waters Meet we were back on familiar territory.
There aren’t many bits of the system we haven’t seen now and we’re hoping to travel them all before the end of this season. We had hoped to go up the Rochdale 9 on this trip as we’ve not done these locks yet. Unfortunately our route south would have been blocked by continuing problems on the flight of locks up to Marple so we had to abandon that which is why we’ll be returning to Manchester towards the end of the season.