Macclesfield to Bosley
Clarke Lane Bridge, no. 29, is a change line bridge, sometimes
known as a snake bridge. This is the point where the towing path
moves over to the east side of the canal and the objective of
the bridge is to enable the horse to cross over without having
to untie it from the boat. There are six of these on the canal,
two at Marple,
one each north and south of Macclesfield and two at Congleton,
in each case to take the towing path away from the towns' wharves.
Wood's Bridge, no. 30, was the first to
be restored by The Macclesfield Canal Society.
By the early 1980's it was in a very derelict state with no parapets
remaining. It still sported a war time concrete tank trap! This
was removed and the missing stonework reinstated. Today the bridge
looks as good as new.
In the next half mile, beside the AstraZeneca plant, notice the
three bridge holes which once had swivel bridges across them, but
now long since gone. Three bridges but accounting for only two
bridge numbers. Don't ask! The canal is entering the conurbation
of Macclesfield with a mixture of industry, housing and the odd
green space. At Chapel-en-le-Frith Bridge, no. 34, we are in Hurdsfield
which provides easy access to Macclesfield. The canal always remains
aloof from Macclesfield - there is always a half mile walk to the
town centre whichever bridge you choose.
The centre of town from the canal point of view is Buxton Road
Bridge, no. 37, where there is plenty of casual mooring. On the
northwest side is the original Macclesfield Canal Company wharf,
still awaiting re-development. On the
southwest side is Macclesfield
Canal Centre (01625-420042) with its popular moorings and boat
services. Here, too, stands the impressive restored Hovis
Mill. This was where, from 1898-1904, the flour for Hovis bread
was first milled in its distinctive way and distributed to bakers
for baking into the well known loaf. After a period of dereliction
the building has been converted into apartments. Notice the lovely
frill of decorative cast iron fencing along the top and the clerestory
Macclesfield to Bosley
Continuing south the canal passes the deep Richmond Hill cutting,
which was originally planned to be a tunnel, round the corner into
the country, where bridge 42 used to be, and then under Foden
Bank Bridge, no. 43, another change line bridge, and reaches
Gurnett or Sutton aqueduct. The canal was rebuilt here during
winter 1996/7 and the result is 300m of perfect mooring space.
This is now one of the most popular overnight stops, and not
least for the facility of The Olde
King's Head just below!
100 metres towards Sutton from Sutton (Gurnett) Aqueduct (south of br.43) you will find a stone on the front of a building on the left which recalls James Brindley with the words:
On These Premises
1733 - 1740
The Famous Civil Engineer
And Canal Builder, Served
As Apprentice To Abraham
Brindley was born at Tunstead, north-east of Buxton in Derbyshire.
His apprenticeship trained him to be a millwright - a builder of
all kinds of wind and water powered mills, but he is best known
for his canal building which he took up later in life. How extraordinary
that the last narrow canal built should have passed the very building
where Brindley, the engineer who started it all, learnt his trade
almost 100 years before. Further information on Brindley [Statue],
... into the country
Leek Old Road Bridge, no. 44, which carried the original Macclesfield/Leek
road, is another superbly built skew bridge. On your way to Leek
New Road Bridge, no. 45, the views back towards Macclesfield Forest
and the Pennine foothills of the Peak District National Park are
particularly enjoyable, especially in evening sunlight. The prominent
hill to the left of the valley is Tegg's Nose and the high one
to the right is Shutlingsloe. On the distant horizon can be seen
the Cat & Fiddle
inn, at about 510 metres, the second highest in England.
Broadhurst Swing Bridge, no. 47, is the very last of the many original manually operated swivel bridges on the canal and was partially restored by The Macclesfield Canal Society in the early 1990's. In autumn 1998 it was reinstalled after a full refurbishment at BW’s Northwich yard and at last back in full working order.
A mile further on, where the Leek Road runs beside the canal, notice the lengthman's cottage on the towing path side. For many years the only connection with the road had been via a very precarious moveable pontoon bridge. In autumn 1998 the pontoon was replaced by a fixed pedestrian bridge, no.
48A. Across the road here is Sutton reservoir, the smaller of the two reservoirs that directly feed the canal. The adjacent road was constructed at the same time as the canal to replace the earlier and steeper road that passes the upper end of the reservoir.
At Oakgrove we have the only roadway swing bridge across the
Oak, no. 49. This has been modernised in recent years and
is now entirely power operated. Adjacent is a very popular mooring
place. Across the main road is the Fool's
Nook inn. Unfortunately this has had a difficult history
in recent years and is presently closed, future uncertain.
This is possibly the best place from which to visit Gawsworth
Hall (01260-223456) and village, about two miles to the west.
Once away from the main road, the last mile and a half to Bosley top lock is one of the most pleasurable stretches anywhere on the canal - quiet, green, undulating fields, with regular views over the Cheshire plain - that's Wales on the other side!
Extra - Reservoirs and feeders
Next page - Bosley.