Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Not in my backyard?

After negotiating the collapsed Norwood tunnel, the restored canal can theoretically pick up its former course, through four sets of staircase locks (three threes and a four) at Norwood.  Following on from the closed portal of the tunnel, the canal is quickly in water - but looking at this point more like an ornamental lake.
I will confess that I was quite surprised then to encounter some clearly rather prosperous dwellings
with their gardens backing right up to - and in some cases incorporating - the old locks.
Maybe it will turn out to be easier to build some new locks a few yards to the right...
Although I guess the name of the house is a bit of a clue.

Progressing on our way, the canal continued to be in water on and off...

 Here at Bridge 30 it presented a typical canal scene:
But the towpath was very overgrown with brambles and nettles, necessitating a brief detour (especially as I was wearing shorts) - captured for posterity on the map:
We finally stopped for lunch near Killamarsh, and ate our picnics overlooking a large lake, which it is planned to incorporate as another brief detour from the canal's original line. Unfortunately I was sat there so long I forgot to take a photo.

Only a little while later we left the canal just after bridge 25A -
this disused railway bridge, which Paul was somewhat mystified by my enthusiasm for (but look! Rivets!), and made our way through a housing estate to the unimprovably named Halfway tram terminus, whence we whizzed back to Sheffield at speeds of up to 67.4 km/h (yep, I left the tracking running). Considering it's £2.50 from the station to my stop, this lengthy (18.4 km - I will reset my copy of the map to miles!) run at the same price seemed excellent value for money.

Thanks to Paul for another great walk, and of course, for Fun With Maps.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Chesterfield ramble continued

This may take a few more posts, as I've quite a few photos. Hopefully though for once this is actually interesting stuff, as we continue to trace the proposed route of the soon-to-be-restored Chesterfield canal.

The Chesterfield Canal Trust's survey showed, as they has hoped, that the first section of the Norwood tunnel (from the Kiveton Park end) is sound and in useable condition. To get around the blockage though, the canal will come up out of the tunnel about here
and then continue in a cutting that will diverge from the original course.
Here the old course of the tunnel is the broken grey line, and the proposed new cutting outlined with the broken red lines. The broken blue line is the proposed re-opened tunnel section, and the yellow line shows that we walked directly along it.  The map also shows a proposed new marina, which at the moment is doing service as a fishing lake. A few anglers are going to be diasppointed when the boats finally arrive. And here is the marina car park:
Another significant obstacle will be the M1.
Somehow this bridgehole will be adapted to take both the farm track and the canal.
Shortly after the motorway, the proposed detour rejoins the old line, at the other end of the tunnel.
Where I will pick up the trail again tomorrow.

Monday, 20 May 2019

What was, and is yet to be

So, to continue our journey along the present, past, and future course of the Chesterfield canal, testing out Waterway Routes on Memory Map as we go. Memory Map is an app, which Paul uses as a platform for his waterways maps, but can also do all sorts of other things (and comes complete with some other maps that also look like they'll be fun to play with). It costs £15 after a free thirty day trial, but that's a one-off payment. Paul has given me, free, a whole country's worth of Waterway Routes maps (there's probably something in the bloggers' code of practice, if such a thing existed, that says I should declare that), and I am very impressed - not only with how they work and the things they can do, but - even more so - with Paul's dedication in compiling and keeping them up to date, not to mention his extremely patient (non)customer support.

For those unfamiliar with the Chesterfield canal, it is one of - if not the - most successful of current ongoing restoration projects. From the Trent at West Stockwith it is navigable as far as Kiveton Park, where it encounters the long-collapsed (since 1907) Norwood Tunnel.
The new brickwork in the bricking up of it is the result of the Chesterfield Canal Trust making an exploratory survey into this section last year. We got this far with Warrior in 2009, but might not be able to repeat the feat on Chertsey. Although the extremely narrow Stret lock has now been remedied, when we tried in 2011 Chertsey was unable to get through the earlier Morse lock.

Starting at the other end, in Chesterfield, restoration is creeping onwards and there are now just nine miles to go to join the two sections. These are, of course, the nine most difficult miles. Nonetheless, the Trust - which is certainly one of the liveliest canal organisations I have encountered - have recently committed to completing them in time for the 250th anniversary of the canal's opening - a mere eight years hence.

Because of the foresight of the Trust and its predecessors, and thanks to long term support from the local authority, most of the land required for the restoration has been secured. There are, however, some insuperable obstacles, not least the collapsed - and in parts, unstable - tunnel - meaning that part of the joining section will follow a new route. This is where the map was invaluable, both in tracing the proposed new line, and identifying places on it subsequently.
Roughly here, for example, will be the top of two triple staircase locks bringing the canal back to its original line after it has passed under the M1.

I know this because I took the photo on my phone and it therefore has an accurate timestamp of 1157. When I got back, with Paul's help. I downloaded the 'track' of our walk from the tablet into Memory Map on my computer. It's the yellow line. Hovering the cursor over any point on that line tells me the time I was at that location. So by hovering until I found 1157, I could see just where I was when I took the photo.
Waterway Routes map, used with permission.
It also tells me how far I'd walked to that point, the speed I was walking, and how high I was above sea level. Hover slightly differently and it gives the OS grid reference.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Walking a canal that doesn't yet exist

Well, up to a point. On Thursday I walked along a stretch of canal that does, most definitely exist, even if it's a while - very nearly ten years, in fact - since I managed to visit it by boat. Thanks to Paul, I then continued to discover bits of canal that are not navigable, but soon will be again, and even more excitingly, just about trace where there has never previously been canal, but soon will be.

Yes, we were on the Chesterfield. I met Paul at Sheffield station and we caught the train to Shireoaks, where we quickly found our way onto the towpath. Paul had brough along a Samsung tablet with his maps on for me to try out, to get feedback from someone 'who's not good with maps.' On the other hand, I'm not bad with satnav, which is how I was using the Waterway Routes maps with the Memory Map app. I can report that I found it very easy and pretty intuitive to use, and its benefits are not so much in the course of navigation (although this does come into its own when following a canal that doesn't yet exist - and for which the map exists only because Paul has made it) but the things you can do with the data afterwards. But I'm getting things out of their correct chronological sequence, so I'll come back to that later.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

A new route

On Thursday Paul (of Waterway Routes) was kind enough to invite me to accompany him as he re-surveyed another stretch of canal route as he regularly does to keep his maps up to date. I've been too busy to write it up fully yet, but here are a few photos of the route, which Paul hopes to be boating within the next decade, whereas I'm not sure I'll ever get that far ...



Friday, 17 May 2019

Why I love my job

... challenging ... variety ... blah ... blah ... changing lives ... yep ...
But no, why I really love it is that when I'm doing things like drafting the plagiarism and unfair means policy I get to make up stuff like this:

An occurrence will not be counted as a second occurrence if it occurs concurrently with the first occurrence.

Now, that's what makes it all worthwhile.