Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cruising is easy as we head to Wheelock

An absolute doddle today, fine weather, locks in our favour and not far too go either!

There’s a large population of swans at Middlewich, above King’s Lock, though there doesn’t seem to be as many as there has been in the past.IMG_4372

They’re very used to dogs and people, mainly indifferent but there’s always a stroppy one…
IMG_4373

Butter wouldn’t melt, eh?
IMG_4374
You wouldn’t think that they regularly kill ducklings and moorhen chicks, and wouldn’t hesitate in attacking their own offspring if they didn’t leave the territory as soon as they’re fledged. It’s all about survival in an area of finite resources. And the ones with the big sticks (of beaks) usually win!

We had a bit of a lie in this morning not leaving till nearly 10.

One length of the moorings has been rebuilt now, leaving another to start on.

One we they did earlier…
IMG_4375

…next on the agendaIMG_4376

We hit lucky with all the locks today, boats were coming down in a regular flow, so all of them were empty and ready for us.

Rumps LockIMG_4377

Booth Lane LocksIMG_4381

Buzzard on the hunt near Paddy’s WoodIMG_4385

Mum keeps a very young brood under controlIMG_4389

and a pair waiting for the big event.
IMG_4392

The moorings at Wheelock were busier than we expected, but have thinned out as the lunchtime stoppers have moved on.

Meg was due to visit Hair of the Dog this afternoon to get her spring clipping, but unfortunately Lynn is not well. We’ve re-scheduled for tomorrow morning before we go. I don’t think Meg’s too disappointed!

Locks 4, miles 5½. Back to our normal cruising pattern – for one day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

To Middlewich and beyond–just!

Following our current plan of longer days while there’s no locks (and while the weather is fine…) we were off at 9 o’clock, heading for Anderton.

Another beautiful morning just before we left.IMG_4343

We arrived at Saltersford Tunnel with a few minutes in hand before the half-past the hour southbound “window”
IMG_4345

Often you’ll meet traffic at Barnton Tunnel, there’s no time restriction on this one as you can see right through, and boats leaving Anderton get here around mid-morning. Nothing at all coming through today though. In fact, the moorings in Anderton were very quiet, only 4 or 5 boats in all.

We topped up and emptied tanks at the services, then pushed on.

Marbury Wood is looking good in it’s fresh foliage.IMG_4346

That confirms it, Spring must be here! Our first swallow!IMG_4347

Shifting a boat about at Wincham Wharf.IMG_4349

Orchard Marina, where Seyella was built nearly 9 years ago.IMG_4354
There are no services available here now, the main business is the mooring basin.

There’s a pipe bridge crossing the canal near the new towpath-side marina. It’s developed a leak, spouting water vertically from a valve on the top.IMG_4355
At least I hope it was water, you never know around here! It didn’t taste salty…

Meg was restless as we passed one of our regular stops at the flashes, giving me a reproachful look as we cruised on.

South Flash, a few boats here enjoying the sunshine.IMG_4359

Whatcroft Lodges
IMG_4360

Ever-patient anglerIMG_4364

Blackthorn and Hawthorn bushes
IMG_4363
Blackthorn has flowers before leaves, Hawthorn has leaves before flowers.

We did have locks today, but right at the end of the day’s travels. Big Lock introduces the canal to Middlewich, and is the first on the ascent to the summit level at Tunstall. (No, I refuse to count the 3 inch rise of Dutton Stop Lock!)

Mags in Big Lock, pub of the same name alongside.IMG_4367

From here it’s 10 minutes to Middlewich Locks, a flight of three deep chambers which lift the canal 33 feet.

We met boats coming out of the bottom and middle, but had to wait for a hire boat being reversed out of the dry-dock before following it up the top lock.

Into the bottom lock
IMG_4368

Middlewhich Narrowboats’ dry dock.IMG_4370
Just for info, this dry dock is available for DIY hire, and you can stay aboard, not always the case.

Threading our way through the boats at Middlewich Narrowboats base we passed the junction to the Middlewich Branch and ascended King’s Lock.

Up King’s Lock
IMG_4371

We called it a day on the moorings above the lock. After 6 hours in the saddle we’d had enough.

Tomorrow we’ve an easy day, just a gentle toddle to Wheelock

Locks 5, miles 13½

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Change of canal but the weather stays glorious.

Another good day’s cruise today, making miles while the sun shines.

Eight o’clock this morning, Lymm town mooringsIMG_4306

It’s going to be more pictures than text today; I’ve already waffled on about the Bridgewater on several occasions in the past.

The magnolia is in bloom
IMG_4308

As are the daffs.
IMG_4310

I’d been discussing the issue of rubbish in the canal this morning with a Lymm local. The Bridgewater is not at all bad in this respect, mainly due to the work of this boat…IMG_4313
I like the appropriate name, too.

In contrast, a tiny boat, about 10 feet long and 4 feet wide. Cheap to licence I expect…IMG_4314

We’re too early for the rhododendrons at Walton HallIMG_4318
They’re spectacular at the end of May.

Walton sees the end of the built up area around Warrington.

Leaving Moore, a couple of miles further on, the Silver Jubilee Bridge, crossing the Mersey estuary from Runcorn to Widness across the Runcorn Gap, can be seen across the fields. It’s around 4 miles away.IMG_4324
The span is just over 1000 feet and was opened in 1961, widened in 1977 and renamed in honour of The Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

Daresbury Lab’s research tower.
IMG_4326
The facility has it’s own electrical sub-station!

From Walton to Preston Brook we’d passed piles of logs on the towpath, the result of contractor’s work on the boundary trees. Finally the temptation got too much…IMG_4330
Well, it might get cold again!

We had a short wait at the northern end of Preston Brook Tunnel.IMG_4329

IMG_4332

IMG_4333


I was intending to take a picture of the above mentioned repair work, but we were followed in by another boat so stopping in the middle wasn’t really an option. It’s quite impressive, though. Pre-cast concrete sections line the bore and ventilation shaft.


Rape seed in flower is almost florescent!IMG_4335

We moored about a mile short of Saltersford Tunnel, looking out over the Weaver valley.IMG_4337

There was was a bit of a coming together on the sharp bend just ahead. The hire boat (on the left) tried to cut the corner, ran out of water and went straight across, pushing the private boat onto the bank on the outside of the bend.IMG_4338 It didn’t come to blows, but it did take several minutes to sort out.

I got that wood sawed up into stove sized pieces, though most will have to be split as well. Then repaired the tiller bar. The wooden handle had come loose so a hefty dose of No More Nails and a woodscrew sorted that out.

It’s been a good couple of days, easy cruising on the wide, deep Bridgewater has given me a chance to recuperate a bit. But we’ll be starting on the locks tomorrow. Ideally we’d like to be above King’s Lock in Middlewich tomorrow evening.

Thanks for all the positive comments, I’m no longer feeling sorry for myself and am looking forward to September and the Great North Run. So, no more wallowing. PMA!

Hi Dave, Debby. As you might expect, dog walking is a bit limited in Castlefield. But there is the area around the Roman site just a stone's throw away. Plenty of grass... We'll look out for you as we head south, our paths are bound to cross! Just for info, the elsan disposal at Castlefield is out of action. We emptied a loo tank down the adjacent WC, in three stages to avoid blockages. There are facilities on the right about a ¼ mile up the Runcorn Arm.

Locks 1 miles 14½

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nursing aching legs as we head back out of the city.

Yesterday’s Greater Manchester Marathon was well organised, well attended and well supported by the locals. But unfortunately not well run by me.
I’d been nursing an injury to my heel for the last several weeks, anti-inflammatories, icing, and Voltarol Gel keeping me going through the training. I was hoping that the same regime would get me through the actual race but it was not to be. By the 20 mile mark the pain had reduced my speed considerably, the last 6.2 miles (10Km) taking an extraordinary 1 hour 25 minutes! Normally I could walk faster than that! I’ve run a 10k in 38 minutes in the past. Ok, so not after already doing 20 miles.
So instead of the planned for 4 hours, it took me 4:39. Disastrous.
But at least I finished…
IMG_4304It’s a bloody great finishers medal!

It was a slow hobble back to the Old Trafford Metro station and the return to Castlefield. Dosed up with Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer and painkillers I slept well last night.
Yesterday evening I was saying never again, today, as the pain and memories fade, I’m saying maybe next year. This time next week… who knows? The running bug is very sneaky that way.

Thanks to everyone for their supporting comments and financial contributions to my fundraising page. I couldn’t have done it without you. We’ve raised nearly £600 so far, well done!

Anyway, we were up early this morning, dog walked (limped) and breakfast had so we decided to move out. We’d chosen to head back down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey this being the easiest lock-free route. The alternative was up the Rochdale Nine, then up the 18 locks of the Ashton Canal, followed shortly by the Marple flight of 16, and onto the Macclesfield Canal. Not something I’d want to tackle at the moment!

Away from our mooring on Potato WharfIMG_4277

If you like railway bridges, Castlefield is the place to be!IMG_4278
There are four crossing the complex of basins, the nearest and furthest built in 1849 by the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway. The tubular steel construction was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1894, and one just hidden by this (you can see the right hand brick support in part shadow) is an iron truss span from 1887 built for the Midland Railway. All are still in use apart from the steel 1894 one. The one you can’t see in the picture was refurbished in 1991 for the Manchester Metrolink.

Looking back at Potato Wharf
IMG_4279
The Museum of Science and Industry is in the middle of the picture.

IMG_4281“Castle” themed embellishments on the bridges
IMG_4282
















We’re under the 1877 Cornbrook Viaduct that now carries the metro.





The services were occupied, so we decided to push on rather than queue.

Out between the new apartmentsIMG_4285

Ducklings…
IMG_4288

…and our first Canada goslings!IMG_4292

Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt!
IMG_4289

We had an uneventful trip back out through Stretford and Sale, out of the built up area at Seamons Moss Bridge and pulled in for water at The Olde No 3.

Seamons Moss BridgeIMG_4297

Michelle and Barry on NB Just Imagine were here, and we had a good catch up while waiting for the tank to fill.
IMG_4301

Another hour saw us coming into Lymm. We’d promised ourselves fish and chips if we could get a mooring here, but it was looking a bit dodgy…IMG_4303
…we were lucky, just one space on the end on the left.

We’re on a bit of a mission now, with 2½ weeks to get to Nottingham and our rendezvous with the rest of the Wash flotilla. So tomorrow we’ll be off the Bridgewater and south of Preston Brook Tunnel, all being well.

Locks 0, miles 13¾