Friday, May 23, 2008

Heading South, Boat Work and a Hedgehog Rescue…

On Sunday night I took these pictures from the basin at Castlefield. The top shows the tower of the Hilton Hotel, the bottom is looking in the opposite direction towards Trafford Park.

On Monday we braved the mad geese again at the water point at Castlefield, then set off West and South out of Manchester.
Although most of the old warehouses have been converted to apartments, there is still the odd one still to do…

Ripe for Development?
Near Throstle Nest Bridge I spotted what I thought was some rubbish floating in the canal, so steered around it. As we passed I saw that it was a spikey back and a pointy snout sticking out of the water, attached to the submerged portion of a hedgehog! The poor thing must have fallen in from the towpath, and was swimming around in circles, unable to see where it was going. A quick shift into reverse, and Meg’s ball retrieval net came into use. Only just in time I think. He was tiring rapidly.

Henry the Hedgehog.

I advised him against further aquatic adventures and deposited him in the bushes at the side of the towpath. We left him breathing easily, but resting to warm up and recover his strength.

The rest of the cruise to Dunham Massey was uneventful, arriving at around 15:00.

Tuesday we spent putting the first of the colour topcoats on the handrails and roof edge of Corbiere, then Wednesday we moved on to our usual last (or first, depending on the direction) mooring on the Bridgewater about ¾ mile from Preston Brook. We only had one stop; a Tesco delivery at the lay-by near Ye Olde No 3 pub. Here the canal is only feet from the main road. Not good for an overnight stop, but great for deliveries.

Yesterday we were not sure what to do, and finally made the fateful decision to paint the roof of Corbiere. Carol had, some time ago, chosen to use Protectakote, a rubberised non-slip coating, rather than the more usual sharp sand in paint. The boat’s roof, over the last 30 years, had had various holes cut and patched over, and this coating gives good coverage of the defects.
Anyway, it was gone 9 by the time the second coat was on, and we were both well smeared with the stuff. As it’s xylene based, it is difficult to remove and only succumbs gradually to white spirit applied with a scouring pad! So we’ve both got blue patches on hands, arms and legs, as well as some cleaner, but sorer, bits!

Taking a break. Note my blue knees!
The job, in the morning light, was certainly worth doing. We’re quite pleased with ourselves, actually.
We set off to Anderton at around 11:00 this morning. A quick stop at Midland Chandlers for a few bits, then down to the tunnel. We arrived just too late for the 12:30 “window” so settled down to wait until half past one. (As the tunnel is single width, passage through in either direction is restricted. Northbound, boats can enter on the hour and for a further 10 minutes, Southbound is on the ½ hour and 10 minutes.)
While we waited, another 3 boats arrived to join the queue.

Waiting for the Tunnel
Through the tunnel and Dutton Stop Lock, and we were back on the Trent and Mersey Canal. The wooded cuttings look their best at this time of year, with fresh green leaves overhanging the canal.
By the time we got to Acton Bridge I was not surprised to see the first of the following boats coming up and wanting to overtake. This was soon followed by the other 2. They’d already passed Carol. We caught up with them again at Saltersford Tunnel, all tied up in a row waiting for the ½ past the hour window on this tunnel. What a waste of diesel, and the opportunity to listen to the birds. We arrived just on time as planned. This is the worst thing about summer cruising. We’ve generally got someone chasing up behind us, all in a lather to get past. I know we don’t go very fast, but that’s why we bought a boat!

Here they go, just going into the tunnel as we arrived.
And here are some of the things they probably missed, with all that chasing about!

Heron hiding under trees.
Kingfisher looking for his tea

Out into daylight in the wide reach, then into Barnton Tunnel.

Carol coming out of Saltersford Tunnel.
Barnton doesn’t have any traffic control, so you have to check that there’s nothing coming before entering. We were OK, we just followed the boats in front.

Carol pulled over to moor near the Stanley Arms in Anderton, where she’s meeting Sonja and Laura, while we carried on to the services. After filling with water and getting rid of rubbish etc. we turned around and headed back, mooring up shortly after.

We’ve stopped here because tomorrow at 11:00 we’re booked on the Anderton Lift to drop down onto the Weaver for a few days. Looking forward to that!

The Anderton Lift from the river.
Locks 1, miles 25

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