Thursday, July 31, 2008

Off the Macclesfield, onto the Peak Forest.

With the weather being pretty dismal yesterday morning, we decided to stay put. It did brighten up a bit later, allowing us to do a bit of carpentry around the rear hatch on Corbiere. During the wet spells I started on the diamond design I’m painting on the inside of the cratch board. Now it’s all blue, it needs lifting a bit, so it’ll finish up similar to the outside.

I had a bit more exploring to do in the area anyway. Running parallel to the canal is a disused railway, now converted to a footpath/ cycleway/bridleway. Great for the dogs, and with lots of access from the canal it makes for part of good circular walks, as long as you like.

The dogs on Middlewood Way
Both mornings we were here a convoy of geese sailed past from their overnight “roost”. These are being very military in their formation..

Geese in a row
And we’ve come across another odd duck. I reckon it’s a gadwall or teal, any more ideas?
Today it was a lot brighter, so we got under way at 10:45. Carol wasn’t quite ready so would follow on; that’s the last we saw of her all day!

Through occasional short light showers, we cruised up the last leg of the Macclesfield.

Higher Poynton, busy with boats as usual.
We had a comfort break for Meg just before Hawks Green, and then into Marple. You know you’re approaching the town, the impressive Goyt Mill appears over the horizon. Built as a spinning mill in 1905, it is now owned by the Peak Group and houses several small industrial units and enterprises.

Goyt Mill

At the junction we turned right, onto the Upper Peak Forest Canal.

Marple Junction

The last time we came this way we headed down the 16 Marple Locks, towards the Ashton Canal and Manchester.

Marple Top Lock. 16 locks drop the canal 214 feet.

The canal to Whaley Bridge follows the contour of the hill above the Goyt Valley. Occasional glimpses across the valley are visible through the heavy foliage. Unfortunately I couldn’t really enjoy the views as the heavens had opened and the rain was trickling down my neck.

Across the Goyt Valley

We pulled over (onto mud, the guide book is right, the Upper Peak Forest is narrow and shallow!) to let the showers pass over and wait for Carol to catch up. There’re 4 swing or lift bridges between Marple and Whaley Bridge, and they’re difficult to do on your own. No sign of her after 45 minutes, so I gave her a call. She’d not yet reached Marple, and would most probably be stopping there for the night. So we pushed on on our own, through the first 2 lift bridges and moored for the night just past the second, bridge 24.

Moored near Bridge 24.

It’s not a bad spot, but quite busy with cyclists and walkers.

These two weren’t expected, though!
Locks 0, miles 7¾

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shower hopping through Macclesfield and Bollington.

We were woken up last night by a huge roll of thunder and flash of lightening as a storm opened up above us. Meg opened one eye and went back to sleep, I contemplated the fact that we were in a steel boat, on water, with the TV aerial up, and an electrical storm was raging overhead. Then I went back to sleep. Que sera, sera.

The weather had cleared this morning, and we were on our way by 11:00. The Macclesfield is very green at this time of year, trees overhanging the channel and meadows either side.

Clark Lane Snake Bridge

Coming into Macclesfield, there has been a collapse of a retaining wall, closing the towpath. Work has started on shoring up the remaining sections with buttresses, but I guess repairing the breach is going to take some heavy machinery.

Collapse near Bridge 41

Just beyond this, one of a row of cottages has an unusual item of garden furniture. It certainly beats the imitation well and plastic gnomes!
I spotted two boats today, deserving of the SBDA.
This one near Swettenham Wharf in Macclesfield….
And this one at Kerridge Wharf. Some useful logs on the roof….
Also at Kerridge is this narrowboat representation of Captain Nemo’s famous submarine…
We stopped at Bollington for a visit to the Co-op, waited for a couple of heavy showers to pass, then pushed on for another hour or so.

Clarence Mill, Bollington
We moored between bridges 19 and 20. A quiet spot, but shallow. We just got tied up as another heavy shower came over. We’ve done well to avoid them today, travelling in the sunny spells. It’s been quite breezy, though, making it a bit cooler than the last couple of days.
Locks 0, miles 9½

Monday, July 28, 2008

Three trips up Bosley Locks in glorious sunshine….

It’s been a cracking weekend for weather, hot and sunny, with just a short shower first thing this morning.
With Carol stopping at Buglawton, there was no Corbiere work to do, so I had quite a lazy weekend. That is, apart from a couple of long training runs, good walks with Meg, painting the inside of the cratch board (now a fetching shade of blue), and helping a solo boater up the locks on Sunday morning.

Today we waited until 10 before getting off, into Bosley Bottom lock and on up the flight. We had a pretty uneventful run up, steady away, arriving at the top at 12:15.
Mags got hold of Carol on the phone when we reached the top, she’d just started at the bottom. So, after filling with water and emptying what needed emptying, I moored up and left Mags on the boat to go and help Carol. It’s hard work doing locks on your own anyway, but these are particularly difficult, having mitre gates at both ends and not much opportunity for mooring to set the locks up.
Carol had got the first 3 done by the time I arrived, and we had a good run up the remaining 9, arriving for the third time (for me) at around 15:30.

In Bosley Locks
We moved on a short way from the top of the locks, and moored for the night before Crow Holt Bridge.

After a much deserved beer, Carol decided to try out a syphon device she’d bought at the weekend. Corbiere’s gearbox oil needs changing, and the drain plug is all but impossible to get at and remove. So the simple solution is to suck the old oil out through the filler hole. The sucker worked, so that’s another job done. It’ll need doing again shortly, as there’s evidence of water in the old stuff, but we’ve no idea how long it’s been in there.

Moving on to north of Macclesfield tomorrow.

Locks 12, miles 1½

Friday, July 25, 2008

Corbiere’s new fender, and on to Bosley.

We’ve had a pretty uneventful couple of days. Yesterday I spent pottering about, doing odds and ends on Seyella. Then, when Carol arrived later in the day, we fitted the new front fender.

Corbiere’s new bow fender in all it’s glory.
It’ll have a chance to get “bedded in” going up the 12 locks at Bosley!

First thing this morning I set off up Mow Cop, in company with both dogs and Laura, Sonja’s daughter who’s with us for a few days. Although it was breezy, it was quite a warm climb and the dogs were glad of a drink when we got to the top.

Breakfast at Mow Cop

Mow Cop Castle
We got back down before lunchtime and were on our way by noon. The first priority was a bit of shopping, so we made a stop on the North side of Congleton, at High Town, were there’s a handy selection of shops just a stone’s throw from the canal.

Coming into Congleton
The bridge in the distance is a “snake” bridge. This is the local name for bridges that allow the towpath to change sides without having to unhitch the towrope from the horse. They are variously known as roving, turnover or changeline bridges, depending on where you are.

Between Congleton and Bollington there’s a mile straight, and you can see the bridge arches disappearing into the distance.

Long Straight

We moved on another couple of miles through pleasant countryside, arriving at the bottom of Bosley Locks at 16:00. We’ll stay here tonight, and decide when to go up the locks later. The day has been fine and dry again, but it’s starting to get heavy, with grey clouds. Thunder is forecast overnight.

Locks 0, miles 7

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Onto the Macclesfield Canal, Corbiere gets fender hooks and diesel goes down a bit…

After our day off yesterday we headed for the Macclesfield today. Six locks had to be climbed before arriving at Hardings Wood Junction, and these were passed in a couple of hours. We stopped off at the BW facilities near Red Bull on route.

Coming up in Lock 45
Under Pooles Aqueduct

Carol and Corbiere turning onto the Macclesfield at Hardings Wood.
Carol stopped at Red Bull Basin to see if they could fit mounting brackets for a new front fender. The “man who can” was able to oblige there and then, so Corbiere’s bow now sports 3 mounting rings.

Fitting fender mountings at Red Bull Basin.
A 1½ mile cruise took us to Hall Green Stop Lock, which lifts the canal just 12”. This is the only lock on the canal till the 12 at Bosley, 9 miles away.

Hall Green Stop Lock

This takes the elevation to 310’, which is the contour that JF Pownell proposed to use for The Grand Contour Canal. This ambitious project, suggested in 1942, would have consisted of building a canal from Hampshire up to Tyneside, hugging this level so needing no locks, and linking the main industrial centres on route. It was conceived as 100’ wide and 17’ deep, able to accommodate coastal craft which would access the waterway from the river estuaries via boat lifts. There’s more information (and a lot of other stuff) here.

Carol stopped just opposite Heritage Marina while we filled with diesel. At 87p it’s not a bad price. I was told that it came down today from 95p. Are we seeing a light at the end of the tunnel?

Carol decided to stay where she was, we pushed on to moor just past bridge 86. A bit shallow, but pleasant views across to Mow Cop.

Locks 7, miles 4½

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Improving weather, stuck hotel boats

What an awful weekend! It was wet and windy Friday and Saturday, drier yesterday but still pretty windy.
We stayed where we were, and I think a lot of private boats did the same; most on the move were hire boats. We had a surprise on Sunday evening, a long queue of boats, I think seven or eight, came up lock 59 behind us, and disappeared up the next. Carol asked a passing crew what the problem had been, and was told that a hotel boat had got stuck in one of the locks lower down, holding everyone up.

I had a walk down the locks yesterday morning and came across Snipe and Taurus, the hotel motor and butty that we’d seen on the Llangollen and Montgomery. These were the cause of the traffic jam. Both boats are 7 feet wide, and some of the locks on the Cheshire flight have “slumped” in the last 250 years, narrowing the chambers. They had the same problems at Hurleston at the start of the Llangollen canal, taking 3 hours to come down the flight of 4 locks. Speaking to one of the crew, he made the point that the locks were originally constructed for 7 foot wide boats, so there’s an argument for BW rebuilding them to the original specification. I suppose, in an ideal world….

We thought we’d better get off, to keep ahead of them in case they had any more trouble, so pulled the pins out at 09:30. Carol got off first, up the first 2 locks and stopped for diesel above lock 57. We followed on, only seeing her occasionally in the distance all the way to Rode Heath.

Lock 58 with the M6 behind. I know where I'd rather be...
Lock repairs - Lock 54

We’d arranged to stop and shop at Rode Heath. There’s a handy mini-market and PO just over bridge 139. Orchard boat No 51, NB Anguilla, owned by Bill, was just along the mooring but there was no-one home as we passed. Stopped for lunch and were away again shortly after, up the last 6 locks to Church Lawton.

Pleasantly curved walls on Snapes Aqueduct. The ochre coloured water contains dissolved iron oxide, leeching out into the canal in Harecastle Tunnel, 3 miles further on.
We arrived at 14:30, in time to do a bit more work on Corbiere. An hour or so later, the hotel pair passed us, heading towards Red Bull.

Snipe and Taurus, after successfully transiting today’s locks…

It was a dry but breezy day. A lot warmer in the sunny spells than of late. The forecast for the week is quite good, I think.

Anyway, after a long walk with Meg we decided to hang on here at Church Lawton for another day, enjoying the good weather. Sonja’s coming tonight, and it’s a fairly easy place to get to. We got a bit more done on Corbiere.

Across the fields at Church Lawton, Mow Cop on the horizon.
Locks 12, miles 3¾ (yesterday)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wet at Wheelock, fine at Hassel Green

Off this morning to Wheelock, to use the facilities and do another load of shopping, this time for Meg. There’s a great Petfood Superstore right by the canal. That done, it started to rain again, so we decided to indulge in a fish and chip lunch from Liz’s Chippy. It was the best decision we could have made; they were the tastiest we’ve had for a long time. If you’ve the chance, you could do a lot worse than getting a takeaway from here.

We had a leisurely lunch, so it was gone 3 o’clock before we started on the Wheelock Flight, the first of the Cheshire locks. Over the next 7 miles there are 26 narrow locks, mostly around 9 – 10 feet deep, lifting the canal from the Cheshire plain to the north portal of Harecastle Tunnel.
We’ll not be using the tunnel just yet, though. We’re turning off on to the Macclesfield Canal at Hardings Wood for a bit.

Ducklings and Mum at Malkins Bank
Canal Heritage at Malkins Bank Canal Services
Corbiere and Seyella practising synchronised locking!
A lot of the locks on the flight were duplicated to speed up transit during the canal’s heyday.

By 18:00 we’d done the first 8, so called it a day between lock 59 and bridge 148, near Hassel Green. It’s been another showery day. Where did the summer go??
It has faired up a bit since we moored, and the forecast is a little better for tomorrow. Here's hoping!

I see that the problem with the water in Northamptonshire has been resolved. They're blaming a rabbit that sneaked into the treatment plant. I can't get this image out of my head; Bright Eyes in the dead of night with a bottle marked with a skull and crossbones and bolt cutters for the padlocks. Weird, isn't it!

Here's the BW notification...
Water storage tanks on boats following the lifting of the water boiling notice in Northampton, Daventry and west of Daventry

Thursday 17 July 2008 until further notice

British Waterways has received the following advice from Anglian Water today about water storage tanks on boats following the lifting of the boil notice:-

1. Drain the tank;
2. Refill the tank with clean water;
3. Clean it thoroughly using brushes if possible;
4. Drain the tank;
5. Refill

Please see the link below to their website’s Q&A's and point 7 suggests the above procedure

Enquiries: 01908 302500

Locks 8, miles 3

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

From the SU to the T&M, and Carol gets her centre rope back.

We moved down the last bit of the Middlewich Branch today. Unusually, Carol was ready before us so got on her way. We waited for a passing shower to clear before following.

It wasn’t the last though, and even the cows looked fed up!

Miserable Cows..
We had just 1 lock to descend before reaching Middlewich, where we pulled over so I could stretch my arms carrying a load of shopping back from Somerfields.

Coming into Middlewich.
After the shopping trip we dropped down Wardle Lock, turned right and went up Kings Lock, now back on the Trent and Mersey.

Back on the Trent and Mersey.
We had a chance meeting with Kevin at Kings Lock. He did a lot of the work on Seyella while at Orchard Marina, but he's moved on and is now at Kings Lock Chandlery.

We expected to have caught up with Corbiere in Middlewich, but she was no where to be seen. So we pressed on, finally meeting up near Rookery Bridge where we pulled over for the night.

Carol had really missed having a centre line while working through the locks, so we set to and fitted the ring bolt. Another benefit is that she was able to put back the roof lining followed by the doors to the bathroom and loo!

Corbiere’s new centre attachment point.
Locks 7, miles 7½

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fine weather for St Swithin’s Day

We’ve had a bit of a break from the rain these last few days, still a little breezy but with some long warm sunny spells.
We stayed near Cholmondeston till today. I took advantage of the weather and cleared and scrubbed the roof. Not an easy job, but I try to do it 2 or 3 times a year…

Carol arrived yesterday, just after noon, so we got a bit more painting done. I made a pigs ear of the hatch cover (again) but the handrails are now finished. She now has to sort out an alternative fixing point for her centre ropes, so pulled in to Venetian Marina just after the lock to get a ring bolt.

Carol at Venetian Marina
We had a pleasant cruise through the beautiful Cheshire countryside, still a bit breezy but warm.
Aqueduct Marina near Church Minshull is coming on apace..

And this Jackdaw was keeping an eye out for lunch.
We pulled over in a quiet spot mid afternoon, between bridges 20 and 21. Carol had picked up a 20mm ring bolt, so we spent a couple of hours taking down part of the ceiling (deckhead!) in Corbiere, and cutting the hole through the roof. After painting the hole and a ring around it, the bolt will be fitted and will be the new attachment point for the centre rope. As a (mainly) solo boater, this rope is almost indispensible.

The weather has been fine today, bright and sunny first thing, clouding up a little later but staying warm and dry. The evening cleared again, showing off a beautiful sunset..
According to the St Swithins legend, the weather for the next 40 days is supposed to be the same as today. We could certainly do worse.

Locks 2, miles 5½

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A short trip to Cholmondeston

Why is it that boat speed seems to be in direct proportion to the volume of rain? We spent the early part of the morning being jostled and bounced by boats steaming past with no regard for other traffic, moving or stationary. There was a bit of diversion in watching the brollies being blown about, but even this paled after a while.

The rain stopped by about 10:30, so I cut up the lump of composite wood I’d been carrying on the roof since the Chesterfield Canal. It’ll do a few days on the fire. Then slapped some paint on the hasp and staple over the fuel filler.

Then, as the sun started to make a fitful appearance, we decided to move on, down to Barbridge and on to the Middlewich Branch.

Barbridge, busy as always.
We cruised about a mile up the Branch, and moored a little before Cholmondeston Lock. It’s a good spot here, the high bank and hedge on the left protects us from the northerly wind, but we get the benefit of the sun from the south.

Moored near Cholmondeston Lock.

The day has brightened quite a bit now, broken cloud allowing a bit of blue sky to show.

Locks 0, miles 2