Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An easy day.

Yesterday I finished the door liners at the stern and on the right hand side hatch. Quite pleased with the result.

Back door panels.From today and for some time we’ll be “left side to” with the towpath swapping sides at Church Lawton and on the left heading up the Macclesfield Canal. This gives me an opportunity to do the same for the left hand side doors.In fact I made a start when we’d tied up today.

There were a few boats on the move today before we got away, all heading downhill, so we had what the boatmen used to call “a good road”, with all the locks in our favour. We only passed one other boat all day, near Snapes Aqueduct.

Mags posingThurlwood is a pleasant spot

Thurlwood top lock, No 53, is the only one on the Cheshire locks with one ground paddle and a gate paddle.
Palmer and Harvey was delivering to the Broughton Arms at Rode Heath.
Time was, they were pies and sandwiches, then fast food, now it's....
The prettiest bit, Lawton Treble Locks.The local branch of the IWA is having a “do” here on Bank Holiday Monday.

Meg had been off all trip, but she decided to ride up the last 2 locks.Don’t know who Mags is waving at though….

Church Locks are a pair with a short pound in between. All the locks on the Cheshire flight were duplicated to speed up boat traffic, but a lot have been filled or fallen into disrepair. Both of the south chambers of these locks are derelict, but local volunteers have been working towards reopening them.

Church Locks
We pulled over shortly after, on the Church Lawton visitor moorings. Not another boat in sight. Very unusual at this popular stop-over.

Just watched the news. Gordon Brown’s faux pas has made headlines, as has the hapless would-be sailor who tried to sail his second-hand boat around the coast from Gillingham to Southampton, but ended up circumnavigating the Isle of Sheppy instead. His charts? A road atlas!
It's good to see the British pioneering spirit is still alive and well, if a little ill considered.
After being rescued by the Coast Guard (he ran out of fuel), he set off again on his voyage of discovery. I'm sure he'll get a warm welcome if when he gets to Southampton!

Locks 10, miles 3¼

Monday, April 26, 2010

10 Locks to Hassall Green

We spent yesterday at Wheelock, doing bits and bobs. It was a mixed sort of day, sunny spells and showers, so I couldn’t do much outside.
One job done was to retrieve all the books from nooks and crannies around the boat and fill the new bookshelves. Might have to adjust the trim though, now. We seem to have developed a list to port starboard... to the right, anyway.

We bought Meg a new bed from the Pet Superstore just across the road this morning. The old one was getting a bit tatty but I don’t think she’s very impressed with the replacement. She’s not used it yet, but she’ll have to; the old one went in the bin at Wheelock.

Vacant bed. Meg prefers the floor under Mag’s chair.
Another cool morning today leading to a fine warm afternoon. It’s always a problem this time of year. Do you light the fire in the evening to keep the boat warm for the morning? Or leave it laid ready to light if required? Or not bother with it and put the heating on? Decisions, decisions.

It was nearly noon by the time we set off, but we were still moored at Hassall Green by 14:00.

We only met a one boat in the locks today, near the bottom.

Swapping Locks.
Past Malkins Bank showing off the fresh hull blacking.
Last lock of the day, No 57 with the shop and café in the background.
Today has been the most energetic bit of windlass winding I’ve done for some time. Really enjoyed it actually.

Proposals to retain wharfs in Leeds for their original use, rather than turning over the land for redevelopment, have received a boost. The Yorkshire Evening Post carries the story.

Locks 10, miles 2

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We’ve broken our duck!

Yep, we’ve seen ducklings, and I’ve the pictures to prove it! I was beginning to think there weren’t any up here.
There were 3 families on the Middlewich Branch when I took Meg for a walk yesterday morning, then we spotted another 3 heading into Wheelock yesterday afternoon.

Happy families near WheelockScores of the little blighters knocking about now.

We even spotted some moorhen chicks near the loo factory on the outskirts of Middlewich.They are, honest!

I think the reason why there’re no ducklings on the main line is the amount of swans that hang around here. They tend not to tolerate any competition on their “patch”.

Swan CityThe plant and equipment on the road alongside is for installing new sewers. The road is closed and is causing a bit of disruption!

First lock of the day was Rumps, almost empty when we arrived and a boat waiting to come down as we left it.

Rumps LockThen alongside the busy A533, through the Booth Lane pair to our last lock at Crows Nest.

The old Bisto factory has completely gone now….. And the Albion Inorganic Chemical works is earmarked for demolition, too.
This site is going to be mixed use, 375 houses, light industrial units, a hotel and restaurant.

From Crows Nest Lock it’s a steady 3 miles to Wheelock, where we used the facilities then moored up around the corner, below the start of the climb up from the Cheshire Plain.
There are 26 locks in the 6½ miles to Kidsgrove and our turn onto the Macclesfield Canal. The boatmen used to call this “Heartbreak Hill”, but we’ll be breaking no hearts or records going up.

Another first for us this year, a fishing match near Elworth.

Happy Anglers.
The fisher-persons (I’m being PC here, there was one woman) were very friendly, thanking us for slowing down and exchanging comments about the weather. Well, mostly, anyway.

The rear fender got a good seeing-to by an angry swan in Wheelock.
We’ve got good TV here, and I’ve spent the morning watching the London Marathon. Good results for the British guys, 2 in the top 10, but Mara Yamauchi struggled a bit. Still came in 10th woman, though.

Following the elites there’s another 20-odd thousand plodding round the 26.2 mile course. I’ll try to get an entry again next year. They reckon that charities could benefit to the tune of £50m from runner’s sponsorship.

It was a fine day yesterday, warm and sunny after a nippy start, but today has turned out a bit duller, with the odd shower.

Locks 4, miles 5½

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stuffed at Kings Lock

We got off reasonably early today, planning to get to Wheelock (maybe) tonight.

Croxton Aqueduct carries the canal over the River Dane.It used to be wider, to allow wider barges access to the town, but the original stone structure was replaced by the steel span just over 8’ wide.

Big Lock was against us when we arrived, and by the time I’d emptied it we’d been joined by a solo gentleman on NB Bramble.
We pulled over on the wharf for water, then joined the queue at the 3 locks.There was a bit of a hold up, with a boat being moved from Middlewich Boats to the dry dock in the flight. Water had to be brought down to get the level right to get the boat in.

In Middlewich 3 Locks
After the short flight we pulled onto Kings Lock Chandlery for diesel, at 68ppl for domestic use and self declaration allowed, our 130 litres cost just under £100. Still, it’ll last a month.

Going up Kings Lock at around 12:15 we were tantalised by the aromas of fish and chips.Kings Lock chippy was very good, went downhill a bit but has now regained it’s former quality. We couldn’t resist, we’ve not indulged ourselves for a while.
The cod was as good as expected, the chips were fresh and abundant, and we were pretty bloated by the time we’d finished.
So instead of pushing on we elected to stay put. OK, we’re alongside the busy main road, but it’s handy for the shops in the morning.

I spent a couple of hours putting up the new bookshelves I’ve been working on, and finally fitting 2 pairs of door liners.

New bookshelves…. Now to fill them. Shouldn’t be too difficult, we’ve got books stashed in the most unlikely places aboard.

Talking of books, I finished Fred Coppenhall’s Fools and Villains the other day.
Fred is the lock keeper at Dutton on the Weaver. The book is enjoyable, a lot of seemingly unrelated characters to keep tabs on all come together at the end. I’ll be looking out for his second, now.

Locks 5 miles 2¼

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Moving on – a bit.

We’ve spent the last couple of days moored at the flashes, watching the world go by. It’s been fine, although there’s been a cold northerly.
I’ve spent the time constructing new bookshelves and working on the door panels. All are getting there, now.

The right side cabin doors needed some remedial surgery, though.

Work required. Not Mags, the doors!

The steel cases of the doors have MDF panels glued in. Although it’s the better (green) variety, it’s still MDF and moisture has got in, causing them to swell at the bottom.
I’ve had to cut out the damaged bits and have replaced them with WBP ply, sealed with 2 coats of varnish. Should last a bit longer, now.

I started training again on Tuesday, starting gently with a 3 miler to see how my leg held up, 4½ miles faster yesterday and 7 today. Looking good. I’ll start speed work on Saturday.

I see we’ve contrails in the sky again as the airline industry gets in gear after the volcanic ash. Just in time for the organisers of the London Marathon. There are quite a few big names flying in for the event, and it would have been a disaster if they couldn’t get here.

Our main contender and runner-up last year, Mara Yamauchi, lives in Japan with her husband. But she was training at altitude in Albuquerque. It took her 6 days to get here, arriving Monday. If she’d left it another couple of days…

The wind dropped today as the high pressure area sits squarely on top of northern England. Under clear skies it’s been a lovely day, and we moved on down to nearer Middlewich, at Bridge 177.

Leaving the flashes

Over the Dane valley.

Meg and I took a walk into town to the DIY store this afternoon for a few bits and pieces. We’ll be heading through the town tomorrow, but now we’ll only have to stop once, for a tank full of the red stuff at Kings Lock.

Locks 0, miles 3

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who’s got a shiny bottom, then!

Seyella went in to Orchard Marina’s dock on Friday as planned, and we headed north in a bright red Astra courtesy of Enterprise.

We spent the weekend with friends Val and John, Mags and Val were off doing the retail therapy bit, while John and I were doing a bit of carpentry, fitting 2 doors.

They have a 15 month old wire-haired dachsund called Harry, and he just loves trying to swing off Meg’s beard or ears. Meg wasn’t so keen but she’s very tolerant, only warning him off when his attentions got particularly intense. There’re also 2 cats in the household, needless to say they kept their heads down during the visit.
All in all though, the animals enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

Dinner time, Suki looks on from the high ground.
John and Val. Harry’s not spoiled, not really….
The boat was finished last night and refloated this morning, so we arrived back at Rudheath at 11:30. We transferred the boot full of stuff to the boat (how come you always bring back more than you left with?) topped off the water and emptied a loo, paid the bill (ouch!) and we were on our way, gingerly creeping through the narrow entrance out of the mooring basin.

We turned right and 20 minutes later were moored on the flashes.

Smart, eh.
I’ve still got the interior doors to finish, and I picked up some timber to make up some more bookshelves, so I’ll be busy in between cruising for a few days.

And I’ve had 3 weeks off running to give my torn muscle a chance to heal properly. Back on my training plan tomorrow, fingers crossed! I’ll be taking it steady for 3 days, then hitting the speedwork if all’s well.
Manchester city centre 10k on the 16th May......

Locks 0, miles 2.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An “inconvenient” truth and unsuccessful chick spotting.

Tomorrow the boat goes into Orchard Marina for bottom blacking and a few other bits and pieces.
So we set off from Anderton this morning to get nearer to be ready for the call that the wet dock is ready for us.
It would have suited us to be able to empty a loo cassette as we passed the services, but once again they are out of action and locked up.

Inconvenient conveniences
BW seem to have a problem with “facilities” this year. There are several sites around the network that are non-functional or have been demolished as part of a redevelopment. These at Anderton are particularly busy, the next full services (not including boatyards) are at Wheelock, 16 miles south, or Preston Brook, 8 miles north. Before anyone corrects me I know that there are services at Northwich Town Bridge, just 1½ miles upriver from the lift, but it’s a lot of messing about up and down the lift just to empty the loo!

It’s been another fine day, the trees in Marbury Wood are just starting to green up.
A far cry from the same view just before Christmas…

Coming past Wincham Wharf, Harral Brokerage has a wonderfully named boat on it’s books.There’s a notice indicating that a deposit has been paid for this boat, I wonder if the new owners will keep the name?

There’s also a restaurant boat further along…
With aspirations to be grander than it is.
We passed Orchard and pushed on another 20 minutes to moor down on the flashes.

On the flashes
There were a couple of boats here when we arrived, and another couple have moored since. It’s a popular spot.
We’ll head back to the marina first thing in the morning.

Although there are plenty of lambs around and swans and ducks on nests, we’ve yet to spot any ducklings or chicks. The bitter winter has maybe pushed the season back a bit.

Locks 0, miles 6

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two short days.

Yesterday was a run downriver to meet our Tesco delivery at Acton Bridge. It was busy on the moorings there, but we managed to sneak on in front of the water point. We wanted to fill up anyway.

Before we left we said our goodbyes to Bill and Ginny, and Terry.
NB Wilvir and NB Little Billy H heading up towards Northwich.Enjoy the river, guys.

An excellent view of the Anderton Lift and the trip boat, the Edwin Clark.
After putting away the provisions we turned around and headed back to moor in a delightful spot below Saltersford Lock.

This morning we waited till 11:00 for any other boats to share the lock with, but none were forthcoming.
Yesterday we were the only boat through this lock, as we headed for Acton Bridge.

Into Saltersford Lock
And out the other end.The lock keeper was just closing up behind us as NB Henry appeared from ahead of us, so he’s got at least twice as many customers today as yesterday!

We arrived at the Boat Lift around midday, got a booking for 13:00, and were moored on the visitor moorings by 14:00.

Once again we travelled solo, even the opposite caisson going down was empty.

In the lift.
At least a dove kept us company.
I guess riding up 50’ is easier than flying.

There’s lots of wildlife on the river, but this startling duck(?) At Weaverham is the most unusual!
It’s been a mixed sort of day, starting warm and sunny, cloudy and cool in the middle but now it’s a fine evening.

It's a lot busier up here on the canal. I reckon we've seen more boats go past this afternoon than all the previous week.

We’ve heard tell of snow forecast for next week! I’ll have to go back to long trousers!

Locks 2, miles 8½

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friends at Anderton

We were in no rush this morning, just a run down to Northwich to empty the loos, then back downstream to moor below Saltersford Lock.
Around 10 we heard a large engine, and a BW work boat passed, 2 tugs and 2 pans heading downstream. Barry, 1 of the lock keepers, gave us a shout as they went past.

Hiho, hiho, it's off to work we go....
We got away a bit later, following 3 boats that had come through Saltersford. I bet our convoy of 4 was the most boats on one stretch so far this year…

We got us a convoy….
We lost 2 as they turned in to go up the lift….

And followed the leader up to Northwich were we had to queue for the services.

Waiting at Town Bridge.
When we were here a couple of years ago the unique 3 star Floating Hotel was still moored near the River Dane inlet. It looked a bit dilapidated and had been closed for business for a while.

Northwich Flotel in it’s heyday at The website points out that “We're sorry, but it is currently not possible to make reservations for this hotel.”

It was dismantled late last year, and now all that remains are the pontoons that supported the structure.

We got the necessaries done and headed back downstream. On the way past the lift we’d spotted a boat we recognised,NB Wilvir. They’d come down from the canal this morning in company with their friend Terry.
We pulled in alongside for a catch up chat which went on so long that we’ve finished up stopping here tonight.

It’s good to see the Edwin Clark well patronised.
We’ve got a Tesco delivery arriving at Acton Bridge tomorrow at noon, so we’ve plenty of time to get there in the morning.

It was a chilly night and cool morning, but the sun broke through soon after noon and it’s been another fine, warm afternoon. Probably the last for a few days, though, looking at the forecast.

Locks 0, miles 4