Tuesday, April 17, 2012

It’s all about the timing…

It was a bit wild last night, heavy rain and high winds rocking us about, but the bad weather had eased by about 8 o’clock.

We managed to avoid the heavy showers today, leaving Bosley after the morning’s session had blown over, and mooring at Lyme Green just as the afternoon’s started. I even succeeded in fitting in a quick trip the Co-op without getting wet.

We saw our first ducklings today. I know, we’re a long way behind some of the other sightings, but it always makes you feel as if summer is on the way.

Mum with 12 youngsters. Poor, snatched picture at the last minute.17042012260 First Ducklings
We also spotted some moorhen chicks, but they all scuttled into the undergrowth before I could get a picture.

Approaching Oak Grove we saw NB Alton moored at it’s base, and Brian and Ann-Marie were about so we picked up 4 bags of Excel and a tank of diesel.

Collection of work boats at Oak Grove, coal boat NB Alton nearest17042012262 Nb Alton et al

There was some timber from a blow-down on the towpath opposite, so we took possession of that as well. Hopefully we might last out till the warm weather returns again.

The electrically operated swing bridge was just around the corner, so I hopped off to get it open. On our first trip up here this was also our first encounter with an electric rather than manual bridge. I’d checked both ways before pressing the button, but a car came around the corner and decided he could make it across. He did, with the dropping barriers just missing his tailgate. Gave me such a dirty look as if it was my fault!
Now I check both ways – twice, and then again before hitting the button.

Royal Oak Swing Bridge.17042012263 Royal Oak Br

Mags on her way through.17042012264 Royal Oak Br

A little further on there’s another swing bridge but this is hand operated and only carries a footpath.

Broadheath Swing Bridge17042012266 Broadhurst Swing Br

We pulled over near Lyme Green just before Bridge 45, and I nipped up to the shop between showers. We were getting a bit low on essentials like milk and bread.

A little later Meg and I took a stroll further up the canal, to Gurnett Aqueduct. Here the canal crosses a minor road and the infant River Bollin. We often moor at another aqueduct over the same river, but on the Bridgewater Canal at Dunham Massey, only 16 miles to the north-west. It’s considerably further by canal….

Gurnett Aqueduct from the road.17042012267 Gurnet Aqueduct
Just through the arch, on the left, was the worhshop of Abraham Bennett, Millwright. It was here that James Brindley, the canal pioneer, served an apprenticeship before moving on to open his own business in Leek. He soon established a reputation as a reliable and innovative engineer, and came to the attention of Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, who needed a solution to move coal from his mines at Worsley to burgeoning markets in Manchester.
Brindley was appointed as engineer to survey and build a canal which proved so successful that demand for his services soared. He died in 1772, still working, surveying the route of a proposed branch of the Trent and Mersey between Froghall and Leek (the Caldon Canal).
He’s buried at St. James, Newchapel, near Kidsgrove, only a short distance from the summit level of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Abraham Bennett’s millwright workshop.17042012268 Brindley Workplace 17042012269
I wonder what Abraham and James would have made of the vehicle parked in front now?

Our weather luck ran out on the way back; the sky darkened and then we were battered by a heavy hailstorm for 5 minutes before getting to the shelter of the boat. Quite painful on areas of bare skin. I should have taken a jacket…

Locks 0, miles 3

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