Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Steadily climbing….

On Monday we cruised the two miles into Wheelock, stopping there for a couple of nights. Mags had an appointment to see the doctor yesterday, so we hired a car from Enterprise at Crewe to get us there and back. It cost more in fuel than the rental!

There were quite a few boats moored at Wheelock last night, half a dozen pointing the same way as us. But we had no intention of chasing about to get off first, planning to move out at around 9 o’clock. We wouldn’t have made it anyway, the first boat up the locks just ahead was at 7 o’clock, just as I got up.

Meg walked, breakfast eaten and we were ready to go at around 08:45, so set off, following another boat up.

Wheelock Locks.SAM_0449 Wheelock Locks
The two work boats are there supporting work being done on the offside chamber on Lock 65. These narrow locks all the way up to the summit level are paired, two chambers side by side to speed up traffic on what was a very busy flight. This means that repairs can be undertaken on one chamber without closing the navigation, although some of the chambers are now permanently closed, leaving just the one lock of the original pair.
Lock 66 is having new top and bottom gates, and repairs are also being made to the bywash culvert.

Looking back at the Cheshire countryside, Mags waiting for the next lock to fill.SAM_0450 Cheshire
We made steady upwards progress, having to turn some of the locks as we followed the preceding boat, but meeting downhill boats at others.

Swapping locks with NB Downeaster at Malkins Bank, between L63 and L62.SAM_0452 Malkins Bank
The fine restored ex-WH Cowburn and Cowpar Swan is moored just this side of the entrance to Malkins Bank Canal Services who specialise in working boat restoration.
The Swan was built in 1933 and is still it’s original length of 70’6”. A lot of these old boats had been cut down to make easier to handle camping boats at the start of the leisure boom.
All the WHC&C had bird names beginning with “S”.

At Lock 59 we met a BW crew with a hopper and push tug taking the new bottom gates down to Lock 65. They were fortunate in that both chambers were full by the time we’d come up, as they couldn’t fit the tug and hopper in one chamber.

Tug in nearside and hopper in offside at Lock 59.SAM_0456 Tug and Hopper

New gates ready for installation. It’s good to see them being shipped by water rather than by road.SAM_0454 New gares for L66
You don’t really get a perspective on how deep these locks are till you see the height of the gates….

Horses relaxing in the sunSAM_0453 Relax

Mr and Mrs Goose and the kids….SAM_0457 Geese
They make good parents, Canada Geese. Very protective of their brood.

It was around here that we started to encounter quite a few dead fish as well. No large ones, just about 6” long. There’s no evidence of what’s caused this, but they’re being flushed down through the locks so the problem will still be uphill of us.

Dead fish (and the ubiquitous plastic bottle) in Lock 58 at Hassall Green.SAM_0459 Dead Fish

While Lock 57 was filling I popped in to the canalside shop and bought a couple of ice creams for us to enjoy in the short interlude between Hassall Green and Pierpoint Locks, then we went up the latter and moored just before midday.

Moored near Pierpoint Locks.SAM_0461 Moored above Pierrepoint Locks

The refurbished moorings above Lock 57 were all full, but it’s a bit noisy there from the M6 crossing just beyond anyway. It’s peaceful here, I just had to do a bit of bankside tidying so we could get on and off…

Up to Kidsgrove tomorrow.

Locks 12, miles 2½

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