Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Back (1). West, North and the Midlands.

Well, 2012 has been a mixed sort of year, the high point (in a couple of senses)  being the summit level of the Huddersfield Narrow and the passage through Standedge, the low point coming a few weeks later when Mags was admitted to Macclesfield hospital following her stroke.

Standedge Tunnel, Marsden

We saw the year in company with the Rockers and the Lifers last year, but this year we’ve no plans, just we two I guess. We were over on the Shroppie, at Market Drayton, then moved up and across to spend a couple of months on the Llangollen Canal.

Ellesmere Basin
SAM_0011 Ellesmere Basin

Leaving the Llangollen on the last day of February our little convoy headed east across the Middlewich Branch, then north to Anderton to spend some time on The Weaver before our flotilla broke up, we headed north, M2L and R’n’R heading south.

PartingsPartings at Anderton
SAM_0006 Partings

After a fine early spring the weather started to go downhill again as we spent a few days up on the fine stretch of the Trent and Mersey above the Weaver Valley, then retraced our route and headed down the Cheshire Flight to Hardings Wood Junction, picking up the Macclesfield Canal and heading north again to Marple.
The first of the flooding was occurring at this time, but didn’t affect us on the canals.

The end of April saw us in Bugsworth Basin, at the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal, before we headed back to Marple and dropped down the locks and into Manchester, joining the Ashton Canal at Dukinfield.

Magnificent Bugsworth BasinDSCF0557 Middle Basin

Castlefield Junction, at the bottom of the Rochdale Nine, was our mooring for my first running event of the year, the city centre 10k. By now I would normally have done a ½ marathon in Liverpool, but decided to back off this year. I’ve been plagued by niggling injuries for the past 2 years, disrupting my training, and this one turned out to be no different.

The dry winter and early spring had left reservoir levels low, BW having to place restrictions on summit level lock flights to conserve the supply. We’d arranged to meet George and Carol at Braunston and from there to drop down into Northampton and onto the Nene. But we had to get there to catch one of the restricted opening windows for the flight down from the Grand Union.
So we had a fairly fast (for us) cruise down the T&M, then the Coventry, meeting the Rockers as planned in the middle of June.

Instantly recognisable Braunston TurnSAM_0831 Braunston Turn

A discussion between the two crews resulted in a decision to shelve the Fens trip, the Nene was regularly in flood conditions (now that the locks were open!), so headed south for the Thames instead. Not, as it turned out, the best of ideas….

More tomorrow.

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