Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back (3) North-East back to the Midlands.

Leaving Ripon we had another decision to make. Do we stick on familiar waters to head back to the Midlands, or do we do something different?

I’ve always wanted to go over the Pennines on the Huddersfield Narrow, although Mags wasn’t too sure, but I managed to convince her that it’d be fun… So that was our route south.

But first we had to wait out yet more floods, stuck at Selby for over a week as the Aire rose. We were luckier than some; we’d cleared off out of York on rising water, dropped down through Naburn Lock on the last day it was passable, and arrived at Selby on a very fast ebb.

The Huddersfield Canals were very enjoyable. Hard work as expected; a steep climb up to the summit and a steep descent down to Manchester but a grand trip nonetheless. And of course the icing on the cake was Standedge Tunnel….

Near Linthwaite on the Marsden side
SAM_3847 near Linthwaite
The horror stories about the Narrow were unfounded, at least in our experience. Leaking locks with gates in poor condition, low pounds and no where to moor were encountered, but no worse than we’d come across on other, busier, canals.
The worse bit was putting up with the teenage nuisances at Staleybridge.

Dropping down from DiggleSAM_3967

Rather than go back through Manchester, we chose to use the Macclesfield Canal to head south so turned left at Dukinfield onto the Peak Forest Canal, spent a few days back at Bugsworth Basin, then moved on south from Marple.

Our plans went badly awry at Macclesfield when Mags suffered a TIA (mini stroke) on the evening of November 2nd. This was followed by a full blown stroke on the 4th, which led to her staying in hospital there till the 20th, by which time she was well enough to go to our friend’s house in Wales for a week.
Meanwhile, with considerable help from friends on the way, I made the trip down the Macclesfield, onto the Trent and Mersey and down to Fradley, where once again flood conditions put a stop to onward travel.

Misty morning at Colwich Lock

I’d intended to be in Mercia Marina for the winter for Mags to convalesce, but stoppages forced a change of plan and we finished up here in Barton Marina instead.

So that’s it for another year. Mags is improving steadily, so all being well we’ll be able to continue our life on the water. We were prepared to sell up and move back on to the bank if necessary, but would both have missed this wonderful life.
When Mags feels up to it and we have a window of fine weather, we intend to go for a cruise, maybe just a couple of days down to Burton and back, to see how she copes with the locks.

This year we’ve cruised 1044 miles and passed through 548 locks, and been lucky enough to visit three of the waterway’s iconic structures, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Anderton Boat Lift and Standedge Tunnel. We also achieved our aim of reaching the furthest points on the connected system on both the west and east sides of the country.

We’ll have to see about next year, no firm plans as yet, although there’s a convoy crossing the Wash in March that we’d love to be able to join….

cart-logoDespite misgivings the newly fledged Canal and River Trust, which took over from British Waterways in July, seems to be doing OK. Yes, there are some odd initiatives, but work on the core structures of the canals seems to be going on. I, for one, am reserving judgement…

Meanwhile, have a good New Year, and all the best for 2013.

  Oh, and I took this this morning, at one of the lakes next to the marina…DSC_0047
Made me chuckle.


Carol said...

Happy New year to the 3 of you (Mustn't forget Meg) We are on the T & M in March on an Aqua boat. We will give you a toot if we see you.

Kevin said...

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for Mags continued recovery.

Ade said...

Hi Geoff & Mags,

I'm still with it 2 more years to read to get up to date.
Great last 3 posts reviewing the year.
Some highs and lows, great that Mags got back to the tiller later on from these last posts.