Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Heading for the hills.

We were going to move yesterday, but frankly it was so cold in the morning we decided to stay put. It worked out well, today has certainly been milder, and this afternoon has turned out bright and sunny. Still got that cold wind, though.
Also, if we had moved on we’d have only been able to wave to the crew of NB Cleddau. As it was they joined us and the Lifers for tea in the afternoon, after they arrived. So the six of us, Sue and Ken, Ann and Charles, and Mags and I had a really good chat about boaty stuff. Sorry, no pics. Didn’t even think of it…

I do like these lighter nights, this is sunset at 19:44 on Sunday night.SAM_4941
It’s been fairly busy over the Bank Holiday weekend, but not desperately so. A pretty even mix of private and hire boats.

We got under way at around 10:30, overcast and cool but not as windy as yesterday. The low overnight temperatures had left a very thin skin of ice on the canal, and this had been frosted by a light covering of fine snow. It was all but gone by the time we left.

A little way on we passed NB Unspoilt by Progress and butty Tewkesbury.SAM_4949 Unspoilt by Progress and TewkesburyLast seen at Bugsworth Basin last October.

Congleton is the first town encountered when going north, and it the impression it gives was somewhat jaded by the sight of 4 fresh mallard corpses floating in the canal. SAM_4950 Dead Duck near Congleton
I wonder if someone got an airgun for their birthday…

It does, however, show us the first of several “snake” bridges, designed so the boat horse can cross the canal without dropping the tow-line.

Lamberts Lane. Bridge 77SAM_4954 Snake Br no 77

SAM_4956 Snake Br no 77

The canal actually skirts the town centre, to the west and about 100 feet above.

Congleton Wharf, the warehousing now apartmentsSAM_4958 Congleton Wharf

Dog Lane Aqueduct, with The Cloud rising beyond
SAM_4959 Dog Lane Aqueduct
At 1100 feet The Cloud, (or Bosley Cloud) is one of the chain of limestone and gritstone hills which mark the boundary between the flat, arable Cheshire plain to the west and the rolling upland grazing of the Peak District to the east. 300 million years ago the whole area was a vast shallow sea, and the limestone beds which underlie it are the carcasses of uncountable sea creatures that lived and died here over a period of 20 million years. Then followed a period of geological unrest, areas to the north being pushed up and creating fast flowing rivers that covered the Carboniferous limestone with sediment, forming unstable shale strata, and later the harder gritstone. The same tectonic activity finally forced these levels of limestone, shale and gritstone upwards, leaving the Cheshire plain relatively unaffected. The Macclesfield Canal should never suffer from water shortages, all the western watershed of the Peak District heads this way.
Sutton and Bosley Reservoirs, both built for the canal, feed off Sutton Common, at 1324 feet the dominant lump to the west as the Bosley Locks are climbed, and easily recognisable from the radio mast sitting on the top.

The canal leaves Congleton, passing through Hightown under a mess of bridges carrying road, rail and foot traffic.

Hightown Bridges
SAM_4961 Bridges through High Lane

A tributary of the River Dane is crossed between Hightown and Buglawton on an embankment, often full of moored boats but empty today in the recent windy conditions.SAM_4962 Dane Aqueduct

Looking east to the railway viaductSAM_4965 Aqueduct Views

We stopped twice in Buglawton, first for water alongside Bridge 68, then a little further on for a visit to the Co-op. That done, it was another 45 minutes to the bottom of Bosley Locks.

The hills are getting nearer…

Near a farm alongside the canal there’s this well decorated cow at ease…

… and some flesh and blood cousins.SAM_4976Not sure what breed they are, but they’re certainly vertically challenged! Must have been uncomfortable in the snow drifts….

We usually moor just before the aqueduct on a pleasant stretch of grass, but this was occupied today, so we went around the corner to the 48 hour section with mooring rings.

Hello cheeky!
SAM_4979 Hello!

The aqueduct carries the canal over the River Dane as it winds it way down from Axe Edge, finally joining the River Weaver in Northwich. On it’s way it’ll also be crossed by the Trent and Mersey, just north of Middlewich.

Looking out from our mooring, up the Dane Valley, The Cloud on the right.Panorama

Day off tomorrow, we’re waiting for Brian and Ann Marie to turn up on fuel boat NB Alton so we can top up tanks. Then we’ll give them a hand up the locks, following ourselves on Thursday.

Locks 0, miles 7

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