Saturday, May 31, 2014

Slow boat(s) to Billinge Green…

I think we’ll have to adopt our usual summer cruising format; find somewhere pleasant to lay over on the weekends. There’s just too many boats about. In the spirit of generosity we should leave the water to the weekenders!

Meg’s walk this morning, reflections of the lattice footbridge at Barnton…DSC_0263

…and a storm of willow catkins float through the air and coat the water near the lift.

We left Anderton at around 10:00, filling up and emptying as required at the services, then toddling on through Marbury Wood.SAM_9795

We were tailing a slow-ish boat as we approached the Lion Salt Works, but a day boat out of Anderton pulled out in front of us, and things went from slow to dead slow. So slow in fact that we had to keep dropping out of gear. Now, we don’t travel fast, but this was ridiculous.

I politely asked him to pull over after 15 minutes of hinting, and he complied, allowing us and a following boat past.

Interesting idea at Wincham Wharf, The Pioneer wide-beam, tag line “ Wide Beam Luxury on the Trent and Mersey”. SAM_9796

At 60’ long x 9’ wide wide it’s not going to see much of the T&M… just the top 15 miles.
I guess the width is to allow passage of Dutton Stop Lock. Of course, the Weaver, via the boat lift, is an opportunity, and also the Bridgewater to the Leeds and Liverpool and the Rochdale.

Preening is a family occupation at Broken CrossSAM_9801

Work continues apace at the new marina on the towpath side south of Orchard Marina.SAM_9803

Although the buzz is that the other one at Billinge Green Flash will be finished first.

The dredging appears to be finished…

NB Four Seasons testing the depth…
That’s just about where the derelict workboat, possibly the ex. FMC Brill, was sat on the bottom as a depth marker.

We were amazed to see completely empty moorings on the larger and more southerly of the two flashes. Middlewich must be busy, all the southbound boats today must have headed there! 
Mind you, it was only 12:15.
We pulled in on the concrete edge just before the wide, we usually stop here if we can.

Yesterday afternoon I splashed some canal water on the roof and the cabin sides to spread out the muddy drips off the guillotine gates on the boat lift. I’ve found out in the past that if you leave them to go hard they’re the devil’s own job to get off.
This afternoon I’ve cleaned the right hand side and the roof, I might well swing her around tomorrow and do the other side. One thing we’re not doing is moving on to Middlewich till Monday!

Locks 0, miles 5½

Friday, May 30, 2014

A lot quieter, two stress-free tunnel trips and a short river cruise.

We’ve been struggling for an internet connection for a few days, hence the lack of recent posts. but, all being well, tonight’s connection will be reliable enough to get up to date.

On Wednesday morning meg and I had a walk down to Dutton Locks on the Weaver, passing some very fine looking long-horned cattle on the way.

I don’t know what they’re called, but whatever they want is alright by me!2014-05-27 08.48.17

Dutton Locks from the towpath bridge…2014-05-27 08.51.37

…and the inevitable shot of poor old Chica.2014-05-27 08.57.44

We set off in good time to get to Saltersford Tunnel by 12:30, passing a very quiet Black Prince hire base at Bartington Wharf.SAM_9747
If this and Claymoore are anything to go by, the hire companies are doing well this Bank Holiday week.

Through the woods above the Weaver, heading for SaltersfordSAM_9753

Saltersford Tunnel, north portal and the timing instructions.SAM_9764

We were first this time, thankfully not repeating the performance in Preston Brook the other day. A boat was following us through, with a very bright light illuminating the tunnel behind.

Barnton Tunnel follows the pool in between the two tunnels, with an awkward unsighted entrance, then another under the road bridge on the other side.

Heron stalking

Arriving at Anderton we realised why it’s been so quiet out on the water; they’re all moored here!

Busy AndertonSAM_9775

We secured a spot opposite Anderton Marina, fairly good TV but dodgy phone and internet.

With the weather not looking so good we stayed put on Thursday, then yesterday turned around and picked up guests for a day-trip down on the river. Val and John and dog Harry joined us for the descent of the boat lift, up to Northwich for lunch, then along Barnton Cut to Saltersford Lock and back to below the lift.

We had to play chicken with the crew dredging downstream of the River Dane confluence…SAM_9777


John has a go on the tillerSAM_9781

Cygnet getting a ride.

On the way back we chased a cormorant, always difficult to photograph as they’re a bit shy.

Off he goes again…


…but finally posing for the camera.
The weather was reasonably fine, not sunny but mainly dry, the company was good, and a good day was had by all.

We stayed overnight below the lift, then caught the 10:45 passage up and moored, back on the canal again, at around half past eleven.

Last shot of the Anderton Boat LiftSAM_9793

We had a visitor for a brew this afternoon, Jennifer, off NB Mactras Filia, is back over from Tasmania for the summer, with husband Pete. Hope to see you further south later in the summer.

We’re heading down to Middlewich tomorrow, but we’ll probably stop at the flashes on the way down rather than do the whole trip in one go. After all, it’s 10 miles from here!

Locks 0, miles 12½

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bank Holiday traffic

From first thing this morning it was busy on the Bridgewater, boats large and small zipping up and down the canal in the warm sunshine.

Looking across towards the Mersey from our mooring, Fiddlers Ferry power station on the right, Runcorn’s Victorian water tower to the left.Panorama

We took our time getting ready to go, it was around 10:15 when we pulled pins and set off towards Preston Brook.

Our first port of call though was round on the Runcorn Arm to fill with water and empty the loo tanks. That done we headed back to the junction, turning right for Preston Brook Tunnel.

Midland Chandlers were having a 15% off day, I should have waited and picked up the bits I got from Thorn here.SAM_9730

Claymoore must be busy, only one of their hire boats still at base.SAM_9731

We weren’t surprised to find a queue at the north portal of the tunnel; we were the fifth boat in line, waiting for 11:30 and a convoy of half a dozen vessels coming the other way.

By the time the tunnel was clear and we were lining up to enter it was 20 to 12, the end of the “window” for southbound traffic. One of the boats behind us elected to wait for an hour and be at the head of the next group through, a wise decision as it turned out.SAM_9734

The boat ahead was very slow and very smoky, you can see the haze of exhaust smoke to the right of the portal in the picture above. Several times I had to drop out of gear to avoid running up too close.
And the boat in front of him didn’t have a working tunnel light, and we could here him ricocheting off the tunnel walls. Bank Holidays, eh. Don’t you just love ‘em.

I was very pleased to see the other end, after the longest passage we’ve made of this tunnel.

There was a queue at this end too, and we were hailed by the crew of NB Dee O Ghr*** (sorry, I made a mental note of the name, fatal) “We read your blog!”
Thanks folks, you know who you are! Have a good trip.

The shallow stop lock is a pain when it’s quiet, it’s a real bottleneck when it’s busy like today. We dropped a solo boater through, and it turned out to be Richard on NB Pendle Warter, another reader.

Swapping the lock with Pendle WaterSAM_9738
I think Meg’s contemplating suicide. After that tunnel trip I know how she feels!

Pen and cygnets near the dry dock

Two close calls on the bends around Dutton Lodge, one with a day boat under a bridge, the other with a Black Prince boat on a tight turn, meant a very slow 1½ miles to the breach moorings at Dutton Hollow, where we pulled over, a little frazzled. I think we might stay here tomorrow, too…SAM_9743

Taking Meg out this evening we met up with another blog reader, Peter. Not a boater but a regular towpath walker in the area, we’ve met before, some time ago. Good to see you again.

After a very pleasant day the rain is set to return tomorrow and Wednesday. Ah well, it makes you appreciate it all the more when it’s sunny…

Locks 1, miles 4

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Visitors and moving on, two wet days.

Yesterday started fine, Meg and I had a very pleasant walk around the lake formed when the Bradley Brook was dammed to build the Stockport-Warrington turnpike (now the A56) in 1824.

Lymm lower dam, alongside the main street.2014-05-24 08.09.54
Below this, a leat was constructed to take water to power two water wheels which drove the equipment in a slitting mill, situated in the valley bottom.

In the steep-sided valley north of the village centre, Meg having a paddle.2014-05-25 08.04.05

The mill produced strip and rolled iron from ingots brought in, and was built early in the 18th century.

Foundations of the mill
2014-05-25 08.06.18
The raised section in the middle was the wheel pit for one of the 16’ water wheels, the other was further over but was filled in during later developments on the site.

The outlet from the wheel pit of the other wheel 2014-05-25 08.08.08

The mill ceased operation in 1825.

Upstream the brook widens out above the main road, with a pleasant walk all the way around.

St. Mary’s on the rising ground opposite2014-05-24 08.15.56

Heavily wooded banks at the upstream end2014-05-24 08.21.16
A very enjoyable hour’s stroll.

Our visitors arrived about 11:00, unbeknown to Mags I’d invited John and Val, good friends from way back, over for lunch as we were easily accessible.
We had a good afternoon, so busy talking that it was almost too late when I went to get lunch from the local chippy. It was worth the wait though.
Bread and cakes were provided by Val, a fine baker, and eggs came fresh from their own chickens. Wonderful!

Mags, John, Val with Meg and Harry the wire-haired dachshund on the mat.2014-05-24 15.06.26

The dogs get on really well…
2014-05-24 15.04.21

“Gone on Meg, gi’s a kiss!!”
Meg and Harry

It rained all afternoon, but there were still plenty of boats up and down, steerers often sheltering under an assortment of umbrellas.
The downpour eased later, and we had a fine sunny evening to finish the day.

More rain moved in overnight, though once again today started reasonably dry.
We were off just before 10:00, seemingly the same time as everyone else!

Boats all over the place!SAM_9711

Leaving Lymm, this cob was well stressed, chasing all the boats away from his young family…


It rained on and off (more on than off) for most of today’s trip.
Not really, no!

A stop in Stockton Heath got rid of the rubbish and recycling at the depot alongside the canal, then a fill of diesel, a replacement gas bottle and a couple of bits out of the chandlery at Thorn Marine. A Magnum ice-cream each took care of an early lunch…

Purple rhododendron and yellow sycamore flowers brighten up a dull day near Walton HallSAM_9722

We were thinking of stopping at Moore but the weather showed signs of improvement, so pushed on to beyond Daresbury, pulling in near Red Brow Underbridge.

After a late lunch/early tea we sat down and watched an expensive (for the teams) Monaco Grand Prix. Several cars had bodywork rearranged around the tight, twisting track.
Hamilton has not forgiven Rosburg for the controversial result in the 3rd stage qualifying yesterday, but couldn’t make it past, finishing second and losing his lead in the driver’s championship. Should be an interesting season…

Should be back on C&RT waters tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 9

Friday, May 23, 2014

Just a short trip…

Waking up this morning I thought that our decision to postpone moving on till today was a big mistake. A heavy shower, driven by a brisk wind, was lashing the surface of the canal outside the porthole. I rolled over and went back to sleep for another hour, by which time it had improved… marginally.

Anyhow, Meg and I didn’t get too wet on our morning walk, and it had faired up a little more by the time we were ready to go. The wind was still with us but at least the rain had eased.

Heading towards Bollington AqueductSAM_9703
Just ahead starts a narrow concrete channel, just wide enough for two boats to pass. This is the site of a major breach in the 1970s which closed the Bridgewater for nearly two years.

We pulled over for water at The Olde Number 3, then pushed on, past the boatyards that line the canal at Hesford.

Smart little vessel outside the boat painterSAM_9706

Just before the underbridge carrying Burford Lane is an old canal warehouse, the far end of which is a residence. The rest of the building is in an advancing state of decay.SAM_9707
It looks worse from the road side…

Someone is a Tolkien fan.
“There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Tale” is the alternative title of The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien’s first foray into the fantasy world of Middle Earth, published in 1937. It’s enduring charm and appeal means that it’s not been out of print since.

Depending on the weather we had three options today.
  1. Stop at Lymm
  2. Stop at Stockton Heath
  3. Push on to stop near Moore
Although the day was steadily improving there was a Seyella-sized space on the town side moorings at Lymm, and it’s a while since we’ve stopped here, so in we pulled. Mags and I had a gentle walk around the pleasant town in a dry spell this afternoon.

There’s been quite a few boats about, most of them heading towards Sale for a boat gathering at Sale Boat Club this weekend.

Locks 0, miles 3¾