Thursday, December 29, 2016

Frosty fields and crispy canals.

The weather has taken one of it’s periodic up-swings, fine sunny days and sub-zero nights. It’s supposed to be turning cloudy and mild again for the weekend…

Both yesterday morning and today we’ve had ice on the canal; yesterday we had early sun too but today the mist was a bit more reluctant to budge.

Taken yesterday morning while out with Meg…

Early mist just lifting over Church Minshull

Frozen canal
It was only a few millimeters thick on the water.

Quite a few boaters are taking advantage of this interlude between Christmas and New Year, and the fine weather, to get out and about. Before we got going today we had four boats go past, two in each direction. At least they broke up the ice for us.

Heading off, hazy sun…

…and frozen ropes.

Two locks today, the first, Minshull Lock, after about 45 minutes.

Minshull Lock.

All four locks on the Middlewich branch are deep, around 11’, so I had to leave the engine in gear to keep the bow fender up against the top gates, rather than using a rope.  Working single-handed again today, I was very careful on the slippery lock-sides.

This one’s for Mags; she reckons she never sees a squirrel!IMG_3121

Beams of sunshine between the trees on a wooded bit.IMG_3122
It was cold enough out of the sun for the canal to start to freeze again between boats.

Heading on the straight towards Venetian Marina and Cholmondeston Lock, and the sun has made an appearance, but it’s not warm enough to melt the ice on the roof yet.

I nearly pulled in at Venetian for solid fuel and diesel, but decided to pick those up at Nantwich tomorrow.

Cholmondeston Lock, still slippery in the shade.

There are long lengths of long-term moorings between here and Barbridge Junction, so it seemed to take a while to cover the mile and a bit to the Shroppie. Turning left under the junction bridge I pulled onto the service wharf to fill with water, only to find that the tap is no longer there!

On the wharf, looking back at the junction. Straight on leads to Chester and Ellesmere Port.IMG_3130

There you go, then.
Looks like we’ll be filling with water at Nantwich, too! The bins are still here though.

We pulled in just after the old gauging lock on the 48 hour moorings.
This is the old Chester Canal, built to wide beam standards to accommodate barges coming in off the Mersey and the Dee. So the locks and bridge-holes are all wide. It connects with what used to be the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal at Nantwich, which was built to narrow gauge, the locks only wide enough for a narrowboat. Of course, it all comes under the umbrella title of the Shropshire Union Canal now.

Locks 2, miles 4½

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