Monday, April 03, 2017

Back on the main drag.

We didn’t move on Saturday. Sunday’s forecast was so much better, we decided that cruising in the sunshine was preferable to cruising in the rain any day!
And it was accurate too. Fine and sunny from the start.

Leaving Wrenbury

It must be the sunshine, but it was only just now that I noticed how much greener everything has become. The hawthorn is dressed with fresh new leaves and the blackthorn glows with white blossom. IMG_3843


We had a half-hour or so to go to the three locks at Baddiley.

Coming down Baddiley Locks.

That’s them done then

IMG_3852The working boats Mountbatten and Jellicoe are moored between Baddiley and Swanley Locks.
Up until this time last year they were delivering coal and diesel up and down the canal. But personal circumstances forced the owners to cease trading, and they’re now up for sale. One of only 6 pairs of Admiral Class boats, they were built in the 1960’s by Yarwoods on the Weaver. Brian and Ann Marie off the coal boat Alton have been filling in, delivering by road to try to keep the customer base. The Llangollen desperately needs a floating coal and diesel delivery service, so it’s pretty much a ready-made business.

The two Swanley Locks came next, with a long pound between them. The bottom lock had a happy bunch of hirers waiting to come up, on an Anderson boat out of Middlewich.
They intend to get to Llangollen before turning back, and with a crew of seven and longer days they’ll probably make it.

We pulled in before Bridge 4 on one of the pleasant stretches with rings along here, looking out to the south west to make best use of the sunshine.
After a few days of short cruises (or none at all!) the batteries were still only at 80%. But the sun on the solar panels got them back up to 100% by tea-time. It would have taken as long running the engine, but what a waste of fuel that would have been, a 42 HP engine running alternators pushing out just 5 amps!

This morning we were off at just before 10, heading for the Hurleston Locks which drop the Llangollen Canal back down to the main line of the Shropshire Union Canal.

Bachehouse Pool lies in front of Bache House FarmIMG_3870

It looked a bit chaotic above Hurleston Locks, but it all got sorted out.IMG_3871 

We filled with water and got rid of the rubbish, then set off down the flight of four.

The lockie had set up the first two for us…IMG_3872

The bottom lock and Hurleston Junction.IMG_3874

We’d met a couple of boats coming up, but this is really where you want someone waiting to go up so you can leave the gates open and jump back aboard. The landing is over there on the right, awkward to get onto with the bywash appearing in the corner. Mags normally motors across the junction and picks me up on the far side.IMG_3875

Although now part of the Shropshire Union, the canal from Nantwich to Chester was built as the Chester Canal, a wide beam link opened in 1779. But it struggled economically until the Wirral Line of the Ellesmere Canal opened in 1797, joining the earlier canal to Ellesmere Port. With the construction of the Welsh canals it became part of a much more profitable network. The Birmingham and Midland Junction Canal, heading north from Autherley near Wolverhampton to Nantwich, opened in 1835, and the branch across from Barbridge to Middlewich two years earlier. These links ensured that the canal remained viable.

Typical Chester Canal, plenty of water.

We didn’t go far south, pulling on at Henhull Bridge. Not our usual stopping place, but handy for the lane alongside, with a small layby for Mr Tesco to pull into tomorrow morning. Time to properly top up the cupboards.

These last couple of afternoons, while it’s been warm and dry, I‘ve started on a job that wasn’t possible in winter’s uncertain weather. The cratch cover has come off and I’ve been repairing some of the stitching. Ten years of sunlight and frost has attacked some of the seams, luckily no crucial ones, so out came the industrial strength needles and polyester thread (thanks, Val). Using the existing holes and an “out and back” running stitch it looks almost like machine stitching!

A bit tedious, though. I’m glad we specified quality material for the cover, it’s outlasted two wooden cratch boards.

After putting away the supplies tomorrow we’ll head into to Nantwich to replenish the bunkers.

Locks 9, miles 7

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