Monday, July 20, 2020

Eight miles, nine locks and a twenty-foot bumble-bee!

We left Wrenbury yesterday, dropping down the Baddiley and Swanley Locks to moor just past Burland.

Half an hours pleasant cruise found us at the top of the three Baddiley Locks, with it set ready for us as a boat had just left heading up. And even more usefully there was a boat below waiting for the lock, and the crew emptied the lock for me! Result!

In fact we were lucky at all bar one of the five locks negotiated yesterday, I had to close the bottom gates of Swanley Top Lock as there wasn’t anyone waiting.

After an easy 2½ sunny hours in we pulled in between bridges 5 and 4 at just before lunchtime.


It was clear and cool last night, but today started off bright and sunny. Amber and I set off across the dew-damp fields to Park Farm to see the latest straw bale creation. Every year a new impressive figure rises above the fields near the farm, we’ve had a Dalek, rabbit , Winnie the Pooh that I know of. This year it’s a giant bumble-bee.

This was the second time I’d been across, Park Farm is the home of Snugbury’s excellent ice cream so I thought I’d go and get some yesterday afternoon. With a 50 some vehicle queue for the drive-through and a hundred yard long queue for the shop I gave that a miss. It’s very popular…

Anyway, by the time we’d got ready to go today the skies had clouded up and the wind had freshened, making the start of today’s trip to Nantwich rather cooler than yesterday.

We topped up the water tank above Hurleston Locks then dropped down the four to emerge onto the Shroppie main line.

Looking down the flight.

With two volunteers working the steady stream of boats up and down was moving quite nicely, and we were heading for Nantwich soon after noon.

The end of the old Chester Canal to the right, the start of the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal ahead, both now parts of the Shropshire Union Canal.

Moored up on the embankment just as the sun starts to break through – finally.

I took a walk up to the pet shop in Nantwich this afternoon and bought Amber a couple of “indestructible” soft chew toys…

They did stay intact for about half an hour…

We’re once again killing time. Mags has a follow-up appointment at the Royal Shrewsbury next week, they want to make sure that her tubes are clear following the problems with gallstones early in the year. So we’ll be going back up Hurleston at the weekend to take up a two-night berth in Swanley Bridge Marina. We’ll go to the hospital from there.

Locks 9, miles 8 (two days)     

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Easy run to Wrenbury

We met Val and Johnny near Steer Bridge yesterday. They came across to see us before we moved too far away, and brought a new harness for Amber.

Amber and her new Hurtta Weekend Warrior Harness.

This is a Y harness rather than a chest strap harness as there are concerns, as yet unproven, about the long-term effect the chest strap on a K9 type may have on the shoulder joint. After going through all the joint pain Meg had for several years, admittedly due to arthritis, I don’t want to risk anything with Amber. All being well she’ll only be using it for a year or so anyway.

Anyway, under gloomy, damp skies, we set off this morning heading form Marbury Lock and beyond to Wrenbury.

Dull and damp as we left Steer Bridge

There’d been a few boats passing in both directions before we got going, so we weren’t surprised to see boats queueing ahead of us at the lock.

Still, traffic was moving steadily and with boats waiting below and the crews helping out we were on our way again after a half-hour or so.

You really do need to close windows and side doors if locking down Marbury Lock…

Relaxing on the back deck…

This set the scene for the day. We caught up with a boat and followed them through Wrenbury Frith Lift Bridge and volunteered to lead them through the road bridge in the village. But they stopped and we met another boat who beckoned us through the mechanised road bridge.

Looking back at Wrenbury Mill, one of several Angle-Welsh hire bases.

We weren’t so lucky at Church Lift Bridge, I had to open it for Mags to bring Seyella through, and then I repaid our good fortune by keeping it open for an upcoming boat too.

We pulled in on the moorings just beyond the bridge, we’ll be here tomorrow then move on on Saturday.

Oh, and if the oik who nicked my short mooring rope from it’s position on the back hatch is reading this, I hope it’s as useful to you as it was to me…   

Locks 1, miles 3

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Off we go again!

We’ve been hanging around Whitchurch for a bit, but today we set off further downstream. Richard topped up our diesel tank on Wednesday after we’d been down to above Grindley Brook Locks, turned around and filled with water.

We tied up again on the offside just below New Mills Lift Bridge. Richard came back downstream yesterday, running a bit later than usual because of the number of boats heading up to Llangollen, a lot of whom wanted diesel and gas.

Richard (Chamberlain Carrying Company) getting ready to top up the tank of the boat behind.

Someone had a little too much happy juice…

I’d just untied this morning, ready to go up, through the lift bridge to turn around and return to the top of the locks when Mac and came out of the arm to turn around as well.

Sue remained behind on bridge duty, so saw us through, then again as we came back. Thanks Sue, saved me a big job! 

We topped up with water above the locks, then set off down without any waiting around. Unlike some of those coming up, they would have a wait before they could set off up the triple staircase.

We had a good run down the three singles, only having to fill the bottom lock before we were down the Grindley Brook Flight.

The same story continued as we headed through Poveys, Willymoor and Quoisley Locks, boats heading uphill exiting the locks as we arrived, and others arriving to take the empty lock as we left it. An easy run.

It’ll be very busy further up towards Llangollen with the number of boats going up… I‘m glad we’re going the other way!

The lack of veg clearance this year has left the navigation a little tight in places…

Willymoor Lock

We pulled in on the straight below Quoisley Lock, a regular stop for us.

Mac and Sue turned up an hour later and tied behind us, having a far less easy run down.

Between the locks I looked up to the drone of several aero engines and saw three aircraft cruising overhead, two single-engined biplanes and one larger and twin-engined.

Not sure what they were or where they were going…  Any ideas, anyone?

So finally a proper day’s cruising. With locks! The first we’ve done since early April.

Locks 9, miles 4 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Slowly, slowly…

The Great Escape turned out to be anything but! We spent the last week or so pottering about around the mosses, an excursion down to Tilstock Park to turn around and head back to Bettisfield saw the water tank filled, we had a Tesco delivery late on on Monday and Val and John came across to see us on Thursday.

Broken cloud…

…and threatening skies.

Roundthorn Farm moorings, handy for deliveries and visits…

Boat dog

“Are we there yet?”

Meanwhile Amber and I had some good long walks on the paths criss-crossing the mosses, sometimes wet, mostly dry but always enjoyable.

After a long walk a kip is needed – but a dog has to stay alert after all!

Did you know that dogs smell differently when they’re damp? I don’t mean from when they’re dry, but from each other… Meg smelled of cinnamon, Amber smells of fudge!

We headed downstream on Saturday, trusting the weather to stay fine so we could get to Whitchurch. And it did, mostly.

Tilstock Park Lift Bridge is probably the only CRT asset not painted black and white!

We arrived at Whitchurch just before lunch and tied up in the Arm.

After lunch I had a trip up into town, to Boots the chemist. Amber’s bed is in front of Mag’s chair, and on Friday evening, while she had a good stretch, her back legs raked across Mags’ right shin. Unfortunately the meds she’s on cause thin skin and thin blood so even though the wounds were shallow they bled. A lot. We’ve some wound dressings in the first aid box, along with sterilising swabs so I cleaned them and bound them up, but needed to get some more dressings so I can change them every day. I might have a chat with the local doctor tomorrow about antibiotics too.

Amber was really upset that she’d hurt her Mum…

Then today it was my turn. On her long lead in Danson Wood she spotted a rabbit and went off like a train. I went arse over apex as the lead ripped out of my hand, wrenching and bruising my shoulder as Amber disappeared in hot pursuit of Ragtag and Bobtail.

I spent a worrying 10 minutes wandering the woods calling for her, she’s normally good so I was imagining all sorts. Had she hurt herself, maybe broken a leg in a rabbit hole or impaled herself on a low branch? Then the pounding of paws behind me heralded a barrage of licks, muddy paws, waggy tail and a huge doggy grin as she found me. She was no longer trailing 12 foot of lead though. She must have got it caught up and had to chew through it to get back to me. 

The poor dog must have been frantic, hearing me calling but being stuck. Luckily she’s none the worse for her adventure, but she hasn’t moved far away from me all morning…

Never a dull moment with Amber around!

Locks 0, miles 15¾ since last post.