Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bollington Tuesday 26 May 2015

We set off a little early as we wanted to do a trip round Paradise Mill at 1145, but that was not to be.
While Diana had Royal Oak electrical swing bridge open a boat came up behind us so I waved them passed, in return theyDSCF9241 offered to do Broadhurst Swing Bridge a manual one. Just before we got to Broadhurst a boat pulled out between us, true to there word they opened the bridge and waved us both through but after that the boat that had pulled out got barely over 2 MPH. At the swing bridge there was also a boat going in the opposite direction and he got waved through as well, even with all that hold up the boat that stopped to open the bridge and let 3 other boats through before coming through himself and then closing up, still caught up with us by Gurnett Aqueduct Visitor Moorings where he stopped. We were only able to pass the boat ahead when he stopped for water in Macclesfield and we were only going about another 300 yards.
We were about to pull in to the 24 hr moorings just before bridge 37 when a boater coming the other way said the visitor moorings the other side of the bridge were much better and completely empty so we carried on to them and he was right, there are a row of floating pontoon moorings from just passed the bridge to the winding hole.DSCF9242 The old Hovis mill in the background has been redeveloped since last time we were this way and is now looking very smart.DSCN1278

By the time we had walked down to the Silk Museum in Park lane it was mid day, so we booked two places on the 1 pm tour and went to Weatherspoons for lunch which is conveniently just round the corner. Here again Weatherspoons have taken an old building and tastefully converted it for modern use, It was originally St Michael's vicarage and then became the home of the Useful Knowledge Society and later addition a Technical School.
We had an interesting afternoon at the museum with the conducted tour of Paradise Mill which still houses a row of silkDSCN1279 looms as well as other equipment used in the manufacture of silk. There were 6 of us on the tour and one couple tried their hand on the loom.

We also saw how the punch cards were cut to control the loom which enabled the patterns to be printed as well as  how the silk was twisted to make the threads up.DSCN1285

It was after 4 pm when we got back to the boat and decided to move on before mooring for the night. By now the weather had warmed up quite a bit and the sky had quite a bit of blue in it, we carried on for a little over an hour to Bollington where afterDSCF9244 crossing the aqueduct we moored just before Clarence Mill on the end of a row of boats on the visitor moorings. The mill is so big and in such a location it is impossible to get a good photograph of it. You can just see the bows of the last boat on the moorings in the left of the photograph.DSCF9245

Today’s Journeymap 24

7¼ miles in 3¼ hours

Monday, 25 May 2015

Cowley Farm Bridge Monday 25 May 2015

We set off at our normal 10 am the first boat we heard go by was at 6-30 am. There was a hire boat ahead but we felt they had a fair lead so we wouldn’t crowed them.

Not only does this canal have Mile Stones it also has smaller stones marking the quarter mile.

DSCF9223 DSCF9229

In lots of places the offside vegetation has been well trimmed but this section still needs some attention.DSCF9228

I have seen some strange animals in my time but I think this cow takes the biscuit just lolling around watching the boats go by.DSCF9221 

Most of the day was taken up with the Bosley flight of locks, just as we approached the Dane Aqueduct we met a boat, good theDSCF9230 locks would be with us, but when we got there there was a Black Prince hire boat just going up the first lock. The second lock is under a bridge and round a left hand bend so you cant see if anyone is coming down without walking up, after checking and with help from the young lad on the hire boat Diana turned the lock, unfortunately the young lad was bored with the idea after that and didn’t back set any more for us. By the time we had locked up the boat ahead was going up the second lock and Diana could see a boat approaching so I stayed in the first lock with the top gates open. by now we were joined by another hire boat behind us. I explained I was waiting for a boat coming down and as the second lock drained I moved forward to hold the boat on the inside of the bend so they could get round me, at which point the crew behind closed the top gate behind me so I explained again that there was a boat about to come round the bend and enter the lock. Top give them their due, by the time we reached the top of the flight they were locking very well, the little lad running up to see if anyone was coming down and the larger one setting ahead.

This flight of locks still has its side ponds and one of them has been restored with lottery funding, there is even a big noticeDSCF9233 saying how they use to work and how they saved water, but none of them including the restored one is usable today.DSCF9234 We met several boats coming down the flight but very few were in the right place to be much help to us.

Coming up this flight reminded me a bit of Napton on the South Oxford canal looking over and seeing the communication tower on the next hill.DSCF9236

As we worked up lock No.2 second from the top we could see the Black price boat moored on the lock landing and when we got up it was obvious he was down the weed hatch. It turned out that as well as stuff round the blades his rudder had jumped out of the cup. I put the rudder back for him, unlike some boats these ones are not very heavy and I lifted it by the swan neck with ease, but I left him to clear the prop and we headed up to the top lock. There is a water point just above the lock but it is very inconvenient being on the lock landing so we carried on to the next one before stopping to fill up. The hire boat following us so came by stopping on the long term moorings for a late lunch. We continued on to just passed bridge 50 where we have moored for the night. Again we are the best part of 18 inches from the bank sitting on the bottom.

Today’s Journeymap 23 5¾ Miles, 12 locks in 4½ hours

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Congleton Sunday 24 May 2015

Its OK folks, everything is back to normal and this morning we woke to the sound of rain on the roof. Thankfully it didn’t last to long and we have not had any more.

We set off a little later than normal up through Red Bull Top Lock, the building just by the lock use to be the old Kidsgrove Gas Light company.DSCF9200  On the other side of the lock is the Bluebell Public House with the relief sign on the wall which could do with a lick of paint. DSCF9199After this its hard right, I am not sure you would actually get a 70 footer round here and onto the Hall Green Branch which doubles back on its self, so we are now heading back the way we  came passed what use to be Pipers boat building yard and another hard right over the Pool Lane Lock aqueduct, map 22 WWRThis can bee seen quite clearly on this screen shot from the route planner I use produced by Waterway Routes. Looking over the aqueduct to the right you can see the locks that we came up 20 minutes earlier.DSCF9202 There are some very nice 48hr moorings just over the aqueduct but they are a bit close to the railway. It was just up here that we passed nb. Shelley Anne the home of “Baddie the Pirate LEDs” a quick blast on the horn brought Sarah-May out with the offer of a brew, but as we were already running late and had mugs in hand we declined this time, maybe we will see her on the way back.

The first lock we came to is quite interesting, its  lock No.13 Hall Green Lock, its only a shallow lock and is classed as a stop lock to prevent the Trent and Mersey water being lost to the Macclesfield Canal but has a very long narrow lead in to it. I understand that the lock was once twice the length it is today so that it could be used by two full length Narrowboats at the same time, ie. Motor and Butty.DSCN1261 On the wall of the cottage is a box containing information leaflets produced by the Macclesfield Canal Society about the Macclesfield Canal, it history and in modern times as well as a map of the navigation. There is a water point just above the lock so we stopped to fill with water, while Diana took care of that I removed several lengths of different cord and line from round the prop. Once full of water we made much better progress. (or was it the removal of bits from the prop) We continued on passed Ramsdell Hall owned by Keith Humphries, director of Stoke City Football Club.(this information came from HERE) This apparently is the back view. DSCN1264 We moored almost opposite Ramsdell hall at bridge 86 and after lunch walked the mile to Little Morton Hall a fine Tudor Manor House now owned by The National Trust. We arrived just in time to join a conducted tour of the ground floor before wandering around the rest of the Hall and grounds.DSCN1269

Returning to the boat we set off again for another couple of hours cruising in the very pleasant afternoon sunshine. Last time we were this way, about 15 years ago this was an old warehouse on the canal bank in Congleton, today it has been tidied up and converted to flats, much better than just being left to decay.DSCF9214  On thing this canal is known for is its rather splendid mile stones, they are rather quite substantial standing a good 2’ 6” high and planted into the side of the towpath ready to catch the unwary cyclist as they wiz along head down. It is said that with the outbreak of war these were all buried so they couldn’t be of any help to an invading army. DSCF9211 One thing I must say is that some of the views from this canal are quite fantastic looking out across the valleys. I wouldn’t like to try to guess the value of the property in this photograph.DSCF9217

We finally moored for the night at quarter to seven this evening when the sun was going down, well we had taken 3 hours off during the middle of the day. We are just passed Galleys Bridge No.70

Today’s  Journeymap 22 7½ Miles 2 locks, 1 Aqueduct, 2 canals in 3¾ hours

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Kidsgrove Saturday 23 May 2015

Last night we went to the Italian Restaurant right on the wharf called Barchetta where we had two nice meals and a nice carafe of house red for under £12 which I didn’t think was too bad for a restaurant.

This morning the canal was quite busy and as we set off I had to hold the boat while a couple of boats went by. Our run up the locks went quite well as we followed Sunshine II, when they entered a paired lock they drew a paddle for us and we worked them out so they could set ahead, we also met the occasional boat which helped.

There has been quite a bit of work done at the Romping Donkey since we came down on the 10th. and were working on it today.DSCF9188

It wasn’t long after Hassall green that our locking partners pulled over for lunch and after that we went past several of the others that had set off before us.

At one of the paired locks this roller has survived on the central arch of the bridge approaching the lock. The reason it was there was so the horse could pull the boat out of the offside lock without it cutting the rope on the bridge wall and presenting excessive friction on the line. Lots of bridges had these in the past but few survive.DSCF9194

We continued to meet the odd boat or find one of the paired locks empty all the way to Kidsgrove. At the Red Bull pub this chap was in the garden with a Barn Owl on his hand.DSCF9195

We continued under Pool Lock Aqueduct which takes the Hall Green Branch over top of the main Trent and Mersey canal and up next lock to moored for the night. From here its an easy walk to Tesco.

I must say that today the weather has really taken a turn for the better, it doesn’t seem right for a Bank Holiday weekend.

Today’s JourneyDSCF9197   6¾miles 25 locks in 6½ hours.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Wheelock Friday 22 May 2015

Well we didn’t feel any boats go by yesterday after mooring or this morning and the pins were still tight, not only that but we were still 6” from the bank hard on the mud. This morning at our normal 10 am I untied and pulled both pins, just then Bullfinch who we had followed through the tunnels yesterday came by, so with bit of a push the bow was on the way out, he then told me there was a boat following and by the time I walked to the stern there he was. He slowed just as he got to me but I waved him on and with a gentle push the stern was out as well. That was a lot easier than I had expected.

We had a little convoy going meeting boats coming the other way, eventually the second boat passed Bullfinch who only travels slowly so it just left the two of us.

We passed these old rail heads on the off side, apparently theyDSCF9166 were to transport clay from the clay pits when they puddled the canal, there is a nice restored set a little further along at Bramble Cuttings, this is a very nice offside 48 hour mooring produced and maintained by the Broken Cross boat clubDSCF8824

Yesterday we passed two flashes caused when the ground subsided, we were to pass one more today, it use to be possible to turn round here and it says so in some of the guide books but in recent years things have changed and boats have ended up hard aground requiring winching out again, today there is a row of posts across and someone has set willow whips against them, DSCF9168some are growing but some have died . I expect in years to come with the willow roots holding the silt a bank will form between the canal and the flash.

We were gently ticking along in the sunshine, due to meeting boats at bridges and passing moored boats we lost sight of the others, then approaching Croxton Aqueduct a woman waved madly at me. She was indicating a boat was on the aqueduct which is only single file. By the time he was almost over a second was waiting at the other side and then followed just as the first was clearing, before the second was across a third appeared and followed the others, as soon as he was clear my bows were in and we were crossing, anyone else coming could wait. Just like the flashes where cased by subsidence the same is happening to the canal bank in other places, this piece just below Middlewich is only just  above the water level, which is a little bit low today.DSCF9170  At Middlewich Big Lock, so called because it is wide enough for two narrow boats, the only on this end of the Trent and Mersey canal, the two boats we were following sat waiting to go up. With the number of boats coming the other way I expected at least one of them to have gone, so we had to wait and turn the lock behind them. As we were leaving a boat was coming the other way so we left the gate for them, but they still pulled over and stopped at the lock moorings. The next three locks had a pair of volunteer lock keepers on them and as we locked up the first, they set the second and then the top for us.

Kings Lock Chandlery  they have a wheel barrow in the same colour as the engines they sell, its even badged the same.DSCF9172 All the locks up of Middlewich were with us except the last one. By Rumps lock the Kinderton pub is being refurbished, whether it will reopen as a pub or a private house I don't know.

As we came through Sandbach it started to rain but it didn’t come to anything. Our planned mooring was the visitor moorings at Wheelock but when we reached the service point we could see they were all full, so backwards through the bridge and moored opposite the houses, which means I can get a BT WiFi hot spot.

Today’s Journeymap 20

10 Miles 9 locks in 5½ hours

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Lodge Bridge T&M Thursday 21 May 2015

Last night we walked down to Acton Bridge on the River Weaver to eat in The Leigh Arms, we had planned to stop here last Saturday when on the river but couldn’t get a mooring. friendly pub and nice food, 2 mains and 2 pints came to £30 but portion sizes were good and we could have chosen cheaper, lets say we didn’t need a pud.

This morning the first boat went by at 7 am and we set off a few minutes before 10 am. All 4 mooring pins were still in the ground. We timed our departure just right as we needed to be atDSCF9144 Saltersford Tunnel between half ten and ten to eleven, we just had to wait a few minutes. We followed nb.Bullfinch through and as you can see this is the notice at the other end.DSCF9146 Its not far from here to Barnton Tunnel and as we arrived Bullfinch was just pulling to the side to wait for an oncoming  boat to exit the tunnel. It handy have a boat a bit ahead as any boats coming the other way will see them, where as they may not see you just entering. This is what the ventilation shafts look like from the inside, yesterday there was an outside shot of one.DSCF9148 We stopped on the 24 hr moorings at Anderton Lift and went into the visitors centre, its quite a while since we have been here to look round. One thing we saw was quite a nice model made of matchsticks of the lift.DSCN1250

Outside in the grounds are some of the old counter weights that were when the lift was operated by eclectic motors and cables.DSCN1254

After lunch we pushed off again stopping at the Anderton services to top up with water. A little further on we passed this boat with their washing out, I think I would be worried that someone could sweep it all into the cut.DSCF9152

We made a short stop at The lion salt Works to see if they were open yet, but it looks as if they still have quite a bit to do. There were some people there making a video and apparently they had a bus full of school kids there this morning.

As you approach the chemical works there is a right angle bend and it actually has a name,  Wicham Bend.DSCF9156 We continued passed the new marina being built, I wouldn’t want a berth to the right of the entrance, especially the most shore side one. You would have to be pretty good at reversing to get in and out of that one with a narrow boat.DSCF9160 We then passed the flash that has a few marker sticks in it, from their web site this will be a marina this summer. DSCF9164I would imagine the discounts could run for some time, but I am not sure where the boat would be.

After that in was under the railway bridge and find a sunny spot for the night.

Today’s Journeymap 19 9¾ miles, 2 tunnels in 4¼ hours.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Acton Bridge Wednesday 20 May 2015

Ok so we woke to rain again, its getting bit of a habit. We pushed off spot on 10 am for the few minutes journey round to the life. When we arrived there was a boat waiting so we moored behind them and I went up to the office to book our passage, again I was only just in time for the 1045 trip.The volunteer doing the bookings took my name and was able to pull up all my details from when we came down, she just had to make sure she had the right Holt, it seems there have been 4 of us use the lift since the new computer system was installed. Back down on the moorings the loading master was waiting for me.

On my return from the office I noticed a working boat moored below the lift, this turned out to be the horse boat Saturn DSCN1232 showing groups of school children round. You can see the boat we are sharing with already in the caisson.

A little bit of hanging about in the lift until we were on our way, it seems they weren't expecting any boats this morning and on this trip 2 went up and one came down.DSCF9128

Once at the top we let the other boat leave first, regardless of which way you are going you have to turn right onto the TrentDSCN1246 and Mersey canal and then if you want to go north, like us you have to wind almost in front of the visitor centre. I expected the hire boat to carry on to the right back to Middlewich, but he winded and also went north.

We both had a clear run at Barnton Tunnel, its a little bit wiggly so you have to take care looking through before you enter. Although this tunnel is only 572 yards long it has two air vents inDSCN1184 the roof, up above ground these stand quite tall, so the roof of the tunnel must be quite close to the surface at that point. As we reached the far end of the tunnel there were 3 boats waiting to come in from the other way.

Its only a short run from here to Saltersford tunnel, again a narrow and twisty tunnel, this time its almost impossible to seeDSCN1247 through so boats pass through on a time system. Boats going north can enter the tunnel anytime in the first 20 minutes past the hour where as boats coming south can only enter between half past and ten to the hour. This gives a 10 minute window for boats to clear the tunnel before anyone comes the other way. We had to wait behind the hire boat for about 15 minutes so the three boats we met must have entered as soon as it was their time. There are bollards to tie to to wait but most of the bank has fallen in so there is only room for 1 to tie up, so we just bobbed about. At 12 o’clock the hire boat invited us top go first while he untied.DSCN1248 

At the far end there was just one boat waiting for 1230 so they could come through, I think the passage took us about 5 minutes so the 10 minute window should be more than adequate. We carried on along the Trent and Mersey as far as Dutton Stop Lock  where we winded to come back, this would have been easier if there had not been a boat moored opposite the winding hole. The boat yard between the winding hole and the stop lock looks a picture, some one with a pride in their property.DSCF9140

I couldn’t quite work out where the recent breach was, we passed this notice at the winding hole so assumed the breachDSCF9138 must have been south of this point but there were no obvious signs of any work being carried out.

We retraced our steps hoping to moor near Acton Bridge but north of the bridge is private moorings and to the south its CRT long term moorings all the way to bridge 208 even though there is only one boat moored there at the moment. We have moored just to the south of bridge 208 and I have just been out and retrieved the pins and put double ones in. The disappointing thing for me was the first boat pulled the pins, well the ground is like a sponge, but the second one who obviously new we were drifting just carried on without even looking back. I would have stopped to re-moor any boat I found drifting about, luckily we were onboard.

Today’s Journeymap 18 9 Miles, 1 Boat Lift, 1 river, 1 canal, 2 tunnels in 4¾