Sunday, 1 May 2016

Stoke on Trent Sunday 1 May 2016

Well its been wet all day again, not heavy rain but drizzle most of the day.

We had just finished out cup of tea this morning when there was a knock on the side of the boat, an old boating friend Mike Skyner had driven down to find us. I mention his name as several people reading this will also know him. Mike now runs his own business Wood Valley Works that may be of interest to some here. Need less to say when we were ready to go a boat chugged by, so that was the first lock against us. On our way to the first lock we noticed that someone is starting an art trail.DSCF4538 At Lawton Bottom Lock there was an elderly gentleman standing by the bottom gate , he kindly swung the gate while Diana opened the other one and even closed it behind me. When I was on the lock side I got chatting to him and he told me that these locks are not on the original line of the canal that Brindley built which use to run to the north of the present line and consisted of a staircase. When the locks were twinned by Telford the route was changed. The old route went off just below bridge 137. If you look at the bridge you can see that one arch is all brick where as the other has a row of stone edging the arch. Brindley on the left and Telford on the right.DSCF4539

We had mixed luck up the rest of the flight with the way the locks were set. Coming up into Kidsgrove at lock 44 there is a very well preserved roller which the tow rope the the boat ran against  as the boat was pulled out of the lock by the horse.DSCF4542 I thought the detail at the top was particularly interesting to ensure that the rope didn’t hang up on the top of the roller when it was dropped from above.DSCF4543

Its not often you see a brightly painted beach hut this far from the sea but there is one in Kidsgrove, and very splendid looks.DSCF4545

The Trent and Mersey canal passes under the Macclesfield canalDSCF4547 between locks 42 and 43, the Mac joins the T&M just above lock 41 which gives enough headroom for the two canals to cross.

I also noticed that on some of the locks on this flight there is actually a wooden backing behind the bottom gate recess, could this at sometime housed a paddle between the two locks?DSCF4549

We stopped in Kidsgrove just below lock 41 to visit Tesco, its only about 5 minutes up the road, so quite handy. As we returned to Harnser a boat was just dropping down in lock 41, but by the time we were onboard a boat came passed us and took it. We set off immediately turning the second lock, by now the other boat was just leaving the lock, we made best speed we could and when we arrived at Harecastle  Tunnel there was as we feared no sign of them. This resulted in us having almost an hour and a halves wait while they travelled south and another boat came north, still you cant win them all. Eventually we entered the tunnel which now has new headroom board, I think these are lower than the chains as I can stand up all the way through the tunnel but I have to duck under the boards. DSCF4552 Obviously whoever designed the boards thought there was still a towpath through the tunnel and haven’t covered that section.

To the west of the tunnel is the original tunnel running behind the tunnel keepers hut and its tiny and cut by Brindley in 1777 by which time he had died.DSCF4555

As we approached Westport lakes we saw out first goslings of the year making their way across the grass.DSCF4557   We had hoped to have moored by the lake but it was quite full, I suppose I could have asked a couple of boats to move by a ring but it didn’t seem worth the bother so we carried on mooring just before Festival Park, Etruria at about five thirty.

Today’s Journey  map 15 8¼ miles, 12 Locks, 1 tunnel in 6¼ hours.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Rode Heath Saturday 30 April 2016

After the grotty weather yesterday the sunset looked quite good.DSCF4526

When I looked out this morning everywhere was still white and it looked as if it would be a good day. We were away at twenty to ten and looking back I still don’t know why its called Paddy’s Wood.DSCF4527

As we approached the first lock at Wheelock which as expected was against us it started to hail, so much for the nice day. The reason I said expected was that lots of boats overnight at Wheelock and then carry on the next morning so it was inevitable that there would be boats just ahead, then our luck changed with a boat coming down the next lock. They had left Rode Heath early to try and take advantage of the good weather. The day continued like this, some locks against us, some for us, with rain and hail showers.

The bywash by lock 60 is of an interesting design with a very short lower cill and then a couple of inches higher a very long cill.DSCF4533

It was nice to see a farmer who still keeps his calves with theirDSCF4535   mother, so many are removed at a day old for the milk and then the calves raised separately.

Looking through the bridge arch on the right is where Thurlwood Steel Lock use to be situated, its a pity there is not an601242_d8613357 interpretation board here to tell people what use to stand here.

We only went a short way past this before mooring at Rode Heath, we have never stopped here before and want to try the pub.

Today s Journey  map 14 5 miles, 14 locks in 3½ hours

Friday, 29 April 2016

Paddy’s Wood Friday 29 April 2016

What a couple of days its been, over 5 mm of rain in 24 hours and down to freezing over night. It was sunny when we woke up but also showery.  We pushed off at quarter to ten in light drizzle and made our way to Big Lock meeting a couple of boats on route so were pleased to find it empty, well all most, amazing how long 2” of water takes to drain out of a lock that size.  One of the canal side houses in Middlewich seems to have a much larger garden than all the rest.DSCF4511 As we approached Middlewich bottom lock it was going from rain to snow with a bit of hail thrown in for good measure. The highlight of the day was to see a Volocky drawing the paddles, once in the lock he left us to set the second and then once in there he walked to the third only to come back and tell us there was a boat coming down. A really useful Volocky, I did ask if he was going to accompany us all the way to Wheelock, you can guess his reply. Above the top lock there are boats moored two abreast on the off side and singly on the towpath side with a single channel down the centre. As the lock filled a chap with a windlass walked up and the boat he was on was slowly making its way down the channel, by the time he had passed me there was a second in the distance so I had to sit and wait for him as well. Diana had walked ahead so Kings Lock was ready when I got there.

I counted 34 swans in the section above the lock. Still they don’t DSCF4515mind the rain.

All the locks were against us now as we pushed on in blizzard conditions at times. Needles to say after Booth Lane Lock there was a steady flow of traffic going down. Elton Moss the home of the share boat company is now boatless and a large house is being built on their land, the electricity bollards are all still in place in front of the cottages.

We stopped for a long lunch break just passed Rookery Railway Bridge where there are some mooring rings against steel piling, but with the passing boats and the wind its a constant creak from the fenders. As the afternoon progressed the weather improved, the wind didn’t drop but the rain stopped so at about four thirty we decided to push on a bit, we were going into Wheelock but thought it would probably be packed, we have had 4 boats go by and I don’t imagine they would start up the locks this late in the day so we decided in stead to stop at Paddy’s Wood only about a quarter of a mile further on, but a little less wind swept. I don’t know why its called Paddy’s Wood as there is no sign of any trees but a nice edge to moor to.

Today’s Journey  map 13 7 miles 9 locks in 3½ hours

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Middlewich Thursday 28 April 2016

The day started well, bright sun shine and no wind, a boat had chugged by early and just before we were due to leave Martin on the coal and diesel boat “Halsall” came by from behind. Halsall is one of a group of boats selling Diesel and Coal under the group name of Renaissance Canal carrying.  We set off at quarter passed nine so as to arrive at the tunnel for the nine thirty passage, to my  surprise Halsall was still there, I had expectedDSCF4497 him to have just caught the last passage at ten to nine. He waved us by and then followed us into the tunnel. The next tunnel, Barnton is not time controlled but still one way working and the canal at each exit turns in a sharp bend so you have to get your bows in the tunnel before you can check its clear. We had a clear run but a little over half way through I could see the bows of another boat approaching the tunnel mouth, a good blast on my new horn soon saw him stop and pull to one side.

Just before the Anderton Lift some has made their own Gruffalo on the off side.DSCF4498

We pulled into the Anderton services to fill with water, while we were there we not only got chatting to the lock keeper from Hunt’s Lock who told us he was waiting for Martin for a delivery of coal but also a fellow CIBC member walked up for a chat. Just as we had finished watering up Martin came up behind us on Halsall so we were able to vacate the mooring and let him deliver his coal.

Shortly after we departed the services we met the very old, some say the oldest conversion of a Narrowboat to a pleasure boat “Elizabeth”, complete with ships dog.DSCF4500 

Yesterday I posted a photograph of the first cygnets we had seen this year, I think we passed the same ones today, if they were the same ones they have travelled well over a mile along the canal.

As we came up the Trent and Mersey last week we passed a boat moored in Middlewich that has Canal and Rivers Trust on the side but looks like a day boat, today it was moored outside the Lion salt Museum. I don’t know if this is owned by the trust and if DSCF4501it is what they use it for. It doesn’t look like the corporate paint work. The next bit of interest was as we passed a moored boat its bow started to drift out and looking back I could see the front pins had been pulled out, by the time I had reversed up to it was right across the cut with the bows against the offside bank so was awkward to drag back, luckily a chap fitting a boat a short way back saw what was happening and came to assist, hauling it back with the centre line before repinning it.

There are lots of chemical works along this stretch of canal and this one was loading a tanker lorry using two teliporter fork lift trucks. The bulk bags have a shoot made into the bottom of the bag which the chap on the top of the lorry releases.DSCF4505

Then it started to drizzle, the wind picked up, it started to rain, it turned cold and miserable so we stopped for long lunch break. While we were stopped I was catching up on my Facebook and saw a posting that Martin who had passed just after we had stopped had been stuck for 2 hours a short way up the cut, so off we went again in light rain. Sure enough there was Halsall well stuck in the entrance to Park Farm Marina, his bows just short of the entrance bridge. It took a couple of attempts to pull him backwards with Halsall also in full astern mode, but he soon started moving and we were both on our way again.DSCF4506

We carried on with the intention of mooring at Bramble Cuttings but the weather continued to deteriorate until the rain was firstly coming down in stair rods and then going sideways with the wind. We plodded on only to find two boats already on the Bramble cuttings moorings so we continued on through the next bridge and moored on the first bit of straight bank we came to. The mooring pins are in mud, so may or may not stay in. We have had almost a quarter of an inch of rain this afternoon and I think most of it went down my neck.

Today’s Journey  map 12 11 miles in 3½ hours

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Barnton Wednesday 27 April 2016

After the storms of yesterday after noon with the hail, wind, thunder and lightning which knocked the 3 transmitter out for a while it turned into a very quiet night with not a puff of wind, cloud in the sky and the temperature dropping to freezing.

We set off at 9 am this morning in the sunshine, as you can see the Dutton Lock Cottages looked a picture in the sunshine.DSCF4487  for Acton Bridge where we were picking up my son in law’s parents for the day. Once safely onboard we headed upstream, I rang the lock keeper before setting off and as we arrived at Saltersford Lock the gates opened for us.  Once tied up the keeper said there was a boat 10 minutes behind us so bit of a delay, about 30 minutes later it came chugging into view. Once they were breasted to us we were on our way up. We let them leave first but very soon overtook them. As we passed the lift the trip boat was just coming down so we hovered in the mouth to watch, The lift operator was a bit bothered that we would be in the way.DSCF4492  We went up as far as Northwich before winding and heading back to the lift waiting area, we had to be there by ten past one ready for the twenty to two transit, which also gave us time to eat lunch. The lift is much smother this year with no hint of juddering as it moved. We moored at the top of the lift on the Trent and Mersey Canal to go to the visitor centre I must say I think its probably one of the best visitor centres that I have been to. well done British Waterways. Later in the afternoon we headed north on the T&M where we saw our first cygnets of the year.DSCF4495 A half hour holdup at the tunnel as we arrived at twenty five passed four so had to wait until five to go through, so time for a brew, at ten to a hire boat came by and parked his nose in the tunnel mouth asking me if I was waiting for the tunnel as he passed. At five a gave him a few minutes and followed him in, thinking he was in a hurry, we were soon catching him up and had to put the breaks on when he stopped while trying to negotiate one of the wiggles. We winded just passed bridge 210, I wouldn’t recommend this for a full length boat as there is a boat moored on long term moorings right opposite the winding hole. Just after this I got a bit naughty and moored on the CRT long term moorings by bridge 208, there is only one boat moored along this section and its the only place with a decent edge. Our reason for mooring here was to walk down the The Leigh Arms for dinner before saying goodbye to our guests. Once they were safely on their way we walked back to the boat and decided to move south half a mile away from the busy A49.

Today’s Journey 5 miles, 1 Lock, 1 Lift, 2 waterways in 4½ hrs
Courtesy of Waterway Routes  IMG_0183

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Dutton Lock Tuesday 26 April 2016

Thankfully the wind died down before we went to bed so we weren’t banging around all night, however it picked up again this morning and although it was sunny it felt cool in the breeze. We set off at 10 am. with a stiff onshore wind making life a bit difficult getting away, but once under way we were fine. The river was a bit choppy with wind over tide and gusting 28 mph.DSCF4407

After our last visit I heard about some old wrecks that had just been left to rot in one of the disused bends of the river pre straightening, so we moored at Sutton Weaver Visitor Moorings and walked back to see what we could find. There are several hulks there, some of them in the old disused lock on the old river navigation that was in use before they made the straight new cut, others lay above the lock. The whole area is full of reeds so its difficult to see, but Google maps captures them well see here.
DSCF4431 DSCF4429  DSCF4427DSCF4424 DSCF4421 DSCF4420 DSCF4419 DSCF4418 DSCF4416 DSCF4415 DSCF4411 DSCF4410 

The path between the moorings and the old lock was quite interesting with the bushes making a covered way at times.DSCF4434

We continued down stream, stopping for water and rubbish disposal just below Sutton Weaver swing bridge, once that was sorted we went as far as Marsh Lock to wind before returning up stream.

The railway line that crosses the Weaver at Sutton Weaver has a rather smart signal box standing high on the embankment as well as the semaphore signals.DSCF4438

I am not sure what the Fire Brigade were up to at the Runcorn Rowing Club but I suspect it was just a river exercise, they were packing up when we passed.DSCF4441Lots of Canada Geese are nesting along the canal down this end, something that struck me strange is that the sitting bird holds her neck out at right angle to her body and parallel with the ground. The probably all do this but these ones were at eye height so it was quite visible.DSCF4443 I also spotted a ware of Golden Eye ducks.DSCF4447 We carried on up to Acton Swing bridge where we visited the Leigh Arms to check it was OK to leave a car in their carpark tomorrow, we timed it just right because as we were testing the beer it started hailing. We have avoided getting wet today but I doubt everyone has been so lucky.DSCF4463 Beer finished and hail stopped we went back to the boat and dropped down to moor just above Dutton Lock for the night, the reason being it the traffic is quite noisy crossing the bridge where as here its just the rowers and aircraft. We will move back up to Acton Bridge in the morning to pick up our guests for the day.

Today’s Journey  map 10 13 miles, 1 lock in 3½ hours