An early start by our standards, in light of the weather forecast for today we pushed off at 9am, It was fine, a little breezy but not cold or damp. The plan was to have the locks done before the rain arrived. The locks in question where the Grindley Brook ones, 3 individual locks followed by a staircase of three. Once at the top we stopped at the water point to fill the water tank, by now the wind had died down.
A friendly fisherman told me that the wind was swinging round and the storm would soon be with us, this didn’t seem possible as the wind was light, it was warm and the sky was clearing nicely. I wonder if it was the same fisherman who had given me weather advice the other day, he was right as well.
One thing we noticed is that the catkins are already out on some of the canal side trees. What does that say about the weather, it’s certainly not going to be the coldest Christmas on record as predicted by some of the media.
Diana hopped off and opened Whitchurch lift bridge, this is another manual hydraulic bridge opened with a lock windlass, as she was walking back to the boat a cruised and Narrowboat came into sight behind us. As I waited for her to get back onboard I noticed that the Whitchurch Arm has a notice saying its closed. I have not seen anything about this on the Canal & River Trust stoppage web site, so I am now wondering if the Whitchurch are is actually a private arm from the canal.
Whitchurch Marina had most of their boats at base, we have seen 2 out. We counted 17 of them, moored 5 abreast in one place and with 6 lifted out onto the bank, all with nice new shining propellers fitted.
At Hassells No.1 Lift bridge the cruiser caught up with us and I pulled over after going through the bridge to let him pass while Diana worked the bridge, I asked about the Narrowboat but he said he had turned round. Once he was passed Diana closed the bridge and walked to the second one.
By the time we got there the crew from the cruiser had it open the bridge and the steerer was pulling the cruiser through, he had motored through the last one and caught his canopy on the bridge with the wind. As the cruiser was clearing the bridge his crew hopped onto the stern of the boat and off they went, leaving the bridge open and Diana the opposite side of the canal to the closing mechanism, so I had to stop and ferry her over to the off side of the canal to close the bridge behind us. We never saw the cruiser again.
By now the wind was freshening quite a bit so we started to look for somewhere nice to moor, by nice I mean straight bank, preferably with rings or good piling and no large trees. I have seen to many canal side trees come down in high winds so avoid them if at all possible and this afternoon and evening we have storm Barbara forecast.
We spotted a nice place just passed the end of one of the visitor moorings a short way before Old Mans Bridge, so we pulled in there just as it started to rain at mid day. The rain didn’t actually come to anything and we had a bit more at about 2pm, the wind has continued to freshen and is quite gusty so we decided to stay put for the night.