Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Ashton Tuesday 27 June 2017

And I thought last nights moorings were going to be quiet, just the railway that only seemed to have local traffic and that was behind the hill, wrong.

I got up about half one this morning to pay a visit to the loo and saw bright lights coming along the tow path, at first I thought it was a couple of bikes but then realised it was people walking. They stopped beside the boat moored a short way ahead of us, they stood for a while by the boat, I could see there was 3 of them and one with a back pack so I thought they had returned to their boat, however they stayed on the tow path, one of them looked as if they went to the back doors but then returned to the others so my next thought is they are locked out. I kept watch and not much happened, then one of them started banging on the side of the boat, I opened our front door slightly, you must bear in mind I am stark naked and my cloths are in the back cabin far side of Diana who is asleep. As I listen with the door ajar I can hear a female voice saying "David are you all right, put some cloths on and let us in". As it was now obvious this could be someone in trouble I woke Diana and got some cloths on, put the boat lights on and went outside where I found 3 female Paramedics/Ambulance Technicians trying to get Dave let them in. He had called them saying he needed help and they had spent hours trudging the towpath looking for a boat with no name, now they had found him he wasn't cooperating and they didn't know where they were but had requested police assistance. I was able to give them the post code of the nearest road access, still a ¼ mile away. I stuck around until a police man turned up, he went into the boat to talk to the man. From what I could see from outside the main problem the chap was having was that his Lt. bottle of cider was almost empty. As for the ambulance girls, one said they were 8 hrs into the shift and still not had a break, I offered a mug of tea but by the time it was brewed the police arrived and they were working again. By now it was 2-30 in the morning and we went back to bed, we heard the emergency services leave a little later, whether the chap was with them I don't know, but I doubt it, one of the girls said she had met him before.

This morning it was raining and we set off at our normal 1000hrs, passing the boat in front in daylight it looked quite smart and tidy, not what I expected from last nights activities. We were to meet lots of boats today, a hire boat, then a day boat topped off with a Charity trip boat.

Passing Romiley visitor moorings mooring there is the remains of a sunken burnt out cruiser well out into the channel, its a bit like an iceberg with the majority of it being hidden from view underwater. You can see what the weather is like. DSCF8305

There is quite a bit of old industrial heritage left beside the canal DSCF8307in this area, but how long before these buildings are replaced by another housing estate.DSCF8310

We moored for the night just before Portland basin were I found just two rings, all I needed to moor to, needless to say as soon as we had tied up the rain stopped and the sun started to shine. After lunch we wondered over to the Portland Place museum for a couple of hours before returning to the boat.

Last time we came this way we moored opposite Warble Narrowboats, there are still a few boats moored there and one or two no the bank, but all the buildings have gone for other uses.DSCF8311

Today's Journey map 096½ miles 2½ hours with no locks.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Romiley Monday 26 June 2017

Bugsworth Basin was not as idyllic as I expected, the noise from the dual carriage way A6 that completely cut Buxworth in half runs right beside the Middle and upper basins. I got up during the night and there were 3 helicopters just over the tree line.

This morning we visited the visitor centre, this is a container but there is a lot of good information in there about the working days of burning lime and carrying stone, so it was 1030 before we set off. At the junction with the Peak Forest canal they were pumping out the sunken cruiser in an attempt to refloat it.DSCF8274 Back in the canal we turned right and retraced our steps back to Marple Junction. We only met 7 boats all day. The first obstacle was one of the two swing bridges by Furness Vail Marina which Diana soon sorted out.DSCF8279

The electric lift bridge was no problem, on our was to the end yesterday it didn't want to release Diana's key, then the manual lift bridge, Diana almost got there with windlass in hand and it started opening for us.There were two chaps there armed with brushes, buckets etc. presumably to scrub and maybe paint it and one of them operated it for us.

This part of the world has the poshest foot path signs I have ever seen, they must have cost thousands.DSCF8281

We stopped for lunch a short way before Marple Junction, there was a nice bit of piling to moor to and I got to at least 3 foot of it before I was hard aground. Just as we were about to leave this flotilla of geese came along the canal behind us.DSCF8282

As we approached Marple Junction a boat went through the bridge towards Macclesfield, good we thought, the locks will be with us, but when we got closer there was a boat at the top lock, just filling the lock to go down. It seems the other boat came from the Macc turned round and was going back. The boat ahead of us was well crewed and were setting ahead, as we also set ahead, ie. the next lock down is filling while the one we are in is emptying we made good progress down the first 4 locks. This lock has a road bridge over its tail so the canal company mounted a roller on the edge of the bridge so that the horse could pull the boat into the lock when going down hill and it is still there. DSCF8285

After lock 13 we met a boat coming the other way, yes it saved us filling lock 12 but it seemed to take for ever, then we met another at lock 9, If there had been any more coming up the flight we would have still been there. This meant the boat ahead of us now had all the locks set ready for them and we never saw them again even though we carried on setting ahead.

One of the locks has some interesting fancy stone work as you approach it from below, lots of landowners insisted on all sortsDSCF8284 of things where the canal crossed their land, some had fancy bridges, others had the canal widened to look like a small lake, so probably this one wanted fancy stone work.

The Marple locks are quite an unusual design, the single top gate has a gate paddle as well as just one ground paddle and they can both be operated from the towpath side of the lock. Below the lock there is a stone foot bridge to reach the offside bottom gate so no walkways on the gates themselves. Both the bottom gates have gate paddles, but at one time there was also a ground paddle on the towpath side.DSCF8290

On most of the stones used in the lock construction you can still see the mason's marks, each stone mason had his own mark which he put on the stone and this was what he got paid by.

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There are 16 locks in the flight and some of the bottom paddles are a bit on the stiff side, plus if setting you walk the length of the flight twice. Just below the flight is a very large winding hole that has a couple of mooring rings and we were considering mooring there , but we knew there were some better moorings the other side of the aqueduct so Diana walked ahead to see what space was available and phoned me to say there was loads of room.

CRT have plans to put railings along the off side of the aqueduct just in case someone falls off, nobody has in the last 200 years but someone might just step off their boat as its crossing the aqueduct and then fall of the 3 foot wide piece on the off side. In the mean time while they wait planning consent they have erected these notices.DSCF8300

Parallel with the aqueduct is the railway viaduct, its a bit like Chirk actually and the will probably want railings there next.IMG_0408

A short way past the aqueduct is Rose Hill Tunnel, except like Fenny Tunnel its not a tunnel any more, just a cutting with a high wall to hold the surrounding land back.DSCF8304

Our mooring spot proved to be a bit shallow, but we are not expecting any passing traffic and we are within 3 foot of the bank anyway.

Today's Journeymap 08 8 miles, 16 locks in 6 hours

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bugsworth Basin Sunday 25 June 2017

Last night we were moored opposite a small field of cows, amongst them was one newish brown calf, it had already had its ear tags fitted which looked bigger than its ears.DSCF8257

This morning we set off just before 1100hrs in fine drizzle, the stuff you can hardly see but makes you very wet. The first highlight of the day was coming through the second bridge on a bend and meeting the working boat Alton with Ann Mary steering, to the towpath side was a moored boat and the off side a shed and then a cruiser, but there was plenty of room for two Narrowboats to meet providing the skippers did nothing silly. We soon reached the end of the Macclesfield Canal at Marple Junction where we turned right on The Peak Forest canal heading up to Whaley Bridge. DSCF8261

Just above the junction a long length of the off side has been cleared which looks like it could well become long term moorings called Tramway Wharf, at the moment there are No Mooring signs along there but one boat was moored up, presumably with the owners consent. DSCF8263

There are a couple of lift bridges along this section of canal, the first requires a windlass to work a hydraulic pump and operate a lifting ram, the second which had been removed last time we were this way has been electrified with the control box on the towpath side requiring the use of a BWB key. A lot easier for single handers but another bit of heritage gone. DSCF8268

A short way after this is a swing bridge, this is manual and while Diana was opening it a boat came the other way so she waited and let them through as well.

We stopped for lunch beside the Swizzels Matlow sweet factory where there is a nice straight section of bank but underlying stones, so the mooring pins were only half way in, the first boat passed slowly, the second at normal cruising speed, we had finished lunch before the forth boat passed and I was just able to catch the front mooring pin as it came out of the ground.

The section of canal just passed New Mills Marina is well know for its Giant Hogweed and there is a permanent sign to warn people about it. I must say its a fine looking plant. It must stand 8’ high. DSCF8270

We stopped briefly just passed bridge 37A so that Diana could pop into Tesco. This is right in the middle of the long-term moorings that run from Whaley Bridge Branch Junction to 3 boat lengths short of the terminus. Luckily a majority of the moorings on this section are not taken so there was room for us to stop. Once the shopping was done we continued to the terminus to wind and then returned to the junction to go into Bugsworth Basin for the night. DSCF8274There were loads of spaces in the basin so we went for a little cruise round first.Map 07a I didn't go into the Upper basin as I winded just before the entrance and while I was trying to back through the bridge another boat came up and sat waiting for me. I thought it may be too silted and gave up, but the other boat sailed straight in. Looking at it afterwards that is what I should have done, but I didn't know at the time that it was possible to wind in there. We then went back and reversed up the Lower Basin to moor for the night at about 1630 Hrs. We then went for a walk round, there are lots of interpretation plaques and a 3D model of what the basin use to be like.DSCF8276

Today's Journeymap 07 8¾ Miles in 4½ hours and no locks

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Hawk Green Saturday 24 June 2017

Today we had a plan, some of it worked and some didn't. First to visit the marina for a pump out and then to Poynton to visit the Anson Engine Museum and the Nelson's Pit visitor centre.

Things started well, I winded the boat and went across to the other side for a pump out, I had to wait a short while as James was just seeing a party off in the day boat. once the tank was emptied we topped up with diesel at 69p/lt base price. We then winded again and continued on our journey.DSCF8247

It was a bit warmer than yesterday and the sun did peep out now and again. Clarence Mill in Bollington is quite a spectacular building and the smells coming from the cafe were quite tempting as we passed.DSCF8248

We moored just before bridge 15 at Poynton and had lunch, I also when on line to check the opening times of the places we wanted to visit. It was then that I discovered this year the Museum is only open Friday and Sunday, we had a 2016 leaflet and then it was Friday to Sunday, however the visitor centre is open 364 days a year, but its nothing more than a single room with interpretation boards on the back of the public toilet block so that visit lasted about 5 minutes.

When we returned to the boat it was a bit more overcast and felt like rain was coming soon so we pushed off. At one set of moorings there is a fine collection of old tools as well as 3 tractors, one being used to transport the others.DSCF8250

We wanted to stop before Marple Junction so when we saw a space on the straight piling just before bridge 5 at Hawk Green we pulled for the night. We had hardly finished tying up when it started to lightly rain.

Today's Journey map 067¼ miles in 3¾ hours with no locks

Friday, 23 June 2017

Bollington Friday 23 June 2017

A nice quiet night below the locks and this morning was fine but cool, we are talking fleeces again and not tee shirts. We planed to set off at 1000hrs and a boat came down the flight about 0930 hr, before we could respond a boat came the other way and went up ahead of us, so turning the locks. However this didn't make much difference because although we had to turn lock 12 there was a boat coming down assisted by a volockie at lock 10, so a short wait and the rest were with us.

Just below the locks on the offside there are a couple of boats moored, one of them looks as if its clad in brass sheeting.DSCF8218

The Volockie that came down with the boat soon joined us for our upward journey, but only for a couple of locks, after that we met boats at every lock except number one where another volunteer keeper (Volockie) asked Diana why she bothered to draw the bottom paddles and not just open the gates, I am not sure if Diana explained how with a leaking top gate an empty lock soon starts to fill and you can't open the gate with a 6" differential of water level.

At the top of each lock on this flight is a metal peg set in the ground on the offside. this was used to get extra purchase on the tow line so the horse could get the boat moving out or the lock easier.DSCF8221

Lock 2 was interesting with 3 I think Germans coming down, the one by the lock had a reasonable idea, but the other two wouldn't listen to him so they ended up with their boat wedged across the cut just above the lock due to one of them tying the bow rope off far to short.

I often pick up fenders that people lose off their boats, today I picked up two wheelbarrow wheels, these are useful if you need to keep the boat a bit further out, only they had a couple of unwelcome passengers onboard.DSCF8224

Only one of the swing bridges was in operation today and it is electrically motivated.DSCF8226 We only managed to stop 2 cyclists and a chap towing a trailer. Once the boat has passed it seams to take ages as first it closes, then drops down onto the supports before finally the barriers lift allowing the traffic to pass again. For some reason the footpath one is open and the footpath closed.

Not long after the bridge we passed a garden with a giant boot in it which I suspect is a child's Wendy House.DSCF8228

We decided not to moor on the pontoons in Macclesfield but to continue on out into the country side. Directly opposite the mooring pontoons they are building luxury retirement apartments and the notices on the fencing say Danger Asbestos but I doubt there is any there as I don't think a fence would contain it.DSCF8231

We tried several times to moor, we did get in at one spot but the boat ahead had a rather noisy petrol generator running on top of his roof so we pushed on and finally moored in Bollington opposite Bollington Wharf Marina where we will have the tank emptied in the morning.

Today has been bit of a day for birds, firstly where we tried to moor but failed this family of young Swallows were sitting on a fence and the parents kept swooping in to feed them.DSCF8242 Then there was the Heron, just waiting to strike at a fish but was disturbed by two people approaching from behind the boat.DSCF8244 To top it all was a duck with ether 15 or 16 chicks, we couldn't count them as they swam around like little dodgem cars so we tried counting in the photograph.DSCF8230

Today's Journey Map 059 miles and 12 locks in 5¼ hours

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Bosley Locks Thursday 22 June 2017

Well last night we had our BBQ, just after lighting it it started to rain but only lasted a few minutes so we were good to cook. DSCF8201

Again the night was very hot and we went to bed with the slid and the offside door open, I got up during the night and it was bright stare light. These are good moorings and we were not disturbed by the trains or traffic passing under the aqueduct.

This morning was like a different month, 17°C outside and it didn't climb much higher. As we set off at 1000hrs it started to lightly drizzle and by the time we reached Congleton it was real rain. We passed the boat who gave us their mooring last night moored by the swing bridge, I guess it must be their permanent mooring which would account for the fenders.DSCF7691

Just as we were entering Hall Green Lock our friends on nb. Kelpie pulled in at the water point coming from the opposite direction, so we pulled in in front of them and had coffee while we filled both water tanks. The timing was spot on as just as I turned the tap off a boater turned up and said "Is this the queue for the water point" and was able to pull in as we both left. The weather didn't improve and as we approached Congleton it started really chucking it down, luckily the first visitor mooring was free and we pulled in for lunch. Around 1400hrs the rain had stopped and we walked into town, first stop was the Town Hall which houses a good tourist information office, from here it was round to the Town's Museum, which for the limited space they have is very good, its free to enter but they have several begging notices as it costs £1000 a week to keep open. This was followed by a short walk round town and then back to the boat, although this was a pleasant mooring we prefer something moor rural so set of in a cool breeze. I am glad we did as just as we left another boat came along to use the space.

This canal is quite famous for its turnover or Snake bridges that allowed the towpath to change sides and the horses towing the boats to cross the canal without disconnecting the towing lines, quite a cleaver idea really. DSCF8205

As the early evening progressed the weather improved giving very good views of The Cloud, unlike Mow Cop which we didn't see this time.DSCF8209 We were going to moor where this photograph was taken from but it was a bit on the shallow side so we decided to carry on to the 2 Day moorings just before Bosley Locks where we fitted into the last slot on the straight section.

Today's JourneyMap 04 9½Miles, 1 Lock, 2 Canals in 4½ hrs