Saturday, 24 February 2018

Barbridge Saturday 24 February 2018

Well if wasn't anywhere near as cold last night so I was a bit surprised to see ice in the reed line at Golden Nook. I decided to measure just how long these moorings are and I made it 1.3 miles at tickover, thankfully Diana decided she wanted to steer.

As the day went on so it warmed up reaching a maximum of 8°C at one point. The locks were kind to us with them all being almost empty as we didn't meet any boats except a day boat that had just come out of the marina.

As we approached the Shady Oak pub there is a dragline in a field on the towpath side, I can't ever remember it moving. DSCF0267
Quite a few walkers about with their dogs, some of them heading to the pub. We carried on in the sunshine heading for Bunbury, the Anglo Welch Hire base there still has the old name painted on the gable end, its a pity these painted signs couldn't be listed just like buildings, they will all fade away soon.DSCF0269
Another blast from the past is the BWB notice board on the office wall with the location on the bottom, again fading away.DSCF0271

With the forecast cold weather we thought it advisable to stop at Calveley services and top the fresh water tank up, just in case we get stuck, It was here the first boat of the day came by.
Someone has spent a lot of money making a new access to the towpath by Wardle Farm bridge, I suspect it now has to be wheelchair friendly which makes it high speed bike friendly as well.DSCF0238
We decided to eat out so had a bit longer day and moored opposite the Barbridge Inn, as we approached we could see the CRT grass cutting team hard at work.DSCF0274

As this is a popular pub once moored Diana went in to book a table, not sure what the service will be like as we clash with a party, but then that's our choice, they told us before we booked.

Today's Journey map 0811½ Miles 6 Locks in 4 ¾ hours

Friday, 23 February 2018

Waverton Friday 23 February 2018

Firstly an explanation for non boater about yesterdays crochet wall hanging. Its on memory of Joe Skinner an old boatman who worked his boat with a horse, his boat is preserved in the museum. So to the top right hand corner we have Josh for Joe and to the left his Skinner and down the centre his boat name Friendship

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along the bottom is the boat number. He and his boat was quite famous more information here .

This morning we left a little earlier than planned, 0945hrs. as Diana spotted a boat going passed heading for the staircase lock so we rapidly set off to join them. As the tree locks are wide enough for two boats it halves the workload and water usage if two boats share. It turned out they moor in the next marina up from us and had just spent a week in the Chester dry dock having the boat hull blacked and are hoping to get home before any ice forms on the canal. I looks as if the pigeon lady had been out again by the bottom of the locks as there was loads of food laying about, but not so many birds as yesterday.DSCF0259

For some reason the towpath below the City wall has been closed off, I couldn't see an obvious reason for it as everything looked fine.DSCF0262

We moored in the town to do a bit of shopping, the weather felt quite warm in the sun but in the shadow of the town walls you could feel the true temperature.

After an early lunch we were away again leaving at the same time as the restaurant boat The L’eau-t Cuisine, she travels backwards from the Mill Hotel to the City walls and then forwards up one or two locks and then backwards down again to the hotel, picking up the main course of the lunch from the hotel as they pass going upstream. I wish I had the same control going backwards as her, but she does also have a prop and rudder at the bows which helps.DSCF0264

As the boat we had shared the staircase locks with had carried on all the locks were against us except one where we met a single boat coming down. Again the sun was very nice even if the air was cold and we carried on to moor just after bridge 118 Davies Bridge, the water is deeper here than where we moored on our way down so we can get close to the bank.

Today's Journey map 074¾ Miles, 8 Locks in 3½ hours.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Chester Thursday 22 February 2018

Well there was no body else about at the moorings last night although there were 4 other boats here plus a resident and 2 charity boats. The fishermen were on the hotel car park until about 10-30, they did a shift change around 6 pm, some went and others arrived. Its good to see as they keep the riffraff away.

This morning I went out before the museum opened and there was a chap with a Harris Hawk patrolling the covered dock for feral pigeons, but there wasn't one to be seen, so he does a good job.

When the museum opened we went for a wonder round, not much has changed since our last visit apart from lifting all the wooden hulks from the top basin. These have been taken off site for measuring and drying out before assessing whether any will be restored or just preserved. One that is all ready drying out on site is Mossdale, she is well past restoration and will be preserved in the state she is in. To restore her would actually be to build a replica as she is completely rotten. Click photo to enlarge

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Two of the new exhibits in the main gallery are crochet works by the "Coffee and crochet ladies" One is a rather grand horse, probably about the same size as a horse used to pull a Narrowboat this is covering a wire frame. The other is a large Friendship wall hanging.

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We had lunch in the museum cafe before returning to the boat to set sail. While I untied and made my way through the lower basin Diana went and set the locks which we had refilled after we came down yesterday. We had lots of help from the children and also a CRT employee/volunteer I'm not sure which, but he organised the kids on the top gate on the other side for us. Before we left the port we topped up with water and dumped rubbish, well Diana did while I stood talking to Mike Turpin about things.

We didn't meet any boat today but we did see this chap up a radio mast, I bet he was feeling the wind chill.DSCF0256

As we got neat bridge 130 I noticed the footpath mile posts, first a wooden one saying 8 miles to Ellesmere Port and then about 100Mts further on an iron cast one saying it was 6 ¾ miles. I think the newer wooden one is incorrect.

As we made our way along the canal this plane was circling the town, I wonder who picked up the bill?DSCF0257reverse

When we got to Chester just passed the locks to the Dee there was just one free mooring at the far end, I could see a lady feeding ducks but she was also feeding the pigeons and there must have been between 50 and 70 on the ground around her feed. She had a carried bag full of food she was throwing about, so I hope there are not too many rats about tonight.

Yesterday morning we came down the Northgate Staircase meeting Nb. Oleanna in the second chamber, well Pip has posted a collection of Photos on her blog of us passing, please take a look

Today' Journey map 068½ Miles and 2 Locks in 3¼ hours

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Ellesmere Port Wednesday 21 February 2018

I can't say I really enjoy mooring in town with people walking past the boat until the early hours, they weren't overly loud, but I was still aware of them. For diner we went to Bella Italia, paid for by that nice Mr Tesco, but I always under estimate and don't get enough vouchers. The town was very quiet when we returned to the boat.

This morning two of the other boats moored here had departed and one of the had left quite a bit of diesel on the water behind us.

We met up with a disabled single handed boater who wanted to go down Northgate Staircase Locks with us and set off at quarter to eleven. Needless to say all chambers were full, so after putting both boats into the top chamber I started dropping the second while Diana was emptying the bottom. I didn't quite judge it right as we overtopped the second chamber gates lowering the top. While we were doing this NB Oleanna arrived below the lock and Pip drew the bottom paddles again to get rid of the excess water. They came up in the bottom chamber while we dropped the middle one and then we shuffled to swap chambers so they continued on up and us down. Our locking college was only going as far as the basin by the Dee locks so we waved him farewell as we continued on to Ellesmere Port in rather pleasant weather. Just before the Port there is now what looks like a pallet manufacturing factory or distribution yard.DSCF0249

I put Harnser into the top lock at the port with help of some children working the gates while Diana went into the museum to pick up the paper work, I do wonder if they would have noticed if we hadn't have stopped. The 2 locks down to the basin are left full in case someone falls in so we had to draw a paddle after leaving.

We moored opposite the end of the hotel, I found a ring for the stern line but at the bows had to run a line out to the other arm as although its all grass between the arms, its only 2" deep and then stone or concrete.

Today's Journey map 059 miles 5 Locks in 4¼ hours

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Chester Tuesday 20 February 2018

It was much warmer out last night but we did have a bit of rain, however this morning the sun was out but it was accompanied by a stiff breeze. I didn't really want to moor against the bank last night but at least you don't rock in the wind.DSCF0245

This morning the wind was hitting our bow and from the offside which made getting away interesting. Easy to reverse and get the stern out into deep water but the wind held the bows in the mud as soon as I engaged forward, it took several attempts to get the bow through the eye of the wind but as soon as it did go round just a bit we were away. We met a few boats and had a couple of locks with us stopping for water just past the Cheshire Cat, as we arrived at the water point a boat left, they must have come up Christleton Lock as that was with us. After that they were all against us until Hoole Lane lock.

I always like this view as you approach Chemistry Lock looking down on the water tower and shot tower, you see that and you know its Chester.DSCF0246

A couple of the locks down here still have the iron ladders set into the wingwalls of the locks where the boatman would have gone up to set the lock, leaving the bows of the boat against the gates, noDSCF0248 lock landings for them. This one is at Chemistry Lock.

We have moored just before the winding hole and Cow Lane Bridge in Chester for the night, we will probably go down Northgate staircase locks tomorrow.
Its strange being moored here in Chester with a steady stream of pedestrians passing the boat only feet away, some almost touching the side, we normally moor where the only people passing are walking dogs, I expect I will get use to it.
Although its sunny the buildings make it quite a wind tunnel so there is a cool breeze hitting our front doors.

Today's Journey map 045 miles and 5 locks in 3 hours.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Rowton Monday 19 February 2018

We had rain over night and although it stopped early it remained overcast and drizzly until about 11 am. so we waited until then to set off.

I cilled the boat today and it is frightening how fast things develop, I can see why inexperienced boaters fail to save the situation.

We were going down in Tilstone Lock and as normal I hopped off on the offside, closed the gate that opened as I entered and then walked to the tail gate to draw my paddle. The paddles on these locks ate fitted with gearboxes with about an 8:1 ratio I would say, so it takes some time to lift them. I noticed Harnser drifting back so stopped opening my paddle and went back to pull her forward, just as she started to move she touched the cill, so I went straight back to the bottom gate and started closing the paddle telling Diana to do the same thing. We wound as fast as we could but even so Harnser was well down at the nose and the cill almost visible before we had the situation under control. Had we have had a welldeck we would at a minimum have had water in the boat, but as we are a tug it was just a matter of then opening the top paddles and floating off. Remember I knew exactly what was happening it wasn't a shock to me and I also knew what to do to rectify it but even so with a well deck and open front doors we would have suffered damage. The time it takes to lower those bottom paddles in an emergency feels like forever.

There is a row of Lime Kilns on the off side just above the winding hole between Bunbury and Calveley and this is the best view I have ever had of them.DSCF0239

All the lock except one were against us so at Bunbury Staircase both chambers were empty, so we only needed to fill the top one. Just below the bottom chamber bottom gates the pins are still in the wall that working boats would have made fast to if they had to turn the lock.DSCF0241

We carried on meeting one boat coming up, he had just entered the lock as we arrived so not much help to us as Diana did most of the work, but he must have been moored just below the lock as Beeston Iron Lock was against us.

We carried on past the mile of offside long term moorings at Golden Nook at a steady tick over, it seems to take for ever and moored for the night just before Faulkner's Bridge. On the offside there is a chap living on his boat who does Willow Weaving and DSCF0243we have seen this taking shape over the times we have come down here and yes it is still growing, he also has a nice looking wood oven.

Today's Journeymap 03 8½ Miles , 6 lock in 4½ Hours.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Calveley Sunday 18 February 2018

Last night we could hear the owls calling, this morning we could hear them again in the distance, but by 8am the bird scaring gun was going off a lot closer so by 9.30 we were off. Not as warm as yesterday but fine.

You may have read of a new hobby, Magnet Fishing in the canals, people are using strong magnets to see what they can pull up. It would be OK if they took their rubbish away with them and not leave it by bridges.DSCF0236

A lot more traffic about today and we met the first one in a bridge hole, only this time he stopped and waved me through.

Our first stop was by the fuel boat Halsall as we needed a pumpout. We found them getting ready to set off from the moorings at Nanney's Bridge, had we been any earlier and they would not have been onboard.

Diana walked ahead to set Minshull lock and as I approached I pulled up a sunken log straight into the prop stalling the engine, the end of the log was just below the water level and in the weedhatch so I sawed it off but still couldn't move the rest, so using the mooring hammer I tapped the prop round and released it. As I picked it up in reverse it was wedged between the top blade and the end of the hull and the blade going round in a forward direction released the pressure. I was unable to retrieve it through the weed hatch so it fell to the bottom. As luck would have it I had just bought a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, They are a bit small for my hands but today they were a lifesaver.

Once that was off we were on our way and as we left the lock there was a boat coming the other way so we could leave the top gate open. We met more boats before Cholmondeston Lock and a moored boat pulled away ahead of us, but he stopped for call at Venation Marina so we carried on to the lock, again there was a boat heading down so we could leave the gate.

CRT are installing a new water point just beyond the lock moorings, they removed the one at Barbridge some time ago so there was no water point between Nantwich Calveley and Middlewich.

I wonder if anyone has lost a canoe recently along this stretch of canal as there is one laying on the towpath by the winding hole.DSCF0237

We only met one more boat before we got to Barbridge Junction where we turned right on the Shropshire Union canal, We are now on a broad canal, well it is from Ellesmere Port to Nantwich. The cheese factory is now open 7 days a week and also do Sunday lunch in their cafe, but we had already eaten.

Just beyond the Calveley services there are some 48hr mooring where we have moored for the night.

Today's Journeymap 02 10½ miles, 2 locks in 4¼ hours