Monday, 22 October 2018

Dutton Breach Monday 22 October 2018

Last night two things happened, one we have a change of plan after seeing there is a talk in Worsley on Wednesday evening about the underground canals that served the mines there, so we are now on our way to The Bridgewater canal for about 4 days.

The second thing that happened was at about 9-30pm we moved about 200 yards towards Big Lock, the reason being what sounded like an air compressor cutting in for about 2 minutes in every 10, we guessed it would carry on like that all night so hence the move in the dark.

This morning we were away at 10am. down through Big Lock which was against us and heading towards Anderton. On the way we met a very attractive inspection launch, the Lady Hatherton dating from 1898 and still looking splendid.

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We stopped outside our marina while I did an oil and filter change before having a bit to eat. The reason for the location is if anything goes wrong I have the car available, not always possible with our cruising pattern. We were soon on our way again stopping at Anderton to fill with water and dump rubbish, both things are scarce on the Bridgewater canal. After filing with water we past another boat with a difference, not so old but steam powered, The Emily Anne.DSCF0430

We had to wait at Barnton Tunnel as a boat had just entered at the other end, its quite difficult to spot boats that far back but he gave a good blast on his horn and had twin headlamps. DSCF0436

Once he was clear we made our way through followed by a hire boat, I had just cleared the far end when I met another boat so was able to warn them that the tunnel was occupied. We arrived at the mouth of Saltersford Tunnel dead on 3pm. so sailed straight through. We have seen several Kingfishers today, ie more than 6, two I photographed, one on some railings who just sat and watched us and the boat behind pass and one that landed on a moored boat ahead of us.DSCF0439

We carried on to the site of the old Dutton Breach where we moored for the night. I had one job left to do following the oil change today and that was top up the batteries, something that I do on every oil change.

Today's Journeymap 07 14½ miles, 1 lock in 5½ hours.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Middlewich Sunday 21 October 2018

Again it was a lovely morning, a bit chilly as we had no heating on overnight but soon warmed up. We headed off down towards Wheelock Locks meeting a boat on the way who said the right hand one was ready, but when we arrived an oncoming boat had just turned it, The pond we were on was rather low considering only 2 boats had been up and the lock above had been on weir all night.
We arrived at the services to fill with water only to find a boat moored there, however he untied and drew back when we arrived. It was a share boat and they only started out yesterday and after a few miles discovered the toilet wouldn't work, so were all relying on the CRT toilet facilities. While we were filling with water a chap removed the macerator toilet and removed the blockage, I think the previous users may be getting a bill.

There were quite a few hire boats about and I managed 2 emergency stops without hitting anything due to boats going straight across the cut in front of me.

Since we came past a few days ago someone has pumped out the old wooden Icebreaker a short way above Booth Lane Top Lock so things are looking more hopeful for her.DSCF0405

We stopped just below Booth Lane bottom lock for a bit of lunch, there was a very convenient CRT working boat to lay against.DSCF0410

While we were eating lunch I heard a rumble going along the road, I shot out with the camera knowing what it would be, across Gailey's rear deck and legged it down the towpath, not a pretty sight to get the best picture I could.DSCF0409

I may have mentioned it before but this is the only place I have seen illuminated speed restriction sighs, as they only apply to the traffic passing them I would have thought their headlights would have been sufficient for drivers to see them, but maybe the council had a few quid laying about.DSCF0407

The weather had been deteriorating for the past hour or more and now we had drizzle, not only that the wind had picked up to over 20 MPH and the drizzle turned to rain.

At Rumps lock the local swans went for a quick fly round, taking off from the canal, doing one big circuit and landing back where they started.DSCF0411

On our way up last week we counted of 20 swans in this stretch of canal and they get regularly fed with corn which is probably a big attraction.

I was rather taken by this fish or no fishing sign at Kings lock.DSCF0413

We carried on down the Middlewich 3 and through bridge 172, it was here that I spotted an apple tree on the offside full of bright red apples, I soon had the bows tucked in and Diana was collecting a bowl full.DSCF0418

As soon as she had finished we slid to the towpath side and moored up for the night. We hadn't been here long when we heard another familiar sound, the beat of a semi diesel engine you can see here being started HERE. It was Narrowboat Swan, so yet again I dashed out with the camera for the final photo of the day.DSCF0421

Today's Journey map 067 miles, 10 locks in 4½ hours

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Wheelock Saturday 20 October 2018

The reason we cruised to Red Bull was to attend the monthly meeting of the Trent and Mersey canal Society where Steve Wood from the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canal Trust gave a very good illustrated talk.

So far this trip we have woken up to thick fog, the ducks pecking weed from the hull and this morning the two tone horn of the trains. The weather was good again and the pressure is on the rise so it may last a few more days yet. Lock wise most were against us as we only met a couple of boats before Hassall Green where we met about 6 but caught up with one in front, it did put a few locks right for us, but not many, even the couple of boats we met closed the gate behind them.

At Cardboard Lock (that's a good name, maybe its what the top gate is made of) CRT have a notice on the offside lock beam asking you to leave the lock empty, as we were going down that was not a problem, but for it to remain empty you would need to leave the bottom paddles up or the bottom gates open, I wonder with the state of the top gate what effect that would have on the pound above overnight.DSCF0401

As the weather was nice we carried on down the flight mooring just below Sawmill Lock, we find it quieter here than the visitor moorings in Wheelock.

Some questions for the historians

When the T&M was first dug did any of the locks have a single bottom gate? Looking at the near side of lock 48, known as Church Bottom Lock the gate recess for the bottom gate looks long enough to take a single gate.

How long ago were the bridges renumbered and why? Bridge 145 still displays 143 on the other side.DSCF0398

What made in necessary to pair the locks and why only as far as Wheelock?

Today's Journeymap 05 5½ miles, 21 locks in 5 hours

Friday, 19 October 2018

Red Bull Friday 19 October 2018

It was a much nicer morning this morning but our luck with the locks had ran out, we didn't see any boats until we got to 46 and he had only done 2 locks. We were away just after 10 30am as again we only had a short day ahead of us and were soon into the swing of working ahead emptying locks ready for the boat.

I have taken many photos of Snapes Aqueduct over the years trying to show the curves of the wall, but today the suns position gave me my best effort to date.DSCF0384

Last time we came through Lawton Locks I got chatting to an old boy who lives locally and has a lot of historical knowledge about the flight so I asked him about the large stone gate posts. He told me that there use to be a large workshop here before the canal was realigned and these posts were the entrance to the yard.DSCF0386

One thing I have noticed on several of the canal it that the wall has been worn away in the same place about 6 foot inside the bottom gates, but only on one side.DSCF0388

Yesterday I asked about the disks above and beside the bridge arches at the entrance to the lock, Nick left a comment that he remembered red and green disks to show which lock was operational, well today I saw a green disk at lock 17, unfortunately it is beside the closed, derelict lock.DSCF0391

Diana was driving as we came to Red Bull lock and when i arrived at the lock it was almost empty so I drew the paddles and opened the bottom gates, as I crossed back two CRT volunteers came up and one approached me explaining that the other volunteer was new and was being trained as a lock keeper, would I mind if he assisted me under supervision to which I agreed and passed the information to Diana. It was interesting to see the way he worked and how he was instructed to get the thumbs up from the steerer before drawing a paddle, also only lift it half way and then wait again for the OK from the steerer. The lock was worked much slower than we normally do but that didn't cause us a problem. We stopped for lunch just below Plants Lock and made a pilgrimage to Tesco, we came away with 6 bottles of wine at 25% off. After lunch we headed up through Plants Lock taking the right hand chamber as the bridge is about 9" higher on this side and I don't need to remove the chimney and exhaust to get through.DSCF0397

I then winded in the entrance to the Macclesfield canal and we made our way back down to the service at the CRT Red Bull offices and then a boats length to the visitor moorings for the night.

Today's Journeymap 04 4 miles, 15 locks in 4 hours.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Rode Heath Thursday 18 October 2018

Well that was a surprise, Yesterday was lovely and warm so when Diana had finished cooking dinner she turned the stove off. Our stove is diesel and also heats the water and is a space heater for the boat, so when it warm is only we only light it when required. This morning when I woke up it was foggy, the temperature outside had dropped to almost freezing over night and it was 11°C in the lounge. Not what we were expecting. The sun finally pushed through about half ten, but as we only planned to do about 3 hours today and the same tomorrow we set off a bit later at half eleven.

The gods were with us again with a boat having come down the locks earlier, then as the day progressed we met moor boats so only turned 2 locks but were able to leave 4 open when we left.

One of the bridges we passed under has two round disks painted on it, one at the side of the arch and one directly above the arch where the number normally is, I wondered if anyone had any idea why this was done. Its probably lock 61 and bridge 150.

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By the time we reached Hassle Green it was quite warm so we stopped for lunch just above the lock. Each time I come this way I take a photo of the Romping Donkey and its demise/development, here is the latest one.DSCF0368

A boat coming down advised us that we would get lots of help at the next lock as the Trent and Mersey Canal Society were having a work party there today and sure enough we were assisted through rather than risk getting messed up on their wet paint. they really are improving the look of the flight.

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While they were locking me through Diana walked ahead to the next lock to assist the single hander going up ahead of us. We didn't catch up with him again until we got to Thurlwood Lock where Diana helped him on his way gain. We only went a short way after this mooring at the beginning of the mooring rings at Rode Heath, there are more moored boats here than we have seen anywhere else this trip.

Today's Journeymap 03 12 locks, 3¼ miles in 2¾ hours.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Wheelock Wednesday 17 October 2018

We were away a little after 10 to a warm sunny morning. Our timing was spot on for once, as we approached Middlewich bottom lock a single hander had just entered and was coming down, seeing us he didn't walk back and close up middle lock, so a double bonus, by the time he had left the bottom lock there were two boats behind us who had come up Big Lock. CRT were working on the top lock bridge laying some new boards. Looking up the canal it was completely deserted where a year ago there was a boatyard on the right and long term moorings on the left.DSCF0350

We carried on to Kings Lock to meet another boat coming down. I don't know if the Kings Lock pub is under new management but its now described as a "micropub" what ever that is.DSCF0353
Just below Booth Lane bottom lock CRT are hard at work repairing the bank.DSCF0355

The single hander who was following us up the Middlewich flight was right behind us, we had been drawing a paddle for him at each lock. When we got to the middle lock I could see quite a bit of smoke above the bridge, obviously a Bolinder engine, when the lock emptied out popped Spey, as we had to wait for Spey theDSCF0357 single hander behind us was about to leave the lock, so we let him overtake us. He had picked the boat up on the Lancaster and had been held up with stoppages, it seems he was taking it back to his yard on the Ashby canal to do it up and sell on. He hoped to moor by the Harecastle Tunnel tonight. At Booth Lane top lock we met yet another fine craft.

As it was only the second day out we needed water so stopped at Wheelock, there were only 2 boats moored at Wheelock and one of those was right on the water point. Once full we were off again. not such good luck with Wheelock bottom as they were both full, however as we went up 2 boats entered the next lock so we opened the top gate on the adjoining lock and left out lock open for them. Then a strange thing happened, I went out slowly right into the middle leaving a clear passage for both boats to come to the next lock, however the first boat out thought it would be a good idea to cross my bow and go into the opposite side lock, I have no idea why. I went into the lock he vacated only to find 2 more boats waiting above to come down.

We stopped for the night just before the next lock.

Today's Journeymap 02 7 miles 10 locks in 4½ hours.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Middlewich Tuesday 16 October 2018

Well as you see we are chugging again. Not a bad drive to the boat, the M6 was flowing well but the A14 was a bit stop and go in the Cambridge area. We stopped for a bite to eat at the Stafford services on the M6 which was a lot quieter than the others we have visited, having said that the M6 was quiet, we didn't even bother with the toll road.

It was quite over cast when we arrived at the boat, but by the time we set off at quarter to four things had brightened up a lot. We met a few boats on the move and saw one or two moored but Middlewich was surprisingly quiet. We went through Big Lock to moor for the night by the playground.

Today's Journeymap 01 4¾ miles, 1 lock in 2 hours