Monday 31 October 2016

Marina Monday 31 October 2016

It was a lovely morning, Diana took a walk to town while I did a couple of jobs around the boat, we finally set off at mid day. Big Lock was with us, it just needed topping up and just as I entered a boat came round the corner behind us so I pulled across in the lock to let her in beside us.

At the Croxton Flash the geese were making use of the submerged bank.DSCF6379

We passed a farmer spreading slurry on the field, he was attached to something by a large umbilical tube that fed the slurry to his tractor while he drove up and down spraying it out.DSCF6381

When we reached out marina the batteries where still not recharged from last night so we carried on through the Tata salt works.DSCF6392

On to Wincham Wharf with all their moored boat and round the bend to the winding hole by another chemical works. As we winded we were treated to a display of aerial acrobatics by thisDSCF6399 Kestrel, a few moments later he dived across to the other side of the canal to pounce on something before flying off with it in its talons. I wasn’t quick enough to catch that.
From here we returned to our marina arriving just as the sun was going down.DSCF6404

Today’s Journey  map 15 9½ miles, 1 lock in 4 hours.


Our total for the trip 123 miles 52 locks in 57¼ hours

Sunday 30 October 2016

Middlewich Sunday 30 November 2016

Someone told me that you should have had an extra hour in bed last night, all I can say is I don’t remember it.

It was a murky sort of day with very light drizzle, I ended up keeping the coat on all day. As we made our way to Cholmondeston Lock I spotted this topiary on the bank behind theDSCF6364 long term moorings, a little further on was another work in progress.DSCF6365 No queue at the lock today, just one boat coming up and we were away.

We were keeping an eye out for friends on their shared ownership boat, luckily when we met there was no one about so we just stopped mid channel for a chat and help eat their biscuits. We didn’t meet any more boats after that until we got to Wardle Lock where there were two coming up. We passed the old working boat Gailey moored up, but not sitting so low as she was last week when we saw her. (see HERE )DSCF6371 

If your engine packs up on your Narrowboat but you need to get somewhere what do you do, well here is one answer to the problem.DSCF6377 At one time there use to be several places where you got a good view of the Weaver Flashes, now you only get the odd flash if you are looking in the right direction at the right time, here is one of those moments. The trees have grown up so much since the first  time we came this way.DSCF6375 In Middlewich we spotted a friend in her garden as we passed, well to be honest she spotted us and called out, we were looking for her but she was behind the hedge. We couldn’t stop for many minutes as there was a boat leaving Wardle lock and another waiting to come back, so we said we would walk back for a chat and cup of tea. We dropped down through the three Middlewich locks and moored for the night a short way above Middlewich Big lock, from here we walked through town back to spend the afternoon with our friends.

Today’s Journey  map14

9¼ miles, 7 locks, 3 canals, 1 junction in 4½ hours

Saturday 29 October 2016

Cholmondeston Saturday October 28 2016

Well it wasn’t cattle we could hear last night it was The Boneyard Skatepark which is housed in one of the large industrial buildings across the canal, it must have been them landing we could hear going bump.

When I looked out before going to bed the fuel boat Halsall was moored behind us. Of course he was long gone when we were ready to leave at 10-30 ish.
Like so many mornings this trip there was not a breath of wind and the canal was like a sheet of glass.

DSCF6347As we passed the entrance to Tattenhall Marina we could see that the bridge  was a favourite with the local sea gull population as they graced the handrails, this would account for the amount of bird poo on there.DSCF6348

We met quite a lot of boats today which helped us on our way, looking back as we left Wharton’s Lock I saw someone come up to turn it so we had a boat just one lock behind us. We arrived at Beeston Iron lock to find someone filling it, there were two boats at the top to come down and although the notices say that only one boat should pass through the lock at a time, these two came down together without a problem.DSCF6352

When they left we went in and locked up, by the time we were at the top another boat was waiting to come down and by the time we reached Beeston Stone lock that had been turned for two boats to come down. Once they had gone we sat in the bottom of Stone lock with the bottom gate open until the boat we saw earlier caught us up so that we could do the rest of the locks together. Talking to the other boater about the two going down together he told me how he got caught up going down in the summer so treats it with great respect.

We saw more geese crossing high in the sky but where to high to identify but definitely not our Canadian friends this time.DSCF6350

As we approached the Bunbury Stair case locks we met a boat so expected to have to fill the top chamber, but when Diana arrived it was already full as there were two Volockies on duty. Diana arrived well before me because below the lock is Anglo Welch hireDSCF6357 base and the had boats moored 3 abreast leaving just room for one boat to get through, it also left very little room at the bottom of the lock if 2 boats had been coming down.DSCF6355

With the help of the two Volockies we were soon on our way stopping at the calveley services for water. I think this use to be a cheese loading warehouse for Cheshire Cheese years ago with its cantilevered coved way to load in the dry. They still make and sell cheese next door with a shop right onto the tow path  DSCF6360Once watered up we expected a swift passage to Barbridge Junction where we would turn left onto the Middlewich Branch, wrong, we came up behind a boat that was going so slow I had to jeep going into neutral,  the boat ahead of him was going about the same pace but a good 150 mts ahead. When we reached the junction he stopped, he spotted a boat approaching the narrower bit where the water point use to be the other side of the junction, at this point I slid down beside him and turned into the Middlewich Branch, as he looked at me I greeted him by speaking but he was completely expressionless as he looked back, maybe all the cans had something to do with it.

We carried on along the Middlewich branch finally mooring up just before the winding hole about 3 bridges down. There is campshedding piling along this section but we are about 6” out on the mud.

Today’s Journey   map 13

9¼ miles, 6 locks, 1 junction, 2 canals in 5¼ hours

Friday 28 October 2016

Tattenhall Marina Friday October 28 2016

We woke to fine drizzle after a very quiet night. Last night we returned to Meze restaurant for another meal and they were almost a busy as the Tuesday night. I recommend it.

We were in no rush to get away so we had a wander around Chester Cathedral, we would have taken a trip up the tower but they didn’t take place until this afternoon. At the moment they are building a scale model of the Cathedral using Lego bricks, they still have a long way to go but the floors are laid and the walls nearly all started. There is a lot more information on their web site HERE It will take about 350,000 bricks to complete it. We then had a wander round town only to find they were erecting barriers all over the place, large screen TVs and a stage of some description, a bit of Googling told me that it was the world rally championship of Wales was ending there tonight.

We finally left in the sunshine after lunch, the first stage of our journey was quite slow as we could see the restaurant boat The L’eau-t Cuisine  ahead of us, they were in turn waiting for a Narrowboat to come down Hoole Lane Lock before they could go up, once they were clear of the lock we could empty it and go up ourselves, so what normally takes 10 minutes took us about half an hour.

The L’eau-t Cuisine is an unusual craft in that she has a pointed bow and stern, also a rudder at each end and a propeller at each end, so she has no need to turn round, this is very useful as she starts her cruise at the Mill Hotel, travels north to the top of the Northgate Locks then south as far as the bottom of Chemistry Lock before going north again to the Mill Hotel.

DSCF6342The Bows

DSCF6341     Bow rudder DSCF6337      The stern

looking back towards the town from Hoole Lane Lock to the right of the canal is the old shot tower, it was hear that molten lead was pored through a frame at the top and by the time the lead reached the bottom it was all in uniform spheres to be loaded into shotgun cartridges. It was still in use in 2001 and in its early days produced musket shot for the Napoleonic wars.The factory around the tower is now being ripped apart with all the roofs removed and it is planned to become a housing development, however the tower will remain as it is grade II listed. DSCF6338Apart from the restaurant boat and the boat that came down the lock we didn’t see anyone else on the move, we slipped passed the mile and a half of moored boats without upsetting anyone but I did smile when I saw this at the bottom of a garden, it was the same bungalow that had the cricket match on the lawn.DSCF6344   

We stopped for the night on the 48hr moorings outside Tattenhall Marina, we are not sure if this was a good move because there is an agricultural unit opposite and we keep hearing big bumps like you get from a shed full of animals but we haven’t actually heard any animal noises.

Today’s Journey  map 127¼ miles, 5 locks in 4 hours

Thursday 27 October 2016

Chester Thursday 27 October 2016

This morning was quite warm but it kept trying to rain, thankfully it failed. We were just retracing our steps to Chester. I knew there was a steam boat moored along here so wanted to get some photos of it, what I didn’t realise was that a Kingfisher was sat on the tiller and I got a photo of it without trying.

DSCF6307 DSCF6310 DSCF6312 

But the best was yet to come, the Kingfisher flew on for a few boats, then dived to catch a fish before returning to the tiller of another boat to eat it. Due to the sequence of events I still had the camera in my hand and it was still switched on.DSCF6314

Another unusual sight was two CRT lengths men walking towards each other noting defects as they went, lets hope any defects they spot get recorded. The were wearing what looked a very useful garment that was also a life jacket something like this.lifejacketclick picture for details

We stopped in the lower basin at Chester beside the dry dock to DSCF6324 fill with water, in the new building on the other side of the canal there are now showers and toilets. We pulled onto the 48 hr moorings just passed here to eat lunch before tackling the locks.

The Northgate staircase held a few surprises for us. The first was the bottom lock was draining as we approached, Diana went up and reported two boats were just entering the top chamber and there was a Volocky on duty, he was the second surprise, we thought they had finished for the winter. The third surprise was that he had suggested a shuffle in the middle chamber and the other two boats were happy with it. The final surprise came as I saw the bow of the second boat above the lock gates ahead of me, It was Martin on Halsall who sells coal, diesel and lots of other useful items around the system.DSCF6331

When the top pound is dropped into the middle chamber quite a bit of water comes over the top of the gates.

When two boats are coming down and one going up you have to shuffle in the middle chamber. This means one of the boat travelling down comes into the lower chamber beside the boat going up, the other boat in the middle chamber moves to theDSCF6332 other side, the boat going up enters the middle chamber beside the second one waiting to come down, while the boat that just entered the lower chamber moves sideways behind the boat going up, so that the second boat can leave the middle chamber and move into the lower one. The gates are then shut and whileDSCF6334 the lower chamber is emptied and the boats going down can leave the middle chamber is filled so that the boat going up can move to the top chamber. Now you can see why I was surprised when the Volocky suggested it, try explaining that to two boats who a have only been out for a week and don’t have a clue what you are trying to do. This not only saves time but also water.

Once clear of the locks we carried on for about quarter of a mile to moor at King Charles Tower Gardens, we are hoping this may be a bit quieter than the next moorings up where we stopped on the way down.

After mooring up we walked the other direction round the town walls passing the River Dee and the weir with a gate in it which is supposed to allow boats to travel from the Shropshire Union canal down 3 locks to the tidal Dee and at high tide through the gate in the crest of the weir to carry on up the none tidal Dee. I don’t know the last time it was used but a friend of mine took a boat through there in 2004. Its a pity it is not maintained better as it is the only one in England so unique.

Today’s Journey   map 11

6 miles, 3 locks in 3¼ hours

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Stoak Wednesday 26 October 2016

Last night we went to a Turkish restaurant a short way from the moorings, it had some first class reviews on Tripadvisor  and it certainly lived up to them. Meze in Frodsham Street.

last nights moorings were reasonably quiet for being in a City, the road by the canal is a dead end and I only heard one group of walkers going by.

This morning we set off at 1030 am passed the City walls and the older 48 hour moorings at King Charles tower moorings, there was only one boat here last night but it looks quieter than where we were. DSCF6282

When we arrived at Northgate Staircase Locks the hire boat we had seen yesterday was sitting above them. It turned out they had tried to go down, but there was so much water coming in through the closed top gates they couldn't get a level with the middle pound, so they refilled the lock and came out. We set the locks again and had another try together, this time the top gates were almost leak free so that was that problem solved, however it was still a struggle opening the bottom gate of the top chamber as the level in the middle chamber seemed to be slowly slipping away and these locks are not that well endowed with paddle capacity, but an extra bum on the beam sorted it. After that it all went to plan. The gates of the locks have foot/handDSCF6286 holes cut into them, probably harder to use than the slimy ladder I went down. At the bottom a boat had arrived and was waiting to go up, so they had to reset all the levels before setting off.

As you leave the locks the canal turns right under the railway and then on the right is Telford’s Warehouse now an entertainment venue and use to be the cause of sleepless nights for boaters moored down there.DSCF6288

There has been a lot of new development along the canal since we were this way last, also the Shropshire Union Canal Society have put in several 48 hour mooring sites between Chester and Elsmere Port.

A short way before bridge 134 there are a series of small square posts in the grass between the canal edge and the towing path, they look like the pegs builders use when setting out a site, does anyone know what they are for?DSCF6290  One of the old boatyards near Elsmere has now disappeared to be replaced by a large industrial estate.DSCF6301 As we approached Elsmere Port we were waved down by a policeman enquiring as to whether we had seen a man on a mobility scooter with an air gun.Unfortunately we were unable to help them with their enquiries.

On the final approach to the museum there are two new bridges very close together, the 146a carrying both lanes of the M53 and the channel is continuous through the two, so the trip boat coming the other way had to wait while we came through, for a Narrowboat the channel is quite wide, but for the trip boat which is a bit wider its a tight fit.

We moored just before the entrance to the museum and went for a walk round the outside of the basins. The bridge that gives access to the Holiday Inn looks unused, well the locks allowing bots to pass under it does, but on closer inspection all the chains and moving parts have been sprayed with a silver protective grease, such a shame they swung the bridge after applying it and wiped it all off the exposed hydraulic ram. We returned to the boat and after winding made our way back in the direction of DSCF6295 - Copy Chester stopping after an hour for the night by the village of Stoak.

Today’s Journey

Sorry no map, finger trouble. but we have done 11¼ miles, 3 locks in 4½ hours

The map from tomorrow which is the same as today but in the other direction.map 11

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Chester Tuesday 25 October 2016

It was almost 1030 when we set off and again a lovely day without a breath of wind. There was even a cricket match taking place, but they looked a bit short of fielders.DSCF6273

We passed a couple of fields containing a crop that was in flower. the flowers being yellow and the plants between 2’6” and 3’0” tall. It seemed a bit late in the year for so much flower.DSCF6275 DSCF6275 We haven’t taken water for a couple of days so stopped just before Christleton Lock to fill up, no sooner had we tied up than a hire boat arrived behind us and then a third boat wanting water. Once full we left them to it and made our way down through the lock Looking forward towards the next lock I saw an Airbus Beluga pass over in the distance, I could also see a boat coming up the next lock so we left the gate for them, it didn’t help much because as I looked back as I entered the next lock, the lock was being turned as they made their way up the pound towards it. By now there was another boat waiting to come up, so off we went down and away. Just before Chemistry Lock there is a fine water DSCF6278tower which I guess is still used. This is looking back at it from the lock. Looking forward the terraced houses on the off side of the canal seem to fall away with the land.DSCF6277  

On the Offside between Hoole lane Lock and Chemistry Lock there are a row of cottages, but I do wonder what they were originally, a school, chapel, hospital?DSCF6279 Leaving this behind we pushed on down into the city passing some giant rudder stocks and tillers set it the gardens of some flats. I couldn’t see if they had blades or not.DSCF6280

We stopped at the 48 hour moorings just before Cow Lane Bridge, there are several boats moored here but non through the bridge by the gardens and City wall.

Once moored we did a quick visit to Tesco before walking half way round the City on the wall and then back through the centre.

Today’s Journey  map 10 4¼ miles, 5 Locks  in 2¾ hours