Thursday 30 November 2017

Kidsgrove Thursday 30 November 2017

We woke this morning to find the canal covered in a very thin layer of ice and checking the weather station found that the outside temperature dropped to -5.6° last night, but it wasn't long before the sun was out beaming down on us. DSCF9796

We decided to wait until 11 o'clock to set off to let it thaw a bit, we only had the boat hull blacked last month so didn't really want to cut it off at the water line. The boat moored ahead of us but travelling the other way set off about half ten and the ice didn't look to bad.

As we headed south the ice got harder and thicker, up to about 8mm in places but mostly much thinner, we had to cut a channel all the way to Heritage Narrowboats, after this we found that someone else had already been through.DSCF9801

The railings each side of the Dane Aqueduct have been nicely painted, but I am not sure why they picked the bigger uprights out in that redish colour.DSCF9800

There are some very long straight sections on this canal, here I am looking back as far as the eye can see.DSCF9805

CRT contractors were hard a work cutting the edges of the towpath, the ice supported the cut grass as it fell on the canal. They were also cutting well to the back edge.DSCF9803

The railway criss-crosses the canal in several places and then runs parallel for long stretches often crossing long viaducts, I wonder if HS2 will look as splendid.DSCF9777

This canal is renowned for its elegant turn over bridges, these were built to allow the horse towing a boat to cross the canal without un-hitching the tow line, a horse walking towards us would pass under the bridge on the left of the picture, climb the spiral ramp, cross the canal and then come down the ramp on the straight right hand side.DSCF9809

A couple of days ago I mentioned the towpath closure at Hall Green Lock, I took a photo today and as you can see the ends of the rails stick out over the water, this side of the rails is the lock and the DSCF9812other side the water point and visitor moorings. So if you leave the moorings or stop for water before the lock you have to hake you crew back on board to pass the barriers that stick out over the water, then pull in again so they can work the lock. This barrier is because of a damaged bridge about 300 Mts away.

Also at Hall Green Lock a CRT volunteer and I assume a CRT employee were laying a new path along half the lock, but they looked to be topping it up with sand.DSCF9813

We continued on to moor for the night on the Red Bull Aqueduct as tomorrow night we will be going to The Red Bull pub for Christmas dinner with The Trent and Mersey Canal Society so we didn't want to be iced in miles away.

Today's Journeymap 06 9½ miles, 1 lock in 4 hours.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Dane Aqueduct Wednesday 29 November 2017

Well no frost for us last night, but a boat that came passed as I was fitting the tiller said he ropes were frozen stiff and he was less than a mile behind us. It must have been the lea of the hedge that kept us warm.

We set off at ten to ten in bright sunshine but it didn't last long and we soon had full cloud cover which made it feel cooler.

At Congleton Aqueduct they were injecting Polyurethane Foam into the side of the tow path to try and stop the water leaking out of the canal down onto the road. They had a pollution sausage in the canal to contain any spillage that we just manager to squeeze past.DSCF9773

A rather unusual Narrowboat was moored just north of the town, it looks as if the cabin been clad in brass sheeting. We have seen this boat before moored just at the bottom of the Bosley Locks on the offside.DSCF9774

They had some quite substantial stone fence posts along the canal, I understand that they use to thread the old worn out pit winding ropes through them to make a barrier.DSCF9778

We had two Kingfishers join us today but which was a bit unusual was they both flew past from behind and then just sat until we passed before moving forward again.DSCF9779

The second one stopped on an overhanging branch and went into a dive just as we got level with him. I was all set to snap as he resurfaced but he cheated me by aborting his dive just before hitting the water and flying away. Here he is about to take off to started his dive.DSCF9786

In one of the fields we passed a flock of sheep, but some of them were a nice shade of red, something I have not seen before.DSCF9788

We went up through lock 12 of the Bosley Flight where there is room to wind and then dropped down again to moor at the DSCF9794visitor moorings for the night before heading back to Kidsgrove.

This canal has been awarded the Keep Britain Tidy Green Flag so there is a little symbol on all the mooring signs.DSCF9792

Today's Journeymap 05 7¾ miles, 2 locks in just over 3 hours.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Scholar Green Tuesday 28 November 2017

Well what a different day, only a little rain over night and then this morning a lovely sunrise. It almost dropped to freezing last night and frost was appearing on wood and grass this morning as it actually got colder for a while.

Yesterday I mentioned a boat that had gokart tyres as fenders with footballs inflated inside them, we passed it this morning so I took a photo.DSCF9756

For the first part of the journey all locks were against us until we cleared Church Top Lock and then things bucked up, even though we caught a boat up where was having breakfast in Church Bottom Lock.

Just below Lawton Bottom lock at the winding hole the canal use to swing out to the left before rejoining at the winding hole just below Halls Lock. Today it was possible to clearly see part of the route of the old canal, DSCF9759

the loop was chopped of when the locks were paired. The canal is crossed by a wide cart bridge just below Lawton Top Lock and a pair of stone gate posts are still in place on the off side at the entrance to the bridge, the reason for these is quite DSCF9760obvious, what is less obvious is what the pair of gate posts are for half way along the side of the lock, unless the loaded boats while in the lock?DSCF9761

Being a nice clear day wilt blue sky's Mow Cop was easily visible in the distance and the sun actually made it feel quite warm at times.

After Townfield Lock we always had a lock set ready, even though we were following another boat and we had only me one coming down, a second appeared out of Red Bull lock just at the right moment. As we were leaving Limekiln Lock I could see a boat cross the aqueduct behind us so expected to meet him at the junction or Plants Lock but there was no sign of them. I made a complete mess turning into Hardings Wood Junction as I took it very slowly expecting a horn to blow, but all I got was a gust of wind through the bridge which stopped the bows going round. As we rounded the slight bend just beyond the junction there was the boat that had been on the aqueduct, now collecting fire wood.

The canal now takes us round in a complete 270° turn towards the Macclesfield Canal as can be seen by this map shot from Motion X.map 04a

The Macclesfield Canal really starts at Hall Green Lock that has a rise of about 9 inches. Beside the lock was this notice warning that the canal was closed at the Marple Flight, we wont be going that far this time.DSCF9770

Just beyond the lock the towpath is closed and they have erected a wooden barrier that makes it a bit difficult for boaters as it sticks out over the canal and there is a water point just the other side of it. The other end of the closure was just through Hall Green Bridge and I suspect this is the reason for the closure, some one has hit the bridge.DSCF9771

It wasn't long before we passed Ramsdell Hall and by now it was turning a bit chillyDSCF9772

and overcast so a mooring was called for. There are visitor moorings almost opposite the hall but they were a bit open and a chilly breeze had sprung up so we went a little further and moored in the lee of the hedge, we even got quite close to the bank which is unusual on this canal away from recognised moorings.

Today's Journeymap 04 6 mile, 13 locks in 4½ hours

Monday 27 November 2017

Rode Heath Monday 27 November 2017

For those that follow our travels can probably guess where we had diner last night, the Italian Restaurant Barchetta, It just started to drizzle as we walked back to the boat and then it really started raining again, it was even raining as we were about to get up which didn't bode well.

By the time we had breakfast the rain had stopped and we finally set off at ten to ten, I am pleased to say it didn't rain again until about five minutes after we moored up.

If it had been raining we were going to stop at Hassall Green but as it was still fine, just, we carried on to Rode Heath for the night.

We only saw one other boat on the move and that was one we caught up with at Thurlwood Bottom Lock so we hat to wait for them at Thurlwood Top Lock as its only a single lock.

All the locks today have been against us, so each has to be emptied before we could use it, its a bit more work but on a flight doesn't slow us down as while I work the boat up one lock and close the gates, Diana is getting the next one ready for when I arrive. Its a bit slower on the first of the flight as I have to wait while the lock empties before going in, luckily the Cheshire locks are grouped together in bunches which helps a lot. At Hassall Green they are still working on the M6 motorway and have cast these block onto the support columns under the outside lane of the carriage way.DSCF9754

Since we have been moored up another boat has gone by, so that is two on the move today. Like lots of people he is using gocart tyres as fenders, but he has inflated a small football inside them to stop them flattening.

Today's Journey map 03 3.9 miles, 14 locks in 3½ hours

Sunday 26 November 2017

Wheelock Sunday 26 November 2017

It rained on and off all night, well I heard it whenever I woke up and this morning the rain gauge had recorded 7mm.

We set off at 9-30 the same time as the boat just ahead was untying, but he went backward to the winding hole while we headed towards Big Lock. We needed water so stopped below the lock to fill up. Nb. Gailey was moored up across from the water point.DSCF9732

Someone, somehow has managed to bend the paddle operating rod on Big Lock bottom gate, this is a piece of solid square bar about 20mm by 20mm so how they managed it I don't know.DSCF9733

A short stop above the lock for Diana to visit Tesco for spuds and it was off up the Middlewich 3. Looking back Andersen had their fleet home for the winter and they already have two out on hard standing.DSCF9735

All three locks were against us and the weather couldn't make its mind up, rain, sun coming and going as we made our way up the flight.

At Kings Lock things got better, a boat had just come down and turned into Wardle Lock so apart from leakage the lock was with us as was Rumps. Every time we have been through Rumps lock recently there has been loads of dog poo in the offside right where you need to walk. Someone must be taking there dog over that side specifically.

A little further on and a Kingfisher flashed by, only to sit on the concrete edge just ahead of us.DSCF9740

The house at Sandbach has improved their decking a bit moreDSCF9743

since last we passed this way, I wonder if any of the other house owners will do anything with the bit of rough land in front of their houses. I don't know if these are official CRT notices on the towpath, this section is now a nice hard surface, just right for high speed cyclists.DSCF9744

You can see form this photograph what sort of weather we have been enjoying today, but since we moored up at Wheelock it has been dry, more than can be said about under foot.DSCF9747

Today's Journeymap 2 7 miles 9 locks in 4 hours.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Middlewich Saturday 25 November 2017

We set off from Suffolk a little after 9 am this morning to a bright sunny but cold morning, we had a good frost overnight and the fields were still white. As we headed north west it got warmer and wetter. Then the good news an accident on the M6 14 to 15 slowing things down. Because of the traffic we had already decided to take the toll road. We left the motor way at Junction 14 joining again at 15 only to hear that the road was now open, but it added less than 10 minutes to the journey and it would still probably been very slow, it was all the way from 16 to 18.

We unloaded the car in the rain with a grand rainbow right across the marina. First job fire the stove up followed by the engine and then the off.

We left the moorings at five past three in very light rain which improved as we went along. Oakfield Marina is coming along, they now have some of the pontoon walkways in and almost ready to put the roof on the building.

We didn't see a single boat moored or moving until we reached Middlewich where we moored ourselves, just before the winding hole around four fifty but which time the light was going fast.

There are some quite large puddles around so they have obviously had quite a bit or rain in the area, unlike the East of the Country.

Our plan this trip is just to go up to Kidsgrove to have a Christmas Lunch with the Trent and Mersey canal Society.

Today's Journey map 014½ miles in 1½ hours