Wednesday 28 February 2018

Whatcroft Flash T&M Wednesday 28 February 2018

I have started this blog a bit early because I don't think we will be going anywhere today. Last night it dropped to -6.8°C in the roof and this morning there were just a couple of patches of free water in the ice. This was the view from the porthole.DSCF0298
It been sunny all morning with only a little snow flurry and I have had to do something I hate doing, running the engine without moving, just to charge the batteries.
We have gone into saving mode, just a wash and no shower in the morning to save water, Fridge off and food outside in a cold bag to save electric and engine running.
As it was nice and sunny this afternoon we went for a short walk along the towpath towards Middlewich.
I spotted the end of a culvert under the canal so went to investigate further. There are even steps right down to the water and once down there you can see right under the canal.
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All these photographs will enlarge if you click on them.
We then carried on to the next bridge and crossed to the private drive at Whatcroft Hall. There is a footpath diagonally across the field of horses but the estate have provided a permissive path alongside the drive which is much easier to traverse. The drive its self is closed off with code operated security gates.
In the field on the other side of the drive there is a good sized flock of, I think Rhea and in the next paddock Alpaca with some sheep.DSCF0311
A couple of the trees alongside the drive have been felled sometime in the past and the trunks left about 2.5mt high with the top sections being carved.
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We did consider continuing on to the road and returning on the other side of the canal but were not sure where we would be able to cross back to the boat, so we retraced our steps. Passing under the railway bridge I spotted some steps up the side of it. The twin track bridge is now only single track and the northern span has been turned into a footbridge, so we would have been able to have crossed had we taken the road. Maybe tomorrow.
We were also able to pinpoint where some of the smell around here is coming from, this tanker is spraying cattle slurry on the feild, not ground level spraying but up in a large arc from the back of the tanker.DSCF0316
As we left the railway bridge it started to snow and turn much darker, less than an hour ago it was bright sunshine.DSCF0317
I read on Neil's Blog that the new water point in Leamington on the Grand Union Canal is not for boaters after all and has a non CRT padlock on it. It seems from what I have heard the company that built the student accommodation wanted rather a lot of money from CRT for the use of it and CRT said no, its too much.DSCF9139
Today's Journey Nowhere

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Whatcroft Flash Tuesday 27 February 2018

The canal was Iced over before we went to bet last night so it was no surprise to see it covered in snow when we woke up this morning, The snow didn't last long in the sun but we needed to rethink our plans. We are not bothered if we get iced in for several days as we have food, water etc. but we do have appointments to keep on the 9 March. Our original plan was to travel along the Bridgewater canal, but if we do and then get stuck we could struggle to get back to the marina in time so we thought it better to stay closer to home. By lunch time the ice was rotting and the DSCF0288ducks were able to make holes in it. The boat we were travelling with yesterday left about 10 am heading for Runcorn, so if we had have gone that way there was I nice channel cut in the ice.

We finally set off at 1315 hrs. no boats had been passed so we broke ice down to the winding hole and the retraced our steps south. The thickest ice was just through the first bridge beforeDSCF0291 Anderton Services, where again we topped the water tank up. After the serviced the ice was patchy but unbroken and then we ran into continuous but rotten soft ice, it didn't even crack as you went through it.DSCF0292

The new plan was to stop at the Salt Museum for the night, but when we arrived we fond a boater had already left cutting a nice channel for us to follow in. The strange thing was when we reached the Tata Salt works the ice ended and we didn't see any more until we reached The Big Flash. Again the cold and steam from purifying the salt gave the chance of a nice photo.DSCF0296

Passing under the road bridge at Broken Cross I spotted this sign on the off side, its the third I have seen this week.DSCF0283

By the time we had moored on the flash it was turning colder again, but we soon had 2 pins in the bank and were inside in the warm. Looking out its still bright sunshine but to the east the almost full moon is high in the sky and the temperature is just above freezing.

Today's Journeymap 11 5¾ Miles in 2¼ hours

Monday 26 February 2018

Anderton Monday 26 Feb 2018

10 o'clock this morning and the temperature had actually started dropping so we decided to stay put for a while. I was very surprised that the canal wasn't frozen over as it was freezing before we went to bed last night.

By twenty past eleven the sun was out so we made a move, very little wind and the first flurry of snow. We had just moved off an a boat came behind us through the bridge. The were well crewed up and they walked forward to lend a hand at Wardle Lock. Diana was there first and found the bottom paddle up, The safety Pawl is very stiff and she had to thump it to release it, I have oiled it which has helped but it still doesn't drop by its self so I have reported it with other faults to CRT. The other crew closed up for us so we made our way to the Middlewich Locks where we made good progress and were able to back set for the following boat. The bottom lock has a tooth broken from the gate paddle, so a bit of care is needed there as well. DSCF0281Big Lock was empty with a bottom paddle two clicks up and by the time we had it ready and the gates open the other boat had caught us up.

After the lock we encounter several patches of ice, but someone had been through before us so it was all broken well it was until we passed the Salt barge and then we were breaking it.

As we passed through the Salt Works the cold weather was giving a good vapour cloud crossing the canal. DSCF0284

We carried on in the sunshine stopping at Anderton Services to fill with water, in this weather it pays to keep the tank full as we could easily get stuck for a few days in ice. Talking of ice there was a nice little ice stalagmite under the water tap. DSCF0287Once full we went about another quarter of a mile to moor for the night by the Anderton Lift.

Today's Journeymap 10 10½ Miles, 5 Locks in 4¼ Hours

Sunday 25 February 2018

Middlewich Sunday 25 February 2018

As planed we at The old Barbridge Inn last night, they weren't overly busy with plenty of staff on, so no long waits. We both had the Lamb which wasn't cheap but a very tasty dish and each finished off with a sweet. They had 3 local Weetwood beers on.

This morning we set off at 1030 to find somewhere to turn round, After about 2250 yard I thought the canal was wide enough to turn in, it was and I suspect you would be able to get something a little over 60 feet round without a problem, we didn't touch ether bank or ground. Back past the pub waving to Dave and then sharp right at Barbridge Junction down the Middlewich Branch. We had just about cleared all the moored boats when we met a boat and we were to meet another before the locks which was handy. CRT are installing a new water point at the end of the lock moorings above Cholmondeston lock, I don't think its in use yet.DSCF0277

The volunteers have done a great job hedge laying along this section, I wonder if a trip to Suffolk would be to far for them.DSCF0276

We carried on in the bright sunshine, there were the occasional isolated patches of ice, probably 6-7mm thick but already broken. One field we passed had 4 buzzards sitting on the ground, but 3 flew off living just this one as we approached, looking closely I thought one leg didn't look quite right.DSCF0278

At Nanny's Bridge we had a few words with Peter who was working in the garden. The new paddle gear on the bottom gates on Minshull lock is getting very stiff, its not the paddles but the winding mechanism that is the problem, maybe the gat has settled and the shafts are a touch out of line and binding, it looked well greased. We decided that Middlewich would be our mooring for tonight, if its as cold as forecast we may not be going anywhere tomorrow of the next couple of days, so we have moored between bridges 29 and 30.

Today’s Journeymap 09 10 Miles 3 locks in 4 hours

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.