Thursday 28 February 2019

Thursday 28 February 2019 Wheelock

Day :Thursday
Date :28 February 2019
Start :0945
Finish :1300 Wheelock
We made an early start today for some reason. The weather has made quite a change from the last few days, when we set off it was very dull and overcast, but not in the slightest damp. That all changed at Kings Lock, as we locked up in the dry we were watching the rain fall in the pound above to within 10 feet of the top gate and as there was no breeze at all the boundary didn't move, but we did into it and it rained for the rest of the journey.
As we approached the end of the Middlewich Arm I spotted this duck climbing the steps, its probably a female Mandarin we didn't spot her partner anywhere.
CRT have been cutting back the offside vegetation along here, this was very evident at Rumps Lock where the conifer has had a good seeing to.
Looking at the salt works a little further along it looks as if at one time a railway line ran right through the building so that wagons could be filled undercover, today lorries use it.
A short time back CRT replaced the lock moorings at Booth Lane bottom lock, it was quite a big job, it now looks as if they need to do the ones below the middle lock as well. They have put some white posts in to give temporary mooring.
We carried on in the now heavier rain to moor for the night at Wheelock, tucking in behind the floating Blacksmith on his boat Emily towing his forge on the butty Bronte.
Today's Journey
6½ miles, 6 locks in 3¼ hours.

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Wednesday 27 February 2019 Middlewich Arm

Day :Wednesday
Date :27 February 2019
Start :1000
Finish :1415 Middlewich breach site

A bit of a restless night last night, there seemed a lot of traffic noise so I don't know if something was happening on the Northwich Bypass, but it was a lot quieter this morning when it was time to get up.
Another grand sunny day and we were soon on our way to Barbridge Junction. On the way we met two canoes coming

towards us on the water and a CRT licence checker on the towpath. Diana was at the helm and she made a perfect turn into the arm, even with someone standing on the bridge watching.
The lock Fairy was back at work, well at least for this morning as both Cholmondeston and Church Minshull were with us, at the first a lady even opened the top gate for me which was nice of her. Just below Minshull lock at Nannies Bridge I saw a boat approaching the bridge towing a small cruiser, so I held well back but he still stopped and crossed the canal, while he was sorting himself out I was able to have a chat with Peter, we always give him a hoot as we pass, but today he saw us coming.
A long train of what looked like cement tankers was making its way along the nearby line, pulled by a diesel locomotive.
As we made our way towards Bridge a male Goosander kept diving and swimming ahead of us, eventually he took to the are and I was able to get this shot of him.
When we arrived at Stanthorne it was obvious the Fairy was only starting back part time and it was against us. We moored just below the lock in the new concrete channel that was put in to repair the breach, they have installed 8 mooring rings at the west end of it spaced at about 36 foot apart, so quite handy.
Today's Journey
10½ miles, 3 locks in 4¼ hours.

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Tuesday 26 February 2019 Hurleston Junction

Day : Tuesday
Date : 26 February 2019
Start : 1030
Finish : Hurleston Junction 1430

We went to The Cotton Arms to eat last night and I must say we were not disappointed and I will definitely go there again when we are passing. They had three beers on the pumps plus the fizzy stuff. I had a very nice Chicken and leek pie with veg. where as Diana had Gammon, eggs, pineapple, peas and chips and it was all first class.
Last night was very clear and even colder but the temperature was well into double figures by 10 o'clock with bright sun and clear blue sky.

First job this morning was a walk into the village which is growing at an alarming rate, then back to the boat to set off at 1030. As we walked back the hire base were moving one of their boats back to the yard via the lift bridge, the chap from the yard was very considerate holding the barrier open to allow several cars to cross before lifting the bridge. By the time we got to the bridge there
weren't any cars coming so Diana had no problem but there were a few waiting by the time we had finished.
As expected all the locks were against us and we didn't see another boat on the move until we reached Hurleston, and that was just leaving the bottom of the flight, but at least it was full of water today.
Someone has erected a box on the towpath by Baddiley Lock 3, I suspect its CRT but I did wonder how they fixed it down without opening the door, as its still wrapped up.
We stopped for water at the top of the Hurleston locks before making our way back to the main line. Once there we reversed through bridge 97 to moor in the same stop we were at Sunday night.
Today's Journey
6½ Miles, 9 locks in 4 hours

Monday 25 February 2019

Monday 25 February 2019 Wrenbury

This morning at 6-30 it was freezing outside, by 10 o'clock it was in double figures but there was still some frost on the grass in the shade.
The Lock Fairy is definitely on holiday, we arrived at Hurleston locks and the bottom pound is dry, so Diana went to the top to let
water down while I locked as high as I could in the first lock. Needles to say the other three locks were all full.
As we approached Swanley Locks a boater was just going out of the top, so that's them against us as well. In the course of the day we met 3 boats but not one of them in a position to give us any advantage.
I think this is probably the smartest "Slow" sign I have seen on the system.
We were unable to go very far due to ongoing stoppages so we had to wind just above Wrenbury before coming back down stream. We have moored for the night just before Wrenbury Lift Bridge with a view to eat at The Dusty Miller, but its closed on a Monday, I just hope the other pub is doing food.
Today's Journey
8¼ miles, 9 locks in 5 hours.

Sunday 24 February 2019

Sunday 24 February 2019 Hurleston Junction

Last night we ate at The Lord Combermere a short walk from the canal and found it very enjoyable with friendly staff.
This morning we woke to thick fog and it was still quite misty when we set off at 10 o'clock.
We new some of the locks would be with us as a boat went up about 5 pm yesterday leaving the top gates open. Someone had closed the gates but didn't notice that they had also left the offside paddle half up. The only one of the 4 against us was outside the Shroppie Fly and I expect one of the boats moored there closed that one up.
The dew was making itself known on the cobwebs and the pine needles as the droplets sparkled in the sun.

By the bottom lock or lock 1 there is a small garden on the offside, its been there for years and I have no idea who tends it, but this year it has a superb crop of stop planks in one of the beds.
Hack Green top lock was also with us, but the bottom one against us, so today we won on 4 out of the 6.
In Nantwich again there were loads of mooring spaces along the embankment, its a pity CRT couldn't have used one of them to moor their work boat in stead of taking up half the service moorings, luckily we filled up at Audlem as there was also a boat on the services and we couldn't have waited anywhere because CRT had two more boat on the "No Mooring" section opposite the services.

We moored up for a while by Acton Bridge and walked to the village for a look round, whilst walking round the church they were putting out signs for "Tea in the Tower" and we were invited in, but as they were only just setting up we elected to pay a visit on our return. We thought we would find The Star village pub, but it is no more, now turned into houses. We returned to St Mary's church for tea and cake before looking round and having a tour of the first floor of the tower, where the bells are rung from. Then back to the boat to move down to Hurleston Junction for the night. Since we have been moored here we have seen more boat moving than we have the past 2 days.

Finally to the gentleman who said he reads my blog that walked passed us in Nantwich, its always nice to meet people who read this drivel I write each day we are moving.

Today's Journey

8 miles, 6 locks in 4 hours.

Saturday 23 February 2019

Saturday 23 February 2019 Audlem

A boat went past while we were still having breakfast, but as no boats had come up it made no difference the locks would against us whenever we went. We pushed off just before 10-30 in the end so as not to sit on the other boats tail and if anything was coming up we would have a couple with us (wishful thinking we didn't see another boat until we were ready to moor up).
For some reason BT find it easier just to string the telephone wire along the bank and hedgerow,
rather than put it up poles
well it saves trimming the trees back where the wire should hang.
One of the farmers had a very good crop of seagulls growing in his field.
They have some interesting mile markers along this canal, most canals they indicate the distance between two points, normally each end of the canal, but in this case they actually give three locations.
Some of the views down the flight are quite good, I wish I had gone onto bridge Bagley Lane Bridge to take one as I think the extra height would have improved the shot.
Today's Journe
2¼ miles 11 locks in 2 hours

Friday 22 February 2019

Friday 22 February 2019 Adderley

Well again it was 1030am when we left, but this time for good reason, there was a queue of boat at the bottom of Adderley locks, so we waited until they were well on their way. Again we had a day where the lock fairy had deserted us and every lock, all 10 of them were against us.
Some of the locks on this canal still have their top gate paddle, but even when opened fully the water goes out to each side and not over the bows of the boat.
When we arrived at market Drayton we hoped to fill with water but there was a queue for the two water points, but by the time we had eaten lunch one had moved off and we were able to top up. Once that was done we stopped for a bit of shopping.
Market Drayton has some interesting restrictions which I don't understand the reason for. Take fishing, a fisherman can sit on the visitor mooring fishing opposite the long term moorings for about half the year, for the other half they cant.
The boaters are no better off, they can moor her overnight, but not during the day unless its market day. So if you moor overnight, how early can you arrive, just after lunch like we would of at sunset? next day what time do you have to leave, day break, after breakfast or before lunch, it doesn't say.

Once we finished shopping we set off again back towards Nantwich, we didn't see a single boat on the move all afternoon and of course when we arrived at Adderley locks they were all empty. 

We did pass a couple of moored boat that raised a bit of interest, the first had a woven willow cratch frame, I don't know if the owner has a cover for it.*

The second boat was a CRT work boat, unusually well moored with a couple of reasonable pieces of rope and not string, but I alway moor with my mooring ropes running ahead and astern of the boat if possible, this had the bow rope running back and the stern rope running forrad.
Tonight we are moored in exactly the same spot as last night but facing the other way, to achieve this we have done some 7¼ miles and 10 locks.
Today's Journey
7¼ miles, 10 locks in 4 hours.

Thursday 21 February 2019

Thursday 21 February Adderley Locks

Well what a super day its been today, really spring like.
For some reason we were a little late getting away, I am not sure why. I spent the first part of the journey in the galley as the burner in our Dickinson cooker needed cleaning out, bit of a mucky job and of course you have to let it cool down a bit before you can touch it. Its something that doesn't require doing so often now we use low sulphur diesel.
Diana had a boat pull out ahead of her before we reached Audlem Locks which was unfortunate as it put them all against us and we only met one boat coming down. Other than when the boat was coming towards none of the by-washes were flowing but they were all on level.
We stopped at the top lock and bought some cakes from the lock cottage before continuing on to moor for the night at the 48 hr moorings below Adderley Locks.
Since we have been here I have replumbed the suction side of the domestic water pump as the strainer had decided to start to drip quite badly. When I change the pump they supplied a new one that plugged straight into the pump, so that is now in circuit and the old Flojet one removed.
Today's Journey 5¾ miles, 15 locks in 4 hours.

Wednesday 20 February 2019

Wednesday 20 February 2019 Hack Green

Bit of a later start as we had Items to post, we waved goodbye to Ann and Iain as the set off well before us. Just as we were about to set off one on the Blackpool Boatshed Youth boats came by so we hung on for them to pass, then the second on appeared so we  hooked the ropes back on, not far behind was the third. once they had gone one came the other way so it probably took us 10 minutes to actually cast off.
We stopped at Hurleston junction, its due to open Friday and I was hoping to find out if it was likely to open early, but due to the fencing I couldn't get up to the top lock where all the activity was.
CRT are doing a first class job cutting back the off side scrub on the run into Nantwich. I don't know if they are using volunteer labour to do the work or if its CRT employees but they are using a traditional craft to take the brush to the chipping machine.
We stopped for water at the Nantwich services but had to wait for a while as there was already a boat getting water.
There were lots of mooring spaces along the embankment both sides of the aqueduct, why is it never like that when we want to stop. One of the wood sculptures of a dog now supports a woolly scarf.
As the weather had taken a turn for the worst we decided to make just above Hack Green Locks our destination for the day, we are in no hurry to get anywhere. It was by the locks that we saw our first lambs of the year.
Today's Journey 

6¼miles 2 Locks in 3¼ hours.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Tuesday 19 February Barbridge

We were surprised how busy the railway was last night, the line is very close to the canal and we have moored along here before, but don't remember so many trains using the line at night. Before we set off this morning at 10 am another boat came by, but I expect the locks would be against us anyway.
At Beeston iron lock there are notices warning boats not to share the lock due to the sides being distorted but we now from experience this shouldn't be a problem for to modern 57 foot boats, but I wouldn't try it with two full size older boats that would probably also be a couple of inches wider.
We only went as far as the winding hole as the next lock is closed. The deer were sunning themselves on the top banks of the old oil storage depot.
When we got back Beeston Iron Lock we couldn't open both gates fully, just like when we came down, probably because the off side one never gets used so Iain went in first and shuffled over and then I went in beside him. At Beeston Stone lock the bottom gates were both fully open, even though we closed them on our way down, by the time we had locked up there was a boat full of kids ready to go down heading for Chester, but were unaware of the stoppage. They were one of three boats hired from Norbury Wharf by The Boathouse Youth from Blackpool. We met the other two boat at Tilstone Lock.
Looking up from where we moored last night you can see The Wild Boar Hotel, this was up for auction last December and is now boarded up in parts.
One of the features of this bit of the Shropshire Union Canal are these round buildings beside the locks, they have a brick domed roof with a cast iron pipe sticking up from the middle. Where these at one time lock keepers huts with a central open stove or where they built for some other purpose?

We were soon back at Bunbury Locks and after squeezing past the moored hire boats entered the already empty bottom chamber of the staircase lock, it is necessary to fill the top chamber before opening the paddles between the chambers then the water from the top chamber brings the bottom chamber up to level. It is one of the few staircase lock that I have been through where the volumes of each chamber are spot on, and no water entering the bottom chamber flows away over the spill weir. Beside the top chamber is a fin old stable block from when horses were used to tow the barges and Narrowboats along this canal.
These were the last locks of the day as we have a table booked tonight at The Oldie Barbridge Inn
Today's Journey 6 Miles, 7 Locks in 3¾ hours