Sunday, 31 July 2011

Completed the Peak Forest Canal today. A pleasant run from our overnight mooring at Romily as far as its junction with the Ashton Canal. Here we have changed our initial intention to turn left and go the Manchester, instead we've gone right onto the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. This could turn out to be a bad move as this canal runs through some quite rough areas. Not only that but several people have told us that it is very hard work, lots of locks and a bit shallow. The carrot here is Standedge Tunnel, the highest, longest and deepest tunnel on the canal system. It's over 3 miles long, must be booked at least 3 days on advance, only 3 boats each way a day and the boat must take a tunnel pilot. On top of all that when we reach Huddersfield we have to turn around and come back because we're too long to continue.
Tonight we're tied up just off the junction and will start the assault on the climb up to the tunnel tomorrow.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cath getting soaked in lock 14, Marple Flight

Marple railway viaduct

Waiting for the lock to open

Looking down from lock 15, Marple Flight

Samuel Oldknows warehouse on Marple Flight
On Friday we moved back as far as Marple and moored at the top of the lock flight.
This morning we set off to  tackle the 16 locks of Marple Flight. These locks are fairly deep, the 16 locks dropping the canal 214 ft. Because of the depth this makes the lock gear on the lower gates very heavy to operate. Half way down we caught up with another boat. It was a single hander and he was struggling. Locks are difficult enough when you're alone, but here there was an added problem that there are no proper mooring for him to tie his boat to while operating the lock, so he had to bang a pin in at every lock. Lock 3 was real stinker. One of the bottom paddles was broken and the leakage from the upper gate was so much it took both of us to push the bottom gates open. Finally all 16 done and I was ready for pint and rest. We then moved on as far as Romily where we'll stay tonight.
One of the pictures is of Cath getting very wet in lock 14.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Shady passage

Lovely canal-side property

Bugsworth Basin
Wednesday 27th July
This morning we set off from Marple heading for Whaley Bridge. The sun was shining properly for the first time in several days as we cruised along through glorious scenery. The only downside of this canal is its depth. Like a lot of this summit level, from the top of Bosley Locks, all the way to the end it is very shallow, making mooring and passing other boats difficult. The views you get make up for all the shortcomings though.
We made it Whaley Bridge, but once there found that it wasn't much to see, and once again the mooring was not  ideal. the decision was taken to move on and go to the other terminus of this canal at Bugsworth Basin. This place has a very interesting history as it was a major source of lime. All around here used to be kilns for the firing of the stone to obtain the lime for building and farming uses. Today all that is left is the canal basin itself, and that is only available due to the hard work put in by the Inland Waterways Protection Society. It's a very tranquil place now, but in its heyday they reckon the noise and smoke were horrendous.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tuesday 26th July
We've been out of touch for a few days because orange data wasn't available in the area we were moored in.
On Sunday we puttered along to Macclesfield where we intended to moor up and then spend Monday having a look around. We had also planned on seeing my cousin Lynton Monday after noon but unfortunately he couldn't' make it.
When we got the Macclesfield we were disappointed to find that the mooring was almost non-existent. Room for about 3 boats along a poorly maintained bank with the side so shallow we couldn't get anywhere near to it. It's a real shame that the town doesn't make more of this facility.
Not being able to moor there we moved on as far as Bollington, a pretty village a few miles away, and got a reasonable mooring there.
On Monday Cath twisted her knee and was in some pain so couldn't negotiate the steep steps down to the village. I decided to take a bus into Macclesfield to have a look around. The silk mill and museum are great places.

Today we moved on as far as Marple. A lovely little town with one of the well known lock flights of the canal system. We will be descending them in a couple of days after we've visited Bugsworth and Whaley Bridge.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Saturday 23rd July
Yesterday we travelled through Congleton, we had intended to spend the night but the moorings were in a tree covered cutting making them very dark and dingy so we moved on a bit and found a lovely spot on an embankment with great views.
More climbing today. This canal only has one flight of locks on it. The Bosley Flight is twelve lock,s over a one mile distance, which raises the level 118 ft.
We are now heading for what some consider the the most beautiful canal scenery. I agree that it's very good, but that which I've seen up on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal certainly competes.
Nearly at the top of Bosley Flight
The climb up the flight went fairly well, although most of the locks were against us. They are well maintained making life easier. We stopped about 3 miles short of Macclesfield which we will reach tomorrow.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A good view of a T&M tandem lock

The Macclesfield Canal crosses the T&M Canal at Kidsgrove

Friday 22nd July
We completed our climb to the summit level in reasonable weather today. At the top The Macclesfield Canal takes a sharp right turn from the Trent & Mersey and then doubles back on itself to cross the T & M on a aqueduct. The local town is Kidsgrove and I took a short walk to the local Tesco to do some provisioning. While there I found that they stock the Kindle e reader and Cath and I have been talking about getting them for some time now. I couldn't help myself, and forked out the neccessary price. When I got them home we had a steep learning curve to get to know how to obtain books. Once mastered it's easy and hopefully we will not have book space problems in the future.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Entering lock 54 Trent & Mersey Canal
Last night, after seeing all the traffic moving on the canal we decided to try an even earlier start. At the crack of 7.00 o'clock I leapt our of bed, only to hear a boat going past heading for the lock. So much for an early start to beat the traffic!
After breakfast we set off, and it looked as if we might have a clear run. The first lock was against us, but at least there was no queue. Having risen in that one we were confronted with the sight of a boat ahead of us in the next lock, and it soon became clear that they were real slow coaches. Filling the lock took them an age because they only opened the paddles a small amount to stop any turbulence. You want to yell at them "They're made of steel, they can take it!" but of course you don't.
The weather stayed better today, no sunshine but at least no rain either. We wandered along, rising through 14 locks, as far as Thurlwood where we moored up for the day. We should reach the summit level tomorrow and hence onto the Macclesfield Canal.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tuesday 19th July
The dull weather continued as we got an early start this morning (well for us it was early) in an effort to beat the queues at the locks.
We nearly managed it, there was only one boat ahead of us as we started the slow climb up to the summit. First there are the 4 locks climbing out of Middlewich, then 4 more on the way to Wheelock where there is the first service block since Northwich. The total climb was about 70 ft. The service moorings were packed, as you would expect with the lack of them north of here but we were lucky to find one boat leaving its slot just as we arrived. After doing all the necessary; cans, rubbish, and water we moved on just a bit to find an overnight mooring.
Wheelock itself is a pleasant village, named after the small river which runs through it. A plaque on the canalside gives a short history of the name through the ages. Anyone interested can probably enlarge the photo above to read the text.
Tomorrow we will continue our climb up The Cheshire Locks, sometimes known as 'heartbreak hill' towards the summit level.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Monday 18th July
We awoke this morning to the sound of yet more rain on the cabin roof. Unfortunately our toilet cans are filling up and the nearest can dump is at Wheelock, two days away so a decision to move had to be made.
Under leaden skies and constant drizzle we plodded  on towards Middlewich where we stopped to do some shopping and had lunch.
This afternoon we set off intending to go a few more miles before the evening. Just around the corner from our lunchtime stop there is a lock and a rubbish disposal point marked on the map. We cast off and Cath took the helm while I took a bag of rubbish and a lock handle and walked what was to be the few hundred yards to the lock. Just around the corner I discovered two things. 1. the rubbish disposal doesn't exist,it's been closed, and 2. the queue for the lock was about 6 boats long.
A quick decision was made and we reversed back up the cut and moored up for the night. The wait for all those boats to go through would have been over an hour so we felt it wasn't worth it and we'll get an early start tomorrow.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sunday 17th July
We were going to continue today. When got up this morning the sky was overcast but at least it wasn't raining so we made plans to meander southwards for a few hours.
I started preparing to go, and guess what? It started raining! A quick look at the local weather forecast and a change of plan. The forecast was just horrendous, promising heavy rain all day so it looks as if we'll be here another night, we aren't pushed for time so there's no need to sit out getting soaked.more pics of trip if you want.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Northwich Town Sculpture
A view of Winsford Flash
Me looking at Winsford Flash

Thursday 14th July
 We travelled on down to Winsford Flash this morning, it's a lake formed by the subsidence of the land due to salt extraction. The flash isn't deemed fit for navigation by BW but there are boats moored on it. We ventured out into the open water before turning around and heading back onto the river.

Friday 15th July
This morning we set off down river hoping to get an early ride up on the lift. Arriving at the mooring at about 10.15 I went up to the booking office to see when the first free space was. The lady in there said we could have a slot at 12.45. No hurry there then, so I wandered up stairs to get an ice cream.
Getting back to the boat there's one of the lift operators asking if we wanted to take the ride now, if so hurry up. We hurried! What a service, dead lucky, turn up and straight in.
At the top we turned south as we've decided to change our original plan to go to Manchester next. It's now to head for the Macclesfield Canal and on to the Peak Forest Canal. The last time we came this way 4 years ago our cat Timmy jumped ship at a bridge and we got all the way to Bugsworth Basin before finding him gone. It was too late to turn around and get back that night so we didn't get much of a chance to explore and had to go back next morning. Sure enough, he was where we thought he would be and was glad to be back in the warmth.
The plan now is to get to Bugsworth Basin and have a look around, then head for Manchester on the Ashton Canal.
The weather tomorrow is supposed to be foul so we may stay here, overlooking Billinge Green Flash, it's quite calm and the scenery is good.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

7 boats pack into Vale Royal Lock
And all stream out again
Wednesday 13th July
Yesterday we once again dropped down onto the River Weaver and headed for Northwich. On the way we came across a stranded boater who had strayed too close to the edge and become stuck. We drew up to his bow and pulled him off easily. Luckily when we got to town we found a good mooring spot, sometimes they're in short supply around here.
This morning I wandered up to the local medical centre to see if I could get a prescription signed. It's amazing how the different PCTs and practices deal with visitors. In some places they they can be very unhelpful while in others, like here, the receptionist got me in within 30 minutes, and I didn't even have to produce my old scrip, he just asked if I could remember what I needed and he wrote it out then and there.
With that sorted out we set off for Winsford, passing through Hunt's Lock and Vale Royal Lock before mooring at Newbridge swingbridge for the night.
After a frustrating time trying to find a replacement photo stitching programme I think I've found a good one. I tried several free offerings, but they were hopeless, then I found a surprise. Microsoft do a free programme called Microsoft ICE, and not only does it work but it works well. the results can be seen in the pictures above.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Monday 11th July
We're back! After your's truly pulled a stupid trick we were left without a computer or internet connection. I moved one of our chairs and the computer power lead was wrapped around the stand, this dragged the laptop off the cupboard where it was standing, it bounced off the floor doing it no good at all.
Paul and Jacqui were visiting over the weekend so once again to the rescue Paul ran me around the shops looking for a new replacement and after a browse around PC World I choose this one. Now the problem of trying to recover the data from the old one. I'm managing to get most of it but the photo stitching programme isn't playing ball. The website says that I bought it before 2009 so my product key is no longer valid as they've upgraded it and I'll have to pay for the new version. I went through this same thing in about 2008 where I had to purchase a newer version when I changed computers so I damned if I'm doing it again.
Anyway rant over. We had a fine weekend, and, as promised our guests brought fine weather with them, at least for Saturday. We cruised the River Weaver, taking in some of its glorious scenery. On Saturday night we moored up at Dutton Locks and had a BBQ, and too much to drink as usual.
Sunday the mojo deserted us, and as we made our way towards the Anderton Lift the rain persisted down. Luckily it stopped for our ride up. At the top we moored up at The Stanley Arms pub while Paul ran me back into Northwich to pick up the new computer. Lunch in the pub followed by an afternoon of trying to sort out the toy. All too soon it was time for them to head for home, something about work I think.
This morning we meandered down to the services area to do all the usual things, then a bit further on to find somewhere to wind (turn around) and now we're back at the lift and will go down to the river again tomorrow to do some more exploring.
I don't know why but Blogger seems to have put the pictures at the bottom this time

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Northwich town Bridge
Wednesday 6th July
On Tuesday we motored up river through Hunt's Lock and then Vale Royal Locks. Hunt's is open to passage as required during working hours, but Vale Royal is timed and there are only 4 up and 4 down passages per day.
Just after Vale Royal was passed it started to rain again so we decided to moor up for the night. We picked what we thought was a nice quiet spot, but which turned out to be a bit noisy. Not hooligans, but the swing bridge nearby was unbelievably noisy when a vehicle passed over it.
This morning dawned wet, and we thought we would need our rain gear through the day. Just after breakfast it seemed to clear up and the sun even put in an appearance. We decided not to go all the way to the end this time so we turned around and headed back for Vale Royal Locks. The weather behaved itself, and we only got a few drops all morning. Just as we arrived at Northwich and were preparing to moor up the heavens opened with rain and hail. Some of the ice even managed to bounce into the boat through vent mushrooms and window hoppers.
After a short stay in Northwich we continued on as far as Anderton where we have moored up near a picnic area for the night.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Monday 4th July
Happy Independence Day to any Americans reading this.
We've now had a couple of glorious days of wall to wall sunshine. The weatherman is giving dire predictions of rain to come.
Sunday we moved off from Middlewich and chugged along enjoying the sunshine to near Wincham where we moored up, once again out in the quiet countryside. For Cath the men's final at Wimbledon was the order of the afternoon, while I stuck another coat of paint on the box at the back. I had thought that the cream colour would blend in better than it has but it's too late now, I certainly won't be redoing it in blue for a long time yet.
This morning was once again full sunshine as we made our way to the Anderton Lift. A quick visit to the booking office and I was told we could have the next slot which was only 30 minutes away so there was only time to stuff an ice cream down me before we were loading into the caisson and on our way.
As always, to someone with a love of mechanical things the trip was fascinating and we're now down on the river and moored up in Northwich.
If we ever get a decent fast internet connection around here I will post some pics of Northwich. The town has some interesting features in that many of the buildings look Tudor, but there is a solid reason for the style. Because of centuries of salt extraction from underground there is a lot of subsidence causing the collapse of may conventional buildings. Timber framing allows the building to be shored up if the ground starts to fall away.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Saturday 2nd July
Yesterday we set off again heading south, past the Anderton Lift. The weather wasn't too bad as we cruised along through the countryside. There's a lot of boats out travelling these days and it's not unusual to meet oncoming traffic at a bridge and one of you has to stop to allow passage. It usually is an easy decision, but occasionally you both end up stopping and then there's a competition to see who can be the most polite as you wave each other through.
Last night we moored out in the country, lovely and quiet. I got some painting done on the tool box/seat on the back deck. The varnish has been in a poor state for some time now and I've finally plucked up the go, drive and ambition to do something about it.
This morning, in bright sunshine, we set off for Middlewich. The journey was done in just over 2 hours and the sun has continued to shine for a change. After arriving I got stuck in to applying another coat of paint to the box and then went into town for a bit of a wander around. Cath has settled in front of the tele for the Wimbledon Ladies final, while I sit in the shade and type this.