Total Pageviews

Monday, 24 April 2017

Superb scenery.

Another week's wait to see what 'Line of Duty' is all about!! We were off about 0930 and although the ground was wet there hasn't been much rain at all over night. We were off about 0930 and just as we were underway a hire boat came round the corner and over the aqueduct.

This photo of the turnover bridge was taken yesterday. It wasn't quite so photogenic this morning in the dull drizzle.

This is the house that Helen will buy when we win the lottery. It has a great view down the Shawbrook Valley. The photo is from the aqueduct. We passed Vaudrey's Wharf at the north end. It was supposed to be under threat of being filled in due to a leak, but it survives still.

A little further on and in the opposite direction is the railway viaduct. A good view but windy today. I had let the hire boat pass but they stopped for water just after Bridge 68.

The Cloud starts appearing and as you progress up the canal it's aspect changes, and in fact is seems to change sides of the canal too.

There had been a boat pass us so we thought that the locks would be all our way, but they are leaking or somebody had set off well before us. The bottom few locks seemed to have paddles broken etc but we managed to get a good steady pace going and we were soon at the top, despite the occasional short showers.

We got to the top in good time and stopped to top up with water. The best thing about the Macclesfield Canal are the views. The hills seems to rise from the bank of the canal and the valleys drop away on the other.

We passed through the Oakgrove electic swing bridge (Fool's Nook) and Helen was girding her loins for the manual bridge at Danes Moss nature reserve to find that it is being left open temporarily as the footpath appears to be rerouted. How temporary this is I'm not sure.

As we approached Gurnett these lambs were racing backwards and forwards along the side of the canal. It was great to see them with their tails swinging behind them. I couldn't see the normal elastic bands round their tails so that they will drop off at a later stage.

The views to the hills lead you onwards. By now the showers had stopped and the sun was out, the wind was starting to pick up though.

Last time we passed they were repairing this spills was just before the Gurnett Aqueduct. It is a nice aspect of the hills, houses below and the road from the canal. The pub down below is also a good pint. But we carried on today.

As you approach Macclesfield it seems like you are cruising down the moat of a castle with this stone buttresses and walls. There is a bridge, but no drawbridge. We pulled up opposite the mill and before the Puss in Boots pub. We did see that there are new pontoon moorings through the bridge. I suppose it was easier to put them in rather than pick up all the lost stones that made it very awkward to get the boat alongside.

Once moored up we were off down to town for some shopping. As we passed M&S we popped in to see if they had a meal deal and we were in luck. Very enjoyable it has been too. We are relentlessly moving on as we have to be in Manchester for Thursday as we are off home again.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Heartbreak to Big Macc.

It was a nice short walk in the sun to collect a Sunday newspaper and some milk. I have found myself checking the football results in the paper these days, before everything else. I have high hopes that Hull City will maintain their position in the Premier League at the end of the season to ensure a proper status during our City of Culture. If there is any justice!

We were off about 0930 in lovely sunshine but with the wind still with a little bite to it. I loved this arrangement with two bridge holes for the two locks and the lock landings for both sides. at lock 137, Hall's Locks.

Mow Cop was calling in the distance, but once again we will have to sail past and not get to the top. I promise one day we will.

So called 'Heartbreak Hill' passes under the keel very easily as there is plenty to keep you busy as the locks are ticked off, but between there is much to please the eye as the countryside has great appeal with rolling hills and views, rather than a hedge or bank of trees. This is no Heartbreak, it is a joy. Mind you what it would be like in the wind and rain I wouldn't like to say.

Red Bull Services were all quiet. We had a few low pounds but nothing really to delay us. For the Red Bull Locks a gaggle of hire boats had made it from the AngloWelsh Base to add numbers to the scene but the more the merrier on a day like this.

This sign seems to be a little different to what I was expecting. The plaque is on the parapet of the aqueduct of the Macclesfield Canal over the Trent and Mersey. Firstly it is called Poole Lock, when it is plainly an aqueduct, and non of the the locks are called this these days. I also see that the last numbers are IIII. I thought this should be written IV in Roman numerals? Anyway I believe that it means 1829.

This is the aqueduct in question. Unfortunately nothing was crossing at the time. When we arrived at Hardings Wood Junction, where the Macclesfield peels off from the Trent and Mersey, there was a boat that had not managed to make the turn and stemmed the buttress. They retreated for a second go and allowed me to go ahead of them. I was glad all went well for my turn in under the bridge or else I would have felt a right Muppet.

Here we are crossing on the the aqueduct pictured earlier. The rise of two locks enables this to happen. It is a long time since we have completed coming down to Hardings Wood from Middlewich, in fact we haven't done it in 'Holderness', so is another tick for us.

It is not too far up the canal before you get to the Hall Green Stop Lock where the Trent and Mersey and the Macclesfield Canal Companies built locks with only marginal falls to protect their very precious water. In fact the narrows coming into the lock mark the join of the two canal, rather than the junction. Each company built a lock to protect their interests as can be seen by the narrows at the one that remains.

The first beautiful stone bridge was not long in coming. These bridges on the Macclesfield are magnificent and worth the trip to see, especially with the sun glowing on the stonework.

We stopped at Heritage Boats to purchase a bag of coal as the forcast is for cold returning, so I thought I should be prepared for some nights in by the stove again. I have plenty of logs. Ramsdell Hall has a beautiful outlook over the Cheshire Plain. The central part of the building was built about the middle of the 1700's. The wings were added a couple of decades later. The house is in private hands, and who would want tom part with it.

We soon arrived at Congleton Wharf and moored up. My first job was to put the aerial up to check for the 'Line of Duty' availability. We failed!! As the warehouse was right in the way. Never mind we abandoned ship and headed into town. Helen had her thoughts on a Sunday roast. She had penciled in the White Lion and as it turns out that was the first one we came to. They were even still serving meals at after 1500. They had run out of pork, but the beef was lovely. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and a couple of pints too. The first was a special St. George's brew and the second was a chocolate orange stout, that was disappointing. We then went in search of the Beartown Brewery Tap. On ther way there we passed a Titanic owned pub, and just a few doors down a Joule's pub! And I walked past them both!!! We were soon in the Beartown Brewery tap and having a pint of Kodiak Bear. It was very good with very definite tastes that hit just about all the different taste buds. I would like to go back and try the others, but as we had decided to move a to find a signal on the TV I thought that I should resist. I think that Congleton would be a great place for a pub crawl. Next time maybe.
Oh I forgot to say why the brewery is called Beartown. It dates back to the mid 1600's when a very important job was the bear keeper. His bear died just before the local market fair and he would be lynched if there was no bear to perform. Unfortunately he had no money to buy a replacement, but he managed to convince the Vicar to sell the town bible, or the money to purchase a new one,  to get a bear, Hartlepool has its monkey hangers and Congleton has it's bear. This is celebrated in the town.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Onwards and Upwards.

We had some letters to post this morning so we went for a walk to find a box. There seem to be several streams and rivers joining up to form the River Wheelock, after which the place is named. They seem to be quite swiftly flowing, and clear.

The River Wheelock finaly leads into the River Weaver and hence to the Mersey. I wonder how quickly the water passing here will be there? Faster than a narrow boat I have no doubt.

We were thinking of going all the way up Heartbreak Hill today, but looking at our timings again I see there is some wriggle room so we are stopping half way today. This is the first lock of the day and the first duplicated lock since we were at the Hillmorton locks. Most of the locks on this section were doubled by Thomas Telford to ease delays on the single Brindley Locks. Most are still duplicated which certainly speeds things up.

The canal house at the top of the first lock. Just as we were rising in the first lock a boat arrived to come up astern of us. I think they were experienced hirers with six adults aboard. I thought we would struggle to keep ahead of them. Helen and I got into a rhythm with Helen opening the lock gates and closing them behind me and opening the top paddles before walking on to the next lock. I would drop the offside paddle when there was almost a level, with the boat pushing on the gate. I would then cross the gate before, or as it opened, to drop the other paddle and fully open the gate. Boarding the boat again I would take her out of the lock and clear of the gate before stopping the boat, jumping off and closing the gate before heading off again. It is quite easy on this flight as the lock lead ins are long enough to stop the boat drifting off, especially as there is little wind today.

The countryside is very pleasant today, bathed in sunshine and with the real green greens of spring contrasting with the Friesan cows.

This little arm led to another chemical works, those of Brunner Mond at Malkins Bank.

The next lock has been reduced to one, bu the disused one substitutes as an overflow.

Helen getting her exercise for the day.

We were doing very well until lock 60 when the pound to 59 was all but empty. This put a halt to proceedings for a while. Fortunately the pound above was a good long one so Helen and a couple of girls from the other boat walked ahead to run some water down. I came out of the lock but didn't go much further but thought it best to make a move so that just the right amount of water could be used. 

The next lock was just under the M^ that was it's usual busy self. Despite our bit of trouble with lack of water, I know where I would be rather travelling along.

Another nice conversion of an old canal warehouse. Old buildings certainly give character to an area and if they are industrial they also add to the history of the area.

Nearly there for the day. Helen has the bottom Thurlwood Lock ready for me. I have been surprised at how little traffic there has been on this end of the Trent and Mersey. Only one boat passed us coming down the locks this morning. Heartbreak Hill, or this half of it, is a very pleasant flight of locks with a few gaps to catch your breath and in lovely scenery and with enough interest to keep you going all the way to Rode Heath.

Going up in the world.

After a lovely quiet night, with the only noise being the munching of the horses in the field, and with no other boaters choosing to moor with us. We were soon underway again and heading for Middlewich.

A lovely house in a nice spot next to the road down to Church Minshull.

The old canal horse stables on the Middlewich Branch. I think the conversion to a house is very good. I am assuming there are windows on the other side that can be always open.

I just love the age of the stone and brick as you come out of Stanthorne Lock, the worn steps, the rope groves and old brick. Sort of sums up part of the appeal of the canals to me.

As we left the Wardle Canal there was all sorts going on at the chandlers opposite, and there was a boat on the water point too. We managed to get round and into the lock with no trouble. Once we were up I nipped over to the chippie for a huge bag of chips. It was glorious eating them hot on the move to the next lock. Gave us a new burst of energy, as well as warming us up.

No common rock or road salt this, it is destined for the tables of the nation. I was intrigued to read a sign on a pipe manifold in the yard stating it was the ash delivery point. Does this mean some sort of ash is mixed with salt?

Some very top heavy chimneys on Bridge Farm coming up to Booth Lane locks.

The whole area round here was set over to salt and their use as a feedstock for chemical production. the Murgatroyd Sat and Chemical works stood alongside the first two locks, but now all seems to be housing. Here below Lock 67 was Moston Mill that was built around 1825 and was making flour until the 1950's. Again it looks like a successful conversion to a house.

Helen lining up for entry to Lock 67.

Wheelock must have been a busy wharf as there are several surviving canal warehouse buildings near the water point. Out of shot to the right is the Italian Restaurant that was next to the canal.

On the other side of the road bridge is this larger warehouse now a pet food store. The back of the building facing the canal is not quite so cared for.

The water point was vacant so we pulled over and topped up and got rid of the recycling as they had a bin for this as well as general waste here. We pulled round the corner before mooring up for the night. There was no TV signal and no internet so I got well stuck into my latest book.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Back underway.

We have been away home again for a week from last Thursday. I didn't get round to writing up our last day so I have added it today.

This sculpture is just after Bridge 92 where the Nantwich Basin is, along with the services. The basin is the terminus of the original Chester Canal. The Birmingham and Liverpool Canal being built by Thomas Telford from the south was planned to join at the end to make a seamless union. It seems the local land owner at Dorfold Hall refused permission and They had to build the large embankment that took years to settle and be usable. I love this sculpture as it really looks as if the horse is leaning into the load to start in moving.

Just a short way from Barbridge Junction and passing the Barbridge Inn. It is starting to get busy.

Helen jumped off at the junction and then realised that there was a long line of moorings so she had to walk on a while. I'm sure that it would have done her good, and meant that I had a rare photo of me on the stern.

We were duly found a slot at Venetian Marina and were soon picked up by Enterprise, car loaded and on our way. The traffic was getting a bit heavy as it was the last day before bank holiday. The trip home took longer than expected but we made it with out incident.

The rest of the week seems like a month as we just haven't stopped doing things with our daughter before she returned home, City of Culture, volunteering and enjoying some of the events too. I also had my History walks to guide and get ready for my first pub walk too. It is great to be back on the boat after a much quicker trip. The car was unloaded and returned and water topped up before we set off out of the marina and off up the Middlewich Branch

Just leaving our bay of Ventitian Marina. The wind was kind today so getting out round the pontoons was fine.

The only lock of the day was Minshull Lock. There always seems to be a small, or big, queue on this canal and today was no different. One down and one up before us but not a long delay.

We passed Aqueduct Marina and a little further on was the actual aqueduct that traverses the River Weaver. I had forgotten how high above the river the canal is.

We didn't go much further and pulled over at the moorings overlooking Church Minshull.

Despite both of us being knackered I had brought a part bag of postcrete I had, an old plastic bucket from fat balls for birds and some chain. My idea was to create a multi-purpose weight. One use as a mud weight to hold the bow on some moorings, or assist going long distances going astern etc, another was maybe to corect slight lists, and the other was as a secure point to place the foot of our aerial pole, which is really a man-help. We will have to see if it works.