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.