Moored By Fazeley Junction

Under 3 miles from our overnight mooring by ‘The Crown Inn’, we came across our first of three locks of the day.

Sailing through the 3 miles was very pleasant.

We were lucky at our first lock ‘Wood End Lock’ (# 20) as a boat had just ascended, and it didn’t take long before Cyan was descending in the lock, helped in part by a C&RT lady who logged our licence. Cyan’s licence is up at the end of this month; it was only this morning John made the comment that we should pay for the new licence this weekend, taking advantage of the early payment discount. John’s quip to her, ‘the cheque’s in the post’ was ‘almost’ right!

At the next 2 locks, ‘Shade House Lock’ (# 19), and ‘Fradley Middle Lock’ (# 18), there were two very pleasant and chatty lockies on duty. At the last lock the Lockie said he wouldn’t mind if I started walking towards Fradley Junction to set the swing gate for Cyan to enter the Coventry Canal, while he ‘locked’ Cyan down.

The Junction looked like chaos, with 4 narrowboats, including Cyan, doing a little ‘dance’ at the junction as each one manoeuvred. Cyan ‘treaded water’ while a boat left lock #17 sailing straight ahead towards lock #18, another boat sailed into lock #17 to go down, and a boat left the Coventry queuing to go down lock #17, eventually it was Cyan’s turn to turn 90 degs to the right, and sail through the swing bridge to enter the Coventry. (Phew that was difficult to write, let alone ‘live it’).

We’re once again on the Coventry, familiar territory for us. Every canal we’ve been on appears to have it’s own mood and character.

We’re back to where bridges contain little cubby holes, believed to have been where messages, food and drink, were left for the bargees of old. These cubby holes did the work of mobile phones, Tesco deliveries, and no doubt were the same ‘lifelines’. So far, the only other bridges we’ve seen with these little cubby holes was on the Llangollen – there could easily be others.

Approaching Streethay Wharf…

… where a boat was about to be lowered into the water by a huge crane.

The wind has been quite gusty at times, with the threat of squally showers despite the bright sunshine. I’m sure the weather has caused many boats to be moored up.

We did encounter a ‘Mr Angry’ who was moored on the Coventry. We always take it slow going past moored boats, but sometimes, like when it’s windy, passing at tickover is impossible. It’s easy to lose control of steering to the wind. Another boat was also coming towards us at that crucial ‘passing’ point. Mr Angry stuck his head out of his hatch saying “We are moored up you know!” The burly Welshman who was in the approaching boat gave Mr Angry a mouthful! Sometimes when we meet a Mr Angry, I’m very tempted to offer a lesson on how to moor up, securing their boat properly, especially when they’re on loose lines.

Within half an hour we met another boat that was about to cast off from its mooring, the lady boater was holding tight to the centre line, so we took it slow. The lady boater shouted out “Hurry Up!” We just laughed, and shared the ‘joke’ with the lady boater who (luckily) also laughed, saying “You just can’t please everyone!”

We’ve moored just before Fazeley Junction Visitors Mooring. On approaching the moorings they looked like they could be full, so we picked a spot where we’d moored before, just before the ‘official’ moorings.

We’d hoped we could moor at one of our favourite moorings, between ‘The Tame Otter’ and ‘The Red Lion’ public houses at Hopwas. Unfortunately there were no spaces left for us.

Today we’ve travelled 14.25 miles, through 3 locks. WiFi is 30+Mg, our digital TV signal is poor.

Dodging Storms, And Cruising On

We were lucky to miss the storm that was promised, though sadly we hear towns further North didn’t fair so well. ‘Sod’s Law’ would dictate that if we hadn’t prepared for a storm, we’d have taken a hit.

Our first lock of the day, was Deptmore Lock (#42). Picture below shows us cruising towards the lock…

… and this pic below shows us sailing away from the lock.

The weather threatened us most of the day, though we were lucky to only have got ‘dampened’ twice.

Fabulous bridges, such as ‘Milford Bridge’ (#105) which is a turnover bridge (swapping towpaths).

Eight beautiful cygnets, well done Mr & Mrs Swan!

River Sow Aqueduct below. We approached the Aqueduct on a blind and very windy bend, making it difficult to line Cyan up for the narrow channel.

Just after the Aqueduct, is Tixall Lock, leading us to Tixall Wide.

We were soon back on the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood Junction, turning right towards Haywood Lock (#22).

I have nightmares about this lock resulting from a bad experience when we were no more then novices. The lock doesn’t have a bridge to get to the other side, and being height challenged (little legs), stepping onto the ‘runner’ on the top gate is impossible because of the large gap, the gap is far to ‘big’ for little legs to jump/step over confidently. As for the double gates, they are far too wobbly to walk over when there’s no water in the lock.

The problem we had with this lock no longer exist because I can now take the helm, leaving John to work the lock. ‘Devil’s Lock’ is our name for this lock. The picture below was taken as we sailed away from Devil’s Lock.

The Trent & Mersey Canal is now side-by-side, for part of the way, with the River Trent…

… as does the Trent Valley Line, part of the West Coast Main Line System.

Another sign of Autumn, ‘Virginia Creepers’ are turning into beautiful shades of russet red.

‘Wee Willie Winkie’ is what we call this chappie, we pass him just as we venture into the ‘open topped’ Armitage Tunnel, travelling towards ‘The Plum Pudding’ public house. He looks to have been spruced up since we last saw him.

The magnificent bridge near Armitage Shanks Factory, and other pictures taken today.



Cruising along we were fascinated by the antics of this bird of prey, think we’ve identified it as a buzzard. Just wish, for the umpteenth time, we had a better camera.

We are now moored outside ‘The Crown Inn’, just after ‘Handsacre Crown Bridge’ (#58). Next door to the pub is a fabulous Cypriot ‘Fish ‘n’ Chip’ shop (which provided our supper). In the picture below of the pub, the white dog in the window is real! I’ve seen cats sitting on window cills, but never a dog. I think the dog is a boxer dog, with a ‘black patch’ over half of it’s face.

Today we’ve cruised 14 miles, and 4 locks. WiFi is 40 Mg, and digital TV is good.

Back On Familiar Territory

We thought it strange when 3 boats passed us about 7:00 a.m. this morning. It became obvious why during today’s journey.

After John had dropped off the spent oil at the Middlewich Household Waste Centre, and had been down the weed hatch to remove a plastic bag that had wound itself around the prop., we left our mooring about 10:00 a.m., which was the other side of the Croxton Aqueduct see pic below.

We climbed 4 locks on the T&M, two of which had a lockie helping, before our turning right onto the Middlewich Canal, where we climbed 2 more locks. Due to the congestion at the locks, we realised the ‘early bird’ boaters had been very clever.

We’d barely manoeuvred out of Middlewich Big Lock #75, when we were asked for a tow by the crew of a boat, the boat’s gearbox had failed and they were stranded. They wanted a tow up to Middlewich Bottom Lock #74, and from there they’d be able to pull their stricken boat to the boat yard at Kings Lock. We’d never towed a boat before, but we must have done OK, as we arrived all in once piece.

Coming down the locks was a ‘single handed’ hire boat, one of his party had become ill, and had been taken to hospital by ambulance, his other party member had gone with them. He was in a bit of a state, no doubt he couldn’t concentrate very well.

Sailing out of Middlewich Top Lock #74, the queue of boats to go down the flight was ridiculous.

At Middlewich Junction it was our turn to wait in a ‘bottle neck’! There were four boats ahead of us to climb the first 2 locks on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie.

While waiting what can you do except have a nosy around, taking pictures of rusty and stone trains, and wooden owl carvings.

It looks like there’s a market for wood carvers to make sculptures out of tree trunks.

We’re now moored for the day at a lovely spot, high above a gorgeous valley with total peace!

The spot is just after Lea Hall Bridge #22, on the Clive Green Visitor Moorings.

We’re now just over 4 miles away from our destination, at Aqueduct Marina. We need to speak to the management there as Cyan needs some attention.

Today we’ve cruised 4 miles, and worked through 6 locks. WiFi is around 30 Mg, Digital TV is not good.

Our start postcode: CW10 9JH

Our moored postcode: CW10 0LL

Moored Up When It’s Sunny! Are We Mad!

We were going to stay another day at the moorings by the Anderton Boat Lift, it’s a lovely place with a great nature park. It turned out a lovely day weather-wise, and we thought “Why aren’t we cruising?” We should be staying moored when it’s raining, not when the sun’s out.

Due to the amount of walkers enjoying the canal; ambling past Cyan, we had kept the curtains drawn for privacy, and despite the warm sunshine we couldn’t open the hatch for the same privacy reasons. Cyan was also wobbling about due to the water tank being low on water. To top it all we were getting grizzly due to the hire boats ‘roaring’ past. Decision was soon made, and within 5 minutes we were ready to go, despite it being 2:00 p.m. (we like to cruise in the mornings).

Our first port of call was to top Cyan’s tank with water, use the Elsan facilities, and to rid us of our rubbish at the Anderton Services.

We had a pleasant journey, but just to stop us getting complacent we found ourselves cruising through the depressing Northwich Chemical works. We couldn’t help but wonder what they are ‘cooking’ in there. It was a strange coincidence (or was it?) that a black cloud appeared to hang over the place.

Goodness knows what’s coming out of the steam vents. We could feel a faint mist of moisture on our faces as we passed by.

Just after passing this chemical plant, there were C&RT notices informing that HS2 was planned to cross the area, hope it’s planned to go straight through this plant, as it looks like it needs renewing.

We disturbed a crane fishing for it’s dinner, he flew up on a pipe bridge and played the game of ‘when I’m still you can’t see me’!

Passing through Croxton Flash, we envied the mooring this boat had taken. It would have been great to have moored up here, but it seemed a shame to disturb ‘the perfect spot’ for those boaters. It wasn’t until we passed the boat that we saw it was NB Together Forever. The occupants were out enjoying the sun, I shouted “Hinckley Marina”. At that point they recognised us, we’d moored almost next to them last winter in Hinckley Marina. It’s a small world on the cut as we’re finding out! They’re aiming for Middlewich Canal too, so we might see them again.

In the pic below, we’re just about to go under Murder Bridge #177! Can’t find any information about a ‘murder’ on the internet, I’m wondering if it’s about ‘crows’ – like a murder of crows?

We’re now tucked in for the night, just before the narrow aqueduct over the River Dane.

Tomorrow John’s planning to call into the Middlewich Household Waste, which is just a short distance from where we’re moored, in the hope they’ll relieve us of spent oil from an oil change.

Today we’ve cruised over 8 miles, WiFi is 25Mg, Digital TV is very good. (John’s also watched Liverpool qualifying for the Champions League proper, IN STYLE!)

Our start postcode: CW9 6AQ

Our moored postcode: CW10 9JH

Spending Time At The Anderton Lift Visitor Centre

Not sure about the weather, the BBC forecast says it’ll be dry until 6:00 p.m., but who can trust what the weather forecasts say these days? The weather is very unpredictable. When we set off it was ‘long sleeves, and a jacket’ type of weather, but it wasn’t long before the jacket came off.

We wanted to fill the water tank before we entered today’s two tunnels, Cyan handles much better when her tanks are full.  We gave up that plan when we saw how many (hire) boats were moored in the area, making it difficult to get to the water tap.

Though the weather’s dull, we did enjoy the scenery, even glimpsed the Dutton Railway Viaduct.

Cruising along; we caught up with a family on a hire boat, ‘Dad’ was cruising very slow, meaning we followed at tick-over pace, hanging back so we didn’t appear to be ‘bullying’ him.

It wasn’t long before we were at the entrance to Saltersford Tunnel. We arrived at 25 past 10, so we only had to wait 5 minutes until we were allowed to enter the tunnel at half past the hour. Rusty fared a little better in the tunnel, but that was until the teenagers in the hire boat in front of us decided to make ghostly noises. I hugged him all the way through trying to reassure him. Saltersford has a kink in the middle, which made the passage interesting.

The pic below was taken when we left the tunnel, you can just about see the ‘lane’ at the top of the tunnel where the barge horses walked over the length of the tunnel, while the barge was obviously legged through the tunnel.

Almost immediately we were entering Barnton Tunnel, though not before leaving a bit of space between us and the hire boat. There’s almost a 40 deg turn to enter the tunnel, and it’s not easy to see the entrance to ‘line up’ the boat. Whoops, John managed to catch the chimney on the roof, scraping chimney’s ‘hat’ along the ceiling. Luckily the ‘hat’ stayed on. Don’t know exactly what happened to the hire boat in the tunnel, but somewhere about the middle we heard a crashing noise, a bit of shouting, and Cyan was put in reverse to stop us banging into them. They must have sorted themselves out, as they were soon on their way again.

Rusty would be happy if he knew we’ve no more tunnels planned for a while.

We sailed past the Anderton Boat Lift entrance, and then moored up. We might be chilling for a day or two while we explore the visitor’s centre. Or we might not, the world’s our lobster so it’s said!


Today we’ve cruised 5 miles, sailed through 2 tunnels, Moored where WiFi is 8Mg, and Digital TV is OK.

Our start postcode: WA4 4LQ

Our moored postcode: CW9 6AQ

Through Preston Brook Tunnel

Yesterday we left our mooring by ‘Matthew Corbett’s house’ (thank you Pip and Carol) and gently wound our way to Stockton Quay Bridge #15.

Once moored, we got ready for Sunday Lunch with good friends we hadn’t seen for a while, Sue and Matt. They arrived with gifts too, a gorgeous port pie, a pot of caramelised onion chutney, and a pot of piccalilli, all from ‘The Pork Pie and Pickle Company, Great Sankey, Warrington’. You’re right Sue, the pork pie was amazing! Boy did we enjoy it, we had some for supper last night, and the rest for lunch today. (Thank you for yesterday, we had a great time! X)

With being moored only metres from Thorne Chandlery & Boat Services, and being low on water, we half filled (because the flow was slow) Cyan’s water tank. Then we were on our way, after registering Thorne’s diesel price was 69p litre.

But before we left, we had a brief chat with Nigel from Thorne who explained the requirements for Boat Safety Certification. He was very informative, and we discovered the location of our ‘Fuel Tank Vent’. Under the cap on the top of the red dolly is an anti-flame filter that must be inspected, and in place to prevent a flash fire. You learn something new every day!

I know we shouldn’t be nosy, peeking into passing gardens, but just had to snap this sculpture of an eagle or a hawk, carved out from a tree trunk. (Wish our camera was better!)

We passed slowly through a fishing competition, and it looked very competitive too judging by the black looks we got from the fishermen. “I’ve been ****** double boated twice today!”, exclaimed one competitor. I prefer this type of ‘fisherman’ below!

As we were passing, we called into Midland Chandlers which has got quite a good selection of cookers on display. Cyan’s galley doesn’t really work for us, but we said we’d live with it through the summer before finally deciding exactly what we want. It’s now getting pretty desperate as the burner in the oven packed up a couple of weeks ago, resulting in NO ROASTS! So while we were passing, I thought it would be good to see their range ‘in person’.

(Anyone handy that would like an oven that needs a repair? The grill works fine. The model is Country Leisure Midi Prima).

It was high time we bought a spare sealer for a Thetford cassette (just in case), a tube of silicon grease for the sealer, and two brass ‘T Studs‘. I hate watching John climb onto the bow to secure the mooring rope. Being over 70, he doesn’t ‘bounce’ like he used to, though he won’t admit it! I’ve finally talked him into buying two T Studs, and having them fitted on each side of the bow for easy access. They are the bolt on type, so expect there will be the sound of happy drilling soon!

We’ve now ‘cruised’ out of the Bridgewater, and are back on the C&RT’s Trent & Mersey. What a beautiful canal the Bridgewater is, we’ve really enjoyed its company!

This is us passing out of Preston Brooke Tunnel.

Rusty did his normal ‘jelly’ impression in the tunnel. I held him tightly and rubbed his chest, while he trembled. We’ve got 2 more tunnels to pass through tomorrow. In comparison, Preston Brook Tunnel is 1239 yards long, tomorrow we’ve Saltersford Tunnel which is 424 yards long, and Barnton Tunnel which is 572 yards long.

We’re now moored just past Dutton Wharf Bridge #212 on rings.

Today we’ve travelled almost 8 miles, through a 1239 yard tunnel, and one stop lock. WiFi is 25Mg, and Digital TV isn’t very good!

(For the benefit of Sue and Matt, because they find it difficult to keep track of our journey, we’ll add postcodes. 🙂 )

We started today at postcode WA4 5BH, mooring at postcode WA4 4LQ.


Delights Of The Macclesfield Canal

We left the C&RT mooring, after filling up with water, and John still ‘complaining’ he was feeling sore after the locks. Like a dutiful wife I told him I’d do all the locking today! Our plan of manoeuvring through four locks seems a doddle after the twenty odd from yesterday.

Our first lock (#43) was straight in front of us.

At Lock #42 we took this picture:

Take a note of what looks like bridge, it’s really not a ‘bridge’, it’s Poole Aqueduct on the Macclesfield Canal. We shall be doing a ‘loop’, which will take us over this Aqueduct.  Below is a picture we snapped taken from the Aqueduct, looking down on the Lock #42. We couldn’t see the locks below because of the wall, so with arms stretching up, we snapped the camera and hoped for the best!

Just before the third lock (#41), we moored up while I took a short hike to Tesco for a quick shop for fruit, milk and bread, and of course a freshly baked bag of doughnuts!  (Well it is bank holiday weekend after all.)

A little bit of canal history, this is a ghost sign advertising the ‘Kidsgrove Gas Light Company’, the company existed during the years 1857-1949. We snapped the sign as we sailed past.

Lock #41 pops up at Harding’s Wood Junction, and this is where we turned right, onto the Macclesfield Canal (and the start of the loop which takes us back, over the Trent & Mersey).

We just love the Macclesfield, yet we’ve only be on it a day! The bridges are absolutely beautiful being built from local stone. The local stone being ‘Cheshire Gritstone’, has been used since the iron age for mill stones.

Macclesfield Canal’s gardens are glorious, making the canal such a delight!  The gardeners of these properties should be very proud of themselves.

Lock #13 corrects the water level difference from the Trent & Mersey and the Macclesfield – the lock raised Cyan to less than 10 inches.

History surrounds the lock, the worn cobblestones are testament to how busy this canal was worked.

The Macclesfield is rather shallow in areas, and it took three attempts to find a spot where we could moor Cyan, we just couldn’t pull her into the sides for mooring.  Eventually we moored just before Kent Green Bridge (#87), where we’re overlooked by the village of Mow Cop, and Mow Cop Castle.  The castle isn’t really a ‘castle’; it’s a folly of a ruined castle that’s sitting on the summit of a hill, it was built in 1754.

As we’ve had a ‘busy’ week; we’re moored up with over 45 Mg of WiFi; good TV reception and DAB radio; and the friendly ‘Rising Sun’ (Marstons) pub just yards away, we thought this would be a great place to stay for a couple of days.

Today we covered 4 locks, and two and half-ish miles.

What? Another Lock?

Couldn’t believe how many locks we did today.  We’d cut our journey into ‘chunks’, and had the choice to do 8 locks, or maybe 14 locks? Never thought we’d do the whole hog, cracking on to do 23 locks.  John welded the windlass for 21 locks, and I did 2! I have to say though, the two locks I did were the spookiest (yes I know, I’m a martyr to my vivid imagination!).

The locks are mainly in pairs, which originally was used to quicken traffic though the locks, even 200 years ago, ‘time was money’ apparently.

Approaching one set of locks we were faced with the scene below, and from afar we couldn’t understand what was happening.

It looked to us for a time that one of the locks had a serious problem.

On closer inspection, all looked ‘under control’!

Luckily for us another boat was coming down the ‘left side’ lock. As we were coming out of ‘our’ lock, we left the lock gate open for them, and they did the same for us. On the towpath, John met the lady boater who was doing the ‘locking (the first of three antipodeans we’d meet today), she explained to John that she’d left the gate open on a lock further up because she thought there were boaters going up the lock.  She said it turned out the ‘boaters’ was a film crew.  John told her not to worry, and that we’d sort out the gate.

As we left our next lock, we could see the ‘film crew’ in the lock in front.  Must admit that it did occur to me; I should have taken time that morning to put on some makeup! There appears to be quite a few TV programmes recently about the Inland Waterways, the latest being ‘Barging Brits In The Sun’. Perhaps they’re filming ‘Celebrities Barging Around Britain’, and we’d get to see a celeb or two?

This is the film crew on the bridge, and we actually heard the phrase, “Well that’s a wrap”!

It appears they were filming a safety film on behalf of the Fire Service, it’s a film to be shown in schools about the dangers of larking around electricity sub-stations. Nothing ‘sexy’, or even to do with canals!

These are the two spooky locks I set. I do feel apprehensive about things being ‘derelict’.  The image shows two pairs of locks (four locks in total) the locks on the left of each pair is derelict.  John with Cyan is just beyond the bridge in front and out of view.  Looking up to the next pair of locks, I realised that if a boat was coming down this lock, there’d be a problem with having two boats pass each other in this small pound, would hate for the boats to get stuck. So I ran up the lock (where I’m taking the pic) and let out the water.  I ran back down to the first lock and opened the gates for Cyan.  While Cyan’s lock was filling I ran up the hill again to open the gates, for Cyan to go straight in.

The water looks really brown, with brown residue sticking to the walls of the lock, and to Cyan’s hull.  I believe it’s the element of iron.

Some of the houses are built very close the canal, it’s like we’re sailing through their gardens.


This is picture postcard stuff!

Remember the song, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”, some kind farmer has planted a whole avenue of cherry and apple trees, their  blossoms are amazing! No picture can do this scene justice, and once again I wished I could paint!

Couldn’t resist taking a picture of this motley crew, especially the magnificent beast with the ‘handlebar horns’! At a rough guess there must be more than seven ‘breeds’ of bovine here.

We started at 10.30 a.m. and didn’t stop until we eventually arrived at 5.30 p.m., 23 locks, and 8 miles later, outside the C&RT Office moorings, just before Red Bull Lock (#42). John insisted on having steak for dinner, because he said he needed (deserved) it!


Yikes No WiFi

We moored up, just after the services at Wharf Bridge (#154). We had travelled a mere ‘hop, skip and a jump’ from yesterday’s mooring, mainly because of the inclement weather.  It was a shock to barely receive any WiFi after the brilliant service we’ve been getting of late.

Tomorrow we’ve a day of locks. Wonder how many we’ll manage?

Annes Bridge (#157), Trent and Mersey Canal

We set out this morning with a vague plan to moor just above Kings Lock (#71), on the Trent and Mersey, enabling us to visit the chandlers, and enjoy a fish ‘n’ chip supper from the local chippy.

To get to our ‘planned’ mooring, we had to go down the last two locks on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie, and one lock ‘going up’ on the Trent and Mersey.

Our first lock of the day!

Last night while reading another boater’s blog, NB Seyella, we noticed we were following in the wake of Mags and Geoff’s Seyella. I left a comment on their blog saying if they saw a couple waving at them as we passed, it would probably be us. Although we hadn’t met, their blog was one of several we have been following for over four years, it’s been a great inspiration to us living our ‘alternative’ life on board Cyan.

We were delighted to bump into them at Middlewich Junction, where we stopped for a lovely chat for half an hour. It was great to say ‘thank you’ in person for their blog. Such nice people, and no doubt we’ll be bumping into them from time to time.

Seyella continued ‘North’ on the Trent and Mersey, while we went ‘South’.

At the top of Kings Lock we noticed the mooring rings were  too far apart for Cyan, with no hope of putting in pins, or mooring with a chain, so we thought we’d cruise on thinking they’d be a more suitable mooring relatively near. Though first, John visited the chandler, and popped into the chippy, while I temporarily held onto Cyan at the lock landing.

As soon as John returned, I popped the chips into a warm oven, for what I thought would be a short time. Unfortunately, we had to go up 4 locks, and cruise 3 miles, before we came across a suitable mooring. The fish and chips were tasty, and enjoyable, but they weren’t at their best. Still, on the bright side; we’ve 45 mg of WiFi, and great digital TV reception.

Here’s a few snaps we took today:

A lovely traditional canal side cottage, with the door beautifully decorated with ‘Castles and Roses’ artwork.

I’m so loving the amazing variety of spring flowers growing along the towpaths.

Originally this building was a stables for canal horses to rest and be changed. It’s now been sympathetically converted into a lovely home.

My  camera just isn’t good enough to pick up the beautiful vista, it’s glorious and shows just how high up the canal is.

While we were on the Llangollen, and the Montgomery Canals, we hardly saw a swan, despite the canals being surrounded with conservation areas. We couldn’t believe our eyes seeing this ‘Lamentation’ of over 20 swans. Couldn’t help but wonder what the swan convention was all about?

Today we did 9 miles and 7 Locks, and moored up with 45 mg  of WiFi.