Like The ‘Flying Dutchman’ Doomed Never To Moor

What’s really great about the Canal system, is the people, they are so friendly and helpful.

At the end of the Peak Forest Canal at Dukinfield, we were thinking of cruising down the Ashton Canal, and then onto the Rochdale Canal to get onto the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We listened to advice provided by two boaters who said we ought to be careful going on the Rochdale, and to do the first two locks on the Rochdale from the Ashton very early in the morning. Other safety advice given were; to keep the bow doors locked while travelling, and not to let kids, who are asking for a ride onto the boat. Food for thought!

We had a re-think about going through the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, onto the Calder and Hebble Canal, then onto the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. John got out his tape measure, to see how Cyan measures up to with a view to going through Standedge Tunnel, and it appears we are within the C&RT’s spec. So at the last minute we decided on the HNC route, but we were unprepared.

We had planned to have a lazy day on Thursday, but again John was buzzing to ‘get going’! “We’ll just go down a little way on the Peak Forest” he said. I knew he wasn’t happy where we were moored as we were right under a line of electricity cables, between pylons.

We left our mooring late in the morning. After cruising a little way we were asked by an elderly fisherman if we could retrieve his fishing float that was stuck on a bush on the other side of the bank from him. We did, but managed to get stuck while trying to hand him his float. This was the first of many times Cyan would get stuck that day.

Further on down the canal, after meeting another lady boater, she warned us of a sunken fibreglass boat. The boat had been set on fire, and she advised us to be careful security wise.

Moving on, we met a group of 5 youths, they were walking along the towpath. “Can we have a ride to Hyde” one said.  I just said the dog wouldn’t let them on board!

We were getting a bit nervous by now, and decided to cruise on through Ashton Under Lyne, and moor up in a secluded yet safe spot!

At Stanley Lift Bridge (#1), I got off the boat for bridge lifting duty. It was here I met a boater Gentleman who asked where we were going to moor up that night. He suggested we should moor up by the bridge, and not to go any further as it’s the time of the day that druggies are about, and that we should take care!

Hearing this, John was even more determined to get through Ashton Under Lyne.  So we continued with our plan!

Leaving the Peak Forest Canal at Portland Basin.

This beautiful bridge built in 1835, amazing to think what scenes this bridge has ‘witnessed’!

We turned right at Portland Basin Junction, and here we met a couple of lads carrying a huge supply of biscuits, and bottles of pop.  They were pleasant enough, though obviously as high as kites. Poor kids, they are someone’s sons!  John volunteered do the locks, and told me to keep Rusty on deck for show as he jumped off Cyan, and the kids followed him.

The lock was set open, so I took Cyan in. John closed the gates, but soon realised he didn’t have a waterway’s key to open the ‘locked’ lock-mechanism.  With the key on it’s lanyard in my hand, some 12 ft below John, John asked me to throw the key up to him. Trouble is I can’t throw for toffee! It was a horrible feeling watching the key hit the lock wall, and fall down into the lock! Luckily…. the boat’s gunnel was pressing against the lock’s walls, the key fell and lodged between the two. In a panic I grabbed the hook, trying not to rock the boat too much in case it moved away from the wall, and I managed to get the hook under the lanyard. Just as I lifted the hook, the key and lanyard slipped off! Again, and very luckily, the key slipped precariously onto the gunnel! This time I managed to secure it on the end of the hook.  After grabbing it, I ‘firmly’ tied the lanyard to the hook, and extended the hook’s pole so John could reach it.  This was being watched by the two doped-up kids who were peering over the edge of the lock, I was terrified they’d fall on top of Cyan!

With legs like jelly, we ploughed on…… and cutting a long story short…. after 14 locks, and failing to moor up 6 times along the way, each time getting stuck in the mud due to the lack of water on the HNC, we eventually moored up in desperation on a lock-landing.  It was now 9.30 p.m. (Boats are not to moor up on a lock landing)!

The next morning (yesterday) we telephoned C&RT about the lack of water, and could we pleeeeeeese stay on the landing for 24 hours more as it was raining, and we were tired after the problems of not being able to moor up! They were very friendly, and agreed we could stay, and that they’d investigate the lack of water.  We also booked the pilot to take us through Standedge Tunnel on Wednesday.  The tunnel is the longest on the system, and will take 3 hours to pass through! To think 6 months ago I had a phobia of tunnels! Eeeee things we do!

This morning we set off with a plan to climb 6 locks, mooring up at Saddleworth.  I volunteered to do the locks, and to walk between each lock as getting off and on Cyan was too much of pain, for sure Cyan would only get stuck again.

Locking is a very ‘sociable’ job!

We did 6 locks, travelled 3 miles, and we’re moored up with 16 Mg of WiFi!

Entering The Peak Forest Canal

On this glorious day, we stopped at the services, before we left the Macclesfield, at Bridge #1, we stopped to fill with water and unload our rubbish.

While there a C&RT van arrived, the driver asked if we were going down Marple Locks.  “Yes”, we said. He told us there’s a problem with Lock 9, the paddle had failed. He said he and his team were presently repairing it, he’d just popped back to the yard as he’d forgotten his ladder. He very helpfully said “Please wait below lock #13  and I will wave you through”.

For us, this is our last view of the beautiful Macclesfield Canal bridges, (Bridge #1). We hope to be back very shortly!

Our first ‘taste’ of the Peak Forest Canal, and it looks like it’s not going to disappoint!

We caught up with the C&RT workmen, and John took a short walk down to lock # 9 to ‘inspect’ the ‘works in progress’.

Pic below shows the drained pound, and also demonstrates why it’s best to sail boats in the middle of the pound.

There is a C&RT engineer, wearing waders,  standing in the water and reconnecting the side paddle that had come adrift. ……..

By looking at the images, you’d think we would be held up for hours, not so, the repair probably held us up a mere half an hour,  the time it took us to drink a can of beer! (Well the weather was getting hotter!) Well done C&RT!

The Marple Locks are very deep, and built from stone blocks. Probably the masons were paid on piecework noticing the marks they made on the blocks.

The locks are fabulous! Nature never fails to amaze, how nature endeavours to ‘take over’.

John decided he wanted to do the locking, though by the time we moored up, he was shattered. Perhaps next time I ought to nag him to ‘give us a go’!

We’re presently moored just before Hyde Tunnel, and just after the breathtaking Marple Aqueduct.  Image below is a stock image, the bottom aqueduct is for narrowboats, and top one obviously is for trains.

Not sure yet whether we’ll be moving tomorrow, I’ve a feeling we might due to the fact there’s no digital TV.

Today we did 16 Locks, and approx 2.5 miles.  WiFi is ‘toasting our bread’.

Love A Duck!

After Tesco delivered yesterday, we took off to for a short cruise, mooring up just before Hydes Bridge (#7). The wind had been very keen, and we were frozen. Though we soon kicked the wood burner to life.

Today we decided to ‘stay put’, I’d made myself a promise to rearrange some store cupboards, all had become jumbled.

We also spent a couple of pleasant hours planning the next ‘leg’ of our continuous journey. The journey will take us on the canals; ‘Peak Forest’, heading West on the Ashton, East on the ‘Rochdale’, the ‘Aire and Calder’, then onto the ‘Leeds to Liverpool’ canals. This should take us through till the end of July. We’ve loved the Macclesfield Canal, it’s been so beautiful, and we’ll no doubt be back soon!

The sun came out this afternoon, and the cold wind had dropped. For once the weather forecasters had got it right. It’s been a beautiful evening, with a pretty sunset, the promise of a glorious day tomorrow.

While enjoying the evening, listening to the bird’s evensong, this little fella sailed by:

We’d never seen a duck with a beautiful headdress like this before. The name’s original too, it’s called a ‘Crested Duck’!

We’ve been advised the weather is going to be glorious again tomorrow. Perfect for going down the 16 Marple locks on the ‘Peak Forest Canal’. According to the C&RT’s website, there are moorings at the halfway point. We’ll play it by ear as ‘they’ say, as to whether we’ll do the climb down though the locks in one day, or two!

So Glad We Got Going

After waking to a glorious day, I was looking forward to a lazy one.  Yet despite two ‘important’ games of footie on the telly, John wanted to cruise. I conceded to the proviso we sort out a delivery from Tesco, even if we have to pay to moor in a marina to do so.

I was so glad we did as it was a fantastic day, the canal even had a ‘party atmosphere’ to it, as quite a lot of the boats were having parties on board as they sailed along.

A so called ‘party boat’ was spied coming towards us, but as there was a bridge in between us where obviously one boat would ‘fit’,  (etiquette dictates that the one nearest to the bridge hole goes through first), as we were nearest the ‘hole’, and after listening to the ‘merriment’ emanating from the ‘party boat’ where drink’s probably involved, John wisely stopped Cyan and beckoned the party boat through. Maybe it was because of this gesture the ‘captain’ of the party boat handed us 2 slices of birthday cake!

Scrummy it was too!

Herons were very busy on the Macclesfield.  There were two distinct ‘types’ of heron (I think this one is a heron) we spied.  We’re such ignorami when it comes to bird species.  We’re going to correct this as it could be a great hobby, therefore I’ve joined the RSPBC community, and have enquired about species of herons.  We’re still baffles as to why this ‘heron’ was ‘fishing’ behind a wire fence?


The boat beyond the heron had run aground, still they appeared to be enjoying themselves considering the shouting and laughter.


The Macclesfield Canal is like ‘Heaven on Earth’, it’s stunning.




History is so touchable:

We did have some scary moments too;

Sorry, just couldn’t help snapping happy families:

Mother goose still looks to be incubating her children as she’s sitting on her nest still.  Dad’s kept busy watching the ‘hatchlings’ who were chirping away trying to get back on the bank to the safety of mum’s wing.


We didn’t expect this – how fabulous are these views over Bollington Aqueduct!

Here’s Bollington Aqueduct from below (a stock image):

Towards the end of the aqueduct we came across the amazing Clarence Mill.  It’s now been converted into apartments, where the views must be outstanding.

At the bottom of the mill, there’s a visitor’s centre and a canal side cafe.

Our ‘lunch stop’:

Our end of day mooring:

We’ve moored up by Grimshaw’s Bridge (#18), just opposite Lyme View Marina where we topped up with diesel, bought 4 bags of coal, and exchanged an empty gas bottle for a new one.

Tomorrow Tesco’s been instructed to deliver our order to the bridge.  Monday we’re staying put!

Since we last filled up at Ellesmere we’ve motored 71 miles. The diesel tank took 67 litres to re-fill, which wasn’t bad considering the  heating of our domestic water, running the washing machine, hair dryer and topping up batteries.

Over the last 30 days our solar panels have ‘harvested’ over 100 kWh, that is a bonus!

Today we’ve had no locks, and have cruised 6 miles. WiFi is around 25 Mg.


Wondering What Happened To The Sun?

We decided yesterday to have a day off from cruising, the wind was still strong, and had decided to come from the North.  It was nice to be lazy!

Despite the sun not coming out to play today, we had the idea to cruise to Lyme Retail Park where there was a ‘Pets at Home’ store right next to the canal, which had ‘Vets For Pets’ within the store.  Rusty will be going into kennels for a spell in July, so the idea was to get him checked out by their vet and have him brought up to date with his injections.

Before we left our mooring, we said ‘good bye’ to our cutest neighbours, Mr & Mrs Goose and their brood of adorable goslings.

Unfortunately when we got to the place where we planned to moor for the retail park, by Danes Moss Bridge (#46), we couldn’t get into the side of the canal to moor.  John said he thought it was due the Macclesfield Canal being cut in a ‘V’ shape, and silting up over the years of course.

We had no option but to abandon our plans and cruise on towards, and through Macclesfield.

Think this plant is a marsh marigold.  The first time I spotted this plant (I think) this year.

Amazing how high we were cruising, and how wonderful are those views!



There were no locks to handle today, but there was a swing bridge.  It was one of those where you used the C&RT key, and by pressing the ‘go’ button; traffic lights starts working, the barriers drop, and then the bridge starts to turn.  I’m afraid we held up two cars and two cyclists. John worked the bridge, while I steered Cyan through the small access.  As I waited for John to jump back on Cyan, I couldn’t help but snap this ‘old boot’, it’s now on a scrap heap, but no doubt it was a wonderful and loving gift some Dad or Granddad made.  Obviously the child had grown out of imagining she was one of the ‘Old Woman’s children’.


Cruising through Macclesfield, the bridges and the beautiful stone walls didn’t disappoint.




This lovely bridge looks to have been build half for the barge horses to swap over the towpath, and half for a roadway.



We snapped lots of cute babies….



Here is ‘The Hovis Flour Mill’, now sympathetically converted into flats, at the foot of the mill is Swetttenham Street Maintenance Yard.


Just after the mill and under Buxton Road Bridge (#37) we moored at a brilliant spot, with Cyan having her own pontoon, we’re allowed to moor 3 days here if we want!


John took a little walk round the corner with Rusty, and discovered the start of our next days journey.



The mooring isn’t far from a Co Op, and as we only had 4 onions left and no fruit, it was high time we restocked before we got scurvy. Our plan is stay put tomorrow, and make another journey tomorrow, and possibly another on Monday, to the Co Op shop to replenish stocks.

No locks, and one swing bridge today. We cruised just over 5 miles.  We’ve got fantastic WiFi of 56 Mg.

Twelve Locks Of Bosley

Took a stroll with Rusty last evening to see the first Bosley lock (lock #12) of today’s cruise. What an idyllic evening!


It was difficult getting away from our mooring this morning, another boat had moored very close, using the same mooring ring. The boat being so close wasn’t a problem, but it was the strong wind that gave us a headache as it kept pushing us back into the mooring. Finally after several attempts we managed to pull away without nudging the neighbouring boat.

We were facing the prospect of ‘climbing’ the flight of 12 Bosley Locks, the sun was glorious, but the wind was really cheeky! The 12 locks will raise Cyan over 500 ft above sea level.


The Macclesfield Canal is the most beautiful canal we’ve so far seen, and we’ve made a promise we’ll be returning many times.


John volunteered to do the locking, which left me battling Cyan against the elements. It was tough keeping Cyan away from the bank, though the wind did its best to ground us.


I loved coming up in the locks, because you never know what scene awaits you. Could this scenery be even better?


The locks are built with large blocks of stone, each one precision cut, and dressed. I can imagine these locks being serviceable for the next 500 years. I read the stone was quarried at a quarry near to the bottom lock, and hauled by tram to each lock. In the 1950s the quarry was flooded into a reservoir, and all traces of the tram has since been removed.


Once at the last (top lock #1) we dumped our rubbish at the service centre, and topped up with water.

We’re now moored for the night at Crow Holt Bridge (#52). The designated moorings nearer to the top lock were all occupied, and as the wind appeared to be getting stronger, we took advantage of some armco, and moored up.

John was Rusty’s best friend, due to the fact he brought Rusty’s latest ‘special’ stick with us.

Today we’ve done 12 locks, and (almost) 2 miles. 35 Mg of WiFi is great! Digital TV is humming!

Trip To The Bottom Of Bosley Locks

On leaving Congleton Wharf, and passing over the Aqueduct, this turnover bridge was our first picture of the day. We’re still in awe of the history and skill of the Macclesfield Canal bridges.

Love the life sized, colourful, cow. Top half painted sky blue, bottom half ‘pasture’ green. I’m sure there’s an ‘arty message’ the cow is whispering, but I’m not hearing. Love it though!

Bridge #60 is almost pristine after nearly 200 years.

Every bridge should have a ‘Billy Goat Gruff’!

A mile marker ‘gravestone lookalike’. It’s now so old the wording has been weathered away, and it’s not easy to read by a passing boat.

Almost around every corner of the Macclesfield is a delight.

The ‘straight bits’ are a delight too!

Bridges old and new, all competing for space. Am I the only one thinking we’ve lost ‘something’?

Mrs Duck and her tiny brood.


Simply enchanting . . . . there must be fairies in these woods, surely!


Just managed to snap a glimpse through the trees of this magnificente structure as we sailed past.

We moored up just before the Bosley flight of locks, with glorious views, which we understand are the beginning of the Pennines.


We’re moored right next to the aqueduct over the River Dane. . .

. . . and almost at the foot of ‘The Cloud’.  Not a bad ‘temporary’ garden!

Rusty’s happy, he’s found himself a tasty ‘stick’! Well he ‘sort’ of found the stick; the stick was discarded by John, it appears we’ve been ‘pushing’ it along by the bow of Cyan for possibly miles.

Today we’ve done 0 locks, and 5.5 miles.

Tomorrow we’ll be climbing the 12 Bosley locks.


One Of Those Days!

It’s been one of those wonderful days today!

We woke up rather late for us, about 9 am ish, to the sound of heavy lorries.  It appeared the council had started to tarmac the road over the bridge close to where we were moored. It still makes us feel lucky that we don’t experience that ‘Monday Morning’ feeling anymore.  Not having that ‘Tuesday After Bank Holiday’ feeling is even better, which means in my mind, we woke to an even luckier day!

After a sausage sarnie for breakfast, we set too for our short trip to Congleton.

Who wouldn’t feel blessed waking up to our beautiful surroundings – it has all the makings of a beautiful day.

The ‘Mile Markers’ on the Macclesfield Canal are unique as they are made of stone, and looking rather like gravestones.

During the war (I sound like Uncle Albert) the stones were removed just in case they helped German invaders. The stones were buried for safe keeping, though unfortunately two had to be re-made as they had gone missing. After the war, they were put back in situ.

While walking the dog, John came across this iron fence which had a notice (see pic below) explaining the history of the fence, and the decision of erecting the fence, which was at the request of the owners of Ramsdell Hall. Along the canal it was normal to plant trees, but trees would have spoilt the beautiful views of the Cheshire countryside for the Hall, therefore the owners requested the fence instead of trees.

Ramsdell Hall

Beautiful canal-side gardens are a delight, this owner had bought a new garden bench, dedicated to the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee.

It’s a travesty that the stone masons who built the bridges are not commemorated some way as their skills are definitely on par with the stone masons of St Pauls, and other fine historical buildings!

All stone walls appears to be built without any mortar.  Their stone mason’s work is amazing!

I’ve heard the type of bridge below called: a rover’s bridge, a turnaround bridge, and a snake bridge. The bridge was constructed for the barge horse, when the towpath changed sides. The unique design of the bridge enabled the horse to move over to the other towpath without uncoupling from the boat it was pulling – ingenious!

The grooves in the stone are made through the pulling ropes, attached to the barge horses, wearing away the stone.

I’m making no apologies for snapping these pics of different bridges, I’m just over awed with them, they are so beautiful.

We moored just 100 metres or so from the WiFi antenna, so it’s no wonder we’re recording 48 Mg of WiFi.

This is Cyan, moored up for the night at Congleton Wharf.  We’ve been amused by an older and a younger brood of ducklings – they are hilarious, and already they know the sound of the pump, pumping out dishwater into the canal. They scurry to the discharge hoping for ‘bits of food’ in the dishwater.

Today we’ve done 0 locks, 3.5 miles, and mooring with 48 Mg WiFi.

Mayday Bank Holiday- staying put!

Early this morning it was ‘misling’ but mild. After dog walking it was decision time. Soon there was water traffic in both directions and our overnight neighbours prepared to set off. That’s it then, no point in joining the bank holiday scramble so we were staying put…….’cause we can! Time to catch up on emails and other tasks while the world rushed by…..then……the phone rang!

‘Where are you?’ It was Ian and Denise gongoozling at Bosley lock flight which is only about 8 miles by road from our mooring in Scholar Green. ‘We are about 2 days from you but about 20 minutes by road’……See you soon then….

Quick scurry around CYAN to tidy up, as you do,  then there was a knock on the side of the boat, Ian, Denise and their dog JoJo had found our mooring. Great to see old friends again.

Brief tour of the boat, well a walk from one end to the other is brief, then off to the ‘Rising Sun’.

Sat outside with drinks and dogs being on best behaviour, then the sun made an appearance. Gloriously warm sunshine and banter with friends on a bank holiday, what is there not to like! The food was soon delivered and all consumed, 5 stars to the chef’s…………

All to briefly they had to leave and we returned to the boat with a promise to meet up again when we get to Marple Top Lock.

Post lunch Snooker on the TV followed by Liverpool v Watford completed a super day……..back out on the cut tomorrow, once the waterway has quietened down, heading north towards the Pennines.

0 Locks 0 miles