Bright, Breezy, And Wet!

We were in two minds whether to sit the day out on our mooring, or brave the windy/wet/bright day! Eventually we decided to aim for ‘Long Molls Bridge’ (#76), just over 4 miles away.  We were encouraged by other ‘brave’ boaters passing us by.

We’ve had bright sunshine, heavy squally showers, and gusts of wind. The wind made cruising this winding stretch interesting to say the least. We also couldn’t fathom what weather was in front of us, a blue sky, or a threatening cloud due to us continually changing directions.

Cruising along we could see there were lots of signs that Autumn was now upon us.


The locals appear to be a ‘friendly’ lot. “PLEASE PASS AT TICK OVER OR MY WIFE WILL TURN YOU INTO A FROG”!

Tomorrow, as far as the forecasters can tell, looks to be a good day. We’ve a plan to start our day early, going through 12 locks, starting with Gailey Top Lock, and ending with Tixell Lock, mooring at Tixell Wide, some 13.5 miles! If we don’t make our target, no problem, but it might be fun trying!

Today we’ve travelled 4 miles, no locks, WiFi is over 30 Mg, digital TV is good. Our postcode is WV10 7DU.

Leaving The Shroppie, Joining The Staffs & Worcs Canal

It took us a while to get going this morning as we used the services at the bottom of Wheaton Aston Lock, and by the time we’d finished we were third in the queue to ascend. While John ‘walked’ Cyan to her place in the queue, I ambled up to the lock with a windlass, hoping to help quicken the ‘process’. There were just as many queuing to come down as to go up, including hire boats who’ve just started their holidays. Still, despite the cold gloomy weather, most boaters were jolly.

Cruising the Stretton Aqueduct; over the A5 ‘Watling Street’, we waved. A lorry replied by flashing his lights, and we just happened to catch it on camera

Onwards we cruised, through ‘Skew Bridge (#15)

Doesn’t take much imagination to wonder why it’s called ‘Skew Bridge’!

Passing through the beautiful ‘Avenue Bridge’ (#10), built C1830 by Thomas Telford. “Rough faced ashlar; single stilted round arch flanked by pilasters; sweeping balustraded parapet on rounded corbels. Ashlar is finely dressed (cut, worked) masonry.” It’s an amazing bridge, no doubt a vanity project to please the Giffard Family see more. A case of ‘sublime to the ridiculous’ taking ‘Skew Bridge’ into account.

Here’s an interesting fun boat! I imagine the person who built it had some fun too.

Eventually we popped out of Autherley Junction.

Leaving the Shroppie

And straight onto the narrows…  but not before a boat had just left the narrows. A few anxious minutes passed where we’d hope we wouldn’t meet another boat. Luckily we didn’t, but we did meet one as we exited the narrows. It must be our lucky day!

The weather has been threatening to drown us during the morning, though we moored up in lovely sunshine. The wind was biting, it’s the first real taste of Autumn. While cruising we had the central heating going, with promises of hot buttered crumpets when we stopped.

We’re moored just past Coven Heath Bridge (#69), and pretty tightly too due to the wind. While I battened down the hatches, John took Rusty for a run, coming back with a big bag of damsons; soon to be ‘recycled’ into wild damson jam. To top off the ‘Autumnal Theme’, we’ve lit the wood burner!

Today we’ve cruised 10.5 miles, through 1.5 locks (you couldn’t really say the Autherley stop lock a ‘real’ lock), we’ve 15 Mg of WiFi, and digital TV is good.

Sunshine And Torrential Downpours

The weather’s been a trial today, torrential downpours intermittent with bright strong sunshine. We set off with the weather on our side, but it’s been touch and go all along.

We didn’t realise the Mikron Theatre Company was moored the other side of the bridge from us. We’ve not seen any of their plays, though I can remember the enthusiastic waves from the troop when we saw them on the Oxford last summer.

Moored boats, and a fishing competition that seemed to go on and on… slowed down our progress. At 5 bridges we had to tread water while boats got to the bridge hole first. Each of these obstacles was accompanied with a heavy downpour.

Passing under the ‘iconic’ bridge.

At Norbury Junction we topped up the diesel tank with 93 litres diesel @ 59p a litre. (While passing Turner’s Garage at Wheaton Aston, they were advertising diesel at 58.9p). Since we last topped up on the Leeds to Liverpool canal, we’ve travelled 115 miles.

Sorry Rusty but we had to go through a very small tunnel. I believe the tunnel should have been longer, but because the stone had a lot of flaws, bits of the tunnel kept collapsing. In the end the top of the tunnel was removed, leaving a ‘cutting’.


We’re now moored up at the bottom of Wheaton Lock.  We moored in torrential rain, though within five minutes the sun was shining once again.

Today we’ve travelled 10.5 miles, with no locks. WiFi is 15Mg, Digital TV signal good.

Eeber Jeebers On The Shroppie

What a night we had last night, the rain pelted it down, waking us up several times. Must admit it’s a lovely cosy feeling being snuggled in bed, while the rain bucketed it down on the roof. Being woken by the rain wasn’t really conducive with a peaceful night though, as yesterday’s reference to the noisy ghost at the top of the Adderley Locks gave me nightmares!

When we set of this morning, around 9.30ish, I once again offered to do the locks, with the proviso that if I got tired John and I would swap ‘jobs’. Cyan was untied from her mooring, and I walked up to the first/bottom lock of the Adderley flight. The locks did look gloomy after all the rain last night, but nothing could prepare me for the fact that as I approached the lock, a lock gate swung open! It was the gate on the other side of the lock. So now I’m in a panic, I darn’t mention anything to John because he’d just not understand, and worse of all, he’d laugh! “Of course”, I’m telling myself, there has to be a reason for such things. I opened the gate nearest to the towpath, then I climbed over the top gate to get to the other side of the lock, hardly daring to look at the gate that swung. Cyan was soon inside the lock, I shut the gates, and opened the sluices.

Luckily the next 4 locks were all empty for us.

At Adderley Top Lock, the lovely kind person who has set out a stall of fresh bread, homemade scones, eggs, tomatoes, etc., and a fridge freezer full of goodies, had replenished her stock. I bought one of their delicious homemade pork pies for £2.50, which we had for tea tonight!

At our next set of 5 locks, the Tyrley flight, all the locks were set against us. Though these two happy fellows cheered us up. Someone has recently decorated this character’s hat with colourful apples and a corn cob.

The by-wash on these flights are notoriously difficult, as seen in the pic below:

When we got to Tyrley Lock 2, the heavens opened, and as soon as Cyan had risen in the lock, I jumped on, we pulled up the ‘pram hood’, and had a cup of coffee. We wasn’t holding anyone up, so we stayed in the lock for about half an hour while the thunder and lightening did its worse.

At the top lock we used the Elsan, dumped our rubbish, and filled with water – except we didn’t completely fill up with water as the water-point was slow. By the time we’d done our chores, the sun had come out in full glory.

And then we entered the narrow cutting:

Eventually the canal opened! Cruising today has been thoroughly enjoyable in the sunshine.

Not sure, but this building does look like stables from the ‘olden days’ to shelter and rest the canal horses.

The sky is full of weather, unpredictable to forecast.

One of the wonderful aspects to cruising along, is that you get to meet and appreciate people you wouldn’t normally come across. This elderly man and his elderly dog really touched us. We’d have missed this loving relationship if we were travelling in a car.

Eventually we moored after Bullocks Bridge (#42) on the visitor’s mooring, though we did annoy a local.

After mooring, and kicking off my wet trainers, we peacefully settled down with a wee dram. But that was until I stepped on a wasp, and got stung twice on my foot (probably the wasp was drawn to cheesy feet!). Jumping about in panic, and shouting at John to get rid of the wasp which was crawling around on a rug, an excited Rusty rushed to see what was up. Trouble was he ran over the wasp, making us lose sight of the thing. We thought at first he’d trodden on it and got it caught in his paws, thankfully that wasn’t the case. After two piraton, and two paracetamol, washed down with Tesco’s whisky reserve, I’m looking forward to a more peaceful night!

Today we’ve travelled 12.5 miles, and travelled through 10 locks. WiFi is 40Mg, Digital TV is fine.

The Audlem Climb

We knew it was going to be a day of locks as going through Audlem’s on today’s agenda. But first off we’ve the two Hack Green locks to climb.

Once through we’re met with this sign:

Last time we passed the sign we thought it was an oxymoron, how can a ‘secret’ be advertised? If that mad man in North Korea was ever to press ‘the button’ wonder how many would make for this bunker?

In the distance we saw C&RT staff being very busy mending a breach. Talking of the C&RT, I see the winter stoppages are now published on their website of places/dates to avoid this winter.

There wasn’t much room to pass…:

… made worse due to a moored boat.

The sky continued to be ‘heavy’.

We saw this humongous gaggle of geese near Overwater Marina. We saw them here around April/May time and wondered then what’s the attraction? The pic shows less than 10% of them.

It’s not a good picture because I couldn’t get the camera out quick enough, probably because we were too busy laughing. The narrowboat is pulling a butty, which is pulling a ‘pea green’ boat, complete with an owl and a pussy cat!

Love to see history being cared for, these cast iron guards used to protect bricks from the wear and tear of horse ropes, have been carefully painted for prosperity.

Eventually we came to the bottom of the Audlem flight. The first 3 locks had to be set, as did the last three locks, but the 9 locks in the middle were manic. Even a lockie who was helping an elderly couple (the lady was not well at all) and their boat down the locks said he’d never seen it so manic. It was great really, as it was more or less one boat up and one down for the 9 locks. But why does it turn out to be busy in the middle of the flight? Why not at the beginning and the end? It defies logic.

The wind was quite sharp too today, which made cruising ‘interesting’, especially when there’s a by-wash to contend with. Several times a descending boat would come out of a lock, knowing we’d just ascended and would soon be coming out of our lock within minutes. Why don’t they just stay ‘safely’ in the lock, until we are ready to leave ours? Both boats could then pass each other in the pound, instead of the boater trying to control their boat in the pound while waiting for us to come out of the lock. Still, I’m sure we’ve done many things that look illogical to other boaters.

There’s a sort of method to my madness in doing the locks today; now that’s Cyan’s new paintwork has been scratched in several places (it can’t be helped when going through locks), if a scratch gets noticed when I’m at the helm, who could say who did it? Glad I’m not the one who scratched Cyan first ha ha…

We moored just before the rain fell down! We were lucky it held off for us today. We’re at the bottom of the Adderley flight of 5 locks. I’m glad we decided to moor here, as I’ve read there’s a noisy ghost above the locks, the ghost apparently shrieks at boaters, causing them to rush through the cutting. I’m a martyr to my imagination, and I really don’t want to ‘encourage’ it!

Today we’ve travelled 8 miles, and 17 locks. WiFi is 20Mg, Digital TV is rubbish. Postcode is TF9 3TJ.

Here We Go… Here We Go…

We’ve had 12 full days in Aqueduct Marina, and developed a bad dose of ‘cabin fever’, we were fast getting to the ‘end of our tether’. Being parked on the ‘dark side’ of the marina, downwind of where boats were getting power washed and sandblasted, wasn’t doing much for the chesty coughs we’ve had for a couple of weeks. Still, we did get a load of work done.

At the first opportunity which was this morning, we managed to break free, and it was a sight for sore eyes when the tractor and ‘boat cradle’ arrived to collect Cyan.

Over the past couple of days we’ve been relieved that Rusty has been running up and down the ‘scary’ ladders without a problem, though he did go berserk when he thought ‘his’ boat was being stolen.

Within five minutes of Cyan being dropped back into the water, we were off!

Despite the weather forecast saying it’s going to be a sunny day, the clouds looked ominous, we even had a brief rain shower.

Both Minshull Lock (#2) and Cholmondeston Lock (#1) were busy, with boats waiting to ascend and descend. I helped with the locking while chatting to boaters as they went through the locks. Surprising what information can be gleaned. One boater told us to make sure we stop in Audlem to visit the fantastic butcher that is there.

Seeing that I helped other boaters with the locks, I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt popping back on to Cyan while still in the lock.

We had intended to turn right at Barbridge Junction, and make our way to Chester. But that was last week, before we had a change of mind. We’ve decided to change tack and ‘aim’ for the Coventry Canal.

We want to refurbish our galley, and we thought Aqueduct Marina could help. We’ve not officially had the estimate yet, they are going to email it to us, but we’ve been made aware it’s going to be over £7.5k, and that’s after we supply the cooker/hob, fridge, worktops, and sink. Furthermore they don’t have a ‘slot’ until next year!

There are some other work, like making indoor windows and frame for the hatch, and rebuilding the steps down from the stern. The ‘estimate’ has made our eyes water, so we’re off to get other estimates – two of which we hope will come from boatyards we trust on the Coventry.

Couldn’t see much activity at Hurlesden Junction.

All appears quiet at the locks, no boats going up and down, to and from the Llangollen Canal.

This is a real rubbish boat, there’s even plants growing through the rubbish. We saw this boat in May, except it was facing the other way. So many questions!

John’s really pleased with the work done on Cyan, which was having the top bearing replaced on the rudder, and the skeg cup bearing replaced. Cruising now appears quieter, steering is much more responsive, and the ‘play’ has gone.

We’re now moored just after Nantwich Aqueduct. We had hoped to do the two Hack Green Locks today, except the boat in front was excessively slow, we’d travelled several miles behind it on tick-over, and it was easier for us to call it a day.

Just a little tip: Before we left we had a delivery from Tesco, I’d ordered a pack of Paracetamol, 2 boxes of Lemsip, and 2 bottles of cough medicine. When ordering the medicine, a message appeared on screen saying I’d gone over my quota for medicine. I ignored the message, and Tesco delivered my full order.

We’ve travelled 7 miles, and manoeuvred through 2 locks. WiFi is 20Mg. Postcode is CW5 5HQ.


It’s All Been Worth The Pain

When we attempted to book Cyan at Aqueduct Marina to come out of the water, we explained we are ‘liveaboards’, and that we’d be staying on the boat. A manager explained it would be fine, except getting on and off the boat would be down to us, and that the marina (due to an ‘insurance’ issue) can’t provide ladders.  That left us with a dilemma, how do we get Rusty, our 45Kg German Shepherd, on and off the boat? With our strength combined, we’d still not be strong enough to throw him over a shoulder, and carry him up a ladder!

After a conversation with a director, he assured us we’d find a solution, though he stressed the marina could not be liable for what our ‘solution’ would be.  Before Cyan was removed from the water, we’d spotted quite a few wooden pallets lying around, and thought; if all else fails, we could build a wooden platform.

Luckily Cyan was ‘parked’ on a hard standing next to a boat that appears to be a ‘project too far’. The boat had a makeshift, yet sturdy ladder. So we borrowed it. The marina staff made a gesture we interpreted as ‘nothing to do with us’. If the boat owner does turn up, we’d gladly buy him a drink!

Rusty’s ears once again getting in on the picture!

When dogs ‘land’ after jumping onto something, they obviously need a ‘landing space’, the bigger the dog, and the bigger the jump, then the bigger a landing area is needed. When we were looking for ‘our boat’, we couldn’t get Rusty to jump onto a ‘trad narrowboat’, he was nervous about the smaller ‘landing’ space on the stern. He’s also a very cautious, or nervous dog, and he wont dive into a situation without ‘thinking’ (unless he sees a cat – wish we could cure him of seeing cats as prey). So getting him to jump up the ladder, and get him on Cyan’s deck which is over 5ft from the ground wasn’t pretty! His life-jacket helped with its handle for ‘fishing’ him out of the water. Initially, enticing him on the boat with the promise of a tennis ball as a reward worked, though this has now worn off. The tennis ball is/was THE ultimate ploy for getting him to do anything. Edible treats just don’t ‘cut it’ for Rusty. It’s a battle we’re presently having to go through several times a day!

We’ll be pleased when Cyan gets back in water which has been promised for Tuesday; though no doubt Rusty will be the ‘most’ pleased!

When we’ve been working on Cyan outside, Rusty’s been with us, though tied up. Several boats away from us, live two beautiful ‘Bengal Tiger’ cats, and for his own protection, rather than the protection of the cats, he’s tied up. I’m without doubt that Rusty would come off the worse if there was a scrap.

After treating the rust problem in the cratch area caused by the hard plastic matting, the area was treated with red-oxide anti-rust paint, including both sides of the lid over the water tank/bladder. The lid was then refitted and resealed. Both metal lockers were painted inside with the red-oxide paint, including the top of the lockers.

The blue coach paint was sanded where the paint had chipped, and the sanded areas painted with the red-oxide.

When dried the whole area was painted blue, and the floor painted with gunnel paint.

The new black rubber matting was fitted on the floor, and the ‘older’ blue hard plastic mat placed on top. The blue looks more durable, though the black is a good protector. I’m really pleased this area has now been sorted, as it was starting to niggle.

It’s far too nice for a winter coal ‘ole’!

The whole of the stern was painted.

Including the top.

Under the mat, the floor was painted with gunnel paint. Just in case the mat slips as one of us jump onto the bank from the boat, a couple of strips of non-slip tape was attached to the deck, under the mat.

Reachable scratches and problems on the coach paint was flatted back with a sander, treated with red-oxide and repainted (canal-side we’ll treat the presently non-reachable areas). Problem areas on the gunnel were sanded, red-oxide applied, and the whole gunnel and strikes on both sides were painted with ‘Andy Russell Gunwale Paint’. The bitumen blacking was applied by the Marina.

It’s literally been a real pain, but we’re pleased with the results, and we have the satisfaction that Cyan is now beach winter ready! Doing this sort of work while afloat, would have been much harder, and obviously impossible in areas.

Aqueduct Marina is rather interesting as there is a large area where boats are on a hard standing, with their owners doing all sorts of DIY projects. As it seams to be tradition on the waterways, boat owners are generally willing to offer helpful advice to other boat owners. As one guy put it, there’s a wealth of experience that is being shared, much more advice can be gleaned than from a ‘normal’ boatyard where profits on parts/chandlery is a priority. Whereas boaters tend to know the cheapest, and most efficient ways to solve problems, including where the cheapest parts are, i.e. B&Q or Halfords.

Hopefully tomorrow the rudder bearings will arrive, ready for the ‘rudder repair team’ to work their ‘magic’ on Tuesday.

Wednesday will see us setting off on our next voyage.

Love the signage on a neighbouring boat.

Cyan Comes Out Of The Water

We’re in Aqueduct Marina on the Middlewich, where yesterday Cyan came out of the water to have the top and bottom bearing replaced on the rudder. While she’s out, we’ll take advantage to have her bottom hull blacked, as it’s costly to have her hauled out of the water.

It looks a bit like Cyan’s in shark infested waters, as she’s steered onto the submerged cradle.

Once secured onto the cradle she’s pulled out of the water.

At this point I was worried about a cup of coffee I’d made just before the Marina’s staff came to start the manoeuvres. I remember I’d only taken a sip out of the cup, before putting it down when the men arrived. I couldn’t remember where I’d left it. The worse scenario was that I’d left it on the table where our laptops were, and that the cup had toppled over, spilling coffee onto the keyboards! Later I was amazed to find the cup still full of coffee on the sink drainer, still in tact, and with no spillage.

The pic shows the ‘mystery’ of the prop and rudder revealed.

Nick gave Cyan a power wash, before placing her on stands, on an area of land.

While she’s out of water, and waiting for the 2 coats of blacking to dry, we’ve got no end of work planned. My ambition for the week is to completely repaint inside the bow/well deck, the stern, and the stern bands of red and cream.

A few months ago, the blue ‘clip together’ plastic matting was lifted from the floor in the front deck, it revealed the plastic ‘feet’ of the matting had broken through the paintwork, resulting in corrosion and rusty areas.

While John worked outside prepping the gunwale, sanding problem areas ready for painting with ‘Andy Russell Gunwale Paint’, I spent a couple of hours yesterday sanding, and treating the rust areas in the well deck with ‘Hydrate 80’. [Note to self: The result is impressive, worth using the Hydrate on other areas.]

The area will then be primed and painted. We’ve also bought some new rubber flooring today.

We might lay the blue plastic tiles on top of the new rubber flooring – depends….

We had a glorious sunset last night! Though our ‘neighbour’ has seen a lot better days!

WiFi is 9Mg, digital TV is good.

Celebrating our First Anniversary; One Year Afloat!

On Friday we left our overnight mooring on ‘Clive Green Visitor Mooring (West)’ to a promising ‘Summer’s Day’.

Leaving behind a boat of holiday makers who were moored after us ‘fender to fender’. Grandparents, parents, and a couple of children were having a great time.

The smell of freshly cut grass is a joy to me, not so for John though as he had a sneezing fit that went on for hours.

The ‘smell’ released from the grass is apparently a ‘signal’ to bug eating insects, that the grass is being killed by bugs eating it. The grass wants the bug eaters, to help it survive ‘the attack’. The smell producing chemical released by the grass is the same chemical dead humans give off when they die. Police dogs are trained to track this chemical/smell when they’re searching for a body. It’s amazing what you can pick up from the Internet, whatever did we do before the ‘Information Highway’? (I’m hoping over time I can forget this bit of information!) (“So am I”, John’s comment!)

If there’s ever a building that needs an award for being sympathetically converted, it’s the ‘Weaverbank Stables’. In days long gone by, this is where horses that pulled canal barges were exchanged and rested.  The stables are now a beautiful home, without it’s original character hardly changing.

After a pleasant journey we’ve now arrived at our destination, Aqueduct Marina. Cyan is being pulled out of the water on Tuesday. The rudder has become loose, and getting gradually more loose since Cyan’s punishing journey through the Huddersfield Narrows. There’s also a nick out of the propeller which will also need repairing. While she’s out of the water she’ll get her ‘bottom blacked’ after having the area pressure washed and descaled.

Today is our anniversary, we purchased Cyan on 27th August 2016, and cruised her on our first journey, some 70 miles and 35 locks from Longport Wharf (Trent & Mersey) to Hinckley Marina (on the Ashby). We’d never really had the helm of a narrowboat before, except for 2 days essential training with Willow Wren. Since then, Cyan has been our home.

I’ve a feeling celebrations are in order today!

Cheers everyone, especially the helpful boaters who’ve taken time and trouble offering their advice to a couple of novices, saving us time, effort and money over the last year. Here’s hoping we can be as helpful to other novices during our next several years afloat.

For friends who’d like to ask us: “Do we regret selling our ‘place in the sun’ for a narrowboat on the Inland Waterways of the UK? The answer has to be from us both, “Not for one moment!”

In our first year, we calculated to have cruised 756 miles (at less than 3 miles per hour), and worked an amazing 562 locks, and countless swing/lift bridges. Think it’s about time we started to cruising canals that have less locks!

We’ve gone as far West to Llangollen Basin, and our most Northern point was Skipton.

Don’t think anyone can say we’ve not ’embraced’ our new way life afloat – well not for a couple of ‘wrinklies’!

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