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.

Good Bye Llangollen, Hello Shroppie

After Sunday’s beautiful weather, Monday brought back the April showers.

At the top of Hurleston locks we stopped to take on domestic water. In the squally rain, and a cutting sharp breeze we descended the four locks. John did the locking, helped by C&RT Volunteer Lockies (thank you Lockies), and I manoeuvred Cyan through the locks, battling the fast flowing by-wash which pushed Cyan away from the direction I wanted her to take. The strong blustery wind didn’t do us any favours either.

Hurleston Junction is at the bottom of the locks, which is the end (or the beginning) of the Llangollen Canal, and is where we take a left turn.  Turning left was ‘again’ a bit of a battle as the wind wanted us to turn right! With a sharp blast of forward-thrust letting Cyan know who’s in charge, it was a relief when she started to pivot to the left!

We didn’t have to cruise on the Shroppie main line too long, as we turned right onto the Middlewich Branch. Just before Cholmondeston Lock (#1), we moored Cyan in the shelter of a tall, yet thick hedge. We were ‘snuggled’ out of the cold north wind for the night.

This morning we woke to a glorious sunny day, yet remains of an overnight hailstorm still on the towpath! The ‘weather man’ said it wouldn’t last, so a decision was made to forgo breakfast, and to get ‘the show’ on the road while the sun shines.

Picture of me and a volunteer lockie, helping Cyan down through Cholmondeston Lock. It’s a deep lock at around 12 ft.

John said it was “Dark down there…!”

John took this pic as he and Cyan left Minshull Lock. This lock’s not as deep than Cholmondeston.

Pootling along was very pleasant as the canal looked ‘down’ over the beautiful Weaver Valley.  The above pic shows us cruising through an aqueduct over the River Weaver.

This pic doesn’t do justice to the magnificent view over the valley – it’s a glorious view.

This lucky milking herd were busy enjoying the lush grass, we couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if one of the cows fell in… would it be able to get out?

The tow path has been freshly mown this morning, and what with the neatly cut hedges, it shows the canal in a wonderful light.

Here’s mother duck with her gorgeous, and hilariously cute family.

This is our ‘home’ for the night, and our exclusive ‘garden’ has been freshly cut for our enjoyment.  We must be blessed!

We visited this marina when we were looking at boats, but forgot where it was.  Places look very different when travelling by car as opposed to a narrowboat.  We were very impressed with this marina, their helpful friendly staff, and the standard of their facilities is first class.  As we passed we took a pic of their sign for details, as we just might be spending time here during some of the winter months.

What A Glorious Spring Day!

After a grey day yesterday; waking up to beautiful sunshine is such a treat.

We’ve made today’s target, which was to moor up after Platt’s Bridge (#4), and what a great place it is to moor!

Cyan is soaking up the hot sun along her broadside, the solar panels are facing the sun full on, they are on ‘warp force’ capturing all that free electricity – currently our battery pack is on ‘float’. With 100% strength and quality for  FreeSat TV, and 3 bars of 4G, we’re cool!

Coming back down the Llangollen, we’re struck at how nature has moved on in a little less than 3 weeks.  Just had to to snap the beautiful bluebell wood as we passed (while wishing I had a better camera).

Living with this as our ‘backyard’, life is good!

Off To An Early Start

We were ‘on parade’ for 9.30 a.m., washed, fed, chores done, dog walked…. and we ‘casted’ off for our new day’s adventure.

Cruising down the canal, we can’t help but bask in nature.  We passed through a wooded conservation area where there was such a cacophony of bird song.  By next year I’m hoping to have learnt to identify every bird’s song.

As mentioned, after 15 or years in Spain, we’re really enjoying the amazing burst of an English (or Welsh) Spring. I’ve been fascinated with the wild primroses, but I’m even more fascinated and delighted with the cowslips that have suddenly bloomed. It doesn’t look like cowslips are an endangered species anymore.  Perhaps the wild seeds that people have been encouraged to plant has worked.

We passed several Mr & Mrs Ducks with their broods, the ‘little uns’ comically flapping and bobbing about in the water. Their little legs can’t half make their body move.  One tiny duckling appeared to be all alone in the world as we passed, we couldn’t see where its mother or siblings had gone.  Until we saw, further down the canal, a duck with 3 ducklings.  We couldn’t help wondering if she was the ‘careless mother’?

We’ve also been enjoying the antics of the young lambs in the fields, but were sad to see two of them drowned in the canal.  I expect they fell in. Wonder if the farmer realises he’s loosing lambs?

This is Cyan descending down the staircase of 3 locks at Grindley Brook.  After the staircase lock, where we were helped by three volunteer lock-keepers, we descended down a further 3 single locks. While I was opening one of the gates, a cheeky swallow flew under the beam in a wonderful display of flight agility!  Only one swallow mind, summer’s not quite here yet.

We’re now moored up just past ‘Jackson’s Bridge (#26).  WiFi is 5 bars of 3G, which isn’t too bad.  We’ve been spoilt; while mooring at Ellesmere we were getting 55 Mpbs.

We’re hoping to make it to the top lock at Hurlesden Junction by tomorrow afternoon. That’s 7 locks, 3 lift bridges, and 11 miles. We’ve planned to go down the four locks at Hurlesden Junction, and rejoin the Shroppie on Sunday – just in time for St George’s Day! (we have ‘the’ flag to be displayed on the day!)

Planning Our Next Journey

Our cruise up and down the Llangollen Canal is almost at an end.  We’re now planing our next trip which we’ve decided is to be Marple locks, where we hope to catch up with friends.

First thing first, food….. As Tesco is right on the bank of Ellesmere wharf, packing the boat with provisions for a couple of weeks was easy.  It’s really satisfying to pass bags of grocery, from the trolley, and in through the side hatch, straight into the galley.  After food provisioning, it was a very short pootle to the waterpoint to brim Cyan’s water-tank.  Then it was another quick pootle to Blackwater Meadow Marina to brim her diesel tank.  At the marina we also picked up two more bags of smokeless fuel for the stove for cosy evenings. Our trick is try and buy just enough coal for the chilly Spring nights, before the balmy summer evenings arrive.  We’ve no desire to haul bags of coal around throughout our summer journeys.

We moored up for the evening just past ‘Hampton Bank Bridge’ (#50).  The WiFi wasn’t up to much, so we were disappointed we couldn’t use the internet much for planning our next journey.

A Fun Day

We had a great day on Wednesday (19/04/17), as we had a visit from our family. We met up at Ellesmere, and took a cruise down to the junction at the Prees Arm of the Llangollen, where we ‘winded’ Cyan, returning back to Ellesmere.

Day started with the obligatory bacon sarnie for breakfast at the tiller, then for lunch we stopped by a lovely spot where we had a picnic, followed by party cakes for the ‘Birthday Girl’ Llio, who was having her birthday the next day.

It was a fantastic day, and I heard our ‘Captain-For-The-Day’, Aled, was soon asleep in the car on the way home. Think we were all shattered too.

Thank you Ceryl, Chris, Cara, Llio and Aled for visiting, and giving us great memories of a beautiful day!