Sunday, 20 August 2017

Cheddleton Sunday 20 August 2017

Woke to a lovely sunny morning, as soon as a boat came down the canal we set off as this would mean that Engine Lock would be in out favour. I had undone the bow and pushed out, lifted the fenders and was just taking the stern line off when a boat came behind but as I was so close to setting off I continued, a good job to as there were two more boats just behind him.

Engine lock is unusual, its quite deep and as you fill it the water also comes in at the tail of the lock, so the boat is not drawn forwards or tries to surge about.DSCF8674

Above the lock another boat was just setting off and we followed them to the lift bridge, I waited after they were through for a boat coming the other way and the lady then decided she couldn't wait any longer and lowered the bridge. Its a key operated electric bridge and you have to lower it to remove your key.

We met boats in every lock going up Stockton Brook Locks which also eased the work load.

It was a toss up whether to carry on straight at Hazlehurst Junction or right to Leek, when we arrived there was no one heading down the locks and the top one was full so decision made, straight down.DSCF8676

Looking at the row of houses beside the Holly Bush Inn it looks from the lintels above the doors and windows of No.4 as if the have suffered subsidence in the past.DSCF8678

At Cheddleton Mill both the water wheels were running, but by now we had passed the visitor moorings and were soon at the lock, so we failed to stop this time for a look round. We have stopped before but it was years ago. Just beside the lock is a Mexican Restaurant where a 50th birthday party was taking place with much merriment.

The Cheddleton locks are fitted with hydraulically operated bottom gate paddles and required 23 turns of the hand pump to lift them, it wasn't helped by one drifting closed by its self, so needed constant winding to hold it open. It was here that Diana enlisted some youngsters to assist in pushing the gates open and closed.

Just through Basford Lane bridge are some 48hr moorings, room for two boats, the first bit is OK but the second section must be the worst official visitor mooring on the system, its just a rough concrete edge over a weir, its horrible.DSCF8680 Luckily there were no boats here and we could get on the first bit. Also on the first bit is another canoe access point. This one consists of a wooden frame with a rubber mat inside it.DSCF8681

Today's Journey 

map 05   7 Miles, 11 Locks in 5 Hours.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Norton in the Moor Saturday 19 Aug 2017

Woke up this morning to the dawn chorus. The smoke detector by the bedroom door started chirping. Have you ever tried changing the battery in a smoke detector in the half light, without your glasses on and only half awake. Once that was sorted the Rooks chimed in, then a boat went by and this was all followed by the trains tooting.

So the day began, it was fine when we set off at 1030 am. Timing was critical to ensure the bread was baked before we reached Harecastle Tunnel. We had a good run up the locks as far as the CRT offices at Bulls Bridge which is a single lock that was against us, so were both the next locks. At Plants Lock the boat we were following went into the offside lock, so Diana drew the near side one, unfortunately there was a boat moored, facing me in the lock mouth. It seems he had broken down and a mechanic was trying to fix it, he had to pull forward a bit to let me into the lock. By the time we had locked up the other boat locking up was about to leave, so I asked if they were going through the tunnel. He said they were going up the Mac but he was going to go towards the tunnel to moor and go shopping, he asked if there was a winding hole by the tunnel and I told him no, but he carried on saying there was one on his map.

We followed him up and he tried to moor at Smithson's long term mooring before moving on. As we approached the tunnel it was very congested and a boat was just coming out so we waited until it had passed before going under the railway bridge.

Our friend was there beside one of the boats waiting for the tunnel, Duke and Duchess were also waiting so we lay alongside Duchess while the other 3 boats came out.DSCF8654

The chap who had come to moor and shop had to reverse back to the junction which he did just before the forth boat exited the tunnel and after a forth boat joined the mellay to go south.He is not the blue one but the one under the railway bridge. I hope he doesen’t burn his bowthruster out getting back.DSCF8655

The back boat was first into the tunnel followed by Duke and Duchess, then us and finally the last boat to arrive.DSCF8660 It was 20 minuets from when we arrived at the tunnel mouth, after waiting for the first boat out to clear the rail bridge that we started entering the tunnel for an uneventful trip to the South Portal.

Exiting the tunnel it was raining steadily and within minutes it was chucking it down, Duke and Duchess pulled over and waved my by, I thought they were being friendly but looking back they set to buttying up, so I guess there were having dinner while it chucked it down. I think we were at Middleport before the rain stopped and the sun came back out. A short way south of the tunnel is a new canoe access point, this one seems to have a hard pad on the bank plus a sign.DSCF8668

At Etruria Junction we swung left up the Caldon Canal. A boat coming up the Stoke locks had turned in in front of us, but he stopped at the services so we passed him.

Below Baker Street Lock there is another new sign, just a sign, nothing else. I would thought a canoeist would have worked that one out for them self, but it looks good.DSCF8670

A boat was just leaving the top of the locks so we didn't need to fill the top chamber, just empty the bottom before entering, once in the lock there was an impressive waterfall from the top of the intermediate gates.DSCF8671 The lock was much easier to work than it has been in the past so CRT achieved something during the last stoppage. It will be interesting to see what happens to Bridge No2 with the broken cast sections. maybe they will replace them with plate.DSCF8672

The boat ahead was well gone by the time we reached Planet Lock. At festival Gardens there is another canoe access point, well there is a sign which is the only difference to any other part of the bank. Do you get the feeling I don't think these signs are money well spent? DSCF8673

We carried on mooring for the night a short way below Engine Lock where I paid our first visit of the trip to the weed hatch, I picked up something earlier but it had virtually disintegrated by the time we moored up at 5pm. just some cloth round the shaft.

Today's Journey map 049 Locks, 12½ miles in 6½ hours

Friday, 18 August 2017

Church Lawson Friday 18 August 2017

Again last night we had some rain but it was bright and sunny when we set off this morning. We had a good run as far as the M6 at Hassle Green where our luck ran out. We just came under the motorway when it started to rain. By the time we had cleared Hassle Green locks we had had 2.5 mm, that's in about 15 minutes so we moored on the visitor moorings so that poor old Diana could get some dry cloths on.DSCF8632 Not only did it rain but both the locks had been against us.

Once we set off again it started thunder and lightning ahead of us, but thankfully we didn't seem to catch it up and we only had another couple of short showers in the afternoon.

It looks as if some one has been grappling along the canal as I have seen 2 bikes that have been dragged out left near bridges, I wonder if they will get removed before they find their way back into the water.

 DSCF8635 DSCF8634 

One of the features of this canal is that after it was opened all the locks were doubled except the Lawton locks and these were bypassed with three new pairs of locks 50-52 and the winding holes are where the canal went off to the North. From below lock 52 the line is quite obvious.DSCF8636

Another feature of these locks was a set of paddles between them, this was situated in the bottom gate recess which is now covered in wood. This allowed the water from one lock to be used to part fill the other, or a full lock to be part drained into the other so saving some water. It would be interesting to see behind the wood.DSCF8628

If anybody knows I would be interested as to why these stone gate posts are beside lock 50 on the off side. Could it be they predate the new line of the canal?DSCF8639

We decided to stop at Church Lawson for the night, it was still thundering and we weren't in a hurry. One of the Church Top Locks is closed because its in a dangerous condition, it has braces in the chamber to stop it collapsing in. However it still has its bottom gates and as the lock has been closed for some years they are not of a modern design. The paddle gear was supported on wooden upstands where as today they are mounted on steel.DSCF8646

Today's Journey map 034.8 Miles, 18 Locks in 4 ¾ hours

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Wheelock Thursday 17 Aug 2017

If I was to say it rained last night it would be somewhat an understatement, as we went to bed it was hammering it down, the next thing was thunder. Every time I woke up it was still raining even at 8am this morning, so it looked like a late start, but by 10 am the sun was out and apart from a few small clouds stayed with us all day. One of the things we couldn't understand was the large drips landing on the roof as we were nowhere near any trees. This morning the mystery was solved, we had moored directly under some high voltage cables so the drips had quite a fall before hitting the boat.

We pushed off at quarter past ten and were soon crossing the aqueduct, I think this is the third one to be built in this spot and was originally capable of taking wide boat which could then go up above Big Lock into Middlewich, now it limits travel to just narrow beam craft.DSCF8618

We moored a short way above Big Lock and headed for Tesco to top up for the journey. I took the opportunity to clean out the rain monitor, it only recorded 0.3 mm last night. Inside I found a very large spider and a very small one. there were also 2 spider carcasses which I guess were dinner for the large one. All were evicted and the web cleaned from the measuring cradle so that it see sawed freely. The spiders love getting up in here for some reason.

There were two Volockies on the Middlewich locks who were well on the ball and they soon assisted us up through the first 2 locks, we had to wait for a small boat to drop down the top lock before we could proceed. Much to our surprise there were very few boats moored at Middlewich Narrowboats, its normally single file traffic through there.

Up to Kings Lock which was against us, we just started dropping it and a boat came down the canal.

I said it rained a lot last night, the road opposite the salt works was still flooded, I am always surprised the speed motorists will hit a bit of flooded road.DSCF8619

We pushed on to Rumps Lock which was also against us. The Thai Restaurant Kin Ardi is closed until September as they are collecting new dishes from Thailand. (must be a good take a way)

We met a few boats between here and Wheelock but non of them assisted our journey. We stopped for water at the Wheelock services where there was a good sized dead rat by the mooring post, I deposited it in the waste bin.DSCF8627

Once full of water we were off again this time having moor luck with the locks, the offside bottom lock had a gate open and the second lock only had a couple of feet to drain. Above the lock Diana picked a few Blackberries on he offside just before the old railway bridge.DSCF8630

We then stopped for the night just through the old railway bridge before Saw Pit Lock, there were loads of free moorings in Wheelock had we wanted to stop there.

Today's Journey map 0210 Locks, 8 miles in 5 ¼ hrs

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Croxton Aqueduct Wednesday 16 Aug 2017

We arrived at the Boat a little after 3 pm and decided to leave our mooring and move round to the concrete banked bit to load the car. There are lots more boats in the marina now than when we came almost a year ago. After loading the marina owner walked by and stopped for a chat, him and his buddy are hard at work landscaping the north side of the marina.

Spot on 4pm we set off heading south on the Trent and Mersey canal. There has been a Springer sunk along here for months, now its finally gone, it was moored all over the winter and then sunk on the moorings about March time. You will find photos in my older blog at

We only met 3 boats and were hoping to moor at Bramble Cuttings, but there were already 3 boats there so we continued on to just before Croxton Aqueduct. By now we were getting a few spits of rain, but thankfully it didn't come to anything. There were 3 boats here already but there is still room for a couple more if needs be.

Today's Journey map o13.8 miles in 1 hr 25 min

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Home Saturday 8 July 2017

Well we are back in Suffolk and the boat is tucked up back at the marina. We left at 1000hrs this morning for the almost 1 mile cruise back to our marina, just under half an hour. Then it was load the car and head home.

Its good to see that CRT are still using traditional working boats to maintain the system.DSCF8551

This trip we have done 100 lock up and down the Anderton Lift covered over 160 miles and spent 19 nights on board. All this was achieved in 82 hrs travelling time.

Here it the route we covered almost meeting up at Runcorn, please restore the Runcorn Locks.IMG_0227

Today's Journey Map 20 0.85 miles in 25 minutes

Friday, 7 July 2017

Broken Cross Friday 7 July 2017

Last night we were moored in the social centre of Winsford. There must have been 20 young people sitting around at the peak of the coming and going but we heard very little from them and they finally drifted away as it got dark. We didn't get the storm so we did have our BBQ in the dry.

We set off this morning at 1000hrs heading down stream and did manage to catch sight of a Kingfisher. I think they are probably well hidden this time of the year.DSCF8538

As we passed The Union Salt works I noticed that this building was right fall of salt, its always been empty when we have passed before.DSCF8540

I rang Vale Royal locks as I passed the Vale Royal visitor moorings to tell him we were coming, slight delay as they were waiting for a boat coming upstream so could we please wait on the floating pontoon, which we did and then walked to the lock to watch the boat coming upstream.

Once through the lock we were on our way towards Hunts Lock, passing these ducks on the way, I think its a female Mandarin Duck with 2 youngsters. DSCF8544

On the bank at one of the yards sits an old tug. I don't know how large the engine is in it but the cooling consisted of 4 pipes about 8 to 10 foot long, it must be a much more efficient method of cooling than a skin tank like most Narrowboats are fitted with.DSCF8545

A train was crossing the viaduct below Hunts lock as we arrived, the lock wasn't quite ready for us, its all manual handle winding to operate them so takes a little time.DSCF8546

Then through Northwich where they have just installed a new flood defence wall, the top 3 feet of which is glass, this panel has already been broken, I wonder how long the rest will last.DSCF8548

Down to Anderton lift, we arrived a few minutes to 12 and I nipped straight up to the office to try and book a transit up, but the office was unpersoned. I waited about 10 minutes and a CRT man came in through the same door as I had and asked if I was being attended to, when I said no he went into the office and came to the wicket to sort my booking. Would 1250 today be any good he said, which more than pleased me. so back to the holding area and wait our turn coming up on the very next passage.

Once back on the T&M we headed back towards our mooring stopping very briefly at the services to dump some rubbish. We didn't go all the way to the moorings but stopped for the night just passed The Old Broken Cross pub. Shortly after mooring a boat came by and pulled the mooring stake of the boat ahead, so out came the magnets and I helped him fish for it, we ended up with three stakes, one of which was his lost one.

Today's Journey Map 1911 Miles, 1 Lift, 2 locks in 4¾ hrs. Tomorrow we will be home.