Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Exploring the River Weaver

It's been a good couple of days on the Vale Royal moorings. The sun has been shining most of the time, even though there was an incredible frost on the ground yesterday morning.
On Saturday we walked downstream to explore Northwich. It's a town which, although an historic salt town, seems a bit sad. There are however some interesting buildings. Quite a lot of old timber framed premises, known as liftable buildings, designed to be jacked up to counteract the effects of subsidence caused by the local salt industry. Perhaps the most spectacular feature is the swing bridges that cross the river. They are huge, the one in the middle of town was the first electricaly powered swing bridge in Britain.

On Sunday morning we had the ladies from NB Large Marge on board for coffee, spending the rest of the day   relaxing over a traditional lunch.
Back to the walking yesterday, we went upstream to visit Winsford, passing on the way a huge salt mine. It was a good job we decided not to cruise up as the moorings for the town seemed a bit limited. We got back on board just as the showers started, giving us a spectacular rainbow. Very dificult to capture on a phone camera.
Today we turned the boat and headed downstream towards the first lock. Leaving at the same time was a boat called Eclipse, ( the name of our previous boat), so after contacting the lockkeeper we shared the locks down to Northwich where we are now moored at the town moorings. This Eclipse is a traditional boat, built by Hudsons, quite similar to Oakapple, and also powered by a Gardner 2 LW engine. The Captain was rather taken with the comparison between the two diferent  instalations.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Onward to the Weaver

wednesday morning, and the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky. We walked back up the locks to visit the chandlery for a new water pump, and had a brief chat with NB Swamp Frog who we had met last year on the Stafs. & worc. Canal. Walking back through the town we visited a charity shop, and found a lovely ships decanter, something we have been seeking for a while. The curious shape of the base is to make them stable on board a rolling ship, something we shouldn't have to worry about on board Oakapple.

By early afternoon we were ready to move on to Billinge Green Flash. One of the wide, lake like parts of the canal, locally known as flashes. These are caused by subsidence from the effects of the salt mining industry in the region.
There we found NB Festina Lente moored in this beautiful spot. We had two evenings of great entertaining, swoping visits between our two boats with nachos, mexican style on board Oakapple, and yesterday, goulash, superbly cooked by Sue on board FL. We also found time to sit in the unseasonal sunshine getting pink, while the captain polished some of the outside brass, a job long overdue.
This morning we said farewell and headed off towards the Anderton lift. Built in 1875, this incredible piece of engineering takes boats down the 50ft from the Trent and Mersey Canal onto the River Weaver. We arrived there around 12.30 and booked the passage down. By 1.30 we were entering the short aqueduct onto the iron caisson which, full of water, takes the boat down to the river while another one comes up the other side of the lift, on this occasion containing another boat on its way up. The whole process is incredibly smooth and in about 15 mins. we were heading out onto the river towards Northwich. Through two of the huge locks and we are secured for the night at Vale Royal Moorings, next to NB Large Marge, who we met back at Bugsworth Basin.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Down the Cheshire Locks

yesterday we set off towards Hardings Wood Junction, where the Macclesfield Canal joins the Trent & Mersey Canal. As soon as you make the turn under the bridge you hit the locks, sometimes known as heartbreak hill, but known to the old boatmen as the Cheshire locks. We negotiated the first twelve yesterday afternoon and moored at 'Snapes Aqueduct', a very quiet and rural setting.
By 9.00am today we were on our way down the rest of the 23 locks onto the Cheshire plain. Although they are quite continuous, they are not particularly hard work, and, being mostly paired, there is usually one at least partly in your favour. It has been a glorious day, hot and sunny, with very little wind. Perfect cruising weather.
By 4.30ish. we moored on the visitor moorings in Middlewich, leaving just the wide barge lock to do between here and the Anderton Lift which will take us down the 50ft onto the river Weaver.

Monday, 20 April 2015

To the top of the cloud.

On Saturday morning the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky, a perfect day to take a walk. The walk started quite sedately, across fields, but always heading for the 1000ft Fell known as the Cloud. We were soon on the upward path through the woods, eventually coming out on some very rugged terrain. On reaching the top, 1000 ft above sea level, the views were stunning. We could see Liverpool, Manchester and the mountains of Wales in the distance.
After lunch we moved on from Congleton and moored at the lovely restored railings below Mow Cop where we had arranged to meet up with Dot & Gordon.
On Sunday we all got together for a traditional Sunday lunch on board Oakapple. Dot's contribution was a delicious chocolate confection which was irresistable!
This morning we parted company, Dot &Gordon heading for Macclesfield, while we started making our way down the Cheshire Locks towards Middlewich and the river Weaver.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A Slow Trawl through Macclesfield

Leaving Poynton on monday morning, we stopped at the nearby boatyard to top up the diesel tanks, and then moved onto the water point. The pressure was the worst I have ever encountered. After an hour we gave up and moved on towards Macclesfield. The canal is very shallow through this stretch and the progress was slow, however we finally got to the town and managed to fill the rest of the water tank. We moored in a lovely spot at the Gurnett Aqueduct.
Tuesday we walked into town to find me some new trainers in Sports Direct. It was a fine warm afternoon and we spent the rest of the day relaxing on deck.
Highlight of the week (physically speaking) was our arrival at Bosley locks. The only locks on this canal, there are twelve of them, however we rattled down them in short order, most of them in our favour. It is a beautiful quiet spot at the bottom of the flight with lovely views and we spent a peaceful night there.
Moving on the last few miles to Congleton yesterday, we found a delightful spot on the embankment overlooking a wooded valley, crossed by a superb railway viaduct. As with canals, manmade artifacts can sometimes enhance the landscape.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

In Search of Mr. Darcy

In spite of strong winds and rain forecast today we set out on the three mile walk to find Lyme Park estate with its fine old hall. This was the location for the infamous 'lake' scene in the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
As we aproached the hall I eagerly looked for the sight of Mr. Darcy emerging dripping from the waters of the lake in front of the building, but, no!! The Captain did offer to plunge in for me, but I guess even Colin Firth would have declined the experience on a day like today.
The house, as is common with a lot of these building of dark stone felt quite oppressive, especially under such grey skies. If Mr Darcy had really lived there no wonder he was such a gloomy b*****d!
Inside the furnishings are stunning, with some fine plasterwork on the ceilings. The carving on the paneling is by Grinling Gibbons and is very impressive. One room contained a collection of hats, stoles and other vintage dressing up items which the Captain made me try on, (honest!). Unfortunately the weather was not up to a tour of the gardens, so, after finishing in the house we made our way back through the estate to the canal where the rain started in earnest just as we arrived back on board Oakapple.
The pedometer app on my phone told us we had walked 10 miles in all. Not a bad trade off for the Sunday lunch we have just scoffed!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Shallow Canal & Quiz in the Navigation

We have had a great four days moored in Bugsworth Basin. The sun has been shining and the captain has caught up with a few jobs on board.
On Thursday evening we found our way into 'the Navigation' pub alongside the moorings. Joining us were Fred & Lisa from NB Chayandour who we last saw at Hack Green on the 'Shroppie' and who have spent a good part of the winter at Bugsworth.
Part way through the evening the landlord apeared with some Quiz papers and persuaded us to take part. It was a very light hearted affair but great fun. We put in a very creditable performance and came second. The Landlord supplied chip butties all round and we finally rolled back on board close to midnight.
This morning we awoke to the sound of wind and rain. Bad news as we had planned an early start back through Marple to avoid the draining of part of the canal on Monday to investigate a suspected leak. The rain had stopped by 9.30 so we made a dash for it. Not much of a dash, since the water levels are down and progress was painfully slow, sometimes coming to a stop at some of the bridges and having to pole ourselves off the bottom. On one particularly bad grounding we only got off with the help of the crew of 'NB Large Marge' who were following us. Many thanks Ladies for you invaluable help.
Back on the Macclesfield Canal progress improved and we are now moored at  Poynton for a the night.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

back in time

After leaving Bollington with its huge mills we headed for Bugsworth basin near Whaley Bridge. The canal from Marple down to the basin is very shallow, however it is worth the effort.
Bugsworth is a vast complex of basins which were long ago a very busy industrial hive of activity, with lime kilns and tramways bringing stone down from the quarries in the peaks high above.
yesterday we walked up the tramway and through the village of Chinley, to find ourselves up in the remains of some quarries. The views over Bugsworth were staggering. The round trip was about 10 miles and we were ready for a glass of wine in the sunshine by the time we returned to Oakapple.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Yippee! The Generator is running.

yes. Thanks to Paul, (ex. Caxton) our Generator is now functioning again after 15 months out of action and the attention of two Vetus agents who showed no interest in sorting it out for us. The list of failures so far; one battery charger, one charge splitter and one generator. The moral is, avoid specifying  Vetus equipment on your boat!
We left our mooring below Mow Cop, heading for Macclesfield. The wind had eased and by the time we had got through Congleton the sun was making an appearance. As we approached Bosley locks there was a message to say help was at hand in the form of Paul and Dot. Unfortunately, arriving at the locks we found that Dot had slipped in the mud and twisted her ankle. She was duly loaded into the boatmans cabin and negotiated the lock flight supervising with her foot up on a stool.
At the top Dot was sent off to A & E while we continued as far as the Gurnet Aqueduct, just short of Macclesfield.
Yesterday the rain returned and it was a wet journey most of the way to Bollington where we just squeezed into the last mooring near the huge Clarence mill, one of two that dominate this small town/village.
As promised, Paul came along this morning to have a look at the generator. He was confident that he could get it going and after some wizardry with some potions and some magic words, (at least I think that's what they were), the thing burst into life.  Many thanks Paul for your help and expertise.
After coffee on the towpath and home made pasties on board Dot & Gordons boat we returned to Oakapple where the Captain set to cleaning the brasswork, (sadly neglected over winter), while I hoovered and cleaned up inside.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Through the Potteries

we moved out of Stone on monday heading for Stoke and the Potteries. The wind was a bit of a trial as we negotiated first the Stone locks, followed by the Meaford flight. Early afternoon we moored up at the Plume of Feathers, a canalside pub owned by the actor, Neil Morrissy. He was not there of course, but we felt bound to go in for a pint
Tuesday the rain held off just long enough for us to reach the five Stoke locks, where the showers and hail followed us to a mooring outside Stoke Marina by the Toby Carvery.
As the skies cleared a bit we walked into Hanley to mung round the shops for a while.
On our way towards the Harecastle tunnel today we intended to stop at Longport Wharf for diesel and to pump out the waste tank. Got the diesel but the rest fell foul of an exploding pumpout machine which covered the operator (poo!), and left us still needing the pumpout.
Moving on we waited for about an hour before making the passage through the tunnel. It seemed like we have spent a lot of time hanging around today
Turning onto the Macclesfield canal we again stopped at the first boatyard, this time success, we got the pumpout!
By this time is was four o clock and we were more than ready to moor by the restored railings below Mow Cop, hoping for some better weather tomorrow.