July 31, 2010

We woke to another grey day with huge puddles on the towpath after all the rain last night. It seemed like a good excuse to take a bus into Macclesfield, a town we have never visited before. We came away pleasantly impressed. There are of course the usual High Street chain stores but there is also a thriving market with an excellent selection of stalls and good bakers/delicatessens and butchers. The heart hasn’t been ripped out of this town as it has in so many other places: there remain interesting cobbled streets, a spacious Marketplace with the grand Town Hall standing proud next to St Michaels and All Angels Church and imposing former mill buildings. Its all neat and clean and thriving looking and whichever way you turn there’s views of the hills, even from the main shopping streets.

St Michaels and all Angels

108 Steps

The Castle pub

Town Hall

Quiet back street

Where ever you look from the town centre there are hills in the distance

Statistics so far:-

1620.13 Miles, 940 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels


July 30, 2010

A very early start this morning, we wanted to beat the rain to the top of the locks, as it was we beat the rain into Bollington. We had not intended to come this far and after dithering about the moorings south of Macclesfield we decided to press on into Macclesfield, a big mistake as the moorings there were next to useless. So it was onwards to Bollington which is where we are moored now, in a very nice spot over an Aqueduct. If we wish to explore Macclesfield it will have to be by bus or bike.

We did the 12 Bosley locks in just over 2 hours, which was probably helped by the fact that we were the only boat using the locks at 7am, and could set the locks to suit our pace.

There was a very interesting boat moored up below the locks and the owner said that it was made this way to give more room inside. You can see from the photo below that the locks are very narrow, but I do like the stone work it gives the locks real character. There was a snake bridge as we came into Macclesfield, these are placed where the towpath changes sides on the canal, it meant that the horse could cross the canal without having the tow rope undone.

Interesting Narrowboat – made like this to give extra space inside.

Narrow Lock – great stone work

Into the Lock – or should that be out of the Lock

a Snake Bridge in Macclesfield

Today we did 9.46 Miles and 12 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1620.13 Miles, 940 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels

River Dane Aqueduct

July 29, 2010

We woke this morning to NO rain. We had to make the most of that rare occurrence and walked over to Little Moreton Hall, enticed by its description as one of England’s greatest half timbered buildings. It dates from the late 15 Century and it looks so topsy turvy and fragile that its a miracle that it has survived over 500 years. There’s even a real moat of lovely clear water with the bridge leading straight to the huge timber front door. We were intrigued by a large grass covered settee and table on the lawn – quite an achievement but somewhat out of place. Its a National Trust Building nowadays. We could have taken the full tour later in the day but instead decided to move on – big mistake because it wasn’t long till the rain started and continued more on than off until mid afternoon. So much for the forecast promise of a dry day.

Its a repeated scenario of the start of the summer holidays last year – rain, rain and rain. The cratch is full of washing that shows no sign of drying in the next few days and wet shoes. I feel sorry for the hirer families who have once again paid high season prices to stand in the rain for a week. How ironic to be travelling along canals that don’t have enough water while there is far too much above the waterline!

The stretch through Congleton was very attractive with two snake bridges which would have been easier to admire if the brambles were cut back. However we didn’t stop and headed on towards the hills. Now we are moored at the foot of the 12 lock Bosley Flight, poised to start the ascent first thing in the morning before the real rain promised for tomorrow afternoon! Its a stunning location on the embankment above the River Dane, overlooked by the Cloud hill, telling us that we are heading into the Peak District.

Macclesfield canal in the rain

Little Moreton Hall

Grass Settee

PIC 0127 Canal Cottage Congleton

Converted Warehouse Congleton

Bottom Lock of Bosley flight with 'The Cloud' in the distance

Today we did 7.25 Miles

Statistics so far:-

1610.67 Miles, 928 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels

Ramsdell Hall

July 28, 2010

We thought that we would have a quick start today and get moving before the forecast rain hit. All those of a squeamish nature look away now.

We needed a pump out and so we moved 100 metres to the service area and got started with the business. As we were sorting ourselves out a dust lorry came down and parked next to us as it loaded the rubbish from the skips. We just finished pumping out and I was just going to flush the tank with water when I noticed a stream of dirty liquid coming from under the lorry, on closer inspection we discovered that we had dirty foul water coming out from a drain cover on the other side of the lorry.

I stopped flushing the water and Frances ran to inform BW of the incident. (By great luck we were next to the BW Pennine headquarters). Out they came fully equipped with extending brushes and muttering this is the second time this week. The sewerage pipe was blocked and we set about clearing the blockage, it is amazing what people put down there, cloths the size of towels. Then we discovered an extension tube from a previous drain cleaning exercise. After fiddling around for a while the BW chap got that out and we thought that that must have been the cause as the large cloth material would have got caught up on the rod. Enough of this; let me just say that more rods were found before the blockage was cleared. I think that the main cause of the reoccurring blockage has been found and that once all the rods have been flushed through it should hopefully be business as usual.

(What is it about men and holes? This unblocking took the combined efforts of four men, one doing all the work, Alan lending our boathook, and two joining him in looking in fascination down the hole. Despite the smell they all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. As we finally pulled away from the mooring, more than an hour late, the bloke on the boat that had been filling up with water behind us, and who was less under way than us, was galvanised by the thought that he might have to wait for the next lock for more than five minutes. He screamed past us at full speed as we moved gently along the few yards to the lock mooring and cut in. Alan has been fuming and muttering about fat gits ever since. Frances)

We are now moored up on the Macclesfield near Ramsdell Hall, another new canal for us to explore. We were going to go for a walk after doing a few chores around the boat but having been rained on for most of the day and having a very low dark cloud squatting over head has deterred us from this activity. Maybe in the morning, weather permitting.

Macclesfield Canal

Today we did 3.66 Miles and 4 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1603.42 Miles, 928 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels


July 26, 2010

We have arrived just outside Kidsgrove and just ahead of us is the Macclesfield aqueduct as it crosses the Trent and Mersey, we have to go through two locks to get to the level before we double back on ourselves and enter the Macclesfield.

The BW office is also here and we will check with them tomorrow about the water situation on the Huddersfield before we commit ourselves to go up the Maccesfield.

Rode Heath

Interesting Garden Shed

Macclesfield canal going over the Trent and Mersey

Today we did 4.05 Miles and 13 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1599.76 Miles, 924 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels

Hassal Green

July 25, 2010

Hassall by name Hassle by nature, we had decided to stop off and have a pub lunch, not a good idea when the said pub had just had a big night of fund raising and late night shenanigans. Not only were they poor on service, I just had to complain about that but they then gave our meal to a couple who had ordered much later than us, we waited for over an hour for our lunch and then only because we reminded them of our existence. The pub is not called the Romping Donkey for nothing. We should have stayed at home and had the roast chicken, but after 10 locks we felt like a break, it was after all Sunday.

We came along with a couple of other boats that we had travelled along with yesterday, they have now moved on and we are sitting listening to the roar of the M6 as we digest our late afternoon lunch.

We had got back to the boat to discover that one of the pins had been pulled, when I had earlier hammered it home I was thinking that I would have a problem getting that out in the morning, no such problem. I know that there are differing opinions on speeding boats, eg Maffi – dead against and Granny Buttons thinks that it is all down to the moored boat being correctly moored and fair game for the speeding boatist. I would say that we just cannot believe the speed at which moving boats come past us, there is definitely a prevailing attitude that you do not slow down going passed moored boats especially around these parts. We are for one on the side of Maffi on this, what will happen when the Oxford canal has no towpath as it has been slowly pulled into the canal? Surprisingly the main culprits are not hirers but private boat owners, we came on to the canal to enjoy the slower pace of life not to be on the side of a watery speedway.

It is very nice having the double locks and it is very useful when travelling in convoy, this is especially so now that the school holidays have begun and the boating traffic has increased substantially.

Double Locks


Today we did 4.61 Miles and 10 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1595.71 Miles, 911 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels


July 24, 2010

We set off into Middlewich for a shop at Tescos to give us some provisions to cover us for the next few days, on arriving we came across Ubique so we pulled over and I had a quick chat with Chris but as he was working on his engine which is still giving him trouble with an oil leak, I left him to it and we headed off to do our shop.

After some lunch we headed off only to discover that there was an almighty queue waiting to go through the locks, I was in two minds as to whether to reverse back to our moorings or continue on, as it was we moved on albeit very slowly as the queue was cumulative in that it went on lock after lock even when we passed the middlewich junction. We didn’t moor up until 7:30 which is an extremely long day for us.

Going south of Middlewich I did have the pleasure of witnessing a swallow feeding her young as we entered the lock and managed to get a picture of the fledglings calmering for food as I entered the lock.


Middlewich High Street

Swallows Nest

Today we did 5.72 Miles and 9 Locks

Statistics so far:-

1591.10 Miles, 901 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels

Brambles Cutting

July 23, 2010

We spent the morning servicing the engine and cleaning the bilges, we should have done this in Liverpool but didn’t and for some reason it has taken until now.

We have moored up at Brambles Cutting again as it is such a lovely spot, we had left it a little late so I cooked the tea as we were coming along and it was just about ready as we moored up, perfect.


Brambles cutting

Enjoying a meal

Today we did 7.88 Miles

Statistics so far:-

1585.38 Miles, 892 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels


July 22, 2010

A short trip today followed by a walk around Marbury country park. We have booked to go through Standedge tunnel on the 13th August so at least now we know where we are going. Across the Macclesfield and then the Huddersfield, so that should keep us busy for a while.

Last nights evening view out of hatch

Anderton Moorings

Today we did 5.66 Miles and 2 Tunnel

Statistics so far:-

1577.5 Miles, 892 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 20 Tunnels

Bird’s Wood

July 21, 2010

Mixed bag on the weather front today, we were either burning up in the hot sun or being drenched to the skin in extreme rain. It has now settled down to a dry night but there are ominous clouds building up all around us, correction it is raining again.

We arrived at Preston Brook Tunnel just before the allotted time slot for the southern passage, there were a few boats ahead of us as we waited for the half hour to strike so that we could make our way through.

At the other end we had to queue to go through the stop lock, it was difficult to tell which side was higher, there was only about an inch difference between the two levels and it was very strange emptying and filling this strange lock.

We are moored up near Bird’s wood in a very picturesque spot, a pleasant change after the urban sprawls of Liverpool and Manchester.

Men at work

Waiting to go through Preston Brook Tunnel

View from our current moorings

Swallows at rest

Trent and Mersey

Today we did 6.98 Miles, 1 Lock and 1 Tunnel

Statistics so far:-

1571.39 Miles, 892 Locks, 108 Swing Bridges, 66 Lift Bridges, 18 Tunnels