Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Chester Tuesday 20 February 2018

It was much warmer out last night but we did have a bit of rain, however this morning the sun was out but it was accompanied by a stiff breeze. I didn't really want to moor against the bank last night but at least you don't rock in the wind.DSCF0245

This morning the wind was hitting our bow and from the offside which made getting away interesting. Easy to reverse and get the stern out into deep water but the wind held the bows in the mud as soon as I engaged forward, it took several attempts to get the bow through the eye of the wind but as soon as it did go round just a bit we were away. We met a few boats and had a couple of locks with us stopping for water just past the Cheshire Cat, as we arrived at the water point a boat left, they must have come up Christleton Lock as that was with us. After that they were all against us until Hoole Lane lock.

I always like this view as you approach Chemistry Lock looking down on the water tower and shot tower, you see that and you know its Chester.DSCF0246

A couple of the locks down here still have the iron ladders set into the wingwalls of the locks where the boatman would have gone up to set the lock, leaving the bows of the boat against the gates, noDSCF0248 lock landings for them. This one is at Chemistry Lock.

We have moored just before the winding hole and Cow Lane Bridge in Chester for the night, we will probably go down Northgate staircase locks tomorrow.
Its strange being moored here in Chester with a steady stream of pedestrians passing the boat only feet away, some almost touching the side, we normally moor where the only people passing are walking dogs, I expect I will get use to it.
Although its sunny the buildings make it quite a wind tunnel so there is a cool breeze hitting our front doors.

Today's Journey map 045 miles and 5 locks in 3 hours.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Rowton Monday 19 February 2018

We had rain over night and although it stopped early it remained overcast and drizzly until about 11 am. so we waited until then to set off.

I cilled the boat today and it is frightening how fast things develop, I can see why inexperienced boaters fail to save the situation.

We were going down in Tilstone Lock and as normal I hopped off on the offside, closed the gate that opened as I entered and then walked to the tail gate to draw my paddle. The paddles on these locks ate fitted with gearboxes with about an 8:1 ratio I would say, so it takes some time to lift them. I noticed Harnser drifting back so stopped opening my paddle and went back to pull her forward, just as she started to move she touched the cill, so I went straight back to the bottom gate and started closing the paddle telling Diana to do the same thing. We wound as fast as we could but even so Harnser was well down at the nose and the cill almost visible before we had the situation under control. Had we have had a welldeck we would at a minimum have had water in the boat, but as we are a tug it was just a matter of then opening the top paddles and floating off. Remember I knew exactly what was happening it wasn't a shock to me and I also knew what to do to rectify it but even so with a well deck and open front doors we would have suffered damage. The time it takes to lower those bottom paddles in an emergency feels like forever.

There is a row of Lime Kilns on the off side just above the winding hole between Bunbury and Calveley and this is the best view I have ever had of them.DSCF0239

All the lock except one were against us so at Bunbury Staircase both chambers were empty, so we only needed to fill the top one. Just below the bottom chamber bottom gates the pins are still in the wall that working boats would have made fast to if they had to turn the lock.DSCF0241

We carried on meeting one boat coming up, he had just entered the lock as we arrived so not much help to us as Diana did most of the work, but he must have been moored just below the lock as Beeston Iron Lock was against us.

We carried on past the mile of offside long term moorings at Golden Nook at a steady tick over, it seems to take for ever and moored for the night just before Faulkner's Bridge. On the offside there is a chap living on his boat who does Willow Weaving and DSCF0243we have seen this taking shape over the times we have come down here and yes it is still growing, he also has a nice looking wood oven.

Today's Journeymap 03 8½ Miles , 6 lock in 4½ Hours.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Calveley Sunday 18 February 2018

Last night we could hear the owls calling, this morning we could hear them again in the distance, but by 8am the bird scaring gun was going off a lot closer so by 9.30 we were off. Not as warm as yesterday but fine.

You may have read of a new hobby, Magnet Fishing in the canals, people are using strong magnets to see what they can pull up. It would be OK if they took their rubbish away with them and not leave it by bridges.DSCF0236

A lot more traffic about today and we met the first one in a bridge hole, only this time he stopped and waved me through.

Our first stop was by the fuel boat Halsall as we needed a pumpout. We found them getting ready to set off from the moorings at Nanney's Bridge, had we been any earlier and they would not have been onboard.

Diana walked ahead to set Minshull lock and as I approached I pulled up a sunken log straight into the prop stalling the engine, the end of the log was just below the water level and in the weedhatch so I sawed it off but still couldn't move the rest, so using the mooring hammer I tapped the prop round and released it. As I picked it up in reverse it was wedged between the top blade and the end of the hull and the blade going round in a forward direction released the pressure. I was unable to retrieve it through the weed hatch so it fell to the bottom. As luck would have it I had just bought a pair of long sleeved rubber gloves, They are a bit small for my hands but today they were a lifesaver.

Once that was off we were on our way and as we left the lock there was a boat coming the other way so we could leave the top gate open. We met more boats before Cholmondeston Lock and a moored boat pulled away ahead of us, but he stopped for call at Venation Marina so we carried on to the lock, again there was a boat heading down so we could leave the gate.

CRT are installing a new water point just beyond the lock moorings, they removed the one at Barbridge some time ago so there was no water point between Nantwich Calveley and Middlewich.

I wonder if anyone has lost a canoe recently along this stretch of canal as there is one laying on the towpath by the winding hole.DSCF0237

We only met one more boat before we got to Barbridge Junction where we turned right on the Shropshire Union canal, We are now on a broad canal, well it is from Ellesmere Port to Nantwich. The cheese factory is now open 7 days a week and also do Sunday lunch in their cafe, but we had already eaten.

Just beyond the Calveley services there are some 48hr mooring where we have moored for the night.

Today's Journeymap 02 10½ miles, 2 locks in 4¼ hours

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Stanthorne Saturday 17 February 2018

We had quite a good run to the boat until we reached Middlewich and found the road between Middlewich and Northwich was closed with diversion signs. As we didn't know exactly where the road was closed, we go a lot less than half way to Northwich we ignored the diversions and found the road was closed less than half a mile from where we turn off, but we still had to divert back to Middlewich to get to where we wanted to be.

We were loaded up and ready to go by quarter past two, this included refilling the water system and putting everything back in the galley cupboard above the pump. We had a bit of a start as we first walked down the pontoon to the boat as a Kingfisher flew out from right under our feet.

We only met one boat all day and that was right in a bridge hole, the afternoon was quite pleasant but a little cool out of the sun. Passing Bramble Cuttings we could see the maintenance team trimming the grass.DSCF0231

As I drained the plumbing before we left the boat last and had to refill it before we set off today the potable water tank was well down so we stopped below Big Lock to fill up, while the tank was filling I walked up to set the lock. I must say well done CRT. it's the first time I have ever been able to open the bottom gate without drawing a paddle, the top end now seals!

We discussed where to moor for the night, maybe near the kiddies swings but then thought, Big Lock was empty, maybe the next three will be as well, wrong. We got there and they were all against us, but we are committed now unless I reverse back to the moorings, by now Diana had drawn the lock so it was on and up. Elton Moss Share Boats have taken over the off side moorings that use to be Middlewich Narrowboats, but no change at the dry dock or services.

At Middlewich Junction it was sharp right and up through Wardle Lock, it was half empty so by the time I arrived Diana had the gates open. It fills a lot slower than it did a few years back when there was quite a pull from the top paddles. We considered mooring below Stanthorne Lock but that would have required pins in the town path so we gave that a miss and I set Stanthorne Lock for Diana to come up, by now the sun was getting low lighting the clouds but it wasn't far to the 48hr visitor moorings where we called it a night at quarter to six.

Today's Journey map 016¾ miles 6 locks in 3½ hours

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Home Wednesday 3 January 2018

Well last night didn't go quite as planed, about half seven we went up to the pub only to find that the chef was feeling unwell and had gone home at seven, so no food. We went back to the boat for a think, no other pubs in the area but a couple of takeaways that offered delivery. I rang Eastern Spice who were happy to deliver to the pub for us at 9 o'clock so it was back to the pub for a beer and wait for the food. The barman did say we were quite welcome to eat it in the pub if we wanted to, but it was easier to take it back to the boat. For £18-50 for a set meal for two we were more than happy.

Being moored down below the pub I think we were well sheltered from storm Eleanor and I only recorded a maximum gust of 31mph. we were also well away from any trees.

This morning we made an early start for us heading back to the marina, the wind was still a bit gusty but nothing to cause problems.

Passing through Marston the retirement chalet village is expanding somewhat, looking at Google Maps there look to be well over a 100 chalets on sit already.DSCF0144

Crossing Wincham Brook there was moor water in it today than there was yesterday afternoon with the land around it flooded.

There wasn't a trace of steam today when we came through the Tata Chemical Works, but it looks as if some new pipes have been moled under the canal just to the south of the works, I don't think this is anything to do with Tata but probably one of the utility companies.DSCF0146

Back at the marina I had to make the decision of whether to sail straight down to out mooring or reverse down as normal, by now the wind had picked up again hitting over 30 mph. but it was coming almost straight up the pontoon, so I literally winded by the end of the pontoon, it took quite a bit of power to push the stern against the wind, but as I did the bows weathervaned round so we were almost in line with the pontoon, we had to pass a couple of boats where Diana had to lightly fend the bows off.

Once moored it was a case of taking things to the car which Diana did while I drained the fresh water system.

We had just over a fortnight onboard and in that time we covered 138 miles and passed through 58 locks.IMG_0239

Today's Journey map 185¼ miles in 1¾ hours with no locks.

Our journey home from the marina was not quite so straightforward, as we drove south along the M6 there was a traffic announcement that a car had left the carriageway travelling north but it wasn't causing any hold-ups, so when we passed a notice saying queuing after junction we assumed it was rubbernecking causing a hold up on our side so carried on, wrong. It was a multi vehicle collision on our side completely closing our carriageway and for a time they closed the other carriageway as well as there was no oncoming traffic. When we finally passed the site of the collision there was a well smashed up car and the remains of another which was unidentifiable right against the crash barrier.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Anderton Tuesday 2 January 2018

It was a filthy evening yesterday with cloud and rain, however it cleared before we went to bed so we had a chance to look at the big moon, to me it looked very similar to the one I saw last year, ie. Sunday night. I tried to photograph it but my camera just isn't interested in that sort of shot.

We woke this to the rain this morning, just as forecast so we didn't set off until 11 am. We were considering just going to the marina but the weather improved so that was postponed, I did have to put a mac on for a couple of showers but that's all.

Every time we pass this tree I think I must photograph that and today I did, but the light was all wrong. The branch starts off one way doubles back on its self, gets embedded into the trunk and then goes the other way.DSCF0126

The work at Oakwood marina is pushing on and I expect there will be boats in there this year. It looks as if they will probably get 3 to each pontoon.DSCF0130

Boaters have very mixed feelings about what are classed as pram hoods that are often fitted over the stern of a cruiser sterned boat, well someone here has found a novel use for one.DSCF0132

Coming through the Tata Chemical works there was plenty of steam about, I guess this was due to the high humidity and cool temperature, it was just DSCF0134rolling of their ponds and cooling towers.

DSCF0137We stopped at Anderton services did a bit of recycling both depositing and collecting from the rubbish bin as well as using the new upgraded facilities, loos and topping up with water. Then it was on passed Anderton Lift and through Barnton Tunnel to wind before returning to The Stanley Arms where we will eat tonight, it will be the first meal out this trip and they have their own moorings, this point is extra inviting as its raining again and its only a quick walk up the steps from the boat to the pub.

Today’s Journeymap 17 11 Miles no locks in 3¼ hours

Monday, 1 January 2018

Croxton Monday 1 January 2018

Well yesterday evenings rain cleared up before midnight so we were able to see the New Year in with a glass of Port and watch the fire works in the distance before creeping off to bed. Even then we could hear the bangs well after midnight.

This morning started quite well but soon turned dull and overcast. As we set off you could see rain on the canal ahead, but nothing falling on me or the towpath, thankfully it didn't last too long. Again we met a few boats and caught up with one at Stanthorne Lock.

The river Weaver was down quite a bit since we came by almost 2 weeks ago, its all within the banks now.DSCF0113 I have my doubts they will ever make this stretch navigabile, its very bendy and subject to flooding at times of heavy rain.

As I said we caught up with a boat at Stanthorne Lock, it was a couple with their two young grand daughters and they were trying to draw the bottom paddles. Now I am all for getting young kids involved but this did worry me, as Grand dad went from side to side helping each one to wind the paddle a bit, at one point the smaller one had her hands above her head trying to pill the windlass, if something had have slipped I hate to think what would have happened. They apologised for holding us up which wasn't a problem. As we came into Middlewich John popped out for a chat and wish us happy New Year while the boat ahead dropped down Wardle Lock. When we arrived at the lock we found they had kindly drawn a paddle for us so the lock was just about full. We were able to thank them on the Trent and Mersey as they had moored outside Middlewich Narrowboats for dinner. Well there is plenty of room along there now the yard has closed down. The three Middlewich locks were against as was big Lock but that was almost full. While I waited for the lock I was buzzed by a Drone, no doubt someone's Christmas present.

Not long after leaving Big Lock it started to rain, on me this time so just passed bridge 176 we moored on the convenient mooring rings, We did consider going on to Bramble Cuttings, another couple of hundred yards, but here we are completely clear or trees etc. Since we have been here the wind has picked up again with some quite good gusts coming through every now and again to give us a little shake.

Today' Journeymap 16 7¾ miles, 6 Locks in 3¾ Hours.

I have just checked the statistics for 2017 and we covered 1400 miles and did 1043 locks, spending 184 nights on board.