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Monday, 19 September 2011

Away from Sale and starting home

Monday 12th We were intending to set off from Sale today but the arrival of the tail end of Hurricane ?? and the strong winds it brought made us decide to wait, so I went for a walk around Sale to see the two houses where I was in digs whilst at UMIST. It was also a great day for collecting fresh conkers!
A very cold place to spend a year

So on Tuesday 13th after coffee we set off to see Stuart at Hesford Marine to fill with fuel. 
The Bridgewater don't mess around if there is
a sunken boat!
Whilst there I looked at the alternator belts, to find they were in a bad way, but then they were the ones being used when the alternator fell off. It was a day of mixed weather with one heavy shower and sun. We stopped for the night at Stockton Heath, where we stopped on the way north for me to get my ribs checked. Thanks for asking, they’re fine.  13 1/2 miles
Carol happy to be cruising again

What on earth is this meant to be?
I'm sure it is a sculpture, but what?

Wednesday 14th and it was 10.30 before the coffee bug had been slaked and we were off. 
A pair of Springers that looked much loved
& must be 30 years old.

We stopped at Claymore Boats to collect spare alternator belts I had ordered and we the cruised on to Preston Brook tunnel and the start of BW water again. We had a 20 minute wait till our turn to start the traverse, ample time for lunch. Through we had a short wait at Saltersford tunnel & went straight through Barnton tunnel. It was busy around Anderton but we carried on & moored at Billings Green Flash, past Northwich at 6 in a lovely spot on a lovely evening, the weather being pretty good all day. 17miles & 1 lock.

Thursday 15th and this is the start of hard days. We were up just past 7 with a lovely misty sun flooding over the flash, the sunken wreck and Lily. A kingfisher flew across just before we set off, only our second this year, but setting the scene, but as we cast off the mist became fog, but the day became glorious. 
The sunken boat in early morning mist

We stopped in Middlewich for fresh fruit (& coffee!!) and cruised on until 6. We crossed with several boats at locks and there were no hold ups, but it was a tiring day, stopping past the M6 past lock 55 and with Harecastle tunnel within an easy cruise to keep in the opening times. 12 ½ miles & 21 locks.

Friday 16th Overcast & cool at start with occasional bright bits & rain as we set off at 8.20. Good progress with most locks being paired & many set for us & crossing other boats. Topped up water at Red Bull services before Harecastle tunnel where we had a 15 minute wait before we were second in of a group of four. This long tunnel has a sagging ceiling in places & we took down our satellite dish & took the buckby cans off the roof. 
Waiting at Harecastle in the rusty water

Headroom was OK, we didn’t need to take the things off, but better safe than sorry, but ventilation in the tunnel used to be poor, so now giant fans such foul air out after the southern end has doors closed to make the pumping possible. 40 minutes after entering we were through & we carried on through the Stoke locks, commencing our descent, and mooring past bridge 112. Quite a good mooring, but 30-40 years ago there would have been large pottery factories hemming in the canal on both sides, now just waste land and bare level stone. We saw Clim & Brindley (last seen in Liverpool) set high out of the water at Stoke on Trent Boatbuilders where Brindley had her hull grit blasted. We stopped at 4 after a good but tiring day, with it raining again as we moored. 11 ½ miles 19 locks.

Saturday 17th and rain overnight and heavy rain just before we got up. Shower as we set off at 8 but it soon brightened to a lovely day. Pleasant cruise to Stone where we stopped for fresh salad from the market, Useful Morrisons there, but the shop that had the sub-Post Office within it had recently gone bust...there was also a Costa! Stone was the place where the T&M was started and it opened through Stone 240 years ago.
What a fantastic bike seen in Stone

On our way to Stone this morning we saw 10 kingfishers, they were everywhere, after on 2 in the previous 4 months! The afternoon was a pretty cruise in good weather and we stopped at Weston upon Trent (Staffs there is one in Derbys) and got a lovely mooring. We ate at The Saracen’s Head, a local reporting it served better food than The Woolpack, but we should have stopped earlier at bridge 82 to go to the Holly Bush. Meal was pretty good, Temple Meads beer was excellent, we sat in the conservatory overlooking the surrounding hillside which was stunning.   10 ½ miles 10 locks.
Carol admires a fantastic display next to the Saracens Head

Sunday 18th and it was lovely at first as I set off at 8.30 to walk to the first lock, by which time it had clouded over & cooled down noticeably. Steady cruise through more pretty country, crossing with boats at all 4 locks. Weather improved during day, but we had a very slow cruise through the narrows at Armitage. We stopped just after the first lock down to Fradley at 4.30. 14miles & 4 locks.
Amazing decor on a wool boat

Many admire our rotary clothes line
but this must take the biscuit, look at the pegs!

Good news this week, boat contents insurance is paying to get my camera repaired. Busy week, much harder than we usually do, but we are anxious to get back to Debdale before there is no water left on the Leicester summit. 79 miles and 55 locks.

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