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Sunday, 3 June 2012

Autherley Junction to Chester


Monday 28th May  fine warm and dry day with clouds building towards evening. I walked off to the Morrissons store to the east of the canal to get Carol’s paper and for fresh fruit before we cast off at 9.30. For those who have not cruised on The Shroppie, it is a remarkably straight, wide and lock free canal and along much of its length has neat, solid, concrete edges on the towpath side. What is not easy along its length is mooring as the profile of the canal has stone, shelving ledges to the concrete, unless it is in a cutting where in many places 6 inches of water covers a solid rock shelf that might extend up to 6 feet from the bank, so beware!
Along the early part of this day we saw a chap walking his two Dalmatian dogs, and carrying his little black bag of dog present, but as we approached one of his dogs made another donation to the environment, yet the owner made no attempt to collect it. A we passed I asked if he was going to collect it, he said he hadn’t seen his dog do it, got very irate and showed his little bag and said he always picked up and frankly I think from his demeanour that had I been on foot he would have taken a swing at me. I think he had seen it, saw that a hose would have been best suited to clearing it.....and maybe his black bag comes out with him every day, filled perhaps with soil, so he can pose as being a collector!
Lovely Shroppie cutting

This apart we had a reasonable cruise to Wheaton Aston where we were 6th boat in the queue. Two boats in from we saw Roy, dog Thomas and his historic boat Gerald. He is always immaculately turned out and this day was no different with freshly pressed shirt and trousers. We saw him last in Middlewich last June and he was heading there again so we exchanged news etc whilst awaiting our turns. We naturally filled with diesel needing a further 172 litres at 73p before cruising on and met many boats including a line of 5 boats at one bridge including 3 cruisers. 

At 4.30 we tied up at the start of the Norbury Junction moorings where we tried to do a Bbq but were only able to finish off the cooking as I couldn’t get the damp charcoal to burn well. It was noisy though as the farmer was cutting grass alongside, at least it kept me company as I polished the port side.
Tuesday 29th started overcast and cool enough for Carol to put trousers and sweater on and again it was 9.30 when we set off, but stopped almost at once to empty things at the services block. It was slow through the first cutting as there was the bole of a very large tree partway in the canal with fenders around it, BW are obviously considering the best was to deal with it. 

We passed the first of many long lines of off-side moored boats on this canal and met 2 boats in Woodseaves cutting, by now in sun, but the boats we met had met 6 or 8 boats going our way. 

We reached the top of Market Drayton locks just after 12 behind some complete beginners. I tried to help them but it rather backfired, and also had some interesting chats with BW bods, including the chap in charge of water.
The beginners stopped for lunch after the locks and we carried on past many more moorings with it getting warm to hot for a steady cruise to Adderley Locks. We bought some lovely lamb steaks, burgers & sausages from the farm shop by the top lock before descending the 5 locks and lucked into what we believe was the last good mooring between the bottom of this flight and the start of the Audlem flight. The Bbq was out again and this time it worked a treat and the lamb steaks were thoroughly appreciated, and we had a lovely panorama view.
The lovely view by our mooring

Wednesday 30th A bright day in the end after light cloud at the start. Carol woke and was up at 7.15, disturbed by boat movements nearby, and saw the 3 boats in front of us had already gone so she decreed we should get under way at once with porridge on the hoof! Sadly we entered the flight of 15 locks behind a very slow boat we had first encountered at Norbury. It is amazing how on very easy locks some people can be so slow! In the flight we crossed with 4 boats and we stopped outside the Shroppie Fly to fill with water before finishing the last 3 locks.

Lovely lock cottage by the Shroppie Fly

Lily filling with water at Audlem

We had intended to stop at Hack Green to visit the Nuclear Bunker, but had made an arrangement to meet friends on Friday in Chester and wanted to get there in good time so have decided on our return trip to make an excursion back there before carrying on to Middlewich. On the lovely afternoon we carried on to Nantwich and arrived just after 2, and guess what we were drinking about half an hour later? Well she hadn’t had a Costa since Sunday!!!
Great clock in Nantwich

Fantastic Riley in concours condition in Nantwich

A marvellous gate in Nantwich

Thursday 31st and the weather had changed ready for The Jubilee, there was drizzle overnight and occasionally through the day, though I was still in shorts Carol was in trousers. We had a steady cruise all day but most boats turned off up the Llangollen or towards Middlewich. One boat was stuck trying to get into the bottom lock of the Llangollen, I hope that it was just that they had fenders down, other boats were waiting to use it.
We were surprised at the number of boats we met coming from Chester and we met boats at most locks. We called in at the cafe near the Iron Lock for a disappointing coffee, we will not call in on the way out. After passing immense lengths of moored boats we tied up just before the outskirts of Chester, but not before we had tried to get into the side in about 3 three places but had been defeated by mud. We used the services at Calverley shortly after the Middlewich Arm, these are the last ones before Chester, our map shows another water/Elsan point alongside one of the Chester locks but they have been discontinued because of continuous vandalism.
Friday 1st June Was just a simple 2 hour cruise to a mooring just behind the Bingo hall. Once settled and having had lunch we walked into the city to Costa and then bought Carol a replacement phone as the glass on hers has become scratched by texting and in bright light it is difficult to read. We bought her an almost identical one, though it has updated features, and then returned to dress Lily for the weekend. This is the first time since I had a major accident at the National Festival on the Thames 6 or so years ago which resulted in me now having a metal shoulder & restricted movement. We felt we had to do something! Weather was reasonable during the day becoming lovely in the afternoon.

We went out with friends we made in Chester last year and had a lovely time and great food but don’t ask me where other than it was near Tarporley & well away from the canal.

Saturday 2nd the weather worsens, rain overnight and drizzle through the morning. We had come here to join in with Jubilee festivities and also to see polo being played on the Rodee, Chester’s famous race course, used since the Romans were here. After lunch we made our way there, the sky grey but the fine drizzle had stopped, and paid our £6 to get in. All we can say is that we are glad we did so and if there is another tournament near to us we’ll go to watch. It is fast and furious and hard. The ball is hard and it hit very hard and if men or horses are hit by it they really know it, and riders also get their legs crushed between horses as they try to ride each other out of the way.

Carol talked to a couple close by us as I was “treading in” divots between pukkas. Their street near to or mooring is holding a street lunch and all day street party all day on Sunday and they invited us to join in!
Sunday 3rd Oh dear, what weather! We decided not to go to the street lunch! We tried to return Carol’s new phone as though it is almost the same model it needs finger touch not the tap of a pointer and our fingers are too fat. Our daughter Clare wondered what was going on with very odd texts Carol sent by accident as her finger hit the bit of screen to side of where she aimed! That failed as the right person was not in the phone shop.
But we consoled ourselves by looking forward to watching the great procession down the Thames, but the rain ruined the reception on our TV, so we decamped to Wetherspoons with Carol’s iPad & watched their soundless TV but with the iPad giving us a live feed from the BBC, though it was interesting to find it was about 2 minutes delayed from live. The beer was good too, and we enjoyed chatting with others there.
Joseph is the Audlem flight volunteer lock keeper
sadly we first saw him at the end of the flight
All along the canal there are these stop plank boxes
They are now "Heritage" objects and must be preserved.

Our week included 39 locks and 58 miles.

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