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Sunday, 15 June 2014

From Macclesfield through Manchester and onto Burscough

Tuesday 3rd June We had returned on Monday afternoon and having experienced the uncrushed surroundings of our First Class journeys sincerely hope we can do so again at a bargain price. I hadn't realised that the lovely mill I included in a photo last time was the original Hovis Mill. Carol reckoned it was a pretty uphill traipse up from the station but definitely not the same as the one that featured in that old Hovis advert!

Aren't these fence "stones" incredible, they will not rot off!

We re-provisioned and coffeed before climbing up the hill again and refuelling and settling our bill and away about 12.30. It was dry but overcast and we cruised slowly through Bollington past two large mills and moored past bridge 21 at 3 (hard working again!!)

Passing through Bollington, note mill chimney
Wed 4th was another good day and we moved on to Marple where we filled with water at what must be the slowest tap on the system, fortunately we were not too empty, I spoke to someone at the tap on our return and he had been filling for 90 minutes! We turned into the Peak Forest Canal and went gently to Whaley Bridge where we moored just past the turn to Bugsworth and moored outside the Tesco store. Grandson Sam and his girlfriend Linde arrive on Thursday and this seemed a good place to direct them to, except there was absolutely no signal!! I found one at the end of the arm, but it came and went in very few yards! Anyway all sorted before we had a very wet night!
Amazing stonework on skew bridge

Thursday 5th and I spoke to Tesco & got permission for him to park his car on their car park. We stocked up with additional food as he has hollow legs. A wet morning so Carol thought a good home made soup would be good as well as freshly home baked was & we all loved it. We then set off back to Marple and got a pretty poor mooring with stern well out but we got the bows fairly close in and we left Carol at home and walked down the Marple flight as I wanted to get a view of the aqueduct and railway viaduct. A lovely flight and some absolutely staggering stonework on the locks, but no view of the aqueduct! A rather dull day spoiling the views but a lovely evening.
Sunset from rear deck in Marple

Friday 6th and to Carol's delight when I walked into Marple to get her newspaper I saw a Costa shop so we all decamped and had a drink of choice, Carol particularly enjoying it. A really lovely day and it was wonderful to be up in the Peak District, the only trouble was trees alongside the towpath got in the way of photos. Also the Peak Forest & the Macclesfield are both shallow and Lily is deep draughted so progress is slow and she is brought to an almost complete stop in bridge holes.

Horse pass under road

By horse pass dives to lock tail

End of the dive!

We turned into Bugsworth Basin to moor and how beautiful it is! A lovely mooring and a lot to spook round, except when we turned the ignition switch off nothing happened so I had to get down to the engine to stop it, I had a quick look but couldn't see anything wrong.

After a lovely early supper Sam and I walked to Tesco to collect his car but I forgot to look at the map to check the route back by road. We covered quite a few miles and used some very narrow roads but got back safely! After the meal we chatted some more before they headed home, it was great to see him again  and to meet Linde who is reading Architecture with him at Oxford.
A bridge in Bugsworth

The model of the basin when working

Our mooring

Another lovely sunset

We stayed put on Saturday and I remembered we are in RCR so I called and was told they would be with us by 4. Mark was a bit late but he soon spotted a loose wire and a bit of funny wiring.....wiring that was last touched by other RCR mechanics! Earlier in the day I had done an absolute for us. Never in 25 years of boating have we ever run out of gas, but this morning we did! I will never understand how we did as I always replace a bottle as soon as it is empty but this day as we operated the changeover switch between cylinders nothing happened. I seriously wonder if the spare bottle had leaked empty because I hadn't tightened up the union. Anyway Carol had the presence of mind to ask Mark if he knew where we could get some, he rang the lovely couple on diesel boat Alton and they were about to arrive in Whaley Bridge! It was about 9 when we got our two bottles and a top up with diesel, as did the boats near us!
Relief, and for the boat behind, a pump out!

Sunday dawned a glorious day and we tootled back into Marple, and whilst doing so were contacted by a couple who wanted to look over Lily as I had put an advert for her on Apollo Duck. Though Lily is always pretty spotless we gave her an additional clean and met Alan and Chris who seemed very impressed. We also fitted in watching the Canadian GP and a Costa.

We had lingered around on the Peak Forest so that we didn't descend from Marple and into Manchester over a weekend. The reports I read say it is much better than of yore but discretion seems better than valor! Monday 9th June after emptying and enjoying a coffee we set off down the flight just as it started drizzling, before it turned into a deluge! The locks were pretty easy to use and I was amazed that each lock had a footbridge over the tail and these were made of stone and the king stones actually had some carving on them. Such workmanship and I'm pretty sure it was in Millstone Grit stone which must have been very hard to work.
One of the carved king stones on a footbridge

We were following a boat on the way down and crossed with two in the flight of 18, exiting the bottom lock as the sun came out for a lovely afternoon. I was fortunately wearing shorts so my legs dried quickly and the material of the shorts dried quickly too, my soaking sandals were another matter, I put them on top of the rocker cover of the engine.

Sadly part way down our bow thruster got totally jammed & we couldn't clear it. I made a couple of calls and we are into the Ashton Packet Co at 9 on Tuesday. We moored just past the lift bridge before Duckinfield Jn in a wonderfully quiet and picturesque spot, who would have thought it looking at the map?

Tuesday 10th and we were away not long after 8 on a lovely bright warm morning. I was very proud of how Carol took Lily round the junction, especially with a moored boat restriction space for our turn. We were at the boatyard just after 8.30 and watched and waited as one boat after another was moved to let us access the cradles. It must have been just about 9 when we eased Lily in and located her bows onto the trolley for her to be partially winched up the slope until the bow thruster tube was clear of the water. I then got onto the most wobbly boat I've ever been on to work at the blades with a mooring pin. Eventually I got things turning, there was a piece of stick about 15cm long and the diameter of my thumb wedging the two sets of blades onto the drive column. It
took a lot more poking around before this offending stick popped out!! Can you see it? It is that little blob just above the staging by the thruster outlet!

Lily was lowered back into the water and job done.....EXCEPT
Goose chat & cuddle

By Lily's stern the lady on the boat was cradling a half grown white gosling, so Carol got talking and got her cuddle and found out that she had noticed each year that the clutch of eggs was eaten by the males in the gaggle. This year she and her husband bought an incubator to hatch the eggs and have now raised the brood.

This winch motor was high tech once, but it works today too.

I calmly said Lily was winched out, which was true, except that I looked at the motor for the winch and saw it was a twin cylinder motor that looked to be attached to a steam boiler. It was until about 10 years ago but a compressor does the work now, boiler inspections are too costly. The whole dock and yard is owned and run by steam engine nuts and there are narrow gauge tracks around it that were used to move the spoil as they excavated it in the '70's. They were a lovely bunch, do consider them for slipping and blacking, it is an eye opener!

Away about 10 we made steady cruise to Fairefield Junction after we had reversed to collect my jumper and life jacket carelessly left behind. My old Nicholson said there was an Elsan point & water there, but we were only able to fill and work our way down behind a boat that seemed to be making slow progress. When we were about 6 locks down we caught them up & Sharon asked if she could borrow my anti vandal key. They had bought 2 from a Black Prince depot and they were of too great an outside diameter to fit into the holes, despite Duncan filing them down. We had to stop as our prop was horribly fouled and it took a good half hour to work off the polypropylene bag and straps.

Away and onwards but as we got to about lock 6 the wind got up and very black clouds were around, and at lock 4 I was nearly blown off my feet by a gust! Out of this lock and swing right and hard astern!!! The bridge was incredibly low. We had moved the flower troughs to the edge of the roof previously but now Carol had to thread them through the lowest points, but it was touch and go.

As we reached the bottom of the flight I recalled there was a Costa nearby and we were a bit cold so I picked up a takeaway to revive us before we moved onto secure moorings at Picadilli Village at about 5.30 on a by now lovely late afternoon!

Wednesday 11th and a lovely morning and Sharon knocked to see if we wanted to work down the Rochdale 9 together......can a duck swim!

We actually had a pretty good run down, some gates were hard to move because of the water pouring over them and I'm certain Sharon would not have managed a lot of them on her own, but together we made a good team. The only lock that nearly defeated us was the bottom lock as the winch mechanism to open one of the bottom gates had failed and I really thought I was going to break the chain on the other one as I struggled to open it. I reported it to CRT forthwith!
This wild garden was lockside about half way down the '9'
Lily approaches Deansgate Station near the bottom of the '9'

Duncan and Sharon went on to the sanitary station whilst we reversed into a mooring so I could go and buy tickets for a train journey from Liverpool to Leicester on 24th for a hospital visit before we moved to the san station and on the the Trafford Centre. We have heard from Alan & Chris that they want to see Lily again and mooring here will give a pleasant bit to cruise along and is easy to find. Fingers crossed for Thursday!

Thursday 12th June Alan & Chris arrived at 2 and we set off for a cruise over the Barton Swing Aqueduct and on a bit, about turn and then back past our mooring to wind and moor. Carol told me I had talked too much on Sunday, so I tried not to do so but there were so many things to describe and show. It must have been past 6 when we all sat down, they said they wanted her, we agreed the price but then they said the buyer for their house had done this and that etc and that they would be moving out mid July, assuming this and that happened, but there was a very strong probability that it would happen. They knew we had a cruise planned, but could we complete it by end July? Deep swallowing as we had our daughter and her girls booked in for the last 2 weeks in August. Even deeper swallowing as we had told our letting agents to let our house for another 6 months from July 1st.

A big day and lots of questions but they are a lovely couple who we know will look after Lily as we do and who is to know where we'll find other suitable buyers?

Well on Friday morning I rang the agents to find the owner of the franchise whom we had generally dealt with had sold it, and the other chap we know had just gone out & would be doing viewings all day. We tried to get him to call us but without success.

So we set off and got to Leigh were we did a bit of shopping before moving on the stop alongside Scotsmans Flash near Wigan in a lovely mooring, mooring with Eric & Debbie on Georgina from Debdale. Apart from our homelessness concerns it was a lovely day.

Saturday 14th and another lovely day, the sun has got to Carol's shoulders. We moved off about 9 & up 2 locks to turn left onto the main line and at the next lock meet up with ab Australian couple who we shared several locks with before they stopped to meet family. We then carried on through the remaining 2 locks and swing bridges to moor at Burscough Bridge at 4.

We will stay here until Wednesday morning as Carol's sister and her husband are joining us on Monday morning.

Total distance so far this year 218miles, 133 locks and 10 swing/lift bridges.

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