This morning we departed Tixall Wide having spent a few wet and wild days there. Over the weekend period, the wide had been very busy accommodating Stafford Boat Club during their regatta. We enjoyed watching the boat manoeuvring skills competition, well until the rain started, then we went inside, battened down the hatches and left them to it. We got straight onto the water point at Great Haywood Junction and topped up the tank. Whilst waiting, we chatted with the crew of nb Maple Knot who informed us of a food festival in Stone next week. Wrong way for us, but we will chalk it up for another time. We had two locks to navigate and our timing at each was impeccable. On arrival at the pig farm we found our usual spot vacant. After securing the boat, the two legged crew gave four legs a brush. He had not been done for a while and was a bit knotted, so he was somewhat resistant to the process. There was only going to be one winner, and it wasn’t him. Tomorrow we head for Fradley after a necessary stop at Tesco in Rugeley.
Today we had a marathon day, for us anyway. We set off from Barlaston at 8.30 am, the sun was shining, but there is a definite autumnal feel in the air. We passed through the four locks at Meaford, meeting a couple of boats coming the other way, and soon we were entering Stone, the birthplace of the Trent and Mersey Canal. At this stage we were blissfully unaware of the drama that was soon to occur.
Yesterday we set off from our mooring at Westport Lake for our trip through the potteries, aka Stoke on Trent. We had six locks to navigate on the eight mile journey, including the three at Etruria. The trip was fairly uneventful, meeting only a few boats on route. The amount of canal traffic seems to have reduced dramatically over the last week or so.
We set the alarm for this morning, a very early 8 am. Within 20 minutes of getting up we were underway, hoping we would not have a queue at the water point, by Hall Green stop lock. We were in luck, it was free, so we commenced filling our empty water tank and had breakfast while waiting. A number of boats passed us heading north, and approx. 40 minutes later we set off for the end of the Macclesfield Canal. At Hardings Wood Junction we turned right onto the Trent and Mersey, and headed the half mile or so to the northern portal of Harecastle Tunnel. Having travelled through here only a few weeks ago, we had cleared the roof of items that were too high, and were prepared at the back of the boat for the CRT horn and headlight check. There were two boats in the queue ahead of us, and a further two arrived shortly after. Boats were still heading north in the tunnel, so we had a short wait until they emerged. There is a bit of a turn as you exit, and a Black Prince hire boat did not make a very good job of it, striking the bank quite hard. Unfortunately for the steerer there was a large audience, which is usual when things go wrong. Once the second boat cleared the tunnel we were on our way. We had one objective in addition to the transit, and that was photograph the tunnel skeleton in his alcove.
Having spent the past few days in Congleton, today we moved on. During our stay we have enjoyed several walks around the area, including a walk along the Biddulph Valley Way. This was a former railway used to carry freight between Biddulph and Congleton. It was dismantled c 1927, and now forms a scenic walk along the side of the valley between the two towns.
Well, yesterday evening we had the mother of all thunderstorms. The rain was coming down like rods and the forked lightning was striking something, further along the valley. It was great watching, safely tucked up inside the boat, peering out from the portholes. The centre of the storm did not pass directly overhead so we were spared the worst, and after a couple of hours it was all over as it moved northwards. It certainly cleared the air, as this morning we woke to bright sunshine and blue skies. Just as we were preparing the boat to move the Canal and River Trust boat logger, logged us at Bosley. We saw him again as we were cruising on the approach to Buglawton, and again at the water point the other side of the village. On this occasion we did ask if we only went in his book once, and not the three times he had seen us. After topping up the water tank, we cruised the final mile to the Aquaduct at Congleton. Unusually the mooring here appears to be up to 14 days, rather than the normal 48 hrs we have encountered elsewhere.
Yesterday we spent our final day at Lyme Green, walking back to Sutton Hall at Gurnett, for a Sunday roast. Today, having decided on an early start we were underway by 8 am. We needed water, and the next water point was located at the top of the Bosley Lock flight. Our tank was near empty, which could mean, depending on the speed of the tap, up to an hour to fill. We negotiated the ridiculously stiff swing bridge at Broadhurst, and then settled into a blustery three mile cruise. We passed the base of the Four Counties fuel boats, as coal boat Halsal was being loaded for its next trip. On arrival at the locks, the water point was empty so we commenced filling the tank. The volunteer lock keepers made an appearance asking if we needed help down the flight. Just as we were finishing two boats arrived and joined the queue behind us, as another boat ascended through the top lock. Perfect timing for us. We worked our way down the flight meeting several boats on the way up, and arrived at our intended mooring spot on the visitor mooring just prior to the Dane Aquaduct. The mooring was empty but it would not stay that way for long, we do however have good views across the valley. We will stay here for a day and maybe explore a walk along the River Dane.
Yesterday we moved on from our spot opposite Lyme View Marina. The morning started with rain, however, the forecast was that it would clear by lunchtime. Using the rain radar weather site, we could track the progress of the showers, and by eleven o’clock we were good to go. After two miles we were passing through Bollington, and the moorings by the Aquaduct were empty. Further on through Macclesfield we arrived at Gurnett, and again the moorings were nearly empty. This is so different to a few weeks ago when we travelled up this way. Clearly the holidays are over now and there is less boat traffic about. We arrived at Lyme Green which has the appearance of rural tranquility, but is remarkably close to a very useful retail park, pleasantly obscured from view.
Today we departed New Mills Marina, after we topping up with diesel and pumping out the waste tank. We enjoyed our short stay there as it is only a small Marina, and the people we met were friendly. The views from the berths across the valley towards Kinder Scout were fantastic.
New Mills Marina.