Yesterday evening we were too tired to blog, following an unexpected eleven hour day. We started at 8 am and quickly navigated the two locks at Swanley, before arriving at Swanley Bridge Marina to use their services. We had a short wait here on the outside services berth, waiting for a boat to unload, presumably at the end of their holiday. So following a pump out, and taking on gas and water we were off again. Arriving at Hurleston locks, we did not have to wait as we descended towards the junction with the Shropshire Union. By 1130 we had left the Llangollen Canal behind and were on our way to Aquaduct Marina. So far we were making good time. We only had two locks on the Middlewich Branch to navigate, but this is where we hit the queues. It was over an hour wait at each before we were through. Aquaduct Marina was only a short distance further on, and we occupied the fuel berth whilst we spent lots of money in the chandlers. However I now have enough oil for the next two engine services. We took the opportunity of using the Bistro for a late lunch, before departing again on a return route towards Barbridge. The queues at the locks for the return journey were not as bad but we still had a bit of a wait. To be fair this is the first time we have encountered longish queues so we are not doing too badly. We had not intended to travel that far, but we ended the day moored opposite the Barbridge Inn.
Soon after leaving Barbridge we were turning right at Hurleston Junction, to join the Llangollen Canal, and entering the bottom lock. There were warning notices informing boats to remove fenders, once in the lock it was clear why. I doubt if we had more than one inch clearance on either side in places. This was not the only issue we had with this flight of four locks. The pounds between the locks were very low, and on a couple of the locks we had trouble getting over the bottom cill. Still, once we reached the top we had good views back over the Cheshire countryside.
Setting off this morning we experienced wacky weather the UK is famed for. Yesterday we melted due to the heat and humidity, and today it was about 15 degrees cooler with the prospect of rain. Just as we were slipping our lines another boat approached the lock, nb Kennerly, so we had a locking partner for the flight which makes things easier. As we ascended Wharton’s Lock it dawned on us that like the sun, we had turned and begun our journey albeit slowly, South for the winter. Passing through Iron Lock where single passage is required, we were bounced around like a cork then it was back to doubling up again. We stopped at the Calveley service point for water, then as we left the rain came. Light at first but black clouds were on the horizon. We continued on to just beyond Barbridge Junction, which places us nicely for joining the Llangollen Canal early tomorrow. We plan to make for the village of Wrenbury. It has two pubs to choose from and both do Sunday roasts.