Having spent a week at Grindley Brook, during which time the crew abandoned ship for a few days, we commenced our travels again on Sunday. Our planned destination Wrenbury, was six miles and four locks away. Passing through Quoisley Lock we met Ken, an old boy who attends the lock daily with a wheelbarrow containing useful supplies. He always helps with working the lock, even if not buying, but today we purchased a bunch of fresh carrots and some firefighters. Hopefully the latter will not be required for a few months yet. On arrival at Wrenbury we pulled into the ABC hirebase for fuel and water. This has now made it onto my list of ridiculously slow filling water taps. Over an hour, and the tank was still not full, but we had enough to last us a few days. We moved on a short distance to the 48 hour mooring zone, just before the manual lift bridge and stopped for the day. We had timed it perfectly as it was now 1 o’clock, and a Sunday roast at the Dusty Miller was beckoning.
Watching the countryfile weather forecast last night, it appears as if mid week we may get wind and rain, so this morning we made the decision to move again. Not long after navigating the three locks at Baddiley we were passing an ideal spot, so we stopped. I expect we will stay here for a couple of days now.
Since departing Yelvertoft in March, the boat engine has been run for 240 hours so far, and an oil and filter change is soon due. Originally, our planned route home was to be via the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union and then onto the Trent and Mersey canal. With this in mind we have arranged to purchase some oil from Aquaduct Marina on the Middlewich Branch, as they stock the specification of oil required for our engine. The change in our plans is that, from this point we are then going to return and follow the same route on our journey back. Our reason being, we both like the Shroppie and have not quite finished exploring it yet. The Trent and Mersey and Harecastle Tunnel will have to wait for another year.
Checking the map our mooring spot is adjacent to the small village of Ravensmoor. It is about a mile away over the fields, with a convenient footpath from bridge 12. The book also states the village is the home of the Farmers Arms P.H. which will need to be checked out, probably during our walk tomorrow.
Sunday totals 6 Miles 4 Locks
Monday totals 3 Miles 3 Locks
Running total 388 Miles 176 Locks 17 Tunnels
After a fine lazy day on our mooring yesterday, we were made to pay for it today. Rain had been forecast, but we had reached the end of our 48 hour time limit. We also needed the services at the Viking Afloat hirebase. We had two options, a quick dash to get the pump out done followed by immediately mooring at the Whitchurch Arm or, continue on down the flight of locks at Grindley Brook, where we could stop for up to 14 days. Having already got wet we went for option two. We were aiming to be at this spot by Tuesday anyway, as the crew is taking a few days shore leave later in the week. There was a further benefit to stopping here, the Horse and Jockey P.H. It was lunchtime when we finished securing the boat so we popped in to see what was on offer. The food was great. Now back on the boat, all warm and snug watching an afternoon film, whilst wet bedraggled boaters are cruising by outside.
Totals 3 Miles 6 Locks
Running total 379 Miles 169 Locks 17 Tunnels
We were enjoying our spot below Grindley Brook locks, however this morning after breakfast, the water tank gauge indicated that soon we would have just air in the tank. All three water points were above the locks so off we went. Typically, for a staircase lock it was busy and we had to wait, but the weather was great. Grindley Brook locks consist of three separate locks close together, then a staircase of three. One of the single locks has hydraulic gear to raise and lower the paddles. The crew informed me, that it was much easier to turn the windlass, but it required many more rotations to fully operate.
Hydraulic gate paddle gear.
The staircase section was controlled by a lockeeper who managed the flow of boats. Three up, three down. As we moved into the centre lock of the staircase I could feel some resistance, and sure enough two thirds of the way in we came to a complete halt, grounded on the cill. The lockie let some more water down to resolve this and the rest of the flight was event free.
Bottom of the staircase locks.
Looking back at the middle chamber where we briefly grounded.
We filled the water tank at the services and had lunch before continuing on to Whitchurch. We opted to moor on the visitor moorings just prior to the short canal arm that leads into the town. The arm is only a couple of hundred yards long, but there are plans to restore the remnants of the arm and the basin which can still be seen. This would get boats closer in to the town centre which is currently one and half miles away.
The afternoon was spent in the sun watching the fun and games taking place before our eyes. The mooring is on a blind bend with a lift bridge in the foreground. You would therefore think, boats approaching would slow down. Well you would be wrong, and we have seen several boats, mainly hire boats it has to be said, playing boat skittles. It makes quite a noise when two 20 ton boats collide. Fortunately we have been missed so far, although the boat moored ahead of us has not been so lucky. We plan on staying here the full 48 hours allowed so will probably look to move off on Sunday heading for Ellesmere.
Totals 1 Mile 6 Locks
Running total 316 Miles 159 Locks 11 Tunnels
Since joining the Llangollen Canal, we have been in a virtual Black Hole as far as 3G and internet coverage is concerned, hence several posts today by way of updates. Having used up our allotted time at Wrenbury, on Monday it was time to move on. The weather had forecast rain, due to arrive by lunchtime. They got it wrong. It was raining when we got up. It was still raining after we had used the services at the ABC boat hire base. We made our way through the electric lift bridge, stopping about half a dozen cars whilst we did so. Then it was on towards Grindley Brook. Still being rained on, we quickly reviewed that decision and stopped for the day just below Marbury Lock. It was a good decision as not long after it poured down, and continued like that for much of the day.
The weather forecast today was for rain and possible thunder storms by mid afternoon. With this in mind we got up at an early for us 7 am, and were underway just before 8. Our plan was to get to the water point above the Grindley Brook staircase locks. We began the day with sun and blue sky, however we could already see the next band of cloud making progress. We had five miles and four locks to navigate before reaching Grindley Brook, and all the while the cloud was increasing and darkening. As we were arriving towards the bottom of the lock flight the first drops of rain began. We pulled in on a straight stretch of towpath just ahead of some reed beds and moored up. The weather is suspect for tomorrow also, so we may stay here till Thursday or Friday.
This is a good spot as it is south facing so if the sun does make an appearance the solar charging will benefit. We have a clear view to the sky satellite and we also have 3G and Internet. If Oscar is looking blurred and slightly deformed it is because he chose this precise moment to charge full pelt up and down the towpath.
Monday totals 2 Miles
Tuesday totals 5 Miles 4 Locks
Running total 315 Miles 153 Locks 11 Tunnels