Duddleston Bridge 37 nr Whitchurch

This morning we moved forward towards the Ellesmere Arm, and whilst the crew replenished supplies at the conveniently located Tesco, I filled the water tank at the CRT service yard. Knowing the starboard side of the boat was going to be inaccessible from the towpath for some time, I also gave it a quick wash down. I then navigated to the end of the Ellesmere Arm and waited for the crew to finish shopping. The weather was as forecast cloudy, but with the sun breaking through in places. It quickly became apparent that today was going to be busy with boat traffic in both directions. Passing through the short Ellesmere Tunnel, the Francis Searchlight on the front of the boat illuminated its entire 87 yard length. We had a trip of 11 miles to do which is a long day for us, so we broke up the trip, taking lunch just beyond the junction with the Prees Branch. Not long after passing under the second of two lift bridges, we began to look for a mooring spot. We need to stop for two days to coincide with our arrangement to use the services at the Viking Afloat hirebase at Whitchurch on Sunday. We found a nice spot just prior to bridge 37 with clear views to the sky for the satellite, and 3G on the phone for Internet access. We are forecast some heavy weather tomorrow so we can now batten down the hatches if need be.

       

       

                                              Mooring at Duddleston Bridge 37 nr Whitchurch.

Totals 11 Miles 1 Tunnel
Running total 376 Miles 163 Locks 17 Tunnels

Whitchurch

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.
       

       

                                                       Our spot at Whitchurch.

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