Friday, 31 July 2015

4 Counties Ring - Day 5 - Caldon Canal - Endon to Black Lion pub at Consall Forge

Engine:5.8h Miles:9.5 Locks:9

Bright sunny start. Up and breakfasted in good time.

Watered up at Park Lane Services. Esso garage visible from Bridge 31. Possible grocery source?

Met a boat coming up Hazlehurst Locks so all set for us!

Arrived Froghall 13:30 for lunch.

Churnett Valley very beautiful but canal very narrow and twisty for much of the way - the helm is never bored!

Part of the way we join the river itself - lots of space beside and below the boat - quite a different feeling.

Crew (Andrew) employed on voyage with scraping and painting the bows.

Beautiful sunny day and a top mooring opposite the pub. Definite advantage of having a shorter boat which can squeeze into small lengths!
The final tunnel - too low for us...

Nice meal and beer at the pub. Free range chickens wandering around the pub garden and occasionally indoors. Wide range of beers and ciders.

Another top mooring!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

4 Counties Ring - Day 4 - Trent & Mersey Westport Lake to Caldon Canal Endon

Engine:6.8h Miles:10.5 Locks:9

A gentle start after the exertions of the previous couple of days. Alison stiff and Andrew nursing a sore shoulder after trying to stop a lock gate swinging open...

Raspberries foraged while waiting in yesterday's queue with muesli for breakfast - delicious!

Stopped at Etruria Wharf at 11:15 for water, Elsan and waste.

Staircase locks not straighfoward but negotiated eventually. (What Alison means here is that I managed to ground a boat coming down the locks by forgetting to close the paddles on the bottom lock... Owner was very understanding...- Andrew).

Bridge 9 - they were certainly were not kidding about the low headroom. Had to remove the chimney and Alison had to dismount from her steering stool!

Did some shopping at Milton which was mostly closed apart from the bookshop and a Coop and Nisa in competition.

Teamed up with 30ft Civente to go through the locks together. They are based on the Lancaster Canal and get onto the main system with a tow over the Ribble Link from the pilots @ £60 a go (interesting idea!)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

4 Counties Ring - Day 3 - Trent & Mersey Rode Heath to Westport Lake

Engine:5.8h Miles:6 Locks 12 & Harecastle Tunnel

Steady progress through the remaining Cheshire Locks.

Passed Linda King (teapot) with Liz (Laus Deo choir!) as crew. It's a small world...

Queuing from Red Bull services and major queue at the Harecastle Tunnel. A Health and Safety survey in the morning meant late opening plus canal much busier now the rain has calmed down.

Entered the tunnel at 15:56 and exited at 16:40 after a trouble free transit. We were last in our convoy of 8 boats and the tunnel was therefore lit up for us by the lights of the other boats. Quite relaxing really. Even managed to spot the skeleton this time!

A sunny evening at last and a pretty mooring overlooking Westport Lake which we walked around after dinner to stretch our legs - very pleasant.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

4 Counties Ring - Day 2 - Middlewich Branch (Bridges 24/25) to Rode Heath

Engine:7.4h Miles:11 Locks:21

Shared 2 locks with 30' Aslan II.

Paused for shopping 10:15 at the Mace stores near Kings Lock Middlewich.

Heavy rain at start of morning clearing with SW breeze.

Lunch stop just past bridge 158 on outskirts of Sandbach.

Pushed on during afternoon to find top mooring outside the Broughton Arms at Rode Heath. Not our first visit to this pub and we had another nice meal with good beer!

Heavy rain and hailstorm in the evening forced us to stay in the pub and have another pint while waiting for it to ease. This on top of belly pork and black pudding + banana cheesecake sundae for Andrew and steak and ale pie + chocolate crownie for Alison...

Still.. We had earned it with 21 locks today!

Monday, 27 July 2015

4 Counties Ring - Day 1 - Swanley Bridge Marina to Middlewich Branch (Bridges 24/25)

Engine:5.3h Miles:12 Locks:6

Start of our longest trip to date.

Set off around 12:30. Through Barbridge Junction and mooring by about 14:30.

Needed long throw windlass for Church Minshull lock.