Monday 18th October to Sunday 24th October
24 Miles, 38 Locks, 1 Tunnel– for this week
Totals: 340 Miles, 358 Locks, 10 Tunnels, 9 Swing Bridges
It has been about 2 ½ years since I was through Stoke by canal – we actually went through there on 3 occasions – but I was most impressed with the feel about the place – it is lovely approaching Stoke from the south with the width of the canal as it is – feels more like a boulevard.
All through Stoke I was also impressed with the way in which it appears to be showing itself in a much better light towards the canal – parks are fresh and tidy and well maintained; the residential developments which have taken place are directed outward to the water; even many of the older buildings which are remnants of the original industry of Stoke have been tidied up – less rubbish and weeds.
That was Monday and after spending the night moored at Westport Lake – an inviting location, it was off to Harecastle Tunnel – the day didn’t look the best, but after some early showers, the sky looked imminently brighter and so I went.
The tunnel does not hold any worries – this is now the fourth through passage and whilst it was noticeably colder than any previous journey it remains uneventful. Sunshine greeted on the exit at the northern portal and then began the descent of Heartbreak Hill.
These locks are not especially hard and I had planned on getting through the first 12 and then mooring up for the night. After about 6 locks the heavens opened up and it was one drenched boater that then carried on through the remaining 6.
As is usually the case when you have been through heavy rain and the coat has started to leak through and the boots are letting more water out than they allow in, once you moor up the sun then appears to poke fun at you – anyway it was a mooring at Rode Heath. After a hot shower, it was time for some work and then for more pub research and then back to the boat for dinner.
Wednesday morning felt particularly colder inside the boat, than others in this last week – there was a reason for that – a very heavy frost overnight left a white carpet over the fields, the boat, cars in the pub carpark – in fact anywhere you looked. The back cover was frozen stiff and took some time to fold up; the mooring ropes were frozen and there was enough ice on the roof for a winter Olympics.
Even though it was as cold as it was, the sun was out in a bright blue sky – not a cloud to be seen and it was absolutely magnificent cruising along in the cold air and the sun, down the remaining 14 locks to Wheelock.
I was on a mission now – I had perused the BW closures list and found that I need to be through locks by 8th November or else I would miss getting to the marina, so I was going to make sure that I made it with plenty of time to spare.
Having said that, I find Wheelock a pleasant place and decided that I needed to have a days rest here after finishing descending the hill. After that it was onto to Middlewich and a now having got to here on a Friday, it was necessary to again take some time off.
I had computer files to update and this would take at least half a day on the Saturday; but equally as well there were some long overdue housekeeping and maintenance things that needed doing – so the vacuuming was done; the kitchen and bathroom cleaned; the other side of the boat was washed, checked the battery electrolyte charge, oil checks and cleared the drains for taking water away from the back deck - and I continued on with the polishing – now have half of the boat done – I even had time to bake some scones – which don’t taste too bad.
So that was the week that was – a mixed bag as far as the weather was concerned; a very pleasant one with people met on the towpath and at locks on the way down; a week of hard work and a chance to rest as well.
A problem this week with uploading pictures - so will try again later