Sunday, 27 May 2012

River Wonderland

Saturday 12th May to Sunday 20th  May 2012
55 Miles, 51 Locks, 3 Tunnels – for these 9 days

Totals:  1090 Miles,  908 Locks, 31 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 20 Swing Bridges

We finally left our home for the last 6 months – not just the marina but the town of Stone – slowly at first just making it to first Barlaston and then to Stoke in the first two days – no new territory here – we had been here already this year and must have done the trip a half dozen times before.

We did however moor around in the arm off to the Caldon Canal just near to the services and outside the Etruria Museum – which sadly we have to report appears to be very much closed – due to lack of funding form the council. The same council who thought nothing of spending a vast amount of money on a new carpark for councillors and council officers – the same amount which would have funded the museum for a few years to come.

They have their own thinking in the way of their priorities.

After filling the water tank and a self pumpout we continued northwards, through the Stoke area, past Westport Lake and into the Harecastle Tunnel – our 6th trip through there; finally getting through 12 of the locks making up the Cheshire flight to moor up at Rode Heath.

We caught up with Lyn and Phil on nb Valentine who were friends of Joyce and Ray on nb Jemma from Aston Marina – they too were heading into Liverpool so we are looking forward to being able to have a drink with them and chat a bit – as you do.

Mother Duck went quack, quack quack
and there were 12 ducklings to round up
We have now come to the best arrangement – sharing the duties of locking and steerage – the management of course decides which I shall do and which she does – it amazes me that it seems to be the locks furthest apart that fall into my basket to set whilst the closest come down in her favour.

She explains it as simply pure coincidence.

The following day – now the Tuesday – we planned on completing the flight to Wheelock – again sharing the locks.

In the time honoured tradition of “paper, scissors, rock’ – I started on the locking and at the second hurdle there was a message over the walkie-talkie to come back to help her – in the process of mooring the boat at the bollards she had whipped the rope and hit both the thumb and forefinger on her hand, pulling back the nail – “I can’t do the locks, I have a serious nail injury” – so it was the sit down job for her and the other 14 locks for me.

After tying up at Wheelock the skies opened up -
rain, wind and hail
Seems the injury had recovered sufficiently just as we exited Lock 66 and moored up at Wheelock – mmmmm!! A miraculous recovery me thinks – didn’t interfere with her fish and chips

The journey continued the following day – a bit cold and windy – through into Middlewich where we moored just up from Kings Lock.

Taking an after dinner walk we bumped into Ali and John off nb Triskaideka – they were waiting around for the engineer to appear for their 750hr service on the engine.

We chatted for a while then agreed that we would meet up further along the way – we are both pretty much heading up along the Trent and then onto the Bridgewater and towards Liverpool.

Down through the three Middlewich locks with their tight turns should have been a bit quicker (no rushing in this) but being held up by other boats leads to interesting conversations as we had with one single hander who we later caught up with and shared the Big Lock with – he was moving on ahead and us slowly after.

We had decided that we would take up a mooring at Brambles Cutting if there was one available – Eureka, on our own – a pleasant area cared for by the Broken Cross Boat Club.

at Brambles Cutting - very relaxing

he finally sat still for the photo - he still won't smile though
With such a nice and relaxed area all to ourselves it was necessary to get a few jobs out of the way – like checking on the engine – do you really have to do this every month? – all was OK; batteries still doing wonderfully well – and then onto repainting the back right panel which on the last attempt had suffered from the metal temperature being stone cold and freezing before drying the paint.

All well this time – so it was time to apply the remaining transfers with the boat name and home town – she was now completed for a bit longer.

Alas, the following morning, Friday, we were joined by another boat – nothing wrong with that, but the news was that we were to be joined by other members of the boat club for their regular clean-up of the area and BBQ prompted us to leave and head a couple of miles further on and moor opposite one of the flashes – just before the wind really blew up and the rains appeared.

We had been debating for some time about doing the Ribble link and the management was a bit concerned about doing a river so we had decided that we might venture down onto the Weaver and kill another bird by also doing the Anderton Lift – expecting that we might be lucky to get an available spot we called in and the lovely Kath was ever so helpful and explained so much to us about the river and what to see that we were sold over again.

entering the holding area and then onto the aquaduct

moving into the caisson ready to go down
smiling at the moment - but before we start the descent
one is smiling - the other concerned about taking the photo

the view as we descend onto the Weaver

It is a true feat of engineering and the trip down was further enhanced by the both Richard and Dave the two guys rostered on that day – had a great time talking with them both through the trip down.

We headed left out of the lift toward Northwich town centre where we moored up to have a look through; “she” felt not too comfortable, for no particular reason so we headed back in the other direction and moored up at the mooring bollards in Barnton Cutting.

Sunday was a brilliant morning – cool air and sun – down through Saltisford Lock – the lockkeeper was equally friendly and helpful about places to go – on a bit further past Acton Bridge (bridge) – the bridge at Acton Bridge – winded and back to claim the last mooring ready for a walk and then lunch at the Leigh Arms – can highly recommend it too.

the locks on the Weaver are massive - according to the lockie
they can fit 24 narrowboats into them
It is difficult to go too far around without being noticed or messages to be passed on and so it was upon our return through Saltisford Lock – the lockie had had discussions with John and Ali on nb Triskaideka and had informed them of our progress down that morning and similarly with Lyn and Phil on nb Valentine – we had missed both, but later as we found out – Lyn and Phil were sitting just around a corner from us in the pub for lunch.

Over lunch we chatted about going back up the lift and continuing our journey north – and so we did. The return on the lift was equally as good as the one down – Richard and Dave were again there – their roles reversed to the previous day – but great guys to talk to.

Going back up the lift we met the other caisson going down
with the trip boat
We exited, winded and cruised another couple of miles north before mooring up with excellent views over the valley, and of the railway viaduct.

thanks to Dave for the picture of us both on the return journey
The River Weaver is now on our agenda for next year – two weeks down here will be firmly pencilled into the 2013 diary – this is just a truly wonderful experience and very peaceful and quiet.

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