Monday, 24 September 2012

Homeward Bound again

Monday 17th September to Sunday 23rd September 2012

12 Miles, 12 Locks,  1 Swing Bridges for this week

Totals: 1380 Miles, 1126 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 96 Swing Bridges

With what would amount to about one week of slow travel time and we would be back at the marina, we really will be slowing down a great deal – we want to take about another 4 weeks to travel back.

The weather has not been especially great this week – on a couple of occasions we have set off for a few miles in what could be described as good conditions only to have the heavens open up on us – Mike and I on each of the boats consigned to the back whilst Stella and Diane sought the refuge of the dry inside.

The last and only great barrier on the Macclesfield is the Marple locks – as fine a flight that could be found anywhere – well maintained and with plenty of water we did not expect too much trouble in negotiating them – nor did we find any.
Bosley locks

After watering up we found ourselves in a bit of a queue to start the trip down – nothing to worry about – there were 2 CaRT guys helping get all us going. Just taking it slowly down the flight in brilliant sunshine; then torrential showers; then bright sunshine; then rain; then sun – you get the idea.

So semi-drenched and semi-broiled we moored up at the bottom of the flight – a favourite spot of ours and for many others as well – and there were plenty of spots to choose from.
From the moorings at the bottom of the locks

The rain continued on and off for the next 2 days – no real reason to move – so we were nice and cosy inside.

For us, it has now almost become officially winter – most of the double glazing has gone back onto the windows and now we only have three windows to wipe down in the morning (and mid-morning, lunchtime and the afternoon).

Saturday was the day to cruise again – our time up where we were – now off to Congleton for replenishment of supplies and reading material – Diane needed her magazine and the weekend papers – and of course a few more things for the cupboards and fridge.

It was a pleasant 3 mile cruise down to Congleton – in the sunshine, which was quite warm (the air was cold though). Moored up just past the aqueduct with magnificent views over the valley.
The railway viaduct as viewed from our moorings at Congleton

It was only a short walk into Hightown; a bit longer into Congleton itself, but with the likely bad weather due for Sunday this was a good place to be.

Sunday lunch was definitely on the menu for this week, especially with two pubs – The Navigation Inn and The Queens Head also showing the football live.

We decided on The Queens Head and weren’t disappointed – either with the meal or with the match – Man United 2-1 over Liverpool.

We escaped any of the bad weather forecast for Sunday, but fear that this will not be the case for the coming week.

We received two pieces of unhappy news this week – firstly Diane’s aunt lost her mother, who was aged 89, and had been quite ill – it was a bit of a blessing, but it is always a very sad occasion.

Secondly, a dear friend in Sydney, Phil Henderson, finally lost his battle with cancer. He was a unique person – never a bad word against anyone and always saw the best in people and situations – it was only back in April that we were joking and laughing as he was undergoing the fight. Rest in peace Phil, the world is much the worse for you not being here.

Friday, 21 September 2012

New Fridge

Monday 10th September to Sunday 16th September 2012 

17 Miles, 4 Lift Bridges, 4 Swing Bridges for this week 

Totals: 1368 Miles, 1114 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 24 Lift Bridges, 95 Swing Bridges

After some very heavy and exhausting weeks of travelling we have really had a rather peaceful week.

Our priority this week had been to take delivery of the new fridge and get back to some sort of normality and for Diane to be able to stock it back up with all of the things that she has been missing for some time now – the old one could not accommodate the things that she ideally would have liked.

But all of that is a bit premature – we had pencilled in a visit to Bugsworth Basin on this trip – when we had last been on the Peak Forest – 4 years ago on a hire boat – we only cruised into Whaley Bridge; since that time everyone had been saying “Oh you really should have gone to Bugsworth – it is much better”.

So we wanted to see what all of the fuss was about.

We have enjoyed the cruising along this stretch and we enjoyed it again – the important part of this cruise was undoubtedly the scenery – it would not have been the effortless of the cruise – the canal is too shallow and in need of some dredging – especially at the side to allow more and better mooring.

On arrival at the Basin it was water-tank filling time and then we decided to move on around to the Upper Basin area. Mike and Stella slotted in behind and the moorings allowed easier access to and from the boats.

The other thing we had been told was that The Navigation Inn was worth the visit – I have to say it was worth the visit although we didn’t decide to eat there we did enjoy the ales and the general feel of the place.

Mike indicated that when they had been previously he had not had the chance to see much of Whaley Bridge – naturally that meant a walk into there – and a visit to the pubs.

Do we go by the towpath around via the junction or walk over the hill?

We had seen the towpath so decided that over the top might be interesting -  only if you consider climbing Everest to be fun.

The ales were good, the pubs were good, the conversations with people in all of them were good as well; an afternoon spent well.

There is always time to stop and chat to people when you are out and about and whilst we were walking back from a Tesco shopping expedition we came across a boat which had a few ideas for the kitchen makeover we intended and we got around to talking to Ruth and Mark who were on nb Wandering Duck – this is a boat for hire for people who want to experience the joys of cruising the canals – it is fully catered with Ruth and Mark as hosts. It covers a 2 night stay and either goes down the Marple Flight and then back up, or the alternative route is down the Macclesfield and return.

It allows people to get a taste for it without the expense of a week long cruise and without the worries.

They were very nice and the business seems to be starting to take off, so we wish them all of the best – check out their website

The phone call that we had been waiting for finally came and we were to getting the fridge delivered to TW Marine at Furness Vale, so it was necessary to be heading off early – due sometime between 9am and 12 noon.

Who would have thought that 8:30am would be the time – but it was there, the delivery guy waiting for someone to arrive who knew anything about it coming – alas he was not able to take away the old one.

As luck would have it we had caught up with Tony from nb Grandad’s Boat the previous Sunday after our afternoon session at the Ring’O’Bells – he was employed at the marina to look after the services and the lawns and gardens, so we caught up with him again when we arrived there. He was good enough to allow us to breast up next to him whilst we checked on everything.

The fridge was duly loaded onto nb Isobel – they were moored next to the side and easier to load onto there than onto Ferndale – so as Mike is now saying “Isobel is a cargo carrying boat”.

Our intention was to cruise to Marple Junction and moor up for a couple of days – something about wanting to see some Dr Who episodes that were coming up on Friday and Saturday (crazy people).

The desired outcome was achieved; the fridge transferred to Ferndale; unpacked and put into place. It was wired up to the 12V supply; allowed to stand whilst the gas settled; then turned on – bingo – it all was working and working well.

Now for Diane to do what she does exceptionally well – Shop!

Saturday was assigned for a quick turn around and return to the service block for a self-pumpout – all went well in the morning until she decided to get out of bed – a strong twinge in the back and she couldn’t move.

Two boats; two invalids; two fit and able men – our lot in life I guess to take care of them yet again.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

StaleyBridge to Marple

Monday 3rd September to Sunday 9th September 2012

11 Miles, 22 Locks, 3 Tunnels, 1 Lift Bridge for this week

Totals: 1351 Miles, 1114 Locks, 46 Tunnels, 20 Lift Bridges, 91 Swing Bridges

Monday morning and time to move on – we had enjoyed our stay in StaleyBridge – still had time to chat with some locals who were pleased to tell me (after they had uncovered that I was Australian) that their daughter and her husband had just emigrated to Perth – but not so happy to tell me that their grand-daughter was also gone – they were waiting to sell their property and were moving there as well.

They were such pleasant people to talk to that it is only fair that we should allow them into the country.

The last few locks on the Huddersfield Narrow were ahead of us to be negotiated – all without any problems and we were soon heading under the ASDA bridge – why was it named after the supermarket chain – simple really – a dirty great ASDA store had been built on top at the time before the canal had been restored.

Moving down near to the junction a couple of locals (boaters) advised that we could (read as should) moor on the non-towpath side just beyond their private moorings (where BW used to moor their boats) – enough for both of the boats.

It transpired that mooring on the other side of the canal, where there were rings left us a bit open to some of the less friendly folk to untie the boats – a practice that had happened on a few occasions previously.

We were very thankful for their advice.

The maps of the area suggested that there was a market area and a number of other shops that we might be interested in not very far away so over the next few days we did just that – the shopping area was really quite extensive.

Stella decided that in view of the continued pain in her ankle it was wise to seek further medical advice from the nearest A&E – so she was duly bundled off in a taxi (on her own, but with a book for company).

Returning within a few hours she had had X-rays and consultation – a return appointment had been arranged but appeared that there was a chipped bone and possible ligament damage.

We needed to move as we had arranged to meet up with some friends who lived in Romily, so with a clear plan to get back together we headed off – pumpout and diesel were however the first order.

Mooring at Bridge 14, we met up with Margaret and David, whom we had first met 2 years ago in Western Australia during a wine tour at Margaret River.

The lovely Margaret and equally lovely David
Their son Anthony and his wife Karen as well as Margaret’s sister Barbara and her husband John (all of whom I had previously met back in 2010 when I was still looking for a boat) joined us for dinner and we had a really enjoyable night – we can highly recommend The Duke of York for a fine meal and good ales on tap.

We had earlier explored a bit of the Romily village area – I think that it was a ploy by Diane to ensure that she could get her Saturday paper delivery (when I took the dog out for his morning walk).

Mike and Stella arrived as planned after the second hospital appointment – extensive ligament damage and the resulting "foot-in-cast" scenario was observed.

We ventured up to the Duke of York for a second day, this time with Mike and Stella; Margaret and David were on their way - a lovely fresh home-cooked apple pie and the apples for the next one were in the bag - thank you very much it was extremely delicious which had the following day.
Himalayan Balsalm which has flanked the canals almost all of the
since Huddersfield

A plan had been hatched and we didn't think that too much could go wrong with it all, for our pasage up the Marple flight on the Saturday.

We would take both boats down to the bottom of the flight and take up one boat, moor it up and come down for the second one.

All went well; we were moored up at the bottom of the locks with Chris and Geoff (nb Elsie Crisp and The Squire) ahead of us - nothing to go wrong - or so we figured.

The pound above Lock 6 was for all intent completely empty and several others down from there were well and truly down

The pound above Lock 6 looking up towards Lock 7

Looking down toward Lock 6

A collapse of the pound wall caused by excessive build up of
water in the bywash when a xmas tree found its way down this
bywash - almost certainly deliberate
 CaRT had been notified but due to some other problems in the area could not get to us until mid-afternoon. In the meantime Geoff had been to the toplock - 16 - to open the topgate and bottom gate paddles slightly to start letting water down - we were advised that it would take many hours to get the situation to a navigable stage.

Oh well - nothing much to do but wait. Diane quickly decided that a roast lunch was in order so the meal was underway - Stella, Mike, Diane and I all sat down to a delicious roast lunch with apple pie after - by which stage we could see the effects of the water coming down - pound 6 was starting to fill nicely.

Certainly a lot more water in here than when we first saw it

It was about 5pm when we got the word from the CaRT man that we could proceed if we wanted to - he did advise that it would take about 3 hours to ascend the flight and that we would need to keep 2 locks apart to help the pounds to cope.

Chris and Geoff were first away and then Mike and Stella - due to Stella's injury we had some wonderful help from Liz and Graham (nb GRandMA dot) who worked them through all 16 locks to the top finishing about 9pm in the dark with Diane and I. They had decided that they would wait for the following day.

Diane at the helm going past the fall in Pound 6

Despite everything else, the settings and the scenery around the
flight was magnificent

Finally mooring up at 9:15pm in pitch dark, Diane in jumping off to help secure the boat managed to lose her footing and roll heavily on the ground and shortly after I stepped into a hole of some description - it was very dark. Don't think we will be doing that again.

The following morning dawned bright and cheerful and it wasn't long before 12 that Liz and Graham had made it up the flight and moored near to us.

There was only one thing for all of this - to the pub for lunch. We were delighted to see Geoff there so he joined in and Chris emerged from the boat (suffering the after effects of a little food poisoning but ready for lunch).

From the tired bedraggled lot that we were the evening before we certainly set about enjoying the sunshine, the food, the ales and the Belle Vue Brass Band at the Ring'O'Bells pub right alongside the canal.

from left Chris, Liz, Graham, Geoff, Stella, Diane, Mike and Ray
all is well that ends well !

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Up a very long hill and then down the other side

Monday 27th August to Sunday 2nd September 2012

14 Miles, 47 Locks, 2 Tunnels for this week

Totals: 1340 Miles, 1092 Locks, 43 Tunnels, 19 Lift Bridges, 91 Swing Bridges

I had forgot to say in the previous blog that on the Saturday morning when we were due to leave Huddersfield the fridge decided that it had had enough and died – we would need a new one somewhere along the way; when we moved over to the pumpout station we found out too late that the machine had been left in the “Pause” position and our insertion of the card into the reader not only lost the credit but also the chance to pumpout – an hour wait for someone from CaRT to come out.

This when coupled with the low pound above Lock 4 gave us a great start to Saturday – at least they come in three’s.

Mike's sister Karen making hard work of the gate paddles

We had moored up in Slaithwaite (“slough-it” for the southerners) and were waiting for Mike’s sister and neice – Karen and Jo to arrive – apparently they were keen for some cruising – boy did they pick the wrong time.

We had come up 21 locks and that meant that there were only another 21 to go to the tunnel.

The gate paddles on the bottom gates were difficult and the lock gates themselves do  not get any lighter as the day goes on; this coupled with the rain and the very wet towpaths meant that it was almost a perfect way to improve your fitness and be ready for a good night’s sleep all rolled into one.

Lock 24 - the guillotine lock - only one on this part of the system

More of the marks left by the original stone masons to identify
their own work

Views typical of the canal along here

Despite all of the heavy work along this section of the canal, there could be no complaints about the views of the countryside around.

We moored up in Mardsen that afternoon – everyone pretty tired, but not too tired to venture down to the Riverside Brewery Tap – a highly recommended stamp for this.

The following morning was time to move the boats down to the entrance to the tunnel – we had wandered down the previous day to check it out with the CaRT guys.

All of this allowed us plenty of time to look through the visitor information centre and to do some exploring of the countryside above the tunnel entrance.

 We stayed there for the night – plenty of lighting and with a very safe feeling about the area.

No matter how many times you do the measurements of your boat it is not until the CaRT guys take to it and then pronounce that you are OK to proceed that you give a bit of a thankful sigh.

Time for being kitted up – high-vis jacket, life jacket and hard hat – I was just waiting to be given a shovel and pick and be told to head down the mine for a hard days work.

A short talk about the tunnel from our on-board guide Liam and with some relief from the pelting rain we were off into the darkness (until the boat light took effect) – at least it was dry.

There are 4 check points along the way – the first three being done by the another person travelling in a van down the disused tunnel – the last done by direct contact back to the control room

Because of this and the need to make sure the tunnel is cleared of any fumes the boats are staggered with a gap of 45 minutes – only a maximum of 3 boats go through in the morning (east to west) and then 3 in the afternoon (west to east) – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

There are a great many places to be aware of as we proceed and Liam was excellent at the commentary about the tunnel and also pointing out these areas of concern as well as how to approach them.

The head height was a bit of a problem for someone about 190cm – the hard hat came in for a bit of rough treatment and saved some very rapid hair loss on more than one occasion.

Finally after our 1 hour 50 minute trip we were out into the daylight – the rain was not around on this side – the obvious result of moving from Yorkshire into Lancashire.

Liam bid adieu to us and was off back to the hut for a well-earned cuppa and ready himself for the return trip on one of the waiting boats.

We cannot compliment the CaRT guys highly enough for their professionalism and for their company and commentary – they deserve the high praise – well done!!

Once out on the other side it was not long before we were back into the locks – a bare 400 metres – and it started again – this time however it was down the flight, the water supply was plentiful and the gates and paddles were much easier to use.

We continued our way down the flight eventually deciding to moor up at UpperMill for the night – the moorings were under a large canopy of trees and because of this and the rain that had been around in previous days meant that the towpath was saturated and not without a deal of mud.

Both boats managed to moor up before a huge downpour – complete with thunderbolts and lighting (very very frightening) – an evening meal at the local Indian restaurant was in order.

Earlier Stella had the misfortune to slip at one of the locks soon after the tunnel and had injured her ankle quite badly, so she was forced into a bit hobbling around – despite the bandaging and pain killers there was still a lot of pain – the alcohol at dinner probably did help.

The following day was the drop off time for Karen and Jo – they said that they had enjoyed it all and they had been smiling throughout the whole time – so we will believe them – the nearest railway station was at Bridge 80 which would give them passage back to their car for their 5-hour return journey south.

This left just the 2 boat handlers and one other for the locks – it would do no good for Stella to be doing too much at all.

We continued further down the flight eventually reaching StaleyBridge where we decided to moor up opposite the Tesco supermarket.

Our decision to moor where we did obviously meant some relocation of the Canada geese population but they had left their calling cards all along the paved footpath – could have done with a high-pressure cleaner to get rid of all of the muck.

Nevertheless it was a perfectly safe area and we had no problems where we had moored – had a chance to explore around the town visiting a representative sample of the seemingly large number of pubs in the town.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

More Rivering before the Broad

Monday 13th August to Sunday 26th August 2012

17 Miles, 40 Locks, 2 Tunnels, 1 Lift Bridge for this week

Totals: 1319 Miles, 1026 Locks, 41 Tunnels, 19 Lift Bridges, 79 Swing Bridges

This travelling along the river thing is really quite interesting - wide waterway; no problem with the depth of water; not even a problem if you look back for a minute.
Even if it is canalised and a few locks along the way, it is nice and peaceful

We needed a pumpout so pulled into the Dewsbury arm and endured reversing down to the end of the marina section - about 200 metres - only to find that the inlet pipe couldn't get a full seal on the tank outlet and we only managed to get a part empty.

The pub at the end was interesting and we stayed on the visitor moorings overnight.

This friendly little guy was around most of the time at Dewsbury
- only reminded us of our son Mitchell because of his name - "Mitch"
We kept on hearing a plethora of skyrockets being ignited - one of our new neighbours explained the significance of these - the locals knew that the (drug) deliveries had been made.

This high arched bridge didn't even rate a mention in Nicholson's

Oops!! - this could be the wrong way to go - handy to have these
around on the river

Wide and open

Stella on a borrowed bike when we made it onto the Huddersfield Broad

We made it into Huddersfield without any undue concerns - the broad canal was excellent - gates and paddles easy to managed - a little over a couple of hours and we were in the centre of Huddersfield.

Time for a water tank fillup and a proper pumpout - we were now ok for everything - except for the fact that we were about a week too early for the passage up to Marsden for the Standedge Tunnel - so it was an easy choice to spend a week here and just enjoy the time

Huddersfield Town Hall ?? - you would like to think so - but it
is actually Huddersfield train station

Where did you get it ? --- It's Stolen from Ivor's
Great name for a shop

The Jamaican flag flying high over Huddersfield
- no idea why

Lift bridge on the broad canal on the way in

This was the view from the front window - I could wake up
to this everyday of the week

Moored up next to Huddersfield University
 - as safe as houses

The support vessel for a charity row from Huddersfield to London

And here he is - admittedly he has only just started

With a week in Huddersfield we changed our focus from just local to a wider viewpoint - we hired a car and drove up to York for the day - Mike and Stella hadn't been there recently and it was about 4 years for us as well

York Minster

Part of the old city wall

Wall and Minster in the background

old stone coffins

Easy to see where the moat used to be - surprised it is still dry
after all of the rain that we have had

The Treasurer's House - treasurer for the Minster

For the woman who has everything - purple hair from the
purple man

mmm!!! - lunch

York's narrow crowded streets

The railway museum was a must to see whilst we were in York

a replica of Stephenson's Rocket

A huge number of restored engines, carriages and other railway-related equipment

The Wizard Express - looked remarkably similar to one seen in
the movies

"The Flying Scotsman" being restored

and "Mallard" too

Finally underway and heading for the summit pound and the tunnel - still a few days away

past the University

on the way to the first tunnel was this now-opened tunnel

Not unfamiliar for this region, but not usual further south
both ground paddles on the same side of the canal

our new tiller pin - a much appreciated present from Mike and Stella
We only got through the first 3 locks and were stopped at Lock 4 - the pound above was way way down and no way we gould get through - the pounds further above were also down. CaRT were pumping water up from the swollen river to the canal at Lock 11 - we just had to wait for the water to flow down to the rest of the pounds.

It would mean that we had an unscheduled overnight stop - but as luck would have it - we were moored right outside a pub - only natural that we should go and meet a few of the locals - they were fantastic - only about 20 or so inside - and they engaged very well - made us feel very welcome and we all had a great time.

The last lock before coming into Slaithwaite

We had only the chance to have one night in Slaithwaite; the stoppage at lock 4 meant that we couldn't get 2 nights here.
We found out long before getting here that the correct local way to be able to say Slaithwaite was a bit like saying "slough-it" - we were home and hosed with that - practially locals, even with the Australian accent.

The sign just about said it all - just a bit concerned about the
word "Bargees" - what's with that and who does it aply to -
surely not us

only problem with the sign is that the bin is missing
We walked into and around town for a bit - deciding which pub to have a drink at - we found it - only problem was that there was a mutiny from half of each couple - the pub was called "The Silent Woman" - didn't seem like there was any chance of that coming true.