|This Month's Totals and Average|
|115.66 miles||110 locks||66.09 hrs||3.41 lmph|
Woke this morning to an email from the organisers of the Nantwich Show, saying that it had been cancelled and refunds would be forthcoming. The decision was due to the unsafe condition of the grounds due weather. It did say that the Cheese Marquee was still open.
With only part of the Show to see, we took a more leisurely start, and walked round to the Show via the chandlery. Everything except the Cheese Marquee was indeed closed (shame, as we would have liked to have visited the craft marquees and seen the heavy horses working). Plenty to see (and taste) in the Cheese Marquee, and we made a few purchases. Took our place in the Chefs' Theatre and watched the demonstration by James Martin - excellent as usual, with his many wisecracks and (over)use of butter! Bought one of his books and got it personally signed. Having seen everything we could, we returned to "Paws" for lunch.
After a leisurely lunch of bread and cheese from the Show, we decided we had better honour the 48-hour limit, and moved off, headed north on the run to Chester and Ellesmere Port. Moored again just short of Hurleston Junction.
Although the forecast had been for rain, and the day had started looking unpromising, there was no rain and the sky cleared somewhat by late afternoon.
|2.29 miles||0 locks||1.09 hrs||2.11 lmph|
Bright sunny morning, but with a forecast of rain to come. Walked into town and caught the bus out to Sainsbury's for 'own-brand' items, returning by lunch time. Cloud had built over the morning and the rain arrived over lunch. Routine chores during afternoon.
Rain died out overnight, and we woke to a beautiful sunny morning. An early call this morning, by the working boats leaving the festival site - starting at 06:00! Gave up at 07:00 and got up (good job we did, as you will see!). On the move by 09:00 and descended Lock 12. Found a queue of three waiting for services, so descended Lock 13 and went to the water point below (nobody there).
Once completed, descended Locks 14 and 15 - very busy both ways. Continued on to Hack Green where we found a queue of about 15 boats waiting to go down! It took us nearly 2 hours to move the last ¾ mile to the lock. (we stopped our clock during this time as it was exceptional circumstances. Had it been included, today's average would have been 2.23 lmph over 5.53 hours)
Continued the remaining 40 minutes to Nantwich, still hoping we could find a berth. Arrived at the winding hole to find a boat completely adrift, its pins (front, back and middle) all pulled out. A passer-by on the towpath assisted, and a local fisherman said it had been moored there for some time and had been adrift several times. Reported to CRT.
Finally arrived in Nantwich, and found a mooring space exactly where we would have chosen. We have obviously been looked on favourably today. Pat took a walk into town before we settled in for a quiet evening.
|5.55 miles||6 locks||3.53 hrs||3.27 lmph|
More rain overnight, but a couple of foxes were obviously out foraging (we heard them calling). Still raining over breakfast. Said goodbye to Della as she passed, heading south. Despite the rain, walked up to church, then returned for lunch.
We went 'Open House' during the afternoon - 'come aboard and find out about life on a boat'. The poor weather had affected the Festival of Transport, with around half the entrant vehicles not turning up. The Gathering of Historic Boats was also affected, with a few leaving early (possibly also because an emergency stoppage at Wheaton Aston was to commence on 31st for a week). The low footfall in the poor weather meant there was little interest in looking round boats, and we had no takers. Rain continued into the night.
Alarm set for an early start (allegedly to get finished before the forecast rain arrived). More (unforecast) heavy rain overnight, and still light drizzle when we got up. Decided we might as well just continue with plan, so on the way by 08:00. Descended the first two locks, then continued along the long pound. I was 'inspected' by a bat as the boat passed under the bridge at Lock 1, but didn't get a chance to identify it. Drizzle getting a little heavier, but too late now to get coats (and we would have been just as wet under the coats due to heat). Continued down Locks 3 to 11, making good time with the help of a couple of dog walkers. There was one space left below Lock 11 so squeezed in. I took a quick walk to the Mill to let Christine & Peter know we had got in, then had a chat with Richard Parry (CEO of Canal & River Trust ) who was out 'meeting his troops'. Returned to "Paws" to dry out and have lunch.
Quiet afternoon until about 16:00 when the boat behind (who had assisted us on the way down) decided to move. Rain had cleared by this time. I went out with the intention of helping them up a few locks by way of 'repayment'. We worked up Locks 11 and 10, then found a boat coming down 9. Another boat was also coming down so we met them leaving Lock 8. Unfortunately, they had left paddles open and had almost drained the pound above. While the team on the boat we were working dealt with their own boat, I worked ahead trying to get water levels back. It took until they reached Lock 3 before any semblance of normality was regained. A good bit of exercise for me!
|1.22 miles||11 locks||1.96 hrs||6.24 lmph|
More heavy rain overnight and a cloudy sky over breakfast made for a cooler start to the day. Decided to get on the move promptly to be finished early if it got hot again. Moved the 25 minutes round to Adderley Bottom Lock and ascended. One of our planning-maps suggested a winding hole above Bottom Lock (although limited to 60 feet). We hoped to get turned there to save the whole flight, but not to be - no evidence of a winding hole ever being there. Continued up the remainder of the flight, having to reset every one. Got to the top, where there is a winding hole, to find three boats waiting to come down, so we would be behind a queue again, probably having to reset every one again .
Once winded, we joined the queue, having a wait of around 30 minutes before we could start down. Fortunately, by this stage, there were a number of boats coming up so had a better run than we thought we would. Returned to the mooring we had at the top of Audlem Flight, ready to head down tomorrow.
|3.23 miles||10 locks||3.09 hrs||4.28 lmph|
Slightly cooler start to the day, but it soon warmed up. We intend returning to plan (Chester and Ellesmere Port) once we leave Audlem, but we require to turn round. The first winding hole is at Adderley so we need to complete this flight and at least some of the Adderley flight before we can turn (quite a bit of locking, so spreading it over three days).
Said goodbye to Della for the moment, and got on the move promptly. Several boats coming down the flight so we got an easy run through Locks 12 to 8. Noted that several trading boats had taken visitor moorings between 12 and 11 (which are not reserved for the historic boats). This may mean that there are no moorings for visitors near the centre of the town. Slightly slower going through Locks 7 to 3, having to reset every lock. Moored up clear of Top Lock for the day, under the shade of the trees.
|1.33 miles||12 locks||2.27 hrs||5.89 lmph|
Massive thunderstorm overnight. Unfortunately, it didn't appear to cool anything down (aft bedroom remained over 28°C throughout!). A little cloud still remained at breakfast time.
Very slow start to the day, eventually on the move mid-morning. Continued towards Audlem, and started the ascent of the flight. Just as we were leaving Lock 13, we met up with Rob & Jo aboard "Watt Now". Unfortunately, they brought the sad news that Marg from "Liberty" (at Fazeley Mill) had been killed in an accident. Our thoughts are with Steve and the family. Pulled in for services, and decided that, as there was a space under the trees at the Mill, we would just stay there instead of moving up to the next pound. Found Della on "Cerberus" moored there as well.
Straight to the "Shroppie Fly" on arrival, for lunch and a pint. Returned to "Paws" via the Mill where we had a long chat with Christine & Peter. Possibility of getting a BCF presence at the Festival in future years. Followed our chat with a walk into town.
|2.24 miles||3 locks||1.43 hrs||3.66 lmph|
Already very warm by the time we got up. On the move fairly promptly, heading towards Audlem. Ascended the two locks at Hack Green - very busy with traffic coming down. Stopped late morning at the Coole Pilate SUCS mooring we had used earlier in the month.
Unfortunately, what little breeze there was died during the evening. However, beautiful sunset, with the sound of tawny owls hunting in the distance. Heavy rain forecast for overnight.
|3.36 miles||2 locks||1.85 hrs||2.89 lmph|
Walk into town this morning for stores. On return to "Paws", got the shopping put away then walked round to the Canal Centre for lunch at the Waterside Café and a look round the gift shop. Collected the two new covers for the aft lockers, then back to the boat. Had thought about moving on a short distance, but decided we couldn't be bothered. Quiet remainder to the afternoon. Sun had been blazing down all day and we were "quite warm".
Slow start to the day. Eventually on the move, heading the short distance back to Hurleston Junction. Very busy at the flight, particularly coming up where 9 boats were waiting! We were second of 2 going down so had a very easy descent. CRT still assisting at the bottom lock to keep an eye on the bulge in the lock wall. Once clear, turned right and returned southwards for Nantwich. Stopped at the services berth (3rd in a queue there), then moved on to the south side of the aqueduct, our preferred mooring.
Day had been generally cloudy with occasional sunny spells. Breeze had reduced slightly, but occasionally caused difficulties manoeuvring.
|3.60 miles||4 locks||2.43 hrs||3.13 lmph|
After more heavy rain overnight, we woke to a cloudy sky with sunny patches and a stiff breeze. On the move fairly promptly, continuing back towards Hurleston Junction. Cloud was building all the time. Descended Marbury Lock, then passed through Wrenbury with its electric lift-bridge and manual lift-bridge (the last for this time). A couple of short sharp showers around Wrenbury. Just above Baddiley Locks (where we had been overnight last Saturday), we stopped for a lunch break.
Another shower during lunch, but the cloud then started to clear. Continued on down Baddiley Locks (3) and Swanley Locks (2). Most of the cloud had cleared, giving a sunny afternoon. Moored just north of Platt's Bridge 5.
|8.11 miles||6 locks||4.35 hrs||3.24 lmph|
The forecast rain arrived around 05:00. Still hammering down at 08:00 so had a long-lie. Quiet day with routine chores, then relaxing doing very little. Rain turned to showers late morning, but the showers remained heavy.
After very heavy rain overnight, we awoke to a lovely sunny morning. Once ready, moved forward for services, then set off down the Grindley Brook Staircase and the three singletons. A lot of traffic coming down. Clearing Grindley Brook, we continued downstream, descending Povey's, Willeymoor and Quoisley Locks. We caught up with the boat ahead each time, and the boat behind caught us up. Decided that the mooring we had used for our lunch-break on Sunday would do for overnight for two nights (the forecast for tomorrow is very poor) so moored up for the 'duration'. Cloud had slowly built over the morning, but it remained warm.
|2.98 miles||9 locks||2.92 hrs||4.11 lmph|
Up and on the move promptly. Reversed to the junction of the arm and winded, turning downstream. Waved and said goodbye to Chris, Sally, Eric & Sue as we passed - look forward to possibly seeing them again next year. Continued on the return journey outward, headed for Whitchurch. A lot of boats on the move today. High cloud reduced the strength of the sun somewhat, making a very pleasant cool morning.
Passed back through three of the four lift-bridges before Whitchurch. Had a look into the arm and noted it was very busy, so decided not to bother, and continued on the half-hour to Grindley Brook and the same mooring we used on the way out. Sun a little stronger in the afternoon.
|13.01 miles||0 locks||5.20 hrs||2.50 lmph|
Loveley quiet night opposite the maintenance yard. Bright sunny morning with occasional cloud. Took a walk to Tesco at the end of the Town Arm for major storing, then returned to "Paws".
After lunch, went for another walk, this time back along the towpath to where we had seen "Kairos" yesterday. Chris & Sally were aboard. The surprise was that Eric & Sue off "Remus" were also there (we had seen their boat a couple of days ago at Barbridge). Great couple of hours chatting and catching up with them all over tea/coffee. The cloud had increased by after lunch, and it almost threatened rain.
Mid-afternoon, we left them and walked back through the town itself, finally stopping a one of the canal traders for a 'crafty' present for later in the year. Cloud cleared without any precipitation, but left quite a muggy evening.
Beautiful sunrise this morning (we did see it, but stayed in bed ). Up normal time, and on the move promptly. Continued westward through the beautiful countryside. Four lift bridges today. Passed the end of the Whitchurch Arm but decided not to visit the town today. Passed the end of the Prees Arm (we had a lovely run up there last time), then crossed the border into Wales (but left again 40 minutes later). Passed Blake Mere (very good moorings here at the side of the water) and headed through the short tunnel. On arriving at Ellesmere, we had a look up the arm, but it looked very full so turned left and stopped at the services berth. Once finished, moved across to the 3-day visitor moorings for the night.
|13.01 miles||0 locks||5.45 hrs||2.39 lmph|
My turn to have a bad night. Began mid-evening yesterday when I started shivering. Gave up and went to bed 20:30, but the shivering continued until well after 22:00. Finally got away to sleep, but it was poor quality. Woke this morning feeling very rough (wouldn't have minded if I had been partying last night!).
Leisurely start to the day, but got under way by 09:45 and continued upstream. Two lift-bridges (one manual, one electric) came quickly after departure, then Marbury Lock about an hour later. Continued on to Quoisley Lock where we moored to check the weedhatch (large lump of long grass, fairly easily removed). Decided to have lunch while stopped.
After lunch, moved on again, with Quoisley Lock then Willeymoor and Povey's Locks. Steady stream of boats heading downstream so an easy passage. So relaxing chugging along through the countryside (particularly after the period in central Birmingham). On again to Grindley Brook where there are six more locks, three singles and a staircase of 3. Again an easy passage with the assistance of the CRT staff. Moored for the night clear of the staircase.
Day had started cool and cloudy, but cleared to a warm sunny afternoon.
|7.97 miles||10 locks||4.83 hrs||3.72 lmph|
Another dull morning, but no rain in sight. Moved off promptly for the short distance to Hurleston Junction where we turned right onto what is now known as the Llangollen Canal. This was originally the Whitchurch Branch of the Ellesmere Canal. Currently, the sidewalls of the bottom lock at Hurleston are bowing inwards. Major work will be carried out over the coming winter stoppage period, but a width restriction of 6'10" has been imposed in the interim.
Having ascended the 4 locks at Hurleston with the assistance of CRT staff, we continued upstream (yes, there is actually a current flowing on the Llangollen as it is a feeder for the reservoir which supplies water to Nantwich), ascending the two locks at Swanley and the three at Baddiley. Moored just above Baddiley Top Lock for the day.
During lunch, something clattered against the window. On investigation, we found a very stunned chiff-chaff on the towpath. We placed in the longer grass where it would be safe, and it had flown away when we checked later. It obviously had young as its beak was full of flies.
|5.07 miles||9 locks||3.48 hrs||4.05 lmph|
More showers overnight, which continued during the day. Slow start as we slept in. Finally on the move, continued to the fuel berth at Nantwich Canal Centre and topped up. Leaving there, we continued northwards on the 'modern' Shropshire Union, but changing to what was originally enacted as the Nantwich Branch of the Chester Canal. This continues to Barbridge Junction where it meets the Chester Canal proper (although still the amalgamated Shropshire Union). Again, continued on northwards as far as Calveley where we stopped at Calveley Mill shop and café. Had a very nice lunch, then a look round the shop (which also stocks cheese made at their creamery).
The plan had been to continue on towards Chester and Ellesmere Port, but discussions at lunch suggested we would be pushed to get it all done before the Nantwich Show (for which we have tickets). A diversion was therefore accepted to return south and visit the Llangollen for a short period.
Moved forward to the services, then on to the winding hole above Bunbury Locks, where we turned and returned towards Hurleston Junction, mooring about 1/3 mile short, ready for the off tomorrow. On the section east of Calverley, we noted a juvenile kingfisher. As we passed Barbridge Junction on the return trip, we noted "Remus" moored, but there was no sign of Eric & Sue.
The day had been full of short showers of drizzly rain - never really clearing for a good period, but not continuous. A moderate breeze had picked up by dinner time.
|9.33 miles||0 locks||4.02 hrs||2.32 lmph|
Cloudy day. Saw Della from "Cerberus" passing first thing (we had met last year on the Explorer Cuise) - she was planning to moor further along. Walk into town to collect mail - met Della also shopping, and had a great chat. Bus to Sainsbury's for "own brand" products, back for lunch. Short sunny spells and very brief spits of rain.
Pat 'boat-sat' while another batch of washing was on, while I walked along to the Canal Centre to arrange replacement lids for the after lockers (poorly finished by the builders and now starting to warp). Short shower of rain as I got back, but rapidly cleared again.
Overnight, Pat was not very well, so we slept on until later than usual. She was fine by morning, if still feeling tired.
Got on the way at a leisurely pace, continuing northwards. A short run to Hack Green Locks - boats coming up both, so an easy run through - then the hour's run into Nantwich. Moored on the south side, near Marsh Lane.
Lunch aboard, then a walk through the town. Cloudy with occasional sunny periods, not too hot for walking with a load of shopping.
|3.24 miles||2 locks||1.41 hrs||3.72 lmph|
Still cloudy, and with a forecast of rain in the afternoon. Decided to have a quiet day and stay where we were. General routine duties about the boat. Noted several oyster-catchers around the fields on the offside. There was a short, very light, shower at dinner time, but that was all the precipitation we got.
First boat past this morning was 06:20, but we dozed off again! On the move fairly quickly after breakfast, moving down through Lock 12 to the services berth. Very busy there, with traffic in both directions and three boats after water - it was like one of those 'slider' puzzles where you only move one piece at a time to move the one you want into its correct position.
Eventually clear and started down the remaining three of the flight. A string of boats ready to come up so a fairly easy passage through. Once clear, we continued northwards for Hack Green. Slightly cloudier today but very pleasant. As we passed the Coole Pilate SUCS mooring, we decided we would just stop for the day.
Pat decided to catch up on ironing - apart from that, a quiet afternoon. Initially, had hoped for barbeque dinner outside, but it clouded over and looked like it might rain, so erred on the side of caution.
The drizzle finally arrived mid-evening, and would have disrupted the al-fresco dinner, so right decision.
|3.49 miles||4 locks||1.74 hrs||3.74 lmph|
The remainder of the night was very quiet. Boats got on the move just before 07:00, so we were woken by the keel banging on the concrete ledge. Church in the morning, then back for lunch.
We decided to stay another day - Pat wanted to do a load of washing before topping up the water. I went out and assisted boats through locks 9, 10 and 11 as appropriate. Very hot afternoon and into the evening.
Woke to find it raining, which we had not expected! Boats were already going past before we got up. Once on the move, headed the 5 minutes to Top Lock to find one boat descending and one waiting (by the time we got in, there were four behind us). Very busy both directions. A good number of boats coming up, but we always ended up missing the run straight in. It seemed to take ages to work our way down the first 11 locks despite the boat ahead drawing paddles and the boat behind assisting with bottom gates. Rain was only light, but did last most of the morning. Moored in the pound between 11 and 12.
Walked down to the "Shroppie Fly" pub for lunch, then into the town (including a visit to Audlem Mill ) to walk it off! Was late afternoon by the time we got back to "Paws". Sun had poked through a couple of times.
There was a 'pop concert' in the park during the afternoon and evening. Although we could hear the 'music', it wasn't overly intrusive. The party-goers were a little noisy, however, as they went their merry way home between 22:00 and midnight along the towpath.
|1.28 miles||11 locks||2.97 hrs||4.13 lmph|
Hot already by the time we rose (and we were up earlier than usual due call of nature ). Decided to get moving as soon as possible to get moored before it got too hot. Shortly after departure, we ended up behind a boat going far slower than us. Tucked in behind, but were soon caught up by two other boats. When we arrived at Adderley Top, there were four of us nose-to-tail. With a steady stream of boats coming up (plenty of hands to work the locks), we all got through the flight of 5 fairly quickly. Had a stowaway aboard at the bottom lock. We continued on to just before Audlem Top Lock (near the hamlet of Coxbank) and moored for the day under the trees. The stream of boats continued all afternoon.
|4.24 miles||5 locks||2.55 hrs||3.62 lmph|
Up usual time, and on the move once ready. Continued NW towards Tyrley. More open countryside today, but one long narrow cutting before arriving at Tyrley Top Lock. A boat had just passed us so the lock was ready. Passed down through 1 and 2, but found 3 against us. As we descended, we saw another boat coming up so left the gates for them, and got straight into 4 with the assistance of the duty CRT Volunteer. A further boat coming up meant the same into 5, and yet another meant we could leave the gates there. A short run from there brought us to Market Drayton. Moored at the south side for services, then moved through to moorings before Victoria Bridge 65.
Late lunch aboard, then walked into town for stores.
|6.73 miles||5 locks||3.13 hrs||3.75 lmph|
Another quiet overnight, although heard owls calling. Pat walked into the town for 'fresh produce' from the local shop, then we got on our way mid-morning, headed for Market Drayton. More cuttings and wide vistas on view today. Noted that the offside vegetation both sides of High Bridge 39 had been cut back allowing a good view of the telegraph pole half-way up. Just short of Shebdon, Pat decided we should stop at the wharf but, on arriving, we found it full so had to revert to original plan. We did, however, see a Little Owl perched on a telegraph pole by the long-term moorings - an absolute treat, even if we couldn't get the camera out in time. In the middle of lunch on the move, Pat saw a ringed mooring east of Knighton (at Bridge 47) so we moored there instead.
|7.31 miles||0 locks||2.78 hrs||2.63 lmph|
Pat took a walk up to town for the fish-man, while I got the boat ready to leave. A couple more newbies needed a little assistance during this time. We got away mid-morning. Although there was sunshine, it seemed a little cooler today. Continued northwards through the countryside, alternating between vistas across the farmland and tree-lined cuttings. Saw our first kingfisher of the year just SW of Stretton aqueduct. Arrived at Wheaton Aston Lock to find we were second down, with one coming up. The hire-boat we had helped earlier then came in behind (never having done a lock before). We descended in our turn and I put "Paws" on the services berth while Pat assisted them down the lock. There was a large leak on the bottom gate, making it difficult to open the top gate (reported to CRT).
After servicing, we continued towards Gnosall Heath (with lunch on the move), again through cuttings. Emerging from Cowley Tunnel (very short), we entered Gnosall Heath and moored in the section before the next bridge (34).
|8.07 miles||1 locks||3.63 hrs||2.50 lmph|
After a very peaceful night, the new month started slightly cloudy, but the sun pushed through during the morning. Staying here until tomorrow to catch the mobile fish-man, we had a lazy start. General chores in the morning, then a walk into the village in the afternoon for the exercise. A couple of hire boats, just out from their yard and no experience, needed a hand in getting moored up - happy to oblige (we were all novices once!).