|This Month's Totals and Average|
|117.13 miles||87 locks||66.03 hrs||3.09 lmph|
Pat's car refused to start - yet again. Britannia Rescue called and they got her going. Thursday morning's shopping trip ended up starting at lunchtime (lunch at Sainsbury), and lasting to mid-afternoon. Thus started several days of Pat getting cleaning done ready for her going home, and getting her packing done. I took a trip to the chandlers to get a few parts.
Sunny days Thursday and Friday, but rain returned Saturday afternoon.
Another bright morning, despite the forecast. Leisurely start for the last day on the main cruise. Headed off through Rugeley town and on through Armitage and Handsacre, returning to base - the end of this year's main cruise. The forecast precipitation arrived late morning in the form of light drizzle, but gradually increased during the afternoon.
|6.70 miles||0 locks||2.83 hrs||2.37 lmph|
Great night's sleep, the road not creating much noise at all. Cool fresh morning with a heavy dew. A day of short hops in store, starting with the run to Great Haywood. Descended Hoo Mill Lock and arrived at the junction mid-morning. Found a space before Mill Lane Bridge and moored. Walked round to the Canalside Farmshop for artisan foodstuffs, then had lunch in their café (Staffordshire oatcakes, as usual).
After lunch, moved "Paws" forward onto the services berth for the usual items, then continued southwards. Descended Haywood and Colwich Locks - Colwich being the last of the season for Pat (this was also special as she saw a kingfisher). Continued on through Wolseley Bridge to "The Taft" where we had made arrangements to visit Peter (although Julie would be out for a belated birthday treat with family). Spent a great afternoon chatting, before the last leg of the day. We had agreed to take their three "Work-aways" (sort of au pair helpers from abroad who come to experience life and absorb history/culture over here whilst providing a needed service) for a short trip by narrowboat. This would be a last special treat from them as two were headed home tomorrow. The half-hour trip took us to the mooring at Brindley's aqueduct where we said goodbye and they walked back to "The Taft".
|5.32 miles||3 locks||2.94 hrs||2.83 lmph|
After a beautifully quiet night, we woke to the first boat passing at 07:30, on a cool misty morning. Pottered again getting started, but eventually moved forward to Star Lock (only to find the previous boat had left the bottom gates open - not a good start). The mist quickly burned off, to yield a suffocatingly hot day. Descended Aston, Sandon and Weston Locks, then we gave up and moored at Bridge 77 for a late lunch. Decided that was enough for the day. Owls heard calling during the evening.
|8.38 miles||4 locks||4.42 hrs||3.80 lmph|
Whilst we could definately hear the band from the boat, the pub was as good as its word, and the noise stopped at 23:30. Very peaceful for the remainder of the night.
Woke, refreshed, and headed up to church at St John's at Walton Community Centre. A very modern service, but still in traditional format, with a theme running all the way through. Chatting with a few of the congregation, they seemed very interested in what we did at the Thatcham/Newbury Mission, with one person taking BCF leaflets and passing to committe members for inclusion at their next meeting. Back to "Paws" for lunch, then odd jobs during the afternoon. Very busy with passing boats. Dinner at "The Star".
Sunny morning, and up slightly earlier than usual. Pottered getting ready. Pat decided she didn't want to go to the Wedgwood shop after all, so when we were ready we set off for the run to Stone. Passed the "Plume of Feathers", noting only one boat (suggesting that any others moored were already on the move). Arrived at the top of the Meaford Flight to find a queue - one of the gates had been sticking and had held up descents. Appeared to clear itself, and the queue dissipated quickly. Good road down the remainder of the flight (3 more) as there were boats coming up every one. Onwards then to the top of the Stone Flight. We descended the first two and pulled in for water (while that was happening, I took a quick walk to the chandlery next door). On again past the hire base, and down a further lock. Spoke with another boater who said there were no spaces at the bottom, so we just moored up for the day below Yard Lock (94).
Late lunch aboard, then a walk into town for major stores before returning to "Paws". Had hoped that we could get dinner at "The Star", but their kitchen was closing at 19:00 as they had a band in for the evening (we were assured that any noise would stop at midnight at the latest). Dinner aboard.
The band finally started up at 21:10.
|3.67 miles||7 locks||2.92 hrs||3.67 lmph|
Another cloudy start, but it quickly cleared to a hot sunny day. On the move fairly promptly, waving to Carole on "Emma Maye" as we passed. From here, the scenery gets far more industrial, although it is nice to see so many businesses have retained the old facades of the warehouses they now own/rent. The Middleport Pottery is still active today making Burleigh Pottery. Factory tours and a museum are available. Passing Festival Park, we entered Etruria and turned left onto the Caldon Canal, just for a few hundred yards to use the services, then reversed back out again. At this point, we start the descent back down to base. Descending through the 5 Stoke Locks (Summit, Johnson's, Twyford, Cockshutts and Stoke Bottom) we continued through the centre of Stoke and into Trentham with its quality houses and gardens backing onto the canal. Clearing Trentham, we passed the Wedgwood factory and museum and moored for the day south of Old Road Bridge, near enough to walk back to the shop in the morning.
|8.27 miles||6 locks||4.22 hrs||3.38 lmph|
Dull cloudy start to the day, with only very occasional sunny intervals. Very nice, quiet mooring here - we will be using again (there is a little train noise, but it doesn't intrude). Pat decided to make fresh bread for dinner tonight, so we elected to stay put for the day. Noted that 'The Wool Boat' was coming in our direction so attempted to make contact.
During the afternoon had a chat with a family who were very interested in narrowboating - invited them on board for a look round. The Wool Boat got back in touch, saying they were on their way up to Westport Lake.
Late afternoon, got a call from The Wool Boat ("Emma Maye") to say they had arrived, so walked along to the other end of the mooring. Met Colin, Carole & Brindley . Such a long chat with them that Pat never got her ironing done!
Up slightly early, on a cloudy morning. On the move, up Yewtree Lock to the services and 'welcome station'. Having used the services, we let go again and ascended the three remaining locks (Red Bull, Limekiln, and Top Lock) to the northern portal of the Harecastle Tunnel , where we had about an hour to wait for the northbound convoy.
Once the boats were clear, we set off through the tunnel. The run through took 40 minutes, and was not as wet as we were expecting. Emerging into sunshine, we continued 20 minutes to the CRT visitor mooring at Westport Lake , a mooring we have never used before. Took a walk round to the Visitor Centre run by The Wildlife Trusts .
|3.88 miles||4 locks||2.31 hrs||3.41 lmph|
A slightly cloudier morning, with a cooler breeze. On the go promptly, continuing up the hill to Kidsgrove. First came the Pierpoint Locks (2), which were both with us, then Lock 54 and Thurlwood Lock bringing us to Rode Heath. Pat left me to find a mooring at the other end of town, while she did a quick raiding party off for milk. By the time she returned, it was lunchtime so we ate before setting off again. Sun had come out and it was warming up.
Next came the steepest bit of the climb, the locks coming faster. First up the Lawton Treble (3), then Hall's Lock and Church Locks (2). At Lawton, we saw a hire boat following so set a lock for them. Turned out to be "Elizabeth" from the Napton fleet, whom we had seen at Rode Heath with an alternator problem. Their lock was actually quicker at filling so we let them get ahead. Shortly after, they were stopped again! They caught us up again at Red Bull Bottom Lock (Townfield). We ascended Townfield and Kent's locks and pulled in for the day. Pat walked up to the new CRT shop at the yard and brought back ice cream - very welcome. High cloud was starting to build.
|3.92 miles||12 locks||3.83 hrs||4.16 lmph|
Although yesterday's forecast was for drizzle almost all day, we woke to a nice sunny morning. Set off fairly promptly, starting up the hill towards Kidsgrove. All today's locks were built in pairs to speed up traffic, although some have subsequently been blocked up when too costly to repair. Most of today's 10 pairs ended up with both locks against us, but we still made good time. At one point, a boat coming down had left the bottom gates for us. We arrived only two minutes later to find someone else had closed the gates and drawn the top paddles (and it wasn't a hire boat). His comment was "There's another boat following me". Having reset the lock for ourselves, we met 'the other boat' as we left the lock. Clearing the Hassall Green Locks, we moored for the day. Just finishing when the drizzle arrived, but it didn't last.
|1.80 miles||10 locks||3.05 hrs||3.87 lmph|
Lovely sunny morning. Walked up to the Methodist Church, to find a note on the door that they were joining the Sandbach congregation today (their website had suggested Communion today). Too far to Sandbach and too late to get to another service, unfortunately. Disappointed.
Decided we couldn't be bothered moving. Quiet afternoon - a few routine chores and maintenance items, books and knitting.
Beautiful sunny morning, today - Gone were the rain clouds and wind. Leisurely start. Continued southwards from Middlewich. At Rump's Lock, we found two already waiting, so same problem as Thursday (but hey; there's no real rush). Continued up through the Booth Lane two and Crow's Nest Lock. There is then a long pound into Wheelock. Lunch on the move.
Stopped at the services, then moved round the corner just before the lock to moor up for the night. The two boats which had been ahead of us had stopped earlier, and we had overtaken them. It turns out they are both also from King's Bromley Marina. They caught up again at the services, then moored for the night also. We took a brief walk into the village for an item forgotten in the last storing.
|5.77 miles||4 locks||3.36 hrs||2.91 lmph|
Another night of heavy rain. The noisy traffic died down very late on, but it didn't appear to stop us sleeping - we slept in!
Still raining at breakfast and with a forecast to continue all day. Decided to stay put. Pat set to on the baking (as often happens on these sort of days). A general pottering day for me.
Rain continued unabated all day - a horrible soggy day.
|8.80 miles||5 locks||5.26 hrs||2.63 lmph|
After very heavy overnight rain (again), we woke to a partly cloudy day with a stronger wind. The internet signal had returned sufficient to get a slow chance at updating so caught up with yesterday's info. Set off mid-morning for Cholmondeston Lock, the first of 5 planned for today. There was a queue of 2 waiting to go down, but CRT Volunteers were out so didn't take too long. On to Minshull Lock, catching up with the tail of the queue again. Long pound followed, taking us to Stanthorne Lock. Lunch on the move. Three sightings of kingfishers today. Passed the site of last year's major breach - CRT have done a wonderful job of repairs; without the obvious 'new' concrete, one would never know it had happened. Descended Stanthorne Lock, again at the tail of the queue, but it was thinning out. Finally arrived at Wardle Lock, the last on the 'Branch'. The Wardle Canal is renowned for being the shortest canal in Britain at 154ft (47m). It was created by the Trent & Mersey Canal company to join their canal to the Chester Canal (now part of the Shropshire Union), after the T&M had previously refused the junction.
Clearing Wardle Lock we turned right onto the Trent & Mersey Canal, watered at the junction, and ascended Kings Lock. Moored above the lock, and walked into town for stores. Dinner from the Kings Lock Chippy.
|8.80 miles||5 locks||5.26 hrs||2.63 lmph|
Overnight rain continued well into the morning. Late morning, when it finally cleared, Pat decided that it wouldn't be necessary to go all the way in to Morrison's, but that the McColl's convenience store would give her what she needed. Lunch on board when she returned.
Having now used our 48-hour allocation, we let go after lunch, moving on to the first winding hole south of the town. Returned back through the town and on to Barbridge Junction, turning right onto the Middlewich Branch. Moored just east of Bridge 4 as the rain returned. Yet another night without the internet - it appears that Cheshire is not a high priority for "mobile phone signal for all".
|5.62 miles||0 locks||2.26 hrs||2.48 lmph|
Heavy rain overnight, but clear by breakfast although still quite cloudy. Shopping! Walked into town and got the bus to Sainsbury's for 'own-brand' items. Stopped at the fishmonger and butcher in town on the way back.
Lunch aboard. Tired (as usual) after the long walk with heavy bags, we elected not to go to Morrison's, but stay an extra night and go tomorrow. Quiet afternoon. Had a chat with Martin & Fiona (local Waterways Chaplains) as they passed walking their patch.
Cloudy start to the day, and cooler than of late. Delayed departure due to a minor technical hitch. Eventually on the way, returning towards Barbridge. Noted a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the top of a tree just after we left. Approaching Wharton Lock, we saw another boat ready to enter. Joined up with "Skolzark" for the remainder of our day's locking - great company. Ascended Wharton Lock then they pulled in for fuel, but caught us up again by the time we were ascending Beeston Iron Lock - said we would wait for them. Sun well out and the day warming up. Delay at Beeston Stone Lock while we waited, but then quickly ascended and continued on. Up Tilstone Lock and on to Bunbury. Saw a kingfisher land on a tree-branch just before the locks. Approaching the locks, we noted one boat ready to come down so set up a "Bunbury Shuffle" to switch the three of us round when the water was level. Clearing there, "Skolzark" pulled over for lunch while we continued for Calveley, eating on the move.
Service stop at Calveley, then continued again. Although heading for Middlewich, we needed stores so continued past Barbridge and Hurleston into Nantwich. Moored south of the aqueduct, our preferred location. Cloud returned soon after, bringing some rain.
|11.72 miles||6 locks||6.13 hrs||2.89 lmph|
Wind dropped to almost nothing overnight, although the intermittant drizzle continued through breakfast. Church with the Methodist congregation at Rowton (no specials this week) - great service with plenty good-going 'oldies' and excellent sermons from a visiting minister (from Runcorn). Lunch aboard.
On the move shortly after lunch (when the drizzle stopped for a little while), returning to Tattenhall through the slow section at Golden Nook. Moored at the same place as earlier in the month. Back with internet again so spent the remainder of the afternoon catching up with maps etc (which can only be done directly on-line).
|3.47 miles||0 locks||1.37 hrs||2.54 lmph|
Foul weather had been forecast for today, so we were surprised when we woke to sunshine (thought it wouldn't last!). Decided to make a go of getting through Chester, hoping we wouldn't get too wet.
On the move promptly in slight drizzle, heading into Chester basin where we did the loo. Got a little damp in the drizzle, but not bad. Continued round to the Northgate Staircase and ascended with the assistance of the CRT Volunteers. Drizzle died out quickly. Quite a few gongoozlers, including a family with two children. Invited them aboard for the ascent of Top Lock and a look around a narrowboat. They were thrilled.
After clearing the refuse, headed through Chester and out to the five locks above. We were caught up as we entered Hoole Lane Lock by "Mugwump" with John & Vivian. They joined us for all five locks. Sun had come out again, but a stiff breeze was rising. At Christleton Lock, we stopped for water and they continued to find somewhere for lunch. We had lunch on the move after watering, while we continued towards Waverton. Moored in the same place as last week. Cloud built continuously during the afternoon and the wind continued to rise. As before, no internet so even further behind.
|6.55 miles||8 locks||3.96 hrs||3.67 lmph|
Thunderstorm and heavy rain overnight, but clear by morning. Found that the internet had suddenly connected, so got the e-paperwork back up to today after breakfast. Pat took a quick walk to the nearest shop for an item forgotten yesterday.
Once Pat was back, we walked back into the museum for the morning, returning to "Paws" just before lunch. Heavy rain shower with thunder over lunch.
After lunch, and after the rain had stopped, moved off and ascended the two locks to the museum entrance with the assistance of a CRT Volunteer, then continued on our way back towards Chester. A few short light showers mixed into longer sunny periods was the order for the afternoon. Got a little damp, but certainly not drenched as we had thought possible. Stopped at the mooring at Bridge 131 late afternoon, just before the heavens opened.
|6.58 miles||2 locks||2.77 hrs||3.10 lmph|
Undisturbed night, leading to another sunny morning. On the move promptly heading for Ellesmere Port. An easy run, although there is far more weed than we remember from previous visits. On arrival at the top lock, took water, cleared the loo and booked in for a berth. With assistance from a CRT Volunteer, descended two locks to the middle basin and moored up for the day.
Walked back to the entrance building and had lunch at the café. Pat then went for stores locally, while I attempted to get caught up with e-paperwork (but still no internet!). We then both went for a walk into the museum .
Returned to "Paws" at closing time, for dinner and a quiet evening.
|4.52 miles||2 locks||1.96 hrs||3.32 lmph|
Slightly disturbed night, with the police helicopter searching in our area for nearly an hour. Apart from that, a quiet night. Rain cleared by after breakfast.
Let go fairly promptly and moved round to Bridge 134, the nearest for walking to Chester Zoo . Unfortunately, the signposting is poor and we didn't catch the correct way to go. We ended up walking completely round the zoo to find the entrance!
Had a great day at the zoo, although some of the animals we had particularly wanted to see were not visible. Arrived back at "Paws" late afternoon without getting any rain at all. Once again no internet so will have to catch up tomorrow.
|2.10 miles||0 locks||0.81 hrs||2.60 lmph|
After a disturbed night due to rowdies on the towpath, we walked into Chester centre. Visited the market (appeared less exciting than we thought it had been in the past), then into the town proper. Didn't find the shops we really wanted, but got stores to keep us going.
Returning to "Paws" for lunch, we noticed that one of our flower cauldrons was lying on its side with the flowers in the water between boat and bank. It looked like vandalism as the wind was blowing off the bank. Hadn't noticed it on the way off this morning, but it might have happened last night. No way of knowing; no real damage done as the plants were really past their best, and we still had the cauldron.
Having found we had done everything we had 'planned', we opted to move away from the basin. After a protracted chat with the team aboard "Not a Scooby", we let go and headed northwards out of Chester. Saw a kingfisher as it darted away along the canal. Stopped at the SUCS mooring after Bridge 131. Only a short hop tomorrow to the mooring for the zoo. Heavy rain arrived by bedtime.
|1.86 miles||0 locks||0.75 hrs||2.50 lmph|
After more heavy rain overnight, we again woke to a nice sunny day. On the move fairly promptly, continuing the last leg to Chester. Approaching Christleton Lock, we noted a boat on the water-point so asked if they were coming down. They said "yes", so we said we would wait for them. By the time the up-coming boat was clearing the lock, Ben & Rachel on "Valour" had caught up. We continued down Greenfield, Tarvin, Chemistry and Hoole Lane Locks in their excellent company. They said goodbye in the vicinity of City Road Bridge to await their son off the train. We look forward to meeting up with them again some time. We continued round the city walls to the Northgate Staircase (3 locks). Dumping rubbish as we passed, descended with the assistance of CRT volunteers (they now have the flight manned 09:00 to 15:00 daily if staff available). Clearing the flight, we turned into the basin and headed for the services berth. Once complete, reversed back to a vacant space and moored for the day.
After a belated lunch, caught up with the e-paperwork from the last two days, routine chores, and confirming plans for the coming week. Very hot afternoon.
|4.50 miles||8 locks||3.43 hrs||3.65 lmph|
Rain had gone and cloud was significantly higher by the time we rose. Walked up to Rowton Methodist Church expecting a 10:30 service. Unfortunately, they were 'out visiting' at the Evangelical Fellowship (but their website didn't say). Fortunately, the Evangelical Fellowship was just round the corner so we still got there on time. The service was one to celebrate the end of "Backpackers" Holiday Club (an inter-denominational children's club for the past week (a 'mission' during school holidays). Very lively service, with children's participation, recapping on the events of the week. Barbeque lunch provided afterwards.
Noting very little opportunity for mooring between here and the centre of Chester, and nearly 4 hours to get there, we elected to stay put, even though we had no internet - we'll catch up tomorrow.
Sunny morning again. When ready, reversed up and took "Paws" into Tattenhall Marina for fuel. After topping up, on the move again, continuing northwest. Passed the long on-line mooring at Golden Nook (nearly 1.5 miles of slow passage) and arrived at Waverton. Our map showed a visitor mooring just past Bridge 119, but we couldn't see anything marked. Reversed back through the bridge'ole and moored against the pilings, although we couldn't get the stern alongside.
After lunch, took a walk into the village. Cloud had been building since we arrived, and the rain arrived just after dinner. No internet connection again, so details delayed.
|4.24 miles||0 locks||1.90 hrs||2.23 lmph|
On the move promptly this morning as the boat in front ("Jessie Matilda") was ready and headed down the locks - would we like to share (you bet!). Worked down Beeston Stone Lock together, then helped each other through Beeston Iron Lock (now unable to take two boats together) thence along to Wharton Lock where we again shared. They stopped for morning cuppa, but we continued. As we passed Tattenhall Marina, we decided that we would stop for lunch and stay for the night (our original plan had been to go as far as Waverton - we'll do that tomorrow). While we were at lunch, "Jessie Matilda" also moored up.
Routine chores for the afternoon. Fitted the new aft locker covers - found that the holes for the lock barrels had been drilled the wrong size, and in the wrong positions. Fortunately, I managed to get them to fit. Caught up with the backdated diary details. Warm sunny day throughout. Phonecall from daughter to say she would be visiting "Paws" for a holiday 8th to 14th September - look forward to it.
|4.01 miles||3 locks||2.56 hrs||2.74 lmph|
Greeted into the new month by a dull but pleasant morning. Was sworn at by a hire-boat steerer for suggesting they may be doing more than tickover as they passed (it will be reported to Chas Hardern as we pass tomorrow). Took our time as Pat wanted a load of washing well started so that we could top up the used water at Calveley. On the move mid-morning, and trying to get through the junction at Hurleston. There was a queue for the locks onto the Llangollen, trailing back to our mooring. Eventually squeezed through and continued past Barbridge Junction and on to Calveley. Moored at the café for lunch. Cloud had been clearing during the morning.
After lunch, moved the short distance to the services and got water and loo done. Continued on to Bunbury Locks - a two-lock staircase. By this time, we were onto the wide locks of the (old) Chester Canal, but had nobody to share them with. Descended and continued down through Tilstone Lock. Warm now as the cloud had almost disappeared. Pat decided that the next mooring was where we were stopping so pulled in to the SUCS mooring above Beeston Stone Lock. Unfortunately, no phone signal so uploads, stats and maps will have to wait.
|5.43 miles||3 locks||3.00 hrs||2.81 lmph|