This Month's Totals and Average
39.16 miles 49 locks 26.62 hrs 3.31 lmph

  August 2020

Sunday 9th August ~ Barbridge to Calverley (en route to Nantwich)

Took our time getting up today. It had been a much cooler night and we felt better refreshed. Pottered around for the morning then dropped in on the service from Doncaster. They followed this with virtual coffee after the service on Zoom. John & Jan were also online so we got to catch up with them. Once finished, lunch before we moved off.

Continued west the ½-hour to Barbridge Junction, then turned right in the direction of Chester. This part of the (then) Chester Canal was built to a wider dimension than the "narrow" 7ft. Continued another hour to Calverley, mooring on the stretch after the services. The cooler start to the day turned hot again.

3.03 miles 0 locks 1.28 hrs 2.36 lmph

Saturday 8th August ~ Middlewich to Barbridge (en route to Nantwich)

A very hot, sticky and noisy night! Morning brought a hazy sun, but slightly cooler than yesterday. Let go early and dropped down King's Lock to Middlewich Junction, turning left onto the shortest canal of the system (the Wardle Canal is only 154ft (47m) long and was built by the Trent & Mersey company to join its canal to the (then) Chester Canal; it has one lock). Ascended Wardle Lock and continued onto the Chester Canal (now the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union). Continued generally southwest through farmland, and ascending Stanthorne Lock. Just past Bridge 14, we had a "fast" boat coming up astern and a "slow" boat ahead so we opted out for a lunch break. By this time, the cloud had cleared considerably and it was getting hot again.

After lunch, we decided to continue for a while, catching a glimpse of our first kingfisher of the year. We ascending Minshull Lock without problem, but found a queue at Cholmondston Lock (we were 5th). An hour later, we finally ascended, then pulled in for the night before Bridge 4. A hot afternoon, but with a slight breeze.

8.81 miles 5 locks 4.60 hrs 3.00 lmph

Friday 7th August ~ Wheelock to Middlewich

Cloudless blue sky this morning, and already getting hot. Moved round to the services berth for the usual items, then set off for the last section of the descent into Middlewich. Three spaced out locks in the Booth Lane Flight, then Boggs Lock at the south end of the town. Everything against us again today. The trip winds along the contour of the hillside, passing through farmland (including fields of corn (cobs)) and the ever-sprawling new housing of Wheelock and Sandbach. Moored on the stretch before King's Lock, and had lunch.

Took a walk into town for stores. Didn't do much else due to the heat.

5.74 miles 4 locks 3.13 hrs 3.11 lmph

Thursday 6th August ~ Hassall Green to Wheelock (en route to Middlewich)

Another damp morning to start, but today it cleared quickly to a hot sunny day. Let go promptly, headed down the hill to Wheelock. An early boat had gone down so we ended up with a very bad road. Descended the two locks at Hassall Green, followed by the six in the vicinity of Malkin's Bank, and the two at Wheelock. We were followed by "Tempranillo", assisting each other where possible. Moored on the rings to the east of Wheelock just before lunch. Routine chores. A bit of cloud built giving a small amount of shade.

1.79 miles 10 locks 2.36 hrs 4.99 lmph

Wednesday 5th August ~ Kidsgrove to Hassall Green (en route to Middlewich)

After a wet and windy night, we rose to a damp and windy morning. After breakfast, we walked up into Butt Lane to the convenience store for the parcel and necessary stores, then let go for the descent down "Heartbreak Hill". Down through the last 3 of the Red Bull flight, we realised there was a convoy headed down. A queue of 4 greeted us at the top of the Church Locks (2 locks) and we worked down assisting the boat in front, and being assisted by the boat behind. This continued for the rest of the day - down through Halls Lock, the Lawton Treble, Lock 54, Thurlwood, and the Pierpoint 2. The scenery is much changed from the south side of Harecastle, now with rolling farmland.

Arriving at the top of the Hassall Green Flight, we moored for the day and said goodbye to the hire boat team behind us. Lunch, then a quiet afternoon. The dampness threatened with a few spots of rain, but it rapidly cleared after lunch to a warm sunny afternoon.

4.03 miles 13 locks 4.22 hrs 4.04 lmph

Tuesday 4th August ~ Etruria to Kidsgrove (Red Bull) (en route to Middlewich)

A damp and drizzly morning greeted us today. Up and on the move quickly, headed for the tunnel. Just got moving when I noticed a sign advertising gas. Pulled in just at the road bridge and rang the bell at the back gate of Capital Gas Centre Ltd - they apparently supply to both trade and public and I got a replacement bottle at the cheapest price I've found anywhere since we got "Paws". Stocked up again, we continued on towards the tunnel. I always find this stretch depressing, with the derelict buildings of the Industrial Age, some which were re-purposed, then some of those now derelict again. One bright point in the 'wasteland' is Westport Lake, with its wildlife visitor centre and good 48-hour moorings. Arriving at the Harecastle Tunnel southern portal, we were checked in for our 11:00 passage. The drizzle had increased over the morning and it was not particularly nice 'boating weather'.

The southbound convoy was through quickly and all the boats for the northbound were ready, so we were allowed through at 10:45. Steady run through, exiting to more drizzle. Descended the first three locks of the Red Bull Flight, and pulled over for services (loo, water, and rubbish) - CRT need to have a word with their collection service as all the bins were overflowing. There was a space just above the next lock so, when finished, just moved forward and moored for the day. Lunch, then had a quiet afternoon waiting for a parcel to be delivered to a local shop. The drizzle died out, but the wind increased during the afternoon.

The parcel was finally delivered at 19:30, so it can wait till tomorrow.

6.41 miles 3 locks 3.37 hrs 2.80 lmph

Monday 3rd August ~ Etruria (en route to Middlewich)

Sunny start, but quickly clouded over, although remaining a pleasant day. Having been told that we can't get passage until Tuesday, we decided to stay put today and move direct to the tunnel tomorrow. Phoned the Hospital and a very helpful gentleman took the details, sympathised, and said he would investigate - we should ignore the letter. The original letter from Stafford County still has not reached our surgery (will email our copy).

Remainder of day spent in general routines/cleaning. Phoned Black Prince at Festival Park to see if they had gas, but none available. A slight shower of rain at lunchtime, but the sun came back out again afterwards.


Sunday 2nd August ~ Barlaston to Etruria (en route to Middlewich)

Took our time getting going this morning. Put in our booking request for a passage through Harecastle Tunnel - let's see what they can give us. Dropped in to Live Stream Faith from Doncaster. On the move after the service, with a pre-prepared lunch to eat along the pound above Trentham Lock. Didn't quite work that way. Arrived at Trentham to find 7 boats waiting! Had our lunch while we waited!

After an hour waiting while the boats ahead ascended, we got our turn. Lovely trip along the pound to Stoke, birds singing. Arrived at the Stoke flight fourth in the queue. Long slow climb up the five locks, then stopped for the night, somewhat later than expected, just above Junction.

Skype call with daughter to see their two new guinea pigs - absolutely gorgeous. Received an email from CRT giving us our choices of passage for the tunnel, then later on confirmation of passage at 11:00 on Tuesday.

Lovely sunny day throughout, but not overly hot for working the locks. Threatened rain once, but it never came to anything.

5.58 miles 6 locks 4.44 hrs 2.61 lmph

Saturday 1st August ~ Stone to Barlaston (en route to Middlewich)

Nice sunny morning for the new month. Up earlier than normal, but ended up not getting on the move as quickly as we would have liked considering the weather forecast. Moved forward to Star Lock behind a hire boat. Helped them up while one of their team went forward to prep the next lock. Reset Star and ascended. Did the same at Yard Lock, where they pulled in at the end of their holiday. We continued on to the services below Newcastle Road Lock - loo, water and rubbish. While we were there, we got a phonecall from our daughter to tell us we had received a letter from Royal Stoke University Hospital asking for proof of entitlement to NHS benefits (this despite Stafford County having been given the details).

After completing services, we started up the remainder of the Stone Flight (2 more) and the Meaford Flight (4 locks). A good road this time, with all locks set for us, and most had boats just leaving, giving a clear run in. The canal continues to parallel the railway but the main road (A34/51) diverges at the bottom of the Meaford Flight. We caught up with a couple who had walked past us as we were working the locks - Mattie & Nettie - and started chatting as we continued along towards Barlaston. Reaching the "Plume of Feathers" pub, we invited them aboard at the bridge'ole as they were very interested in the 'boating life'. Pat did a tour while I took "Paws" ahead to a mooring. Look forward to seeing them out on the Cut at some point in the future. Finished mooring for the day and had a belated lunch.

Quiet remainder to the afternoon. The later-than-planned start didn't cause any problems - the forecast rain never materialised .

3.77 miles 8 locks 3.21 hrs 3.67 lmph

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