Monday, 25 May 2015

Dunham Massey to Riley Green.

Onto the Leeds/Liverpool

We had a long day ahead of us, traversing Manchester. We awoke to a dull sky, but this soon cleared to a glorious day. The outskirts of Manchester were soon reached and the layers were stripped off as the heat of the sun increased.

Peel holdings and the council have certainly made an effort with the towpath, which is now looking really good and this has made the environment much more pleasant for all users.

Manchester was somewhat deserted. The meet at Lymm had removed many of the resident boaters from their home moorings, so pram hoods erect, they paraded west, leaving us enjoying the tranquility of the city to enjoy.

Walkers, cyclists and rowers made the trip a pleasure, but so did the sunshine. We topped up with fuel just prior to Waters meet, then headed towards the crossing of the ship canal at Barton aqueduct. But before this, Ali had a period of retail therapy at the Trafford centre! Why shopping is so adictive is beyond me!!!

Upon her return, we crossed the ship canal and wended our way out of the metropolis, through the orange waters around Worseley and through the reclaimed post industrial landscape to Leigh. Passing the junction between the Bridgewater and the Leeds/Liverpool, a very quick food stop and then onwards.

By late afternoon we moored above Pennington flash and enjoyed both the sunshine and the wildlife. That this landscape is a result of past industry, is a testament to natures powers of recovery, aided by the will to allow this to happen. What was truly a wasteland, is now a fantastic nature reserve.

Sunday dawned dull and wet!  We had in prospect 23 broad locks, two prior to the flight, proper. As we made our way towards Wigan, the rain receded and whilst it never became warm, it did improve. After ascending to the junction, we turned right and thence towards Leeds. Not a boat in sight and so we were resigned to a long hard day. As we ascended the first lock and Ali made her way to prepare the second, a stroke of fortune! There was a boat ahead of us, alone!

Ali ran up, yes ran...and they agreed to wait for us.

Anyone else spotted this?  Our very knowledgeable volunteer told us to look for it

So by lock three of the flight, we joined N.B Twizzle with Sue and Quentin. Our joy was compounded when Peter, a CRT volunteer joined the merry crew. It was a pleasure to ascend. Hard work, but so enjoyable. Sue , Ali and Peter soon reached a smooth rhythm, as did Quentin and I. Lock after lock, up we went and by late afternoon , we were on the top. A short hop saw us both then moored opposite the golf course in rural tranquility, with splendid views.  We did then enjoy a glass of red or three thanks to Sue and Quentin. Not surprisingly, we slept rather well!!!

Bank holiday Monday dawned cloudy, and cold. We had a mid morning start and slowly wended our way along what is beautiful scenery.  But boy was it cold!

At Johnsons Hillock locks, again with N.B Twizzle, we seemed to fly up. Only seven this time and the gongoozlers only added to the pleasure. Yet again, we seemed to synchronise effortlessly. It made lock working a pleasure.

So by the time we moored at Riley Green, we thought a meal and a pint (or two, or a few!) well deserved. So to the pub we went!!
40.5 miles and 30 broad locks completed...

Friday, 22 May 2015

Dunham Massey Gardens

We visited the gardens at Dunham Massey last summer when passing through and so we though a 'spring visit' was in order as we were impressed with the summer display,  We were not disappointed the gardens were amazing and I saw my first handkerchief tree in flower. Although the deer were in hiding with just a couple wandering around.

Colours of Autumn in spring

 found this strange chap hanging around too

Can you spot the heron?

Good view over the lake

 and our first Coot chicks of the year

who move a little fast for the camera!

Well worth a visit if you are passing and the cakes aren't bad in the cafe either, diet day tomorrow!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Wheelock to Dunham. We hit the Bridgewater.

After the weekend sojourn in Wheelock, whilst Ali visited family for her nephew Graham's 30th, we were ready for the off on Monday. The weather was not! It was cold, windy and wet. So we visited Sandbach once again, then settled in waiting for the storms to abate.


Tuesday, we were getting stir crazy, but the weather remained foul. It was forecast to improve in the afternoon, so after lunch we pulled the pins. After watering up, within what seemed like minutes, the clouds opened with a deluge of hailstone. As you can imagine, it was not warm.

We persevered, as we were only making for Middlewich.

For the miles before we reached the first lock, we saw ner a boat moving.  The weather was truly awful.

Upon arrival at the first lock, Crows nest, we found it against us, but with nobody in sight, Ali filled it and we began the descent.  At this point a boat hove into view and an agitated lady disembarked.  She was not apparently a happy bunny.  When she approached Ali, she told her that we had 'wasted' a lock which was in her favour!  Ali tried to explain that their boat was not in view, that we were already descending upon their approach, but all to no avail.  Transpires a single hander was ahead of us, and all the locks thus far had been in their favour and thus, so should this one have been!!!

So to the lady, please accept our apologies, perhaps Black Prince will compensate you for your distress......

Anyway, we dropped down the remaining locks, moored near the park and warmed up.  Then popped into town for a drink and a meal.

Wednesday saw some improvement weather wise, no rain, but warm and still breezy.  After big lock was descended, we had miles lock free ahead, so could afford to chug along.  We had read an article in Waterways World about the Lion Salt Works, stating hat it opened that day after much renovation.  The article stated it had a shop, cafe and outside play area for me!  So we rolled up at lunch time, looking forward to a slice of cake.  When we walked into the reception, it did feel a little, not ready, but staff were on, so we approached them, they explained that the official opening was not until early June! but a staff member would be very happy to give us an escorted tour, gratis.  This we did, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Well worth stopping when it is fully open.

After that, we continued on to Anderton and called it a day.

Today (Thursday) dawned much brighter than of late and promised to remain good.  It was to be our 'tunnel day' with three to tackle in quick succession.  The canal here is above the Weaver valley and offers some beautiful views.  Barnton tunnel was soon behind us, but we arrived at Saltersford a little early for the passage, which north bound is on the hour.  Soon there were three boats and we patiently waited having a chat.  As the hour approached, a boat appeared, sailed past us and into the tunnel!  How rude, we would not mind but he was so slow, he knew my feelings on his action, so between the exit and Preston Brook tunnel, he went like a bat out of hell, we poodles on admiring the scenery and as we approached the stop lock prior to the south portal, who should we spy waiting for the again on the hour north passage?  Correct ....

Even leaving it for five minutes after he set off, half way through, we caught up with him and spent the rest of the passage on tickover.

By Preston Brook, it really had warmed up, well I thought so but Ali did not agree that warm was an apt description!  The improvement spurred us onto past Moore and make for Lymm.  This proved to be a mistake, as upon arrival, all the moorings were reserved from 18:00 for a boat festival, from Brookfield bridge to Lloyd bridge nearly a mile!

So we carried on and are now moored at Dunham.

Good to be back on deep wide waters of the Bridgewater once again.  Local custom appears to travel everywhere with your pram hood up, come rain or shine.  Tomorrow's forecast if correct, may see us following suit, or staying put and walking around the grounds and gardens of Dunham Massey Hall.

Fabulous reflections tonight 

Stunning display by two buzzards today

Distance 37 miles, 10 locks.  3 tunnels Barnton Tunnel (572 yards) Saltersford Tunnel (424 yards) Preston Brook Tunnel (1239 yards)