Thursday, 31 July 2014

Back on the Macc.

Yesterday we continued our stay in Bugsworth basin. Had a walk into Whaley bridge and then called into Tesco's on the way back.  So well stocked up now.

It was a better day than forecast and so Ali just could not resist getting the paint brush out to touch up a few wounds on the gloss below the gunwale.  Ideal spot for this, nice straight stone bank and as the water level has recovered, it made the touching up a lot easier. 

We must be doing something right as our battery bank seems remarkably resilient.  24 Hours of usage and still 87 percent on the smartguage. We could easily go two days without recharging, but topped up between 5pm and 7.15 pm anyway as this also gives us a tank of hot water.

The basin remained quiet, had a wander and counted only ten boats.  Perhaps the low water levels experienced of late have dissuaded people from venturing this far?  Still, made our stay very pleasant.

This morning we showered, watered up at the very clean services and made our way back from whence we came.  We had a relatively early start, as we planned to stop at Marple in order to use the Launderette. We passed only four or five boats on the trip and with more water available, progress was far easier. The swing/lift bridges were tackled with ease, Ali walking between three of these as they are in fairly close proximity.  Strange day weather wise. Warm in the sun, but cold in the shade and with some threatening clouds. There are some lovely views across the Goyt valley along this section, hard to believe we are so near to Manchester.

As we approached Marple, Ali walked ahead to check out the junction and the mooring situation, the "Walkie Talkies" coming into their own once again.  Good job she did as a boat was proceeding from the Macc almost oblivious that the were approaching a junction with a blind turn.

So we turned onto the Macc and the visitor moorings opposite the services were empty! So dodged in and took up the prime position. 

After a spot to eat, Ali walked to the Launderette.  She is not impressed with the staff/owner as after arriving just after 1200, she was told it was closing until 2pm she did say Ali could load up the washing machine and come back later to dry it, which she did.

Since arriving there has been an increase in boat movements and it was probably wise to moor up when we did. On a canal with so few accessible moorings, it pays to start early and stop early in order to get a prime spot.

Had a walk around the town and as we are moored so near, it would be a crime not to visit the Ring O Bells....

So we are back on the Macc, just.....

P.S. Been to the Ring O Bells for a meal. Great food and a lovely drop of Robinsons.  Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Lovely colours in the summer flowers

 Turning back onto the Macc - will he make it?

Its looking close - watch that paintwork!

Made it!

Isn't nature brilliant - this is growing out of a wall and its beautiful

Miles. 6
Swing/lift bridges 4

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The bottom is too close to the top!

For once, we did have a plan of sorts.  Move up to the visitor moorings in Macclesfield, then visit the town.  Erm, no.... When we arrived, what are somewhat loosely described as moorings were full.  This town does not welcome boaters.  The banks were falling down at other possible spots so we came up with plan B,  Move on to Bollington, moor up and bus it back to Macclesfield.  Erm, no 2...

Yet again the moorings on the aqueduct were full, so we decided to move on and make the stop on our return down the Macc.

Plan C.  Move onto Marple.  Around this point it became apparent just how low the water level was.  Now we know from past experience that this canal is shallow, but exposed rocks and virtual beaches indicated something was amiss. If you kept to the centre of the channel it was ok, but when passing another boat, one or other ended up grounded.  A local chap said it was a foot down from the norm. Looking at the bank, I would say more like 6" but whatever, it made navigation and mooring a challenge.  We are not deep drafted, so what it was like for others requiring more depth, gawd knows.

As we had done a wash load en route, we stopped at the water point in Higher Poynton and topped up.  Just got into the bank with much grating of steel on stone.  Braidbar owners were already beginning to gather for their annual bash.  We crept on, just over tick over and bridge holes were negotiated with extra rev's as the boat was grounding!

We arrived in Marple to find that all the Moorings were taken.  Deep joy.  We did try to get in a little out of the town, but rocks protruding from the water dissuaded us.  All we passed commentated on the water level. Whether this has been caused by the reopening of the Ashton and increased activity on the Marple flight, I know not, but Ali did phone CRT, who rang back stating they were addressing the issue.

Plan D. Make for Bugsworth basin as the water is deeper.  By this time it was late afternoon and we feared that all the moorings would be taken if previous experience was anything to go by.  But no, arrived at the service block to see one boat moored in the finger immediately in front, so turned and reversed down this.  After settling in and showering, we walked around the basin and saw no more that ten boats in total. We then visited the Navigation and had a meal which was by any ones standard huge and really quite good although neither of us could polish it off entirely.

Last night we had a very poor Internet signal.  Seems a little better today.  We are staying put and will take a walk into Whaley Bridge and no doubt visit the supermarket for supplies.  The water level does seem up a tad this morning, so fingers crossed .

Adelphi Mill, Bollington

A garden on the rear deck

Goyt Mill, Marple

Mile post at the start/end of the Macclesfield Canal

Swizzles factory (the air is so sweet/sugary)
The owner of the chocolate lab appeared about 5 mins later shouting him, 
he was having a great time running along the towpath at full speed!  

Miles  17
Lift/swing bridges 4

Monday, 28 July 2014

Two day update. Our shortest ever cruise and up to Macclesfield.

Sunday dawned clear and bright once again.  As we had only just over a mile to our intended destination, we took it easy, showered and set off about 0930.

Just after 10am, we arrived at the visitor moorings in Congleton, just prior to Dog lane aqueduct.  One boat in residence upon arrival, but in what seemed like minutes, the moorings were full, so lucky we set off when we did.  After a coffee, we walked down the hill towards the town centre.  Just as we reached the bottom, a car horn alerted us to the arrival of Ken and Lynda. They were to visit their boat builder on Monday, but had travelled down to check out a marina and get their canal fix.  We decided to walk into town and would you believe it, ended up in a place selling alcohol!  Poor Ken was driving, so none for him.  After a rather filling roast dinner, we went back to the boat for a chat and coffee.  Why we took no pictures, I just do not know.  Their plans are now well advanced and hopefully today their meet with the builder went swimmingly.  All the very best both, this time next year you will be floating!

We were both rather podged after lunch and chilled out reading.  This morning we were up early and as yet again the sky was blue, we decided to make a start at about 0745. A rather pleasant cruise the 4.5 miles to the bottom of Bosley locks, if a little chilly in the shade of the trees. There were no boats waiting to ascend, but at least two ahead of us, so Ali had to empty the locks before we made our way up.  These twelve locks are amongst the prettiest on the system. Well maintained and with stunning views, particularly in the stunning weather we are having at the moment.  Only two boats descended during our ascent, but we developed a good system and made it up with relative ease.

At the top, made use of the services and then bimbled towards Macclesfield.  In places the canal is rather narrow and shallow.  The bridges are of stone construction and are stunning.  Pity some of the herbage around them has not had a trim, but this is a very beautiful stretch. Two swing bridges tackled and a fill of diesel obtained from N.B Alton on his moorings at Oakgrove.  He never said, but it is his birthday today, so cheers from us.

By 1430 we arrived at Gurnett aqueduct, were there are some rather nice moorings. Looked rather full, but we asked a Black Prince boat if they could shuffle up and they did, enabling us to get in. Big thank you to them.

So now cooling down.  The forecast said 22 here abouts today, but it feels much warmer than that and with little breeze to speak of.
Turnover bridge

Ali wiping the dew off the roof 

A painted cow, we have seen frogs in Hull & Gromits in Bristol but not sure where the cow comes from?

Lovely views

Miles 11
Locks 12
Swing bridges 2

Saturday, 26 July 2014

On the Macc....

Goodbye to the T&M for now, we have moored for the night just south Of  Congleton.  After another early start, we completed the day's cruise at 1430.  Yet another hot day, with little or no breeze to ameliorate the temperature.

As today is Saturday ( I think! ) we decided to get through Stoke and Harecastle before the hire boats started leaving.  So away from the mooring at 0715 ish and arrived at the Trentham lock before the engine was even warm.  This was full, so we assumed someone was ahead of us.  Ali released it and up we went. The next pound is long and althougnh mostly urban, shows a pleasing aspect.  On the whole, Stoke seems to have made an effort with the canalside environment. Very little litter around, certainly a lot less than we have seen previously.

We had like yesterday a boat behind us, but there was little boat movement heading south.  In fact I think we saw two boats all day.  We flew up the Stoke flight with ease and upon exiting the top lock, with nothing moving in sight, we were able to empty the cassette at the services and release the water from the lock in readiness for the boat following us.  This also topped up the pound, as it was a little low.

We chugged in the increasing heat the three or so mile s from the junction to the south portal of Harecastle tunnel.  The gates were closed, with nobody waiting to head north.  We used our time topping up with water and no sooner than we had completed, the doors opened and two boats emerged heading south.  Then it was our turn, all on our lonesome.  It is quite eerie at the best of times when the doors clang shut behind you and the fans are engaged, but as the smoke cleared, it was so nice to have the place to ourselves.  In thirty minutes we were out and soon at Hardings wood junction and turned onto the Macclesfield canal.

One more lock to do before we called a halt.  This was Hall green lock, with only a rise of a foot or so. The approach to this was somewhat challenging as the approach is narrow and choked by verdant vegetation.  As we approached a boat was leaving the lock and heading towards us. The lock landing has collapsed here. Such a  pity as it is such a pretty location.  After this we chugged for a few miles before deciding to moor up in a rural location a mile or so short of the outskirts of Congleton.  Hopefully, if we arrive there mid morning, we may be able to find a mooring to enable friends to visit. Fingers crossed...

Another beautiful day, much enjoyed. But where have all the boats gone?

Misty Morning

First lock of the day

All wildfowl seem to have good size families this year, these swans had 8 cygnets

Love this bench by the canal

Stone mason mark on the lock wall

Etruria Top Lock 13' 2"

Bottle Kiln

Its great to see the development of Middleport Pottery

Turning onto the 'Macc'

Our mooring tonight (different neighbours sheep not cows!)

Miles 12.5
Locks  8
Tunnel 2926 yds

Friday, 25 July 2014

The heat was on, so an early start.

Last night after our superb meal, I must admit to being a tad tired.  Ali reckoned it was the beer, but I think it was the heat!  So bed early and I am afraid the snoring I am told I am prone to, meant Ali had to put up with the dinette!  Having never heard myself snore, I think it is a myth.....

As a result of the early night, we were both up by 0615 and decided to make a start before the temperature began to rise.  It was a still misty morning with a clear blue sky, a promise of the heat to come.  We were the first on the move and soon ascended the first lock of the day. We then had a leisurely chug along the long pound which ends at Aston lock, virtually next to the marina and just south of Stone.  It became apparent that nearly all the boat traffic appeared to be heading north, so most locks were against us. After ascending Aston and Star lock in Stone, we managed to moor next to the car park in order to shop in the town and at Morrison's for some essentials.

When we set off , we were in something of a convoy. Once up yard lock we stopped for the services at the base of Newcastle road lock.  Two boats were immediately ahead of us, with another arriving behind us when we entered the lock.  This chap was on something of a mission, aiming for Etruria by late afternoon.  Was it the heat which had built up, or was he just a grump, who knows, but he was not a very happy chappy.  Our little group ascended all the subsequent locks of the Meaford flight virtually one after another.  Nothing was coming south. 

Our destination hove into view mid afternoon.  This was between Barlaston and Old road bridge, near to the winding hole.  Tis a lovely spot and feels quite rural.  I managed to drown more maggots whilst Ali walked to the Wedgewood shop.  It is all being redeveloped, with housing being built on part of the site, Ali then did some work on her return.

So we are set up to tackle Stoke and the Harecastle tunnel tomorrow, then onto the Macc.  We are aiming for Congleton on Sunday were we hope to meet up with Lynda and Ken. 

So another very warm day.  Shower is beckoning, then another early (ish) start.

Misty morning

First lock of the day

Fabulous reflections

Half way point of the Trent & Mersey canal  

The herons are now often seen in urban areas

Our neighbours tonight, mother moorhen keeps coming to the side hatch and shouting for more food, which she then takes back across the canal to her 5 babies, dad isn;t quite so loud

Miles  8.5
Locks  10