Sunday, 20 May 2018

Disley (nearly moved on but not quite)

We needed to replenish our fruit and vegetables so a trip to Marple was the order of the day on Saturday.  We thought we would cycle in but start off in the opposite direction first as we wanted to get some eggs from a farm back near Whaley Bridge.  The yolks there are particularly bright and, with a mixture of different coloured shells, reminded us of when we used to have chickens.

When unlocking the bikes, I found one had a puncture, so I set about repairing it whilst Karen cycled off to get the eggs.  I found a thorn in the tyre – the most common reason for punctures on the towpath – and set about repairing it.  When I came to blow it up again I realised Karen had the pump in her backpack!

I had to stop six cyclists before I found one who had a pump with them and then it was the wrong sort.  By that time Karen was back so I used our pump.   As luck would have it a second puncture appeared and as we had now run out of repair patches it meant something else to buy in Marple and also a walk rather than bike ride there.  We have slime in the tyres of the newer bike but, unfortunately, that wasn’t the bike that had the punctures.

Breakfast on Saturday

On our walk to Marple we saw a couple of really good mooring spots and thought we might move to one of them later in the day if they were still free.  As they were away from handy bridges or pubs it meant that the chances were that they would be free as, generally speaking, ccers/workers prefer to moor near bridges, hire boaters and holiday makers prefer to be near pubs.

As usual we bought more than we planned so we both had heavy rucksacks for the four-mile journey home which was a bit daft as the weather was so warm.

Whilst we were in town we popped into a jeweller to see if they could make Karen’s watch strap tighter.  The girl who served us said it would only take 10 minutes, so we sat on a bench outside whilst we waited.  Sure enough, after 10 minutes, the girl came out to return the watch – such personal service and to make it more special there was no charge 😊

On the way back, we passed Brian and Ann Marie on their fuel boat Alton.  It was such a shame we had been to the services the day before otherwise we would have used them.

It wasn’t until we got home that we realised that we had missed both mooring spots we were going to check, so we ended up staying where we were for the rest of the day.  It didn’t matter as the spot is pleasant enough anyway.

Maybe, when I’ve mended the latest puncture today, I’ll test the repair out by cycling down and having a look.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Disley (moved on by Canada geese and still learning something new each day)

We were in two minds about whether to move on Friday but by 3.00 in the morning we had made our minds up.  We have two pairs of Canada geese nesting on the opposite bank, at either end of the boat, and the ganders have been aggressive with each other over the last few days, which has been fine as it’s just been a lot of squawking every few hours.  Last night it reached a new level and they were getting physical in the water outside our window.  It carried on every hour or so during the morning and at one point was even taken up onto the roof!

You can’t really see but each gander has its beak round the other’s neck

We took it easy in the morning just sitting on the towpath reading and having the occasional chat with passing walkers and boaters.  After lunch we set off for Disley knowing we would stop in ½ mile at New Mills boatyard.  We arrived in the lunch break and one of the residents told us they had closed at 1.15 so it would probably be at least 2.15 before they were open again. 

A purple boat was moored at the service point, so we breasted up against it whilst we waited.

Waiting for the boatyard to open

By the way, that’s Swizzles sweet factory the other side of the bridge.
We were in no rush so took on water and got rid of our rubbish and chilled for a while.  They eventually opened up at about 2.45 and soon got us filled with diesel and replaced the gas but neither were happy with the owners of the boat moored at the service point.  The owners had taken temporary moorings in the marina for ten days and had been told there would be a mooring free at 4.00 in the afternoon.  They actually turned up at 9.00 in the morning and insisted on leaving the boat at the service point as they had a train to catch.

Looking back from the boatyard office to the annoying purple boat with us moored on the outside
I have to admit to posting a misleading picture yesterday: I included a picture of Kinder Scout in the distance behind New Mills but Kinder Scout itself couldn’t be seen 😟

If you look at the picture above, Kinder Scout is the high point (in the far distance) just to the left of the tree on the right and behind the green ridge.  The humped plateau in the middle is what I mistakenly said was Kinder Scout – sorry 😉
Once we left the boatyard we carried on another ¼ mile and found a nice open spot to moor near Disley railway tunnel.  Interestingly there are three railway lines that run through the Goyt valley but as the trains are infrequent and don’t run late at night we have hardly noticed them over the last few days.
After mooring up we went for a walk and a bit further on passed an even better spot to moor as it was open on all sides and had a couple of mooring rings.  So, when we got home, we set off for another ¼ mile and moored just outside Disley.
Moored up for Friday night
We sat outside for a while in the evening sun and fortunately it was a drinking day 😊

We noticed that, even though we had only moved a mile during the day, there were no commuting cyclists so felt we had found a good spot for the next few days.  And, as Karen pointed out, there were no Canada geese 😊

Our Friday evening view whilst having dinner

Whilst eating dinner our view was suddenly spoilt by a family of Canada geese walking by.  The parents were teaching their only surviving gosling how to graze on grass but were also keeping a sharp lookout.

At least these should be quiet as they have finished nesting having hatched their eggs

On Saturday we’ll probably get the bikes out and cycle into Marple.  I also have a good circular walk planned out for Sunday taking in a hill overlooking Macclesfield and Bollington.

So, we cruised for a grand distance of one mile with three stops - it won't be long before we've covered the 6 ½ miles back to Marple!

PS.  We’re still not keen on Canada geese because of the damage they do but I had to remind Karen that they can only be shot in the months from September to January 😉

I have now found out that you can get a licence to shoot them at any time of year to prevent serious damage to livestock or crops, to prevent disease and to preserve public health or safety.   That’s the new thing I learnt today 😊

Friday, 18 May 2018

New Mills (a journey to the end of the line)

Karen and her first Victorian post box

Much to Buddy’s delight we caught a train to Buxton on Thursday morning.  On our way to the station at New Mills we realised that the moorland plateau above it, that we see every time we leave the boat, is Kinder Scout that we walked up last weekend.

Kinder Scout above New Mills

Buxton is 1,000 feet above sea level and shares the title of highest market town in England with Alston in Cumbria.  It made for an impressively scenic 20-minute train journey through the western Derbyshire Dales to the end of the line.

Within two minutes of arriving at Buxton Karen suddenly crossed the road and I realised she was heading for a post box.  It turned out to be Victorian and the first she has spotted before me 😊.  It is one of the rather ornate hexagonal variety known, at its launch, as the 'New standard letter box'.  This one was made in 1866 by Cochrane of Birmingham and designed by J.W. Penfold.

The letter box was opposite the rather stunning (to us) opera house:

Buxton opera house
We took a circular walk that went through a couple of parks, a few of the old parts of town and the main hill overlooking the town.  As it’s a spa town it felt to us very much like Leamington and Bath, especially with so many stone buildings.  

The original part of town is called Higher Buxton, but we started in Lower Buxton which grew up around the spas and greatly expanded after the railway reached town.  I don’t want to mislead you as the spas were first discovered by the Romans, but it was really the Victorians that brought it to prominence.  I always wonder at the phrase, ‘Discovered by the Romans’, as no doubt there were natives living in the area before them as they would have settled there for the thermal waters too. 

The Crescent was built in 1784 to rival Bath’s Crescent; it is currently being refurbished as an 80-bedroom 5-star hotel complete with its own thermal natural mineral water spa.

Not much to see at the moment as it's behind hoardings but I suspect it will be stunning when restored

Around the corner is the Cavendish arcade which used to house one of the thermal spas, this one imaginatively called Buxton Baths.

Buxton Baths

Ornate veranda on one side of Buxton Baths

Opposite Buxton Baths was a coffee and coaching house built in 1626.  With the coming of tourists to the spas it soon converted to a hotel.  Sadly, it is now derelict but fortunately has been bought for restoration by Robinsons, a local brewery.

The saddish looking Grove hotel but, again, with a decent ornate veranda

We both thought Buxton was lovely with lots of open spaces and places to walk.  It certainly caters for today’s tourists judging by the number of attractions on the signposts:

Like most towns, the older buildings are in the centre and private housing becomes more modern as you get further out of town.  As can be imagined there are many grand Victorian and Edwardian mansions, but the odd older street of cottages can still be found.

A former pub with Toby jug gargoyles

Grin Low, the hill above Buxton, was quarried for limestone for centuries, but once it became fashionable to visit the town for the spas, a local businessman planted 100 acres of trees to hide the scarred hillside from the visitors.  We were soon walking through these woods and climbed steeply to the top of Grin Low.

Dressed in woodland disguise

On the way up, we could see the Cat & Fiddle, the road that runs between Macclesfield and Buxton and is often mentioned on radio traffic programs in the winter when the snow closes it.  It is named after the pub at its summit.

The Cat & Fiddle road with the original packhorse road to its right which is still a stone track

After coming out of the woodland the quarrying landscape became obvious with many remains of kilns and quarried pits.

Out in the open again with Solomon’s Temple in the distance
A guy called Solomon Mycock paid for a landmark tower to be built at the top of Grin Low; he was the owner of the Cheshire Cheese hotel in Buxton.  When we visited the Cheshire Cheese later in the day we were reminded of its namesake at Wheelock at the bottom of the flight of locks known as The Cheshire Flight or Heartbreak Hill.  

The tower was destroyed over the years and the current one was built in 1894 from subscriptions by local business people.  It does have a staircase to the top which we climbed but it really is best described as a folly.

Solomon’s Temple or Grinlow Tower as it is also now known (the black scarred hill on the right shows the impact of quarrying)
Looking over Buxton from the top of the tower

In the centre of the picture above is the Devonshire Dome, built in 1779 for one of the Dukes of Devonshire.  It is still the largest unsupported dome in Europe; amazing when you think about when it was built.  It is larger than the dome of St Paul’s cathedral in London.

The massive building to the right of the dome is the Palace hotel, built in 1863 and still a hotel to this day.

We walked back through Higher Buxton with its narrow lanes and coaching houses which are now mainly pubs or hotels.  The visit wouldn’t have been complete without seeing the public toilets behind the cross in front of the town hall in the market square.

The cross has been moved to different spots around the square several times in its lifetime apparently
Walking back down from Higher Buxton with the Devonshire Dome and Old Hall hotel in front of us

They say the Old Hall Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in England; the current building having stood since 1573.  Apparently it was a favourite of Mary Queen of Scots but I find the hotel’s website may be a bit over the top when it claims to be the oldest hotel in England dating back many thousands of years!  I suspect they are referring to the fact that the remains of a Roman a bath house were found beneath the cellars. 

As far as butterflies were concerned, it was just a bit too cold for most of them and we just saw the odd white flying in sheltered spots.

Finally, especially for my sister who loves herons, here’s the heron that was fishing opposite us at Bugsworth basin and wouldn’t appear whilst she stayed with us.

The heron reappeared after Judith and Nigel left

Thursday, 17 May 2018

New Mills (Karen escapes!)

After breakfast on Wednesday, Buddy and I walked Karen to the station which was only a mile away.  She was off to Wilmslow for a few hours dress shopping for Sophie and Yanos’s wedding which is three weeks away. 

On the way we passed the winding hole where there is a large patch of the invasive, and toxic, giant hogweed growing on the offside.  This patch has been here for some years and for some reason, rather than clearing it, a danger sign has been erected.  We noticed a few plants were also growing on the towpath side so made a note to contact CRT in case they hadn’t been reported.

It was quite a chilly and cloudy day, so I spent the morning servicing the engine and doing all those other monthly checks we have to do.

After an early lunch Buddy and I walked to Whaley Bridge to have a look around.  It’s the sort of place where I would find Victorian post boxes but, sadly, they had either been replaced by later ones or they didn’t bother to post letters in the 19th century.

You may be glad to know I only took one photo and that was of the basin at the village.

The basin was used for the transhipment of limestone from canal boats onto the Cromford & High Peak trackway to Cromford.  The trucks were pulled by a mixture of horses, stationary engines and latterly, steam engines.

The weather cleared up on our walk back and Karen called when we were nearly home saying she was on the train.  As it had warmed up, I dropped my fleece off at the boat as we walked past and carried on to meet Karen from the station.  She had had a successful trip – no doubt because she was on her own 😉

I put the kettle on for tea and coffee on Thursday morning and a couple of minutes later the gas had run out.  Most boaters will agree that gas bottles run out and need changing in the most awkward of times or in the most inclement of weathers.  This time the sun was shining so I was happy to go outside to change the bottles over (quietly so as not to wake the neighbours of course).  What I hadn’t realised was that it was a frosty morning, so I had to be extra careful getting the empty bottle out of the gas locker and connecting up the new one.

Just in case you’ve never seen a gas locker with one bottle removed or a neatly coiled hose before 😉

Fortunately, the sun had melted the ice on the bows, but I was still extra careful.  We hadn’t been expecting a frost, so Karen was a worried about her plants, but I managed to convince her they would be OK.  It’s funny, but Buddy blames me for extremes of weather too; if it’s pouring with rain or too hot he looks at me as if to say, ‘Why are you letting this happen?’