Saturday, 31 October 2015

Clive (still summer at the end of October!)


We carried on towards Middlewich on Friday.  We have to join the Trent & Mersey and get about five miles North by Sunday as the canal is being closed there on Monday until Christmas for bridge repair works.  Before we left we spent a while watching this kingfisher patrol up and down the cut opposite our boat.

Some weather records must have been broken today – it was like a warm August day until a few clouds came over in the afternoon.

We moored up near a place called Clive, about two miles before Middlewich, after a leisurely three mile cruise.  We had lunch and then found a circular walk to take us along the River Dane, into Middlewich and back home along the canal.  This llama was very inquisitive as we crossed its field.

This old mill has been converted to a lovely home but the picture doesn’t really show it.

At the far end of its grounds there is a large pool in the river which must provide brilliant swimming in the summer.

An old bridge took us across the river and up a green lane.


We then had a quick wander around Middlewich, one of the many towns in the area made famous for extraction of salt.  These ‘salt’ towns tend to end in ‘wich’ like Nantwich and Northwich.  Middlewich has three rivers – Dane, Croco and Wheelock.  It also has three canals – the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union, the Wardle and the Trent & Mersey.  The Wardle is the shortest canal in the country and provides a link between the other two canals.  For some reason Karen found this funny – I expect she thought it said ‘Oldfellows’.

On the way back we rejoined the canal and saw another boat with a pumpkin.  Fortunately Karen didn’t have pumpkin envy as it was smaller than ours.


It clouded over as we got back but this long straight stretch gave Buddy and the dog on the other side plenty of opportunity to race up and down and get some exercise.




Friday, 30 October 2015

Church Minshull (Walking along the Weaver)



The weather was a bit dreary when we set off on Thursday morning.  Just after we started we passed Barbara outside the pub we went to with her and Dave last night.  We stopped for a quick chat and, as the rain started, we got on our way.

We turned right at this junction to go along the Middlewich branch.

Cholmondeston and Church Minshull locks were deeper that we have been used to on the Llangollen for a few weeks – 12 feet rather than around six.

This stanking plank store seemed cleverly disguised and probably difficult to retrieve the planks.

We moored on the embankment that runs above the infant River Weaver and the village of Church Minshull.
 
As it was still light we went for a walk through the woods above the river.  When we were last here in April we found the walk rather treacherous and in many places we were in danger of slipping down the steep banks into the river.  It seems that the locals have done quite a bit of work making the walk safer and therefore encouraging more people to walk to or from the village.

We arrived in the village opposite the Badger so popped in for a refresher as we realised there would still be time to get home before it got dark.

Karen brought the pumpkin indoors for the night as rain was forecast and she didnt want it to get wet.






Thursday, 29 October 2015

Barbridge (Socialising again)



We had a lot of jobs to do around the boat on Wednesday morning so didn’t set off until nearly lunchtime.  Karen’s most important job was to prepare our pumpkin that we bought a week ago when we were in Llangollen.

One advantage of having a pumpkin is that we had freshly roasted pumpkin seeds to munch on during the day.  It’s brilliant that we are nearly at the end of October and there are still butterflies around.  We saw five species today: Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood.  You can't really tell from the pictures but in the afternoon it turned really sunny and mild, ideal for butterflies.

After dropping down the two Swanley locks we were met by Karen’s cousin Dave at the top of the Hurleston flight.  He and Karen operated the four locks in the flight together…

 …well I got a bit involved while Karen was setting the next lock down though goodness knows what I was talking about.

We were soon at the junction of the Shroppie where I turned left to head towards Chester.  This must be the widest and easiest canal junction we have encountered. 

These shots were meant to be artistic.  The fence is round the top of Hurleston reservoir and was full of gulls apart from a lone heron.
 
 
We moored up opposite the pub in Barbridge and joined Dave and Barbara in the pub later.

Here are the other four locks we went down today.





Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Baddiley (nothing dramatic today)



The rain held off until about four o’clock so we managed to cruise eight miles and go down seven locks before mooring up for the day on Tuesday.  On the way we met Jon and Hannah on their fuel boat Mountbatten so we filled up with diesel and replaced a gas bottle.  Hannah had her sister and family on board so it was a bit crowded for a working boat.

We had to negotiate three lift bridges, one was in the open position as it serves a garden centre which closes on Tuesdays.  Leaving it open means people can’t get across the bridge and steal things.  The second, at Wrenbury, had traffic light controls that Karen had to operate before she could get the bridge up.

I mentioned before that 12 million gallons of water a day flow along the length of this canal to feed Hurleston reservoir.  This is what that volume looks like - it is a run off channel that diverts the flow around a lock.

We moored up with about four miles left to get back to the junction where we rejoin the Shropshire Union canal.  Sitting inside in the evening listening to the homely sound of rain on the roof  we reflected on how lucky we have been with the rain this year.  There haven't been many occasions where we have been out in rain all day or noticed constant rain on the roof when inside in the evening.  The worst rainy days were back in May when we were on the Huddersfield Narrow canal.  We had to travel for three days in the rain because we had passages booked for the Standedge tunnel - but the experience of the tunnel outweighed the atrocious weather we had.  Karen found the journey particularly difficult as there are so many locks and they all seemed very difficult to operate which is only compounded in driving rain.

Here are the seven locks we went down during the day.



Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Grindley Brook (complete with birthday celebrations)



Monday was the first day this winter that Karen has put a woolly hat on!

She really spoilt me today as it was my birthday (not that she doesn’t spoil me usually of course).   


After a cooked breakfast (which followed pain au chocolat and coffee in bed) we left the Prees branch and rejoined the Llangollen, turning right to find the Whitchurch arm.

I never understand why so much money is spent on cutting and strimming the towpaths.  As far as I'm concerned they should be left for wildlife – walkers will make a natural path and the money can be used for proper canal maintenence.

Ironically we went under Old Man’s bridge on my birthday.

This railway bridge looked in a really sorry state of repair.

After a few miles we turned right onto the Whitchurch arm.



It’s not a long arm and we turned the boat round, moored up and had lunch which was larger than usual!

It is not possible for a boat of our length to turn right when leaving the arm so we had to retrace our steps to the next winding hole to wind (turn).  Even though winding is pronounced like burping a baby Karen still calls them windy holes pronounced as in a gale.   

As with the other arms and branches on the Llangollen the disused lengths have been converted to nature reserves. After lunch I carried on towards Grindley Brook whilst Karen baked a birthday cake complete with my favourite fruit, raspberries.  I know I’m boring but my favourite cake is still a Victoria sandwich.  As it was a birthday we had cream with our cake of course!


We had six locks to negotiate at Grindley Brook and after the locks we moored up and found our way to a pub for a birthday drink.

When we got back to the boat we had pulled pork which had been in the slow cooker for about nine hours.  It goes without saying that it was delicious.  Here are the six locks we went down at Grindley Brook.