Saturday, 31 May 2014

Congleton to meet Boe

Approaching the basin at Congleton
A gentle trip with no rain today!!

We reached Congleton in plenty of time for Boe's expected arrival of 1.30-2pm and just managed to find a space in the basin.  Geoff went on his usual recce to see the best place for a pick up which proved to be the car park of the Wharf Inn.

Their arrival was a bit later than planned due partly to being stuck behind a tractor but also stopping to buy ice creams!

However Boe together with her friends Rosie and Colette arrived in time for tea.
Total distance:2.74 miles 
Elapsed time:1h17m39s 
Average speed:2.12 mph (2.12 lock/mph)

Friday, 30 May 2014

Just a little bit further

Our appointment with Heritage Narrowboats went well.   Our Water pump does have a small fault and should be replaced but their engineer though we would be Ok until the end of the season.  There are no leaks but it is just not functioning properly.   It is a brand new pump so hope we can get it replaced under warranty when we get back to Clifton.

We went in there at 8.30 and we out by 9.30, having filled with diesel.  They were extremely helpful as they were when we had the engine serviced here 2 years ago.

We carried on for all of 1/2 mile and found a delightful mooring and settled in for another quiet day.

Barney and I met this duck family when out for our afternoon perambulate.   They didn't stay on the bank long as he approached.......if they did but know it he is not at all interested and would have ignored them completely

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Go Slow day

Staying put today as we have a date with Heritage Narrowboats tomorrow to look at our water pump.

A rare sight passed us this morning

We were on a light eating day doing our 5/2 diet and had just finished our cup of OXO which was lunch when there was a knock at the door.....that was the end of the diet day!

Bisou with Nick and Patricia had caught up with us and decided to pull in for a catch up......they came aboard for a cup of tea......and then we had another with cake.......and then we went back to Bisou for a pre dinner drink....and then we all went to the Rising Sun pub for a very good ended the day.   Bisou's intentions had been to reach the bottom of the Boseley  locks but decided to save that for the next day.     All in all an extremely pleasant day.   They are also heading for the Standedge but a week before us so we are hoping they will relay back any good tips on mooring places etc.   Once we reach the start of the Huddersfield narrow we will be on virgin territory for us.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Pitter Patter Pitter Patter goes the rain........

yes we awoke to the familiar sound this morning so decided not to budge
a brief lull here but still very drear
But the view from my kitchen window is not unpleasing
Mow Cop in the distance
Last time we came through here, two years ago, Geoff climbed to the top.  He does not seem so inclined in this rainy weather

Cows and Buttercups are back
We seem to be having our yearly quota of things needing repairing condensed into about 1 week!
We have had to have the plumber into our house to mend a leak, then an electrical fault with the shower and today a new shower has been fitted.
On Petroc we have a problem also with water........our water pump keeps repriming itself.  Luckily we are moored just before a boatyard, Heritage Narrowboats.  They think they know what the problem is but cannot fix it until Friday so we shall stay here another day.
This will be an expensive month!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Good bye Trent & Mersey, Hello Macclesfield

A bit of a grey start as we left just before 8am, but dry...

Not a soul was stirring as we crept away from our mooring but as we reached the first lock a hire boat had just winded ahead of us, but not too drastic as the locks were twinned.   We met several more in both directions as we travelled to the top at Bulls Bridge, unusual for some many to be about this early.

Ahead on the right is our sharp turn onto the Macclesfield.
Normally not a difficult turn, but there is an unmarked submerged iron object under the water just to the left which made it slightly tricky......
Shortly after turning we go over the aqueduct that takes us over the locks we had climbed earlier
Approaching Halls Green Lock which is all of a 1ft climb.
Geoff indulging in one of his favourite pastimes......chatting at a lock!
We stopped to water just after this and then I took over walking with Barney for about a mile until we found a congenial mooring spot.

Some people make wonderful gardens on the canal banks and they cannot even see them from their houses

We get all the benefit
Total distance:3.66 miles 
Elapsed time:4h49m43s 
Average speed:0.76 mph (2.42 lock/mph) 

Monday, 26 May 2014


Continuing down the T & M the locks are rural and my green fields are back...although not the buttercups and the sheep and cows.
The majority of this top section are twin single locks, with the occasional one where one has become derelict.

There were one several boats around today, just enough to be interesting without making it overcrowded and causing queues.......  We went down 6 locks to the first winding point and then back up 3 .

It wasn't the most skilful turn in the world!  
But the objective was achieved and we moored adjacent to Church Lawton Church.
Later I took Barnaby for an amble which led me through fields and woods.   It was one of those walks where I realised too late that my footwear was not the best but I kept thinking it was just a little patch of mud and it would get didn't!

1.62 miles 9 locks 2.5 hours

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Weekend in Kidsgrove

Maybe the title should really be Dull, Wet Weekend!  What a change from last weekend.
The rain has been intermittent but heavy at times and there are large puddles on the towpath.    Saturday there were very few boats going past but traffic picked up on Sunday.
So it has been a leisurely weekend, a shopping trip up to Tesco's and several walks, of course, for Barnaby.

Today we went to St Thomas Church in Kidsgrove.   I am not sure what we expected but it was rather strange.  Everyone was very friendly and welcoming.  There was a good size congregation of which a fair number were children which was lovely to see.  However the sermon (More like a Bible Study) was 40 minutes long.........ZZZZZZZZZZ..........Luckily for the children they had departed to their various groups by then.

Later we had lunch in the Red Bull Pub..   Fairly Bog Standard, but reasonably priced and friendly service.

Onward tomorrow.  We have to continue a bit further down this way than we anticipated before we can turn and return to the junction.  The winding place shown in our Nicholsons is way too small for us.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The dreaded Harecastle

Well probably only dreaded by me.......Geoff seems to take them all in his stride......hence his insane desire to go through the Standedge!

We set off from the lake soon after 7 as we didn't want to be behind a long string of it turned out there was only one boat there (seen in the picture) and he had engine problems and couldn't go through so we were first and only boat in at about 8.20 and when we emerged the other end after approx 40 min there was not a single boat waiting...  where are all the boats???   We did see a few later on today but it is really very quiet.

The rig for the start of the day was 4 layers, woolley hat and gloves......after all it is only May!

Barney and I spent the 40 minutes below curled up on my bed with him quivering as he does not like being below when we are underway.   However every 5 minutes I had to stick my head out to Geoff to check he was alright and still there.   In my mind was the thought of the man who knocked his head going through last Tuesday and drowned in the tunnel.

We have decided to carry on down the Trent & Mersey for a few days before turning back and going up the Macclesfield probably by Wednesday.  Forecast for tomorrow is dire...again....

Total distance:3.81 miles 
Elapsed time:3h28m49s ( Includes waiting for the tunnel and using the sani station.)
Average speed:1.09 mph (1.96 lock/mph)   (Don't we go fast!!!)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Where have all the green fields gone...........

Today was definitely an urban day!   We were in two minds whether to move at all as we awoke to the sound of quite heavy rain.   However by 9am it had eased a little and after consulting several forecasts which seemed to indicate a brief lull which Geoff said it was called a 'Suckers gap' (  I think it may be an RAF expression!), we decided to head through Stoke to Westport Lake..

After Trentham Lock I decided to do my morning walk with Barney despite the rain.   In fact I was better off than Geoff as I was partially sheltered by the high hedges and the trees.
These signs are all along this stretch of the canal
No buttercup fields today
British Architecture at it's best!!
What an apt name
Mercifully the rain had stopped by the time we reached the 5 Stoke Locks.   We had completely forgotten how low the bridge was on the approach to the second lock, and I had to do a very hasty reverse action and come alongside for Geoff to remove our satellite dish.....

On through Etruria towards the lake.  I had forgotten how far it was , I thought it was just around the corner.

First fishermen we have seen for a while
Ripe for conversion??????
signs of life inside...are they still operating??  See link below

Middleport Pottery
TV aerial on the back so someone living aboard..... must be very dark below......
Signs of yesteryear
Just before the lake we saw this sign to Butchers Outlet so later when Geoff went for a stroll with Barney he investigated.   It is a factory outlet for meat and if we had lots of freezer space there were some good bargains to be had..........

After a dry afternoon the promised rain has returned......not such a Suckers gap after all....we did reach here in the moderately dry.....

Unfortunately the forecast for the next couple of days is not good....and the next thing that beckons is the Harecastle Tunnel.   Now I don't like tunnels at the best of times and the Harecastle is 40 minutes of anyones time but I am even more dubious now.  On Tuesday a man drowned inside when he knocked his head and fell off his boat.   Not looking forward to the ride.

Total distance:8.05 miles 
Elapsed time:3h50m53s 
Average speed:2.09 mph (3.65 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Wow!!  Bright morning again and no rain......
I wonder what a nude lady is doing to distract one's attention whilst negotiating the entrance to a narrow lock.....
and I bother about our boat not being as clean as she might be!!
How nice to have one's own mini port
After the 3rd lock I continued walking to the next set of 4 locks and even managed the first 2.......I handed over to Geoff at the next one back and I decided to quit whilst we were ahead.

The moorings in Barlaston itself looked a little dark but just a little way beyond we have found yet another pleasant spot.

Mind you, there is a family of swans around and I strongly suspect this was the family that Sue from No Problem mentioned in her blog the other day....she said one of the swans dive bombed we are being very careful...they look so beautiful but can be so vicious
Total distance:3.70 miles 
Elapsed time:2h46m8s 
Average speed:1.33 mph (3.86 lock/mph) 

Finally in Stone.

A good job we had not planned on too early a start as it was raining.   However by the time we set off it had cleared through.

The plan was to stop at a suitable mooring and do some shopping in Stone and then continue to Barlaston for the night.   There was a convenient space for us so I proceeded to do just that.   By the time that was done and coffee made it was 11.30 or so and a few more boats were on the move.   We went through the first lock but by now there were two ahead of us and one of those was a single-hander in a small plastic boat... so when  a reasonable looking space appeared just above the lock we decided to quit for the point in making life difficult for ourselves.!!

coming up the lock we see a nice spot just beyond the green boat on the left,
This notice is outside the pub alongside the do not fall in unless the pub is open!
Total distance:1.96 miles 
Elapsed time:3h8m9s (Well most of that time was shopping!)
Average speed:0.62 mph (1.26 lock/mph) 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Towards Stone

Well Stone was really the goal, but needless to say an open mooring about a mile short looked very attractive, so here we have remained.

Yesterday we went to the Church of St Stephen in Great Haywood.  It was the first Sunday for a new vicar who gave an excellent sermon with no notes and promises to be quite a live wire.......hope the congregation enjoy him.

Parish Church of St Stephen, Great Haywood
Later we went to the Tea Rooms by the lock where we had booked a table for Sunday lunch.......the place was heaving but we had no trouble thanks to an extremely friendly and helpful assistant (I think she was really the dishwasher).   Good lunch too and we both fell foul of a pudding despite our good intentions.

It has been an excellent weekend here although we never did move onto the Tixall Wide.  We have discovered lots more lovely places to walk than we have done previously

The plot was for an early start and I dutifully had myself all ready to go by 7.30 when the heavens opened.....this was not forecast Mr we sat it out for 1/4 hour and it seemed to go through so we made another attempt......blow me down, just as we had cast off another heavy shower appeared....still we weren't going far to start with as we wanted to use the sani station at the junction.

By the time we had finished watering two boats had appeared and gone ahead of us but after the first lock we were nicely spaced out and the rain had all gone.

We passed No Problem today, one of the bloggers I follow

We are still travelling in lovely countryside, it is hard to believe this is in the heart of the West Midlands......but after Stone, Stoke will be the next big place  and it will be becoming more industrial......and of course the Harecastle tunnel delight!

However we have an even bigger tunnel to come, well Geoff has!    he last went through with John and Fiona on Epiphany in 2010, the first year you could steer yourself through.   If anyone has been through recently would be interested to hear experiences and any tips.

Total distance:7.88 miles
Elapsed time:3h56m59s
Average speed:1.99 mph (2.75 lock/mph) 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Walk around Shugborough Hall

Another beautifully sunny day.  No cruising today so a walk seemed to be on the cards.
Several years ago when we first came this way we visited Shugborough Hall which was well worth it, nowadays it costs £15 to gain entry to the Hall, Gardens and all the ancillaries so we decided not to repeat the experience.
First we crossed the River Trent
The narrow, but made up, road follows the boundary of Shugborough Hall and passes through the farmland belonging to the Hall.

The surrounding fields are awash with buttercups 
and full of cows
with very large horns!
We contented ourselves with viewing the Hall from a distance
Eventually we came to the village of Milford and an extremely welcome cup of coffee in the local hostelry.
We could have ventured next door.......................................................
I thought Wimpy was a dying breed....this must be the smallest one ever...
Through the village we eventually found our way back to the canal.  This was not easy as there were no signposts and only Geoff's unerring navigational nose led us to the tiny tunnel underneath the railway and bingo...on the other side was the canal.
It was a further mile at least along the towpath until we came to the Tixall Wide where had originally planned to moor for the weekend.   This is a very popular mooring spot and was surprisingly empty.  However this was probably due to the fact that it was the middle of the day.  Chatting to someone on a dutch type barge he said it had been full last night and no doubt it would be again later today.

On the far side of the wide is Tixall Gatehouse which is all that is left of Tixhall Hall

.....and so eventually back to the junction

When we eventually reached Petroc we had clocked up just under 5 1/4 miles which for me is a bit of a marathon, but for Barney & Geoff.........a mere stroll I was told......
Still it was  a lovely day and a great walk and I could relax for the rest of the day.   I spent several happy hours sitting on the towpath beside Petroc reading.   The only sour note was when a man walked past with his dog who proceeded to leave a deposit on the towpath which the man just ignored.   I was forced to ask him if he was going to clear up after his dog to which I received the reply  'No I am not....not on the towpath'  I was flabbergasted and moved to inform him that he was very antisocial but needless to say I was ignored........I shall look out for him tomorrow if I am sitting out...............................