Thursday, 25 October 2012

On Top of the World – or at least Shutlingsloe!

Daniel, our lad, and I have entered this year's Mountain Marathon! Seemed like a good idea at the time – and the time is this weekend!

For preparation, I have been doing some walking with the Audlem Ramblers and last week with the East Cheshire Ramblers. I also did the loop I used to run when with the Macclesfield Harriers.

It was last Friday and I couldn't have picked a better day. Having dropped the car off for it's pre-MOT assessment(it failed!), I then walked out from Macc along the canal up to Langley and took it from there.
Gurnett Cottages, where James Brindley was an Apprentice
Plenty of water in Tegg's Nose Reservoir

First climb of the day – up Tegg's Nose, about 550 feet

Looking south, across to Shutlingsloe
The views from the top of Tegg's are wonderful and you look down onto the Cheshire Plain. There is a good view of Macclesfield and one of the Astra Zeneca works at Hurdsfield.

The route necessarily has some road in it though soon sets across to the Lamaload Reservoir (Bollington water supply). I took a break in the valley to get some food down before the climb up to Shining Tor, which at 1834 feet is the highest point in Cheshire.

  Good morning – from one woollie to another!

Climbing the 740 feet up to Shining Tor
The day was clear and quite warm with good views although a little hazy.
Reasonably good under foot meant my pace was consistent!
Looking over to Shutlingsloe from the top of Cumberland Clough
Cumberland Clough – down I go!
By now, I was tiring and needed to stop several times on the last climb up the steeper slopes of Shutlingsloe – a climb of about 650 feet from the road?
The Trig point on the top of Shutlingsloe, looking north, where I had come from!

A view down, across High Moor to Macclesfield Forest
However good a walk on the fells, it is always good to get back down safely – and so I walked back into Langley. Quite tired by now, I waited at the bus stop when an old colleague from my rugby days offered me a lift to the garage.
Alas, the car had failed the pre-MOT assessment!
Still the walk had been a good, solid piece of preparation for the Mountain Marathon.
I had covered about 15 miles all told with a good 2,000 feet of climb. It had taken six and half hours. Will it have helped for this weekend efforts – we'll have to find out?!

Friday, 12 October 2012

From Home to Home – last 2 days of our Summer Cruising

From Home to Home – last 2 days of our Summer Cruising

Monday/Tuesday 9/10th October 2012
Wimboldsley to Overwater Marina, Nr.Audlem
10.5 miles and 4 Locks

It was our last 2 days of cruising before the winter stopover. We savoured the peace of the countryside and, with plenty of time in hand, the slower cruising speed with the engine on a fast tickover.
As already said, we know this stretch of the Middlewich Arm pretty well, though there is always something new to see which catches the eye.

Attractive Stable Manager's house, near Bridge 18

The Refurbished Stables (Des Res style)

We have seen more kingfishers than ever before. These are delightfully colourful birds with some being quite used to boats, perching while we passed, while some patrolled the canal ahead.

Can you spot the kingfisher? Not the easiest of subjects to photograph!

There are two marinas on this stretch. The new Aqueduct Marina ( which always seems full?) and the older, established Venetian Marina.

See the newly changed 'curved' entrance to Aqueduct Marina

Looking back at Venetian Marina (now run by RJ Marine) from Cholmondeston Lock

Looking back at the narrows towards Barbridge Junction

We stopped at Barbridge to have a meal in the Pub. It was a quiet and reflective evening with some good locally brewed beer ( and reasonable pub grub on the higher end of things. We reflected on our travels back from Wigan and the few lows and many highs as we came around the Cheshire Ring.
We sort of delayed the start of this, the last day of our summer cruising. Wrapped up warm against the cold wind, the now southwards journey continued on the wide gauge of the old Chester Canal and soon we got to the busy Nantwich Basin.
Smart looking tug
 Caught up with a boat in tow, which kindly pulled over to let us through

Nantwich Junction Bridge No.92 – subject to a stoppage in December for repairs
 Approaching Telford's Iron Aqueduct over the A51

This section of the Shroppie is the 1835 Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, engineered by the great and famous Mr.Thomas Telford. And a very fine example of the 'modern' later canals he surveyed on the 'cut and fill' principle.

The section south to Audlem is almost due south and opens up into the Cheshire Plain. It can be quite windswept here.
The last 2 locks for us are at Hack Green, also with a remaining stable block from the days of the horse drawn fly-boats.

Sitting in the middle pound below Lock No.1 – the Bridge 86 in view has been like this for simply ages. It was listed for repairs in a stoppage though this was withdrawn and then it was going to be repaired last winter?!
Leaving the Hack Green Lock No.1
Not far now!
Arrival at Overwater
We turned into the tight (with corners!) Marina and then to our new berth. This was at right angles to the cross wind and on my first attempt I overshot! Second time around, into the wind, bow first I edged in, not without a bump!
We are here for the winter!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Mostly Down and a bit Up - Middlewich

Mostly Down and a bit Up - Middlewich
Monday 8th October 2012
Malkin's Bank to Wimboldsley
10.5 miles and 15 Locks

It's only in the last 6 months that I have realised there is a vast range of boater's blog sites out there. I regularly now follow a few favourites and read others that catch my eye. One site starts with the date, the journey and the distance/locks etc.
This certainly helps me as a reader to follow his travels so I am adopting this approach.
Today has been a warm Autumn day, enjoying the cruising with few other boats around so no delays. We dropped down the delightful and well engineered locks of Malkin's Bank.
Most of these are paired though a few not in working order. Designed by the famous James Brindley, this Trent and Mersey Canal dates from 1777, and still operates efficiently.

Leaving an iron bridge

Cottages at Malkin's Bank

The Boatyard at Malkin's Bank, traditionally renovating (wooden) working boats
Emerging from a paired lock – note the towpath side lock is closed and has been for sometime now
We dropped down the 8 Wheelock Locks under the the by-pass and stopped at the Wheelock Services. While I sorted the toilet and took on water, Chris posted a letter and got some more milk.
The next stretch around the back of Ettily Heath has the remains of much industry, mostly reclaimed by nature and man. We noticed major construction earthworks on the east side of the canal after the Rookery Bridge No.159. Bounded by the canal and the Crewe – Manchester railway, this site was previously dug out to be a marina many years ago. Now it looks as if the land is being prepared for houses?
As we continued to drop into Middlewich, you go under the main road bridge, rebuilt for modern traffic. The original bridge 165 is built into this – on a skew – and very low needing the exhaust to be taken off. Thankfully I had remembered!

The British Salt Works – one reason for the canal's original commerce

The salt pile under the shed
As we approached Middlewich, we spotted our Brother-in-law who drives a Pochin wagon. Their yard is in Middlewich.
Best pic I could get!

King's Lock is understandably a busy spot as waterways converge and the various boatyards. We always find Steve and team at King's Lock Chandlry very helpful and here we took on some fresh diesel for our Webasto heater.

The Pub!

The Boatyard

Turning into the Middlewich Branch, heading west, we used the bow-rope method to get a 60 foot boat around a 90 degree bend! It works! Just two locks up to finish the day's exercise.

The late afternoon sun was low and in the steerer's eyes as we pottered back into the country. Having passed under the Crewe – Glasgow West Coast line, we moored in a great spot looking down the River Weaver valley with the Winsford Top Flash just visible.

Time to do some boat jobs as dusk fell – a good day's travels.

Mooring spot

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Bosley Locks and the Trent and Mersey

This section of the Cheshire Ring is very familiar to us – though no less interesting for that. I found that I hardly consulted the map.

Coming through the Royal Oak Swing Bridge at Oakgrove, commonly called Fool's Nook
One of many herons - this one stood it's place as we passed

Our first mooring berth with nb Alcantara at Mr.Massey's, Cowley Farm Bridge No. 51

Bosley Locks – there has been lots written about this wonderful flight of 12 locks. They rank amongst our favourites on the whole system and are generally lock-wheeler friendly so that we can both take turns. The views are stunning, looking over the the quarried face of the Cloud. Everytime I see it, I feel like I want to run up it!
My photos don't really do the view justice, so I'll just put one in as a visual reminder of a very enjoyable 2 hours locking down.
Bosley Cloud

Lock-wheeling with a great view!

Coming into the bottom lock, Bosley Flight

We moored overnight on rings at Bridge 86 (the footpath to Little Moreton Hall). First time we've been able to get in at this popular spot. The TV reception was good as we setttel down to the new series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The next morning saw us follow the southern end of the Macclesfield Canal to the stop lock at Hall Green. The lock cottages look so much better now than some time ago.
There are two cottages, one for the Macc keeper and one for the Trent and Mersey Company keeper. There is only the Macc Lock 13 is use now!

This section of the Hall Green Branch is most intriguing as it passes over the Trent and Mersey mainline running down to the Cheshire Plain.

Approaching the corner at the old Piper's Yard – Red Bull
Looking down at the Trent and Mersey from Poole Aqueduct
Gate replacement work at Hardings Wood Junction (Lock 41)
Looking up at the Macc Canal – Poole Aqueduct

This next section, dropping down the flights of locks, is truly majestic early canal technology. Built round 1777, is it James Brindley's finest work?
Many of the locks are paired and both locks operational – a definite improvement from years ago.
Waiting for the lock 47 to fill – see the long shot of the paired locks
Paired locks needing remedial work – Church Locks 47 & 48
Coming through Upper Thurlwood Lock 53 with canalside cottages
Coming through Lower Thurlwood Lock 54 with smart modern houses

Interesting overflow weirs at Pierpoint Locks – their purpose?
Hassal Green Lock 58 and the M6 – I know where I'd rather be!
We had the sun out to welcome us into Cheshire as we dropped down, mooring at a country spot above Malkin's Bank. Again, good TV reception for SCD!
Evening visitors
Our weekend mooring (note the white bags to warn walker of the ropes)