We have now left Lancashire and cruised into Yorkshire. And as the title suggests, for the Captain who is a Lancashire lad born and bred it’s definitely not Yorkshire. As I am a Derbyshire lass through and through I know they are both wrong.
So first we had to tackle the Wigan flight of 21 locks, which raises the canal an amazing 200ft over a distance of 2 miles.
The last time we did this flight it was a nightmare, and took us over 8hrs. I am pleased to say due to numerous problems on the flight there is a CRT employee always around to help boaters, and usually some volunteers from the Wigan Flight Crew. The flight is open from 8am til 9am for boats ascending the flight, which was us. We had agreed to buddy up with NB Out of the Blue. So nice and early we headed for the bottom of the locks.
Thinking we would be the first there, we were surprised to see another NB already going up the first lock, and this changed our plans. We knew that a 4th NB was behind us, and also a widebeam called Boo Boo. The decision was made that Out of the Blue would catch up with the boat in front, and we would wait for NB Hannah and her Cornish crew. This made doing the locks much easier, and with the help of the guy from CRT we made it up in a respectable 4½ hours.
After a very hot day we stop off at Cowling Brow, and after a walk up a very steep hill we found the Prince of Wales, and what a find. Excellent beers, and at a reasonable price.
We had arranged to meet our friends Neil, Kath and Rosemary at the top of the Johnson’s Hill locks. There are 7 locks in this flight, and as we started up the first lock I spotted another boat ahead of us, and also one coming up behind. The one ahead showed no sign of waiting for us, so I was sent to find out if the boat behind wanted to join us in the second lock. The 2 girls on board were very happy to do so and whilst the Captain waited in the second lock I went up and set the 3rd lock. Then I couldn’t make out if there was a boat coming down the locks as a bottom paddle was open on the 4th lock so I walked up to see (getting my exercise so I could enjoy my pint later). It turned out to be the boat in front and its crew had forgotten to put the paddle down, before trying to fill the lock. The lady Captain was not happy with her crew so I beat a hasty retreat.
7 locks done and room on the pontoon for us, so off to the pub, called unsurprisingly Top Lock. The pub was very nice but the beer expensive, however we did spot a rather interesting offer on the menu. From 3 til 9 pay the clock price for any pizza, so come in at 3 and pay £3 for a pizza normally costing £10, to good to miss and the Captain promised to treat me next day. However, luckily we mention to the barman that we would be back, and he told us that during the school holidays (which had just started) the offer didn’t start til 5pm, not a problem.
Next day and our friends joined us, it was extremely hot but we still had a great time, just as they were leaving we were treated to nature as its best, as a lightening show lit up the sky, but we had no rain which would have been a relief.
And so to the pub. We order the Hells pizza which came with chips, and like the offer said we paid £5.11 the time we ordered it, but when it came no chips. The waitress explained that the offer didn’t include the chips, but we pointed out that nowhere on the menu did it say this. She was very apologetic, and this is where I must commend them for the customer service, she returned a few minutes later and said the chef was cooking us some chips, and very nice they were too.
After all the hot days the weather took a definite turn for the worse, and we got caught in some very heavy showers. We stopped off at Riley Green as the Captains sister Sheila, and her husband William were driving over from their new home near Blackpool to see us. We spent some time chatting on the boat before heading off to the Hoghton Arms for lunch. The Captain was going to be good and have a coke, until he spotted they had his favourite, Hobgoblin, so he did a quick u-turn and had a pint. The food and service were excellent, and the company even better.
The bad weather continued, but we decided to bite the bullet and head for Blackburn, and got wet through for our troubles at Blackburn’s 6 locks,
We travelled through Blackburn not intending to stop and moored up out in the countryside for the night.
Then to Burnley our last visit had not been a happy one, and we both had agreed we would not like to moor there. I am pleased to say that there have been some great improvements here, the towpath is clean and tidy and the canal is also quite free of rubbish, but we still did not stop and pushed on to Barrowford locks.
At the first 4 of the 7 locks, a hire boat ahead of us was leaving paddles up,at the first lock I didn’t realise this, and couldn’t understand why the lock would not empty. We met a volunteer lockie at lock 5, who had helped them up the last 3 locks so we knew everything was good.
And this is where I spotted my first ever water vole. I was emptying the last lock and looking down, there he was swimming resolutely along the side of the wall before climbing out and disappearing into a crevice. What a sight.
Next the mile long Foulridge tunnel which is one way working so a traffic light system is used to tell boaters when to go through. The hire boat followed us through the tunnel, which on this occasion took just over 15minutes, and on to the middle of nowhere. The hire boat passed us again, and we were shocked to see the lady shuffling down the gunnels with bottles of beer in one hand and a plate of cobs in the other. Not safe at all, we do wonder at times.
We stopped off at the Anchor pub at Salterforth, which is right by the canal, and in the old cellar there is a collection of stalagmites & stalactites which the staff very kindly showed us.
The last part of our journey for this blog took us to Gargrave, and we paired up with Pete, a single hander, and owner of Irwell Brewery and distillery, on NB Duck’n’Dive to do the 7 Bank Newton locks. We used an old technique of tying the boats together so only one person was required to steer both boats. This was new experience for the Captain, and he did very well and added yet another string to his bow. On the locks we met Jenn and Jim on NB Dire Straits who moor at Langley Mill on the Erewash, and know our friend Janice and John on Oak.
We spent the night in Gargrave before heading off to a favourite town of ours Skipton, but that’s for next time folks.
Firstly I must explain why you have to book to get into Liverpool. According to the Lockie helping us down the flight, it’s apparently all to do with water conservation, and Salthouse dock is owned by Peel holdings, so you have to play by their rules.
The restrictions are, only 6 boats at a time allowed up and down the flight per day, not including Tuesday. Those leaving Liverpool have to do so between 8am and 9.30am, and those arriving between 1pm and 4pm. You have to book both ways, and can only stay for a week max.
Also one of the swing bridges on the way can only be opened at certain times of the day. It all makes for interesting planning
To get to the Stanley flight of 4 locks, which takes you into the docklands area of Liverpool, we had to turn again from Wigan and head back to Burscough, and on to Litherland, the Captain had given us 3 days to get to Litherland, but had not counted on the weather taking a turn for the worse with lots of rain. We stopped in Burscough on the first night, but didn’t bother to go out, then on to Lydiate, we tried the pub, the Running Horses, but we were disappointed.
Litherland is where most boats and their crew spend the night before descending the locks, and when we arrived there were already quite few moored up, strangely there are no restrictions on the visitors moorings, like in most other busy spots.
As we came through the last swing bridge of the day before mooring, the crew off NB Wet and Windy were asking who was from Derby (we have 2 flags on the back, a Lancashire one for the Captain, and one that says ‘We are Derby’ for me) they were from Shardlow so we had a chat.
The next day 5 boats were heading down, and we were on the second wave with NB Constance, Wet and Windy and Heather went first and Knightlow bought up the rear. The lockies were very helpful and soon had us down the first 4 locks and into the docks. The Captain, the clever fellow that he is, had made a map of our route through the docks to our moorings. So we took the lead.
Travelling through Liverpool gave us a completely different perspective of the city. The view of the Liver building was amazing, and the three short tunnels that take you under the streets and parts of the Albert Dock are an experience. Of course there were the gongoozlers who stared at the site of 2 narrowboats passing by, and of course we had to wave. Then we realised 2 of the gongoozlers were our friends Lisa and Fred, who had come to welcome us to Liverpool, and it turned out we were moored next to them on the pontoons. It can get interesting trying to reverse onto the pontoons when it’s windy, but although a few were seen to struggle, most people managed without incident.
After mooring up and having a chat with our neighbours, we decided to take a walk to a pub that had been recommended by Chris and Andy on Ceiriog, The Baltic Fleet. It is an old flat iron pub with a good selection of beers on. The first pint went down very nicely and I headed to the bar for another. As I stood there minding my own business a gentleman engaged me in conversation, which was fine, I am the friendly sort, but things turned more weird when he dropped the Captains surname into the conversation, as you can imagine it took me by surprise and I didn’t really know what to say, then he went.
Beer bought and I returned to our table to find the gentleman sitting in my seat, it turned out it was a very old friend of the Captains that he had not seen for many a year, Norman Collins, who had seen on facebook that we were in the pub and had come to meet us. He had taken the Captain by surprise and to start with the Captain didn’t recognise him, and so started the conversation with ‘you were a woman when you went to the bar’ before realising who it was. It made for an enjoyable night catching up.
Next day and the weather wasn’t great, so we took a walk up through the city centre and to the World museum, which was very interesting, We would have liked to have looked around the George’s Hall, but it was in use for a graduation ceremony. Then I took the Captain for a chinese, which was ok.
The Captain had been doing some investigating and had discovered that the Braziallia festival and parade where on. We spent the day looking round the Museum of Liverpool, and Norman came to see the boat before we all headed back into the city centre for a pint, before watching the parade go by. We had a late night which meant a quiet day next day.
Monday and an early start. We had agreed to buddy up with Chyandour for the trip out of Liverpool, they were on a mission as they were booked to go across the Ribble link on Wednesday, and Norman joined us for the trip. Sid the CRT guy was there again to make sure our passage went smoothly, and we were soon back in Litherland and saying goodbye to Lisa and Fred and Norman.
After a night in the middle of nowhere, and a lovely day cruising, we stopped off at the Saracens Head at Halsall, a little on the pricey side but the beer was good, and it was lovely sitting in the beer garden in the sun.
We decided to stay at Burscough again, the moorings are good and there is a large Tesco there. We needed a few bits, and as we walked down the towpath I spotted a very lovely looking cat, there was a gentleman sat eating his lunch and we stopped for a chat. It was his cat, called Smudge and it lived on NB Bobbin with him and his partner. As you know we lost Sam just after we left for our cruise, and I had some cat food and litter going spare, so I asked if they would like it. (Trina and Paul on Bearwood Boster had done the same for us a couple of years ago when they lost their furbaby whilst cruising). They were happy to have the food, but did not need the litter as Smudge was trained to use the toilet. We, as you can imagine were quite amazed by this, and Gary explained there is some sort of gizmo which you can use to train them to do this.
Although we hadn’t intended to have an early start next day a woman with a dog changed all that, she stood by the boat about 7am in the mooring shouting the dog which completely ignored her, some people just don’t think that people live on the boats and might be a sleep at that time in the morning. We headed for Crooke and had a couple of pints in the pub, the Captain was very happy with Ratella, a lovely hazelnut stout from Rat Brewery, which he had for the first time in Saltaire.
The Captains planning came into its own next day when we met up with work boat Ambush for diesel and a bottle of gas. The weather had taken a definite turn for the worse, but we decided to press on to Wigan, this was a big mistake and by the time we got to the moorings we were soaked. As most of you know we are fair weather boaters and don’t normally do rain or wind.
Our next big challenge is the Wigan flight of 22 locks, including 1 lock from the moorings. That’s for next time folks.
And we have been doing just that, because we have had to stay in the Wigan area for a week or so, to attend the christening of Stanley George, the Captains young grandson. But before I get ahead of myself, a quick recap on where we went and what we found.
Our first port of call was Leigh, and this part of the canal system is called the Leigh Branch of the great Leeds Liverpool canal. It links the L&L to the Bridgewater canal and Manchester.
After doing some much needed shopping we set off to find a micropub called the Bobbin, it was a bit of a walk but well worth it when we got there. We did discover, from the local CAMRA magazine, it was not the only decent ale pub in Leigh, and we headed off to the White Lion after one very enjoyable pint. But before the White Lion we spied the local Wetherspoons, The Thomas Burke, a little disappointing as no dark ales on for the Captain. He was happier at the White Lion, and we tried to finish off the afternoon in the Waterfront (we were moored opposite) but it was a walk in and straight out affair, not our kind of pub at all.
I forgot to mention that Leigh has a great indoor market, it appears to be well supported by the locals, and had a good selection of stalls including a couple of butchers and greengrocers, sadly a dying breed on most high streets.
The evening was filled with the noise from the beer garden of the Waterfront, but it didn’t discourage a furry visitor to the cratch, as a nosy, but shy black and white cat came for a look round.
Next day we unfortunately came across the results of a recent pollution occurrence, and saw many dead fish of all types and sizes as we travelled. Strangely they do not seem to know what caused the fish to die, but I was told by a local boater that it was reckoned about 3,000 to 5,000 fish died. A terrible thing.
Sunday and we found ourselves in Wigan, and there was nothing to be done but head to a little micropub we had found 5yrs ago when it had just opened. The Wigan Central is to be found in the Railway arches, and we were overjoyed to find it had expanded from 1 arch to 2 since our last visit. And around it other arches were being used by different businesses.
The Central has a great vibe and great beers, and on this afternoon a great singer on to entertain the punters. We joined a family group at a table and soon got chatting. They advised us to try the John Bull Chop house, and the Tap and Barrel so off we went and both pubs were lovely, but for different reasons, the Tap and Barrel had a band on, well they were in the street outside the pub and had drawn a big crowd. The beer was good, and we found a seat in a kind of beer garden at the rear of the pub, it was astro turf and had a roof, and was far enough away from the band to be able to have a conversation and hear the music. The John Bull is a very old building and very quaint, and the music there was supplied by an old looking jukebox, with a very interesting selection of tunes.
After a great time in Wigan we went to Crooke and then on to Burscough. We shared the locks and swing bridges with NB Thomazina and her crew from Gloucester. At one of the locks is water and we both needed to fill up, there was already a boat using the water point, but not to fill up their tank, but to wash their boat, and even though they could see the 2 of us waiting they didn’t stop or hurry up but carried on, some people !!!
We are back in the land of the swing bridge, most canals have a few, but the Leeds Liverpool has loads ,and as with everything on the canal no 2 are the same. The best are the completely electric ones, you put your key in, press the button, and everything is done for you, and I like to cry ‘I have the power’. But I have also had ones were you have to do everything, no power at all, to ones were you have to put the road barriers down but push the button to make it swing, and then one which the barriers are electric, but you have to open the bridge yourself. You never know what it’s going to be, it doesn’t half make life interesting.
At Burscough we had arranged to meet 2 groups of friends, one at lunch and one in the evening, but both had to cancel, shame. We had planned to go for lunch with Den and Jackie to The Hop Vine, but the Captain still took me, and very nice it was too.
We turned at Burscough and headed back to Wigan, as we approached one of the locks there was much waving and shouting from a moored boat, it was our friends Fred and Lisa on Chyandour (we had met them at the IWA festival a couple of years ago) we pulled over and had a long chat. They were heading into Liverpool for the week and we would be joining them after a couple of days. It turned out we were both leaving on the same day, it will be nice to have company.
Unfortunately we missed our other friends, Janis and John on The Oak, who were also in the area, we must have been ships that passed in the night.
So back to Wigan, and we had been following the Women’s Football World Cup, England were unlucky to be knocked out in the semi final, but they still had to play for third place on the Saturday, so we went to The Berkley and the manager put it on for us. It was a shame there weren’t more people interested in the game and to cheer on our national side. We lost. But it was a close game and the girls did us proud.
Sunday and the special reason for being in the area, the christening, Den and Jackie had very kindly offered to pick us up and we were soon at the church. There were 3 christenings taking place all at once, so the little church was packed. It was a lovely service and too soon it was over.
The celebration party afterwards was held at a local pub called the Plough, it was a beautiful afternoon and we sat in the beer garden with the Captains family and had a lovely time. A quick mention of a very good dark beer the Plough had on called Barista stout by Theakstons, it was very rich and tasty.
Den and Jackie came back to the boat for a cuppa, and when they went we headed off to the Wigan Central to finish the day off nicely.
Now it was time to head to Liverpool, unusually for the canal system you have to book your passage and moorings a head of time, and this had caused the Captain many a sleepless night trying to get all the dates to marry up. Unfortunately we had to take the decision to give the Ribble Link and the Lancaster canal a miss this year, it just wasn’t doable. So that’s on the cards for next year.
Our journey into Liverpool, and our time there I will save for the next blog.
In the weather I mean.
At the end of my last blog I did wonder if the sun would ever come out, and now we are sat with everything open in sweltering heat, watching the ladies world cup.
We spent some more time on the Higher Peak Forest canal, staying at Whaley Bridge for a couple of nights. We found a great new micro pub had opened in the village called Whaley Nook, and called in at the Goyt Inn. Next day we caught the train into Stockport. The town has happy memories for us because it is where we first met 12yrs ago, it has a great indoor market and of course a few good pubs. To finish off a very enjoyable couple of days we had a kebab, a dirty little pleasure of ours now and again.
Then on to the wonderful Marple flight of 16 locks, but not so good in the rain. The flight had been closed for 20 months and only reopened at the end of May. There had been problems with the lock walls bulging, which meant boats were getting stuck in the lock. We had the help of two volunteer lockies which was wonderful, and it took us a very respectful 3hrs.
So on to Hyde, we moored here for about 3months before we moved on board fulltime and started our cruise to our winter moorings in Coventry. Captain Jack was our landlord and we were pleased to see him and stop and have a chat. We told him about our adventures over the past 5 years, and he was happy to see we were still living the dream and couldn’t believe how the time had flown.
Hyde is a pleasant town with a small indoor market and a good selection of shops, but it no longer has a Wetherspoons, but it does have a micro pub called the Tweed Tap, were I had the strangest tasting lager I have ever had. We also called in the Cheshire Ring, another great real ale pub, and the White Gates a Sam Smith’s pub so not only good beer but amazing prices. And then we had a chinese.
The chinese set us up for the next day and the 18 locks of the Ashton flight, this was hard work as the locks were, in the main set against us, but we got into a rhythm and we were soon moored up at Piccadilly village, private moorings but visitors are welcome to stay overnight. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the code for the gates, so we were unable to visit a brewery tap we had been told about nearby, but to be honest I was knackered and quite happy to chill out on the boat.
The last battle into Castlefield basin is with the infamous Rochdale 9 locks, but we were joined by our friend Neil thank god. These locks have a terrible reputation and haven’t improved at all since our last visit to Manchester 3yrs ago. They take you under the streets of Manchester and there is no shortage of water, but no by-washes to take the excess water away. So not only are you fighting with heavy gates and short lock arms, but the task of equalising the water in the lock chamber to be able open the gates. I was so pleased that we had Neil with us.
As we left the last lock in the basin and onto the Bridgewater canal I spotted a boat I knew, NB Ceiriog belonging to our friends Andy and Chris. We met on the Chesterfield canal last year and spent a very happy afternoon with them, in the pub of course. We had chatted about doing the Lancaster, and they indicated they would like to join us if our schedules matched.
I sent Chris a message to see if they were about.
The Bridgewater canal is owned and controlled by Peel Holding not CRT, but there is an agreement that CRT license holders can spend a week on the canal without any charge. Sonny, who is the notorious enforcement officer for Peel was not about, so we moored up without a problem and went to the pub. Of course.
Now I will have my little rant for this blog. Like with all households we produce household rubbish, being it food waste or packaging, bottle cans etc. Well there are no bins on CRT water from the top of the Marple flight all the way into Castlefield basin, a trip of 15miles and 42 locks, which took us 5 days to do. And there were no bins in the basin either. In fact there are no bins on CRT waters from Marple to Parbold on the Leeds Liverpool canal, which is 45 miles and 50 locks. So CRT what are we meant to do with our rubbish????
We had a quiet day next day and called in the John Rylands library again, this was to jog the Captains memory, as we visited on our last time in the city but he couldn’t remember it. It is such an amazing building and his memory soon came flooding back. There was a special display for the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre. This took place on 16th August 1819, when a crowd of between 60,000 and 80,000 gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation at Saint Peter’s Field Manchester. The local magistrate ordered the crowd to be dispersed by the local militia, and they charged the crowd of men women and children with sabres drawn. 18 people were killed and 500 to 700 injured. It was a pivotal moment in our history, and ironically named after the victory at Waterloo some 4yrs earlier. That’s history done for this blog.
We went to Try Thai once again with Neil, Cath and Rosemary, and had a wonderful meal, and to end a lovely day we managed to catch up and have a drink with Andy and Chris before they left the next day, once again in the opposite direction to us.
The next day was vey hot, and after a slow walk into the centre we had to queue to get into Sinclairs Oyster bar, which is the only Sam Smiths in Manchester, and at £4.60 for 2 pints and a lovely outside seating area you can see why we had to queue.
The Captain had done his homework, and discovered that the next day was Manchester day, and there was a parade and stalls and other bits and pieces going on, so of course we had to stay and take part. But then it was time to say goodby to Manchester, and head of in the sunset to Sale and then Lymm
At Lymm we had a chance meeting with a boat called Avalon Dreams and her Captain also called Peter, and his crew Ruth.
As usual the Captains planning was spot on and we called at Stretford marina for a pump out. The lady who served us was lovely, and very very chatty, she rinsed our tank out a good few times (we think just to keep us talking but we didn’t mind) and only charged us £12.
Our last cruise was up through Worsely, and we were joined by our mate Neil, his Mum Pat, and Dad Norman. They had never been on a narrowboat and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We parted company at Astley Green, but not before we had visited the Mining museum there. The pit had closed in 1970, the head stocks were saved from demolition by the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire. It still has the enormous winding equipment which they run on occasions, and a miners house from the turn of the 20C. But what I loved was that they had the headstocks that Fred Dibnah had built, when he sunk a shaft in his garden in Bolton for a TV programme. Wonderful.
It is run by volunteers and open every day and is well worth a visit. We ended a perfect day in a perfect way, in the pub of course.
And I am not referring to the weather, but the terrible terrible decision we had to make to put our fire in. It’s unheard of in June, we usually sail through from May until October without one, but not this year. The combination of cool days and lots of rain has meant we just had to.
The rain has meant we haven’t got as far as we would like, but since we have no time constrictions this year, it doesn’t make that much difference to us personally, but it does mean we haven’t managed to do much to fill the blog with, so, I thought I would wax lyrical for a change, so here goes.
Our days seem to flow by as serenely as the canal flows. Most of my day when we are travelling is spent looking round, and taking in the beauty of the cut. The colours of the trees and the fields are such vibrant shades of green and brown, with the occasional whites and pinks of mayflower and dog rose.
The fields, which at first glance seem a single shade of green, change as a sunbeam hits its target, and the colour shimmers and changes before your eyes, when a cloud casts it shadow the grass takes on another shade of green. It never gets boring.
The tree bark also seems to be a never ending brown, but when you look closely each tree has a unique pattern, with some covered by a carpet of green ivy. The leaves all have their own life as they flutter in the breeze, and their colour changes with each gust of wind. The peace of the cut is only disturbed by the songs of the birds, and the occasional train hurtling by (the canal and railway often share the same route). I strain my ears to identify the different sweet songs of the birds. My eyes are drawn to the movement in the trees that give their lofty perches away. They flit across the canal in front of us, taking my eyes away from the every changing colours of the trees and undergrowth.
Sometimes it seems that we are passing through some great cathedral, created by the tress to worship the wonder of nature, and then we are out in the open, with stunning views of rolling hills and deep valleys, and in some places experience the amazing ingenuity of our forefathers, where viaducts fill the landscape spanning huge valleys in the name of progress.
So back to our journey.
We have travelled the Trent and Mersey, through the Harecastle tunnel and onto the Macclesfield canal. This canal was built to carry coal and cotton, built by Telford it is of cut and fill construction. It is 26miles long and has on set of 12 locks at Bosley. It was opened in 1831 and commercial traffic ended in 1954.
Along its route there are 2 main towns Congleton, and as the canals name suggests Macclesfield. First Congleton, and it’s a town we have visited in the past. We moored up and set off to try a couple of pubs by the side of the canal, the Queens Head and the Railway (originally called to Navigation before the coming of the railway), but we spied something much better, a recently opened micropub called the Wonky Pear. It was a real find and we would highly recommend it. The other 2 pubs were not so successful.
We went into Congleton town the next day. It’s a nice walk, in as it’s all downhill, not so good for coming back though. We called in at the Town Hall tourist information office as we wanted to have a look round the town hall, which although it’s a Victorian building its built in the gothic style, and inside looked like a castle. A very kind lady took us in and we weren’t disappointed, the main hall is amazing and has a very ornate mock minstrel’s gallery. She also suggested we would enjoy the town museum, and we did. It is tiny, but absolutely packed with interesting facts about the town and its industry and residents.
After a little shopping we head to the pub (of course) firstly the local Wetherspoons, The Counting House, it was ok then we tried the Young Pretender, a little pretentious for our taste, and then the Captain offers to take me out for tea at the Old Kings Head, the food was tasty and very reasonably priced. Then a taxi back to the boat, I did say it was up hill all the way back.
There was a food festival on in the town at the weekend, and we thought we might have been about for it, as the Bosley locks were closed due to a leaking lock gate, but CRT got their finger out and it was fixed quickly.
The locks are single, and when we reached there was a bit of a queue as CRT were bringing a work boat down, and made the rest of us wait to go up. But it did mean we had the help of a couple of very friendly volunteers, this was even better for the boat behind us Wedgewood, a hire boat and the crew hadn’t done any locks for many many years, they soon got the hang of it. There was much chatting and helping each other out, as it should be.
We met up with Wedgewood and its crew a few times over the next few days.
What can I say about Macclesfield, not a lot, I was not impressed with the town or its pubs at all. Again it’s downhill into the start of the town, then uphill to get into the centre. It was Sunday when we visited and we tried 5 pubs in the town, 3 were kind of micropubs, but like the Young Pretender in Congleton, I found them a little pretentious and expensive, so much so we only had halves in them. Not like us at all. The Captain did treat me to tea at Wetherspoons, as I really didn’t feel like cooking. We had had the terrible news that a good friend of ours, Martin, had lost his fight with cancer the day before. This maybe tainted my view of Macclesfield as well. I just wasn’t in the mood.
We reached the end of the Macclesfield at Marple and joined the Upper Peak Forest Canal. We know this canal very well, as we bought the boat when it was based at New Mills and spent a year moored there.
We had a walk into Marple, there is a good selection of shops and one very good pub, The Samuel Oldknow. After getting a few bits from Asda we had a couple of pints in there, before trying the Ring O Bells which is on the canal, we thought it was expensive the first time we visited, and things haven’t changed.
On to New Mills, and we needed a pump out. This was lucky for me as I managed to catch up with Stella Ridgeway, she is a boaters representative on the CRT council, and I am thinking about standing at the next elections. It was great to have a chat and get her perspective on things, we have chatted on Facebook a few times, but it was much better face to face. She is glad that I am interested in standing, as there a lack of ladies on the council and this needs addressing.
And to finish our trip into Bugsworth basin we met a boat wedged across the canal, they were trying to leave their mooring at Furnace Vale but were just too long to get round. But with a bit of brute strength and ignorance, and the help of the Captain, they were soon free and on their way.
That’s all for now folks.