Canal Cruising 2018
An eBook and website by Cyril J Wood
The title photograph shows sunset over the Bridgewater Canal at Walton
This section of the Canalscape Website is dedicated to the memory of my friend John Moult who died in February of this year
Click on the required section below to follow links
|Chapter 2 - Easter Escape Cruise 2018|
|Chapter 3 - Canalmanac 2018 Part 2|
|Chapter 4 - Summer Cruise 2018|
Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2018 Part 1 (in preparation)
Winter Mooring by canal artist Pete Tuffrey
Our first trip up to Agden in 2018 was on Saturday the 13th January. We arranged to meet Paul and Ollie Savage up there but we were delayed due to a screw in one of the car's tyres and the complete tyre having to be replaced. After an hour and quite a few pounds lighter we left for Agden. When we arrived at the moorings Alan Savage had the kettle on for a cuppa before we went down to check on the boat. When we had caught up with the latest news and finished our cuppas we walked down the moorings to out boat and checked that everything was okay.
Front view of Squirrel on its moorings on a grey, winter's day
It was a grey day and I was please to see that the solar panel was charging half an amp... not a lot but enough to keep the batteries ticking over. Even so I started the engine and let it run for an hour or so whilst I did a few jobs. When we had completed all we set out to do we had another cuppa with Paul and Ollie and discussed our plans for the forthcoming year including a trip to Crick Boat Show and the dates for our summer holiday cruise along the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals. With our cuppas finished and the boat put back to bed we loaded the car and set off for home.
2018 started off sadly for Lymm Cruising Club. First we had the death of Leo Pollard. Leo was a past Commodore, Chairman and Vice-President of Lymm CC and one of the characters of the Club. Leo had suffered with poor health during the last few years which spurred him to sell his narrowboat Lady Dinah and become a non-cruising member.
Leo Pollard - Vice President of Lymm Cruising Club
Not long afterwards the death of John Moult was announced. As well as being a personal friend, John was a past Commodore, Past President and the last post he held was that of Harbourmaster, a position that he held for twenty six years. John and his wife Beryl are lifetime members of the Club and had blue and yellow (the colours of Lymm CC) blood running through his veins. There is not a single member that hasn't benefited from his experience, expertise and knowledge. I first met John and Beryl in 1989 and over the years have spent many happy hours in his presence and shared many a laugh with him. I enjoyed being in his company, feel honoured to have known him and to have classed him as one of my friends. He will be greatly missed by Ange and myself as well as his family and members of Lymm CC. Our thoughts are with Beryl and the family at this time and I have dedicated this section of Canalscape to his memory.
John Moult and his Ferguson tractor
John's Humanist funeral the following week was officiated by Lymm CC's Development Officer Kate Clarkson at Altrincham Crematorium. Afterwards, the wake (appropriately named) was at Lymm CC's Clubhouse which was full of past members, present members, friends and family. We all gave John a good send-off, remembering the good times that we spent in his company. There was a board on the stage with photographs attached to it. Many of them were taken by myself. which proved to me that my work here is done!
John doing what he liked best - working on his beloved narrowboat... Don Ross
A few days after John's funeral I was in Liverpool having a warranty inspection done on the car. The Kia main dealers are on Sefton Street close to the Albert Dock and directly opposite them is a side street that leads to Liverpool Marina. I had to wait for a couple of hours whilst the car was being attended to so I thought that as I was in the area, had not visited Liverpool Marina and just happened to have the Leica with me it would be rude not to go for a walk and take some photographs of said marina. Access by water is via Wapping and Queen's Docks but when I reached the quayside I was taken by surprise when I saw the size of it... huge... and that is just the first part in Brunswick Dock. There is another part in the adjacent Coburg Dock that is equally huge.
The inland entrance to Liverpool Marina is via Wapping and Queen's Docks
First view... narrowboats, wide-beams, yachts and sea-going cruisers moored adjacent to each other
The main basin looking towards the River Mersey entrance lock
At the far end of Brunswick Dock is a lock that gives access to and from the River Mersey. This lock is quite unusual as it has a near square chamber spanned by a lift bridge and possesses radial lock gates. Whilst I was there a cruiser came off the River Mersey into the entrance lock and I photographed its progress.
The basin off the River Mersey giving access to the entrance lock
The entrance lock has unusual radial gates and a lift bridge over the lock chamber
Close-up of the unusual radial lock gates
The unusually square lock chamber with a cruiser waiting to access the marina
Once the water levels are equalized the gates can be opened allowing the cruiser to go to its berth
I hope that you enjoyed this quick excursion around Liverpool Marina as much as I did. I had always meant to visit the area but didn't have the opportunity to do so. When you are moored on the jetty in Salthouse Dock now you know what is at the other end of the docks. Oh... and just in case you were wondering... the car was given a clean bill of health! Readers wanting to know more about the Liverpool Link can click on the title to go to the part of the Canalscape Website that is dedicated to the history, building and geography of the Liverpool Link.
A well wrapped-up Ruby in the snow whilst out for a walk
We are deep in the grasp of a really cold spell and there is actually snow on the Wirral (see photograph of Ruby above)... usually unheard of. Needless to say, the Leica came out to play to capture the photographic opportunities that presented themselves. One of my snow photographs taken at Carlett Park, Eastham was used as a weather photograph on the ITV Granada Weather Photograph and is reproduced below along with the original un-cropped photograph for your delectation!
A screenshot of the Granada Weather Forecast showing my photograph of Carlett Park in the snow...
...and the original un-cropped photograph
Spare a thought for the workmen on the narrowboat in the photograph below. When we venture out in conditions such as this it is because we want to (or to take photographs)... they did it because they had to make a living. I don't envy the guy on the bicycle either. One slip and he's definitely getting a change of clothing! Also, they didn't have to worry about damaging the hull blacking in the ice!
Icebreaking in a narrowboat
(Photograph - Waterways World)
The bargain of the week came courtesy of Aldi Stores. I hade seen on Facebook reference to Polypropylene braided rope that was one of Aldi Stores' "Special Buys". As we were in need of new mooring ropes it seemed to be just what we wanted. The rope was 15mm thickness and came in a 10 metre length... just enough to make two mooring ropes from and all for £3.99! When Ange was out shopping I asked her to keep an eye open for it and, guess what? She bought the last length from our local Bidston store and went to the Moreton store the next day and bought the last three they had in stock. So now I even have a couple of lengths spare for future use. Well done Ange!.
The Aldi "Special Buy" 10 mtrs of 15mm Polypropylene braided rope
Even though the rope is braided and is made from Polypropylene, once cut to length the ends can be sealed with heat or heat-shrink tubing. I don't think that it would be possible to purchase rope such as this for such a price elsewhere. It seems to have been a long winter and I can't wait to fit it the new mooring ropes. My thoughts are now turning to the jobs on my "to do" list that I want to do when the weather gets a bit warmer.
The new mooring rope in place... just the right length!
Ange had an engagement party to attend in Burnley the following weekend so after she had left Ruby and I headed up to Agden to spend the weekend on the boat and do a couple of jobs in preparation the Easter Cruise. It was raining when we arrived on Saturday afternoon so any jobs had to be inside ones. I renewed a couple of audio cables connected to the stereo and also fitted a new charging cable for my phone which was a different fitting to the previous one. this took me nicely up to teatime after which we relaxed watching TV. Next morning, the first job was to fill the fresh water tank. Whilst it was filling I fitted the new mooring rope which turned out to be exactly the right size. I only put a small amount in the tank so that I could check for leaks before filling the tank fully. After turning off the water tap filling the tank I turned on the boat's fresh water pump and opened a tap to get rid of any airlocks, Eventually, when the pressure had built up, water was only trickling out of the taps. My first thought was that there was a fault on the pump but, by a process of elimination, I discovered that there was a blockage in the pipe-work between the tank and the pump. I remembered that we had a similar problem when we first bought the boat. Even though the tank is made from stainless steel, a small section of pipe (socket) between the stainless steel outlet pipe and the plastic pipe-work union was made of steel.
Close-up of the fresh water tank outlet pipe... the centre section of pipe is the one I suspect is blocked
Due to electrolytic action caused by dissimilar metals being in contact with each other, I thought that the blockage lay here and corrosion had blocked this small section of steel pipe. I tried blowing through the pipe with a length of flexible hose but this was to no avail. The only other alternative is to empty the tank completely, remove the individual pipe-work fittings and replace the offending section of pipe. In preparation for this I left the tap and pump running for a while to empty the small amount of water in the tank but, due to the low trickle rate this would take quite a while and as I had to leave for home I put this task off for another day.
I booked a day off work mid-week and returned to Agden to replace the blocked fitting on the day that Stephen Hawking died. He was one of my heroes and I will admit to shedding a tear when I heard of his death. The night before I awoke at 3.30 am with a "light bulb moment". Instead of waiting for hours whilst the fresh water pump struggled to empty the tank I thought why not insert a length of hosepipe into the tank through the filler and connect it directly to the pump. Accordingly, whilst packing the car with the tools that I might need, a length of hosepipe was also packed. I had previously purchased a small pipe wrench specifically for this job due to the confined space that I would be working in. Ruby accompanied me to keep me company and "pass me the tools" and as soon as we arrived I tried my "light bulb moment" solution to emptying the tank which worked perfectly.
The hosepipe with one end inserted into the water tank filler and the other attached to the fresh water pump
Once the tank was empty I re-attached the original pipe to the pump to empty the "dregs" out of the tank. After a cup of coffee with Alan Savage we returned to the boat and started to strip-down the offending pipe work. I assembled my tools including the new pipe wrench, disconnected the pipes from the pump and as soon as I touched the tank outlet pipe it came away in my hand, Closer inspection proved that the offending fitting, known as a socket, was indeed corroded internally which was preventing the full flow of water to the pump. The corrosion had not only affected the inside of the fitting, the unseen threaded exterior was also corroded but could not be seen until removed. Part of it remained in the output pipe from the tank which I cleaned as best as I could and started to reassemble everything but using a flexible hose between the remains of the socket and the tank outlet. I am grateful that the socket broke in two as it did instead of happening when the water tank was full. This could have flooded the interior of the boat and would have done a lot of damage. I was relieved when the pipe work was completed. The hoses were a tight fit and I did not have any Jubilee Clips of that size but at least the bulk of the work was completed. One more job to tick off the list! Having to work in such a confined space was challenging. I had scraped my knuckles and arms in numerous places and working through such a small access hatch made me feel a bit like a gynaecologist!
The water pump and tank pipe work
The following day there was a disastrous breach on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie. The breach took place at the River Wheelock Aqueduct just past the last houses on the way out of Middlewich before Stanhope Lock. The aqueduct appears to be intact but the adjacent embankment looks to be most affected. Due to the severity of the breach it will take many months to complete remedial work and, as well as disrupting the Four Counties Ring, it prevents access to the Northern Shroppie and the Llangollen Canal unless a lengthy detour along the Trent and Mersey/Staffordshire and Worcestershire/Southern Shropshire Union Canals. Our plans to cruise the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals on our Summer Cruise are now in jeopardy so "Plan B" will be to ascend Heartbreak Hill and pass through Harecastle Tunnel to the Caldon canal which, to be honest, we have wanted to cruise in its entirety since first visiting it a few years ago when we managed to cruise as far as Stanley Moss. We will now have to wait and see how Canal and River Trust get on with restoring through navigation before making any concrete plans... watch this space for developments.
The breach on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie just outside Middlewich
(Photograph - Dominic Devaney)
That weekend we had planned to go on Lymm Cruising Club's Opening Cruise to Grappenhall but there was a bad weather warning in place plus we had snow and icey winds in Wallasey. Usually, when we have snow it indicates even worse weather conditions elsewhere. As it was also Michael (my stepson's) birthday and Ange had something planned we thought it best to stay at home. However, the following weekend I went up to Agden with Ruby to complete the fitting of the flexible hose on the fresh water tank. Initially, there was a leak from a plastic coupling elbow adjacent to the water shut-off valve but this was cured with silicone sealant. I then fully filled the water tank ready for our Easter cruise.
The completed water tank coupling
Alan and Phil Savage came to the boat to measure-up the rear seating fittings and when I spoke to Alan that evening on the telephone he told me that the brackets for the seating were completed and ready to go. All that remains is some fine tuning and painting then another job can be ticked off the to-do list. The weather was great... blue skies, warm sunshine, etc. and was the first day this year that I can honestly say that I could work outside in shirt sleeves and feel the heat from the Sun. Ruby had a fine time playing with her doggy friends running up and down the moorings. When she got home she slept for the rest of the day... exhausted! The next day I renewed our C&RT licence for six months which will cover most of the cruising season up to the end of September. With these jobs completed we were now all ready for our Easter Cruise. We had planned to cruise to Burscough then turn right down the Rufford Branch to Tarleton but, as is always the way, our plans don't always work out as will be discussed in the next section... Easter Escape.
To be continued in... Canalmanac 2018 Part 2
Click to return to Contents
Chapter 2 - Easter Escape Cruise 2018
When it was time for our Easter Escape we were ready for the break. It had been a long winter and spring was on its way. The Thursday before Good Friday there was a Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs 2019 Annual Rally meeting. In 2019 the rally is being hosted by Lymm CC and Ange had volunteered to co-ordinate the Rally HQ (as she did previously in 2014) along with Wendy Savage. Wendy's husband Paul had volunteered to be Mooring Officer and would be assisted by his uncle and the previous Rally Mooring Officer... Alan Savage and myself. We arrived at our mooring at tea time and after we had eaten left Ruby on the boat whilst we attended the rally meeting. Next morning I fitted the first of our cast iron seats on the aft deck which exceeded my expectations regarding comfort. One would not have expected a cast iron seat to be so comfortable.
Cast iron tractor seat in position
With the last of our things transferred from the car to the boat we set off in bright sunlight. We made good time and by mid-afternoon we had passed the Trafford Centre, crossed Barton Swing Aqueduct and were winding our way around the bendy section at Patricroft and passing beneath the railway bridge where England's first "proper" canal is crossed by the World's first passenger railway... the Liverpool to Manchester Railway. It is unusual to be able to take a descent photograph this bridge as it is usually in shadow but on this day the light was in the right direction. Before reaching Worsley we passed along a stretch of canal that, when I had my fibreglass cruiser, hated as it was extremely weedy and it would be a miracle to be able to pass along this stretch without clearing the propeller.
The original Liverpool to Manchester Railway Bridge across the Bridgewater Canal at Patricroft
The previously weedy stretch of canal approaching Worsley
After a brief stop at Worsley we made our way to Boothstown were we planned to moor for the night. As it was Good Friday Paul had cooked us a beautiful evening meal of salmon on spinach with potatoes and vegetables washed down with wine... lovely! The next morning dawned bright but was quite cold. After breakfast we set off and were impressed with the way that both sides of the canal approaching Astley had been improved and tidied up.
The bank-side improvements on both sides of the canal approaching Astley
Soon we were passing through the outskirts of Leigh where we planned to stop at the Aldi store adjacent to the canal. Just before we stopped I was devastated to discover that the padded black Tamrac case for my Leica lens equipped Panasonic TZ6 camera (which is normally to hand when I am steering) had, unbeknown to me, blown into the canal. This in itself wouldn't have been much of a calamity but the camera's spare battery was also in the case. The case is normally hanging up just inside the rear doors but I had been using the camera, hadn't hung the case back up and not noticed when it blew away. Lesson learnt!
Moorings in Leigh convenient for the Aldi supermarket
Ange negotiating Plank Lane Lift Bridge
With the refrigerator and food cupboards suitably replenished we set off again, stopped traffic at Plank Lane Lift Bridge (where there were now boats occupying the new marina adjacent to the housing development) and made our way to Dover Lock where we planned to moor for the night. When we arrived at Dover Lock we were surprised to discover that the adjacent pub and restaurant had now closed but all was not lost... the "Sweetie Boat" was moored there and we just had to pay it a visit. Ange had brought a bunch of lilies with her and we were impressed with the way that they had opened in such a short period of time. That evening we had another beautiful roast dinner and were later joined by Paul's sister Wendy (not to be confused with the other Wendy that is Paul's wife).
The wide selection of confectionary available on the "Sweetie Boat"...
...and even something for Ruby
The beautiful lilies that Ange had brought with her
After breakfast the next day we waved goodbye to Wendy and set off for Wigan. It was even colder that the previous day so we all wrapped ourselves up well as the locks approached. At Poolstock Bottom Lock one of the upper gates wouldn't open fully. Paul did some fishing and retrieved a blue wheelie bin form the canal which was preventing the gate from opening. After a quick stop at the sanitary station we descended lock 86 and noticed that the former Canal and River Trust Wigan Offices had now been transformed into a hotel. Below lock 87 a new floating pontoon-style landing stage had been installed and was put to good use whilst we stopped for lunch.
Paul and the wheelie bin he fished out of Poolstock Bottom Lock
The new pontoon-style landing stage at Wigan adjacent to Trencherfield Mill
With our stomachs topped-up we continued on our way and before too long we were negotiating Dean Locks which nestle in the shadow of the M6 viaduct. Soon after passing through these locks we decided to moor up for the night in the beautiful River Douglas Valley... one of my favourite stretches of canal. I didn't feel very well the following morning. I felt as though I was getting a cold... not surprising considering how cold it was the previous day. We set off but not long afterwards it started to rain so we moored up for the day after Appley Bridge Deep Lock. I was sent to bed with Paracetamol tablets and Nurse Ruby came to keep me warm!
Nurse Ruby looking after yours truly whilst not well
Roast dinner with Wendy, Paul and Ange on board Squirrel
The rain was in for the day and we all had a relaxing day listening to the pitter patter of the rain on the boat's roof. The beautiful roast dinner helped as well. I was feeling much better the next morning so we carried on past Parbold and negotiated a couple of swing bridges before we arrived at Burscough. We had originally planned to turn right at Burscough and head down the Rufford Branch to Tarleton. As we were behind schedule we decided to carry straight on, visit the sanitary station and shops before turning around and mooring for the night close to the Rufford Branch Junction. We had tea in The Ship Inn at Lathom where we were treated to a beautiful meal... and Ruby came with us as well!
The queue for the powerless Glover's Swing Bridge at Burscough
Coffee break whilst resealing the bathroom mushroom ventilator
The sun came out the next day and we set off for Glover's Swing Bridge just after the Rufford Branch Junction. As we approached the bridge we noticed that there were boats already moored there and we were told that the bridge was out of action due to a power failure. We pulled in and after speaking to the Canal and River Trust as well as the electricity board personnel we were told that the bridge should be back in operation around 4.00pm. It is co-incidental to report that we were held up at the same bridge in 2009. It was the same problem... the electricity supply had been interrupted only this time it was the underground cables that had been severed and not the overhead ones as in 2009. This enforced wait gave me the chance to catch-up on a couple of jobs, I had noticed that the mushroom vent over the bathroom was leaking so I removed it, cleaned-up the location and gasket before re-seating the ventilator. This was a bit of a fiddly job that required copious quantities of WD40, coffee and chocolate biscuits! With this job completed I removed the fresh water pump which had a small amount of seepage coming from the main seal. No doubt this was caused by disturbing the pump when attending to the water tank problems a couple of weeks previously. With these jobs and lunch completed more boats joined the queue for the swing bridge including a few fresh from the Lancaster Canal via the Ribble Link and Rufford Branch. The bridge was operational ahead of schedule at 4.00pm. It was like the start of the Indianapolis 500 motor race with the uttering of the immortal words "Gentlemen... start your engines!" We set off in the late afternoon sunshine and moored for the night below the junction of the upper and lower routes at Appley Bridge.
Secluded Appley Bridge mooring... one of our favourites
The mist rising above one of the disused upper level locks at Appley Bridge
The sun was shining the following morning and the mist rising over the canal promised a fine day. After breakfast we set off for Appley Bridge Deep Lock. Whilst the boats were rising in the lock I took the opportunity to take a few photographs of the upper level waterway, lock and the solar powered water level recording unit for monitoring lock usage and canal water levels... the first one I had seen.
Appley Bridge Upper Level Canal and Locks
Solar powered lock usage and water level sensor recording unit
The picturesque Crooke Village
We made good time and were soon passing through Dean Locks, Crooke Village and the outskirts of Wigan. We were to have visitors in the shape of Michael, his "friend" Amy and Shannon who were going to meet us later that afternoon at Dover Lock. With the lock behind us we cruised along the beautiful River Douglas Valley in sunshine that you could actually feel the heat from. next navigation feature was the swing bridge at Appley Bridge followed shortly afterwards by Dean Locks. Above the locks the canal winds its way to Crooke Village, past the moorings of the Douglas Valley Cruising Club and to the outskirts of Wigan. We made mincemeat out of the locks and moored for a quick lunch on the new pontoon moorings by Trencherfield Mill and a quick visit to the sanitary station at Lock 86 just before the Leigh Branch Junction. Needless to say, one of the few boats we met was whilst we were in Lock 86 completing our ablutions! Originally, Michael had said that he would meet us at 4.00pm at Dover Lock but his plans changed and it would now be 3.00pm. We had planned to arrive there at 3.00pm which would give us an hour to tidy up the boat before his arrival. The new time frame meant that we had to tidy up on the go so once the two Poolstock Locks were out of the way Ange and I took turns steering whilst the other did jobs. It got even warmer in the afternoon and we cruised in short sleeved t-shirts it was so warm. My new Buckby can painted by my daughter Lisa even made an appearance on the boat's roof!
The Buckby Can that was painted by my daughter Lisa taking pride of place on the boat's roof
All in all, really idyllic day's cruising. We arrived at Dover Lock dead on 3.00 and no sign of Michael (poor time management... we can be on time in a boat that does 4 mph on a good day!) He did eventually arrive along with his daughter Shannon and "friend" Amy. They stayed for a few hours and afternoon tea before leaving us in peace. As we still had a couple of days to spare we planned to cruise to Castlefield, Manchester, moor there for the day and catch the bus to Bury Market. With this in mind we had a reasonable day's cruising ahead of us. First stop was Plank Lane Lift Bridge shortly after which is a novel use of old lock gates in the shape of a wildlife hide adjacent to the towpath.
Disused lock gates used as a wildlife hide at Plank Lane
Plank Lane was followed by a quick visit to Aldi in Leigh, onto the Bridgewater Canal which makes an end-on junction with the Leigh Branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Once under way again I found myself looking at the sides of the canal just in case there was a black Tamrac camera case with a spare battery in it floating. Needless to say I didn't see it as it would most probably be well sunk by then. The weather wasn't as warm as the previous day but was none the less pleasant. We retraced our steps through Worsley, Trafford Park, etc and turned left at Waters Meeting in Stretford to head for Manchester City Centre. Along the way we noticed that the previously deconstructed "Container City" in Trafford Park was making a comeback... not doubt because of the success of the nearby Port Salford Container Terminal on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Abstract photograph of some of the containers at "Container City" in Trafford Park
Soon we were cruising along Castle Quay in Castlefield and after turning around adjacent to Grocer's Warehouse we found two 45 foot moorings adjacent to Merchant's Warehouse. Once moored we were bemused by the behaviour of the occupants of an Audi A3 who were inflating balloons using co² refills meant for soda water dispensers, The next morning there were about fifty cylinders strewn over the car park. I wonder where they came from?
Sunset from our mooring on Castle Quay
Nocturnal photograph of our mooring at Castle Quay
We were up early next morning to catch the 135 bus for Bury Market. As it was damp and a bit on the cool side Ruby had her waterproof coat on and we took one of her towels with us to spread over our knees for her to lie on our knees whilst on the bus. Once at the market we walked around looking for the various items we required. Ruby enjoyed looking in the pet stalls as they had display units at Ruby level so she could choose which dog treats she wanted to spend her pocket money on. Half-way through our shopping expedition we found a café in the market and stopped for lunch. My pie was ok but Ange had it with peas and gravy... nice peas Ange. Shame I didn't have a Geiger counter with me! When we resumed our shopping we came across one stall that had a hand towel with a squirrel on it and "Cyril" embroidered beneath it. To say that this had my name on it would be an understatement. Needless to say it ended up in our shopping bag. When we were "all shopped out" we made our way back to the bus station and caught the return 135 bus back to Manchester. On the return journey Ruby seemed quite interested in the Cheetham Hill residents. I had better explain that she does not appear to like black people, people in black clothing, hoodies, etc. Thankfully she fell asleep on our knees and didn't wake up until the bus reached the terminus at Piccadilly Plaza. We then walked through the city centre back to Castlefield and after a cuppa we washed and changed to go to The Wharf for our evening meal. There are quite a few of my photographs adorning the walls inside The Wharf and I couldn't resist to have my photograph taken by Paul next to a couple of them.
The Wharf (previously Jackson's Wharf) pub and restaurant on Castle Quay
Yours truly with a couple of my photograph of Castlefield in The Wharf
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
Wendy, myself, Ange and Paul awaiting our meal in The Wharf
(Photograph - The Wharf Waitress)
We had a lovely meal in pleasant surroundings with good company and we were soon returning to out boats. Next morning we set off after breakfast about 10.00 am to return to our moorings and cruised through the developing cityscape of Central Manchester. There are many new developments taking place adjacent to the canal... not just in the Castlefield area but also around Pomona Dock where we also noticed that construction had commenced on the long-promised Metrolink tram line extension to the Trafford Centre.
The now completed Hulme Lock Development
We made a stop at Stretford Marina to visit the sanitary station and empty the toilets and enjoy a cup of coffee ready for the last part of our cruise back to our moorings. Even though the weather was bright it was quite cold but this did not detract from the cruise back to Agden. We stopped at Dunham Massey for lunch then cruised the last few miles back to Agden. On our arrival at Agden we moored temporarily on the water point whilst we off-loaded our dirty clothes, food and other things not normally left on the boat into the car which was parked a few metres away. Whilst we were there Alan Savage gave me the second cast iron tractor seat to go on the starboard side of the aft deck that he had made the bracket for. It was put in the car along with the first one so that they could be painted at home. With the car full we put the boat back on its mooring and said our farewells to Paul and Wendy before heading down the M56 to home and reality.
Timetable for our 2018 Easter Cruise
|-||Agden near Lymm to Boothstown|
Boothstown to Dover Lock
Dover Lock to below Dean Locks
Dean Locks to below Appley Bridge Deep Lock
Appley Bridge Deep Lock to Burscough
Burscough to below Appley Bridge Deep Lock
Appley Bridge Deep Lock to Dover Lock
Dover Lock to Castlefield, Manchester
|Saturday||-||Castlefield, Manchester all day|
|Sunday||-||Castlefield, Manchester to Agden near Lymm|
Easter Escape Cruise Epilogue
We thoroughly enjoyed our Easter Escape. It came at a time that we were all ready for a break from the stresses of day to day life and also gave us the opportunity to identify any problems with the boat and rectify them. We had originally planned to cruise to Tarleton at the end of the Rufford Branch where the Leeds and Liverpool Canal meets the tidal River Douglas... the first part of the Ribble Link which connects to the Lancaster Canal and Preston Docks. Inclement weather and me needing to spend a day in bed because of a heavy cold put paid to that plan but we enjoyed the cruise nevertheless. We enjoyed some beautiful locations, good company and good food. I can honestly say that I have put on a couple of pounds whilst we were away! We are now looking forward to the boating season and the delights that it holds for us. Bring it on!
Click to return to Contents
Chapter 3 - Canalmanac 2018 Part 2
Shortly after we returned home from our Easter Escape Cruise, I received an e-mail from the Inland Waterways Association informing me that one of my photographs had been accepted for the 2019 IWA Calendar. I had submitted a few photographs and the one that they decided to use to illustrate June was a photograph of ex-working narrowboats at Dutton on the Trent and Mersey Canal taken a few years ago and was not necessarily the one that I personally would have chosen. Still, there is no accounting for tastes and I don't suppose for one minute that the judging panel was made of "educated" photographers. Anyway, enough of the big-headedness, I have included the photograph in question below for your appreciation.
Ex-working narrowboats at Dutton on the Trent and Mersey Canal - the photograph used to illustrate June in the 2019 IWA Calendar
The weekend after our Easter Escape Cruise repainting was due to start on Paul's boat Adreva. It was to be painted by Steve and Mark who painted Squirrel a couple of years previously. I am sure that they did such a good job on our boat was the deciding factor for them painting Adreva. The prepararetory work was due to be undertaken at Lymm CC's Clubhouse and we had arranged to come up to Lymm and help Paul. We were redecorating our bedroom at home and due to the rescheduled delivery of our new bed we had to complete the redecorating earlier than planned and couldn't go to help but Paul sent me some photographs to let me now how work was progressing.
Adreva at Lymm prepared for repainting to commence...
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
...Steve and Mark busy sanding down the paintwork...
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
...and the undercoat applied
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
As well as the redecorating at home Ange and I managed to find the time to paint our new cast iron tractor seats to match the colour of the boat. I had the brainwave to mount them on my Black and Decker Workmate to make the job of painting them easier. We can't wait to mount them on the boat permanently and try them out. Hopefully the next weekend will give us the opportunity to do this.
Our newly painted cast iron tractor seats mounted in the Workmate
And the weather did give us this opportunity... the weather was fabulous with clear blue skies and hot sunshine. We headed up to Agden for the St George's Day Cruise to The Swan With Two Nicks at Little Bollington. We loaded our stuff onto the boat and had arranged to ferry Paul and Wendy up to Little Bollington but the painters were still working on Adreva so we did a couple of jobs on the boat and went up alone to meet them at the pub later. The jobs that we did included permanently fitting our newly repainted cast iron tractor-style seats on the aft deck and screwing the Beldray bracket for the Kärcher Window Vac adjacent to the Dyson vacuum cleaner bracket.
The repainted cast iron tractor-style seats fitted
Newly installed Kärcher Window Vac Bracket
Cruising in the idyllic sunshine at Little Bollington
With these jobs completed we headed up to Little Bollington in the hot sunshine... idyllic cruising weather and in April as well! When we arrived at Little Bollington there were quite a few boats from Lymm CC there already so we found a mooring the other side of the underbridge near Alan Savage's boat. As soon as we moored Ruby was off to call for her friend Woodsey.
Woodsey and Ruby playing on the towpath
Soon after Miss Be Havin' arrived and their dog Fudge joined in the fun as well and they spent most of the afternoon running along the towpath whilst we chatted to other Lymm CC members as well as sharing a cuppa with Alan and Lin. Our table for eight people in the Swan With Two Nicks was booked for six thirty and so we got washed and changed. When Alan and Lin plus Colin and Beryl were ready we headed for the pub. Even though I have been on the Bridgewater Canal for over thirty years I had never walked down to the underbridge, along the footpath to the village or visited this pub so, needless to say, the Leica came as well.
Little Bollington Underbridge leading to the Swan With Two Nicks
The Swan With Two Nicks at Little Bollington
I took a few photographs of the underbridge as well as the pub and saw a couple of locations to photograph in the future when there is more greenery on the trees and in the fields. When we arrived Paul and Wendy were already there and after a catch-up over a drink on how the repaint on Adreva was going we went inside for our meal.
Preparation work on Adreva's aft deck and rear bulkhead and...
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
...the first coat of paint on the roof after a rain shower
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
And a very good meal it turned out to be as well. The food was superb with generously sized portions. So much so that I could not finish my main course and most certainly did not have any room for a desert (not like me at all) even though the apple pie and pouring cream looked absolutely delicious! With full stomachs we made our way back down the footpath, beneath the underbridge to the boat for a cuppa before saying farewell to Paul and Wendy after an enjoyable evening in pleasant surroundings with excellent company and good food.
Our party waiting for food
The next morning couldn't have been more different. I didn't think that we would catch any sunburn today! The temperature was cool and the sky was full of grey, threatening clouds. After breakfast we said goodbye to our friends and headed back to our moorings. As soon as we set off it started to rain and it persisted whilst we loaded up the car. It was not until we were half way down the M56 that the rain stopped. Still the previous day made up for the weather we had experienced that morning. It's funny that in this country whenever we have a hot sunny day we pay for it the next day with rain and clouds. Still, it's only April after all.
We were looking forward to the Early May Bank Holiday weekend. Even though we were not accompanying Lymm CC members to Castlefield in Manchester we had a busy itinerary planned. Ange had plans to go to the theatre with her son Michael and his friend Amy so I drove up to Agden in the brilliant sunshine on the Friday afternoon and on arrival took the boat down to Lymm where I planned to crack on with a couple of jobs from my "to do list". Whilst moored at Venetian Marina, Cholmondeston on our 2017 Summer Cruise Ange saw a boat with a windmill and solar lamp fitted to it. She was captivated by it and on our return I bought one for her. It was put in our back garden until a suitable bracket was made for it by Alan Savage and when completed was the first of my jobs to be completed when I fitted onto the boat's roof aft of the radio/TV antenna. Next I fitted the headlamp/horn bracket. With the cratch and foredeck cover fitted the headlamp and horn had to be relocated. As the original horn was not cosmetically pleasing (in other words... scruffy looking) the opportunity to replace it with an "oooagaagh" klaxon-type horn that I had bought previously was taken.
Angie's solar light and windmill fitted on the roof
New horn fitted and headlamp relocated
Completion of these jobs took me nicely up to tea-time and it was getting busy at Lymm so I returned to Agden where the tools were put away and the eating utensils brought out! On the way back I noticed someone taking a photograph of the boat. The person in question was Colin Bradshaw on the boat Dick Turpin moored just before the Barn Owl pub. I asked Colin to send me a copy of the photograph which is reproduced below. It is unusual for me to have a photograph of the boat under way and even rarer for me to be included in it. Thanks Colin.
A shiny Squirrel near Agden
(Photograph - Colin Bradshaw)
Saturday morning, after breakfast I tidied up the boat ready for Ange's arrival. Next I took the boat to the water point to fill the water tank ready for the weekend. She was brought up by Michael and his friend Amy and after they arrived we took them for a cruise to Stockton Heath in the blisteringly hot, May sunshine.
Stockton heath on a hot May Bank Holiday Weekend
Whilst we were at Stockton Heath we bumped into my daughter Lisa, grandaughter Grace and ex-wife Barbara on board Jus' Romin'. Grace later accompanied Ange, Michael and Amy around the shops and was treated to a Flake Ice Cream. Lisa was putting the finishing touches to some canal art roses on narrowboat Jus' Romin's rear door panels, a photograph of which is included below for the reader's consideration.
Canal art roses on Jus' Romin' painted by my daughter... Lisa
(Photograph - Lisa Hitchcock)
After a trip around the shops they returned to the boat for the return trip. We stopped at the Lymm CC Clubhouse on our return where Paul's boat was being repainted. We moored in the slipway and Paul took our visitors back to Agden by car whilst we stayed on the boat at Lymm. On his return we had a chippy tea on board Squirrel. After tea we returned to Agden as we had recharged the power tools' batteries ready for me to continue with my jobs plus it was becoming rather busy at Lymm and we thought that others would need the space we were occupying. After a nice quiet night at Agden I started to wash the boat and when it had dried I polished it whilst Ange touched-up the green paintwork.
Polishing the boat in the brilliant, hot sunshine...
...Ange with the Autoglym
It was even hotter than the previous day and we could only finish half of the boat. Spaces had become available at Lymm so we returned there where we moored in the slipway. Later we had a lovely alfresco meal adjacent to the canal. After we had finished off the bottle of wine we stayed out chatting until the sun went down then retired to bed after another beautifully hot and sunny day.
Having a beautiful alfresco dinner adjacent to the canal at Lymm
Steve and Mark the painters arrived early next morning and to facilitate them being able to reach both sides of the boat we swapped places with Paul's boat. Once they were under way Wendy, Ange and Paul went on a message leaving Oliver and me in charge.
Lymm CC moorings in the early morning sunshine
Steve and Mark painting Adreva
The painters had to finish at lunchtime due to the boat being too hot to paint. They had nearly completed one side and there was only the roof, gunwales and sign writing on one side to complete. I did a couple more jobs and then we took the boats back to Agden.
Oliver steering Adreva at Oughtrington
Adreva back on its mooring at Agden
Soon afterwards the others returned and we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon before packing up the car after tea and had a drink with our friends before heading for home. As we were enjoying our drink Beryl and Colin arrived on Miss B Havin. Their little dog Fudge is one of Ruby's friends and they spent some time playing together on the moorings. When it was time for Fudge to go home Ruby sat down as she watched her friend walking to the car park. Her body language said it all. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me to capture the moment. Next, it was our turn to head for the car park after a simply beautiful long weekend that included the hottest May Day Bank Holiday on record. I simply don't know what has gone wrong... we don't normally have dry weather, hot sunshine and a Bank Holiday all at the same time!
Our next visit to Agden was equally hot and sunny and we planned to take a trip to Ikea in Warrington on the way. With our shopping completed we called at Paul and Wendy's house before carrying on to Agden ready for the Lymm CC work party the following day. The work party co-incided with Megan and Harry's Royal Wedding but we were too busy digging, etc. to watch it although we did catch a glimpse of it at lunch time. The purpose of the work party was to dig holes and trenches then lay cable for the electricians to renew the mains electrical circuit on the moorings. The work party was very well attended by members from all the moorings and by mid-afternoon the job was completed. Wendy and Ange made bacon butties, tea, coffee and cold drinks for the workers and they were very well received.
Trenches and post holes excavated...
...the work party in full swing...
...posts in place and cables laid...
...all done and the trenches filled-in
Whilst working down the far end of the Agden moorings Paul and I inspected one of the bird nesting boxes and when we lifted the lid we were pleased to be greeted by a sea of open beaks belonging to blue tit chicks that had recently hatched. We then left them in peace but not before capturing them photographically.
Blue tit chicks in the nesting box
The painters were putting the finishing touches to the repaint on Adreva and whilst they were working Ange and Ruby entertained Wendy and Clara... their daughter's cocker spaniel that they had brought with them. Ruby was a little unsure at first but they were soon playing with each other much to our delight. We had our tea alfresco and sat out talking until the sun went down on a busy but rewarding day.
Painter Mark putting the finishing touches to Adreva's repaint...
...poppy detail on the aft deck bulkhead...
...the finished article... and very good it looks too
Ruby and Clara playing
The next day was Sunday and Ange had family commitments to attend to so we planned to leave for home late morning. Whilst preparing our morning tea and coffee Ange had an avian encounter in the shape of a visitor through the side doors... a swan no less. Ruby wasn't very pleased but we don't know if it was the fact that the swan intruded on her territory or that she objected to Ange feeding it!
Ange and the visitor through the side doors
After an alfresco breakfast we tidied up the boat, loaded the car and reluctantly left our friends to their jobs whilst we headed for home after a fab weekend. We now have to make preparations for the Whit Bank Holiday Weekend when we are driving to Crick in Northamptonshire for the Crick Boat Show... can't wait. Let's hope that the spell of good weather holds but, with it being a Bank Holiday Weekend I won't be holding my breath!
The Bank Holiday weekend of the Crick Boat Show had finally arrived. Months ago we had hired a caravan with Paul and Wendy. It was from The Caravan Company which is based at Milton Keynes and was being delivered to the camping ground at Crick Friday lunchtime. Accordingly, we stayed at Paul and Wendy's house on the Thursday night before travelling to Crick the next morning. As previously mentioned, the weather had been fabulous all week and this weather was forecast to continue for the next couple of days at least. We had also arranged to meet Beryl and Colin Wills (who also moor on our moorings) at Crick and when we arrived they had already parked their motorhome on their allotted space. We asked if our caravan could be parked next to them when it arrived and we were told that this wasn't a problem.
Our hired caravan parked next to Beryl and Colin's motorhome at Crick Boat Show
After the caravan was delivered and set-up we started unpacking the car to gain some semblance of organisation and familiarise ourselves with the layout of the caravan. Some of the features made us smile as did the compact nature of its layout. It possessed two double beds and, as I would most probably be first up in the mornings to see to Ruby, we had the one nearest the door. It spanned the whole width of the caravan but even so Ange's feet were located in an open cupboard that we nicknamed the foot locker. The toilet was a Thetford cassette toilet not too dissimilar to the one on our narrowboat. It was the sign above it that was a source of hilarity. It read... "Can you please only use the toilet for number ones. Please use sited toilets for number twos unless it is urgent or should children need to go during the night".
The sign adjacent to the caravan's toilet
Ange's "foot locker"
Once we had unpacked and looked in the cupboards to see what was supplied (no kettle and cutlery missing) we spent the afternoon talking and basking in the brilliant, hot sunshine until the show ground opened later that evening. Even though the stands were not open or completed we had a walk around to discover out where everything was ready for the opening next morning (Saturday). After breakfast next morning we set off for the show ground in brilliant sunshine. There was a lot to see so we got started with the main trade marquee followed by the Midland Chandlers and the Canal and River Trust marquees where I couldn't resist making comment about their new, controversial logo being reminiscent of a sinking tyre! We sought refuge from the heat in the Waterways World VIP Lounge for lunch which, I have to say was very civilised... even Ruby was provided with her own water bowl!
The new Canal and River Trust "sinking tyre" logo
Ange practicing ice breaking with an interactive computer program in the CRT marquee
Inside the Waterways World VIP Lounge
Once suitably refreshed we carried on looking around the stalls. Paul was purchasing some new ropes and whilst we were waiting for him a gentleman came up to us and asked if we were from Canalscape. We told him that we were and he admitted that it was Ange that he recognised... maybe there needs to be more photographs of yours truly. The Canalscape reader and his wife told us that their names were Gary and Petrina Allsopp, that they were from South Wales and was designing a cruiser which is a sort of scaled down look-alike of a Mathews Martinique, an American Express Cruiser built between 1956 and 1962. It will be based on a hull plan from the British company, Selway-Fisher and would be trailable. He went on to explain that the hull would be six foot ten inches beam and twenty seven feet long so it would be sailable on the canal system. We wished them every success with the project and told them to keep in touch. There were boats of all shapes and sizes on display... both on the land and floating.
Just a few of the floating exhibits on display
Colour scheme on this boat looked familiar
Paul had made appointments to view some of them as he is making long-term plans for a new boat in the future. Some boats didn't need appointments to view and we went on a couple of them. Some of the design features incorporated into the new boats were excellent ideas (eg: seamlessly integrated kitchen worktop, sink and drainer) but others seemed to be a bit pointless... (eg: motorized cross bed and bidet). Pointless to us anyway.
Seamlessly integrated kitchen worktop
On the Saturday night the entertainment was Half Cut... a rock band and wasn't to our liking and neither was the range of beverages on sale. So we left the entertainment marquee and after a walk around the showground to the Grand Union Canal bridge we returned to the caravan after a brilliant first day. There was a thunder storm during the night which cooled everywhere down nicely for when the morning dawned. After breakfast we continued looking around. On the Beta engine stand they had oil filters at a special show price, two of which were purchased along with 15-40 engine oil also available at a special show price.
This engine looks familiar!
Relaxing with Beryl and Colin at the campsite
In the late afternoon the weather changed and we had another thunder storm. We had already returned to the caravan but after tea Ange, Wendy and Paul went to the main marquee to listen to the Abba tribute band Arrival which, from all accounts was very good but the marquee was very hot and very muddy. It looked as though I had made the correct decision to stay in the caravan reading my Kindle with Ruby snuggled up to me. The next day (Bank Holiday Monday) was the last day of the boat show. The caravan was due to be collected late morning so after breakfast we packed up our things and put them in the car. the guy from The Caravan Company came and thankfully didn't get stuck in the mud. After this we headed into the show ground to pick up a few things that we wanted. After lunch we went on one of the trip boats which took us a mile or so along the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal. Unfortunately, it didn't go through Crick Tunnel and towards the Watford Staircase Locks but in the opposite direction which was still very pleasant.
The day trip boat that took us on a short journey along the canal
Paul, Ruby, Ange and Wendy on board Fox Cub
Such was the popularity of the boat trips there were a few boats plying the same route
There were not as many visitors' boats moored as I would have thought there would be but I suspect that most boaters would visit by car (like we did) due to constraints of time. Once back at Crick Marina we made a last walk around the stands before returning to the camp site where Beryl and Colin looked after us (as they did for the duration of the boat show) until we left for home later on. The boat show was a great success, helped, no doubt, by the wonderful weather. We all thoroughly enjoyed or visit to Crick... even Ruby seemed to enjoy the visit and her behaviour was as we would have expected, and look forward to visiting it again in the future. Next time we would like to visit the show by boat provided that we had a month to spare in order to cruise down there. This would in itself pose a question... which way to go? Would we go down the Trent and Mersey, along the Coventry and Oxford Canals to the Grand Union and up the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union or would we go up the Shroppie, a little way down the Staffs and Worcs to Aldersley Junction, across the BCN to Camp Hill Locks and the Grand Union Canal to the Northampton Arm. Of course we could always go one way and come back another but that is something that will have to wait until we both retire. In the meantime we can thoroughly recommend boat owners (both existing and prospective) to visit the Crick Boat Show. If not to purchase a boat, to take advantage of the plethora of trade stands many of which are selling their products at "special show prices" some of which we took advantage of. Until the next time...
The day after we returned from Crick I took a trip up to the boat with the purchases we had made. I also wanted to crack on with a couple of jobs in preparation for the forthcoming Boat Safety Certificate inspection. First off I permanently fitted the fire blanket. Next, I fitted the foredeck lighting switch, cable trunking, headlamp and horn wiring as well as the foredeck lighting itself which I screwed to the trunking lid on the cratch beam.
The foredeck lighting switch and cable trunking
Foredeck lighting screwed to the cable trunking lid on the cratch beam
Cable trunking for the headlamp and horn cables in position
I purposely bought dark brown trunking to match the mahogany coloured cratch timberwork but some parts of it will have to be painted green the same as the rest of the boat. The jobs don't sound very time consuming but certain aspects were fiddly which demanded concentration and attention to detail. After a few hours the task was complete and with only the horn to connect I put all the tools away, tidied up and returned home happy with my efforts.
The weekend after Crick Paul and Wendy had arranged a Painted Boat Party at Moore and we were invited. We arrived on the Friday afternoon and we were accompanied by Shannon. The weather was wonderful and when Wendy and Paul arrived we sat out on the moorings until dusk. Next morning we set off for Moore and called at Lymm CC's Clubhouse to empty toilets, etc. The weather was not as warm as the previous day and at times we thought that it was going to rain but this was not the case and the sun came out again.
View from the tiller at Holly Hedge Lane Bridge approaching Moore
We moored just before the Village Shop at Moore
Adreva in the sunshine with the new paint job
Once at Moore we moored and as Paul and Wendy's guests started to arrive the gazebo was erected and barbeque lit. Paul had bought an inflatable dinghy that was a hit with the younger members of the group including Shannon. The barbeque was well attended and a great success with everyone admiring Adreva's new paint scheme. By 8.00pm everyone had gone leaving us to relax with a glass of wine in the warm evening sunlight.
The barbeque complete with complete with burgers and sausages
The gazebo provided welcome shade from the sun
nb Californian passing our barbeque
Paul in the dinghy...
...and Shannon betting the hang of rowing
Sunday morning dawned sunny again and after breakfast we were on our way. At Grappenhall Turn we passed nb Bellatrix which is stepping in for fuel deliveries whilst nb Aerial is being refurbished following a fire. We stopped briefly at Stockton Heath to get rid of the rubbish and were soon passing through Lymm and approaching our moorings soon afterwards. By lunchtime we had loaded the car, said farewell to our friends and were on our way home after a beautiful weekend with good company in pleasant surroundings.
nb Bellatrix at Grappenhall Turn
The outskirts of Lymm on a hot, sunny day
Our Boat Safety Certificate was not due to expire until the 17th August 2018 but, as another boat was having its Boat Safety certificate examination on our moorings I decided to have our examination done at the same time. The middle of August is not a good time for the certificate to expire due to clashing with holidays and cruises. Accordingly, I had taken the last of my un-booked annual holidays from work off on the 6th June which was the date that the Boat Safety Examiner was due to make the examinations. Ruby and I arrived at Agden moorings late morning and whilst we waited for the examiner (Graham Thornton) to arrive I took the opportunity to sort out the storage beneath the bunks in the aft cabin and put stuff not required in the car to go home. Graham Thornton arrived late afternoon with his wife and before long had given Squirrel a clean bill of health except for requesting that I re-routed some cables that were too close to the Eberspächer's exhaust pipe to prevent them melting. The resulting Boat Safety Certificate was sent by post a few days later.
Boat Safety Certificate Examiner Graham Thornton and his wife on board Squirrel
The same day the Bridgewater Canal featured on the Granada TV News in a piece about building houses on green belt land. Accompanying the news item was some drone footage of Moore featuring the canal and, as it is unusual to see the canal from this viewpoint I have included a screenshot of the footage below.
A screenshot of the aerial view of the Bridgewater Canal at Moore
(Photograph - Granada Television)
Ange was visiting a sick friend in Southport the following day and after the visit we treated ourselves to tea at The Ship Inn, Haskayne on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We had visited this pub a few times before the most recent being on our Summer Cruise to Liverpool in 2016. The food was great as well as the surroundings.
The Ship Inn at Haskayne on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
That weekend there was a Lymm CC cruise to Dunham Massey and, as soon as I finished work we loaded up the car and made our way to our moorings at Agden. When we had loaded our food and clothes onto the boat I attended to the electrical wiring problem that Graham Thornton had pointed out to me when he was making the Boat Safety examination. Graham advised that I re-routed the cable loom away from the Eberspächer's exhaust pipe to prevent them melting. When I was moving them I noticed that there was a small amount of heat damage to the loom but it had not penetrated the outer sleeve of the loom and the wiring was undamaged. But this is what the Boat Safety Examination is all about and I am grateful to Graham for pointing it out. Once this was completed I started to wash and polish the port side of the boat but it was too hot to complete it so I put everything away and chilled-out for the remainder of the afternoon. After breakfast the next day we set off for Dunham Massey and found a very nice mooring close to the obelisk. The cruise was well attended and a short rain shower but it didn't last long.
The Lymm CC cruise to Dunham Massey was well attended...
...and even a short rain shower didn't dampen our enjoyment
In the evening there was food laid on so we took our chairs to the gazebo and passed the evening away chatting to fellow club members, catching-up on the latest Club news and very civilised it was too (the food was great as well). Ange had family commitments the next day so we set-off early and returned to our moorings, loaded up the car and headed for home in the brilliant, hot sunshine after a productive and enjoyable weekend.
Lymm CC members chatting and eating around the gazebo
Our Summer Cruise was now getting very close and it was time to complete some last minute jobs. We arrived at our moorings on the Friday afternoon and we loaded some items onto the boat for the holiday including clothes and a few other essential items. The next morning I started my jobs changing the engine oil and filter then cleaning the boat's non-slip roof paint which was quite dirty. Time to put on the knee pads I think! A friend recommended using traffic film remover which I did and after rinsing with clean water it appeared to be successful although a bit patchy.
Yours truly cleaning the boat's roof
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
Even though I had rinsed the roof with fresh water, after a shower of rain there were streaks of cream from the roof paint running down the dark green of the cabin sides. I tried washing it off to no avail. Ange and I ended up having to T-Cut the all the cabin sides' paintwork them applying two coats of carnauba polish just in case there was more dead paint to be washed off. Once completed we didn't get our tea until 8.45pm. Now I know why the manufacturers recommend using a power washer after use! That evening we were treated to a beautiful sunset which I captured through the boat's side doors, showing off the reflection in the newly polished paintwork.
Sunset at Agden... check out the reflection in the freshly polished paintwork!
Next morning we concentrated on checking the wardrobe and cupboards for items that we do not need to take on holiday with us and make a list of items that we needed to buy. We also gave the boat one last clean before heading for home. All that now remains is to fill the fresh water tank and bring up the remainder of the clothes, food and other items needed on the cruise (not forgetting the Leicas of course!) Early in the next week I received an e-mail from the IWA informing me that the Shrewsbury and North Wales Branch had selected two of my photographs for inclusion in their 2019 Calendar. This was in addition to, as previously mentioned, one of my photographs being selected for the main IWA 2019 Calendar. The two photographs that the Shrewsbury and North Wales Branch had selected were of nb Squirrel moored above Baddiley Locks on the Llangollen Canal and of Venetian Marina at Cholmondeston on the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie. I have included the photographs below for your perusal.
nb Squirrel moored above Baddiley Locks on the Llangollen Canal
Venetian Marina on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal
To be continued in... Canalmanac 2018 Part 3
Click to return to Contents
Chapter 4 - Summer Cruise 2018
As mentioned briefly in the previous section, we had planned to visit the Montgomery and Llangollen canals on our 2018 Holiday Cruise but the breach at Middlewich caused us to change our plans to another destination that we planned to cruise in the not too distant future... The Caldon Canal. Consequently, we cancelled our booking with the Canal and River Trust for the passage of Welsh Frankton Locks and made plans for the Caldon. During the couple of weeks prior to our Summer Cruise we had been blessed with really hot weather which we expected to end seeing as though we were going on holiday. How wrong we were!
Our holiday started on Friday the 22nd June when we arrived at our Agden mooring early afternoon with a full car. I brought the boat up to the water point and filled the fresh water tank as we loaded our things on board. Not long afterwards Wendy and Paul arrived who brought their boat alongside ours and did likewise.
Our gang ready to set off on our 2018 Summer Cruise
As the following day was Lymm Historic Transport Festival, the Village would most probably be full of historic boats, some of which would be barges in the truest sense of the word, so we thought that it would be prudent to set off, get through Lymm Village today and moor for the night at Thelwall Underbridge. When we reached Lymm Village our suspicions were correct. It was full of wall-to-wall narrowboats and barges so we carried on to Thelwall in the late afternoon sunshine where we moored for the night. Once moored we enjoyed our first dinner alfresco.
The first overnight mooring of our summer cruise at Thelwall Underbridge
Saturday morning dawned hot and sunny and after breakfast we set off. Soon after starting to move our engine temperature alarm went off. I stopped to investigate, checking the cooling water level, hoses, etc. which all appeared to be in order. After checking when I started the engine again all seemed to be okay. I put it down to the thermostat sticking and not opening fully. That morning the gas bottle ran out so we stopped briefly at Thorn Marine, Stockton Heath to replace it and were on our way again. We had lunch on the go and stopped at Daresbury for the night where had another lovely alfresco evening meal on the towpath. Whilst sitting on our chairs after dinner we heard Norman Greenbaum's classic song "Spirit in the Sky" coming from a passing boat's stereo. We couldn't resist having an impromptu dance on the towpath, much to the delight of the passing boaters! When we started off the next morning in the brilliant sunshine I had a repeat of the previous morning when the engine temperature alarm went off again. This time I identified the problem as being low engine coolant. I had partially drained the system previously when re-routing some electrical cables and there must have been a stubborn air lock that had only just manifested itself. I let the engine cool down before refilling it and we were soon on our way again with no repeat of the problem. It was not long before we were at Preston Brook Tunnel. We were at exactly the right time to enter and there wasn't a queue so we went straight and managed to clear the tunnel in less than twelve minutes. Soon after was Dutton Stop Lock then we were on the delightful Vale Royal stretch of the canal. The Canal and River Trust were undertaking bank improvements and dredging which is badly needed. We passed through Saltersford and Barnton Tunnels without incident then had a brief stop at Anderton to top-up the water tanks, empty the toilets and get rid of our rubbish before setting off again and mooring for the night at Billinge Green Flash.
Alfresco evening meal at Billing Green Flash
Whilst we were at Billinge Green Flash, Paul and I did a couple of jobs that we didn't have time to complete before setting off. Our fresh water pump was cutting in every few minutes and a faulty non-return valve was diagnosed. A new pump wasn't much more than a diaphragm repair kit so I had ordered one and brought it with me. Once fitted the problem was solved. The shower sump pump filter needed cleaning and the stern gland lubricator was refilled. After completing these jobs we had another alfresco evening meal. The hot weather was staying with us and the weather forecast for the coming week was more of the same... Heartbreak Hill anyone? Our next stop was at Middlewich. After negotiating Big Lock we moored just past the playground and walked into the town for shopping. We didn't want to leave Ruby inside a hot boat so she came with us and found a nice cool spot in Tesco's lobby where the air conditioning could be felt every time the automatic doors opened. With our shopping complete we returned to the boats, put our shopping away and headed for Middlewich Bottom Lock. We then started to ascend "Heartbreak Hill"... the thirty three locks from Middlewich Bottom Lock (74) Middlewich to Red Bull Top Lock (41) at Kidsgrove.
Ascending the twinned Lock 65 on the Wheelock Flight
Who in their right mind would decide to climb this flight of locks in temperatures in excess of 26°c? We ran aground at Middlewich Top Wharf Bridge and again when approaching Kings Lock due to low water levels. There is nothing coming down the Middlewich Arm due to the previously mentioned breach. Ange had to open the top paddles at Kings Lock to let some water into the pound so that we could enter the lock. We stopped just before the M6 Viaduct at the top of the Wheelock section for lunch and a siesta. Due to the shallowness of the canal and the lack of suitable clearances in the towpath foliage here we had to double moor. I don't know if having to stop in the middle of the day when it is hot is a sign of old age or global warming! We planned to continue later on when it had cooled down a bit. As we relaxed we watched the traffic nose to tail on the nearby M6 motorway. We had crossed the canal many times here and wished that we were below on the canal. And here we were... glad that we were not in the rat race not very far away.
Double moored below the M6 Viaduct near Hassall Green
View from the cratch at Hassall Green
When we set off again we were looking forward to an ice cream at the canalside shop at Hassall Green adjacent to Lock 57 but were disappointed to discover that it had closed since we were last here a few years ago. So... onwards and upwards! We carried on for a couple more hours and moored for the night below Thurlwood Locks before enjoying another alfresco evening meal. The next day promised to be yet another stinking hot one so when we set off we paced ourselves and reached Red Bull Services at Kidsgrove by lunchtime. We filled the water tanks, emptied the toilets, got rid of our rubbish and had showers before lunch. When we set off again we only had a couple more locks before Harecastle Tunnel.
Waiting to enter Harecastle Tunnel
We arrived at the tunnel late afternoon and were the only boats waiting to go through. We were met by Naomi... a Canal and River Trust representative who after checking our licences and giving instructions on the tunnel passage waved us through. We were the last boats of the day to enter the tunnel and, as there were no boats in front of us to slow us down made the passage in thirty five minutes. It was nice and cool in the tunnel with no sign of Kit Crewbucket (the Kidsgrove Boggart). Accordingly, the passage was uneventful. Once out in the daylight again we chatted to the tunnel keeper at the other end and were informed that a boy had drowned in the nearby Westwood Lake which is right next to the canal. The police search necessitated the towpath and moorings to be closed. Bearing this in mind we pressed on to Etruria where we moored for the night. I suspected that we had picked-up something around the propeller whilst passing through Stoke-on-Trent. Once moored I dove down the weed hatch and removed an assortment of plastic, thin rope and weed from the propeller. The canal water was nice and cool though!
Pleasant, leafy mooring at Etruria
View from our Etruria mooring at dusk
After breakfast next morning we visited the Morrison's supermarket which is a fifteen minute walk from the canal. It was already hot and rather than leave Ruby in the boat she walked with us. Our four legged friend impressed me by walking in the shadow of buildings where the footpath was not as hot as that exposed to the brilliant sunshine. Whilst Ange, Wendy and Paul were in the supermarket I stayed in the lobby with Ruby who found the marble tiles a welcome way of cooling down. When we returned to our boats the shopping was put away and we set off for the junction with the Caldon Canal not far away. Whilst waiting to ascend the Etruria Staircase Locks we had another licence check from a Canal and River Trust representative. When the lock was clear Ange took the boat into the staircase lock and from the footbridge spanning the top of the chamber she looked diminutive indeed.
Ange looked diminutive from the footbridge over Etruria Staircase Lock
With the staircase locks and Planet Lock negotiated we cruised through Hanley which had changed significantly since our last visit. Some of the old industrial wasteland had been redeveloped into housing and it was gratifying to see two of the old bottle kilns absorbed tastefully into one of the developments.
Two original bottle kilns tastefully integrated into a modern housing development
As we headed out of Hanley we passed beneath a few bridges that were extremely low. One of them we passed beneath with only inches to spare! There were more new housing developments that complimented the canal setting that gave a better impression of the area than previously. Before long we had left the town behind and were out in the countryside. Near Mill Farm the Canal and River Trust were undertaking bank reinforcement and dredging work. As the work was located immediately after a bridge on a blind bend I had already slowed right down and reversed back to let a large hire boat through the bridge. When it had passed I crept forward as there was not a lot of space for us to squeeze through. Some warning signs before the blind bend and bridge would have been nice... as Paul was to discoverto his cost on our return journey! We moored for the night just around the corner from the location of the in-filled Foxely Branch at Milton.
The following morning we set off and felt as though we were in true Caldon country with rolling hills and open countryside. We encountered a couple of lift bridges that had been converted to hydraulic power since our last visit. Just before the disused railway bridge that punctuates the Stockton Brook Lock Flight I was walking along the towpath and bent down to take a photograph at low-level. I put my hand on the ground to steady myself whilst I took the photograph and was horrified to discover that I had put it right in a pile of hidden dog poo! I managed to get it on the base plate of the camera as well but both hand and camera were soon cleaned. I had taken a similar photograph the last time we were here but thought that it needed up-dating.
The disused railway bridge that punctuated Stockton Brook Locks (the dog poo photograph)
Picturesque road bridge above Stockton Brook Locks
Shortly after Stockton Brook Locks we stopped at Endon for lunch and a rest from the blistering sunshine. Later on we set off and were soon at Park Lane services where a stop was made for the usual water, sanitary station and rubbish disposal facilities.
Paul and Wendy at Park Lane Services
Not far from here is the junction where the Froghall Branch descends the Hazelhurst Locks whilst the Leek Branch carries on the level to cross the lower canal on the Hazelhurst Aqueduct. The aqueduct is approached via a tricky ninety degree bend that was once the location of a three step staircase lock at the start of the Froghall Branch which, in turn, replaced the three original locks at Park Lane. The staircase locks were replaced by the current junction and locks in 1841. The aqueduct is preceded and followed by two narrow and equally tricky ninety degree bends. After negotiating the bends and aqueduct we carried on along the Leek Branch which is three miles (4.8km) long. The canal winds its way along the lush wooded valley and is shallow for most of its length until a large lagoon is reached.
The lush, wooded valley approaching Leek Tunnel
At the far end of the lagoon is the southern portal of the Leek Tunnel. Paul and Wendy moored in the lagoon whilst we carried on through the tunnel to Leek and the end of the branch. Paul and Wendy had previously been through the tunnel when Paul and their youngest son Oliver legged the boat through just to see what it was like! The tunnel is the narrowest tunnel we have ever passed through but managed to do so without touching the sides. We continued the short distance to the Leek moorings and after turning around in the winding hole we retraced our steps to the tunnel where Paul joined us for the return trip through the tunnel.
The northern portal of Leek Tunnel
Inside Leek Tunnel
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
Winding hole and moorings at Leek
The headroom inside Leek Tunnel was ok but...
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
...that couldn't be said of the width
(Photograph - Paul Savage)
Once through the tunnel we moored alongside Adreva for dinner on the aft deck. We were enchanted by a gaggle of geese and goslings making a noisy passage through the tunnel and the antics of a herd of cattle paddling in the far side of the lagoon. Later on Paul, Ruby and I went for a walk to take photographs of the lagoon and the surrounding area which is surprisingly hilly.
A gaggle of geese and goslings emerging from Leek Tunnel after a noisy passage
Lagoon from above the southern portal of Leek Tunnel
With one branch of the Caldon Canal completed it was now time to retrace our steps to Hazelhurst Junction and turn onto the Froghall Branch. After making the nearly 180° turn we entered the first lock and Ange could not resist having a go on the swing at the side of the lock. After descending the locks we passed beneath the Hazelhurst Aqueduct which we had crossed whilst on the Leek Branch a little earlier in the day. This aqueduct is one of only a few canal fly-overs in the United Kingdom and I had long wanted to photograph it. The light was nearly right to photograph it but, if we had been here a few hours earlier there wouldn't have been the shodow on the left hand wing wall.
Hazelhurst Aqueduct - one of only a few canal fly-overs in the country
After the aqueduct we carried on along the valley and soon the Churnet Valley Railway (more of which later) joined us on our left. After passing through a couple more locks we reached Oakmeadowford Lock. This lock lowers the canal into the River Churnet that had been running alongside the canal for a while. I had been looking forward to this river section as it I had been told that it was beautiful.
Oakmeadowford Lock which lowers the canal into the River Churnet
The river height gauge which informed us that it was safe to enter the River Churnet
The confluence with the River Churnet after leaving Oakmeadowford Lock
After checking the river height gauge at the tail of the lock (it was in the green) we descended into the river and I was not disappointed. The river was stunning. We cruised along the winding course of the river and, with every turn, we were presented with views of such beauty that rival that of the Llangollen Canal. Initially, the river section was quite narrow but it later opened-up into a wider waterway. The only problem I was having was that the sun was in the wrong direction for taking photographs. I was effectively shooting into the sun so some locations would have to wait until the return journey when the sun is shining in a different direction. The Churnet Valley Railway... a restored heritage railway, runs alongside the latter part of the river section and we glimpsed a train pulled by a restored diesel locomotive. We were to later learn that steam locomotives were not running due to the risk of sparks setting fire to the woodland and grassed meadows that line the track.
The stunning River Churnet section of the canal
Cruising along one of the wider sections of the River Churnet
Before too long we arrived at Consall Forge and the weir where the River Churnet departed on the right. Ducking beneath the Churnet Valley Railway bridge we entered Flint Mill Lock and we were back on the canal proper. At this lock there was a profile gauge for Froghall Tunnel. As anticipated our air draft was too high for us to pass through. The canal became very narrow as it ran alongside the platform of Consall Station which is cantilevered across the canal. The course of the canal was now narrow and winding and soon we arrived at Cherry Eye Bridge. As previously mentioned, any photographs along this section would have to wait until we are retracing our steps. When we arrived at Froghall we turned in the winding hole and found two convenient moorings not too far from the tunnel. After tea we all went for a walk to the Railway Pub adjacent to the Churnet Valley Railway station. Paul had already made enquiries about the train times for the following day and Ange had found a "Groupon" deal for family tickets on the Internet. Once the tickets had been purchased over the Internet the pub landlord kindly offered to print them out if we emailed them to him. This we did and his kind action saved us quite a few pounds on the ticket prices with the exception of Ruby's ticket. Well done Ange and the landlord.
This photograph gives an idea of how narrow the canal is approaching Froghall
After breakfast the next day we made our way to the railway station and were in good time to secure decent seats on the train. Our locomotive for the journey was "Sophie"... a diesel-electric type 33 "bo-bo" (anorak stuff!) locomotive and was driven by a young lady that didn't look much older than one of my grandaughters! Once on the train we didn't have to wait very long before the whistle was blown by the guard (suitably attired) and we were on our way. We saw tantalising glimpses of the canal and river before the line headed out over the beautiful open countryside.
The Caldon Canal at Consall Forge as seen from the train
Rolling countryside that the Churnet Valley Railway passes through
After about forty five minutes the train sopped at Ipstones on the Staffordshire Moors. The locomotive was decoupled, "ran around" the train, was coupled-up to the other end and we started our return journey. All too soon we were back at Froghall after a really enjoyable excursion that is most recommended. Needless to say, Ruby was well behaved on her first train journey. She most probably thought that it was some kind of bus! On our way back to the boats Paul and I made an excursion to Froghall Tunnel and the start of the Uttoxeter Canal where the first lock and mooring basin have been restored... but only for boats of a low profile that can fit through Froghall Tunnel. The Uttoxeter Canal originally ran for a further thirteen miles via Oakamoor, Alton (of Towers fame), Denston and Rocester to a terminus in Uttoxeter. Much of the canal is in a "restorable" state and The Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust has plans to restore some if not all of the canal. The canal route is shared by the Churnet Valley Railway who may be instrumental in transporting personnel and materials to various locations during restoration.
The Froghall Terminus Basin portal of Froghall Tunnel
Froghall Terminus Basin with the wharf straight on and the Uttoxeter Canal to the right
Uttoxeter Canal Lock 1 and mooring basin
Back on board, we had lunch and cast off to retrace our steps along the River Churnet Valley. The first feature of note was Cherry Eye Bridge which I could now photograph to my satisfaction. I had seen this bridge many times in various canal publications and couldn't wait to photograph it for myself. Paul was ahead of us so when I reached the bridge I stopped the boat and reversed it in order to capture the bridge from a good viewpoint.
Cherry Eye Bridge
Iconic location - Consall Forge
I also was able to take some more photographs of the River Churnet section. We continued on our way and after locking up from the river section we arrived at Wood's Lock. Here we were greeted by Rob... the volunteer lock keeper. We spent a few pleasant minutes in Rob's presence whilst he helped us through the lock. It is a pity that there are not more people like Rob to help the less experienced boaters through the locks.
Rob... the volunteer lock keeper at Wood's Lock (where else?)
We planned to moor for the night at Denford and have our evening meal in the Holly Bush Inn which is adjacent to the canal. We had a most enjoyable meal at this beautiful pub. We sat outside in the warm evening sunshine with Ruby finding a nice, shaded place to lie down beneath the table. The meal was superb and they even stocked my favourite Kopparberg strawberry and lime cider... just the trick to wash down the beautiful food. The following morning we were retracing our steps back along the canal. We stopped at Park Lane Services. I started filling the water tank and whilst it filled I emptied the toilet, got rid of the rubbish and had a shower... all before the water tank was full. Back under way, all was going well until Paul and Wendy came upon the Canal and River Trust personnel who were making bank repairs and dredging. As Paul edged past them one of the work boats swung our and scratched his new paintwork below the gunwales. Paul was gutted and the area scratched was about a quarter of the length of the boat. As can only be expected he wasn't best pleased and reported the incident to the Canal Manager at Red Bull who had planned to meet the next day. In the meantime we carried on down the canal and all too soon we were at Etruria Staircase Locks. Once back on the Trent and Mersey Canal we moored at Etruria where we had moored on the outward journey. I stayed with the boats and did a couple of jobs whilst the others went shopping. Instead of carrying the shopping back they caught a taxi which dropped them off by the Toby Carvery where we had tea once the shopping was put away. The following morning we made for Harecastle Tunnel. There were quite a few boats in front of us so we didn't expect our tunnel passage to be as quick as on the outward journey. Kit Crewbucket (the Kidsgrove Boggart) made an appearance about two thirds of the way through the tunnel and our slower pace allowed me to take a photograph of him.
In the queue for Harecastle Tunnel
Kit Crewbucket making an appearance inside Harecastle Tunnel
Once back in the sunlight we moored for lunch at Red Bull Maintenance Yard where Paul was meeting the Region Manager over his scratched paintwork. In the end the Canal and River Trust offered him some compensation to go towards repainting costs. Back under way we started descending Heartbreak Hill and moored at Snape's Aqueduct for the night. After tea we were entertained by the horses in the adjacent field. Ruby was curious about them but made no effort to bark at them even though they snorted at her. We have trained her well!
One of the horses that we befriended at Snape's Aqueduct smiling for the camera
Our descent of Heartbreak Hill continued the following day. At Wheelock Services we emptied the toilets, got rid of our rubbish and filled the water tanks once more. Whilst we waited for the water tanks to fill we chatted to a Norwegian family on a hire boat. They had been visiting family in Scotland before their week on the hire boat and had to send home all the cold weather clothing that they had brought with them as it obviously wasn't needed given the heat wave we were experiencing. That evening we moored at Sandbach for the night and continued our descent of Heartbreak Hill the next morning.
Alfresco dinner on the towpath at Sandbach
The return journey always seems quicker than the outward journey and we were soon tying up in Middlewich for a visit to the Tesco supermarket. Back on board we had lunch then cast off again. Big Lock was negotiated and we wound our way through the river valley to Billinge Green Flash where we moored for the night. Paul and Wendy had arranged to meet their daughter and a couple of her friends there, one of whom was visiting from America. When they were half way down the road leading to Whatcroft Hall Paul and I walked down to the railway bridge across the canal (which also possesses a footbridge) to meet them. They stayed a few hours and when they left Paul and I showed them the way back. We were now on home waters and could afford to take it easy, especially as there was only one more lock until we reached our home moorings... and that is an excuse for a lock as well! We planned to cruise as far as the Dutton Breach Site the next day. We stopped at Anderton Services before continuing to Dutton and we were relieved when there were moorings still vacant when we arrived.
Panoramic view over the River Weaver valley from the Dutton Breach Site moorings
The next day we were back on the Bridgewater Canal. Late afternoon we arrived at Agden and stopped at the water point to put some items in the car for taking home. We were going to the Swan With Two Nicks for our last holiday meal but we couldn't travel any further along the canal as there was a fire on the towpath and the fire brigade had their hoses across the canal.
Firemen extinguishing the first fire at Agden
The fire was soon put out but another fire started opposite our mooring. Paul, Lyn Savage and myself grabbed buckets and made our way to the other side of the canal to help extinguish the fire. Before long there were multiple fires and we worked our way down the towpath doing our best to put them out. There were horses in the adjacent field and they were frightened by the blaze. The farmer had filled his slurry trailer with water from the canal and was travelling along the hedge spraying water to prevent the fires from spreading. In all there were about twenty of us fighting the fires which had reached as far as the Barn Owl pub just past Lymm Marina and Hesford's Boat Yard. Unfortunately, the Fire Brigade could not re-attend Agden due to another fire further down the canal at Spud Wood at Oughtrington. Apparently, a group of teenage cyclists had been seen cycling down the towpath immediately before the fires were discovered and later the same group were seen at Spud Wood as well. I'll leave the rest to your imagination! After a couple of hours we had extinguished the fires and returned to our boats. Needless to say we were filthy from head to toe.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Paul Savage in action...
...and his aunt Lin Savage damping down a particularly persistent fire
With our fire fighting duties completed we set off for the Swan With Two Nicks. Ange steered whilst I jumped into the shower to rid myself of the dirt and smell of burning and got changed. We moored just before the Little Bollington Underbridge and soon made our way to the pub for our end of holiday meal.
Last mooring on our holiday cruise at Little Bollington
Waiting for our end of holiday meal at the Swan With Two Nicks
(Photograph - Swan With Two Nicks waitress)
During the beautiful meal we talked about our holiday and our favourite parts. Afterwards we made our way back to the boats conscious that our holiday had now come to an end. All that remained was to travel the mile or so back to our moorings the next day after a fantastic holiday, wonderful destinations, wonderful weather, wonderful food and most of all wonderful company.
Timetable for our 2018 Summer Cruise
|Friday 22nd June 2018||-||Agden near Lymm to Thelwall Underbridge - Bridgewater Canal|
|Saturday 23rd June 2018||-||Thelwall Underbridge to Daresbury - Bridgewater Canal|
Sunday 24th June 2018
Daresbury - Bridgewater Canal to Billinge Green Flash - Trent & Mersey Canal
Monday25th June 2018
Billinge Green Flash to Sandbach - Trent & Mersey Canal
Tuesday 26th June 2018
Sandbach to below Thurlwood Locks - Trent & Mersey Canal
Wednesday 27th June 2018
Thurlwood Locks to Etruria - Trent & Mersey Canal
Thursday 28th June 2018
Etruria - Trent & Mersey Canal to Milton - Caldon Canal
Friday 29th June 2018
Milton to Leek Tunnel Lagoon - Caldon Canal - Leek Branch
|Saturday 30th June 2018||-||Leek Tunnel Lagoon - Caldon Canal - Leek Branch to Froghall - Froghall Branch|
|Sunday 1st July 2018||-||Froghall to Holly Hush Inn @ Denford - Caldon Canal - Froghall Branch|
|Monday 2nd July 2018||-||Denford - Caldon Canal, Froghall Branch to Etruria - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Tuesday 3rd July 2018||-||Etruria to Snape's Aqueduct - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Wednesday 4th July 2018||-||Snape's Aqueduct to Sandbach - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Thursday 5th July 2018||-||Sandbach to Billinge Green Flash - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Friday 6th July 2018||-||Billinge Green Flash to Dutton Breach Site - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Saturday 7th July 2018||-||Dutton Breach Site - Trent & Mersey Canal to Little Bollington - Bridgewater Canal|
|Sunday 8th July 2018||-||Little Bollington to Agden - Bridgewater Canal|
Epilogue to Summer Cruise 2018
At the beginning of this section I mentioned how I thought that the weather would change seeing as we were going on holiday. Well, I will now put my hand up and say "I was wrong". The heat wave didn't actually end until we had been back home for a week! It was not ideal to be climbing Heartbreak Hill in temperatures of nearly thirty degrees. But, we took it easy and after two and a half days actually made it to the top. According to the Meteorological Office it was the longest heat wave since 1976.
James Brindley was surveying the Caldon Canal when he caught a chill and tragically died. The legacy of this... his last canal, lives on in one of the most beautiful canals in the country. I had previously cruised part of the canal as far as Endon and was looking forward to cruising the two arms of the canal after this point. I was not disappointed, especially with the River Churnet section, which I thought was stunning. Even if the weather had not been as beautiful as it was we would have enjoyed our trip along the Caldon Canal.
We are now making plans for next year and hopefully we will be able to cruise the Montgomery Canal (possibly with a further section open for cruising by then) which we were not able to accomplish this year due to the breach on the Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch. The Canal and River Trust seem to be suffering with quite a few breaches on important waterway routes at the moment. The Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Maghull, the Peak Forest Canal at Marple Locks and the Macclesfield Canal at Bollington. These breaches have made other routes busier than normal but on our holiday cruise we saw no evidence of this. Heartbreak Hill was not unduly busy (we were the only two boats passing through harecastle tunnel on our outward journey) and whilst on the Caldon there were a few days when we hardly saw any boats moving at all... except for ourselves!
I have never had a canal holiday before when the weather has been "wall to wall" sunshine all day every day. With weather like this we don't need foreign holidays! It wasn't just the weather that made the holiday so enjoyable... the locations, the company, the food all contributed to make it what it was. We will remember this holiday for many years to come and it has to be one of the best canal holidays I have ever had. It will most certainly be a hard act to follow.
Click to return to Contents
Chapter 5 - Canalmanac 2018 Part 3
The weekend after returning from our Summer Cruise we spent cleaning the boat inside and out and taking home items that we were not able to fit into the car previously. I had brought my Kärcher up to clean the roof which was still dirty and had evidence of our two passages through Harecastle Tunnel along its length. I am convinced that the only way to clean paintwork with non-slip particles in it is with a power washer regardless of what cleaner the surface is treated with. We also power washed the cabin side paintwork but I only managed to polish the starboard side.
The difference between the part of the roof jet-washed and not jet-washed
Ange jet-washing the paintwork
As well as helping with cleaning the outside of the boat Ange had cleaned the interior from one end to the other. It is not that we are dirty people but with the prolonged hot, dry period it was inevitable that a large amount of dust had found its way inside. I am up for a long weekend on my own when Ange goes to Turkey for a week with her son, his girlfriend and grandaughter in a couple of weeks time. I will then, weather permitting, complete the polishing as well as cracking on with some jobs on my "to do list" and might even go for a cruise to the Dutton Breach Site or somewhere else along the Trent and Mersey Canal.
A beautiful sunset at Agden after a hard day's work
Three weeks after returning from our summer cruise Ange was off on her travels again. Her son Michael had booked a week's holiday in Turkey for himself and girlfriend Amy who were to be accompanied by Ange and grandaughter Shannon. I couldn't go as I was minding Ruby so, as I had a day's leave still to take, I went up to the boat after finishing work on the Thursday afternoon for a long weekend. We were still in the grip of a heat wave with temperatures approaching (if not exceding) thirty degrees centigrade so Ruby and I chilled out until the temperature had dropped a bit. Ange had asked for a companion seat for the mooring as one of her birthday presents and when it had cooled down a bit I assembled said companion seat... and very good it is too!
The new companion seat on our mooring
The next day... Friday was also very hot and I was under strict instructions from Ange not to do too much work in the sun. It was too hot do do any work anyhow but I did manage to trim the brambles on the mooring's fence and strim the grass around the mooring posts and canal edging. I had tea with Alan Savage and his wife Lin before chilling out for the rest of the evening. Lymm CC's Summer Cruise this year was to be to Liverpool but due to a breach in the canal near Maghull they would not be able to reach their planned destination. But the cruise was still on and many members passed by after they had set off. Liam from Midland and Coast Canal Carriers passed by on nb Bellatrix which was making all the right noises.
nb Bellatrix passing our mooring
A "Strawberry Full Moon" was due on Friday night and when I was giving Ruby her last walk before going to bed I couldn't resist photographing a nearly full moon. It is just as well as the following day the moon was not visible due to cloudy sky.
A (nearly) full moon at Agden
Saturday morning, before breakfast, I drove down to Lymm CC's Clubhouse to empty the loo and chatted to some of the members who were preparing to set off for Liverpool. On my return to Agden I had breakfast and managed to do a few jobs on my "to do" list before it got too hot. One of Ruby's friends... Fudge, belonging to Beryl and Colin off Mis B'Havin called for her to play and they spent a couple of hours running and chasing each other. I had to cool Ruby down with a wet towel as she was panting in the heat.
Fudge and Ruby playing in the sunshine
Paul and Wendy arrived around lunchtime and I spent some time with them over lunch. I had planned to give our new seats a couple of coats of varnish but the weather broke mid-afternoon with wind, rain and a few thunder claps so I retreated into the boat and relaxed for the rest of the day. Sunday was wet and windy as well so I cleaned the inside of the boat, loaded up the car and headed for home. Whilst I hadn't managed to accomplish all the jobs I planned to do I had a good break and was looking forward to Ange's return later on in the week.
Rain at Agden signalling the end of the heat wave
Readers may be interested in a new section of the Canalscape Website entitled "Our Boats". This section, as its title suggests, documents the boats that we have owned from 1983 to the present day. It doesn't cover boats that we have hired or my parents' boat "Phial" when it was owned by them (that is covered in Canalscape Book 1 - Chapter 5 - A Small Glass Vessel) although details from when I owned it are included. Also, I haven't gone into any detail regarding Total Eclipse or Squirrel as they have their own sections elsewhere on this website.
A montage of our boats
When Ange returned from Turkey she was unwell, had a stay in hospital for a few days and came home on the Thursday afternoon much to mine and Ruby's relief. We had previously arranged to accompany Paul and Wendy on a cruise to Moore when they invited a couple of their neighbours Mary and Esther.
Wendy, Mary, Paul and Esther
As the fresh air would most probably be beneficial to Ange we went up to the boat (with copious quantities of Ange's medication) and cruised down to Moore. The weather was sunny and not too warm but it was pleasant.
Leaving Lymm bound for Moore
Ange enjoying the fresh air after a spell in hospital
At Thelwall Cutting we were met by a carpet of common duckweed (Lemnoideae) through which we cut a path. It is not often that we see this weed on the Bridgewater Canal although I have seen in on the lesser-used Wirral Line of the Shropshire Union Canal. The weed was confined to Thelwall Cutting and we didn't see any evidence of it elsewhere.
Cutting a swathe through the duck weed in Thelwall Cutting...
...and the path that we had cut through it
We carried on through Stockton Heath and Walton to just before the winding hole at Moore where we moored for the night. Paul and Wendy's visitors were enjoying the cruise and after chilling out for a while we enjoyed a beautiful dinner that Wendy had prepared for us all on board Adreva. The Leica came out to play later on and I took some photographs of the corn field adjacent to the canal. Even though the photograph below has been resized for the website the definition of the camera's lens is evident in the foreground and background detail. I have included two versions... I prefer the monochrome version which has been "washed" through an infra-red filter. What do you, the readers think? Let me know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two versions of the cornfield at Moore looking towards Daresbury... I prefer the monochrome infra-red version
The next morning was grey and overcast but it did not dampen our spirits. Just before we set off we witness a collision between a hire boat and a day boat. Not content with colliding with another boat more collisions ensued with the bridge wings being hit (knocking off the life belt) and then the opposite side of the canal was hit with full force and a resounding bump that could be heard hundreds of metres away. Ange went down the towpath and shouted at the steerer of the day boat as he was risking the life of children on the fore deck with his irresponsible use of the throttle. It was this excessive speed which caused the collision in the first place. Even after she had told him off he still insisted on using too much throttle. After a joint effort be eventually saw sense and cruised at a more controllable speed. After breakfast we set off at a leisurely pace for Walton Park. It was then our turn to receive visitors in the shape of Ange's son Michael, girlfriend Amy and grandaughter Shannon who were going to cruise with us back to our moorings at Agden. Michael had left his new car (a supercharged V8 Rangerover Sport SVR - nice exhaust note and much better than his previous car... a BMW M4 convertible) in the Walton Arms car park and I would drive him back to retrieve it later.
Yours truly steering in-between showers
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
In the meantime, everyone enjoyed the cruise even if it did start to rain when we reached Lymm necessitating the Brolley Mate being brought into action. We stopped briefly at Lymm to empty the toilet before cruising the couple of miles to our mooring. After putting the boat to bed we said goodbye to Paul, Wendy and their visitors before heading for home after a pleasantly chilled weekend. Ruby slept most of the following day. As her usual routine of having a kip on the way back to the moorings was scuppered due to our having visitors, she had to make-up for the loss of sleep.
The following day was also when we learned of the latest problem faced by the Canal and River Trust. This was that the Froghall Branch of the Caldon Canal had been closed so that water from the Rudyard Lake reservoir could be channelled down to the main line of the Trent and Mersey Canal instead of flowing towards Froghall and flowing into the River Churnet. Looks like it was a really good move to have our Summer Cruise when we did.
Most readers will be aware of Canalscape's sister website... Diarama. This website covers quite a few "anorak" subjects that I am interested in. A new addition to this website is an section called "From Steel Pins to FLAC" which documents the development of sound recording and hi-fi from the earliest attempts to create a faithful sound recording up to the latest developments in audio technology. Readers with an interest in this subject might like to follow this link... From Steel Pins to FLAC to visit the page.
Our next outing was the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Lymm CC had a cruise to Stockton Heath which we took part in. It was also the weekend of the Creamfields Music Festival at Daresbury. After topping-up the water tank at our Agden mooring we cruised down to Stockton Heath on a sunny but cool Saturday afternoon. The sun was trying to shine but I think that it was fighting a loosing battle!
Thelwall just before the M6 Viaduct
There were quite a few boats from Lymm CC at Stockton Heath but we were lucky enough to find moorings not far from London Bridge which was convenient for the shops. Whilst we were moored at Stockton Heath we could hear the music coming from the festival site where Ange's son Michael was playing a dj "set" there and we jokingly suggested that we could send him a text and ask him to turn the volume down!
Boats from Lymm CC moored at Stockton Heath
Sunday morning, after a lie-in and a late breakfast, we set off for Moore in the drizzle. The drizzle and later rain was on and off all day but Paul and I managed to finish the job I was doing on the dado rail that I was unable to complete on my own due to not having four arms two metres long! Part of the dado rail in the lounge, adjacent to the side doors was discoloured due to a leak that the previous owners had failed to cure. What we did was to cut the rail and reposition the stained section where it would not be as noticeable. The other lengths of dado where cut and repositioned accordingly and the end result was excellent.
Original location of the damaged dado rail...
... and the new location of the damaged dado rail hiding behind the vase
It was Paul and Wendy's wedding anniversary so we decided to go for a meal at the Red Lion at Moore to celebrate it. The last time we had a meal at the Red Lion we were not very impressed but the pub has changed hands since then and the meal we had this time was absolutely beautiful. We chatted to Rick the chef afterwards and told him of our previous experiences and how pleased we were with the meal this time.
The Red Lion at Moore
When we returned to our boats we were surprised that the sound level coming from Creamfields was actually louder at Stockton Heath than it was at Moore which was only a mile or so away from the Daresbury venue. In fact, the car park and one of the performance marquees could be seen from the canal a short distance from our mooring. The next morning was better than the previous day weather-wise and we set off for our moorings under grey skies. We stopped at Thorn Marine to empty the toilet and chat to Margaret and Brian Hamilton before carrying on to Agden. Lymm was surprisingly quiet for a Bank Holiday Monday and as we approached Lymm CC I could see someone waving to me from the towpath. As we drew closer I could see that it was my youngest son Glyn with his partner Brenda and their two dogs. I pulled in and asked them if they wanted to cruise up to Agden and I would run them back for their car. It was Brenda's first time on a narrow boat and I think that she was a little apprehensive at fist but once on board she seemed quite at home.
Glyn and "the boys" on board Squirrel...
...and Brenda enjoying a cuppa at Agden
Glyn enjoyed the trip up to our mooring with the locations that we passed bringing back memories of his childhood when he regularly cruised the canal on board "Misty Waters II. Their trip was over all too soon and after a cuppa I ran Glyn back to Lymm for their car. Once back at Agden I introduced him to the rest of our gang and it was time for them to head for home after a lovely surprise meeting. When they had left we had our tea on board Adreva, packed up our things and were also heading for home after a pleasant if not cool Bank Holiday Weekend.
The following weekend we had arranged for Ange's cousin Andy and his husband Lee to spend a couple of days with us on the boat. We arrived on the Friday evening and chilled out for a bit before going to bed. The next morning, whilst we waited for our guests to arrive, one of the biggest wide-beam boats able to fit on the Bridgewater Canal (which, in itself is a broad canal) passed our moorings. The boat in question is called Castlerose, is normally based at Castlefield in Manchester and is a "flotel"... that is a hotel room that can be located virtually anywhere.
The "flotel" Castlerose
Our guests arrived on the Saturday morning and after introducing them to Paul, Wendy and our respective boats, loaded their things onto the boat, had a cuppa and set off. We planned to go the same way as the previous weekend and the weather was warm and sunny... just right for a cruise! Andy and Lee were well impressed with the boat, the canal and the picturesque countryside through which it passes. They both had a go at the tiller and were amazed at how easy the boat was to steer but when a boat approached in the opposite direction the both handed back the tiller to Ange.
Lee, Ange and Andy on the aft deck of Squirrel
We stopped for lunch at Stockton Heath where we had a quick look around the shops before we set off again. At Moore we found a couple of good moorings and after a walk to the old Anderson Shelter we returned to the boats where Wendy had prepared a lovely dinner. We chatted for a few hours before it was time to turn-in for the night. The boys were going to sleep on our boat whilst we "bunked-in" with Paul and Wendy on Adreva. Next morning, Ange cooked a full English breakfast for everyone then, after washing the dishes we set-off. At Moore we encountered a narrowboat called ZBM2 whose owner, Rodney Rush we had been having a discussion with on the Narrowboat Owners' Group Facebook page.
Rodney Rush and his wife chatting to Paul and Wendy at Moore
It is not often that we meet people on the cut that belong to this group and it was good to catch-up and put a face to the name. We were three abreast when we met so it was a good job that there were no other boats coming! After saying farewell to our new friends we carried on to Walton. We moored up just past Hough's Bridge, after the Walton Cutting and walked down to the gardens. On our return Ange prepared lunch for us all. Whilst we ate a strange looking boat approached. I had seen something similar before in the shape of a Dutch Tjalk but this one had an upswept squared-off bow similar to a World War Two pontoon.
Hough's Bridge at Walton
This unusual boat is reminiscent of a Dutch Tjalk
With our lunch finished we set off for our mooring, making a quick stop at Thorn Marine to empty the toilet and get rid of the rubbish at the recycle centre. Whilst we cruised back Paul and Ruby decided to have a lie down on one of the beds in the aft cabin whilst Andy and Lee made themselves comfortable under the cratch on the foredeck.
Paul and Ruby relaxing in the aft cabin on Squirrel
Once back at Agden we stopped temporarily on the water point to load the cars and fill the water tank. We said farewell to Andy and Lee, put the boat back on its mooring and headed for home after a busy but enjoyable weekend. The weather had been kind to us and our guests but it was starting to be distinctly autumnal.
The following week my old friend Chas Hardern from Beeston Castle Wharf posted on Facebook a comment about a DVD set he had just purchased called "The Flower of Gloster" (sic). I remember reading the original book by Temple Thurston many years ago which was later made into a children's' TV series in the late 1960's but I could not remember actually seeing it. On a whim, I ordered the two DVD set of the complete series from Amazon for just over £11 and was blown away when I viewed it. The story is about a converted narrowboat being delivered to its new owners in London and the adventures, trials and tribulations surrounding the delivery voyage.
The Flower of Gloster DVD set cover
The local locations featured include Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the Llangollen Canal, Anderton Boat Lift, Dutton Dry Dock and the Norton Warehouse opposite where Preston Brook Marina is today, to name but a few. What a gem! I can not recommend obtaining a copy of this charming and historic set of DVDs too highly... even if the continuity of editing leaves a bit to be desired! It gives an insight into 1960's canal cruising, demonstrates how not to operate locks, illustrates how many well known locations were at that moment in time and also includes many canal personalities including Charlie Atkins (Chocolate Charlie), the Anderton Boat Lift Operator and renowned the boat painter Tony Lewry. The observant amongst us will also catch a glimpse of the ex-Cowburn and Cowpar narrowboat Stork belonging to Paul Entwistle at Lymm. All good stuff which brought back memories of an era when canals were not as popular for leisure boating as they are today.
Our next outing on the boat was the Lymm CC Invitation Cruise. We arrived at our mooring on Saturday afternoon and chilled out before joining Alan and Lyn Savage for a chippy tea. The next morning we made sure that our boat was clean and tidy to receive our guests. We had invited Ange's friends Karen and Rachael to join us for an afternoon cruise to Grappenhall where we had lunch and then back to the Clubhouse for a drink.
Leaving Lymm with the trees starting to show their autumn tints
Ange with Karen and Rachael on Squirrel
Paul and Wendy with their guests Robbie, Sean and Carrie on Adreva
Inside Lymm CC's Clubhouse with members and guests
Our guests enjoying a drink in the Clubhouse
The weather was sunny but distinctly autumnal but none-the-less enjoyable. Paul and Wendy had invited one of Paul's colleagues; Carrie and her family Robbie and Sean. Once moored just after Grappenhall Bridge we enjoyed a lovely alfresco lunch of lasagne followed by black cherry and blueberry Bakewell, lemon meringue and lemon cakes all made by Wendy. Once we had full stomachs we turned around and headed back for Lymm CC's Clubhouse where we met up with some of our fellow Lymm CC members and their guests for a drink. By late afternoon it was time to head back to our moorings and the afternoon was thoroughly enjoyed by our guests who all wanted a return invitation... but possibly, when the weather was a bit warmer.
Rosie and Jim have been part of the canal and inland waterways world since first screened by ITV in 1990. They cruised around the canals on board the narrowboat "Rag Doll" until 2004 and have introduced many children to canals and inspired many children to learn more about our canal system. Many narrowboats still possess dolls of the characters looking through their windows. Their creator... John Cunliffe, sadly passed away on the 20th September 2018. John was also the creator of another TV series which overshadowed Rosie and Jim, namely Postman Pat.
John Cunliffe, Rosie and Jim on board the narrowboat "Rag Doll"
A few weeks ago Paul Savage drew my attention to a website dedicated to World War Two Anderson Air Raid Shelters. No mention was made on the website to the surviving remains of the example on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal between Moore and Daresbury and Paul suggested that I send details of the shelter to Martin Stanley who is the webmaster for the site. Martin requested that I sent details and photographs of the shelter to him and they have now been included. The webpage featuring the shelter can be found at https://www.andersonshelters.org.uk/bridgewater_canal.html. Interested readers might like to visit the website and if anyone has any additional information please forward it to me and I will, in turn, pass it on to Martin to be added to his excellent website.
Remains of the World War Two Anderson Air Raid Shelter between Moore and Daresbury
Our next canal cruise was quite a different kettle of fish. It wasn't even in the UK but was in Amsterdam, Holland. As part of our autumn break Ange, Wendy, Paul and I decided to cross the North Sea to Amsterdam to sample the canals that the city is famous for. With Ruby being safely looked after (aka spoilt) by my daughter Lisa we all met at Liverpool John Lennon Airport early (very early) Saturday morning and caught an Easy Jet flight to Schiphol Airport courtesy of an Airbus A320. On our arrival we purchased a three day bus/train/tram ticket which we used to catch a train (unfortunately not one of the double-decker commuter trains) to Amsterdam Central Station.
Where the hell are we? (Amsterdam Central Station actually)
Once in the city we found our bearings and saw more bicycles than we had ever seen before (except for Paul who has been to China). There was even a multi-storey bicycle park! Our first priority was food. We had an English breakfast in a local café before catching the number seventeen tram to Ten Katestraat in the Oud West area of Amsterdam (seven tram stops from Central Station). Once we reached the allotted stop we passed through the Ten Katestraat Street Market where many types of local food was on sale… really appetising and what's more offered quite a few photographic opportunities that could not be missed!
Multi-storey bike park in Amsterdam
The wonderful Ten Katestraat Street market
We carried on to Douwes Dekkerstraat where we found our apartment, announced our arrival to the owners Natalie and Bart who lived upstairs. They showed us around the apartment, told us where the supermarket and eating establishments were and left us to unpack. Our apartment was a "garage apartment" where the original building's garage had been converted into a living space, and very nice it was too! After a cuppa we decided to explore the area and visited the local supermarket for essentials. The supermarket we found had a distinct Lidl feel to it and was reminiscent of the old 1970's Safeway and Finefare supermarkets in the UK. With the fridge stocked with bread, butter, milk, etc. we had a chill-out to recharge our batteries then went for a walk around looking for a suitable eating establishment. The Foodhallen had been recommended to us by the apartment's owners but I think that we had left it too late... it was packed. The Foodhallen also has a cinéma and an old restored film projector... a Zeiss Ikon Ernemann, was on display outside. There were old cinema seats in front of it for visitors to have their photograph taken and as I was taking Ange's photograph another visitor jumped into the second seat in an obvious "photo-bomb". In the end we ate at the local eatery just a few doors away from our apartment... the Par Hasard Café and Friterie . The chicken satay was absolutely beautiful as were the ribs and the chips were amongst the best we had ever tasted. With our stomachs full we headed the fifty metres back to the apartment in the rain and had an early night after a long, eventful day.
Waiting for our meals in the Par Hasard Café and Friterie
Next morning we had breakfast and caught the tram into the city centre where we went for a cruise around the canals that encircle the city. We were told that the Amsterdam canals were three metres deep. This consisted of one metre of silt, one metre of abandoned bicycles and one metre of water, a fact that we can most certainly believe. The canal system is most impressive and we noticed a distinct lack of railings lining the canal... Manchester take note! The system is extremely busy, not only with trip boats like the one we were on but delivery barges of all shapes and sizes as well as commuter boats. VHF radio communications are a must if collisions are to be avoided at blind bends and bridges... and we saw quite a few near misses!
Canals - Amsterdam style
With the canal trip over we went to the visitor centre where I paid the extortionate sum of €1 to have a pee! To add insult to injury we had a coffee at the adjacent café and were given free vouchers to use the self-same toilets! We next made our way to behind the Central Station and caught the free ferry (Mersey Travel please take note) across the Het Ij... the stretch of water separating Central Amsterdam and the Overheuks district of the city. Whilst on the ferry I was amused to discover that the seating comprised of tractor seats almost identical (steel not cast iron) to the ones I fitted to Squirrel earlier this year. When we got off the ferry I noticed a gongoozling opportunity in the shape of a lock a short distance along the adjacent Noord-Hollandsch Kanaal. We walked to the lock (known as the Willem 1 Lock and were delighted to see some boats approaching the lock from further along the canal. The gates opened and five boats entered. When the gates closed and the paddles opened we were surprised to discover that the lock started to fill and not empty as we had thought that the canal was at a higher level than the Het Ij.
Gongoozling at Willem 1 Lock on the Noord-Hollandsch Kanaal
We enjoyed our Dutch gongoozling experience and after the boats cleared the lock we retraced our steps along the Noord-Hollandsch Kanaal to the Café de Pont where we had lunch. The three fried eggs (sunny side up) on bread with smoked ham, “young” (un-matured maybe) cheese and bacon is to die for. Sharing the table with us was a couple from Texas called Marciel and Nancy Camacho. We chatted whilst we waited for our meals to arrive and discovered that they were going on the windmill excursion the following day. We had also planned to go on this excursion and before we left we said that we would hopefully meet them on the coach that was taking us. As we made our way out of the café a large tug had pulled-in bow first to the canal bank. There was no indication that the tug had grounded so the canal must be really deep at this point. Needless to say, this was a photo opportunity and the Leica came out to record the happening.
Paul, Wendy and Ange in front of the Amsterdam tug
We made our way along the banks of the Het Ij, past the ferry terminal, to the A'Dam Lookout building where the Zaanse Schans Windmill Museum excursion was to leave from. When we enquired about the tickets in the A’Dam Lookout we were told that they could be bought from the boat trip booking offices adjacent to Central Station. So, back across the Het Ijon the ferry, we retraced our steps and eventually managed to book our seats at one of the excursion ticket sellers. We next walked along the pedestrian shopping streets where Ange bought a Nutella pancake. Unfortunately, she dropped most of it (about €10’s worth). After we had recovered from laughing at Ange dropping her pancake I noticed a sign advertising Leica cameras in the distance. This was a shop that definitely required investigation. And it didn’t disappoint either. It was a “proper” camera shop and as well as having all the usual latest digital cameras on display there were a couple of 35mm M series Leicas, a Canon AE1, Canon T70 and a few other classic cameras both 35mm and roll film, plus, lurking at the back of the shop was a Linhof 5 x 4 plate camera complete with a Schneider Symmar lens… very tasty. We then made our way to the red light district. After we wound around the narrow streets we reached the Oudez Achterburgw Canal where we were entertained by a disabled man driving his mobility scooter on two wheels. As we walked deeper into the red light district the streets became narrower and the number of people increased making us feel a little uneasy. It was too early for the girls to show themselves in their windows so we made our way back to the tram stop. On the way we passed many sex shops displaying items that I cannot imagine their function. These included a drain plunger, a plastic fuel filler funnel and a toilet brush attached to black leather "steam-punk" style face masks! Before too long we reached the Number 17 tram stop and headed back to our apartment. By the time we had eaten a light tea and read for a bit it was time for bed.
Oudez Achterburgw Canal
Marciel and Nancy there
and once on board the coach we chatted as it set off through the suburbs, then
out into the flat Dutch countryside. After about half an hour we reached the
Windmill Museum where access from the car park was by a lift bridge that had a
very familiar design and would not have looked out of place on the Llangollen,
Montgomery or the Brecon and Abergavenny canals. We were given a guided tour of the museum that not only
informs about the windmills but has demonstrations of clog making, cheese making
(the coconut cheese I sampled was to die for), chocolate and bakery crafts. In
the clog making workshop there was a display of painted ware that is reminiscent
of the traditional canal art British that adorns
narrowboats. I was always under the impression that the art decorating
narrowboats emanated from Romanies but after seeing the Dutch examples I am
questioning the heritage of British narrowboat decorations.
I was always under the impression that the art decorating narrowboats emanated from Romanies but after seeing the Dutch examples I am questioning the heritage of British narrowboat decorations.
Zaanse Schans Windmill Museum
This style of lift bridge looks familiar...
...as does the artwork on this painted Dutch tray
Marciel and Nancy Camacho
Panoramic photograph of a drainage canal in a typical Dutch landscape
After a couple of hours spent walking around the museum, Ange and I treated ourselves to a traditional Dutch pancake before boarding the coach back to the A'Dam Lookout. Marciel and Nancy had to leave us as they were catching a flight back to the USA so Paul, Wendy, Ange and I went into the A'Dam Lookout and were whisked to the top floor in a spectacular glass lift, complete with a light show as it ascended that transported us to the observation platforms. For the adventurous there us a swing that goes out from the roof of the building but we decided to pass on that! We made do with the spectacular 360° views of the city and surrounding areas. It was difficult to see the North Sea coastline but, with the help of an interactive electronic telescope we managed to trace the route that the River Amstel takes through the various docks and lagoons. Whilst we were looking at the views an enormous articulated barge passed by. No doubt it was inspired by the Tom Pudding Boats found on the Aire and Calder Navigation back home but without the Jebus (false bow). After taking in the views from the top of the tower we had a drink in the restaurant before making our way back down, across the Het Ij by ferry and into the station to catch our train to Schiphol Airport and home.
The A'Dam Lookout Building overlooking the Het Ij - note the two swings on the right of the roof
Ange, Yours Truly, Wendy and Paul on top of the A'Dam Lookout
(Photograph - A'Dam Lookout)
Enormous articulated barge passing the A'Dam Lookout
Our Dutch visit was an eye-opener in many ways... the transport, the food, English spoken everywhere, more electric cars than I have ever seen, the bicycles and of course the canals. There is so much more for us to see and would like to return for a longer stay and explore this beautiful city and its canals in greater detail... a week should do it!
Nothing to do with canals - just a fruit and vegetable basket in the Ten Katestraat Street Market
On our return from Amsterdam we planned to spend the rest of the week on the boat. With Ruby collected from my daughter and our batteries recharged after our flight home, we arrived at our mooring on the Tuesday afternoon followed shortly after by Paul and Wendy. Tuesday evening was a chill-out (even though it was quite warm) and we were treated to a beautiful sunset although the sun could not be seen from our mooring but the resulting dusk sky-scape could.
Dusk at Agden from the side doors
We set off after breakfast the next day. The weather was warm and sunny and we headed for Stockton Heath. After a quick shopping trip and lunch we carried on to Spike Bridge in the wooded cutting between Walton and Moore where we moored for the night. Wednesday dawned bright and sunny if not a little breezy and showery. We headed for Preston Brook and on arrival at the tunnel portal we had timed it just right allowing us to go straight in. After a twelve minute passage we negotiated the stop lock and then stopped for lunch in the wooded cutting just after the stop lock. Paul, Ruby and I went for a walk in the adjacent woods. It had been a long time since I had visited the woods and forgotten just how high the canal embankment was at this location. We both thought that this would be a good location for a Club cruise and nature walk. On our return to the boats we had our lunch then set off and cruised the short distance to the Dutton Breach Moorings. After turning around we found two forty five foot spaces made just for us. By now it was raining on and off and I managed to capture some rainbow and moody photographs before we had dinner and settled in for the night.
Rainy autumn evening at Dutton Breach Moorings
Rainbow at Dutton when the sun came out at dusk
The wind had blown-up (literally) during the night so, suitably wrapped-up we set off and caught the 11.00am tunnel passage. After a quick stop at the little shop at Moore we carried on to Hough's Bridge just past Walton where we stopped for lunch. The rain had stopped by now but the wind was quite strong and caused a passing boat to nearly collide with us. Fortunately, it missed us by a couple of inches.
Autumn cruising at Walton Park Cutting
There were lots of leaves in the canal and we both had to stop on numerous occasions to clear the leaves collected in the rear swim by a quick burst of reverse. Before long we reached Lymm and moored on the canal frontage at the Clubhouse. Paul's boat was due to come out of the water the next day for hull cleaning and blacking which I had promised to help him with so we were grateful that the moorings were empty except for one boat up the arm. We were all up early next morning ready for Rob Hoyle to pull Adreva out for the previously mentioned hull cleaning and blacking. By late afternoon we had managed to power wash the hull and paint three quarters of the boat with its first coat of bitumen before the rain showers started again.
Adreva being slipped
Paul power-washing Adreva's hull
Just as we stopped a boat came around the corner from Lymm and I couldn't believe who was steering it... my youngest son Glyn accompanied by his partner Brenda and their two dogs. Glyn carried on to the winding hole just past the moorings, turned around and stopped next to Squirrel for a cuppa and a catch-up He told me that he had borrowed Jus' Romin', owned by his mother's boyfriend, for a couple of days and they were thoroughly enjoying it even though the wind was a little challenging at times. All too soon it was time for Glyn and Brenda to carry on to Thelwall where they were planning to moor for the night. It was a nice surprise to see them and who knows, maybe Glyn will catch the boating bug again.
Jus' Romin' approaching Lymm CC with Glyn at the tiller
Brenda and Glyn at Lymm
That evening Paul and Wendy had to go home and we had a chippy tea before an early night after a busy but enjoyable day. Fortunately, it was dry the next morning but the rain was threatening on and off. We set off for our moorings leaving Paul and Wendy to carry on with their painting and head for home as Ange had family commitments to attend to. I later learnt that the rain kept off and they managed to complete three coats of bitumen by Monday evening, allowing a few days for the bitumen to cure before the boat goes back in the water.
First coat of blacking completed
We had a lovely week off work travelling to Amsterdam and then cruising on the boat. It will be a week that we will remember for many years to come. The cruise to Dutton will most probably be our last major cruise of the year and our thoughts are now turning to winterizing the boat for the long winter ahead.
The following week we were experiencing bad weather in the shape of high winds, rain and hail stones. Accordingly, I had my photograph of a wind-battered New Brighton Lighthouse shown on the ITV Granada Reports Weather Forecast. I have included a screenshot of the Weather Forecast and the original photograph below.
A screenshot of the Granada Reports Weather Forecast showing my Windy New Brighton photograph...
...and the original photograph
This week, Channel Four's Great Canal Journeys was featuring canals of the North West of England. Prunella Scales and Timothy West cruised along the Bridgewater, Rochdale, Trent and Mersey and Shropshire Union Canals in addition to the River Weaver Navigation. They learnt about the Bridgewater Canal's history, experienced Barton Swing Aqueduct and descended on the Anderton Boat Lift to the Weaver Navigation for trip on the Daniel Adamson. In one scene they were on the Bridgewater Canal and passed Haj+2 with our old friend Ray Nichol at the helm. The Lymm Cruising Club burgee was also displayed in what was, in my opinion, the best episode in all of the series to date.
Timothy West passing Haj+2 with Ray Nichol at the tiller in Great Canal Journeys
(Screenshot - Channel 4 TV)
That weekend saw the Bonfire Barbeque at our Agden moorings. When we arrived late afternoon the bonfire was ready for lighting by Alan Savage. A lot of the wood for the bonfire came courtesy of Paul Entwistle who had recently broken-up a couple of boats. The gazebos for the barbeque were erected by Alan and Paul Savage and ready for the evening. Angie's son Michael and his girlfriend Amy were invited along with their dog Yoda... a Brussels Griffon. As it went dark the bonfire was lit and the food was nearly ready for serving. Quite a few members arrived either by boat or by car and before long there was a good atmosphere with plenty of banter and catching-up with the latest news and happenings in the Club.
The bonfire in full-swing
Bonfire and barbeque at Agden moorings
There where burgers, hot dogs and Lin Savage's famous hot pot on the menu plus we had ordered Bury black puddings which were wonderful. For desert there were cakes (some by Wendy Savage), donuts, chocolates and sweets of various types all of which complemented the barbequed food. The bonfire was kept topped-up with firewood by Paul Savage (makes a change from extinguishing fires Paul) and the fireworks were set-off by his cousin Phil Savage with Ange on sparkler duty. We had left Ruby on the boat whilst the fireworks were set-off but once they had finished I collected Ruby (wearing her new winter "ganzy") who enjoyed saying hello to everyone and when the food was finished she helped to clear-up the remaining sausages!
Inside the barbeque gazebo
Club members enjoying the barbeque
It was good to see so many children enjoying a Club event and joining in the various activities, especially collecting the leaves from the trees and putting them into piles. With the bonfire coming to an end we helped with the clearing up and retired to the boat after a really enjoyable evening. This was the last event before the Christmas season is upon us... time to write the Christmas wish lists I think!
Thursday morning the following week I was on my way to work and saw the clear blue sky which promised a beautiful sunrise. Consequently, instead of driving straight to work I drove down Tobin Street to Egremont Ferry. Not long after I had parked the car the sun started to peep from behind the Liverpool skyline. With no time to waste I went down the slipway onto the shore just as the sun was completely visible. I composed the photograph with the Leica and waited a few seconds for the sun to be in the correct position, casting a beam of sunlight across the water and pressed the shutter release. The resulting photograph was sent to Granada Reports for them to use as a back drop to the weather forecast and a screen shot of it is shown below along with the un-cropped original photograph.
A screenshot of my latest weather photograph - November Sunrise From Egremont Ferry...
...and the original un-cropped photograph
No matter which camera I use for capturing a screenshot or alter the exposure settings, the resulting image is never as good as the original. It is most probably a combination of the transmitted image being degraded by transmission, the higher contrast of the television screen and the colour caste that the television gives.
That weekend was the weekend that I dread most in our boating year... the weekend that we empty the water tank, take home clothes, unused food and generally winterise the boat. We arrived at the mooring on Friday afternoon ready for the FBCC Rally Meeting at Lymm CC's Clubhouse that evening. I am not involved in the Rally but Ange is so I attended as well to support her. After the meeting and a catch-up with friends we returned to a nice, cosy boat and went to bed.
Squirrel's cosy lounge with the heating turned up, the TV on and the double bed made up
Next morning was a beautiful morning. My youngest son Glyn was due to visit us and install new leisure batteries to replace the existing ones which were starting to show their age. Glyn arrived late morning in his brand new Toyota works van with his partner Brenda and their two dogs. One of their dogs... Louie, had taken quite a shine to Ruby and was becoming quite amorous but she put him in his place in no uncertain manner. With the old batteries removed and the new one installed, the various electrical systems were checked and all seemed to be okay... time for lunch. With everyone's stomachs topped-up Glyn started to pack his tools away and, by an unfortunate turn of events, managed to throw his van key into the canal. Glyn's first thought was to get into the water and feel for the key with his feet but the water is quite deep at our mooring and after an initial dunking to no avail he climbed out. Ange made him get straight into the shower to remove the muck and also to warm him up. Whilst he was doing that Paul had a dredge with his magnet and Alan Savage arrived with his powerful Sea Searcher magnet which was also fruitless. I had seen a large fishing net down the moorings so I fetched it and we attached it to a broom stale. After a concerted effort this was also fruitless. Glyn emerged from the boat wearing dry clothes and my slippers and had a go with the net. After a few goes it was third time lucky. We walked up to the car park to ensure that the key still worked (which it did... well done Toyota) and we returned to the boat for lunch. Suitably refreshed Glyn, Brenda and "the boys" loaded up the van and headed for home. As there was still a few hours of daylight left I borrowed Alan Savage's wet and dry Vax to empty the boat engine's drip tray and placed puppy training pads down to catch any further drips. Whilst I had my hands dirty I refilled the stern gland greaser and checked the engine's cooling water specific gravity with my antifreeze hydrometer which took me nicely up to tea time. By this time the family jungle drums had been working and I received a picture message from my stepson Michael (who is best friends with Glyn) which is reproduced below.
Humorous picture message sent by my stepson Michael
Sunday was another bright and sunny, if not a little chilly morning (there was a bit of frost on the solar panel). It was spent strimming the grass on our mooring, cleaning the boat's interior, emptying the cupboards and wardrobe of items to go home and emptying the boat's fresh water tank in preparation for the winter. All too soon our jobs were completed and it was the time of the year that I dislike the most... leaving the boat winterised. Well, nearly winterised... I will have to return to fit the aft deck winter cover, the side doors cover and, weather permitting, apply another coat of polish before the bad weather sets in. Paul and Wendy had been doing the same jobs on their boat and on the way to the car with a fully loaded trolley we chatted to our friends and said our farewells before heading for home.
Saying our farewells to Paul and Wendy after winterising the boat
At the December Lymm CC monthly meeting the winners of the 2018 Photographic Competition were announced. In a departure from the usual judging format, Chris Beasley... the President of Lymm Photographic Society judged the entries. Chris also announced the winning photographs and presented the winners that were present present with their prizes. I was fortunate enough to have three of my photographs amongst the winning entries... First Place in the General Category with a photograph of the River Gowy at Beeston; Second Place in the Canal Scene Category with a view from the side doors at George Gleave's Bridge and Third Place in the Humorous Category with a photograph entitled "Yuck". Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting but I am sure that I shall eventually receive my prize at the AGM in February.
River Gowy Millpond... Winner of the General Category
George Gleave's Bridge Reflection... Second Place in the Canal Views Category
Yuk!... Third Place in the Humorous Category
My next visit to Agden was the day after the December monthly meeting. I took a day off work to check on the boat, remove the aft deck dodger, fit the side doors and aft deck covers and bring home anything not needed to be left on the boat over winter. To say that it rained on the day in question would be an understatement. The M53 and M56 motorways were more like canals than roads and on a couple of occasions I noticed the traction control warning light flash when the ultra-wide tyres on the car started to aquaplane! I only stayed at Agden for an hour or so before leaving and on the way home I called in at Beryl Moult's on a couple of errands and then made a quick excursion to the Clubhouse to empty the toilet. When I reached Wallasey I called in at our local Asda and I think that I must have left a water trail behind me as I squelched around the supermarket. Shortly afterwards, when I arrived home, I dropped all my wet clothes in the kitchen ready for the washing machine (they had already received a pre-soak) and went upstairs to run a hot bath to warm me up. Hopefully, I will not suffer any after effects from my dowsing but this is something that even the "flu jab" cannot protect me against! That evening, the photography theme continued when my latest weather photograph was shown on the Granada Reports Weather Forecast. The photograph was taken from Egremont Ferry just before sunrise on two days previously whilst on my way to work. It was similar to the last one I had shown but was taken at high tide as against low tide. The sun had not yet risen but illuminated a single cloud formation that punctuated an amazingly clear sky, with the Liverpool skyline shown in silhouette.
Mersey December Sunrise Silhouette weather photograph screenshot...
...and the original photograph
Canalmanac 2018 Epilogue
Well, we have now reached the end of the 2018 boating season. It has been an eventful year as well as a good year for weather and cruising. Happenings of note that did not involve cruising were Paul and Wendy's boat Adreva being painted, Squirrel passing its Boat Safety Certificate examination, the visit to Crick Boat Show and our trip to Amsterdam with Wendy and Paul Savage. Even though we didn't manage to achieve our planned Summer Cruise to the Montgomery Canal due to a breach above Middlewich on the "Shroppie" our "Plan B" was most enjoyable. We had to "make do" with cruising the whole length the Caldon Canal and its two arms. In fact, our Summer Cruise was the one of the best that we have been on... not just for weather but for the company, the food and the the outstanding beauty of the Caldon Canal. Let's hope that, seeing as the Canal and River Trust have given us an early Christmas present in the shape of re-opening the Shroppie's Middlewich Branch, in 2019 we manage to make it to the Montgomery Canal but, knowing our luck, it will most probably rain all the time we are away!
Fuel boats Halsall and Bargus passing the breach site at Middlewich at 09.00 on the day that the canal re-opened
(Photograph - Four Counties Fuels Ltd)
Anyway... that is in the future but for now Ange, Ruby and I would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year and hopefully we'll see you all on the cut soon.
Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year
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Our canal cruising experiences and milestones during 2018
|March/April 2018||-||Easter Cruise to Burscough and Castlefield, Manchester|
|May 2018||-||2019 IWA National Calendar released featuring one of my photographs|
|25th - 28th May 2018||-||Visit to Crick Boat Show, Crick, Northamptonshire|
|6th June 2018||-||Boat Safety Certificate Examination by Graham Thornton|
|June 2018||-||2019 IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch Calendar released featuring two more of my photographs|
|22nd June - 8th July 2018||-||Summer Cruise to the Caldon Canal (Leek & Froghall Branches)|
|7th - 14th October 2018||-||Autumn Break to Amsterdam and Cruise to Dutton Breach Site|
Lymm CC Cruises & Work Parties Attended During 2018
|21st April 2018||-||St George's Day Cruise to Swan With Two Nicks - Little Bollington|
|19th May 2018||-||Trench Digging & Cable-Laying Work Party @ Agden Moorings|
|9th June 2018||-||Cruise to Dunham Massey|
|25th August 2018||-||Cruise to Stockton Heath|
|23rd September 2018||-||Invitation Cruise to Grappenhall|
|3rd November 2018||-||Bonfire & Barbeque at Agden Moorings|
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The story most probably continues in
Canal Cruising 2019
Finances, time and health allowing!
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So You Want To Go Canal Cruising?
|Book 4 - 2006 to 2007|
|Book 5 - 2008 to 2010|
|Book 6 - 2010|
|Book 7 - 2011|
|Book 8 - 2012|
|Book 9 - 2013|
|Book 10 - 2014|
|Book 11 - 2015|
|Book 12 - 2016|
|Book 13 - 2017|
|Book 15 - 2019|
|Our Boats (New)|
|Canals on Screen|
|Photography in One|
|The History of Lymm Cruising Club|
|The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal|
|The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal|
|Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System|
|The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal|
|Wonders of the Waterways|
|2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report|
|Foreign Forays - Canals of the World|
|Worsley Canal Heritage Walk|
|Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk|
|The Liverpool Docks Link|
|Don't Call it a Barge|
|Footnote and Acknowledgements|
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|e-mail link - email@example.com|
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