Canal Cruising 2019
An eBook and website by Cyril J Wood
The title photograph shows sunset at Agden on the Bridgewater Canal
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Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2019 Part 1
Over the 2019 Whitsun Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of May it is Lymm Cruising Club's (LCC) turn to host the annual Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs (FBCC) Boat Rally. Consequently, our boating year started on the 4th January with a Rally Committee Meeting to see where the organisation of the rally was up to. I am not actively involved but Ange is Rally HQ Officer and is also organising the purchasing and printing of the cloth bags required for the "goody bags" given to attendees at the rally.
LCC Members attending the FBCC Rally Meeting
Our friend Paul Savage is the Mooring Officer for the rally and is in charge of allocating the moorings plus anything else appertaining to moorings. The meeting was well attended with many members giving up their time to come to LCC's clubhouse on a dark and dismal January evening. However, it was good to have a catch-up with our boating friends, many of which we had not seen for a couple of months, and we are all looking forward to the next meeting we can attend which will most probably be the Club's AGM in February.
Eric Livesey was the Maintenance Supervisor for the Bridgewater Canal Company and a long-standing employee who sadly passed away in 2015. Eric was a friend of LCC and did many favours for the Club. Alan Savage and his son Phil made a new bench to replace the vandalised one opposite the water point at Agden dedicated to his memory. The new, beautiful steel bench was put in place by Bridgewater Canal Company's contractors supervised by Eric's son (also called Eric) on the 21st January 2019. Below are a few photographs taken by Lin Savage of the bench under construction and being installed.
Eric's bench under construction...
...unloading the bench from the van...
...digging the foundations...
...putting the bench in place...
...the bench concreted in place...
...and the completed installation
(All photographs - Lin Savage)
The brass dedication plaque attached to the new bench
Later on in the week I had a photograph of sunset over Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks used as a weather photograph on the Granada Reports Weather Forecast. A screenshot of the Weather Forecast and the original photograph are included below for your appreciation.
A screenshot of the Weather Forecast showing my photograph of Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks at sunset...
...and the original un-cropped photograph
Late in 2018 Ange and I were asked if we would consider being nominated for Lymm CC's Committee. We both agreed and at the Club's AGM on Tuesday the 5th February 2019 I was voted back onto the Committee as Magazine and Website Editor. Ange was also voted onto the Committee as Quartermaster. No more watching Coronation Street with a cup of coffee and chocolate biscuits for us on Committee meeting nights! After the meeting it was gratifying to receive so many congratulations and positive comments. In the week following the AGM we had a further two trips up to Lymm. The first was on the evening of Friday the 8th February when it was a FBCC Rally Meeting after which we were given some more positive comments regarding the AGM. The first Committee Meeting after the AGM was on Monday the 11th February. Ange was away in Carnforth and had already made her apologies for not being able to attend so I went up to our mooring with Ruby straight after work on the Monday afternoon. I had booked a day's holiday for the Tuesday and planned to cruise the boat down to Lymm, stay there overnight after the meeting and return the following day. Monday afternoon was beautiful. I could actually feel heat from the sun whilst we cruised down to Lymm.
Looking down the Agden moorings from Agden Bridge
Grantham's Bridge, Oughtrington on a sunny, winter's morning
As I reversed into the arm off the canal, outside the Clubhouse, Chairman Keith Moore was just getting into his car and shouted across to me... "Fancy a trip out did you? The meeting's not until next week!" He must have seen the look of disdain on my face and continued... "Only joking... see you later!" After tea I headed into the Clubhouse and chatted with other Committee members until Keith started the meeting. It was a good (if not long) meeting when we were officially told our Committee positions and also dealt with some of the many pressing matters within the Club. When the meeting concluded I returned to the boat, gave Ruby a walk around the Club Yard before falling into bed after quite a busy day. Next morning we had a lie-in and after breakfast we headed back to Agden. I did a few jobs before having a cuppa with our new Mooring Officer Alan Savage, after which we packed our things in the car and headed for home after our first cruise down the canal of the year and the first Committee meeting of the 2019 boating year. Most satisfactory!
Our third visit to Lymm in a week was to the work party at our moorings on the Saturday morning. Our boat was one of the boats to be moved... admittedly only a boat's length but it was forty five feet closer to the car park. After the work party was completed we had lunch and then cruised down to Lymm by boat accompanied by Paul and Wendy on Adreva.
The boat moving work party at Agden in progress
Paul passing over Agden Underbridge
Ange wanted to go through her Quartermaster's Cupboard and do a stock take of its contents, which she had planned to do the following morning. In the meantime, we moored in the slipway and later on, after Paul and Wendy had returned to Agden, we went out for tea with Alan and Lin Savage to the Wheatsheaf near the Agden moorings. The meal was very good as was the company! Next morning we had a bit of a lie-in and after breakfast Ange went into the Clubhouse to make a start on her cupboard. Before long she was joined by other Committee Members including the Chairman and the Treasurer preparing for receiving mooring and Club fees from the members that afternoon. Whilst Ange continued with her tasks Ruby and I took the boat back to Agden and returned for Ange by car a little later on before heading for home.
I had asked the Committee Members to let me have their reports for the magazine by the 20th. Most of the reports did reach me by then but there were a couple who took things up to the wire (you know who you are). I had kept most of my templates for the magazine from when I was editor previously. Even so, I was busy for the next few days performing the juggling act (more like a Rubik's Cube puzzle) of making the most of the available space. One concern was the front cover but when Chairman Keith Moore sent me some photographs of the Clubhouse and Yard taken by Norman Pimlot from a drone I just couldn't resist using one of them for the front cover. I had to perform some "gardening" in Photoshop to remove an unfortunately placed van and add height to the sky but I was pleased with the end result which is included below.
The original drone photograph before editing...
(Photograph - Norman Pimlot)
...and as used for the front cover of the Slipway magazine
Needless to say, I was relieved when the printer (InPrint - Wallasey) e-mailed me to inform me that the printed copies of the magazine were ready for collection! With the magazine now "put to bed" I can now concentrate on up-dating the Club's website - https://lymm-cc.co.uk.
Later on that week I was thinking that I hadn't had many weather photographs shown on the Granada Reports Weather Forecast. As if by magic... the weather forecaster was comparing this year's weather with last year's and one of the photographs they used to illustrate the weather this time last year was my Carlett Park in the Snow photograph. I have included a screenshot of the weather forecast and the original photograph as well.
My Carlett Park weather photograph from 2018...
...and the original un-cropped photograph
The first weekend in March Ange had arranged to go with Pail and Wendy accompanied by Shannon and Paul and Wendy's niece and nephew to Reaseheath College for the Lambing Experience Day. We arrived at Agden mid-morning and whilst the others went to Reaseheath I decided to stay at Agden and make a start on my "To Do" list. Alan and Phil Savage were doing a welding job on Paul's boat so I started off by fitting new window catch screws to the lounge windows. I had obtained the replacement screws from Caldwell's Windows and had sufficient to replace all the loose screws. Having previously tried to replace some of the screws I had difficulty obtaining the same amount of friction on the catches as when they were new. This time I experimented by adding thin brass washers to the assembly and when satisfied, I ran cyanoacrylate adhesive (Superglue) into the threads to ensure that they retained the friction setting and didn't come unscrewed.
The replacement window catch screws and brass washers for the Caldwell's windows
This took me up to lunchtime and after I had my lunch with Alan and Phil I brought the boat up to the water point and started to fill the boat's fresh water tank. Once the water had been running for a few minutes I closed all the taps that I had left open and turned the water pump on. Once the system pressurised I removed the airlocks from the system then checked all the pipe work for leaks. Satisfied that everything was in order I continued filling the water tank which took well over half an hour then returned the boat back to its mooring. When the others returned we all had a cuppa whilst they shared tails of breach births, placentas, etc (lovely). before Paul and Wendy left and we had our tea. Afterwards we watched a film before going to bed in a nice, warm, cosy boat. The next morning was wet, drizzly and miserable and after a lie-in we had breakfast, cleaned and tidied the boat before setting off for home after an enjoyable and fulfilling weekend.
Our next trip to Lymm was the following Tuesday the 5th March for the monthly Club meeting. I had lost my voice and did not anticipate returning to work for the rest of the week. This allowed me to take the boat down to Lymm and asked the Harbourmaster if it would be in order to leave the boat there until the weekend. With permission granted, I moored the boat in the arm outside the Clubhouse. It was the first meeting that Ange had her Quartermaster's Table out which was filled with all kinds of goodies for sale ranging from paint rollers to clothing with the Club logo on them.
Ange and her Quartermaster's Stall at the Lymm CC Monthly Meeting
She had worked hard ordering and buying items and her hard work paid off as the sales were better than expected and she received many positive comments from Club and Committee members alike. That weekend there was another work party but this time it was at the Clubhouse clearing, cleaning and preparing the Clubhouse Yard for the Opening Cruise. We arrived at the boat Friday afternoon and took the boat down to Lymm so that we were ready for the work party.
Work party at Lymm CC's Clubhouse Yard...
...and the skip filled to capacity
I have never seen so many people at a work party. It was attended by forty one members including two junior members who also got stuck-in. There was a really good atmosphere with plenty of banter whilst throwing out enough rubbish to completely fill a large skip. Bacon butties were laid on at lunchtime and even though the work party had officially finished many members carried on working throughout the afternoon. There was also an FBCC Rally Meeting in the afternoon that was also well attended. We had brought the slow cooker with us from home which had been merrily bubbling away all day. The resulting stew we had for tea and it was most enjoyable. We relaxed for the rest of the evening watching TV and had an early night. After a lie-in the next morning we cleaned and tidied the boat before returning it to its mooring at Agden and headed for home after a tiring but rewarding weekend.
The following weekend was the first social event of the Lymm CC cruising year. We decided not to take the boat down to Lymm due to high winds and when we arrived at Agden the water level was the highest that I had ever seen it.
High water at Agden in a hailstorm
This was most probably due to the high rainfall that we had experienced plus Barton Swing Aqueduct being closed and the excess water not being run-off. After a chilled-out afternoon we drove down to the Lymm CC Clubhouse and changed into our fancy dress outfits. Ange was dressed as a hippy and I went as Mr Spock from Star trek.
Ange dressed as a hippy...
...and yours truly as Mister Spock
We also took part in Mister and Misses. The evening was well supported and afterwards we returned to the boat after a most enjoyable evening. After a lie-in and breakfast we dodged the hail stones to the car park and left for home.
The start of Lymm CC's Cruising Season was drawing near and on the last weekend in March I spent a weekend cleaning and polishing the boat's paintwork. Ange had a busy weekend ahead with work and family commitments so Ruby and I headed up straight after I finished work on the Friday. Fortunately, the weather forecast was good and I looked forard to completing the jobs that I had set mayself. After saying hello and sharing a cup of coffee with Alan Savage I started off my cleaning regime by power-washing the boat's cabin sides with the Kärcher and leathered it off which took me nicely up to tea time. Next morning, after breakfast I T-Cutted the port-side and polished it with two applications of Autoglym Resin Polish with Carnauba wax. After lunch I turned the boat around and repeated the process on the starboard side. I only did the cabin sides and didn't bother with the gunwales as this would be easier to accomplish (without bending down) when the boat comes out of the water for its biannual hull cleaning and blacking scheduled for the beginning of May.
A "selfie" of you know who putting the finishing touches to the shiny paintwork...
...and the finished article
By tea-time I was tired and decided to call it a day. The following morning... Sunday, after putting the cleaning equipment away and tidying up, I took the boat down to Lymm to empty the toilet and top-up the water tank. It was a beautiful Spring morning with the sun shining on the blossom that was starting to bloom on the trees lining the canal. The Clubhouse Yard was looking spick and span ready for the following weekend's Opening Cruise. After completing my tasks and chatting to fellow Club members I retraced my steps (or should it be wake) back to Agden where I moored at the car park, loaded up the car and headed for home after returning the boat to its mooring after a most productive few days (and it didn't rain).
Looking back towards Lymm whilst approaching Agden on a beautiful spring morning
The following Tuesday was the Monthly Lymm CC Meeting. We came up early in order to move the boat down to the arm outside the Clubhouse (with the Harbourmaster's permission) in preparation for the next weekend which was to be a busy one... we were due to attend an FBCC Rally Meeting on Friday evening, Saturday evening was the Opening Cruise Social followed, on Sunday, by the Opening Cruise with a Lymm CC Committee Meeting on the Monday... phew! I moored the boat alongside Brian Burns' boat so that it would not be in the way of the boat on the trolley being slipped back in the water or anyone wanting to use the water point or pump-out facilities. We arrived at Lymm on Friday evening in good time for the FBCC Rally meeting and afterwards fell into bed... it was a good move to leave the boat at Lymm! Saturday promised to be a sunny day and I managed to finish a couple of jobs. The Opening Cruise Social was well attended and we were treated to good food, good company and good entertainment... what more could you ask for?
Well attended Opening Cruise Social
Sunday dawned a little overcast but at least it was dry. Ange was serving sherries to the members as they arrived at the Clubhouse and I was on photographic duties. A couple of the guests were late which delayed the proceedings but before long the boats were following the Commodore in a procession to Grappenhall. We were one of the last boats to leave but, after a slow cruise we moored just after the A55 road bridge next to our friends Wendy and Paul on Adreva. They had dressed their boat with bunting, pennants, etc. and most definitely are in with a good chance to win the Roy Cocken Shield awarded to the Best Turned Out Boat on the Opening Cruise.
Lymm CC Committee Members and Dignitaries attending the Opening Cruise
Your truly on photographic duty
(Photograph - Stephen Fahey)
Adreva decorated for the Lymm CC Opening Cruise
Flying the flag... Lymm Cruising Club's burgee
After lunch we set off back to Lymm, turning around at Grappenhall Turn. We had a leisurely cruise back to the Clubhouse but when we came to moor there whilst manoeuvring the boat's gearbox would not go into neutral or forward gear. I suspected that the gearbox control cable had snapped... a suspicion that was confirmed when, after performing a half-pirouette, we eventually managed to moor. Paul came to the rescue with a replacement cable which, after fitting, worked well but was in need of adjustment as only tick-over was available in reverse but at least we had forward motion... a job for another day I think!
A few days later I heard of the death of Roy Wilcox. Roy had been a canal cruising friend since 1985 when I first came onto the Bridgewater Canal. He was a member of Runcorn's BMBC where he was Honorary Vice-President and was instrumental in the formation of the Canalwatch scheme, protecting the interests of canal users on the Bridgewater Canal. His and my children spent many happy hours together and shared many canal adventures. In 1994 he loaned Ange and I their narrowboat Painted Lady for a long weekend cruise at a time when I didn't have a boat. I will always be grateful to him and Pat for as this was when Ange caught the canal cruising bug. Roy had been ill for a while and died peacefully at home surrounded by his wife Pat and his family. His funeral is scheduled for the week after Easter. I will miss Roy's dry sense of humour and the friendly banter that we shared. Rest in peace Roy... I will miss you.
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Chapter 2 - Easter Cruise 2019
Two weeks later it was time for our Easter Cruise. This year we decided to join Lymm CC on their Easter Cruise to Anderton and back with a stop-over at Stockton Heath on the return journey. We arrived at Agden on the very warm and sunny Thursday before Good Friday and the first job was to adjust the new gear selector cable. After playing around with the adjustment I came to the conclusion that the only way around the problem was to shorten the threaded portion of the cable at the gearbox end. I left the locking screw in place and cut about one centimetre off the thread at the gearbox end. After the cutting was completed I unscrewed the locking nut to ensure that the thread had nor been damaged by the hacksaw. When put back into position and adjusted appropriately everything worked well. Last year we invited Ange's cousin Andy and his husband Lee to join us for the weekend. As a thank you they sent us a framed picture of a squirrel embroidered with beads which I hung in the aft cabin. Two jobs well done I think!
Embroidered squirrel picture presented by Andy and Lee
Next I brought the boat up to the Water point and we loaded our stuff on board then returned to our mooring ready to set off the next day... Good Friday. In the meantime, Wendy and Paul arrived and we had a quick catch-up before tidying our things away, had tea and chilled out for the rest of the evening before going to bed ready for an early start the next morning. Good Friday promised to be a stunning day with wall to wall sunshine and high temperatures. It lived up to its promise and I was glad that I packed my shorts.
Ruby and yours truly cruising in brilliant sunshine
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
We cruised in the brilliant sunshine to Stockton Heath where we stopped for lunch and a few essentials from the shops. It was Paul's birthday and we had been invited to join him and his family for a meal at the Ring-O-Bells at Daresbury so we cruised down to Moore where we were being picked up later on. In the meantime the cameras came out to play to take advantage of the sunshine. One photograph that I am particularly proud of was taken just after Walton when Ange was steering. I took a photograph from the side doors just after we had passed through Thomason's Bridge half-way between Walton and Moore. The resulting image showed half of the bridge arch and its reflection in the boat's paintwork in near perfect symmetry. More good luck than good management!
Almost symmetrical reflection of Thomason's Bridge
We carried on to Moore and tied-up just past the Tramp's Memorial ready for our lift to collect us later on. After a chill-out, wash and change of clothes we walked down to the Post Office whilst Ruby looked after the boat for us. I had taken my baby Leica C-Lux with me and took a photograph of a building that will be familiar to many Bridgewater Canal boaters. The building that I refer to is the lean-to on the side of the terraced houses opposite the canal that is constructed from planks of timber and a sideways door.
The lean-to opposite the canal at Moore
Our lift... Paul's daughter Natalie collected us on time. I had not visited the Ring-O-Bells at Daresbury since 1989 when I went there with a girlfriend. This time, the company was much better and we had a beautiful as well.
Paul's birthday meal
Birthday Boy opening his presents
We returned to our boats a couple of hours later complete with full stomachs after a most enjoyable meal in pleasant surroundings and good company... Happy Birthday Paul! The next morning was just as sunny and hot as the previous one and after breakfast we headed on towards Preston Brook Tunnel.
The wooded cutting at Preston Brook Tunnel
We were early for the tunnel passage so we had a cuppa in the beautiful wooded cutting whilst we waited. We were the first boats to enter the tunnel and passed through in a leisurely twelve and a half minutes. After negotiating Dutton Stop Lock we cruised along the Vale Royal Valley section of the Trent and Mersey Canal in the brilliant sunshine.
Bridge 211 - Dutton Horse Bridge on the Trent and Mersey Canal
After passing through Saltersford and Barnton Tunnels it was not far to Anderton where we found a mooring opposite the Stanley Arms. After mooring Paul and I visited the Anderton Lift Visitor Centre before returning to our boats and chilling out for the remainder of the afternoon. After tea we socialised with our fellow Club members and it was well after dark when we returned to our boats ready for bed.
Easter Bonnet Competition in full swing
The Easter Bonnet Parade was scheduled for ten-o-clock Sunday morning and after Ange put the finishing touches to her bonnet we made our way down the moorings to where everyone was congregating. I was quite surprised to actually win a prize in the men's category. With the competition over it was time to turn around and retrace our steps. It promised to be a slow trip back to the Bridgewater Canal with so many boats cruising in the same direction.
The queue of boats waiting for Saltersford Tunnel
We went straight into Barnton Tunnel but there was quite a queue of boats waiting for passage through the timed Saltersford Tunnel. Once in the tunnel we were behind Jo Clarke steering Mullymush and when Jo was dive-bombed by a trio of bats for which the tunnel is renowned the screams coming from her were drowned only by the laughter coming from your truly and Paul who was following me. I tried to photograph the bats but the time-lag inherent in digital cameras meant that by the time the shutter fired the bats had ducked down and were not visible.
Interior of Saltersford Tunnel
Once we had recovered from the passage through Saltersford Tunnel we had a leisurely cruise to Dutton Stop Lock passing through woodland glades carpeted with bluebells. As to be expected, there was a queue here as well. Whilst we waited our turn to pass through the stop lock a wide-beam boat exited from Preston Brook Tunnel and managed to squeeze past the line of waiting craft. It was nine foot beam and only just fitted through the top gates of the stop lock. I can honestly say that this was the first time I had seen a boat of this width passing along this stretch of the canal.
Woodland glade carpeted with bluebells
A wide-beam cruiser squeezing through Dutton Stop Lock top gates
We missed this passage of Preston Brook Tunnel so took the opportunity to have a cuppa and a spot of lunch whilst we waited for the next passage. Once through the tunnel we were back on the Bridgewater Canal and before long we were mooring up at Stockton Heath. We had visitors at lunchtime in the shape of Angie's son Michael, his daughter Shannon, girlfriend Aimee and her daughter Maisy. They enjoyed their visit and left us in peace later to enjoy the remainder of the day.
Adreva and Turbulence passing through Thelwall Cutting
We set off for Lymm after a lie-in the next morning and before long encountered one of our members Bill Avery whose boat Turbulence had broken down. Paul and I had a look at it and offered to tow Bill and his boat back to Agden. Accordingly, the boat was breasted-up to Paul's boat and I went ahead to warn on-coming craft of the two boats following me. Once back at Agden, Bill's boat was put on its mooring and we returned to our own moorings and prepared to go home after a brilliant Easter weekend that was one of the best Easters for weather that I can remember.
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Chapter 3 - Canalmanac 2019 Part 2
The week after Easter I had the sad experience of attending the previously mentioned Roy Wilcox's funeral. The canal cruising community was well represented with members from Runcorn's BMBC, Worsley CC, Sale CC and I was one of three members from Lymm CC attending the service at Landican Crematorium.
Roy Wilcox in happier times
That weekend after was a complete contrast to the weather we had experience over the Easter Cruise weekend. It was wet and windy. On the Saturday afternoon we made a trip to Ikea in Warrington to have a look at the pull-out beds that we considered replacing our boat's current double bed with. After inspecting the bed in the flesh as it where we thought that it would be a viable alternative but we would have to make a few alterations to the boat. We left Ikea and went to spend the rest of the weekend on the boat. Once there we looked again at where the proposed new bed would go but decided not to pursue this avenue but planned to replace the mattresses on our current bed instead. On the Sunday morning the rain had stopped and after a lie-in we drove down to the Lymm CC Clubhouse for the FBCC Rally Meeting. Alan Savage's boat was on the slipway where he and his family were busy painting the hull having previously jet-washed it and sanded down the hull. It is our turn next on the slipway and would be returning next Saturday ready for a week's work doing the same.
Alan Savage's boat Mikalind on the slipway at Lymm
We arrived at our mooring the following Friday ready to cruise down to Lymm the next morning. Ange drove down and before long I was manoeuvring the boat onto the trolley where Phil Savage was ready with the tractor to pull the boat out. Once safely on the slipway, the power washer was employed to clean the hull.
Squirrel on the slipway
A scruffy yours truly power washing...
(Photograph Paul Savage)
...and a little later on Ange taking a turn
Whilst Paul and I were cleaning Phil and his dad Alan started to remove our old tiller bearing and replace it with a new one. They removed the tiller and rudder assembly then ground off, fabricated and replaced the lower rudder bearing cup before installing it complete with two two pence pieces as packing washers.
Old tiller bearing removed and the new one ready for installation
New rudder cup installed complete with two pence packing pieces
The weather was warm and sunny and once the hull had dried off so Paul's wife Wendy and I started to apply the first coat of bitumen whilst Ange helped Paul measure out for the up-coming FBCC Rally moorings. By mid-afternoon the rudder and tiller work was completed and the first coat of bitumen was applied. The weather changed on Sunday with intermittent showers but even so the second and third coats were on by Monday which left a good three days for it to cure. Ange touched-up the green gloss paint on the gunwales and fell over in the slipway, scraping her arm badly and banging her head on the rudder. I helped her up and she appeared shaken but seemed okay. It later transpired that she had broken a rib in her fall. Tuesday morning we finished the touching-up then drove to DV Foam Ltd. in Middlewich (adjacent to Wright's Bridge No 169) to order new mattress foam for the convertible double bed in the lounge. Ange asked the owner to cut a piece of five inch foam which she tried out successfully. We ordered our new foam and also some for Paul and Wendy's boat. The foam was to be delivered to Lymm CC the next day. We left Middlewich and headed for Venetian Marine where I had promised Ange lunch in their café.
Wright's Bridge (169) at Middlewich
Venetian Marine at Cholmondeston
The Shroppie's Middlewich Branch at Cholmondeston
We also visited the boat chandlery and Narrowboat Glass who are located there. We had seen photographs of their stained glass narrowboat windows on Facebook and were most impressed with the designs they produced. There was one pattern that Ange particularly liked and we plan to order a set of panes for the front doors on our boat in the near future.
Stained glass window from Narrowboat Glass
We returned to Lymm and after tea attended the Monthly Club Meeting which was well attended. With her Quartermaster's hat on Ange did a good trade in personalised clothing as well as selling other items from her table. After the meeting we returned home as Ange had to be in work the following day but as I had the rest of the week off work returned the next day to continue with glossing the gunwales and a few other jobs I had planned. The weather took a turn for the worst and it was definitely rain stopped play. Thursday turned out the same but I did a few jobs inside the boat ready for the boat to be relaunched the next day when the weather forecast promised better weather.
Mission accomplished and ready for re-launching...
...and back in the water
Typically, when the painting is completed the sun comes out in Lymm
The weather forecast was correct... Friday turned out to be a sunny, hot day but there were a couple of showers but they didn't last very long. I finished T-Cutting and polishing the gunwales and late afternoon Phil and Alan Savage arrived to re-launch Squirrel. Prior to the re-launching I put Ruby in the car just in case the vibration and sudden movement frightened her. Before long the tractor was hitched-up to the trolley, the securing chains removed from the trolley and after a couple of minutes we were floating once more. Once the trolley was drawn back up the slipway I moored the boat and let Ruby out of the car. She went straight to the boat, relieved that she didn't have to be lifted on board again. After tea there was an FBCC Rally Meeting and as Ange was not well after her fall on the slipway I deputised for her. Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm which was just as well as work parties were scheduled for the morning.
Work party "selfie"
Partially completed decking on the floating bridge
I started off helping with the flooring of the narrowboat hull that was to be the floating bridge ferrying visitors to the FBCC Rally from the towpath side of the canal to the Clubhouse side of the canal. next I helped with the refurbishing of one of the mooring jetties down the Lymm moorings. We carried the new part of the jetty down the moorings whilst Phil used his dinghy to transport the welding equipment and tools. I took photographs of the new section being carried and ended up laughing at my fellow members as it was a "to me... to you" situation as the new section of jetty was manoeuvred into position.
Moving the new section of the jetty into position
Phil welding the new section of the jetty...
...and the completed new section of jetty
With the work parties completed it was time for lunch then loading up the car and heading for home to look after Ange. I had permission to leave the boat in the slipway until Monday when I returned to move the boat back to its mooring before the Committee Meeting.
nb Rannoch moored outside Bob Mac's house
The Saturday before the FBCC Rally we loaded the car with our boat stuff and drove to Liverpool where we had arranged to meet Paul and Wendy. We met them outside the Abakhan fabric shop to choose and purchase the material for our respective boats. I stayed in the car with Ruby and two hours later they emerged with copious quantities of material to cover the new foam mattresses on our boat and on Adreva as well. We then headed for Agden and spent the rest of the afternoon doing jobs in preparation for the rally. Ange was on light duties after cracking a rib when she fell in the slipway the previous week and sat down painting the two roof boxes donated to the Club to be sold on her stall.
Ange on light duties
In the meantime, I stowed some items (such as the cylindrical stainless steel barbeque) not normally required in the engine compartment and sorted out items to either go home or be sold on Ange's stall. Next I tried our new foam mattresses for size and Ruby just couldn't resist trying them out! One calamity was Ruby dropping her "Boat Bear" in the canal. Needless to say he had to have a trip home to languish in the washing machine a couple of days later!
Ruby's washed "Boat Bear" hanging on the washing line
Next, we drove down to Lymm with items to be stored ready for the Rally and had a quick excursion to the chippy for our tea then back to Agden. After tea we had a nice relaxing evening and photographed an unusual sunset before watching TV then had an early night.
Unusual sunset at Agden taken from the side doors at our mooring
Ange was attending a Rally meeting the following morning whilst I cracked-on with my jobs. On Ange's return we had lunch then painting resumed whilst I polished some more of the boat's interior woodwork. The Cowpar and Cowburn narrowboat Swan passed our mooring with the distinctive sound of its single cylinder Gardner 4VT 12hp engine echoing around the moorings. One of the first narrowboats I steered was Swan's sister Starling when it was a hire boat owned by Sid Merral at Beeston Castle Cruisers in 1967 as documented in Canalscape Book One Chapter Seven - Beeston Days.
The Cowpar and Cowburn narrowboat Swan passing our mooring
With our jobs completed we put the boat "to bed", loaded the car and headed down to Lymm to empty the toilet and enjoyed a drink in the Clubhouse with our fellow Club members before heading for home after a busy but rewarding weekend.
Our Rally Weekend started on the following Thursday evening when we, accompanied by Shannon, arrived at Lymm to off-load some stuff from the car before carrying on to the boat. I had taken the Friday off work and after breakfast we moved the boat to the water point and loaded the various boxes of stuff we had collected for the rally onto the boat whilst the water tank filled. We then stopped briefly at our mooring to load the roof boxes on board that Ange had painted to sell on her Quartermaster's Table. Once they were safely on board we cruised down to Lymm and after unloading we went to our rally mooring... Y1B, next to the now completed floating bridge.
The completed floating bridge landing stages
The marquee erected in the Club Yard
The weather forecast was good, the marquee had been erected and the Club Yard was a hive of activity with members busying themselves with various last minute jobs such as setting-up the bar, arranging tables and chairs, preparing the barbeques for the next day, etc. Ange busied herself setting-up Rally HQ whilst I took photographs then had a shift on the floating bridge before Paul arrived.
Ange in Rally HQ
We are supposed to be on the outside of Paul so I untied our boat and took it to the centre of the canal so that Paul could moor in his allotted space. Once he was there I moored our boat alongside for the duration of the rally. Paul was the rally's Mooring Officer and he had done a really good job with hardly any complaints. That evening we had a hot pot supper which was beautiful and after chatting with other rally goers we returned to the boat and were soon in bed. On Saturday, in addition to her Rally HQ duties Ange had a table for her Quartermaster's sales which was a great success. My daughter Lisa was also attending the rally and her boat Adeline was moored behind us. She had a table where she was demonstrating her canal painting and selling various painted items.
Lisa's Creighton 32 - Adeline
Lisa at her craft table
Lymm CC's Commodore John Powell and Rear Commodore Brian Burns in the Commodore's Games
There were the usual activities... model boat exhibition, dog show, Commodores' Games (may contain water) afternoon and evening entertainment to name but a few, all of which were enjoyed by everyone. Ange's sister Tracey and niece Ava visited us and enjoyed the rally so much that they decided to stay overnight. We asked Paul and Wendy if they could sleep on his boat as we didn't have sufficient beds to which they said yes. On Sunday there was a religious service before the guests and dignitaries went on a cruise to view the boats attending the rally. They were taken on board various boats including the local charity boat Wizard and apparently they had a smashing time.
Rally visitors crossing the canal on the floating bridge
View from the floating bridge
Swan cob admiring his reflection in our paintwork whist his family looks on
One amusing happening was when a family of swans wanted to pass the floating bridge. The bridge was opened for them but the cob decided to admire his reflection in our shiny paintwork instead. There was more entertainment in the evening which included a magician by the name of Dave Burns who was the son of Rear Commodore Brian Burns. The children attending the rally moved their chairs close to the stage in order to get a good view of the magician and try to discover how the tricks were accomplished. He delighted everyone with his routine which included being assisted by Charlie Savage... Alan Savage's grandson. We returned to the boat with our sides aching after laughing so much. The Illuminated Boats Sail Past was next. There were only two boats entered and the boat that won was from BMBC at Runcorn.
The winning entry in the Illuminated Boats Sail Past was from BMBC Runcorn
Bank Holiday Monday morning saw visitors to the rally starting to leave. The last official rally happening was the auction where items ranging from a stapler to an air compressor were auctioned. Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that Ange bid on and won a long arm stapler... complete with staples!
Ange crossing the floating bridge for the last time
With the proceedings over we all pitched-in to help put tables and chairs away, dismantle various items such as the bar and floating bridge landing stages. Just before we left we had a surprise visit from my son Glyn and his partner Brenda, They didn't stay long as they had only come to Lymm to visit Sextons Bakery in the village. After Lisa left Glyn and Brenda left shortly afterwards. By late afternoon we also left for our moorings, stopping at Oughtrington wharf to empty the toilet which was very nearly full. The rally was a great success and we received feed-back from many sources informing us how enjoyable the rally was. The weather was, in general, good But for now I had nearly a thousand photographs to sift through, resize and up-load to Lymm Cruising Club's website... http://www.lymm-cc.co.uk. And as well as that the Slipway magazine had to be collected from the printer, enveloped, addressed and posted in addition to formatting and sending the electronic version by e-mail. Good job I had the rest of the week off work!
After doing some shopping, washing and the Slipway Magazine was emailed or safely enveloped and posted we planned to spend a few days on the boat chilling out after the exertions of the rally. We planned to tidy the boat up after the rally, do a few jobs on my "To Do List" and start making preparations for our Summer Cruise in three weeks time... can't wait! We arrived at Agden on the Wednesday afternoon with a full car. We carried the stuff we had brought with us down to the boat on a trolley and on the way noticed how quickly the potato crop in the adjacent field had grown during the last few days. Consequently, Ruby and I went for a walk in the field accompanied by my Leica. One of the resulting photograph is shown below which I think looks quite good in monochrome and the detail in the plants on the original unresized image has to be seen to be believed.
The field containing a crop of potatoes adjacent to our mooring at Agden
After putting the food in the refrigerator and everything else stowed away we moved the boat onto an adjacent mooring and strimmed the grass growing next to the coping stones at the edge of the canal bank, around the mooring posts and our love seat where Alan Savage's sit-on lawnmower cannot reach. Then we had a cup of coffee and watched a cob swan and gander having a confrontation over territorial rights. The swan cob was chasing the gander along the towpath and into the canal repeatedly.
The angry swan attacking the gander next to our mooring
It turned out that both birds had mates and fledglings to protect but we felt that the gander was winding the cob up on purpose as he would fly away from the canal and land further up, goading the swan to chase him again. This situation was to carry on every day and was still carrying on when we left on Sunday afternoon.
The cob and the family he was protecting from the gander
The next morning Ange made a start on painting our love seat. Whilst she did this I touched-up the gloss paint on the boat's superstructure as well as a few other jobs on my "to do list". Throughout the next few days the weather was mainly dry but the sunshine was punctuated by occasional showers. When it rained we did jobs inside the boat which including cleaning the inside of the ceiling ventilators and polishing the brass grills and bezels. I used Shiny Sinks for this instead of Brasso which we had run out of. The Shiny Sinks did as good a job as Brasso and is to be recommended. We also tried our new foam cushions and mattresses but discovered that they were slightly too long. Only by a few inches but this was enough to cause them to bend and difficult to put in place. The on-going confrontations between the cob and the gander wasn't our only avian encounter. On Saturday night Ange noticed a large bird perched on the concrete fence posts next to our mooring. It turned out to be a Barn Owl but it was too dark to take a photograph of and the camera's flash would not be powerful enough to illuminate it. After a couple of minutes the owl swooped down and flew across the potato field adjacent to the mooring.
Our few days chill-out on the boat were over all too soon and we asked the Harbourmaster Phil Savage for permission to leave the boat at Lymm until Wednesday. Phil gave us permission and we took the boat down to Lymm so that when we came for the monthly meeting the following Tuesday and the Committee Meeting on Wednesday evening we had a base and when we took the foam mattresses and cushions to DV Foam Ltd. in Middlewich to be trimmed we wouldn't have to carry them too far. I needed to fill the water tank and empty the toilet as well On the way down to Lymm the sun came out just as I was passing through Oughtrington Woods and shone through the leaves. A fitting end to a really enjoyable and relaxing few days at Agden.
Passing through Oughtrington Woods on the way to Lymm
At the Monthly Meeting Paul was presented with the Roy Cocken Shield. This is awarded to the owner of the best turned out boat on the Opening Cruise and Paul and Wendy most certainly deserved it. Whilst looking at the previous recipients Paul was surprised to see that we had won it in 2006 (see Canalscape Book 4).
Paul receiving the Roy Cocken Shield from Commodore John Powell
On the Wednesday of the Committee Meeting we loaded the new foam cushions and mattresses into the car and drove to DV Foam Ltd. in Middlewich for trimming. After they were trimmed and loaded back into the car we went for a walk along the towpath towards Wardle Junction. As it was lunchtime we carried on to the chippy opposite King's Lock, bought our lunch then walked back to the junction and along the Shroppie's Middlewich Branch towpath and sat down to eat our lunch. Whilst we were eating a couple of boats went past and we giggled as the first one gave the adjacent bridge hole a hefty bang whilst trying to go through.
Not the boat that collided with the bridge hole
With our stomachs full we retraced our steps and had a chat to Mel Edwards MBE the fender maker. I had not seen Mel for a few years and it was good to chat to him and admire his dexterity as he crocheted rope fenders although we resisted the temptation to purchase one of his CDs. Back at Lymm we unloaded the car and prepared ourselves for the Committee Meeting later on. At the meeting we asked Phil Savage if we could leave the boat where it was until the weekend as we would be up on Friday to which he gave the okay. The meeting was over by eight o'clock and we made our way back home soon afterwards.
Mel Edwards MBE fender maker in action
Looking along the Middlewich Branch of the Shroppie
We were back up at Lymm on Friday tea time. Saturday morning I helped Alan and Phil Savage move a couple of boats back to their moorings after having to be moved for the rally. There was a FBCC Feedback Meeting on Saturday evening when all those involved with the rally had the opportunity to report back on what went well and what didn't, elaborating on any lessons learnt. The meeting was followed by pie and peas (proper pie not just a stew with a lid aka cobbler). We returned to the boat with over-full stomachs ready for an early start Sunday morning when we had to leave before the Navigation Trials as our boat was moored in the direct line of fire for boats taking part in the trials.
Oughtrington Wharf on the way back to Agden
After a lovely all day breakfast in the Clubhouse I took the boat back to Agden whilst Ange followed in the car. Once there we tried the cover we had bought for our love seat to prevent the bird droppings from covering it. We then checked the cupboards, clothes storage and wardrobe and made lists of food and other requirements that we needed to buy as well as clothes we needed to bring from home as it was the last full weekend before our Summer Cruise which was coming closer with frightening speed.
The love seat on our mooring with the cover in place
To be continued in Chapter 5 - Canalmanac Part Three
Click to return to Contents
Chapter 4 - Summer Cruise 2019 (in preparation)
For our 2018 Summer Cruise we had originally planned to revisit the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals accompanied by Paul and Wendy Savage and their narrowboat Adreva. Unfortunately, we were unable to fulfil this plan due to the breach on the Shropshire Union Canal's Middlewich Branch below Stanhope Lock. Plan B was the beautiful Caldon Canal. For our 2019 Summer Cruise we planned to try again for the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals.
The Breach below Stanthorne Lock, Middlewich in 2018
(Photograph - Canal and River Trust)
With the success of taking our summer holidays early last year (the last week in June and the first week in July) we planned to take the same two weeks in 2019... Saturday the 22nd June to Sunday the 7th July. Accordingly, the bookings to descend Frankton Locks, which give access to the Montgomery Canal, were made in February to avoid disappointment (fingers crossed). Since our last visit to the Montgomery Canal in 2005, the navigable section connected to the main line of the Llangollen Canal has been extended considerably as far as Maesbury Marsh but not yet as far as the previously restored (but unconnected) Welshpool Section. A few weeks before we were due to go on our holiday cruise I received an e-mail from the Canal and River Trust informing me that the next section of 2km (1·25 miles) from Maesbury Marsh to Crickheath where a new winding hole had been created was being filled with water. When the next section of the canal is opened the winding hole is destined to become a small marina. Accordingly, we were looking forward to cruising yet another section of canal that we had not previously been on and hoped that the latest section was open for navigation as well.
The latest stretch of the Montgomery Canal at Crickheath to be restored
(Photograph - Canal and River Trust)
In the weeks leading up to our Summer Cruise we experienced copious quantities of rain. Talk about deja vous... last year it was the breach on the Shroppie's Middlewich Branch and this year, a week before we were due to start our cruise, we received an email from the Canal and River Trust informing us that the Llangollen Canal had "topped out" close to Thomason's Bridge (Bridge 22) between Wrenbury and Marbury Lock. The resulting water movement had damaged the wash wall piling and the towpath when the water ran down the embankment into the adjacent infant River Weaver which necessitated closing and lowering the water level of the canal at that point for inspection.
Canal closure at Bridge 21 - Wrenbury Frith Bridge between Wrenbury and Marbury Lock
Close-up of the bank damage between Wrenbury and Marbury
(Photographs - Ali Whittaker)
The Canal and River Trust have said that the initial repairs will take between two to three weeks to complete but they may be able to open the canal after re-piling whilst the embankment is reinforced with rock boulders. After discussions with Paul we decided to have a Plan B in the shape of cruising up the Shroppie to Wolverhampton and then turning right onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal towards Kinver and Stourport. By being in the vicinity of Hurleston Junction at the beginning of our cruise, if the canal reopens by the time we reach Hurleston we would be able to execute Plan A if not... it's Plan B. With this latest problem we got the impression that we are destined not to cruise the Montgomery Canal... at least not this year. Anyway... there might be another length of the canal reopened by the time we do eventually manage to cruise it! On Thursday the 20th July we received an e-mail from The Canal and River Trust informing us that there would be limited passage of the affected area below Marbury Lock from Monday the 24th June onwards. We planned to contact them when we reach Barbridge Junction to find out what the implications are of this limited passage. With this in mind we might still manage to reach the Montgomery Canal... fingers crossed!
When we arrived at Agden, teatime on the 21st June, Paul and Wendy were already moored at the water point having filled their water tank and loaded their boat up. They offered for us to load our things onto their boat and take us down the mooring, pull alongside our boat and pass the bags, baskets, etc. across onto our aft deck ready for stowage, which we did. As with last year, our friends had bought a couple of beautiful planters full of colourful blooms and placed them on the roof of our boat. We were conscious of the next couple of days being Lymm Historic Transport Weekend and decided to get through Lymm Village and moor up for the night at Thelwall as we had done the previous year. It was a warm. pleasant cruise to Thelwall which was a superb start to our holiday.
Our first overnight holiday mooring at Thelwall
Grappenhall Turn on a beautiful summer's morning
After breakfast Saturday morning we set off for Stockton Heath were Ange and Wendy planned to do the fresh food shopping. They also like to visit the charity shops at Stockton Heath and in one of them was a box of old cameras. Whilst rummaging through them I came across a Kodak Duaflex twin lens reflex camera complete with case, identical to the one my father had when I was a child. I looked around at the other items and noticed a man also looking in the old camera box. I then decided to buy the old Duaflex but when I returned to the box it was in it seemed that the other man had beaten me to it. Before we carried on finishing our shopping, Paul and I bought and ate pasties from Greg’s the Bakers as we were hungry and we all know what we are like when that happens! Suitably replenished we then returned to the boats fully laden with fingers hurting from the carrier bag handles. As it was a boiling hot day we decided to leave Ruby on the boat and when we returned she was lying on her cooler mat which we had bought for her especially. We then set off in the beautiful sunshine and moored at Daresbury for the night.
Ruby asleep on her cooler mat
Moored in the shadow of the Daresbury Laboratories Tower
Not long after tying up Paul and Wendy called me out onto the towpath and gave me a present... a Kodak Duaflex no less. It was actually Paul who beat me to it in the charity shop and managed to keep it hidden from me all around the shops. Heaven knows how they managed it but I was overjoyed and I could feel a little tear running down my face remembering my dear old dad with his Duaflex and how Paul and Wendy had brought back memories of him in my childhood days. We then discovered that the camera had a film in it (Kodak Verichrome Pan) which had a couple of exposures left on it. I wound the film on, took a couple of photographs and Ange took a photograph of Paul, Wendy and myself. When the film was exposed I promised to process it when I got home.
Yours truly with the Kodak Duaflex...
(Photograph Angela Wood)
...and a close-up of the camera itself
After a lovely tea Paul, Ruby and I went for a walk in the woods opposite our mooring and on our return discovered that we had both received our first insect bites of the holiday. Sunday dawned cloudy with threatening showers (still blue showing in the sky) and we made for Preston Brook Tunnel. Whilst we waited for the allotted time to enter the tunnel we had morning coffee then made the passage through in a leisurely twelve minutes. The canal was quiet with not many boats about… maybe they were all at Harrell’s where we had to negotiate the narrow channel caused by there being four boats moored abreast… tight squeeze! The marinas seemed to be filling up nicely but still had many spaces available. We moored for the night two abreast at Bramble Cuttings where we had a lovely roast dinner before reminiscing about old photographs.
The 2018 breach location on the Shroppie's Middlewich Branch
The next morning promised to be a nice day with clear skies and lots of hot sunshine. After negotiating Big Lock we moored next to the water point below the start of the narrow locks whilst Ange and Wendy went to the nearby discount shop and Tesco Express. When they returned we were helped through the locks by The Canal and River Trust volunteers and it wasn’t long before we were mooring at the 2018 breach site where we were impressed with the standard of work. Next, we set off in the brilliant, hot sunshine. Our peace was shattered when passing beneath the West Coast Main Line Railway Bridge (Bridge 22A) a Virgin Pendolino thundered overhead. We did not experience any queues at the locks and moored for the night at Syke’s Hollow were we had our first alfresco dinner. Afterwards we watched Caddisflies flying up and down as if they were on springs like Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout. The peace at this location has to be heard to be believed… no road noise just bird song and the occasional train passing over the canal in the distance at Cholmondeston.
We planned to have our breakfast at the café at Venetian Marine so we left Syke’s Hollow in the rain and moored opposite the marina. After a lovely breakfast we showed Paul and Wendy next door where the Narrowboat Glass Company we had previously visited are located. We were given a demonstration of how they produce their beautiful stained glass windows which further whetted Ange’s appetite for having our boat’s front door windows done the same way. Volunteers helped us through Cholmondeston Lock and as it was still raining I put the tiller arm with the Brolly-Mate fitted to it in position and erected our large umbrella. The positioning of the umbrella allowed us to go through narrow bridges (but not locks) and it wasn’t long before we were at Barbridge Junction. The location of the old Jolly Tar public house that was demolished last year has now been made into a building site for up-market housing … right next to a noisy main road. Hmmm… £450K well spent then!
Approaching Barbridge Junction with the Brolley-Mate and Umbrella in use
Leaving Barbridge behind we wound our way to Hurleston Junction just as the rain stopped. Whilst we waited for the locks we chatted to The Canal and River Trust volunteers. They told us that we should not have any problems when we reached the works location between Wrenbury and Marbury. Boats were being allowed past the works at 8.00am for an hour in the morning and at 4.00pm for an hour in the afternoon. Just stop at Wrenbury Frith Lift Bridge (Bridge 21) and await directions from the personnel. Accordingly, we planned to be there before 5.00pm.
Waiting for our turn at Hurleston Locks
We passed through Hurleston Locks without incident although we did lift the fenders beforehand. In between Swanley and Baddiley Locks we had a late lunch on the go and eventually reached Wrenbury Frith Lift Bridge at 4.50pm. We would have been able to pass through the work site had it not been for a previous boat not heeding the instructions regarding the boat not being in gear. Apparently, the suction from his boat’s propeller lifted the protective waterproof matting on the canal bed and it wrapped around the propeller. The remedial work meant that no more boats could pass through the site until the next morning when the C&RT operative told us to be ready at 8.00am as we would be the first boats through. Even though this would put us a little behind schedule we still had plenty of time to reach Welsh Frankton Locks and the start of the Montgomery Canal by midday on Thursday.
Ange in Hurleston Top Lock
Whilst looking around at Bridge 21 which was the closest road access to the work site I noticed the case for a tasty piece of surveying equipment in the shape of a laser level produced by a certain German camera manufacturer. Needless to say it was captured on a camera of the same make the resulting photograph of which is illustrated below.
Classy piece of kit in the shape of a Leica laser level
We were up early as the C&RT would be allowing us through the works site at 8.00am. It was actually 7.50 when Wrenbury Frith Lift Bridge (Bridge 21) was raised and we were given permission to proceed along the canal. When we reached the works site we were told to accelerate than go into neutral as we reached the first work boat. As we slowed down our boat would be pulled through by hand. Once past the works we could then engage gear and proceed slowly to Marbury Lock.
Paul just passing the piling works at Marbury
Ruby making sure they didn't scratch our shiny paintwork when it was our turn to pass through
At Marbury Lock C&RT personnel helped us through the lock and we continued towards Grindley Brook in drizzle. Once through all the locks we stopped at the sanitary station to empty toilets, dump our rubbish in the skips provided and fill the water tanks. We were soon under way again and deep in lift bridge country. At one of the bridges a lady shouted at us from the side doors of a moored boat to slow down even though we were in neutral having approached the bridge at tick-over speed. Maybe she needed to tighten-up her mooring ropes which is the usual cause of excessive movement by passing boats. We had lunch on the go and passed more bank-side piling approaching Morris’s Lift Bridge (Bridge 45) at Whixhall. The weather cleared up and Ange steered the boat through Ellesmere Tunnel whilst I was taking photographs. We moored alongside Adreva at the bottom of the Ellesmere Arm whilst the adjacent Tesco Supermarket was visited for essentials and fresh food. When the shopping was completed we moored for the night about a mile outside the town on a beautifully secluded mooring.
Inside Ellesmere Tunnel with Ange steering
Moored alongside Adreva at the end of the Ellesmere Arm
We had a bit of a lie-in the next morning. We were due to be at Welsh Frankton Locks for 12.00 midday and we had a leisurely cruise there in the hot, brilliant sunshine. Once moored we reported to the Lock Keeper’s hut where we could see our boat names at the top of the list to go down the locks. As we waited to go down the locks my thoughts went back to my dad who I remember saying, when we were walking down the locks in 1966, that he would love to cruise down the Montgomery Canal. Unfortunately, he died in 1977... ten years before they re-opened. Before long we were out of the locks and cruising through the wild, rural landscape. We didn’t see any more boats that day and my overall impression of the canal is that it is reminiscent of the Caldon Canal which we cruised last year.
Welsh Frankton Locks Passage Notice
Descending Welsh Frankton Staircase Locks
We stopped for lunch at Queen’s Head and then descended the Aston Locks in perfect sunshine before reaching the lift bridge at Gronwen. This was very close to the limit of navigation for powered craft even though the canal is in water for a considerable distance there is no winding hole. We passed through the bridge and Ange winded the boat at Gronwen Wharf, back through the lift bridge and moored a couple of hundred metres away.
Above Aston Number Two Lock
Bridge 77 near Maesbury Marsh
Before long Adreva came into view and after executing the same manoeuvres as we had and moored behind us. We had our dinner alfresco after which Paul, Ruby and I walked along the Gronwen Wharf Arm and towpath of the restored section that we were unable to cruise along. I have to say that we were all a little disappointed that the section discussed in “Waterways World” was not open and I was puzzled as to where the photograph of the section being filled containing the new winding hole and boat moorings at Crickheath were located as we could not find them, even though we had walked all the way to the next unrestored section adjacent to the solar farm. We returned to the boats and discussed whether we should try and return up Frankton Locks tomorrow instead of Saturday. Paul said that he would phone C&RT the next morning to ask if we could. We sat out for a while sipping our drinks in the balmy evening before going to bed.
The Gronwen Arm
Gronwen Wharf - the limit of navigation for powered craft
Bridge 82A - Morton Farm Lift Bridge
Looking towards Crickheath
Newly restored section near Crickheath
Field of crops adjacent to the canal near Crickheath
The locks at Welsh Frankton are only open from 12.00 midday until 2.00pm so Paul telephoned C&RT to see if we could move our bookings forward a day, to which they said yes. Accordingly, we set off for Welsh Frankton in more brilliant sunshine. I was pleased about this from a photographer’s point of view as I could then take photographs on the return journey that I was unable to the previous day due to the direction of the sun. We had breakfast on the move and made good time, reaching Welsh Frankton just before midday. There were a couple of boats ascending and as soon as they had cleared the locks it was our turn. We suspected that the crew on one of the boats in particular were inexperienced as the C&RT volunteers were having to give them instructions, even on the single locks after the staircase. Once we were at the top of the locks we stopped for lunch before heading off towards Chirk.
Welsh Frankton Dry-dock location
At the bottom of Newmarton Locks we experienced the only queue we had been in up till then with four boats waiting to ascend the locks. I mentioned earlier about the Kodak Duaflex camera that Paul and Wendy bought for me. I have an old black and white photograph that was taken by me on my Kodak Brownie 127 camera of my dad holding his Duaflex leaning on the bottom gate of Newmarton Top Lock with my brother Jim next to him. We decided to recreate this photograph with me taking the place of my dad, Paul taking the place of Jim and Ange being the photographer. There was also boats waiting to come down the locks so if the resulting photograph wasn’t quite right (which it wasn't) we could recreate it on our return journey.
After the locks we made our way towards Chirk Bank where we planned to moor outside The Poacher’s Pocket and had previously telephoned ahead to book a table for a meal that evening. We managed to grab the last two moorings and after a quick shower and change of clothes we left Ruby in charge of the boat to go for our meal which was, as anticipated, wonderful. After the meal we returned to the boats ready for an early start the next morning to beat the queues for the aqueducts and tunnels.
We left The Poacher’s Pocket a little later than anticipated and were soon winding our way along the sides of the Ceiriog Valley. At Chirk Bank and local resident came to speak to us as we passed and he told us that he collected the names and numbers of boats from the Bridgewater Canal for his wife who was from Warrington.
Crossing Chirk Aqueduct
Ange steered across the mighty Chirk Aqueduct but at the end the basin before the tunnel was filling rapidly with a couple of boats waiting to enter the tunnel. A hire boat crewed by inexperienced boaters coming in the opposite direction was being followed by a couple more boats. Add an impatient canoeist into the mix and what do you get… mayhem! The other boats gradually sorted themselves out but it was hard going through the tunnel as we were in a restricted width channel with quite a flow of water coming in the opposite direction. The canoeist had turned around and was following us but by the time we had reached Whitehouse Tunnel he had stopped. We noticed railway sleepers being used as bank reinforcements in and around Chirk Cutting. This is an ironic use of the railway's cast-offs being used to maintain a canal.
The sultry Chirk Cutting
Railway sleepers used as bank reinforcement
The next feature on the canal is the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. It is fifty eight years since I first crossed this amazing monument to the skill of Thomas Telford and it is still as emotional experience now as it was in 1961. Ange steered the boat across which gave me the opportunity to take photographs of our boat as well as Paul and Wendy’s Adreva.
Squirrel crossing the mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Paul and Wendy crossing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Ange steering across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
The section above Trevor is known as the Waterline. It was not meant to be the main line of the canal which was planned to carry straight on, through Ruabon Mountain in a tunnel and descend to the River Dee near Chester on a heavily locked stretch of canal (see Shroppie – A Portrait of the Shropshire Union Canal – Chapter Six… The Ffrwd Canal - The Canal That Never Was). There was a boat in front of us and we kept quite close to them on the narrow sections so that we didn’t meet any traffic coming in the opposite direction. Having said that, Wenffrwd Bridge (Bridge 42W) carries the A539 across the canal and is located in the middle of an “S” bend. As we came through the bridge we met the Thomas Telford trip boat which is a full-length ex-working narrowboat full of sight seers. I kept our boat over on the right side of the canal then immediately came to a dead stop and signalled Paul to do the same to allow the boat to pass. The trip boat just managed to squeeze through the gap that we had left for them. This was the only major confrontation that we had before reaching Llangollen but bur.
Confrontation on the Waterline Section above Trevor (Wake them up Paul)
On reaching Llangollen we stopped at the sanitary station to empty the toilets (we didn’t have to worry about water as there are taps at the end of the piers adjacent to the mains hook-up sockets) then went into the marina and were gob-smacked as to how many vacant moorings there were. We chose adjacent moorings on a pier at the far side and I performed the boat equivalent of a hand-brake turn onto the pier much to the amazement of our neighbours who thought my boat handling skills were “awesome”. Paul made a similar manoeuvre and was also congratulated on his boat handling skills. With the boats safely moored we walked into the town, stopping at Llangollen Wharf to purchase our mooring permits (£6 per night including electricity hook-up). After having a quick look around the shops we stopped at Fouzi's Café, Bar and Pizzeria for a drink on their veranda overlooking the River Dee. We had our tea alfresco before watching a film on TV and going to bed after a busy day.
Our Llangollen Marina moorings in...
...a virtually empty Llangollen Marina
We were to have visitors the next day in the shape of Angie’s son Michael, his girlfriend Aimee and grandaughter Shannon who were to accompany us for Sunday lunch at The Corn Mill just over the River Dee Bridge in Llangollen. Paul and Wendy were also having a visit from their youngest son Oliver and his girlfriend Lauren. Accordingly, we booked a large table in The Corn Mill and had a quick tidy up before our guests arrived. Our meal was beautiful and afterwards the others went for a walk around the shops whilst Michael and I returned to the boat. He had brought his new drone with him and he took some aerial photographs and video of the marina which were excellent.
Waiting for our meal in the The Corn Mill
Aerial photograph of Llangollen Marina Moorings from Michael's drone
(Photograph - Michael Dawson)
Our guests left at tea time and after having a large dinner we didn’t feel like much to eat. We chatted to our neighbours who were from Canada and New Zealand. I joked with the Canadians that our canals were quite different from the Rideau Canal which runs from Ottawa in the north all the way down to Kingston on the banks of Lake Ontario… a total length of 202 km (125 miles). The Rideau Canal is described in the Canadian Wanderings chapter of the Foreign Forays section of this website. With being in a different television area I re-tuned the TV and we watched a film before going to bed early so that we could beat the queues on the narrow sections, Pontcysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts as well as the tunnels.
Plas Ifa Bridge (Bridge 40W)
Monday dawned cloudy with sunny intervals and was quite breezy… just what you want crossing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct! There is a pheasant resident at the marina who woke me up at 5.00am. We left our moorings at 7.30am and had breakfast on the move. It was most certainly the right thing to do in leaving early. We didn’t meet a single boat on the Waterline section of the canal. It was quite breezy during our crossing of Pontcysyllte and it was difficult not to think that the wind would blow us over the edge even though we knew that this was an impossibility. We joined a queue for passage through Chirk Tunnel and when it was our turn to go through it was easier than when we were coming through in the opposite direction due to not going against the flow of water.
The sky says it all in this photograph of returning across Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Picturesque Chirk Bank
Local canalside Chirk resident
The breeze had dropped, the sun came out and we were soon at New Marton Locks where, as there were no boats waiting to come up the locks Ange took a photograph of Paul and myself posing on the bottom gates with the Kodak Duaflex camera mentioned earlier. Ange had the original photograph on her mobile phone and gave us directions how to pose for the resulting photograph to be as close as possible to the original.
Cyril Wood Senior (and Kodak Duaflex) and Jim Wood at Newmarton Top Lock in 1961
Cyril Wood Junior (and Kodak Duaflex) and Paul Savage at Newmarton Top Lock in 2019
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
In one of the locks was a large, heavy log that threatened to prevent the top gate from opening so I pulled it out of the way and put it on the bank. I must have strained a muscle or something in my hand as later on one of my fingers became swollen, started to turn blue and was cold to the touch. With the locks behind us we carried on in the hot, brilliant sunshine and reached Ellesmere at 3.00pm. We moored in the arm and went into the town and to the Tesco supermarket before returning to the boats and enjoyed a well-deserved cuppa. Suitably refreshed we reversed up the arm to the sanitary station to fill the water tanks, empty the toilets and get rid of our rubbish. With the housekeeping completed we cruised out of the town and moored for the night adjacent to Blake mere, the banks of which were a few metres from the canal. Wendy had cooked a beautiful chicken korma which went down a treat after a long, busy day.
Ellesmere Sanitary Station and Maintenance Yard
The morning we set off early again to avoid the queues at Grindley Brook Locks. The canal seemed to be shallower than usual and the water level marks on the canal’s wash walls appeared to be three to four inches below the marks were the level is normally. Maybe C&RT are keeping the water levels low because of the ongoing works at Prees and below Marbury.
The low water level is illustrated in this photograph
Not far from Whitchurch we were approaching Duddleston Bridge (Bridge 37) just as the cows were going to be milked. One nosey cow looked over the bridge parapet to see what was happening below and Ange couldn't resist taking its photograph and is included below for the readers appreciation.
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
At Grindley Brook we went straight into the locks and whilst the boat was descending I had an emotional reunion with Tom Merral when I told him about Jim’s death as I hadn’t seen him since. We reminisced for a few minutes and yes… he does still have the five ton hydraulic jack but has spent the thirty bob (see Canalscape Book One - Book Seven – Beeston Days)!
Descending Grindley Brook Staircase Lock Top Chamber
After saying goodbye to Tom we carried on down the locks and chatted to a lady from Upton not far from where we live on the Wirral. We became stuck in the bottom lock when it was empty. Ange was steering so I jumped down onto the boat’s roof and pulled the fenders up with the short boat hook. The boat could than exit the lock and we were then under way again. We moored for the night a quarter of a mile below Quoisley Lock where we enjoyed a beautifully quiet, secluded overnight mooring. Later that night we heard an own screeching in its own distinctive fashion.
Alter breakfast we cleaned and polished one side of the boat. This was Paul’s fault as they are having guests joining us the next day and cruising back to Agden with them. With this done we had showers before setting off for Marbury lock not too far away. The pump that empties the shower sump was not turning off so I isolated it and planned to repair/replace the unit when we returned to our moorings. I mentioned the owl that we had heard to Paul who admitted that it was actually him imitating the owl. The restrictions had been eased at the works site below Marbury… we still had to exercise care but we could see how much of a good job they were doing and told them so as we passed.
Approaching the bank repair works below Marbury...
...and the works progressing well
Approaching Wrenbury there is a field containing half a dozen classic tractors including my old favourite... a grey Fergie. The farmer was using one of the tractors pulling a motorised scythe cutting the reeds at the edge of the canal. We hadn't seen one like this before and it was good to see classic equipment being put to good use.
Classic International 276 tractor and motorised scythe
Déjà vu - Squirrel above Baddiley Locks
At Wrenbury Ange stopped traffic at the lift bridge and we stopped for lunch a little way down the canal from there. We set off again at 2.30 and would have liked to reach Hurleston Locks before they closed at 5.00pm. Unfortunately, we met boats at locks which put us behind schedule and we knew that we would not reach Hurleston by then after we left Swanley Bottom Lock. Accordingly, we found a good mooring not far from the entrance to Swanley Bridge Marina. Once moored I greased the tiller top bearing and refilled the stern gland greaser whilst I had greasy hands. After dinner we were treated to a beautiful sunset so Paul and I walked down the towpath whilst I found a suitable location to photograph it. We had seen quite a few sunsets over the holiday but we were not in a location that allowed it to be photographed until now. It mad a fitting end to the day.
Sunset over Swanley Marina
We made another early start to catch Hurleston Locks before the queues. In fact, we were the first boats through. Once through Hurleston Locks we headed south to Nantwich Basin and the sanitary station where we had showers, filled the water tanks, emptied the toilets and got rid of our rubbish. When these jobs were completed we reversed into the basin, turned around and headed for Barbridge.
Fenders up in Hurleston Bottom Lock
Whilst approaching Hurleston Junction Bridge I sounded our horn and slowed down to tick-over just in case someone was coming out of the locks and was not aware of our presence. I heard two feeble blasts from a horn and then saw the boa of an Andersen Boat come flying across the bridge hole and bang into the bank adjacent to the direction post. Was I glad that I slowed down or we would have been hit amidships. The Teutonic steerer offered no apology and after making sure his boat was going in the right direction accelerated away in the same direction that we were going in.
Leaving Hurleston heading towards Nantwich
There were two forty five foot moorings opposite the Olde Barbridge Inn (where the previously mentioned Andersen Boat had moored… not smartly either) and once moored we readied ourselves to catch the bus to Tarporley where Wendy’s father was in a nursing home and wanted to visit him. When we arrived at Tarporley Ange, Ruby and I went to the Ginger and Pickles Tea Rooms where we sat outside in the brilliant, hot sunshine for a coffee (the Spanish Latté is gorgeous and thoroughly recommended) and a cake. Ruby was made a fuss of as she was being her usual well-behaved self, sitting in the shade under the table and was fed sausages (and not small ones either) and had her own water bowl as well. Paul and Wendy joined us before too long and we then caught the bus back to Barbridge to await the arrival of Paul and Wendy’s guests Gail and another Paul who we christened Paul (2).
When they arrived we all had tea on board Adreva then set off, turned right at Barbridge Junction and moored for the night below Cholmondeston Lock ready for breakfast at the Venetian Marina Café the next morning. We had just moored up and were on the towpath talking when a large barn own flew over our heads and landed in the trees at the far side of the marina moorings. Paul resisted the temptation to make an owl call after it.
Cholmondeston Railway Bridge rope guard
Next morning the breakfast at the Venetian Marina Café was up to the usual standard and whilst went into the chandlery to price shower sump pumps Paul and Wendy took their guests into the Narrowboat Glass Company for a stained glass window demonstration. On our return to the boats we cruised a mile down the canal to Syke’s Hollow for our annual tie and dye t-shirt activity. We all made individual patterns on t-shirts and when the activity was completed and were hung up to dry we headed towards Middlewich in brilliant, hot sunshine.
Tie-dye in progress at Syke's Hollow
It was an idyllic cruise to Middlewich with lunch on the go. We made mincemeat of the locks and moored just before the winding hole opposite the steps. We all went into the town, had a drink at The White Bear before heading for Tesco and then back to the boats for tea.
Ruby waiting for Mummy outside Tesco
It was a drizzly Saturday morning and we set off about 9.00. By the time we reached Anderton the weather had cleared up and the sun was shining once more. We performed the usual duties at the sanitary station before moving to the Anderton visitor moorings adjacent to the lift. Ange made lunch for everyone and afterwards we walked the short distance to the Anderton Boat Lift. Paul’s guests were suitably impressed by the lift and were lucky enough to see it in operation. We had coffee in the lift’s café and as Ange’s birthday was in a few days I asked her if she wanted anything from their jewellery section. There were a couple of pendants that she liked but couldn’t make her mind up which she liked best so I bought both. Ange bought me a beautiful book about canal lifts and inclines from the book department which I had wanted for a while. We carried on towards Preston Brook. We planned to moor at the Dutton Breach moorings but they were full so carried on a short distance and moored near to Eaton’s Bridge (Bridge 212). We had tea on board Adreva and chatted to Paul and Wendy’s guests who seemed well impressed with our boats, the canals in general and how we spend our leisure time on them.
Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) photographed close to Bridge 212
The last day of our holidays dawned bright and sunny and promised to be another scorching hot day. After breakfast we all wore our tie and dye t-shirts for a group photograph then set off for Dutton and Preston Brook Tunnel. We had a while to wait for the tunnel and had a cup of coffee in the sunshine whilst we waited. Fifteen minutes later we set off again and made the passage through the tunnel in twelve and a bit minutes… our usual time for passing through it. We were now on our home waters and had a leisurely cruise to Lymm. We stopped at the Lymm CC Clubhouse to empty toilets and show off our beautiful Club premises to Paul and Wendy’s guests who were suitably impressed.
Tie-dye group photograph
The cruise to our moorings was at tick-over all the way… we didn’t want our fantastic holiday to end. At Agden I made a 180º turn onto our moorings and when the boat was moored we walked to Adreva’s moorings to say goodbye to our friends and their guests. They were driving to Barbridge to deliver Paul (2) and Gail to their car then were going to visit Wendy’s father in Tarporley.
Preston Brook Tunnel waiting sign
With our friends gone we had a cup of coffee and deliberated about our holiday before packing the bare essentials into the car. We planned to return the following weekend to collect what we didn’t take today. We had such a great time we didn’t want to go home and were tempted to start the boat again and set off “that-a-way”… it didn’t matter where to, we just didn’t want to return to reality but one day we will set off and forget the way back!
Timetable for our 2019 Summer Cruise
|Friday 21st June 2019||-||Agden near Lymm to Thelwall Underbridge - Bridgewater Canal|
|Saturday 22nd June 2019||-||Thelwall Underbridge to Daresbury - Bridgewater Canal|
Sunday 23rd June 2019
Daresbury - Bridgewater Canal to Bramble Cuttings - Trent & Mersey Canal
Monday24th June 2019
Bramble Cuttings to Syke's Hollow - Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch
Tuesday 25th June 2019
Syke's Hollow to Bridge 21 Wrenbury - Llangollen Canal
Wednesday 26th June 2019
Bridge 21 to above Ellesmere - Llangollen Canal
Thursday 27th June 2019
Ellesmere to Gronwen - Montgomery Canal
Friday 28th June 2019
Gronwen to Poacher's Pocket, Chirk - Llangollen Canal
|Saturday 29th June 2019||-||Chirk to Llangollen|
|Sunday 30th June 2019||-||Llangollen|
|Monday 1st July 2019||-||Llangollen to Blake Mere, Ellesmere - Llangollen Canal|
|Tuesday 2nd July 2019||-||Ellesmere to below Quoisley Lock - Llangollen Canal|
|Wednesday 3rd July 2019||-||Quoisley Lock to Swanley Marina - Llangollen Canal|
|Thursday 4th July 2019||-||Swanley Marina to Venetian Marina - Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch|
|Friday 5th July 2019||-||Venetian Marina to Middlewich - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Saturday 6th July 2019||-||Middlewich to Bridge 212, Dutton - Trent & Mersey Canal|
|Sunday 7th July 2019||-||Dutton to Agden - Bridgewater Canal|
Epilogue to Summer Cruise 2019
Well… what a holiday cruise that turned out to be. Our original plans were in doubt right from the start but, thanks to The Canal and River Trust we were able to cruise the Montgomery and Llangollen Canals as planned. It is a shame that the newly restored sections were not cruisable but we have learned that a National Lottery grant of over four million pounds has just been awarded to the Shropshire Union Canal Society for the next stage of restoration. There is two and three quarter miles to go before the existing restored Welshpool Section can be connected to the cruisable section and hence to the national canal system. Hopefully, we will be able to see the fruits of their efforts in the not too distant future. A couple of weeks after returning from our Summer Cruise there was a breach between Pool Quay Lock and Crowther Hall Lock near Welshpool on the restored but isolated section of the Montgomery Canal. The breach was caused by the collapse of a culvert running beneath the canal which has been closed until further notice. It seems that The Canal and River Trust's resources are to be stretched even further. This and the other recent breaches on the canal system lead one to think that not enough inspection work is being carried out which would identify problems before they occur.
Bank piling work at Prees Heath
We have had some superb weather and only a couple of wet days… good photography weather as well as good cruising weather. Wonderful scenery, good weather, good company and good food… what more could you ask for? Visits to the Llangollen Canal are always emotional ones for me as I remember visiting various locations along its length with my parents. Visiting Starkey's Farm and seeing a young Chas Harden, our hire boat Maureen sinking on Whixhall Moss, walking around the shops at Ellesmere, looking at the disused Welsh Frankton Locks with my Dad and wondering if we would ever cruise down the canal there, walking down to the River Dee at Pontcysyllte and looking up at the Aqueduct towering above, the list goes on. It was their favourite canal and also is one of ours. Recreating the old photograph of my Dad with his Kodak Duaflex next to my dear departed brother Jim at Newmarton Top Lock is a memory that I will treasure forever.
A young Cyril J Wood playing in the canal at Llangollen in 1961 whilst my Mum on board Kathleen looks on
(Photograph - James M Wood)
This photograph taken a couple of years later shows me and my Dad at Swanley Locks
(Photograph - James M Wood)
Mum and Dad returning from shopping at Ellesmere in 1964 (check out those pants!)
(Photograph - James M Wood)
Our beautiful narrowboat… Squirrel didn’t miss a beat but we did have a small problem with the shower sump pump not switching off as it should. The original pump was an American Johnson Marine unit with a replacement cost of £130 + £34 delivery from the USA but a compatible replacement by Seaflow has since been purchased from Amazon for £46 (with no delivery charge) and should rectify the problem. The beautiful planters of flowers that Paul and Wendy bought were donated to the nursing home where Wendy's father was spending his last days with us. No doubt, they added colour to the surroundings where they can be appreciated by others.
Some of the beautiful flowers from the roof-top planters
Our thoughts are now turning to where we go next year... up the Shroppie, turn right at Autherley onto the Staffs and Worcs Canal and down to Stourport on Severn sounds good to us but we shall have to wait and see.
Click to return to Contents
Chapter 5 - Canalmanac 2019 Part 3 (in preparation)
A fortnight after our Summer Cruise Ange had gone to Turkey with her son Michael, his girlfriend Aimee and grandaughter Shannon. As I was not going with them I decided to use up my last remaining holiday entitlement to spend a few days up at the boat to chill-out and do a few jobs including fitting the new shower sump and pump. Accordingly, straight after work on Monday the 22nd July, Ruby and I headed up to Agden for what the weather forecasters predicted was going to be a record breaking week temperature-wise... and they weren't wrong! On our arrival, I unloaded the car and chilled out for the rest of the day as it was too hot to do any jobs.
The next morning I got stuck-in to my jobs, repairing the rear step where the screws had come undone and added a few more for safety reasons. Before long a pair of Bridgewater Canal Company workboats went past. Funny how such large craft make hardly a ripple when smaller craft create a much larger wash!
Bridgewater Canal Company workboats passing our mooring with hardly a ripple
Next, I removed the faulty shower sump and pump assembly ready to install the new one. What I hadn't planned for was the new assembly was larger than the one it replaced. Not a bad thing but before I could fit it I had to make the aperture in the floor larger to accommodate it. The shower sump and pump are located beneath the wardrobe floor and the space I had to work in was too small to use a tenon saw so I used a junior hacksaw instead. Not the best tool for the job but, after drilling pilot holes where I wanted to cut, did the job. Once in place I tidied-up the electrical wiring as it was not to my satisfaction and planned to fit an isolation switch at some stage in the future. When this was completed the new unit was tested and worked satisfactorily... a job well done!
The new shower sump and pump assembly installed
As the temperature was now rising and didn't want to do anything too strenuous, after lunch I tidied out the bunk space where I keep all my tools and spare parts. This was a job I had been threatening to do for a while and it was time well-spent. The rest of the day was spent reading and chilling out. Ruby spent a lot of time on her cool mat and was supplemented with one of our 12 volt fans. A thunder storm was predicted for that night and after a beautiful sunset it arrived. I love being on the boat during a thunder storm but I am not sure that Ruby enjoyed it as much as I did.
Ruby keeping cool
This beautiful sunset was the precursor to a tremendous thunder storm
The thunder storm and resulting rain storm cleared the atmosphere and the morning after was fresh and bright but didn't promise to be as hot. I had a bit of a lazy day catching up on keeping Canalscape up-dated and talking to our friends (and fellow Lymm CC Committee Members) Jack and Glenys Kershaw after returning from their six week cruise down south... most envious. The week after we returned from our Summer Cruise I received a text from Glenys whilst they were away informing me that they had just been through Somerton Deep Lock on the Oxford Canal. It brightened up a dull morning at work and made me smile. Another thing that made me smile was Ruby watching a crow balancing on the electrical power lines adjacent to the moorings. She must have watched it for at least ten minutes but made no attempt to bark at it!
Ruby watching a crow on the moorings
Because of the heat wave we were experiencing, I have a routine of doing my jobs in the morning and relaxing in the afternoon. I had planned on going for a cruise to Daresbury but I stayed on the moorings instead only cruising down to Lymm to empty the toilet and top-up the fresh water tank. With being on the mooring watching boats go past I am totally bemused as to why some fellow boaters don't slow down when passing moored craft. Private craft seem to be the worst offenders and if they do slow down have absolutely no understanding of inertia, only slowing down at the last minute when they realise that there is someone on board. Hire boaters don't always slow down but they are usually inexperienced and do not realise the repercussions of their speeding. Private boaters have no such excuse!
Regarding the old film that was in the previously mentioned Kodak Duaflex camera... a week or so after I returned to work I went to the darkroom and processed the film. After loading the film into a conventional Paterson 120 developing tank, I used a long pre-soak to condition the film emulsion prior to development. I also used a longer development time to account for any latent image regression (fading) of the image on the film (technical details cane be seen in the Photographic Experiences - Duaflex section of this website). After fixing and washing, when I removed the film from the developing tank and was hanging it in the drying cabinet I was very surprised to see images on the film. The earlier exposures were quite “contrasty”, the images on the middle of the roll where under-exposed and edge-fogged. But on the last couple of exposures which I had taken after discovering that there was a film in the camera, the film emulsion had lost its sensitivity and the images were underexposed. The latent images at the start of the roll must have been protected the emulsion from heat by the backing paper and film wound over them. Even so, the resulting images are viewable and must be about fifty years old. I could not identify the location of the photograph below of a bay seen from an upstairs window but if any readers can identify the location I would be grateful. If you do know where it is please e-mail me at email@example.com. The second photograph shown below was taken by Ange and shows Me, Paul and Wendy Savage at Daresbury. It was one of the unexposed frames on the film that I decided to try to see if the camera (and film) were okay. It was the first time that I had developed a black and white film in over twenty years and I have to say that I haven’t lost my touch. I was sniffing my fingers continually for the rest of the day as they smelt of photographic processing chemicals… mmmmm, Ilfosol 3 film developer and Ilford Rapid fixer (fortunately, the Ilfostop stop bath doesn’t smell of acetic acid – aka vinegar, any more being now citric acid based). Just call me “Mister Stinkyfinger”!
One of the possibly 50 year old images on the film in the Duaflex camera
The last exposure on the film in the Duaflex camera taken by Ange
(Photograph - Angela Wood)
With the camera now empty I could check it out and clean the lens thoroughly. Satisfied that everything was in order I thought about re-spooling 120 film onto a 620 spool. On investigation though all that was required to make the 120 film fit into the Duaflex is to trim the cheeks of the plastic 120 spool and it should fit in the camera's film chamber. Accordingly, I ordered a roll of 120 Ilford FP4 Plus black and white film from Amazon, and I am looking forward to using it when the opportunity presents itself.
Now... what can I take photographs of on this? Watch this space
That weekend we went up to Agden at Friday tea-time after Ange had finished work. We had a nice relaxing evening followed by an equally relaxing Saturday, later eating our lunch alfresco. We caught-up with more of our fellow Agden moorers and chatted to our neighbour Vinnie Pyke's son-in-law who had just purchased a copy of "The Duke's Cut". I don't think that he expected the author to be moored next to his step-father-in-law's boat though. Ange had family commitments that evening so we headed for home at tea-time after an enjoyable and relaxing twenty four hours. Just what we needed to recharge our batteries.
Alfresco lunch at Agden with a hopeful Ruby
Two weeks later there was the Lymm CC cruise to The Swan With Two Nicks at Little Bollington. We arrived at Agden on the Friday evening but didn't set off until the following morning after we had helped Paul clear the foliage from the fence that he had cut off. We cruised to just after the Little Bollington Underbridge and turned around before mooring.
Classic wooden cabin cruiser "Jacqueline" moored at Agden
Little Bollington Underbridge
Swan With Two Nicks at Little Bollington
Waiting for our food order at The Swan With Two Nicks
Fellow Lymm CC members also at The Swan With Two Nicks
Paul and Wendy had visitors in the shape of her their daughter Natalie and her partner so we all went to the pub for lunch... and very nice it was too. Other Lymm CC members had the same idea. That evening we had dinner on board Adreva. Wendy had cooked lamb fillets which were beautiful. The cruise was well attended by thirty boats and there was a barbeque later on in the evening.
The cruise was well attended by thirty boats...
...and was a good time for a catch-up on the latest happenings and adventures
Sunset at Little Bollington
We set off after breakfast the next morning for Lymm to empty the toilet and top-up the fresh water tank. The weather had been kind to us after a couple of weeks of rain and it wasn't long before we were back at Agden. We had a cuppa with Paul and Wendy before heading for home after yet another enjoyable weekend.
A few days later, whilst checking out the latest entries on Facebook, fellow Lymm CC member Lynne Mellors posted a photograph of two ex-Lymm CC boats she saw on the River Lee at Stansted Abbott. One was Bill Edsbury's old boat Mister Ed and the other was none other than our previous boat Total Eclipse. It is still going strong, looked reasonably well maintained and the hull had recently been blacked, but the superstructure looked in need of a lick of paint and there was detritus on the roof. Thanks for the up-date Lynne.
Our previous narrowboat Total Eclipse at Stansted Abbott on the River Lee
(Photograph - Lynne Mellors)
The next week I received an e-mail from Channel Five Television inviting me to take part in a programme for Series Two of "Digging Up Britain's Past". They are planning a programme about The Duke of Bridgewater's Worsley Boat Workshops and the Bridgewater Canal and wanted to interview me regarding the latter on Monday the 2nd September but I had to decline their invitation due to the filming date being the first day of the College term and I cannot get the time off work due to an embargo during September.
The August Bank Holiday Weekend Lymm CC had a cruise originally planned for the Trafford Centre followed by Dunham Village. Due to construction work at the Trafford Centre limiting access the first destination was changed to Walton Park at Sale. As it was Paul and Wendy’s wedding anniversary and we planned to go for a meal at the Trafford Centre we decided to carry on to the original destination as planned. We arrived at our Agden mooring Friday evening and brought the boat up to the water point to load food, clothes, etc. on board. Paul and Wendy had already arrived and after a catch-up I moved the boat to the aforementioned water point. Mooring Officer Alan Savage told us to stay there until the morning as it was unlikely that anyone would be using it until then.
Leaving Agden Moorings
Next morning dawned bright and sunny and it promised to be a hot day. After breakfast we set off and had a leisurely cruise in the hot, brilliant sunshine to Watch House at Stretford where we stopped for lunch before carrying on to the Trafford Centre. In the middle of Trafford Park we noticed a new bridge had been constructed immediately after Trafford Parkway Bridge. The new bridge is to carry the Metrolink Trafford Centre Extension tram tracks over the canal before making a large curve around to the tram stop (and the end of the line) between Barton Square and the main section of the Trafford Square.
Moored at Stretford for lunch
Waters Meeting at Stretford (minus graffiti)
The new Metrolink Bridge at Trafford Park
Other Lymm CC members had also decided on the Trafford Centre as their first cruise destination due to not wanting to stop at Sale and the towpath being a veritable race track for cyclists with being part of the Bridgewater Way on which cyclists (unlike other sections of the towpath) are allowed. We arrived there late afternoon and after mooring the boats and having a quick chat to ex-Commodores Barry and Phyllis Greenough who were deputising for the Rear Commodore and fellow Lymm CC Club members, we left Ruby to look after the boat and made our way “intu” the Trafford Centre. There are road works being carried out in the car park with a new access road being constructed and also construction work in Barton Square where a second level and glass roof was being installed. These construction works didn’t prevent access during normal times but later on the Barton Square area was closed and a detour has to be made around the perimeter of the building although we did learn later that security would open the access gates for us on request.
Barton Square refurbishment and glass roof
The new Metrolink Line and Tram Stop at the Trafford Centre
Once in the Trafford Centre we had a quick look around and decided to go for a drink in “Coast to Coast” but ended up having our evening meal there. With our stomachs full the others went to the Odeon Cinéma whilst I returned to the boat not wanting to leave Ruby for too long on her own. When the others returned we had a drink on the aft deck before retiring to bed.
Trafford Centre Food Hall
Next morning dawned promising to be yet another hot, sunny day and after a lazy start we cruised a short distance towards Barton Swing Aqueduct to turn around then made our way to Dunham Village where the other members of Lymm CC had moored for a barbeque and surprise birthday celebration for Membership Secretary Helen Jackson. Along the way we noticed that the water lilies were in bloom and I couldn't resist coasting up to them to take photographs. Within five minutes of mooring I had climbed the bank into the adjacent field with my Leica to photograph the textures and furrows of a newly harvested crop.
Water lily in bloom at Trafford Park
Looking up the Sale Straight Mile (or two)
Newly harvested field near Dunham Village
We had our evening meal of roast lamb with potatoes and vegetables and later made our way down the towpath to where the festivities were taking place. There was a beautiful spread of food and even though we had eaten we managed to find room for some of the beautiful food prepared by Social Secretary Ken Powell and Jan Burke. Helen arrived shortly afterwards totally unaware that a surprise party had been arranged for her. After the food had been consumed we socialised, I took photographs and a little later Ruby joined us who did a little bit of socialising herself. We stayed until after sunset when the sky exploded into a beautiful display of colour ranging from pink to magenta to blue... but we could still hear the music from Creamfields seventeen miles away!
Just the weather for a party on the towpath near Dunham Village
Even Ruby did a bit of socialising (but we think there was an ulterior motive... food!)
Dusk at Dunham Village
We had moored directly beneath an oak tree and next morning we noticed quite a few had dropped onto the roof of the boat. I have to say that I had not previously noticed the similarity between an acorn and a certain part of the male human anatomy. When I voiced my observations I was told that was something that could not be un-heard and everyone agreed that they would not be able to look at an acorn in the same light again! Ange saw a discoloured one and thought that maybe it has a STD!
We stayed at Dunham Village for most of the morning and later made our way back to our mooring in the hot sunshine. Once back at Agden we stopped temporarily on the water point, loaded our things into the car and had a cuppa with Wendy and Paul, Alan Savage (Mooring Officer) and his wife Lin before returning the boat to its mooring and heading for home after a superb weekend weather-wise that was enjoyed by everyone… especially the birthday girl Helen Jackson.
River Bollin Aqueduct and Narrows
The Lymm CC Invitation Cruise was scheduled for Saturday the 14th September. On the Club's 2018 Summer Cruise to Liverpool, a breach curtailed the cruise and members on the cruise were offered hospitality and assistance by members of the Mersey Motor Boat Club. To repay that hospitality, MMBC members were invited to our Invitation Cruise. We drove up to our moorings on Friday evening and, as there was space at Lymm CC's Clubhouse Moorings we travelled down in the dusk before mooring. With the boat securely moored we went into the Clubhouse and enjoyed a drink with our fellow members and four MMBC members who had travelled to Lymm by boat. After an enjoyable couple of hours we retired to the boat and to bed. We had been assigned two members of MMBC and after we cleaned and tidied the boat we made our way to Stockton Heath in the beautiful autumn sunshine.
Leaving Lymm on a sunny autumn afternoon
After turning around we walked to the London Bridge car park where our guests were due to be dropped off. On their arrival they were introduced to the Lymm CC members that they had been paired with. Our guests were Vi and Dave Wood (no relation) and after introducing ourselves we escorted them to Squirrel which was moored on the outside of nb Phillbarmar. With our guests safely on board we showed them the boat and most important... explained how to use our Thetford C200 toilet. With that Ange put the kettle on and in typical fashion the gas bottle ran out. We suspected that it was going to do so as it was over a year since it was changed. With the replacement gas bottle connected the kettle was put on and we set off for Lymm with our guests.
Our guests Val and Dave Wood enjoying a cruise in the sunshine
Our guests were impressed with our boat, how comfortable it was and the facilities that it had. Our cruise from Stockton Heath to Lymm was over all too quickly. When we arrived at Lymm we were told to moor in the centre of the arm outside the Clubhouse. Once safely moored we accompanied our guests into the Clubhouse and after drinks we were told to go to our tables in preparation for the food being ready.
Having a drink with our guests in the late afternoon sunshine
The food was superb... soup and a roll, a buffet followed by a sweet including apple pie and crumble accompanied by custard or ice cream (no... I didn't have both!) With the food over with we had a quiz and I started to take photographs of all our visitors including a group photograph outside on the car park.
Group photograph of Mersey Motor Boat Club and Lymm Cruising Club
The cake especially baked for the occasion
The entertainment continued with a raffle and a Mister and Misses competition. Later, our Commodore John Powell and Mo Chatten cut a commemorative cake before slices were distributed amongst members of both Clubs. All too soon our guests were told that their coach was waiting for them at the car park in Pepper Street. We walked them into the village and guided them to Pepper Street. Then we said our goodbyes and the coach drove off. We returned to the Clubhouse for a drink and a de-brief after a day that was enjoyed, not only by us but by our guests as well. The next morning we had our breakfast then returned to our mooring and chilled out before loading up the car and returning home.
The 5th October was the date for the Lymm CC Illuminated Cruise. Before the cruise we went to Stockton Heath to pay a visit to Thorn Marine. We then cruised to Thelwall Viaduct where we were to assemble and wait for dusk. We only had a few lights but it is all about the taking part. Hot toddies were served on the towpath and just after dusk we set off for Lymm.
Participants in the Illuminated Cruise at Thelwall Viaduct
(Photograph - Angela Wood, Cyril Wood and Adobe Photoshop)
Illuminated Cruise convoy at Lymm
Commodore John Powell was judging the boats as they passed the Golden Fleece Beer Garden which overlooks the canal. Once back at the Clubhouse we moored in the arm and went inside for the food that had been laid on. And very nice it was too (plenty left over for seconds and to take home for Sunday's tea. We enjoyed ourselves, the food and the company but the evening was over all too soon and we returned to the boat with full stomachs. Next morning we made our way back to our Agden mooring and chilled out before braving the M56 and M53 motorways on the way home. A few days later I took a photograph of the sunrise over the River Mersey and Liverpool skyline on my way to work. It was also used as a weather photograph on the Granada Reports Weather Forecast.
Granada Reports Weather Forecast screenshot showing my Mersey Sunrise photograph...
...and the original photograph
To be continued...
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Our canal cruising experiences and milestones during 2019
|5th February 2019||-||Ange & I voted onto Lymm CC's Committee: Ange as Quartermaster & me as Magazine & Website Editor|
|4th - 9th May 2019||-||Squirrel slipped @ Lymm CC for hull cleaning, re-blacking & replacement of tiller bearing|
|21st June to 7th July 2019||-||Summer Cruise to Llangollen & Montgomery Canals|
|22nd - 26th July 2019||-||Short Summer Break - stayed on mooring @ Agden|
|19th - 26th October 2019||-||Autumn Cruise to Middlewich|
|Lymm CC Cruises & Work Parties Attended During 2019|
|16th February 2019||-||Boat Moving Work Party @ Agden Moorings|
|9th March 2019||-||Clubhouse Yard Clearing & Tidying Work Party|
|7th April 2019||-||Opening Cruise to Grappenhall|
|18th April 2019||-||Easter Cruise Part One to Anderton Boat Lift|
|20th April 2019||-||Easter Cruise Part Two from Anderton to Stockton Heath|
|10th May 2019||-||Floating bridge & refurbishing jetty work party @ Lymm|
|24th - 27th May 2019||-||FBCC Annual Rally @ Lymm|
|17th - 18th August 2019||-||Cruise to Swan With Two Nicks|
|23rd - 26th August 2019||-||August Bank Holiday Cruise to Trafford Centre & Dunham Village|
|14th September 2019||-||Invitation Cruise from Stockton Heath to Lymm|
|5th October 2019||-||Illuminated Cruise from Thelwall to Lymm|
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The story most probably continues in...
Canal Cruising 2020
Finances, health, and time allowing!
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|So You Want To Go Canal Cruising?|
Book 16 - 2020 (Coming soon)
|Canals on Screen|
Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System (In Preparation)
|The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal|
|Mersey Connections (Coming Soon)|
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