Archive for the ‘2009 voyage’ Category

Day 47 – Napton on the Hill to Cropredy

Sunday 9 August, 2009

Griggs didn’t like the early alarm but still managed to emerge in time for locking bleary eyed. Michael was up and out preparing to set off immediately after the alarm and we were on our way very shortly after 7.00. We passed many moored boats en route to the locks and found another boat just starting to ascend as we arrived.

We made reasonable progress until boats moored in the flight starting pulling out in front of us. At Marston Doles (the last two locks before the summit pound) we rounded the corner to find a very long queue and were the sixth lockful through. We breakfasted and Nick managed a shower while we waited.

Good progress was made across the summit we considered stopping for a lunchtime pint at the Wharf in Fenny Compton but pressed on to the Claydon flight. Again progress was slow because many boats were on the move. We struck up a regular (lock-by-lock) conversation with boat in front Selene Rose and enjoyed chocolate brownies bought at the top lock. It was very hot and there was little shelter from the burning sun.

Varney’s Lock had bunches of flowers laid at it. A couple of weeks ago a lady lost her life here when falling off the back of her boat and getting tangled up in the propellor.

Cropedy is full of boats in anticipation of the annual Fairport Convention festival. There are no moorings to be found at all so our regular overnight stop here (and trip to the Red Lion) had to be missed this time. We moved down towards Slat Mill lock and moored up just before (at the second attempt after finding a wasps’ nest).

Menu: bacon sandwiches or cereal and toast; pork and egg slice with salad; poppadums, chicken rogan josh with sweet potato and cauliflower baltis.

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Day 46 – Brinklow to Napton on the Hill

Saturday 8 August, 2009

We headed to Newbold on Avon after an oil change, hopefully the last of the voyage. Here we met Chris Griggs and Nick Balderson who were to join us for the remainder of our trip. We watered, dumped rubbish and recycled numerous empty bottles before the four of us moved on south through Rugby to Hillmorton Locks.

Tardebigge entered the bottom lock shortly after a hire boat had entered the adjacent paired lock. We almost instantly overtook them and made good progress to the top of the three locks. For several days we have been following Yalding around. Michael chatted with them at the top lock and we passed them at Braunston for the last time. They were heading to Calcutt but we carried on to Napton. A message was relayed to Nisha beyond Braunston that Yalding was on its way.

After a failed attempt to stop at a pub for a lunchtime beer (due to lack of mooring opportunities) we drank onboard and lunched on the move. We passed a remarkable number of boats between Hillmorton and Napton, often in conveys of four. We’re a little bit concerned that our passage up the Napton flight tomorrow could be very slow due to the number of boats on the move. An early start has been decreed!

We temporarily tied up a long way short of the Bridge Inn to investigate moorings but found nothing nearer the pub so the temporary mooring became our overnight spot. The pub was closed until 6pm so Chris, Nick and Michael ventured into the village for refreshment before returning later where they were joined by Bernard.

Menu: cooked breakfast or cereal and toast; pork pie and ham salad; roast leg of lamb followed by cheese and port.

Day 45 – Atherstone to Brinklow

Friday 7 August, 2009

The day dawned. It looked quite promising. Michael wore his shorts.

Alex Hajok joined us today and helped us up the remaining locks of the Atherstone flight. It was very slow due to the number of boats on the move and sharing locks with a another boat. Fact of the day from the extremely boring man off the other boat: “Sea Otter only make boats to order now. They do up to 55ft, but this is only 27ft.” Times three, at least….

Michael popped to the shops to stock up on bacon, beer and buns (for afternoon tea)* whilst Alex and Bernard cleared the remaining two locks. There was a veritable queue waiting come down when we reached the top.

The sun shone and it got very hot. We lunched on the move and met Harnser at Hawkesbury. We first shared a descent of the Hatton flight with Harnser a few years ago and Bernard has seen them a few times since.

We tied up for the night below Stretton Stop, near Brinklow where we bade farewell to Alex. She caught a bus to Coventry, thence a train back to Atherstone. At the mooring we were adopted by a local feline. It could probably smell our dinner.

Menu: cooked breakfast or cereal and toast (very late); Scotch eggs with salad; Chinese steamed salmon with noodles, followed by cheese and port.

*Only the buns were for afternoon tea.

Day 43 – Weston upon Trent to Fradley

Wednesday 5 August, 2009

After another late night in the pub with a fellow boater we eventually surfaced just after 8.00am. Michael prepared breakfast whilst Bernard changed the engine oil. It seems we are gaining about 0.3 litres of diesel in the lubricating oil each day. We set of at about 9.15am towards the first lock of the day. The weather was forecast as fine but we had a drop of rain to start with and then it gradually cleared to intermittent sunshine.

During the morning we passed Great Haywood junction and completed the great circle via Trevor, Wigan, Leeds, Huddersfield and Stoke on Trent (and all the other places in between!). From now on we are retracing our steps back to Lower Heyford but hopefully managing to find some different stopping places.

At Rugeley we stopped for some shopping and were pleased to meet Michael’s parents who joined us for lunch and hitched a taxi-ride back to Handsacre. The fare was paid in fresh runner beans.

The day passed uneventfully and for the first time in passing through here we were able to moor close to the Swan at Fradley junction where we had a few b***s.

Menu: cooked breakfast or cereal and toast; cold beef salad; lasagne with garlic bread.

Day 42 – Longport to Weston upon Trent

Tuesday 4 August, 2009

Major disaster! There was no bacon left (nor any other cooked breakfast items) so Bernard could not have a fry up this morning. We set off in anticipation of buying supplies in Stoke on Trent but the shop on the map was nowhere to be found.

We called at Longport Wharf to buy more oil for the engine and replace an empty gas bottle. The Stoke flight of locks was busy with a good number of boats descending both before and after us. Then the heavens opened.

Tardebigge seemed to enjoy all the water. The Trent and Mersey is deep so the boat was positively flying along which was such a contrast to recent waterways!

We stopped at Stone for shopping. The Somerfield we visited in recent years has now become a Co-op with a poor selection of meat. Fortunately bacon was in plentiful supply. A pint (or two) of Banks’s was consumed from the Star whilst descending the adjacent lock, and we carried on down hill, through quite remote countryside, to our mooring for the night at Weston. There is a pub near the adjacent bridge….

Menu: chocolate biscuits; cold chicken and gammon salad; Kamargaah (lamb steaks in batter) with stir-fried vegetables and rice, followed by melon.

[No pictures today it was too wet.]

Day 41 – Macclesfield to Longport

Monday 3 August, 2009

A late evening in the pub with James and Ben meant a slightly later rise from our slumbers today. We waited in vain to see if the local boatyard would open so we set off at about 9.15am. The weather forecast seemed promising and by about 10.00am the sun had broken through. The bridges on the Macclesfield all have a very curved openings and the roving or towpath changing bridges are very picturesque.

The journey through to Bosley locks was uneventful and we arrived at the top of the locks to find the first lock already full. We started our descent and were delighted to arrive at each of the remaining eleven locks to find them all either in our favour or with a boat ascending. The Bosley flight are unusual in that all the masonry is fully faced on the internal faces with very deep joints.

Passage was soon completed and Michael prepared a cheese and ham surprise for lunch. This was taken on the move as it seemed possible that we might arrive at Harecastle tunnel in time to travel through today. A telephone call to the Harecastle helpline was not much help – they just said “if you are there by 4.00pm you are guaranteed passage”. We arrived rather later than 4.00pm just as a number of boats were coming out of the tunnel and, with two boats about to enter, we were waved in by the tunnel-keeper who briefly explained the safety rules as we passed by and we were off!

Michael overcame his dislike of tunnels and steered us all the way through. Fortunately the forced ventilation was drawing fresh air from behind us and, as there was no boat following us, we had the benefit of clean air to breathe. The tunnel passage took 46 minutes. The average is 45 minutes so we thought that quite good. We tied up on some pleasant moorings adjacent to a public park in Longport.

Menu: cooked breakfast or breakfast sandwiches; gammon and cheese savoury salad; sausages with sweet potato mash, followed by fresh melon.

Day 40 – Bugsworth to Macclesfield (via Whaley Bridge)

Sunday 2 August, 2009

A early rise meant that Bernard could dismantle part of the engine to more fully check the diesel leak and, with assistance from Michael O’Hagan, pump the contaminated oil into a suitable container. Whilst nothing conclusive was found, a couple of loose unions in the lubricating oil system were tightened. After filling up with new oil the engine was run whilst Bernard investigated further. It seems likely that the diesel is actually coming from the injector feed pipe on one cylinders but we have no information about this part of the engine so it will need professional attention.

We set off and soon returned to the junction of the canal and turned towards Whaley Bridge where there is a well restored canal warehouse with a central loading bay for canal boats inside the building. Turning and retracing our steps we arrived back in Marple where we headed towards Macclesfield. We passed through the fine turn-over bridge at the junction and met a boat that we had last seen at Frankton locks on the Montgomery canal.

Our mooring in Macclesfield

Our mooring in Macclesfield

From our high vantage point the sunny day enabled us to see across the countryside to Manchester. We eventually reached Macclesfield having passed more boats on the move today than we saw in all the time we were in south Yorkshire. Here we said goodbye to Mark Place and Michael O’Hagan who were then ferried back home by Michael’s father.

Menu: cooked breakfasts or breakfast sandwiches; cold gammon salad; steak.

Day 39 – Stalybridge to Bugsworth

Sunday 2 August, 2009

Further investigations this morning showed that there was a leak from the diesel supply into the engine oil. A fairly common complaint with this series of Lister SR2 engines.

Having descended the final locks of this canal we turned south towards Macclesfield and waited whilst we collected two additional members of crew, Mark Place and Michael O’Hagan. Bernard sought advice in the adjacent boatyard and fortunately found an engineer who knew the engine well. He confirmed the diagnosis and suggested places, inside the engine, to be inspected. A suitable supply of engine oil and a hand pump were purchased.

By this time it was raining and we resumed our journey. At Hyde we said farewell to Alex who was leaving to return to Durham. We had lunch on the move and arrived at the foot of the Marple flight of sixteen with their average rise of over thirteen feet per lock. On our way up the flight we said goodbye to Luke who was returning to Oxford ready to start full-time employment in London.

At the top of the locks we continued on towards the Bugsworth terminus of the canal. The rain eventually stopped and we had some spectacular views across the countryside from our position high on the side of the hills. Bugsworth was reached and we moored in the first available position before investigating the Navigation Inn just above the end of the canal. Some good beer was drunk and a better mooring place was found. The boat was moved as dinner was finalised. About one minute after we had tied up another boat appeared intent on using the same mooring – sorry chaps we got there first!

Menu: Full English with kidneys or cereal and toast; cold tongue and gammon salad; roast chicken with rum bananas.

Day 38 – Marsden to Stalybridge

Sunday 2 August, 2009

We awoke quite early in anticipation of the day to come. BW arrived just after 8.00am to measure Tardebigge to make sure that it would go through the tunnel. It passed with flying colours! (One of the BW staff later commented that it was the ideal shape and size for the tunnel passage.)

We all had our breakfasts and we set off into the tunnel at 9.24am, slightly later than the booked time, with Michael at the tiller. The journey is broken by BW having to report progress at specified intervals. At at the first stopping point Bernard took over at the tiller, followed by Alex at the second stopping point. After this there seemed to be no further takers and Alex remained at the tiller for the rest of the journey.

We took just over 2 hours for the passage. The BW chaperone said that we should allow about twenty minutes for the stops so the time was about about average.

Having said farewell we set off down towards Dukinfield junction. From the first lock we could see that there was a boat in some difficulty as it could not get into the lock below due to a problem at the tail of the lock. After some time had elapsed we suggested that we might be able to assist by providing a working platform from within the lock – this was agreed and we duly obliged. BW re-inforcements arrived in the form of the lock-keepers who had assisted us at Huddersfield. Using our boathooks they eventually diagnosed that some damaged paddlegear had fouled the gate and was preventing the gate from opening. With a bit of shove, heave and grunt the obstruction was moved and Tardebigge proceeded on its way.

A fairly uneventful but steady descent followed and we arrived in Stalybridge and tied up in the middle of the Tesco carpark! Not as bad as it sounds as tha canal has a double towpath and we were on the quiet side of the cut.

After tying up we found a possible problem with the engine (more to follow tomorrow). Four separate visits were made to Tesco, including using the facilities…!

Menu: cooked breakfasts or cereal and toast; gammon sandwiches; pasta bolognese with posh French wine.

Day 37 – Slaithwaite to Marsden

Thursday 30 July, 2009

Overnight we had some very heavy rain and the signs were not good. Breakfast was taken before we moved off and we also received a briefing as to what we might encounter whilst we ascended the remaining 21 locks to the summit. It was inevitable that as we set off the rain started! We had been forwarned that we might encounter low water-levels above Lock 28E and so this proved to be. As instructed we waited in the lock-chamber, summoned BW and awaited the arrival of a boat that had set out downhill from the summit. The BW lock-keeper and the boat arrived at the same time just as we we rising in the lock! Some nifty boat handling enabled us to pass the other boat without going seriously aground in the low water.

The entry into the next lock proved to be more of a problem as we became jammed between the lockside and one of the bottom gates. Closer inspection by the lock-keeper found the problem and it was soon cleared. As we rose in the lock the cause of our problem rose with us and deft use of our new boat hook lifted a length of timber out of the lock. This was immediately claimed by the lock-keeper who quickly identified it as part of some now dismantled temporary work at the next lock. He would present it to the culprit who had not retreived it as it was taken apart.

We continued our climb with each lock coming closer to the next as we mounted the valley side. We were met by the lock-keeper working down from the summit and with his assistance we eventually rose to summit level through Lock 42E. The average rise for each of the 42 locks is well over 10ft per lock and canal seems to creep, unannounced, into Marsden through the back door.

Menu: breakfast sandwiches; homemade beefburgers; Guleh Kambling curry.