Posts Tagged ‘trent & mersey’

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 15 – Middlewich to Daresbury

Wednesday 8 July, 2009

We were yards from the Big Lock in Middlewich so we passed through that immediately after setting off just after 8.00am this morning. We breakfasted underway and Robert and I enjoyed a innovative alternative today.

Just north of Middlewich the canal is wide in places at “flashes”. These are caused by subsidence from salt extraction and many have old sunken or partially sunken narrowboats in them. We soon reached the chemical works around Northwich. Not a pleasant sight.

The canal wends westwards into Anderton, home of the famous Boat Lift. Bondy went shopping in Preston so did not join us. We booked passage down for 1.00pm and the earliest available up slot was at 4.00pm so we had some we had some time to mess around on the river (Weaver), passing Weaverham (name check for Claire), before turning at Saltersford locks.

The Anderton Boat Lift lived up to expectations. A magnificent sight and a rather surreal experience being trapped in a caisson of water descending fifty feet to the river at a sedate pace.

Upon returning we headed further north passing through the three tunnels at the north end of the Trent and Mersey. Saltersford was rather twisty and you can only just see a slit of light from the far end. Passage is timed through both Saltersford and Preston Brook – you can only enter during specified times in each hour.

At some point the Trent and Mersey becomes the Bridgewater Canal and we are now a couple of bridges north of the M56 with the railway line noise in the background.

Menu: bacon sandwich or Weetabix and toast; cold meat salad; liver and bacon casserole, followed by cheese. No alcohol was consumed until a bottle of Beaujolais was enjoyed during dinner.

Day 14 – Grindley Brook to Middlewich

Tuesday 7 July, 2009

We have a 3G+ connection! The Internet is really fast!

Grindley Brook staircase at the crack of dawn (ish)

Grindley Brook staircase at the crack of dawn (ish)

Two alarms failed to go off, so this morning started rather later than planned. Fortunately we had the six Grindley Brook locks to ourselves and we entered the three lock staircase at about 7.37 and clearing the bottom lock of the flight at about 8.06. As we were the first to use the flight the water levels were a bit low and we ran aground as we crossed the cill between the bottom two locks in the staircase. A bit of nifty paddle raising ensured that we were soon on our way.

Continued passage along the Llangollen was rapid following the flow. At Wrenbury the electric swing bridge managed to hold up a fire engine because the boater who kindly let us through apparently didn’t know how to lower the bridge. Fortunately we couldn’t see a tower of smoke from a burning inferno in the village so hopefully it was a false alarm.

Going down Hurleston

Going down Hurleston

On reaching the middle of the three Baddiley Locks we accidently drew the lock ahead of a boat which subsequently was intending to ascend. In our defence, it looked like they were moored up (it was pouring it down) and had nobody on the lockside to operate the lock. Despite profuse apologies the gentleman (presumably Jim of Jim & Pearl on “Badger”) was extraordinarily rude and seemed adamant in telling us it was “bad manners” at least three timesĀ and no amount of polite reasoning was ever going to placate him. Thankfully we were soon away and prevented any further delay to the unhappy gentleman.

The aforementioned rain continued most of the way to Hurleston. On reaching the bottom of the flight we turned left towards Barbridge when the rain started again. We turned right at Barbridge onto the Middlewich Branch where it was generally windy rather than rainy and the four locks are particularly deep.

First lock after turning at Middlewich junction

First lock after turning at Middlewich junction

We turned left at Middlewich junction and moored by the Newton Brewery Inn which disappointingly served only Marston’s bitter. Dinner was accompanied by practice night at St Michael’s, Middlewich and a bottle of Optima & Ortega 1999 from the Bothy vineyard.

Tomorrow we hope to do the Anderton Boat Lift where we will hopefully meet Bondy, so expect lots of photos!

Menu: usual breakfasts; peppered Salami salad; stir-fry chicken with noodles and Pak Choi (followed by the customary cheese and biscuits).

Day 5 – Hopwas to Great Haywood

Sunday 28 June, 2009


Quick update on yesterday (or the forgotten things section): during the early hours of day 4 we were passed by a Bolinder-powered narrow boat presumably on their way to Braunston. After blogging last night we spied a barn owl on the prowl.

Fradley Top Lock with Petit Bateau

Fradley Top Lock with Petit Bateau

Today started without any service ringing and continued to be a day free of any distant tinkling. Instead we had a straightforward run without any locks before reaching Fradley junction at around 11am. We enjoyed a remarkably swift passage through the three locks up to the long pound between Wood End and Colwich locks.

The Armitage Shanks factory proved to be the greatest attraction on the route today. Not only did we see the best part of a million toilets, but also a sign warning of a mighty 11.000 volt electricty supply.

Ironic sign by toilet factory

Ironic BW sign outside toilet factory


Michael’s final act on board for the weekend was to wash the foredeck and in doing so to wash Luke’s feet – sort of a Jesus moment. Michael left us at Rugeley leaving a safe five hours before his train departed from Birmingham. A trip to Morrisons just prior to this saw the fridge filled up once again.

Armitage "tunnel"

Armitage “tunnel”

The sun has taken its toll. After Rugeley I stayed inside for almost all the remainder of the journey as I have turned very pink. Luke has awarded me a pinkest nose prize. Factor 80 for the rest of the week I think.

We are now moored up 29 metres north of Swivel Bridge (no. 108) on the Staffs & Worcs. It turns out that a swivel bridge isn’t another type of swing bridge but is actually made of bricks. A bit of clever naming there!

Today’s menus: yet more breakfasty sandwiches, gammon and egg salad for lunch, and Luke’s sausage, bacon, egg, beans, mushroom, tomato and chips stew with dumplings followed by yoghurt curd with chocolate and cinammon mousse. Cheese and port rounded off the evening.

Tomorrow might well see a mediterranean day with an early start, midday siesta, and a late finish all in order to avoid the heat during the height of the day. On the other hand, if it rains, we might go back to sleep.

Below are all the pictures for today. If I get time to sit down tomorrow and wrangle with WordPress we might end up with a more attractive looking blog page. Watch this space…




Wood End lock

Wood End lock

Simon attempting artyness

Simon attempting artyness

ZZZzzz... again!

ZZZzzz… again!