Friday, August 18, 2017

Congleton to Wedgwood (inc Harecastle tunnel)

We decided over drinks last night that we were going to split from Mark and Sian for a couple of days due to the fact we wanted to make the most of a good weather day tomorrow cruising, and they wanted to see more of Congleton.
We set off at 9.30am after the showers had passed in the hope the weather was going to get better.
As it turned out it did, and the sweatshirts came off and we were back in T shirts.

It was a steady cruise down to the stop lock at Hall Green where we topped up with water as the tap was so fast. We then got to the end of the Macclesfield at Kidsgrove, where the canal first goes over the Trent and Mersey by aqueduct, and then turns and joins it further up. You could see the water colour changing from a murky grey to a bright orange.
We pulled up outside the Harecastle tunnel and there was only one other boat, and Al went and found the Tunnel Warden, a nice fella who offered us instructions on how to go through with ease.
Here there are three tunnels, the first tunnel built by James Brindley where the boats were legged through to get coal to the kilns. Brindley sadly died during its construction.
The second one was built by Thomas Telford and originally had a towpath for the horses. This meant that both tunnels could be used because it was a bottleneck on the system, one way for each direction.

Due to subsidence Brindley's tunnel had to close, and now with motorised craft the towpath has been removed to make it easier to go through. The third tunnel is a railway tunnel which goes above these two tunnels and is shorter.
This tunnel is still really tight and a lot of concentration is needed to get through without damage. It is over a mile long and gets very low in the middle and you have to duck down through a small section of it, it's takes 40 minutes and its wet.. But we made it.. Phew!
We then got to Stoke on Trent and it has cleaned it's act up a bit.. the canal was free from rubbish and was pleasant to cruise. You can still see a lot of the history on route with mills and bottle kilns by your side.

We then got to Twyford Locks where the Caldon canal will have to wait till another day, but we will do it.
We went down this flight of tricky locks but the paddles were all ok except the last one.. Some of these locks aren't the prettiest locks in the world and have some low bridges to contend with but they are a means to an end.
You then start to get out in the country a bit and its wide and deep and also a bit straight, till you come to a lovely place called Trentham. Everyone here had done their gardens to perfection, it was like there was a competition on, but nice for us.
We got to Trentham Lock and then was looking for a mooring as it was getting late in the day.
We stopped at the Wedgwood factory moorings which just had a few spaces left, perfect!
We flopped onto the sofa exhausted, but pleased with what we had done. Al then cooked a lovely steak to build back up our energy levels. When we looked in the mirror, blimey we had caught the sun today, a good days cruising!

Gurnet to Congleton

We set off from Gurnet at 9.00am and we soon went under a shady trail of trees..
We got to a swing bridge and Al swiftly opened it, not holding the traffic up too much.

We carried along the cutting, which had lovely views between the trees, till we got to Bosley Locks.
These are very pretty locks with again lovely views, but locks 3 and 4 leaked so bad you had to be careful the boat didn't fill with water.. With our five foot spare in these locks we could keep well forward.
We had a lot of luck going down because we met a boat in every lock coming up, letting us leave the gates open and going straight in to the next lock, doing the twelve locks in two hours..
We noticed at the bottom that we had a little more water than at the top and there were a lot of bridges to contend with.

We made our way to Congleton, and after the Aqueduct found a lovely mooring where we managed to get both boats in.

After a quick change it was time to go and investigate Congleton town centre.
It was about a mile downhill to the high street and the pubs, but what goes down means you have to come back up.
It was nice to see the old bank had turned into Weatherspoon's and even the bank vault had been used for a area to eat.

We decided not to eat out and walked back up the hill after a few ales of course.
We sat out in the cratch with some toast and wine till our eyes couldn't stay open anymore..

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Through Macclesfield

We had rain again last night and when we surfaced we gave Derwent6 a wash, well more like a leather off.
We set off at 10.00am and could see the peaks in the distance through the Macclesfield's shallow waters..
We passed through Fourlane Ends and then got held up a little by CaRT doing some badly needed dredging.
We then got to Clarence Mill at Bollington, an amazing sight which is now full of small businesses and cafes.

Out the other side of Bollington we passed Adelphi Mill, again now used as apartments.
We headed on towards Macclesfield and saw the new three day pontoon moorings for visitors, there were moorings available but we wanted to get on a bit further.
We ended up stopping at Gurnet and moored just after the Aqueduct, the rings here were spread out but we managed to get the pins in after a bit of messing about.
We then took a mile walk up to the business park where we tried to do a bit of shopping, but ended up coming back with nothing..
After a quick shower we then took a walk up to Sutton Hall, a huge manor house which is now a pub restaurant, and sat in the garden, in the sunshine..

We had a look at the menu and decided we would eat there as the food looked good coming out..
Well it was the best decision we had made, and the third best restaurant of the trip this year. Wow, they have five chefs, don't ask us what they all do, but the food was top five star quality.
We got the bill expecting it to be very expensive and it turned out to be just southern prices, a nice surprise. The service was brilliant and they catered for everyone. You could even go in and walk around the place without even buying a drink. It was like a stately home.
We came out of there full to the brim, but not bloated, and walked back to Derwent6 which was only five minutes away.
As you can imaging we were really tired after all the food, so soon fell into bed.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Down the Mac

After a very lazy day on Sunday, today we topped up with shopping and made our way to the services..
It has been six years to the day that we lost Len, Del's Dad, and not a day goes by without us missing him.. A lot has happened in those six years.

We had no choice but to try the manual pump out here as we were now at ten on our gauge.. The tank had gone three weeks and we knew we needed to empty somehow as the Macclesfield Canal was so shallow in places.
Del managed to get some hogweed of the prop which we had picked up along the Peak Forest, and then we waited for the water tap and elsan to become free. We waited and waited and every time another boat moved onto the services...
After an hour we got a slot and pulled the pins and got in.. while filling with water Del emptied the waste tank.. and all was done in half an hour..
Meanwhile Marky and Sian had returned after a christening yesterday, and followed us on to the water point once we had come off.
We then both set off together and started our journey down the Macclesfield. The first thing you pass is Goyt Spinning Mill with its missing chimney, erected in 1905 and now used for various different trades, one of them being saddlery.
Suddenly the canal got very busy, something we were not used to having been on the Liverpool Link and Ashton canals.
We soon got to Higher Poynton, the home of Braidbar Boats (and there were a few of them about)
We both moored up soon afterwards in a nice wide part of the canal with loads of wildlife.

We then chilled for the rest of the evening with Len still in mind. So here's to you Dad, hope you're having as much fun as we are.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Meet at Marple

We awoke to rain showers but they were suppose to stop around 10.00 am so we took a chance and set off.
The good thing was that no one else wanted to take the chance and it wasn't busy. The bad thing was they were right and we did get caught in a few heavy showers.
The scenery on this canal is amazing, and is as good coming out from Whaley Bridge as coming in.
We pushed on through two lift bridges and a swing bridge and got ourselves back to Marple at Lunchtime.
We spotted a good mooring right on the junction and soon got settled.
We then took a walk around town to suss things out and used the handy Asda in the town to get Tooty's Cat litter.
We got back to Derwent6 and then had lunch with a couple of nice Manchester cakes we got from one of the bakers.
N.b Mochyn Du wasn't far behind us with its new crew and managed to moor just in front of us on the junction.
In the evening we went out for a few beers before their crew of Shag's and Zara had to go in the morning. We ended up in a lovely Italian Restaurant in town and had some great food and wine. Forgot to take any pics though lol...