Daisypath - Anniversary

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy as a dog in s......

 We moved up the Shroppie to the Shady Oak Pub.  I had to move AmyJo whilst Chris was at work and so felt a sense of achievement for negotiating Iron lock single handed.  Iron lock is rare on the Shroppie as the sides are iron panels.  The drawback is C&RT are unable to fit ladders in the chamber so when single handing its necessary to rope the boat in and out of the lock. Auite hard going.

We spent a week on the mooring opposite the Shady Oak and as the weather finally set fair I manage to do a few touch up paint jobs much over due.  

The fine weather brought with it some stunning sunsets like this one

Glorious Sunset

On Wednesday it was time to move on again and so I pushed AmyJo across the cut to the pub jetty to fill with water as we were getting low.  I had Smudge on his lead tied to the bunny seats on the stern and as I stepped off to tie up Smudge tried to follow.  His lead being too short brought him up short and a dunking ensued.  Whilst the water filled I towelled him down and set him on the roof in the warm sun to dry off feeling sorry for himself.  I guess he's a real boat dog now.

Watering outside the pub in lovely warm sunshine

Smudge drying off after his swim, none the worse for his dunking.
A gentle cruise found us moored up outside Tattenhall Marina for a few nights.  I had a date on the first Saturday of the month as its Open Mike night in the bar and a chance to play the bass guitar and have a good old singalong.  

On the Sunday after we upped pins and moved AmyJo upstream on our fave mooring at Eggbridge in Waverton.  This mooring is a delight and has a very convenient car park right on the tow path.  Its a 7 day mooring here so we made the most of it.

By now high pressure was fully in charge and the Hobbit fire was allowed to go out and put into hibernation

Picturesque spot at eggbridge and calm water reflections
 The local duck population are a bit noisy here but by the looks of it they have been busy as numerous ducklings abound here.  Young mums with toddlers frequent here so the ducks are well catered for as far as feeding goes.

Just one of many families of ducks at Eggbridge
 When walking Smudge I generally let him off the lead on the country tow path walks nowadays as he has good recall.  Waverton is no exception so for a few days he was free to run and sniff around as we walked.  On one occasion, however, he shot through a small gap in a hedge into a field full of horses.  My fear was they would rear up or kick him but I need not have worried as they happily played with him whilst he ran amongst them, him chasing them and them chasing him but ignoring my calls for him to return.

When he did eventually return it was clear he was as happy as a dog in s.. literally!  Tail wagging, ten a dozen he was covered head to tail in horse muck and stunk to high heaven.  He was in the shower quicker than you can say Pew!  He is walked on the lead more now.

Not seen one of these before nor can we find out what breed it is.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Bovine Encounter and a View to Die For, literally.

Ever since we moved AmyJo to Tattenhall we promised ourselves we would one day make the climb up to Beeston Castle.  Today, with the weather looking settled and whilst we're moored nearby we decided we would fullfill that promise.

After lunch we packed a backpack with water and Smudge's treats and set off with Smudge along the towpath to Wharton's Lock.  Here a turnstile leads onto a footpath across fields to the castle.

There is a convenient tunnel under the nearby railway that is gated either side.  On the far side are more fields, the first containing cows.  Now neither Chris nor I have been up close to cows until today and this particular herd took a bit more interest in Smudge than I like and so we pushed on keeping him on a short lead.   It was a bit frightening when a dozen of them decided to follow us trying to get to Smudge who was happily trying to play tag with them.  Luck was with us and another dog walker appeared and the cows seemed to prefer their Collie more so we made our escape.  Perhaps Lisa's David on WaL (What a Lark) could advise how to deal with inquisitive cows please?

Having survived the cows we neared the castle hill
 There is a lovely manicured farm house at the foot of the hill, in fact, the farm is the neatest and most well kept we have ever seen.  Not a blade of grass out of place.

The bowling green lawn outside the farm house
 The entrance to the castle grounds is via an impressive gate house that also serves and a gift shop.  Here you can buy anything from a pen to a full suit of armour, though I would not recommend the latter as its to darn heavy to lug back to the boat.

The castle gatehouse
The climb up to the summit is quite gentle at first but don't be fooled as it steepens the further up you go.  Clearly designed to wear out attackers before they reached their goal, however, even half way up the views are to die for.  I reckon many an attacker died on their way and as would see these views.  A view to literally die for.  Its clear to see why the castle is so located.

Only a third the way up

but still one can see for miles
 The last section to the inner Bailey is the steepest by far.  One certainly gets to work ones lunch off getting to the top but persevere the prize at the top is well worth the hike.  They do provide strategically placed benches to rest along the way.  They are quite comfy too!

The main castle keep atop the hill

And steeper approach ramp over a very steep drop.
 On reaching the summit your are greeting with amazing views of the Cheshire plain from the Wirral right across to Wales.

A zoomed in view of the Shady Oak and the canal where AmyJo hides behind the larger tree

A panorama of the Welsh hills
According to Wikipedia Beeston Castle is a former Royal castle, perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 feet (107 m) above the Cheshire Plain. It was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester on his return from the Crusades. In 1237, Henry III took over the ownership of Beeston, and it was kept in good repair until the 16th century, when it was considered to be of no further military use, although it was pressed into service again in 1643, during the English Civil War. The castle was partly demolished in 1646, in accordance with Cromwell's destruction order, to prevent its further use as a stronghold.
Not a lot left  and you can just make out Peckforton Castle nearby
 A final look round before we left and we spotted Tattenhall Marina in the distance.

The marina is centre and canal on the right

Were these the doors to the main hall perhaps?

Wall of the outer Bailey

The castle is now in obvious ruins. The walls of the outer bailey, along with the walls and gatehouse of the inner bailey, are separately recorded in the National Heritage List for England as designated Grade I listed buildings. The castle is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument, owned by English Heritage. It is rumoured that treasure belonging to Richard II lies undiscovered in the castle grounds, but the many searches that have been carried out have failed to find any trace of it. Quite surprising when you consider during the 18th century the site was used as a quarry.

One of the caves formed by quarrying

 Close up view of the hill taken on our way back to AmyJo
Retracing our route back we were relieved to find the cows had moved far over the other side of the field and were oblivious to our presence.   We then collapsed in the chair for a well earned rest.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Gunwale painting and Abandoned Hire Boat Recovery

Having stopped overnight at Bunbury Wharf we backed AmyJo up to the lock and round into the poly tunnel used by Anglo welsh to paint their boats. .  It was quite tight getting her round under the bridge 'ole and into the polytunnel but she got there with inches to spare.

Half way into the tunnel a familiar rattle could be heard, and the tiller shook profusely and then the engine stalled.  We had picked up a prop jockey but we were not prepared for what we found when I went down the weed hatch.  This....

It was the air trunking from an industrial space heater.  Presumably left in the cut from days when the wharf was in use before Anglo Welsh took it over.  It survived the Axiom only by the strong wire spiral that forms its shape.  Unfortunately that same wire wrapped up the axiom completely into a large tangled mass. Two hours later we finally removed the trunking and settled in for the night.  

Over the next few days I got on with the task of repainting the gunwales.  I used Fertan rust cure for newly bared steel, following up with undercoat/primer and finally top coat.  The tunnel has a space heater so we could keep nice and warm for painting despite the chilly temperatures outside.

A nice snug fit

The Starboard gunwales before work commenced

and the Port side

Port side finished

and the bow.  Have to say they turned out quite good even if I do say so myself
With the work done by Wednesday we moved AmyJo back out onto the main wharf as we were staying to help out on the Anglo Welsh open day again.

On Wednesday Steve, the yard manager, got a call from his American hirers saying they would not be returning their hire boat as they found the locks "Far too arduous" and had checked into a hotel.  The boat was abandoned by Cow Lane bridge in Chester.  Somehow Steve had to get the boat back but was short on hands to do it so I volunteered my services.

Next day, together with a good friend Mark, Smudge and I set off from Chester in the abandoned hire boat and thanks to all the locks being in our favour we got back to Bunbury by tea time, in good time for the boat to be prepared for its next hirers the following day.

Bring Andton home for Anglo welsh
 Smudge, bless him, was at first confused.  Why were we on this strange boat dad?  Its not as nice as our home is it?  Still he soon settled into the routine adopting his now favourite look out position.

All clear ahead Cap'n but mind this boat here.
We ended the week with Bunbury open day and once more I manned their day boat, Bella, for them. The weather was kind if a little chilly and we reckon we gave about 150 folk a trip along the cut to Tilstone lock and back.  I do believe a few bookings were made to hire the boats too.

Happy passengers at the mercy of yours truly at the helm (I never lost one overboard, honest)
Not wanting to over do Steve's hospitality on Tuesday we moved up to the Shady Oak for a few days and will now work our way up to Ellesmere Port over the next few week,s having now started our new phase of living out on the cut for the summer. 

So far we're enjoying it immensely and Chris loves coming home after work to a different place.  We have an app on the mobile phone called "Find my friends" and she can locate AmyJo and I using that.  Her work mates find it amusing she does not know where home will be until she finishes work each day.  Good job we don't row that often, I might turn my locator off so she cannot find me :-)

Total distance:2.93 miles Elapsed time:3h29m14s Locks:Bridges:4 
Average speed:0.84 mph (1.99 lock/mph)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Day 14 and 15 Barbridge to Bunbury

Yesterday we made the last short run of the trip to Bunbury Wharf.  Along the way we stopped off at the Calverley services to top up with water and use the showers.  Whilst there butty Saturn passed by with her tow Dane heading for the port museum.

Motor Dane pulling Saturn pass us at Calverley

Saturn is always instantly recognisable even before you see her cabin
 We pulled into a vacant mooring just above the staircase at Bunbury for the night and watched as two by two the old work boats locked through.

Lindsay and Keppel

The King and Ilford

The King
 This morning I got on and made some apple pies for Chris to take down to Essex for my parents.  They turned out very Kipling (exceedingly good if I may say so myself).  She will be gone over the holiday weekend and I'll be laying new decking and path at the house.  

After lunch, and after Smudge's walk, we moved AmyJo down onto the Anglo Welsh Wharf as all their boats bar one are out.   I feel for the owners of the boats on the moorings above the locks.  We were only there a few hours this morning before we moved but got bashed several times by passing or waiting boats.  We even had crews jumping on and off the boat!  Where has respect for other peoples property gone these days?  Bet they would not like it if I kept driving a 30 ton truck into their homes or their cars heh?

We'll now be here for the coming week for two reasons.  One, AmyJo is booked to go into their poly tunnel to finally get her gunwales repainted plus a few rust spots on the roof dealt with.  Second, as payment, I am going to help out around the yard during the week preparing for their open day on the 23rd (all are welcome by the way) and just doing general jobs where needed.  I'll also be helming their day boat doing free trips along the cut and back for taster sessions.  I really enjoy that so look forward to then.

Total distance:2.79 miles Elapsed time:2h12m59s Locks:0 Bridges:5 
Average speed:1.26 mph (1.26 lock/mph)

Easter Cruise Day 13 Willey Moor Lock to Barbridge

A slightly better morning today and an early start at 8am for us.   Daughter Joanne wanted to visit so we arranged to meet her at the Barbridge Inn as this was easy for her to get to.  Setting off early meant we would get there mid afternoon all being well and, as it happened, all was well.

Lovely views as we passed through the rural areas.
 As we approached the liftbridge at Wrenbury we found the crews of nb Storyteller and nb Grandad Dyer readying to get under way.  Apparently they got stuck for two hours at Quosey Lock last night as they could not close the gate and called out C&RT to fix it.  It was fine for us this morning

The lady on nb Grandad Dyer was already waiting to lift the bridge as we approached. We paused and waited for the others to round the corner then, all three boats passed under the bridge in quick succession. We then went on ahead and opened the next bridge and allowed the other two boats to carry on their way.

nb Storyteller following us and nb Grandad Dyer just going under the bridge

Chris goes on ahead to lift the next bridge for us all;.
 We next met Storyteller and Grandad Dyer at the Baddiley Locks.  Working together we got through them quite quickly.  I never did get their names so apologies if you are reading this.  It was a pleasure cruising with you for a while.

Chris and the Lady from nb Grandad Dyer work the locks together even though her boat was through the lock.
 The run from the locks to Hurleston is quite straight and nondescript.  One can see a long way ahead through the bridge 'oles.  StoryTeller and Grandad Dyer both stopped for diesel at Swanley Marina and we waved them goodbye as we passed.

Nothing to see for miles
At Burland we passed Mountbatten and her butty sitting all on their own.  We understand they are now up for sale.

Shame the coal runs have finished.  John and Hnanah did a great job.
We locked down Hurlston Locks in record time.  We were the only boat coming down and very time the gates opened for me a boat was just leaving the lower lock.  In fact I was surprised when we pulled into the bottom lock.  It normally takes a lot longer to get up or down these locks.

Closing the top gate on the second lock down
We were lucky to get a spot at the Barbridge Inn as there were boats pulling in all the time.  One small historic tug had hogged most of the moorings outside the pub and only moved back when their freind in another old boat pulled up.  Turns out there is an historic boats rally at the Ellesmere Port Museum over Easter weekend and the boats were making their way there.

We got in opposite the pub and deployed the anti shelf devices again to good effect.  Joanne joined us at 4pm and we then went over and had a meal to celebrate her birthday tomorrow, 12th.

Total distance:11.42 miles Elapsed time:6h19m11s Locks:11 Bridges:32 
Average speed:1.81 mph (3.55 lock/mph)

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Cruise Day 12 Whitchurch to willey Moor Lock

Sorry for not posting the last few days.  To much going on in the evening left little time to post.  We are now moored for a while at Bunbury but here is the rest of the cruise story so far.

We'd had some rain overnight so when we emerged the day was cold, breezy and overcast.  Chris wanted to go into town to get some sunglasses but now the weather is changing there seemed no point but we still went for they anyhoo.

Chris got her sun glasses and we headed back to AmyJo but somehow we got a little off track and came across these lovely buildings.

This building was the former School house built with funding from the will of Jane Higginson.  The will left instructions to build the school house for teaching poor children.  Up to 1897 it had be used primarily as girls school but the school moved to another building as more and more children were attending.  It then was used as an infant school.

The former schoolhouse for the poor
St Alkmund's Church is just up the road. Alkmund was one of the sons of King Alhred of Northumbria. The succession was disputed by a usurper, Eardwulf, who killed Alkmund's father and brother, and then Alkmund, in 800 AD.

St Alkmunds church
Alongside the school house is another lovely looking building, the former Grammar school.  The school was founded in 1550 by Cannon Sir John Talbot who gave a fee of £200 to Thomas glaton to establish a school free from church control.  The present building of 1848 is actually a reconstruction and is thought to be similar to the original.  It has now been convered into flats.

The lovely form grammar school building now flats

When we got back to AmyJo we had lunch and then got underway.  Taking the painkillers and the walk had eased my back to a comfortable ache up to now.

After stopping for water at Grindley Brook we met the Nb Story Teller and nb Grandad Dyer at Povey's lock.  The lady from nb Grandad Dyer helped Chris reset the lock before returning to her own boat.  We then repeated this at Willey Moor Lock where we moored up for the night intending to try the pub when it opened at 6pm as it has never been open went we past it in previous years.

Closed as we descend the lock but open after 6pm

After dinner we took the short walk back to the pub and had a pleasant pint there.  Its a lovely little pub and a bit querky with all its ornate tea pots and Toby uugs everywhere.

Very ornate tea pots here
and there

Total distance:2.82 miles Elapsed time:3h8m16s Locks:8 Bridges:7 
Average speed:0.90 mph (3.45 lock/mph)