Saturday 26 July 2014

Big Trip home Day 15 - A Plea from the Homeland and a visit from a good freind

At 7am this morning I rolled up the cratch covers to find a rather damp and dirty looking roof so out came the chamois leather and the had it looking good as new in no time, well just in time for Chris's morning coffee.

We got under way at a respectable 9:50am and first on the trip was the Nantwich Aqueduct.  Living as we do in Cheshire we had no idea just how high some of these aqueducts are until now.  Sections of the canal seem to be constantly at roof top level for most of the last few days.

The approach to the aqueduct

The A51, Nantwich town centre can be found that way

The opposite side.
Not long after the aqueduct is Nantwich basin.  Passing through here one needs to be alert as its reasonably tight due to boats moored across the cut to one side leaving only just enough room for boats to pass.  The basin itself sits in an arm running off the main section at a 45 degree angle.  For us to get onto the pump out would mean some serious reversing through the throng of boats moored there.  I knew we were OK so was saved the embarrassment.  Along side the basin is the home of the Nantwich and borders Yachting Club though no sail mast can be seen only motor yachts.

Moored boats jutting well into the main line.

Looking back down the arm as we pass.  This taken looking astern
and we have just come from left of the sign.
The Yacht club with Acton church in the background

From here the canal passes through the Cheshire country side where some of the tow path is now part of the 40 mile Weaver way, stretching from Frodsham in the north to its most southerly point at Audlem, the route leads you along the River Weaver and Navigation, as well as the Trent and Mersey, and Shropshire Union Canals.

After Henhull moorings we started to recognise familiar features and knew home was not far away.  First up, Hurleston Junction that heralds the start of the Llangollen canal.  This is quickly followed buy the high grassed banks of Hurleston reservoir.

Hurleston Locks at the start of the Llangollen canal.

Boats queuing to enter the locks

Hurleston reservoir bank
A mile or so further on the Barbridge Inn looks welcoming and a little further still Barbridge Junction.  At this point Chris and I discussed our options.  As we still had another week left do we carry on to Chester or swing right and visit our friend in Middlewich?  Looking at the Pearsons and basing on our current travel times of the last few weeks we figured we could be back at Barbridge by Sunday evening so we threw a right turn onto the middlewich arm.

The Barbridge Inn, we will be paying visit on our return

Approach to the junction, Chester straight on, Middlewich to the right.

We see this every time we pass on the A51 but at a much faster speed

Our start of the Middlewich
We did this stretch of the canal many years ago in a hire boat called Olivier Ginger a 70ft boat.  I made a right mess of the turn then hitting the bridge but today AmyJo rounded the junction with no problem much to my relief.

The countryside here is typical Cheshire plain.  Beautiful views across fields and farms can be seen. At the bottom of Cholmondeston Lock is Venetian marina looking very busy indeed.  We had hoped to top up with water after the lock but as the lock gates opened we were confronted with two hire boats on the water point being washed and serviced making exiting the chamber very tight indeed.

Two mile further on we came to Minshall Lock.  Here there was a boat with six people at the bottom and one with three people behind us.  As the lock was in our favour Chris opened the gates and I took AmyJo in.  Chris really struggled with the offside paddle while both crews stood and watched from their boats.  She simply could not get it open so I had to open it for her then run back on board. I then called to Chris very loudly.  " I do so like a good audience don't you?"  after which one of the watching gents eventually came and helped.

Unknown to us whilst we worked the lock, Joanne had tried to ring her mum and we did not hear te phone ringing.  A terse message on facebook a little later from her warned "Mother can't get hold of ya !!!! Try to stop near a nice pub tomorrow and I'll come down and we can have dinner out !!! XX"  

After booking a table at the Barbridge inn we eventually realised its the 26th and pay day for her is not until next week.  Seems she has too much month at the end of her money then!

Shortly after we passed the very spick and span Aqueduct marina looking just as new as the day it opened several years ago now.

Aqueduct Marina

Stunning views of the country here

Just after the Weaver aqueduct at bridge 15 we came across a sign saying "Distinctive Designs" and Ice Cream.  With the heat of the day we could not resist so stopped to buy some.  It was a delightful looking farmhouse with a beautiful garden.  When Chris returned the view with her there with her new big white hat reminded me of a very English garden.

Quintessential English garden scene

Kayakers pass us by  at a rate of knots

We worked our way through the moorings by Clive Green and arrived at Stanthorne Lock.  As we approached a boat came out of the lock and we were waved in.  Chris was about to get off and was told no need we'll lock you down.  Three very nice ladies were manning the lock as their boats were waiting below.  I have to say this was the most pleasant lock we have used the entire trip :-)

Good use of logs from the cut down tree.
 Finally as we passed under bridge 28 we spotted a good mooring.  Realising it was Saturday and at Wardle Lock there are two hire boat companies handing over boats to new hirers today we decided the safest thing was to stop here.  A passing boat confirmed our decision, informing us it was "chaotic down there".  Just as well as at bridge 29 a few yards ahead of us it was entertaining to watch as novice hire boaters tried to get through their first narrow bridge 'ole.  Some coped well and others....  one even complained he got it wrong as there was far too much current in the bridge 'ole!  Believe me I never mock, it was me in that position years ago so I do feel for them.  It must be daunting being given charge of a 70ft boat for the very first time and then left to get on with it with little or no tuition.  

Our mooring tonight on the outskirts of Middlewich
Oh I nearly forgot, our friend Tony made it aboard and we spent a good few hours catching up.  Tony and I work at the same refinery so he gave me all the Gos while I've been away.  We even had to batten down while he was aboard due to a heavy rain shower.  What rain you say? Yep and heavy too.  Knew I should have not wiped the roof down.

Our route today

Total distance:13.00 miles Elapsed time:6h21m53s Locks:3 Bridges:40 
Average speed:2.04 mph (2.51 lock/mph)

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