Wednesday 30 October 2019

Day 6 Weaver Cruise - back to Middlewich

I forgot to post this yesterday. While at Anderton walking the dog I came across a van who's owner clearly has a great sense of humour.  I reckon his passenger has been waiting quite a while for them to return.

Halloween passenger.

Anyway back to today.

We were woken at 7am by a loud nose like metal scraping on metal.  I looked out but could see nothing wrong.  No sight of a boat having passed and Lucille was laying quietly alongside not moving an inch.  We still have no idea what the cause of the noise was but nothing seems to have been damaged, nor paint freshly scraped off.

A beautiful Autumn morning

Despite a harsh frost the morning was bathed in glorious sunshine, though it felt quite cold.  A loud bang was heard as someone was hunting in the woods nearby.  Further shots sounded much closer so I got the binoculars out but could not see the shooter.

I know someone will ask about the wisdom of mooring with those railway rails so close to the boat.  In fact they were a good foot away from the cabin side and no chance of them catching AmyJo's paintwork, though I admit I had to be very careful when mooring up.

Looking for the shooter nearby

 We got underway and cruised in the bright sunshine.  The sun is lower this time of year and a times we found it difficult to see where we were going as we cruise with the sun in front of us.  No problem, we just slowed down until we rounded a bend.

The rest of the journey went without any problems, we passed the flashes and the 3 marinas, Woodlands, Park Farm, and Orchard.

Entering the Flash.  Not as big as Tixall  Wide but just as much fun to cross.

After bridge 189 we crossed Croxton Aqueduct, the river below now much less flooded than when we passed here a few days ago.  The reduced level revealed a lot of mud and scoured away banks.

Water levels returning to normal, but the banks have suffered

After a short stop for water at Big Lock we then started the climb through the Middlewich locks.  Eric stopped for water below Andersen boats yard while we worked the locks.  After each lock we reset them for Eric but a boat sneaked past him with four men on board as he was about to get underway.  They must have though their luck was in with us above them resetting the locks.  Chris returned to them and asked if they would be good enough to reset the locks as they went as Eric was now approaching the bottom lock.  When Chris walked back down the locks to help Eric while I moored up she found the four guys had ignored her request so let them know her displeasure.  They, embarrassed, did not look at me when they passed me above the top lock!

Middlewich locks
 I mentioned the other day about the crocheted squares we had seen, one at Marbury Country Park and one at Middlewich.  The one here at Middlewich is pinned to the now derelict cafe above the locks.

The old cafe and crocheted square in the right hand window

Looks like a lot of work goes into these so why leave them?

At Wardle lock we found three boats waiting to ascend and one coming down.  The skipper of the latter proundly announced he was only winding so don't close the gates.  No chance!  The skipper of one of the boats waiting at the head of the queue told him firmly he would have to take his turn in the queue like everyone else who had been waiting.  The former was not happy but when the other skippers were also saying the same he had no choice but wait his turn.  We stayed out of it happy to wait our turn.

The skipper then tried it on when, eventually it was Eric's turn for the lock.  Eric had to wait the otherside of the bridge 'ole and came forward as AmyJo went into the lock.  The winding (or should that be winging?) skipper started to have a go at Eric for jumping the queue until Eric told him he'd been waiting as long as the rest of us the other side of the bridge 'ole. He then stomped of mumbling under his breath.  To be honest we would have just let him go up, would have been a lot less fuss!

We found some free moorings above the lock and went for a food shop in town.  When we got back we got a chippy tea from the local chip shop and settled down watching tele for the night.

Total distance:2.64 miles Elapsed time:3h42m58s Locks:7 Bridges:13
Average speed:0.71 mph (2.59 lock/mph)

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Day 5 Weaver Cruise - Anderton to Bramble cuttings

When I got up at 8am this morning and threw back the blinds I could barely see across the cut due to a heavy fog.   Fortunately by the time Smudge and I got back from his walk the fog was beginning to lift.

The fog was thicker than this photo shows

 We had agreed to go to the Anderton lift centre and have breakfast when it opened at 9:30am. By the time breakfast was over the fog had almost completely cleared.  By the time we walked down to the river it had completely lifted.

Chris's headache had nearly gone so she was out with her camera.  She took loads of photos today so we'll make up for yesterday.

The River Weaver had quite a substantial flow on it making it impossible to navigate.  The force of the flow could be seen on the visitor berth.  The water had completely scoured the tarmac off leaving the hardcore filler exposed and making the jetty unusable.

Looking towards the visitor moorings and the damage to the mooring.

The damage was all along the mooring stage

 Looking back the Anterton lift looked impressive against the bright blue sky.  Chris had been talking to one of the staff and was told that the river had risen to such an extent the casions were completely submerged.  The problem now was that the high level could have affected the electronic safety devices so engineers would now need to inspect everything before the lift could be re-opened.

The lift in bright sunshine

In the photo below one can see the casions, according to the staff member the river had dropped 3 feet over night so you can imagine just how high it had risen

With the level still dropping safety inspections will have to be done once normal levels return.

Mud was deposited everywhere that was submerged.

One for the album

Lift manager on the left inspects the damage and declared the lift will remain closed for now.
 Tour over we returned to the boats.  We winded AmyJo first and passed Eric getting under way.  For our non boater readers, winding (pronounced win ding) means to turn the boat round 180degrees.  Its termed winding as the horse drawn boats would use the wind to  help turn the boats round.  We then waited for Eric to wind and we set off on our return journey.

Eric gets Lucille underway as we pass

Waiting for Eric
  As we cruised through Marbury Country Park the autumn colours were full on.  The leaves on ther ground seemed a bright copper against the green and yellow backdrop of the trees.  While I don't like this time of year I can't ignore the fact the colours of the trees and bushes are stunning in the Autumn sun.

Beautiful colours in the County park.

Even Smudge just sat and took it all in.  He had his coat on as it was quite cold and he started to shiver

Chris spotted this crocheted patch on the barbed wire fence.  We have been seing these since we left Barbridge, any idea who or why they have been left there?

Mystery Crocheted patch, one of several we have seen.

 We passed the Lion Salt museum, busy with boats on the moorings.  One day we'll have to go in and have a look round.

The Lion salt Museum.

All though it was cold it felt great to cruise in the sun.  Fewer boats are on the move now so we pretty much had the cut to ourselves.  Those boats we did pass were near the marinas so we assumed they were headed home from the weekend cruise.

At Winchham Wharf we spotted and familiar boat.  It was Callan Llan our mooring neighbours boat at Tattenhall last winter, sadly she is now up for sale.  She'll make someone a great boat as Dave spent a lot of money replacing windows with double glazed units, repainting outside, and a lot of work done inside.

Callan Llan now up for sale

plenty of wide beams here.

 At the TATA salt refinery they are attempting to make the unsightly pipe bridges look nicer.  This one has the pipes hidden behind a metal screen and images in rusty metal clipped to the screen.  It actually makes an ugly sight look really good.

Inovative design to hide unsightly pipes

The salt works dominate the skyline here and at times the noise is almost unbareable.

 In contrast, at Orchard marina, looks quite pretty and whilst passing we thought we saw AmyJo moored up, you can see her on the left side of the arch.

Orchard marina entrance and is that AmyJo moored in there?
 On closer inspection we could see its another boat looking idential to AmyJo,  Large windows near the stern and grey gunwales being the only visible differances.

Sure looks like AmyJo
 Ten minutes further are two new marinas, Park Farm and Oakwood.  These are filling up fast and Oakwood in particular seems to have double the number of boats in it since the last time we passed here back in June when we were transfering boats for a broker.

Oakwood Marina looking busy

 This region of the canal there are a series of sunken flashes, one of which includes the canal.  Here, British Waterways off loaded numerous redundant work boats by sinking them in large numbers reminicent of sinking the German fleet at Scapa Flow.  Nowadays many have been recovered for restoration.  These flashes are now havens for wildlife though not much was seen today save a couple of large signets, getting their winter plumage, approaching the boat hopeful of some food being thrown their way.

One of the flashes, once a narrowboat graveyard.
 After weaving through some twists, turns and narrow sections of the canal we reached our destination for the night, Bramble cuttings, at about 3:30pm.  Two boats were already moored there but there was just enough room for me to moor AmyJo between them.  We breasted Lucille alongside AmyJo so Eric could also moor up there as well.  We then sat in the sun having a bottle Becks and a bag of crisps as it was such a nice afternoon.  I love Bramble Cuttings, its such an idilic spot and we're lucky to get a space here.

The amigos enjoying a beer and afternoon sunshine

Total distance:8.02 miles Elapsed time:0h1m46s Locks:0 Bridges:29
3:75 hours

Monday 28 October 2019

Day 4 Weaver Cruise Middlewich to Anderton

A bright crisp sunny day greeted us this morning.  Wall to wall sunshine.  We got under way and first port of call was Wardle Lock.  Maureen's cottage seems to be looking better each time we pass.  The gardens have now been cleared and it looks like new windows installed.

It's still called Mareen's cottage after all this time.  I guess it always will always be Maureen's cottage.

 Having descended the lock and with no other boats moving I hovered AmyJo at the junction while Chris helped Eric to lock down. I do enjoy keeping AmyJo "on station"  Small burst of throttle backward and forwards help to keep her in the same spot, alowances made with the tiller due to the wind and so on.

I quite enjoy holding on station whilst waiting for Chris 

 At the Middlewich locks the top and middle locks were against us but the bottom was full.  This was due to the sheer amount of water flowing down the by washes, overflowing the top gate.  I single handed AmyJo through the locks and Chris worked them for Eric.

Autumn leaves carpet the area around the locks

AmyJo in the pound above the middle lock bathed in sunshine

Dropping in the Middle lock while Eric waits above

After descending the bottom lock I tied AmyJo up just below the bottom gate and reset the lock for Eric.  AmyJo lay patiently tethered by her center rope just in front of the bottom gate until I returned to her prior to Chris letting the lock down.

Bottom lock ready for AmyJo to enter

and parked below the bottom gate

 Our final lock of the day was Big lock, unusual as its a double lock not a single.  A watching couple opened and closed one of the bottom gates for us.

Shortly after leaving Big lock Chris started to get a Migrain so retired below.  Fortunately it did not turn into a full one and by evening had reduced to just a dull ache.  This meant there were no more photos taken until we reached Anderton.

Decsending Big Lock

Sadly on arrival at Anderton the staff informed us the lift was no open due to the flooding.  So we will have to try again another time, it just was not meant to be.  The lift closes for the winter on the 4th November so it will have to wait until next year now.

Total distance:10.31 miles Elapsed time:5h29m49s Locks:5 Bridges:39
Average speed:1.88 mph (2.78 lock/mph)

Sunday 27 October 2019

Day 3 Weaver Cruise - At last the rain has stopped

The good news is Smudge appears to have improved this morning after a peaceful night,  he's still not his old self yet but we had a waggy tail and he wanted to play ball with me for a little while, all be it a lot less exuberantly than usual.

The bad news is it was still pouring with rain and hadn't stopped all night.  The forecast showed the rain clearing lunch time so we stayed put.  Sure enough while we enjoyed a sandwich in the Marina cafe the rain did indeed stop as forecast.  The leaden sky looked like it was brightening up so after lunch we cast off and got under way at 2pm.  

Leaving this late in the day ruled out getting to Anderton today so we decided to stop at Middlewich for the night. My concern now was with so much rain in 24hours would the River Weaver be in flood and unnavigable?

A dull murky morning but at least the rain was easing at last
 After an uneventful run down to Michull lock we arrived just as another boat was entering the lock from below.  Chris went to help them up the lock and by the time the lock was full the boat was sitting in a mass of bubbles so thick it looked like a bubble bath.  Perhaps someone had their washing machine going whilst in the lock?

The trail of bubbles left by the boat exiting the lock.

Having already locked AmyJo down we waited and helped Eric down.
We cruised on in the dry but grey clouds still threatened rain.  We did feel one or two spots but nothing to get anything wet.  A short while after the lock we passed Aqueduct Marina.  I have to say both Venetian and Aqueduct marinas are now looking quite full, those still moored at Tattenhall Marina can guess why.

A packed Aqueduct marina
 We were approaching the Weaver way moorings when Chris spotted a Kingfisher dart out and fly off ahead of us.  We spotted where it landed and Chris got the camera poised for a photo opportunity.  She did not have to wait long and off he went again, this tine Chris managed to catch a photo of him mid flight though not a close up unfortunately

Just a blur but you can see the Kingfisher just above the water
 As we passed through the Weaver Way moorings at Church Minshull we got our first glimpse of the river below us.  My fear of it being in flood was confirmed though we were surprised at just how much the river was flooding.  It was clear it was flowing fast so the lift may not be an option, we'll know tomorrow.

Not a great photo but you can see just how much the river has risen

Next came Stanthorne lock and the run into Middlewich.  When we got there we were again surprised to find very few boats moored up.  We found a spot after bridge 29 and plenty of free space for the two boats to moor together.

After some fish and chips from the local chippy we went into town for a drink or three.

Moored up in Middlewich

Total distance:8.02 miles Elapsed time:3h47m22s Locks:2 Bridges:26
Average speed:2.12 mph (2.64 lock/mph)