Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Cold and wet as we head north

Saturday 25th April

We slept well after yesterday’s exertions but were still up in time for a chat with Geoff (NB Seyella) on his way back from the village, along with newly shorn Meg.  Cue photo time – here are Geoff and Dave with the two Megs.

1 dave geoff seyella and 2 megs

The weather was cloudy but dry as we started and stayed that way till we reached the Booth Lane flight.  The hire boat that followed us down yesterday was on the water point (they closed up for us, while we set the paired locks for them), so they were behind us at the locks once more.  They were doing the Cheshire Ring from Anderton in a week – Canal Planner says it will take 7 full days at 7 and a half hours a day but the four of them were enjoying it immensely!  There were quite a lot of new ducklings by now, though no goslings or cygnets yet.  This mum had 17 babies! (couldn’t get them all in the photo though). 

2 16 of 17 babies

There is a lot of new building going on in the Elton Moss area on the outskirts of Sandbach.  Houses crammed together with tiny gardens – where are the children going to play?

3 los of new build near elton moss

The showers started as we descended the Booth Lane flight, not too heavily at first.  This little cruiser was moored on the bottom lock landing and appears to have been abandoned – no number or licence, with a hole in the fibreglass and missing windows.  At least it wasn’t burnt out, as the one at Westport Lake had been.

4 abandoned below booth lane flight

The rain kept falling as we passed the salt works.  If you have ever wondered whether these piles of salt dissolve when it rains, well yes they do. This heap was slumping into cloudy puddles at the edge of the covered area.  I wonder where the brine goes and what effect it has?  The grass seems to be growing ok.

6 salt in the rain

At Rumps Lock the heavens opened.  Luckily by now we had full wet weathers and boots on.  Dave and Meg disappeared inside and I sheltered in the edge of the big hedge there (overgrown Leylandii is good for something after all!) and took this photo as Dave emerged to bring Chuffed into the lock.

7 heavy shower at rumps lock

The skies cleared as we approached King’s Lock and the sun shone for a while as we took on diesel at the chandlery below.  As we refuelled we watched two Andersen hire cruisers being bow-hauled round the junction towards Wardle lock.  We heard later they were following a third – 3 boats, 18 young men, a stag group … so glad we are not going their way!  NB Swamp Frogs was moored at the boatyard – “ left here for a few days” apparently – but it looked pretty empty.  I wonder if Robbie and Suzie still own it?

8 swamp frogs at kings lock boatyard

The rain came and went and we pulled in by the park near the hire base for lunch (just in time to avoid another downpour) and to go shopping.  There was a street market going on, but it was winding down by the time we got there.  The entertainer was finishing his last piece as we browsed the stalls and had disappeared by the time we came out of Tesco’s.

It was pretty cold as we descended Big Lock, with help from a teenage enthusiast, and the wind was in our faces as we headed out into the country.  We were too cold by now to want to go far and soon were moored up at Bramble Cuttings, the old clay pit turned into a pleasant offside mooring by the good folk of Broken Cross Boat Club.  We waited a short while as a day boat got their dogs on board, then laughed as the spaniel leapt from the boat a few seconds after they cast off. It swam back and forth across the canal before they finally hauled it out – thank goodness they had moored by the towpath rather than trying to haul it onto the back of a moving boat.

13 bramble cuttings moorings

‘Please take your litter with you’ it says – the day boat may not have been responsible but there were 3 bags of rubbish by one of the picnic tables.  I rationalised it into one bag and some bottles for recycling, and stowed it safely in the well deck. There is a short length of narrow rail track leading from the back of the area to the canal.  Presumably it carried trucks of the clay which was used for puddling the lining when the canal was built. There are some little trucks on the southern approach to Stoke which might fit it. 

14 railway at bramble cuttings

   12 railway things approaching stoke

No public footpaths lead from the site, but a path goes through the trees to a little beach ……

20 to the beach  18 the beach

where we found some freshwater mussel shells.

19 mussel shells

There were several picnic tables, some made from timber reclaimed from old lock gates, and plenty of space for Meg to play with the ball she found within a minute of leaving the boat.  My camera isn’t really up to taking action photos (or maybe it’s just me) but a couple weren't too blurred to use.

Good catch!                                      More please!

21 good catch  22 more please dad

After a cold, windy and wet day there was a lovely calm sunset.

9 locks, 8 miles, 5 and a half hours

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