Thursday 27th August; Church Minshull to Bridge 3 Llangollen Canal
Overslept again. It’s hardly as though we have been working terribly hard, must be the relaxing nature of the canals! Before we pulled pins I took Meg for a walk back along the path where we got rained on last night and saw this lovely view across the Weaver valley.
It was chilly in the wind, though warm when the sun was out. The canal didn’t seem to be busy at all – only a few boats had passed us before we left, so we were surprised to see a queue of 4 boats at Minshull lock. With boats coming down as well it was pretty busy, but everyone seemed very efficient and we were through in well under an hour. So we were expecting to continue the conversation we had been having with an Anglo-Welsh at Cholmondeston lock, but the lock landing was empty! The super-efficient volunteer lockie was helping a hire boat down and we were rising up the lock soon after. It was very busy above – the lock moorings were full with another boat waiting by the 48-hour moorings, which were also full. Meanwhile on the towpath the Shropshire Union Canal Society was setting up small marquees for an event this weekend. As a shower was threatening we pulled in for an early lunch at the far end of the moorings.
Before we left, we looked out some of the knick-knacks that had been on the boat when we bought it. Chuffed’s previous owners had a taste for all sorts of marine-related bits and pieces which aren’t really our thing. We disposed of some to the Ashby Canal Society’s shop at the end of the Ashby a couple of years ago - this time the SUC society were confident they’d find a buyer and were delighted to take them off our hands.
At Barbridge Junction I spotted this sign which I’ve never noticed before;
Dave made a perfect turn towards Hurleston Junction, easily avoiding this crunched bit of concrete opposite the end of the Middlewich Branch. In the background is the sad sight of the (not so) Jolly Tar, all boarded up.
We were lucky we made the turn when we did. Within minutes there was a constant stream of boats coming towards us – we waited for eight or nine to come through a bridge before we could pass. We were just reaching the bridge hole when this chap appeared round the corner, closely followed by yet more. Luckily we were there first!
At Hurleston Junction though the boat in front was entering the lock as we arrived so we could pull straight onto the mooring. These are easy little locks, apart from a self-closing bottom gate on the second, and with boats coming down we made good progress. A volunteer lockie was in attendance and drew our attention to the hills in the distance – they don’t really show up in the photo unfortunately, but the pointy tree to the right of centre has a faint grey shadow behind it – the Pennines. We could see the radio-telescopes of Jodrell Bank too.
There has been a lot of noise in the canal press recently about CRT’s plans to introduce pawl stops to prevent accidents. (The pawl is the device that stops the paddle gear falling again once you have wound it up). Some people are against this move, as some gear is so stiff that not everyone has the strength to wind it down with one hand while holding the pawl up with the other. This flight is one of the areas where the paddle gear already has pawl stops. In the photo I am lifting the pawl as far as it will go. So it’s lucky the gear is easy to operate.
We had a short wait in the second to top lock; the lockie explained that because there had a been a boat stuck in a lock earlier, one of the boats above the locks had run out of time to go down and turn at the junction and asked if we would mind waiting while he turned in the wide pound above us. No problem, we were in no hurry. He made a very efficient turn in the stiff breeze.
At the top we watered up and emptied a cassette. We weren’t short of water but didn’t want to have to stop at Grindley Brook as it’s likely to be very busy. We pottered on in the sunshine and stopped on the 48-hour moorings between bridges 3 and 4. Meg enjoyed her game of ball though Dave had to keep fishing it out of the water.
It’s a lovely mooring here in the evening sun watching the boats go by (playing ball too).
6 locks, 6 miles, 4 and a half hours