Tuesday, 30 August 2011


We moved into the marina this morning as the boat moored behind us was starting its engine at 8.00 am and leaving it running until 11.15 PM!!!!  We've since found out that it's owned by the probation service and occupied by "people of dubious character" but that wasn't the reason we moved, I just couldn't stand the constant noise of a noisy engine. Dave who runs the marina is an old business acquaintance and a really nice guy and he's made us very welcome.

My shopping trip to the Trafford Centre was much better than expected as my sister and her kids joined Mum & me. We had a good laugh and the shopping proved to be less stressful than usual, although the Trafford Centre itself was absolutely heaving as the kids are still off school.

Monday, 29 August 2011


Before we left Worsley yesterday we walked back to Monton to collect our car from storage. I drove it to Boothstown while Roger brought the boat. We'll be staying here for a few days to see family and friends so it made sense to make full use of the car. I drove to Morrisons & Aldi this morning and did a huge shop, mostly heavy or bulky stuff, and tomorrow I'm taking my mother to the Trafford Centre. She's disabled and needs help shopping for clothes so while I'm looking forward to spending time with her, clothes shopping is my idea of hell and the Trafford Centre is not my idea of fun by any means.

We're now moored on the 14 day moorings outside The Moorings pub at Boothstown Marina. It's a good spot and we managed to tie up to mooring rings, however the boat in front of us had to use pins and the "speed boats" that rush up and down the Bridgewater have pulled them out twice already. I don't know what it is about this particular canal but none of the boats with Bridgewater registrations slow down; maybe they think that because the canal is owned by Peel Holdings British waterways rules don't apply? 

Saturday, 27 August 2011


Yesterday we went through Preston Brook Tunnel and onto the Bridgewater Canal. The tunnel is one-way and going north you can only travel during a 10 minute window from the hour till 10 past. We just missed the 10.00 passage so had a 45 minute wait which was no big deal as we had a few jobs to do anyway. At 10.45 the boat who’d blinded us with its headlights on Thursday turned up behind us. The woman started complaining about having to wait, said it made her sick as she didn’t see why she had to wait! I’d have liked for her to jump the queue and then meet an oncoming boat and have to reverse all the way out; that would have really made her sick, but would have made me smile.

We spent last night in Lymm and bumped an old business acquaintance who has now retired and bought a boat. It’s a small world on the canal, you never know who you’ll meet.

The weather’s been pretty mixed today with lots of heavy showers and unfortunately I found out my waterproofs are no longer waterproof. I need to buy some proofer and redo them soon. We were passed by lots and lots of boats going in the opposite direction today. It seems like all the Bridgewater Cruising Clubs are off on their Bank Holiday jollies.

Apart from some new graffiti under the M60 motorway bridge there’s not much to see on this stretch of canal, it’s pretty boring really.

At Waters Meeting we could have turned right and gone to Manchester but we turned left and cruised through Trafford Park. For once there were no drug dealers trading at the junction, maybe the rain put them off.

Waters Meeting junction

The sun came out just as we got to Barton Aqueduct but as usual it was fairly windy.

view towards Salford

view towards Irlam, M60 in background
When we were still building boats we used to launch them here at Monton Turn.

It’s nice to see that most of the rubbish has been cleared from the winding hole and the area around the health centre and light house has been tidied up too.  I’m not sure if they still shine the light on special occasions but they used to do it quite often and it looked really strange.

The stretch of canal from Monton to Worsley has been stirred up by all the boat traffic today and the water was looking particularly orange. It's the iron ore that came out of the mines at Worsley that makes the canal this colour. It's always been called "Rusty River" by locals, although they are trying to take the colour out by filtering the water through reed beds at Worsley.

We’re now moored in the heart of Worsley along with about 10 other boats. We used to live round here and I always said one day I’d moor my boat here, well now I have and I’m happy.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Over the years we’ve visited the Stanley Arms many times, both by boat and car. The food was always excellent quality, basic English pub food. Unfortunately the pub appears to have recently changed hands and this is no longer the case. They’ve changed the menu for more ‘exotic’ meals and although the portions are still huge, the quality has deteriorated drastically. I doubt we’ll be back.

It’s been another lovely sunny day and the canal has been quite busy. We joined a convoy of 5 boats to go through Barnton Tunnel. The boat behind us had 2 car headlights built into it’s front bulkhead and they were so bright I wouldn’t have wanted to meet him coming towards me in a 2 way tunnel. You would have been dazzled beyond belief!

the boat was 200 yards behind us!

At Saltersford Tunnel the convoy was joined by one of the hire boats we’d had problems with at Middlewich. They still haven’t learnt how to steer in a straight line and went through the tunnel on tick-over forcing all of us travelling behind to do the same.

Saltersford Tunnel 

We’re now moored just before Dutton Stop Lock

and have been for a lovely walk through Longacre Wood.

It’s really beautiful with the sun shining through the trees.

I picked a couple of apples to go with the handful of blackberries I found yesterday. I don’t know about where you are, but so far this year the blackberries seem to be quite scarce. This time last year I was making jam but so far I haven’t found anywhere near enough. I think maybe we didn’t have enough rain earlier in the summer, as the ones I have found have been very small and sour and there are a lot of dead flowers that haven’t gone on to develop into berries. Maybe I’ll have more luck up on the Bridgewater Canal as they seem to have had more rain.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


This morning was lovely and sunny again. The Trent and Mersey Canal has decidedly mixed scenery. One minute we were passing through beautiful farmland with wide flashes (small shallow lakes formed following mining subsidence)

and the next we were going through the centre of the Brunner Mond alkali plant. The air is so corrosive here that all the pipes and other metal works are rusting away.

You can see from the state of the bolts on this relatively new fence how bad it is.

After stopping for lunch at Marston and then rubbish and water at the service point, we moored just past Anderton Boat Lift, outside the Stanley Arms pub. It had started raining by then but it didn't last long.

It’s a good deep mooring with no banging against the shelf when boats go past and there are wild hops growing in the bushes beside the boat.

As we’re using their moorings, we thought it only polite to book a table for dinner  tonight. Also, we’ve since found out it’s quiz night so we’ll probably stay and have a few pints as well. It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to do it!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Hold up in Middlewich

I  haven’t posted for a couple of days, simply because I’ve been too busy having a good time!

We moored below Audlum locks on Saturday with our old customer & friend Dave Farndale and then on Sunday we met another friend, John Wood,  who now moors in Overwater Marina and the 4 of us went to the Lord Combermere pub in Audlum for Sunday lunch. The roast beef lunch was excellent; good tender beef and fresh veggies and good value at £9.95.

On Monday morning Dave cruised with us into Overwater Marina to meet John for a coffee and a tour of the marina. We’re still on the look-out for a winter mooring and were very impressed by the set-up at Overwater. It’s not the cheapest we’ve looked at by any means, but it seems a very friendly place and there’s plenty of room between the boats so it won’t be claustrophobic which was our main complaint last winter.

Last night we moored both boats at Sykes Hallow picnic area. There were 3 other boats already moored there and we all had our own picnic tables and BBQ stand provided by SUCS (Shropshire Union Canal Society). It’s a lovely place to spend an evening and after such a hot day the BBQ was a great way to chill out. 

Dave provided so much food that we needed 2 disposable BBQ’s plus our own BBQ as well.

This morning we went our separate ways. Dave headed back towards Tattenhall Marina and we stopped off in Middlewich for a quick trip to Tesco and Dave's Angling Centre for some maggots

We tried to carry on down the locks through Middlewich but had to stop at the first one (Lock 73) as a guy from BW was attempting to refill the lock pounds, which had been drained by a hire boat leaving all the paddles open at every lock! The BW guy asked if I’d help as he regulated the flow of water to fill the pound between  locks 73 & 72. As the water level started to come back up I got chatting to the family on the hire boat. This wasn’t their first lock but they were adamant that the only tuition they'd had from the hire company was on a model lock and admitted they hadn’t got a clue what they were doing. I gave them my “idiot’s guide” to how locks work and the woman suddenly twigged what they’d been doing wrong and what they should have been doing. It’s quite scary how these hire companies can let absolute novices take a boat out and when the boat following them came up it was also from the same hire company. They didn’t have a clue either! 

refilling pound from the lock just out of view to the right of the
picture, the 'waterfall' in the centre would normally be submerged

the pound half full again
We finally got down the Big Lock which is a wide lock and ridiculously difficult to operate. Only 1 top paddle works so filling it is mind numbingly slow and the gates are so out of balance they are almost impossible to move on your own. 2 young girls were hanging round the lock and came over to talk to me. They were only about 8 years old and were playing out before their tea. They were really nice and polite and asked intelligent questions. The best bit though was that they were eager to help open the gates which was a really big help to me.

We’re now moored just before bridge 179. We’ve moored here before and it’s a good quiet spot with both good satellite and internet reception. 

Saturday, 20 August 2011


The canal was very busy early this morning with boats moving from 6.30 onwards. We didn’t set off until around 11.00 when it had calmed down a bit and we had a really easy run down the 15 locks to Audlum. Everyone was happy and friendly and I gave an old guy a rest at one of the locks. He was single handing and was about ¾ of the way up the flight and flagging a bit, so he stayed on his boat and I worked the lock for him while he had a cuppa. He told me he’d been doing this canal for the past 28 years, the last 19 of them alone since his wife had died. He’d had 2 knee replacements and while the left one worked fine his right knee was a bit stiff and he was finding it a bit tricky climbing up the ladder out of the locks. Most people would have given up a long time ago but he loves the life.

I liked this boat that we moored near last night. It’s quite an old boat but obviously well loved and the owner has my sense of humour. There are 2 brass ducks welded onto the stern counter and they’ve painted a shark face on the bow. Cool!

As long as I remember there has always been a produce stall at one of the locks on the flight. This year there were 4. I bought raspberries and sweet-peas from one stall. They’re really beautiful and the perfume is filling the boat. I picked up a kohlrabi from another stall, although I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It just looked so exotic I had to try it, no doubt Google will come up with some ideas as to how to cook it.

At the bottom lock there’s now an allotment stall George’s Pork and Poultry. They grow the veg beside the lock and claim to sell 30 flavours of sausages although they were a bit limited on stock today. I bought some pork with ginger and spring onion for the freezer. Their fruit and veg looked good quality and they also sell double yolk eggs.

We’re now moored below the bottom lock with one of our previous customers, boat no.20 "Parisien Star"

Dave brought his boat from Tattenhall Marina to meet us and travel with us for a few days and tomorrow we’re also meeting an old friend from Macclesfield so the 4 of us are going to the Lord Combermere for Sunday lunch.

Addersley Locks

This morning we met fellow bloggers Paul & Lynne from n.b. Piston Broke (I love the name). It was nice to meet you guys, we’ll keep following your travels and hope to meet up again.

We did a couple of trips into town to Morrisons and the new Asda (used to be Netto/Lidl) and had lunch in Wetherspoons. Their meals are really good value for money and the Old Speckled Hen was cheap at only £2.25 when we usually pay between £2.80 - £3.00.

I love seeing how people customise their boats. These had painted their satellite dish to match the front bulkhead decoration. It was very pretty.

The marigolds on the roof are attracting plenty of butterflies.

We passed some moorings that had a very posh hen house and fancy chickens.

There's a small farm shop beside Adderley Top Lock.

Just as I was about to open the lock gate a lamb came strolling out of the farmyard and walked up and over the lock gate. I just couldn’t get my camera out of my pocket fast enough to catch it on the gate.

The flight of 5 locks were easy as they were all more or less full, apart from leakage. We must have timed it right as it was very quiet and we only met one boat coming up. We’re now moored below the bottom lock and it’s suddenly become very busy with boats coming past in both directions.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Down Tyreley Locks to Market Drayton

Apart from being rammed by a hire boat just after we set off, it’s been a pretty uneventful day today.

We decided not to stop at The Anchor pub. It’s in the middle of nowhere, only accessible by boat or down a narrow lane, and still serves beer from the jug as it did when we first called in 31 years ago. I think it’s still the same licensee too.

This is Cadbury Wharf. It used to be a loading wharf for the chocolate factory but this only produces dried milk now and that’s not transported by canal.

We had a good run down through Woodseaves Cutting which is very narrow in places. It was cut by hand through solid rock and is very overgrown and damp. The towpath’s very muddy in places even though we’ve had very little rain recently.

At Tyreley Top Lock there is a stall selling home-grown fruit and veg and local honey and jam.

We had a quick passage down the 5 Tyreley locks as there were plenty of boats coming up.

passing between locks 4 & 5

We’re now moored in Market Drayton ready for a visit to Morrisons in the morning. We’re OK for food but the beer and wine cellars are getting a bit low and we’re meeting friends over the weekend so we need to re-stock.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Gnosall Heath

We had the most amazing sunset last night. The sky and it’s reflection in the canal were beautiful shades of everything from bright orange to violet. As usual, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

It’s nice to be back on the Shroppie (Shropshire Union Canal) and I know Chico is glad to be off the rivers as he really missed his walks. Being back on the canals has meant that we can walk alongside the boat and we did that a couple of times today. Whilst the rivers and the Staffs & Worcester Canal were fairly quiet, so far the Shroppie has been quite busy.  We had the usual inconsiderate early boater rushing past at 6.20, waking all and sundry as the moored boats crashed into the ledge that runs along the towpath just under the water level. I know plenty of people prefer to set off early, usually because they can’t sleep or they’re on a hire boat and eager to get the maximum mileage out of their holiday, but wish they’d consider us later risers a bit more.

typical tall, straight sided bridge on the Shroppie

the Shroppie is straight, narrow and wooded in many places
There was a queue of 4 boats in front of us at Wheaton Aston lock but it didn't take very long for us all to pass down through the lock. We filled up at the water point and then moved up to the canal-side garage just past Bridge 19 to fill up with diesel. It's cheap here, 71.9p per litre (plus tax) and we were empty, just about running on fumes. It took 250 litres and cost £205.

After passing through the relatively short Cowley Tunnel, we moored on the visitor moorings at Gnosall Heath. It’s nice here and there’s no ledge along the towpath so we should have a more peaceful awakening in the morning.

Cowley Tunnel

I’d done 2 loads of washing en-route so as soon as we moored up I got the whirly-gig out and hung it out to dry. Roger’s doing a bit of painting and if I can twist his arm we may go to one of the 3 village pubs for a swift one before dinner.

Whilst my courgettes are still only producing male flowers, the chilli plant that I’m growing in the cratch (tent/shed area at front of the boat) is coming along nicely. It’s got lots of white flowers and 4 have set already and are growing into small chillies.

The plant was a gift from a friend so I have no idea what type, or how hot, these chillis will be. I’ll have to find a willing victim to try them on later in the year.