Friday, 26 April 2013

First locks of the year

Yesterday we had a day out, driving into Manchester to help our friend David bring his boat up the Rochdale 9. The weather could have been better but we had a good time none the less.

I know it's very built up and there's always quite a bit of rubbish in the water, but I really like this section of canal. There's always lots to see and always something new each time we pass this way. I particularly like the way it keeps disappearing underneath the tall buildings but I wish these tunnels didn't smell so bad.

This reed shelf looked new

A clever Canada Goose had built her nest in a very secure spot, about 6 feet above the canal and in direct view of a CCTV camera.

So what do two men do when they've not seen each other for months?  Stand around gossiping, leaving me to hover in mid channel until they notice that the lock is empty. Every lock was set against us and by the time we got to the top both men were starting to ache. Perhaps the Rochale 9 aren't the best ones to do as first locks of the year.

I really enjoyed steering Wye Knot. It's been a long time since I drove a 57ft boat and it was much easier getting the shorter boat onto the landing stage in Canal Street than it is in our 65 footer.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

We'll be here for a while

Our cruising plans have had to be altered again as my next chemo session has been brought forward 4 days. We'd planned on leaving Bugsworth after the clinic today as our 48 hours was up, but when Roger explained the circumstances to the "harbour master" they've given us a permit to stay a while longer. The last few times we've visited, every boat was recorded as it arrived and then "reminded" to leave after the 48 hours was up.  Quite often if you mentioned Bugsworth Basin to other boaters they'd say how unwelcome they'd been made to feel. It certainly seems to be a lot more relaxed and welcoming now.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Out & About

We spent this afternoon just wandering around the area, taking in all the changes that have occurred since we were last here a couple of years ago.

Just beside the canal approach to the basin there is a small holding. It used to be quite small and tatty but has been much improved and extended. It's such a shame that they've had to put these signs up but they've obviously had trouble and injured animals. I still believe that all dogs should be kept on a lead in public places, especially when damage like this happens. There are just too many irresponsible dog owners out there and we've seen a few examples today. There was the woman who was wandering round the basin texting while her dog fouled on the grass. Needless to say she was totally oblivious and didn't pick up after it. I was in the boat at the time or I'd have pointed it out to her. Then there was the man walking his dog off the lead who made no attempt to control it when I'd picked Chico up and his dog was jumping up trying to get at him.

The animal housing and fencing are all fairly new. This pair of goats seemed quite happy.

This pair of Peahens were totally unimpressed with their mate.

Even when he was displaying and strutting his stuff they were being coy.

We heard recently that one of our favourite pubs, the Dog & Partridge in Bridgemont, had closed so we walked down to see what was happening to it. It's another "profit & loss" story. Profit for the pub chain but not enough for landlady Kate, with the result that after 16 years bankruptcy forced  her to close with a big loss for the village community.

The two small cottages which were next door are being renovated while the pub itself is being converted into 2 houses.

We walked into Whaley Bridge and then came back along the towpath, first passing the trip boat Judith Mary on her moorings at the old Transhipment Sheds.

The permanent moorings which are from Whaley Bridge to the canal junction were over half empty. It still seems daft to me that they are all "permit holder only" moorings, even though there are huge empty spaces . Why did BW not install some short stay shopping moorings when Tesco arrived canalside? It might have encouraged more boaters to come to Whaley Bridge if they could be assured of a decent place to stop and shop.

The total walk was just under 3 miles and was extremely pleasant, even though the wind was a bit nippy at times.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

On to Bugsworth Basin

This morning we had a visit from the coal boat n.b.Alton We filled up with diesel (88.5p/l) and took on a couple of bags of coal which will hopefully be the last we'll need this year. Shortly after they'd gone we carried on towards Bugsworth Basin.

Sadly we passed two boats which had been vandalised/burnt out.

The second boat wasn't very old at all but looks to be a total write-off.

The canal seems to be suffering from several out-breaks of "DEFRA rash". There are quite a few sections of towpath which are falling into the canal and badly in need of repair.

At New Mills we passed the Swizzells-Matlow sweets factory which as usual smelled strongly of Love Hearts and Sherbet Dib Dabs......mmmmmm yummy

This was another view of New Mills with the beautifully arched railway viaduct.

Stopping en-route just before Carrs Swing Bridge we had this lovely view from the dinnette while we ate our lunch. It's a smallholding with fat black pigs and lots of hens.

Many of the bridge approaches have been planted with beautiful daffodils

which really show mine up. We didn't plant them until the beginning of December and they are really stunted. The flowers are pretty enough but the stems are only a couple of inches tall.

Just past Furness Vale Marina this willow fencing has finally been cut back. It was planted a few years ago but was a navigational nightmare as it grew out of control and both blocked the view down the canal and scratched passing boats. It's much better now.

Finally arriving at Bugsworth Basin it was interesting to see that the designated reed shelf, which narrows the canal to single file,  is still devoid of any plant life.

We just managed to get moored up as the heavens opened. We've moored in this same spot several times before, it's handy for the dog and we get good TV satellite reception but the internet is pretty poor. It's taken me ages to upload tonight's blog.

Last specimen spotted in Birmingham but I believe they are migrating North! Watch out for them in Manchester & Liverpool............

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Upper Peak Forest Canal

We've been hanging around the Macclesfield area for a few months, moving every few days to stay within the rules, but never going too far as we needed to keep the car close by for hospital visits etc.

This week's planned chemo session has had to be postponed for a bit while I recover from a nasty chest infection, but this means we're able to go further afield for a week or so. With that extra bit of freedom we've left the Macclesfield Canal, turning right at Marple Junction onto the Upper Peak Forest Canal. It's absolutely beautiful up here. There are wild primroses, daffodils and even the occasional blue bell in the hedgerows and the wild garlic (Ransoms) is starting to appear.

The Canada geese are sitting on their nests and there have been plenty of big fat hairy bees and Painted Lady butterflies flying about. The weather's been glorious today and the views over the Peak District are stunning.

The canal is very shallow in parts and mooring places are few and far between but we've stopped in this particular place a few times over the past few years.

We're on a bend and can just get the bow and stern in to the pilings to moor up. A few feet before and behind us there are rocks just under the surface so a longer boat probably wouldn't fit.

Once we'd moored up we went for a walk to The Sportsman pub and sat in the beer garden in the sun. It was the first time this year and hopefully it'll just be the first of many happy spring/summer evenings spent in a similar fashion.

Saturday, 6 April 2013


We've been moored at Oakgrove for a few days while I had my latest chemo treatment. I'm halfway through the schedule now so the end is in sight and we will be able to go cruising again in a couple of months. I can't wait!

The weather's been glorious but you can see how cold it still is by the amount of lying snow that's still around.

The canal's been fairly quiet again for the past few days, after the mad rush that happened over the Easter weekend. I expect the cold has been putting people off travelling.