Friday, 24 April 2015

A long day's boating

When we got to Middlewich last night we had a bit of an "oh bugger" moment. Roger had made a dental appointment for when we get to Stone and both of us thought it was for a week on Monday. Not so, it's this coming Monday so instead of taking it easy we've now got three full cruising days to get there. In anticipation of an early start I arrived at Tesco at 7.45 this morning to stock up, only to find out that they don't open till 8.00. I was first in the store but had to queue behind lots of school kids who were buying their lunch. They seem to exist on crisps and sausage rolls in Middlewich although I did see one girl buying an apple!

Once I'd dragged the shopping trolley back to the boat, unloaded it and put everything away we finally set off at 9.30 but that's still really early for us.

We've done 20 locks today. Almost all were set against us although we were helped by n.b. Periwinkle who emptied a couple of the locks on the Wheelock flight for us. If you read this then "Thank You" it was appreciated.

King's Lock in Middlewich has mussels growing in it. Are they a native species or invasive?

It's been a few years since we passed this way but the colony of swans just above King's Lock is as large as ever. It was preening time when we saw them and I stopped counting at 20 birds.

I've finally seen my first ducklings of the year. In fact we've seen several broods today. This mother had 15 chicks spread out on both sides of the boat. The noise they made was amazing when they realised mum was missing.

This brood was at least 10 strong

The Cheshire locks we're travelling up are mostly in pairs so you use whichever one is set in your favour but when we got to Lock 63 we weren't sure which lock to use. Coming from below, the lock on the right was empty with one of the gates half open and the lock on the left was full. The right hand lock is notorious for being narrow and there have always been warning signs on it as the walls are bowing in and we've usually avoided it if possible. When I got to the top of the steps it became obvious that the lock with the half open gate was out of action although there aren't any signs on the approach. It seems that C&RT's attempt to close off the lock have failed.

It's pretty obvious if you were coming down as there is a timber barrier.

Even though we used the other lock we still took it very carefully as the sides of this one are also showing signs of deterioration with bulging brickwork and cracks appearing. It wouldn't surprise me if this lock is on next winter's maintenance programme.

The weather hasn't been anywhere near as nice today and by the time we reached Lock 58 it was decidedly chilly.  This has to be the best way to deal with the M6 Friday rush hour traffic jams....just go underneath whilst waving at the drivers.................

Between Locks 58 and 57 we met n.b. Chuffed who said they read this blog. Thank you, it was nice to meet you but I'm sorry I didn't catch your names.

By the time we got to Rhode Heath where we've moored for the night we'd had enough. 20 locks and 6 hours cruising is like being on a hire boat. We seldom cruise for more than 3 hours a day so maybe it'll teach me to pay more attention when Roger tells me to put something in the diary. Tomorrow we're heading through Harecastle Tunnel..................oh joy!

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