Saturday, 31 March 2012


Last Thursday we left the countryside behind & cruised into Greater Manchester, we had booked into Stretford Marina for a long weekend & it was just as well we'd booked as being a small marina it was just about full, it's handy to visit Bek & family who live just round the corner & extremely reasonable at £5 a night inc electric.  On Thursday night I managed to get to see Rowen playing guitar, keyboards & singing in her school concert, not something I can do usually so a real treat.
We had a great weekend, Hannah & brood managed to come down from Scarborough & the weather was perfect for a BBQ on Saturday
On Sunday we girls managed to fit in a shopping trip to Manchester, leaving the boys happiliy playing computer games
 Rowen & Astrid checking out shiny macs...

Monday morning time to head off & before long it's over the Barton Aqueduct
 ( or The Tank as the locals call it)
 The M60 in the far distance
 Looking up the Manchester Ship Canal towards Manchester
 then it's through Worsley with it's orange (dissolved iron ore) water.
We stopped briefly in Leigh to do a bit of restocking, taking advantage of the new Tesco, we didn't stay a minute longer than necessary, the canal, which becomes the Leeds & Liverpool as you pass under bridge 66, is filthy as is the towpath which is strewn with cans, bottle, pizza boxes etc, etc. It's disgusting & the locals responsible should be ashamed. 
So onwards we went  with no real objective for the next mooring, just as well really as we came to a stop at Plank Lane "Swing" ( it doesn't, it lifts!) Bridge. Work to mechanise it has gone over time so we joined several other boats to wait. As we were not in a hurry to be anywhere it wasn't causing us any difficulties, the sun was out & it's not a bad spot. 
Whilst we dawdled about I arranged with  Coverit Canopies to come & measure up for a  new cratch cover, our old one has not worn at all well & is very shabby.
 I also have booked us into James Mayor's Boatyard in Tarleton to have Poppy's bottom blacked, well not just blacked, shot or sand ( not sure which!) blasted & 2 packed. More expensive than bitumen but hopefully will last longer plus we have some annoying patches of mill scale on the hull which the blasting (fingers crossed) should remove. They have given us an approx date of end of June depending on our Ribble Link/ Lancaster canal trip dates of which more later...
I took advantage of the sunshine on Tuesday & did the laundry, lovely to be able to hang it outside & it was all dry in no time.  The workmen on the bridge called to tell us that it would be open at 5pm & overnight, then between 12 & 1pm & after 7pm daily until further notice so just after 5pm a hooter sounded ... 
& several of the moored boats moved off  through the bridge but not being in any hurry we decided to stay another night.
Wednesday dawned  warm & sunny again, it was my birthday & our 18th ( my goodness that has flown!!) wedding anniversary so we walked into Leigh & had coffee & cake, we know how to have a good time ;-) then sat outside & soaked up the sun. 
At 7pm the hooter sounded & we went through the bridge  with several others who had arrived during the day, we didn't go far barely a mile before putting the pins in for the night. On Thursday we moved up to a nice spot overlooking Ince Moss..
  another lake formed by subsidence from mining & a haven for birds.

Last Christmas I was given some Argos vouchers & decided to upgrade my camera. I chose the Canon sureshot SX130, an advanced compact digital. It take AA batteries & it was mentioned in the reviews that standard AA batteries were useless & nimh high capacity were best so I also bought some rechargeable nimh's along with a new charger. 
They were useless, or so I thought, anyway to cut a long story short I eventually realised that it was probably the camera that was at fault. I rarely could take more than a couple of photos before ' low battery' flashed up so I took it back to Argos in Stretford & they were great, a full refund even though I'd had it more than 3 months so I treated myself to one of these & it's already been far more use than the camera! The roof needs a repaint this year & some of the paint is flaking along the inside of the handrail & the sander makes light work of it, I did most of one side in an hour or so, very impressed & at 170w it doesn't need much power.So that was Thursday...
Yesterday & it's off to Wigan, I walked up to Poolstock Locks (& gosh, what a change in the weather, it was cold!) a boat was already in the lock but nearly full so too late for us too join them, they had just bought the boat & this was their first lock. I gave them a hand & a few tips, doesn't seem long since we were newbies. The lock was a bit of a shock to the system as well after the narrow locks we had got used to! We did the next lock together which made it easier & then it was into Wigan, we stopped outside the BW office as I wanted to sort out the Ribble Link booking, it was a good job we didn't leave it much longer as the bookings were pretty full for the next few weeks, managed to get sorted though & we are going up on the 19th April & back down on the 23rd June.  I'm really looking forward to it :-) 
The moorings outside the office are 48hr & secure so we've decided to stop here for the weekend. Coverit are hopefully coming out to us on Monday at Crooke & then next weekend I'm due back in Manchester ( but by train this time) for another birthday.   

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Little Bollington, Bridgewater canal

I do like being on the Bridgewater Canal, it's wide, it's clean & it's maintained. 
As we came through Lymm yesterday two bridges were having the brickwork re pointed & they weren't even falling down! 
 The gap's a bit narrow....
 but we managed to squeeze by.
 A little further along we meet the dredging team.

It was 12 o'clock by the time we got moored just passed Agden Bridge, it had been sunny whilst cruising but a with a cold wind so it was good to get tied up & get inside to the warm stove.

This morning it was time for some chores, Mark chopped some wood....
Sid taking a breather from chasing up & down the towpath

...whilst I got on the roof & washed off the grime that had accumulated over the winter then gave the cabin side & windows a wash, certainly looks better for it. 
Just need to get the other side done, maybe this weekend whilst in the marina.
After showering we walked up & over Agden Bridge, along a footpath across a couple of fields, a short walk up Burford Lane to Willowpool garden centre & tea rooms.  It's a quirky place, not just a garden centre, it has antiques, all sorts of bits & bobs as well as the tea rooms which are lovely. Tables are dotted around in an assortment of gazebos & the food is delicious.
Back on board  we had just got sat down to relax & enjoy Scott & Bailey that we had recorded last night when the Water Womble went past which is why the Bridgewater is so clean ;)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Preston Brook

Saturday morning dawned damp & grey with showery rain but this didn't deter us from a 7.30am start, before long the landscape becomes heavily industrialised for a while,
this is part of the ICI site, 
a drop or two of vactan (rust converter, to the uninitiated) maybe a good idea.
A Willow greening up in front of Anderton Marina, 
by 9.30am we were on their diesel point, 87ppl domestic which is pretty average I think. We had already stopped off at the services so with loo cassettes & bins empty, water & fuel tank full we headed for Barnton Tunnel, not very long at 572 yds
 Emerging into the light from Barnton Tunnel, 
   Then less than half a mile to Saltersford tunnel, by now in warm sunshine, it's not as long as Barnton at 424 yds but entry is in time slots, on the hour till 10 past west to east due to a bend in the tunnel meaning you can't see if any boats are approaching from the other end. We only had about 30 minutes to wait before our turn. Another couple of miles & we moored up in a favourite spot, overlooking the River Weaver just in time for lunch. 

 Entering Preston Brook Tunnel
Another day, another tunnel & look at that sunshine  :)  though we have had (much needed) heavy rain over night meaning the towpaths are very muddy & I was slithering about in it whist doing the only lock of the day, Dutton Stop Lock  which may not be deep, inches rather than feet but the top gate is a pig to open, not helped by muddy boots slipping off the bricks as I'm pushing, phew...
We timed it just right for the tunnel as the slot is on the hour till 10 past & we went in at 8 minutes past, once out of the tunnel....
& it's onto the Bridgewater Canal, passing on the left, some of Claymoore Navigation hire boats, behind is Midland Chandlers, closed today so no temptation to spend, ahead is the M56 motorway bridge & just beyond the bridge on the left is the entrance to the Runcorn Arm.
Another mile or so & our mooring spot,  this field of oil seed rape is turning yellow already, it seems early?  We moored up just a little further along so that we weren't directly under the pylons. As it was only 10 am when we moored up I did the washing which has been blowing in the sunshine (& cold wind!) all afternoon.
Tomorrow we shall head for Lymm, we are pacing our cruising so we get to Stretford on Thursday where we have booked into the Marina for a few nights.
If there is a patch of sunshine Soona will lie in it, it doesn't look very comfy but she's happy.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Since my post last Tuesday, we have got a bit of a move on, have travelled about 38 miles & done 27 locks, which is a bit faster than we normally cruise. The reason for the haste is that, due to a couple of birthdays, we have a family get together in Manchester next weekend. 
Some of the photos taken along the way...
 In the middle of Grindley Brook staircase locks,
  all quiet at the cafe still closed for the winter, so no toasted teacake this morning
The lock gear on one of the Grindley 3, it's hydraulic & a dream to work

When we got to the bottom of the Hurleston locks we made a detour into Nantwich & nearly wished we hadn't bothered as the visitor moorings were just about full, we managed to squeeze in on the second stretch passed the aqueduct. On our way back from a trip to Morrison's we stopped for a natter with fellow liveaboards & bloggers, Jan & Dai on nb Jandai.
Jan commented in her blog that most of the boats on the 48hr moorings were there in January & generously surmises that maybe they have fully paid up winter mooring licences.
 Makes me really cross that those of us who stick to the rules of continuously cruising struggle to find a mooring when visiting towns to do a bit of shopping, it's not as if we stay long as we like to be in the middle of nowhere.... okay, rant over! 
Anyway we just stayed the one night & headed back up northwards on Wednesday hoping to moor in a lovely spot overlooking Church Minshull.
There is a long stretch of 48hr moorings here & they were empty so we had plenty of choice but when we came in to the bank we found a shelf meaning we were at least a foot away from the bank. We made as good a job as we could of mooring but really needed a couple of car tyres between us & the bank which we don't carry. Every time we moved about the boat it was banging against the shelf :( but fortunately Mark went on a recce & found on the stretch of bank after the 48 hr moorings & before  the bridge the shelf disappeared so we quickly moved up the hundred yards or so & got comfortably nestled against the bank & no more banging. Whilst we were there a couple of boats pulled onto the moorings & then left  again when they discovered the dratted shelf. 
Anyway once that was sorted we had a peaceful stay although we didn't see much of the view as it was cold, grey & foggy until this morning when we left in nearly sunshine! 

 Sawing the wood we picked up on the Llangollen
 A misty panorama,
 Nice stone & iron work on this lock in Middlewich, we stopped briefly to pop to Tescos then onward
 passing this sunken wreck in one of the flashes
We have moored for the night just a mile or two south of Northwich. Tomorrow we hope to get through Preston Brook tunnel & onto the Bridgewater Canal, showers are forecast so wetgear will need to be handy
what was left of the paper after Soona started & Sid finished the game of trashing it.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


 With my prescription sorted we left Llangollen on Friday lunchtime
           over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, though not too pleasant for Mark,
 he hates heights :(
 then the smaller Chirk Aqueduct, the railway viaduct runs along side, we went over it on the train when we went to Shrewsbury. You may just be able to spot the Chirk tunnel in the background.
 The end of the aqueduct brings us back into England
These guys are upgrading the footpath at Chirk, & making a good job of it, it looks like they will be going all the way from opposite the Marina entrance to the tunnel, which will be a big improvement as it's usually very muddy there being overshadowed by the trees & not getting much sun. Though the work did scupper our plan to stop to see if there was any wood to be had as there is no where to moor up while the work is ongoing :(
We finally moored up at St Martins Moor, a pleasant, peaceful spot, a gentle 20 minute stroll through the fields takes you to Stan's Superstore, probably a bit far for a big shopping trip but ideal for a paper & fresh bread.
We decided to stay for the weekend as the weather wasn't promising  being as  we are fair weather boaters unless something is really pressing. 
 Poppy taken from the footpath across the fields to the village.

Yesterday we cruised the 8 miles or so to Ellesmere, lovely sunshine but a bit windy, 2 locks to do at New Marton & I just about remembered what to do after a 3 month break. The wind didn't give us too many problems & we were settled on a mooring on the Ellesmere Arm by 12 noon.
This morning we went down to the bottom of the arm, winded then tied up near Tescos & did  a biggish shop to restock the larder, then off up to the service point to do the necessary before reversing back & heading the short hop to Blakemere for a coffee stop 

 Blakemere, a beautiful spot.
 Then onwards, passing Colemere
 Spotted this nice pile, which made up for not getting any wood at Chirk!
 I know daffodils are out most places now but these dwarf ones were particularly pretty
Mark remembered this spot from last year &  it is a lovely spot with views over the fields to the hills in the distance. Sid's done some exploring & I think it gets his vote. We shall be staying put for tomorrow as the weather forecast is for wind & showers. After that we'll see how we feel, we don't need to move for a few days as we are well stocked & It's a good place to saw & chop some of that wood.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Time Up!

We were on the move at 8am this morning, 1st time in 3 months but we've not gone very far, just a few hundred yards into the basin.
 I'm waiting for part of my prescription to turn up at the chemists, hopefully later this morning then we shall leave Llangollen. The electric ran out at 11.50 last night :( we were recording 'Those who kill' which was due to finish at midnight but Mark's checked it & we've only missed the very end so that's okay otherwise no point in watching it if we didn't find out who done it!
We are back in cruising mode, the electric heaters have been stowed back under the bed & the electric blanket unplugged,  back to the hot water bottles ;)
I've not taken any photos today as yet so here's some from our last walk, up the Berwyn Way & round Geraint Hill, gosh it was a steep climb up out of Llangollen, it made me puff & blow a bit but once on the tops it was worth it.

Looking back towards Llangollen, the white crescent building is the