Moore to Lymm, Bridgewater Canal : 7 miles, 0 locks
A beautiful warmish sunny day – perfect for cruising and most enjoyable.
Lymm Thursday market was on when we arrived – I’m glad I hadn’t come specially, but this is a very nice town with a huge choice of pubs and eating places. Sadly from Saturday the dominant Somerfields supermarket is closing down and unlike Middlewich where Tesco will be re-opening in place of Somerfields, I’m not sure if anyone is taking this store over. It is such a useful shopping stop for boaters and I will miss it – and Ive only ever been here a couple of times!
Back to the boat – a busy maintenance afternoon including an oil change. This may not be all that interesting for you, but its useful to record it here so I can refer back in months to come.
My disaster of the day was to pop to Warrington for a spot of late shopping and then pop back to Lymm on a different bus which took a different route which I didn’t recognise. We were 4 miles beyond Lymm when I realised, but the driver was happy to take me all the way to Altrincham and back while we chatted about boats. He made sure I got off in Lymm too, so it was only about a one hour detour. It could therefore have been a lot worse, especially if it was the last bus.
Thankfully the wind died down last night and we woke to a glorious warm sunny day.
With a couple of service stops at Anderton, for water and diesel respectively, the journey was very pleasant, though chilly when the sun went in and absolutely freezing for a while during a rather unexpected snowstorm. It didn’t lie here, although it seems it did in Wigan, not too far away.
The main excitement of the day was passing through the three tunnels at Barnton, Saltersford and Preston Brook, and the one inch stop lock at Dutton which is distinctive due to being a standard single narrow lock gate at the top and a much wider but not double width pair of gates at the bottom.
And so after another quick shopping trip at Midland Chandlers we carried on through Preston Brook to a very pleasant mooring just outside Moore. How appropriate.
Middlewich to Northwich, Trent and Mersey Canal: 6 Miles, 0 Locks
The first cruising log entry of the year in which Zulu takes a battering from the weather and spends the first night away from home amidst the spotlights of Northwich chemical works.
I was actually hoping to get to Marston but with darkness upon us and the wind blowing a gale, not to mention the lashing rain I thought enough’s enough and stepped off the boat holding both bow and stern lines into mud which covered my shoes. It is an awful feeling when you know you are about to fall over but the thought of Zulu’s high bows being whipped over to the other side of the canal and through someone’s window was suffficient to hold on and stay upright while attemting to bring both ends of the boat to a standstill at the same time, preferably against the bank.
Knocking pins into mud is about as much an anticlimax as I can conjur up – one tap of the mallet and 8 inches of steel sinks out of sight. No chance that’s going to hold for the night. Perhaps prayers do work occasionally, as about 1 boats length further on was a single unoccupied ring set into concrete. We were able to moor safely after all, without having to spend a midnight vigil out on deck worrying about where the bows went.
Apart from that nothing much to report – 6 miles of wind and rain with a tricky ending.
Ah.. yes there is… for the last 4 months BW have been improving the towpath through Middlewich – and not before time, as half of it was permanently under water. A marvellous job has been done – the lowest sections have been raised well above the waterline and a hardcore path with wooden borders has replaced the worn and muddy towpath. What more could we want? We certainly do not want the top coat of compacted red sand which they have laid today. Imagine a muddy dog and a couple of muddy boots. Soaked to the skin and well caked with mud. What could possibly be worse than all of the above coated in a layer of red sticky sand. Well thats what we got today.
I don’t know why every time I think about BW I come up with a negative, but once again they have ruined a wonderful improvement with a poorly thought out finish. Literally. And why? Something to do with it being a national cycle path, according to word on the towpath but I fail to see the connection between this and dumping 200 tonnes of red sand for us to trail into our boats. I will say no more and simply wait while the rain washes it away, when it will once again be a clean hardcore surface, cycle path or not.
For anyone who hasn’t got a clue what I am talking about then take a look at the videos anyway – is history in the making and sheer boat porn for any narrowboat enthusiast. And check out Jam ‘Ole on Google if you want to know more about it. Surprisingly there isn’t a Wikipedia entry yet – anyone fancy a go?