Monday 28th December
Brrrrrhhh. Freezing fog all day – the sun was there somewhere but visibility was down to a few boat lengths, all adding to the fun of boating through the ice.
Whilst much worse than I had hoped, the ice was actually well broken in most places, and the only place we had problems was between Hurleston and Nantwich where it had been up to an inch thick, the huge sheets of ice being quite hard to force old Zulu through.
It became more patchy after Nantwich, so I resisted temptation to stop and go to the wonderful Black Lion pub (still a great pub although slightly less quirky than it used to be) and pressed on to tackle the Hack Green Locks. I was not looking forward to these after having to clear so much broken floating ice from the four locks on the Middlewich Branch yesterday, but these were more or less clear and a pleasure to work. In this weather it is quite a relief to be back in the land of 6ft deep locks which are much more manageable single handed than the deep Middlewich locks.
A couple of oncoming boats had helped break the remaining ice and we made very good progress all the way to Audlem where we found a good overnight mooring between lock 14 and lock 13. Normally we seem to hurry through Audlem to stop at Nantwich, so tonight was the first time I have had a chance to look around this very pretty village with excellent facilities. The Shroppie Fly looked very inviting, the Bridge Inn somewhat less so, but all the fresh air took its toll and I crashed out infront of the fire without sampling either.
Altogether today has been glorious winter cruising weather – crisp and frosty but not too icy in most places, and if you could almost see the blue sky just up there beyond the fog!
9.5 miles and 4 locks
– not a great result but we didn’t start off until after lunch time after some car shuffling.