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Tour 2004

Index

15 - Maesbury Marsh to Lyme View Marina. Including walking the Whitchurch Branch off the Llangollen and trip down to Castlefield and back. Montgomery Canal, Llangollen Canal, Shropshire Union Canal, Middlewich Branch, Trent and Mersey Canal, Macclesfield Canal, Lower Peak Forest Canal, Ashton Canal, Rochdale Canal.

Thursday 15th April 2004

One reason for our return near the bottom of the navigable section of the connected Montgomery Canal was that Ed Mortimer and Steve Parish were driving out for a day trip on the Mont. Cast off time was at 10:30 seeing as we had to make the 14:30 timed locking up Frankton Locks and really wanted a service stop at the Weston Arm on the way. 
Ed's red Fiesta was spotted at 10:15, crossing over Maesbury Bridge and by 10:20 we were on the way back down to the end. The final section was being dredged / towpath re-laid by Blue Boar Farm Contracts, using an excavator on an impossibly wide pontoon, a couple of BW hoppers and "Toms Tug". Ed had worked for Blue Boar and was greeted by the tug driver "Hi Eddie?! Apparently the wide pontoon folds in the middle to form a 60ftish narrow floaty thing, that can navigate bridge holes and locks. 
After Ed and Steve had a quick wistful gaze at the end, we set of back up the Mont at 10:45. No doubt Steve Parish and Ed will like to explain about the "giant white lunatic priests" that were seen in a field, with their accompanying white Transit van........... 
At 13:45 we were back at the Weston Arm and attempted a "comedy" mooring on the windy water point in front of a few bemused spectators, one of which turned out to be Richard Tanner off the newsgroups that had popped out with is wife to meet us at Frankton. 
At 14:20 we went up to the bottom of Frankton Locks to join the queue of two boats waiting to go up.........rather more were waiting to go down. Eventually at 15:05 we were in the bottom Frankton Lock and eventually we were out back on the Llangollen Canal at 15:35. Ed was going to walk back to Maesbury to fetch his car and meet us at the Jack Myton Inn at Hindford. Steve Parish stayed with us and boated to the pub. 
At 16:40 we were up the Llangollen Canal at the Jack Myton Inn, followed shortly after by Ed. Rather good meal with, as usual, Timmy Taylor's Landlord (and a few other interesting ales) After the Meal Ed and Steve departed, leaving Martin and Neil to get the boat back up to Gledrid Bridge for the arrival of the Linda and Wendy at 12:00 the next day.

Friday 16th April 2004

We left the Jack Myton Inn at 08:40 and arrived at Gledrid Bridge at 10:20. Linda arrived early as expected in her new Polo, Martin then disappeared in this back home to a well earned rest (and a very full Inbox!?) Martin returned a week later, when Linda's bit of the Tour finished at Lyme View Marina on the Macclesfield canal. 
Off the renewed crew departed at 11:55. Rather easy trip to Llangollen Wharf, the last hire boats caught rushing back to base. Linda dog walked ahead through the narrows and reported back no boats coming down. One cheeky private boat wandered off in front of us as we were going past the rather empty Visitor Mooring in Llangollen. Neil hassled them all the way to the winding point, watched with glee at the cock up of a wind (BW now provide a little diagram of the best way to do the wind!!!) and the other boat committing the cardinal sin of holding up the horse trip boat. 
We easily managed a mooring back at Llangollen Visitor Mooring (16:30), within a hose length of the water points (TNC long 200ft hose) A couple of crew showers taken while "plumbed in". That night is was a short walk in the rain to the Bridge House Inn for a couple of pints of Robinsons and well cooked simple bar fare.

Saturday 17th April 2004

A fair bit of rain in the night, but a misty turning bright start to the day. We shoved off at 07:45, Linda doing a narrows / dog walk..........nothing about. Caught up with an Anglo Welsh hire boat, but this went into its Trevor moorings. Straight onto Pontcysyllte Aqueduct eventually catching up with a couple of "trying to speed" Black Prince stragglers, attempting to make Chirk by 10:00. After the poling melee of Black Prince boats was left behind we moored up in the "slot" moorings just before Chirk Tunnel at 10:25. 
We then had a rare late breakfast not on the move and walk up to Chirk Castle, for Linda to get her moneys worth out of this years family National Trust membership. Civil War re-enactments going on in castle, Neil remarked that the pike staff bearers would be better employed poling Black Prince boats.......... after finding the "easy" way out of the castle grounds -  the "Ha Ha" defences do have ways across.....we were back on the boat at 14:05. 
Nothing about and made good progress, eventually stopping for the night by Blake Mere, just as heavy rain started at 18:05. Meal in tonight, Linda's frozen Mossaka.

Sunday 18th April 2004

Short day on the now deserted Llangollen. Start from Blake Mere at 09:15 and stop at Whitchurch, just beyond the swing bridge at 13:00. We did attempt a reccy up the short Whitchurch Arm, but the only available mooring was near the junction, so we moored back out on the main canal. 
That afternoon was a wander into Whitchurch following the course of the old arm. Surprising how obliterated the course was, it could be made out in the park as a line of damp ground. The old basin site, complete with one original wharf building was about to be re-developed. This did include a re-instated basin. Personally I think the idea of using a boat lift / the course of the stream below is a bit potty, a staircase of three locks would get the canal down and a course not involving the stream could be accommodated - a much cheaper option. 
If BW insisted on back pumping, then I expect they would not want "their" water mingling with any other. On getting back on the boat Linda's elderly whippet stumbled down the gap and injured its flank. That night we went back into town and ate at the just opened and VERY good Indian Restaurant - "The Ivory Tusk". On the way back Linda decided to phone the vet, who had put his name on the Whitchurch Arm info board. Amazingly at 22:30 he answered the phone and booked the dog in early the next morning at 08:30.

Monday 19th April 2004

That morning, Linda got the dog patched up, three staples put in to hold skin flap together. As Linda passed the station on the way back, by coincidence she bumped into Steve Parish, who was out for a day trip to "bag" a bit of Llangollen (Grindley Brook to Hurleston) that he had not boated. We were off at 09:40, only one boat having got in front, which was a good while before. 
Below a fairly quiet Grindley Brook we caught up with a slow! Canaltime boat. We both caught up with and even slower private boat at Marbury Lock. Canaltime people let us in front, but we soon caught up with NB Casper (Steve Parish was amused that the solo bod sported a Crombie and Hush Puppies). 
Steve jumped off and legged it up to Wrenbury electric lift bridge and let both boats through, NB Casper gave up shortly after wards, we were surprised he did not take advantage of an "assisted" passage through the sole surviving "hang on the chain" lift bridge below Wrenbury. We passed out of Hurleston Bottom Lock at 15:35 after a short delay caused by a brand new Sea Otter boat jammed in the bottom lock entrance. 
After flushing it out, so owner could remove stick fenders, the same event occurred again, this time the built in rubber fendering strip getting caught. The shiny mauve, pearl effect, portholed "Westmead" then retreated to the bank opposite the entrance basin. 
We carried on down to Nantwich for the night............for there was a new bit of canal for Earnest to traverse - Nantwich Basin! After a rather perfect wind in front of a few bemused locals we retreated back, for the equally tight turn back onto the main line. Here we filled with water at the VERY slow water point and bade Steve farewell. 
That night we moored (17:50) on the Nantwich Embankment after winding below the town, ready for going back to do the Middlewich Arm the next day. The winding point between bridges 91 / 90 was TOTALLY silted up, we had to do a lot of "stirring" to get round. Yet another night out for a meal. Nantwich seems to have certainly come up in the world since our last visit, a good decade ago. A lot of housing development around this vibrant town. Meal out in the "Casa Italiana" Italian.

Tuesday 20th April 2004

Left Nantwich at 08:40 and had a quiet run to Barbridge. Passed Hurleston Junction at 09:15, Sea Otter "Westmead" still sulking opposite junction. Turned right down Middlewich Arm at 09:40. As no one about we filled with diesel (10:15 - 10:40) at Venetian Marine (31.9p/L) and Neil managed to get a correct length throttle cable spare at the associated Aquafax chandlery. Rather a good boat toy shop, but resisted buying anything else. 
Hurried departure as boat was spotted descending lock. Middlewich Wardle Junction at 13:35. Up Cheshire locks again, destination Macclesfield Canal. Linda removed front button chain, joining Neil in this holiday pursuit. Neil then steered up rest of locks in fenderless condition. best practice in these quick filling / fierce locks was to get bow on bump board in gear, then do top paddles (one person) half one side, half the other, then full the other side, followed by full the other side. 
Fair bit of rain that afternoon. We caught up a fairly slow Peak Forest boat near the end of the day, we both gave up above Thurlwood Lock, on the Broughton Arms Visitor Moorings (19:00). Neil did yet another chain lash up for the front fender.

Wednesday 21st April 2004

Neil was determined to have a better boating day today, so left before any on the busy Broughton Arms Visitor Moorings - 07:50. After scaring Linda with a few "left in gear" solo Cheshire Locks passages she soon appeared. Rather good run up rest of boat free locks to Red Bull Junction (10:25) 
Nothing on the Macclesfield Canal, we arrived at the bottom of Bosley at 13:50, just like old times...just as it started peeing with rain! Nothing on Bosley Flight, arrived top at 15:10. 
Stopped for water, then decided to make sense on this Macc passage and do a NEW bit of canal - the Bosley feeder! - well we really are getting desperate for new tings to do, so Earnest was reversed up the offline, entrance of the feeder, a dredged channel beside the spiffing new (everything BW card so we will never use it) Sanitary Station / laundry / pump out machine. This channel was really for the new pump out wharf. On our way at 15:55. 
We stopped for the night as rain started to fall again, at 16:35 - Royal Oak Visitor Moorings before swing bridge. Meal and pint in Fools Nook pub, as good as our last visit. On the way to pub, Neil surprised obviously solo boater with a free swing bridge operation.

Thursday 22nd April 2004

Shoved off from Royal Oak Visitor Moorings at 08:45. Linda did lift bridge while giving the dogs their morning drag and stayed off for a bit until the aged whippet was flagging. We stopped at Lyme View marina to check out and pay for our reserved berth. This turned out to be 54ft long on the offside, by the marina building. Marina bod assured Neil boats would be shuffled about to gain extra 5ft by the time we came back the following Monday - ho hum. 
Diesel price also checked out and found to be a reasonable 30p/L. After our 20 minute stop we carried on again, still not knowing if Marple flight had to be cleared by 18:00, for water control (apparently it is now not locked). Rather slow passage down Marple flight (14:05 to 16:25) Daughter Wendy got grease on her clothes and soon went inside for a sulk, leaving Neil and Linda to do half the steering / locking each. 
We soon caught up with a terribly slow solo bod, moving a boat to Dukinfield. We gave up after the Marple Aqueduct (16:40), having found one of the rare spots on the Lower Peak Forest where you can moor against sheet piles and still be afloat. 
Neil seemed to amuse Linda by nearly falling head first into the cut, beside the boat, as he did an extensive paint touch up exercise. He smacked head on piles and got hair wet as the bloody pile mooring chain came adrift, as he was holding it to paint up the dreaded marks on the stern red, caused by over enthusiastic removal of mattress by BW bods on the BCN.

Friday 23rd April 2004

Martin Clark was booked to help us down the Clayton, Beswick and Ancoats locks on the Ashton Canal, as well as the Rochdale 9. Our slow, stodgy progress down the Lower Peak Forest was begun at 07:45 by Linda solo, Neil had a lay-in contemplating the many grindy noises as we slid over various things chucked in the cut. 
Above the water level all was well in the world, the bluebells making an appearance in the first pretty wooded section. Dukinfield Junction was passed at 10:10 and as expected we soon were gliding along in the much improved Ashton Canal. Martin homed in by bus and we met him after going very slowly under Guide Bridge. Martin waved at the many people he knew at Guide Bridge boatyard. Butty "Maria" was resplendent in her almost finished new paint scheme. 
At Fairfield Junction we rammed Earnest into the muddy stub of the Hollinwood Branch, then started down the Clayton Fight at 11:10. Patriotic music was blaring out of the extended and refurbished "Strawberry Duck" pub, seeing as it was St Georges Day. Crazy, but friendly kids were swimming in Lock 9, so Neil filled it up for them again with shouts of "Thanks Mister!" Neil suggested that if they did have to do this kind of thing, then for Gods sake keep your mouths free of the water. 
Below Lock 10 we attempted entry into the Stockport Branch, but stop planks in just beyond the turnover bridge. The short arm sported many trolleys and so we probably would not have got any further. At Ancoats Locks a pair of BW bods were industriously painting up the gates and were heartened to receive our congratulations on the excellent state of the Ashton. 
As the natives seemed friendly we reversed into the BW yard arm below Ancoats Top lock - the Islington Arm. We had to pick our way past a few sunk wheely bins, a BW Hopper and finally a pair of new gates, dumped in the water to stop them drying out. At this point a bearded (yes and we MEAN beaded - like out of ZZ Top) BW Bod arrived in a van, but seemed not worried about us being in their arm. He had quite a chat, telling of the cars and exploding wheelybins that they had to drag out of the cut. A few of the mangled cars wee stored, waiting for insurance company removal. Once ownership is established, then I hope BW will get recovery costs from the cars insurance company - if it ever had any insurance! 
Even since our passage last year we hardly recognised the sharp turns at the end of the Ashton, seeing as there had been rampant apartment building. 14:15 saw us at the top of the Rochdale 9 and start straight down, no one about. 
The usual carpet of condoms in the cavernous wastes around Piccadilly Lock. Here we passed the BW rubbish collection boat. There was a large amount of water coming down the Rochdale 9. The rotten gates of last year have all been replaced with BW "Northwich" style gates, these are all very well, with a good few chain and windlass capstans to open them, due to the paddles NOT being the same large size as the proper Rochdale gates and virtually unable to drain the lock. 
No real problems, seeing as we had two crew members to crack the gates. We arrived at the bottom at 15:45, and then checked out the Telfords Basins to the left. There were a few boats in these basins, we find this surprising, especially as a noisy with the clubs - Friday night was upon us. 
We tried to go up the Medlock outfall basin (what ever that one is called!) but ground to a halt on a silt bank. Off we went, back to the Staffordshire Basin on the other side of the Bridgewater canal and found a favoured spot on the finger island (16:05).
Linda had booked a Chinese meal at the Ying Sang, possibly one of the most established Cantonese style Chinese restaurants in the country. Martin Clark decided to go home, so missed out on this, as expected, excellent venue - not a bad price at 17-50 quid a head.

Saturday 24th April 2004

Day in Manchester. In the morning Neil, Linda and Wendy went to the East Lancs Steam Railway (North Norfolk's B12 was the engine in steam and the new extension to Heywood open), then in the afternoon Martin picked us up and gave us a guided tour of the Hollinwood Branch, off the Ashton. 
As Martin raves about the Daisy Nook, in water, countryside park section we were eager to see it and it lived up to expectations. That evening Martin to us up to some fabulous view points (Hartshead Pike having particularly good views) and then to the Navigation Inn at Wool Road in Dobcross.

Sunday 25th April 2004

It had indeed been a quieter (hot) night over this side. Linda walked the dogs early and Neil cast off at 06:50 into a waiting Lock 92 of the Rochdale. A lovely warm sunny morning. Much debris in the canal from "the night before" including many beer glasses balanced on the balance beams and a head down blow-up doll! 
Leisurely amble up the nine, coming out the top at 09:05. Ed Mortimer appeared at Ancoats Locks, something fishy was happening early on Sunday morning, involving a large crane and the soon to be burnt out warehouse, on the offside above Ancoats Top Lock. 
We just strode up the Ashton, effortlessly catching up with the Ownerships NB "So Long", Fairfield Junction at 12:35. Fortunately "So Long" stopped at a pub soon after. Ed left at Fairfield Junction saying he would join us for the Marple Flight and the pub in the evening. 
Dukinfield Junction was passed at 13:25 and we started back up the shallow Lower Peak Forest canal. A red Fiesta was lurking in the cut just beyond the first railway bridge an unprotected alley leading straight down to the offside of the canal at this point. Around Bridge 12 we had trouble in pulling up and getting over to let the community boat pass, then we had to reverse back to let Ed Mortimer's little day hire boat "Astra" through an old swing bridge hole. After this the canal looked a total brown sticky mess, with bits of cloth and plastic floating about all over the place. 
After an extensive trip down the weed hatch (two OK fishing floats recovered!!) we gingerly crept away, down to tick-over for all bridge holes. Once we were through the two tunnels and onto the narrow, side of the valley section things picked up, the canal was actually deeper here! 
The bottom of Marple Flight was reached at 16:10 and Ed Mortimer appeared, saying that he had set a few locks, but there was a boat coming down who would NOT leave the gates open for us!!! At the top at 18:10 and straight round the corner onto the water point. There was a spot opposite to moor, just up stream from Ownerships NB Cropredy. 
It was showers all round, while plumbed in, then push boat over to the mooring. We just missed the "Ring Of Bells" pub doing food (19:05) so wandered into town and had an OK Indian meal at the Kinaray (105 Stockport Road - Tel: 0161 427 2558)

Monday 26th April 2004

We left Marple at 07:45 and were at Lyme View Marina (NB Earnest's temporary home for 5 weeks) at 09:30. Much tidying up / packing on the way and fill up with diesel and water. Earnest just fitted the now expanded allocated spot. Martin Clark arrived with Linda's Polo at around 11:00, he only wanting a lift back to a main bus stop. Eventually we set off back at 11:30, for a long slog back home.


The Weston  Arm moorings on the Montgomery Canal, just below Frankton Locks.


The Weston  Arm moorings on the Montgomery Canal, just below Frankton Locks.

OldWhitchurchArm.jpg (497849 bytes)
Old OS map of Whitchurch Arm.


Swing Bridge No 31. The entrance to the Whitchurch Arm is just before. Llangollen Canal.


The navigable section of the Whitchurch Arm.


The navigable section of the Whitchurch Arm - winding point to the right.


The bridge at end of restored section has now been opened out. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


The end of the restored section. Whitchurch Arm.


Other side of the bridge at end of restored section. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


The next new bridge down is some 4ft lower that the one above. The canal used to swing round to the right on the same level. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


Bridge over brook. The course of the canal was where the far row of houses are. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


Bridge over brook. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


The old basin are is being re-developed with a new basin to be constructed. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


The canal used to enter the basin at the LH side of the white fence. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


The old Basin site. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


The old course of the canal was to the left of the car park and through the play park. Course of the Whitchurch Arm.


Hotel pair going through Hurleston Bottom Lock. Llangollen Canal.


Nantwich Basin. Shropshire Union Canal.


Bosley feeder, the Sanitary Station arm for the new Bosley facilities block. Macclesfield Canal.


Steam NB Monarch at Bollington. Macclesfield Canal.


Fairfield Junction, the top of the Clayton Locks. We attempt to go up the Hollinwood Branch! Ashton Canal.


The extended Strawberry Duck pub on the Clayton Flight. Ashton Canal.


The end of the Islington Arm. Ancoats, Ashton Canal.


Islington Arm. Ancoats, Ashton Canal.


Dale Street Lock, start of the Rochdale Nine. Much re-development here since last year. Rochdale Canal, Manchester.


The entrance of the River Medlock into Telfords Basins. Castlefield Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.


Telfords Basins. Castlefield Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.


Telfords Basins. Castlefield Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.


View over Mossley and up to Uppermill. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is somewhere down there.


Deansgate Tunnel Lock No 91. Rochdale Nine. Manchester.


Deansgate Tunnel Lock No 91. Note the new "Northwich" gate and capstan. Rochdale Nine. Manchester.


Ancoats Hospital site - making way for more re-development and the New Islington Arm. Ashton Canal.


Ancoats Hospital site - making way for more re-development. Come a days time the mill to the right would be burnt out and the canal closed. Ashton Canal.


The end of the Lower Peak Forest Canal. Fiesta in the cut!

The Tour Continues...


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