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The 1993 Cruises

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The Summer Tour - Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Llangollen Canal Plus.

3 - Foulridge to Harefield Marina. Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Wigan, Leeds and Liverpool Canal and Bridgewater Leigh Branch to Castlefields, Manchester. Rochdale Nine Locks,  Aston Canal and Lower Peak Forest Canal to Marple. Macclesfield Canal to Kidsgrove. Caldon Canal to Hazlehurst (inc. Leek Branch) and back. Trent and Mersey Canal to Middlewich. Middlewich Arm. Shropshire Union Canal to Hurleston Junction. Llangollen Canal to Llangollen and back. Shropshire Union Canal to Autherley Junction. Staffs and Worcs Canal to Stourton Junction. Stourbridge Canal (including to Stourbridge Town basin), Dudley No1 / 2 Canals,  Netherton Tunnel. BCN New Main Line to Deep Cuttings Junction. Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Kings Norton Junction. Northern Stratford Canal to Kingswood Junction. Grand Union Canal.

 

Sunday 18th July – We started off at 6.55, ready to “stare out” the traffic light controlled entrance to the Foulridge Tunnel. At 7.03 they went green and off we went. Not far beyond the tunnel the Barrowford Locks start to take you down the Lancashire side from the summit. We started at the top lock at 7.55 and came out the bottom of the 7 locks at 8.20, nobody else about. Beyond here the main “feature” is the M65 Motorway which haunts the canal, through most of the Lancashire descent. Burnley was an interesting diversion, going about the town on the high embankment. We were getting a bit low on diesel, so we though that we would get it at the boatyard in Church. We got to Church at 13.05 and had a spot of lunch as Mike Berthoud packed up and left. The boatyard in Church had been gone a while. In fact most of Church seemed gone! We set off again at 13.25. We had passed another boatyard at Hapton, but it looked such a state, that we did not fancy the diesel. The next diesel was at the White Bear Marina at Adlington, which is a fair way! We stopped just above Blackburn Locks and the rest of the crew apart from Neil went shopping in ASDA. Neil wandered about and found a Halfords. Here he bought a two gallon metal fuel tin, when went to the ASDA fuel station and bought two gallons of emergency diesel! We started off again with the weather deteriorating. The Blackburn 6 locks were dispatched by 17.10. A perpetual down pour now started! The next flight of locks, Johnson’s Hill Locks were dispatched between 19.35 and 20.05. Julian E had prepared the dinner and the rest of the crew had their meal, while Neil carried on in the rain, hoping the diesel would hold out! After Ian Scott had finished he came out and relieved Neil. We eventually stopped at 21.40, right opposite White Bear Marina. Neil and Ian did not bother to go in after mooring up. Colin came out and nearly stepped off the wrong side of the boat as the towpath was so flooded! We went to the White Bear pub and nearly flooded the bar as we de-waterproofed! – Predictably it was still raining when we left!

 

Monday 19th July – We moved over to White Bear Marina just as it opened and filled up with some VERY expensive diesel, not much competition around here! At 9.11 we started on our way again. At 10.30 we reached the top of the Wigan Flight. We started of almost immediately and had our first nice run down. The lockies were not helpful and we had to unlock and lock up, the hand-cuff locks. During his spell at steering Neil started Sea Searcher fishing. He found another 4 hand-cuff keys, to compliment our two old ones, we used to use on the Ashton Flight. Also found were at least 6 windlasses and a few other un-mentionable things! – the most rewarding bit of Lock chamber fishing ever!

We passed out of the bottom of the main 21 locks of the flight at 13.05. We had shared the last couple of locks with another single boat that we had caught up with. The other boat was stopping in Wigan and we turned left onto the Leigh Branch. Next followed the newish pair of Poolstock Locks ,put in due to all the mining subsidence beyond. After passing a few large flashes on a high embankment (caused by the subsidence) we pulled p at Plank Lane Lift Bridge at 15.15. This is keeper controlled at all times, as it is the check point between BW and the Bridgewater Department of the MSCC, who own the Bridgewater. This section of canal is deep and wide and very good progress was made. We passed right through Worsley at 17.15 and carried on. The Barton Swing Aqueduct was passed over at 15.25 and we turned left at Waters Meeting Junction at 18.30. We were now on old territory and had another fast run into Castlefields, Manchester. Stop time was 19.10, on the Castle Wharf side of the basins. This was the only spot where another passing-through boat was moored. That night we went out to an excellent Chinese meal at the Yang Sing restaurant in Manchester’s extensive Chinatown.

 

Tuesday 20th July – We had breakfast before moving off, which was at 8.40. The Bottom Lock of the Rochdale Nine was entered at 8.45 and we got to the top at 10.05. While Colin paid for the privilege (top gates still locked up) Julian E went shopping. We started off on the Ashton Canal at 10.25. Neil has a spot of lock wheeling on the ships mountain bike. As was a measure of how safe we felt at the time, he stopped at the Strawberry Duck pub and bought a tray of beer for the crew. This was quickly consumed as we worked through the adjoining Lock 13 of the Clayton Flight. The top of the Ashton  locks at Fairfield Junction was passed at v13.30. Onwards we trundled and started the Marple Flight at 16.50. We stopped at 18.42, round the corner from the top of the Flight, at the start of the Macclesfield Canal. Ian Scott left immediately for home and the rest of us went to the very good Robinson’s pub – The Ring O’ Bells, for a meal and well kept pint.

 

Wednesday 21st July – Bit of a lie in today, as the Macclesfield Canal is a day trip! After a brief shopping trip and another of Julian E’s excellent fry ups (including a 20 egg pan of his gourmet scrambled eggs!), we shoved off at 10.00. No traffic on the Macc, but we were held up, as usual, by the bottom being TOO near the top! Passed Bollington Aqueduct at 12.47 and arrived at the top of Bosley Flight in a light drizzle, at 16.15.
At 16.10 we emerged at the bottom. Neil had lock wheeled all the way on the bike, coming back to help drop the water. Julian E steered all the way and Colin closed up. We eventually sopped at 21.10, at the Kidsgrove portal of the Harecastle Tunnel. We were third in the queue. We ate as soon as we stopped and stayed on the boat, to help empty the beer lockers!

 

Thursday 22nd July – We shoved of at 8.05 as the queue started moving. No one else had arrived, so we had the benefit of being the last in the queue. This meant that we could set our own speed behind and going this way, the fumes would be drawn forward of us. We emerged at the other end at 9.10. The Caldon was started at 10.40 and we stopped at 12.15, at Milton. We went shopping and started off again at 12.40. The top of the Stockton brook Locks were passed at 14.05. At Hazelhurst Junction we turn left and swing across the main line, towards Leek. For the first time we passed through the Leek Tunnel and winded in the wide winding point, above Bridge No 9 (16.20). We went back to Hazelhurst Junction and carried on down the Hazelhurst Locks. After going under the Leek Branch, which passed overhead on the now tatty looking Hazelhurst Aqueduct, we stopped at 18.20, right outside the Holly Bush at Denford. That night was spent at the Holly Bush, which was as good as our last visit.

 

Friday 23rd July – Shoved off at 8.45 and went down to Cheddleton, to the winding point above the locks, turned round and started back (9.15) Bottom of Stockton Brook was reached at 11.45. Etruria was passed at 14.10 and we went back north on the Trent and Mersey Canal, to arrive at the south portal of the Harecastle Tunnel at 15.10. At 16.47 we started off first in a small convoy. Not a bad run, arriving at the north portal at 17.09,one of our faster passages through the Harecastle! The tunnel keeper asked us if the rest of the convoy was behind, we said obviously - but don’t expect them for a while! We carried on and finally reached our preferred destination in this area…the Boughton Arms at Rode Heath. This was at 19.05. We checked out the old favourite boozer, but it had changed beyond recognition. It was still OK, reasonably kept beer and food, but had been give a serious brewery makeover, with a large conservatory.

 

Saturday 24th July – We shoved off at 8.40. At Hassall Green we stopped at the Hassall Green Post Office (9.40). This enterprising little place was now a complete boater’s centre with restaurant and services. We had a pump-put and a diesel fill up. Neil also stocked up on a few of the essentials, ready for the crew change, which had been booked for Middlewich. Off we went at 10.20 and got to the bottom of the Wheelock flight at 11.35. We stopped above Kings Lock, in Middlewich, at 13.40. The crew were all packed up and we waited in the Kings Lock pub, for the TNC B Team, AKA Linda and the sproggies! Linda arrived in time for some food and a drink and after a quick changeover the B Team started off at 14.45. A left turn was taken above the lock and we were scrutinised by the old boat lady who lives in Wardle Lock Cottage. We stopped below Minshull Lock at 18.25 for dinner. At 19.05 we started off again as the tremendous amount of traffic had subsided. We passed off the Middlewich Branch and tuned left onto the Shroppie Main Line. There were hordes of Anglo Welsh and Black Prince hire boats all pointing in the direction of the Llangollen Canal! A right turn was taken at Hurleston Junction at 20.30 and we passed onto the Llangollen Canal. Above Hurleston Locks there were a few moored boats and we carried on to just above Swanley No 1 Lock, at 21.45. We went straight to bed, the sproggies had been packed off to bed a good while before. Even after this late stop, three hire boats still came passed us!

 

Sunday 25th July – Neil was already thinking – what a bloody silly time to come on the Llangollen Canal. An early start was made at 7.30, just as the hire boat behind us was stirring. We passed a good few boats, still moored up. We passed through Wrenbury Lift Bridge at 9.45, in a convoy of three, which meant we, being in the middle, picked off another hire boat! Arrival at Grindley Brook was at 13.00, which meant that the queues to go through the staircase were not too bad. The top was reached at 13.40. The traffic above was not too bad, but we caught up with a particularly slow narrowboat and a large queue developed behind us. Going across Whixall Moss we managed to make the boat in front aware of our presence, and Linda signalled that we were going to overtake on the long straight after the junction with the Prees Branch. Linda got parallel, then the idiot increased the power! This meant we were drawn together with a resulting clang! Neil took the controls, floored the throttle, draining the canal and pushing them up the bank! There were a lot of “words” exchanged, quite the worse case of “canal rage” we have ever had to resort too. The slow boat behind, now tried to pretend that they had been going at a reasonable speed and tried to keep up with us. It was a longer deeper draughted boat and we soon left them behind and they gave up. We did just observe a total disaster behind as the hire boat that was behind us tried to over take them and met another boat coming the other way! After settling down to our more reasonable pace, we did eventually see that we had two hire boats now behind us! We stopped beside Blakemere for dinner between 18.00 and 18.45, then carried on again. Only a couple of hire boats came passed, no sign of the “pig” private boat! Frankton Junction was passed at 20.15 and we carried on until 21.50, when were strategically placed above the two New Marton Locks!

 

Monday 26th July – A reasonably early start, at 8.05, after we saw some people coming up the New Marton Locks. Reasonable trip to Trevor, only one fast moving boat in front. The section above Trevor is very narrow and has a good few one way working sections. Neil got off on the push bike and went ahead to direct the traffic. A good sign – most off the traffic was the other way! Neil raced ahead after the last narrows and checked out the 48 hour moorings before the wharf. There were two 50ft spots and the boat in front had gone ahead to wind first. We quickly dumped Beatty into the nearer the town, of the two spots! This was at 13.15. The rest of the moorings soon filled up. Including the water point! The boat in front was a private narrowboat and Neil noticed from their BW Licence, that they were moored on the Llangollen. Neil soon got talking to them – they confirmed Neil’s theory, that Monday morning was the best time to arrive in Llangollen, during the peak season.

 

Tuesday 27th July – We set off at 8.30 and went up to just beyond the Wharf to use the winding point. Linda went ahead n the bike to direct the hoards coming up. Passed the miserable “pig” boat moored at Sun Trevor. We passed off the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at 10.50. A reasonable trip back, with the “flowing water” effect being noticed and most traffic coming towards us. At Frankton Junction (15.30), Neil jumped off to take some pictures of the finished, but unused Frankton Locks, the start of the “Mont”. After a rough trek back along the towpath, Neil caught up with the boat again, at Claypit Bridge No 62. Prees Branch Junction passed at 18.25, after this dinner was taken on the move. Grindley Brook top lock passed at 20.50 and we moored up below Grindley Brook (below the old disused railway “tunnel”). At 21.25.

 

Wednesday 28th July – Reasonably early start at 8.15. Passed Baddiley top lock at 11.15 and passed out of the Llangollen Canal at 14.20. This was our most fraught bit of “private” boating so far! – 20 hours going up and 19 hours going back! Still a reasonable amount of traffic on the Shroppie. Stopped at Audlem Wharf, above Lock No 13 at 18.00. We went to the Shroppie Fly pub for dinner and a drink. After the traffic had stopped we started off again and had a nice cool, traffic free trip up the main part of the Audlem Flight, still many gongoozlers about. We came out of the top at 21.00 and carried on to just below the Adderley Flight (21.25).

 

Thursday 29th July - Shoved off at 8.05, through Adderley by 8.55 and passed Market Drayton at 9.55. Tyrley locks took between 10.10 and 11.00. Stopped at Norbury Junction for water between 14.20 and 14.40. Whilst passing Chamberlain Covert (16.00) we were flagged down by a desperate young boater - Gordon. His 25ft Dawncraft "Earlswood Lady" was defunct and he needed a tow to Wolverhampton! Only hire boats, who are not officially allowed to tow other craft, had passed him all day. Neil cross strapped the light craft to out stern and off we went! We managed to squeeze into Wheaton Aston Lock together and stopped for the night at Brewood (19.00), by Countrywide Cruisers hirebase. That night we walked into town and went to The Three Stirupps pub - good Bank's beer and a nice steak. Gordon joined us and poured out his life's troubles!

 

Friday 30th July - Left Brewood at 8.10, with Gordon in tow and missing the morning rush (Brewood busy boat wise). Held up for 15 mins at Autherley Junction Stop Lock - busy (10.10 to 10.25). We turned right onto the Staffs and Worcs Canal. Gordon and "Earlswood Lady" were dropped at the moribund Double Pennant base, just around the corner. We carried on the Staffs and Worcs, as we were going into Birmingham via the Stourbridge Canal. The deserted Bratch Locks were attacked at dinner time - 13.50 to 14.05 - nobody about as all tied up for nosh! Turned left up the Stourbridge at Stourton Junction (17.30). At Wordsley Junction we turned up the Stourbridge Town Arm and got to the Basin at 19.25, after winding. Nobody about, so took vacant permanent moorers berth. That night we stayed on board, having got a Chinese takeaway from the very handy Chinky. The entrance gate is locked with a BW lock.

 

Saturday 31st July - Shoved off from Stourbridge Basin at 9.15, none of the permanent moorers bothered us! Straight on through the Stourbridge and Delph Locks and moored for dinner overlooking the new Merry Hill shopping centre at 13.55. Linda legged down the embankment and went shopping as well. Started off again at 14.40. The Netherton Tunnel took between 16.14 and 15.51 and we carried on into Brum on the New Main Line. Stopped for the night at Gas St - 19.15, on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, just past Worcester Bar.

 

Sunday 1st August - After a reasonably quiet Sat night we carried on down the W&B -  8.35. At Kings Norton Junction we turned left onto the Northern Stratford (10.15). Stopped at Lyons boatyard - Bridge No 3, for water, pump out and diesel. (11.05 - 11.35)  Not many people about, so had a reasonable run down the Lapworth Locks. At Kingswood Junction we swapped over onto the Grand Union. (17.45) We carried on quite late, as it was a nice evening. At 19.20 we stopped at the top of the Hatton Flight and walked down to the Waterman pub, where we were all able to sit out side for a meal and a pint.

 

Monday 2nd August - Started earlyish - 7.25, as we were feeling anti-social! Linda and Neil took turns steering / lock wheeling on the bike. Got to the bottom of the Hatton 21 at 9.45. Carried on straight through Warwick and Leamington and did all the modernised / widened Grand Union locks, getting to Napton Junction at 17.10. This was a lovely sunny day, after Hatton a few other boats appeared for the locks back up out of the Avon Valley. Although we were going back on the Grand Union we took a small detour at Napton Junction and stopped for the night at the bottom of the Napton Flight, on the Oxford Canal, so we could go to the Folly pub. Another fine evening, as the boat was in view we soon packed the kids off to bed and stayed outside drinking, until closing time.

 

Tuesday 3rd August - We set off at 7.25, this was after having reversed back to the winding point and turning. Back to Napton Junction at 8.00, and carried on back down to London. Braunston Turn, 9.20, Norton Junction (pass) - 11.45. Slow going through Buckby (as usual!) - followed a working pair down. Bottom of Buckby Locks - 14.30, Waterways Services at Nether Heyford 9pass) - 16.05. Gayton Junction (pass) 18.00 and stop at Blisworth - 18.20. That night stayed in.

 

Wednesday 4th August - Set off at 8.40. Blisworth Tunnel, 8.55 to 9.20. Stropped for 20 minute shopping stop by Cosgrove Bridge No 65, 12.10 - 12.30. That afternoon shared most locks with very "lively" crew on Water Lilly, an ex BW hire boat, a cut in two ex working boat. Owner very keen on his throttle! Stopped for the night right outside the Globe Inn pub at Linslade. Reasonable evening weather wise. Sat out side, Peter and Wendy played in play park. Bloody noisy as cars left pub!

 

Thursday 5th August - Making reasonable progress homeward, so decide to make detour and get to Aylesbury that night. Left 8.35. Got to Marsworth at 13.30 and stopped for lunch at 13.30. Started going down the Aylesbury Arm at 14.15 and had nice quiet trip down. Plenty of water. Moored right at the end of the Basin at 18.30. Indian takeaway that night to eat.

 

Friday 6th August - Late start as Linda's mum met us for an impromptu holiday! Shoved off at 10.50 and got to Marsworth at 15.30. Being a hot afternoon we decided to moor for the night in the cool Tring Cutting. We stopped just after the high bridge No 134. Nice meal on the boat and sat outside for hours - perfect evening.

 

Saturday 7th August - Shoved off at 8.30 and got to The Kings Head pub at Hunton Bridge. Another nice hot evening in the pub garden. Lots of activity thingies for the kids. 

 

Sunday 8th August - Left Hunton Bridge at 9.00 and stopped for lunch above Stockers Lock at 13.00. Left at 14.30 and got into Harefield Marina at 16.30. The end of Beatty's first serious cruise!

 


Barrowford Locks. Reservoir beside. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Barrowford Locks. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Burnley Embankment. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Burnley BW Depot. (Now closed and vacant.) Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Wigan Top Lock. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Wigan Flight. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Wigan Flight. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Bridgewater Canal. Leigh Branch.

Worsley Delph. Bridgewater Canal. Leigh Branch.

Worsley Delph. Bridgewater Canal. Leigh Branch.

View from Barton Swing Aqueduct, up the Manchester Ship Canal. Bridgewater Canal. Leigh Branch.

The semi-restored Grocer's Warehouse. Castlefields, Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.

Castle Quay. Castlefields, Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.

Castle Quay. Castlefields, Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.

Castlefields, Manchester. Bridgewater Canal.

The Rochdale Nine. Manchester.

The Rochdale Nine. Manchester.

The Rochdale Nine. Manchester.

Piccadilly Lock No 85. The Rochdale Nine. Manchester.

Piccadilly Lock No 85. The Rochdale Nine. Manchester.

Piccadilly Lock No 85. The Rochdale Nine. Manchester.

Marple Flight. Lower Peak Forest Canal.

Marple Flight. Lower Peak Forest Canal.

Marple Flight. Some friends of Ian used to live in the house to the right. He can remember the flight when it was derelict. Lower Peak Forest Canal.

Marple Flight. Lower Peak Forest Canal.

Top Lock. Marple Flight. Lower Peak Forest Canal.

Etruria Staircase Locks. Caldon Canal.

The Milton Maid pottery carrying boat still being used. Johnson Bros Pottery. (This has now all gone.) Caldon Canal.

Stockton Brook Locks. Caldon Canal.

Hazelhurst Locks. Locks. Caldon Canal.

Hazelhurst Locks. Caldon Canal.

Hazelhurst Locks. Caldon Canal.

The Hollybush pub at Denford. Caldon Canal.

Coming back down Stockton Brook Flight. Bridge No 25 looks a bit unsafe! Caldon Canal.

The inevitable shots of the Ponty skylight (Pontcysyllte) Aqueduct. Llangollen Canal.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Llangollen Canal.

Llangollen Canal above Trevor.

Approaching the disused Railway Bridge No 39. Llangollen Canal.

The 48 hour Visitor Moorings in Llangollen. Llangollen Canal.

The Chain Bridge Hotel, nearly at the end of the (now) un-navigable feeder. Llangollen Canal.

The real end of the Llangollen Canal. Gauging house at Horseshoe Falls.

Gauging house at Horseshoe Falls. Llangollen Canal.

Wrenbury Church Lift Bridge No 19. We think that this is the last "hang on the chain" one left! Llangollen Canal.

Hack Green Locks. Shropshire Union Canal.

Audlem Flight. Lock No 13 and Shroppie Fly pub. Shropshire Union Canal.

Audlem Flight. Shropshire Union Canal.

Audlem Flight. Shropshire Union Canal.

Audlem Flight. Shropshire Union Canal.

Adderley Locks. Shropshire Union Canal.

That much photographed lock on the Tyrley Flight! Shropshire Union Canal.

Tyrley Top Lock. Shropshire Union Canal.

Tyrley Top Lock. Shropshire Union Canal.

Bratch Locks, our first time through since they shot blasted away the "Snowcem" era! Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Bratch Locks. Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Bratch Locks. Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Delph Flight. Dudley No 1 Canal. BCN.

Delph Flight. Dudley No 1 Canal. BCN.

Where there was once a steelworks.....Merry Hill Shopping Centre. Dudley No 1 Canal. BCN.

The Waterfront, Merry Hill. Dudley No 1 Canal. BCN.

The Waterfront, Merry Hill. Dudley No 1 Canal. BCN.

Lapworth Flight. Northern Stratford Canal.

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