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The 1999 "Earnest" Maiden Voyage Cruise

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Planning The Tour

The basic ingredients of the maiden voyage were to be a variation on the excellent 1997 "Beatty" mega tour, involving as much "new" mileage as possible. The trip down the River Trent was to be broken at West Stockwith to see how "Earnest" coped with all that awful weed above Ranby and to get above Morse Lock. While on the Leicester section we wanted to go down the Welford and Market Harborough Arms, two detours we had always missed out. We planned to go in at Keadby do the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation, to Sheffield, the Rochdale Canal (which is one of Neil's favorites) and all the branches of the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The lads were to go over the top on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal this time as Neil had done it the last two times with the family. While up here the Springs Branch was to be tackled. 
Ian Scott and his friend Kerry were to accompany Neil on the first week from Braunston to Sheffield, which was warned as being a bit of a tight schedule. The next two weeks would see a change to Julian and Colin, with Julian's work mate Gavin coming for most of the last week. Andrew the boat fitter was persuaded to come for a long day out on his adopted home waterway of the River Soar around Loughborough and for a few days on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The change over was to be at New Springs, the top of the Wigan flight, so Alan could walk to his start point. The family three weeks included Alan for the first two weeks. The family weeks would see us go into Manchester, coming out on the Bridgewater and Trent and Mersey Canals going up the Runcorn Branch. From Middlewich we would cross over to the Shropshire Union System and do all of it that was open, i.e. to  Chester, Llangollen Canal and the Montgomery Canal. Alan was to leave us around Birmingham and we were to get "home" to Harefield via the Northern Stratford Canal, Grand Union, Oxford Canals and finally the River Thames. Around Oxford we were to meet up with Ian Clarke and Linda would go back to work. Neil and the kids would the go up to Lechlade with Ian and try to get some craft or other to Cricklade. Neil would then come back on the River Thames and Grand Union Canals.

The Tour Starts...


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