Friday, 31 December 2010

Goodbye to 2010

It is New Year's Eve, the ice has eventually started to disappear from the Shopshire Union and maybe, just maybe we will be able to move on next week. After nearly five weeks frozen in here at The Anchor I will be glad of a change of scene. Pretty though the view has been! The company has been pretty good too, but I think we are all starting to go a bit stir crazy!

Unfortunately the thaw has come too late for us to hope to get onto the Llangollen and past the closures before January 4th so we will be on the Shroppie until February now. The snow has all gone and everything is rather grey and dismal  outside.

2010 has not been a brilliant year for us, we have had some really good times and some really bad times. Ray says he will settle for mediocre in 2011 but I think you appreciate the good times more if you have to suffer a bit. There are things from 2010 I will treasure, like the good friends we have made and my memories of the places we have been, ther are things I will gladly leave behind particularly those people who are less than honest and the problems we have had!

However, I don't want to end the year feeling down so I will think about all the good cruising we have done and that which we have to look forward to next year. I will, hopefully, be working from February through until the end of May but we should manage to explore the Llangollen and Montgomery Canals while I am working and maybe the part of the Shropshire Union towards Chester. We haven't made up our minds yet where else we will go. Plenty of time to decide.

During 2010 we travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cancel Murphy bring on Shakespeare!

" When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions"

My last post listed our trials and tribulations and things happening in threes.

Ray managed to semi-resolve the problem with the car, we are now mobile but not completely fixed. Our Renault has two fuse boxes, one is mentioned in the owners handbook the other isn't. The first is a fairly normal car fuse box, little blade fuses for lights, horn etc. The second, cunningly concealed behind the battery, acts like a distribution board and has large blade fuses. One of these had corroded and broken off, problem is Ray cannot get the broken bit out! He has bypassed the fuse and we have a mainly working car, all the essential bits at least. The central locking doesn't but that is a minor inconvenience.

Luckily the car was running before my hospital appointment to have the stitches out of my finger so I didn't have to get to Stafford by public transport. All seems well with my finger except for the fact that they tell me it will be nine to ten months before the nerve is fully healed and that during that time I will experience various odd sensations ranging from numbness to pain! At least the scars seem to be healing nicely thanks to Doctor Lesley's scar treatment oil!

At long last the gearbox was put back on the boat last Monday, a bit of a pain to get everything lined up but working well. Problems solved you might think, however, on the previous Thursday Kathy's boat Destiny had refused to start we thought it might be her starter battery but even connecting her up to the generator didn't solve the problem. We charged all her batteries via the genny so she had power as Ray was tied up working on the gearbox. Then, on Tuesday,once we were sorted he started to try and resolve her problems. He thought the glowplugs might be the problem and luckily we had some spares because two of those he tested were duff. Those were replaced, Destiny's was engine running, the plan was to collect some wood, move down to the boatyard ready to fuel up on Wednesday morning and move to the Anchor at High Offley.

Wrong! When Kathy came back from wood collecting she could smell diesel! A split fuel line! So on Wednesday morning Ray and Kathy went off to get a fuel line, by the time that was sorted we had just enough time to get to the boatyard and get both boats fuelled up before they closed. Kathy and Ray then did a bit of night cruising to get to the Anchor while I took the car there. That was interesting as the pub is set back from the road, closed except at weekends in winter so no "pub" lights and looks just like a large house. So I thought I had taken a wrong turn and was at the wrong canal bridge so went off in search of the right one! After getting completely lost I found my way back to the Anchor and managed to park.

All well with the world at last? Not quite, when Ray turned our engine off on Thursday he found we had a diesel leak! As we were heading for Peterborough for the weekend Ray had no chance to even look at it on Friday morning so he is now in the engine bay trying to find the leak. This weekend was, as everyone knows, very cold, so we came back to a frozen canal. Also, in spite of Kathy's best efforts to keep the chill off the boat without burning too much wood and coal our water pump had frozen and so had the pipes! The pump has thawed but so far the pipes haven't. At least the boat is warm, although Ray isn't!

We did have a lovely weekend with Mandy, Tony and the kids to celebrate Mandy's birthday. One thing I do miss is having enough money to go visiting whenever I feel like it.

In the past three weeks we have travelled 3.1 miles

So far we have travelled 740.3 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Murphy is alive and well and living in Staffordshire.

Murphy's law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong and at the worst possible time. I'm not sure who's law says things happen in threes but they are doing their bit too.

At the moment we have an immobile boat, problems with the gearbox, an immobile car, problems with the electrics and an injured me, sliced finger open on baked bean tin lid and had to have surgery to repair the nerve. The lack of car means seeking work is virtually impossible, wouldn't be so bad if the boat was OK, at least we could go somewhere where a car was less essential. As it is we are stuck in the middle of nowhere, unable at the moment to resolve any of the problems, and unable to earn any money so exceedingly broke. Add that to a two mile hike to the nearest shop, apart from the limited tinned groceries available at the boatyard about half a mile away and the nearest bus route is about a mile and a half away. Life is not very good at the moment.

In the past four weeks we have travelled 7 miles and 1 tunnel

So far we have travelled 737.2 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 25 tunnels.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Busy doing nothing!

In the two weeks since my last post we have travelled not very far and done not a lot!

On the Monday after my last post we did a bit of shopping, then moved the boats about three and a half miles north so we were somewhere we could let the kittens roam. We stayed there until Friday and then moved the huge distance of one and a half miles to Brewood. High speed travel that, five miles in five days!

We spent the weekend at Brewood, Kathy and I hopped on the bus to Penkridge for the market on Saturday and Sunday it chucked it down. On Monday (October 4th) we moved to Wheaton Aston where we did the empty loo,and rubbish, fill up with water routine. Most of the time we have been busy doing nothing. Kathy is waiting for Barney to come and fix her exhaust and we have spent a few days away from the boats going to Peterborough to see the Hobbins' and collect my car.

We arrived back yesterday, and so now the search for work begins. Oh dear, summer is really over.

In the past sixteen days we have travelled 8 miles and 1 lock!

So far we have travelled 730.2 miles, 643 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 24 tunnels.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Back on the Shroppie

Kathy rang me just as we were heading back to the boat with our shopping to let me know they were on their way to meet us. By the time we had stashed the shopping and made a cuppa to get on our way they must have been most of the way up the flight. We were almost at the junction to go back onto the BCN and we saw Scott running towards us. We stopped at a narrow spot, probably an old stop lock, to pick them all up and they rode with us to the top of the flight.

We had only gone down a couple of locks when we caught up with another boat with only two on board so Kathy went ahead setting locks to speed their passage down so we wouldn't have to wait at every lock. It made it quicker for them and us. Scott, Kaia and I took it in turns to walk on and open up so Ray could go straight into the next lock. We were down the flight in about two and a half hours and then were quickly round the corner and onto the Shroppie moored up with Kathy. It is good to all be back together again.

Today's journey 4.6 miles and 22 locks

So far we have travelled  722.2 miles, 642 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 24 tunnels.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Almost the end of summer

Yesterday I took a trip into Birmingham. The city center is much like any other city with the exception that it has an excellent market, or rather markets. If I hadn't had to carry stuff on the train I could have stocked up on food very cheaply. I did find a really good herb stall that sold both cooking and medicinal herbs so I spent a bit there. The Birmingham Bead Shop has a good selection at reasonable prices too.

I didn't manage to make it to the Jewellery Quarter, which is probably just as well as money is a bit tight at the moment. I had a good day and Ray enjoyed a lazy day on board.

Today we did the long haul from Bournville to Wolverhampton, slow going as there are a lot of moored boats in the centre of Birmingham. There are also a lot of places where the canal narrows as if you are going through a lock but with no change of level. I will have to do some investigating, they might have been toll houses or loading places in the past.

We took a slight detour at Wolverhampton to moor at the disused Bentley Arm so that we weren't right in the center. Tomorrow we will head down the twenty-one and that will be our real travelling over for this year. Kathy, Scott and Kaia are going to walk up to meet us in the morning and help us down through the locks.

Today's journey 18.7 miles, 3 locks and 3 tunnels

So far we have travelled 717.6 miles, 620 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 24 tunnels.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

So many locks!

We were up early and started up the Tardebigge flight at ten to eight. We fairly flew through the first twenty locks, averaging about eight minutes per lock. After that things slowed down a bit as we started to meet boats coming down. At one lock the water level in the pound had dropped so much that by the time we had filled the lock to go up they were aground, so I walked up to the next lock and let water down until they were afloat before we went up the next one. The entire flight took us four hours and twenty two minutes, an average of less than nine minutes per lock which is pretty good. At least I can say "been there, done that" if anyone mentions Tardebigge.

As it was only lunchtime and no more locks to face, we carried on the Bournville and moored up opposite Cadburys. The weather forecast for tomorrow is very windy and I fancy a break so I am going to investigate Birmingham while Ray has a lazy day.

Today's journey 12.4 miles, 30 locks and 3 tunnels

So far we have travelled 699.9 miles, 617 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 21 tunnels

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Carrying on upwards

Today's promised sunshine never really appeared, although it was quite warm.

We spent the morning following about half an hour behind the hotel boat "Periwinkle" up through the six Astwood Locks. With no traffic coming down it meant all the locks were against us. However, they stopped for lunch at Stoke Prior and we passed them before the six Stoke Prior locks. We managed the six in excellent time, partly because they were so close behind they were happy for me to go ahead and prepare the next lock while one of them closed up behind Ray. I discovered at the top lock that they had a taxi booked for their guests to go to the Avoncroft museum so they were anxious to make good time.

We are faced with the Tardebigge flight tomorrow, thirty locks spread over about two and a half miles. At the moment the locks are with us, so I reckon an early start is called for so we are the first boat through.

Today's journey 7.8 miles, 12 locks and 1 tunnel.

So far we have travelled 687.5 miles, 587 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 18 tunnels.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Lots of locks

There are eighty locks between where we moored at Worcester last night and the junction with the Shroppie Union. today I worked through fourteen of them, only sixty-six to go!

The route out of Worcester is relatively inoffensive, although it is mostly through housing and industry the canal is mostly screened by trees so feels quite rural. Today was a good day for foraging, while we were travelling we picked up two largish branches and a pallet, to be chopped up for firewood and also about a pound of blackberries. Once we had moored at Tibberton we went for a walk and collected another couple of pounds of blackberries, a pound of sloes, half a pound of rosehips and about a pound of elderberries. The rosehips and elderberries will need adding to before we turn them into wine or syrup but we have enough blackberries for crumble and blackberry vodka and enough sloes for sloe gin. I could have had about a pound of mushrooms as well but as I already had over half a pound left from some a bought in Tewkesbury it seemed wasteful so I left them.

Tonight we are moored at Tibberton with the prospect of another twelve locks tomorrow and the thirty locks of the Tardebigge flight to look forward to on Thursday.

Today's journey 5.5 miles and 14 locks

So far we have travelled 679.7 miles, 575 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Monday, 20 September 2010

Long haul upstream

Today we did an about turn to head back to the canal system. Luckily what wind there was, was mainly from behind us and the current was not running too fast. It was still a long haul from Chaceley up to Worcester, we managed about three miles an hour upstream compared to the six we were doing downstream. We were a little concerned about how well Morgana's engine would cope with the hard work against the current but she behaved beautifully.

We enjoyed a pleasant, warm day cruising up the Severn, with very little traffic on the river. At Worcester we turned onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal which we will follow northwards to join the Birmingham Canal Network. After that it will be back to Wolverhampton and then the Shroppie Union for the winter. Nearly time to rescue my car from Mandy's drive and look for work. Summer has gone far too quickly.

Today's journey 19.3 miles and 4 locks

So far we have travelled 674.2 miles, 561 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Only a little way

We were planning to meet Keith and Leesa at Haw Bridge, but when we went through Upper Lode Lock the lock keeper warned us that about five cruisers had gone down ahead of us all bound for Haw Bridge. As we did not fancy going all the way into Gloucester and moorings are few and far between we decided to stop at the Yew Tree Inn.

We were glad we did, the people were very friendly and the food was tasty and not overly expensive. The only problem was that mobile phone signal was virtually non-existent so trying to contact Keith to let him know we were a couple of miles further north on the Severn than originally planned meant me going for a half mile walk.

It was really nice to see Keith and Leesa again, hopefully now Ray is retired we may get to see more of them. Anyway we all enjoyed a nice Sunday lunch and a good chat.

On Saturday we travelled 2.8 miles and 1 lock

So far we have travelled 654.9 miles, 557 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Friday, 17 September 2010

Avon Calling

This morning the river level had gone down enough for the locks to be reopened so we set off for Upton-on Severn. Only a short run, of twelve miles and one lock. It was a bit chilly when the sun hid behind clouds but apart from that a pleasant morning. I spotted another two kingfishers and several herons as we travelled. However, our plans to stop at Upton were scuppered by the fact that the mooring pontoon was already full with boats breasted up. As we were not desperate to stop we decided to carry on to the River Avon junction at Tewkesbury, which is where we are now moored below the lock.

The lock keeper's hut has a line on the wall, above head height for me, which shows the level of the flood water in 2007. When you remember that this is on the lockside and the lock is about 8ft deep, that makes the flood water about 14ft above the river where we are now! I had a look online at some of the photos of the 2007 floods, as I can now identify places.

We took a stroll through town and had a wander around the Abbey. We only have about an hour's journey tomorrow to reach where we plan to meet Keith and Leesa.

Today's journey 17.8 miles and 1 lock.

So far we have travelled 652.1 miles, 556 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

River closed

We were going to move downstream to Upton-on-Severn today but the river is officially closed!
We had stayed on the river as the park-keeper in charge of the moorings told us the 48 hour restriction only applies in peak season. So we decided not to move onto the canal.

I didn't think it had rained that much but I woke at about five this morning and the boat was tilting, only very slightly but enough for me to notice. Being sensible people we are aware that rivers are subject to sudden changes in level so we had moored with fairly slack ropes. However the river levels had risen nearly two foot in just over 12 hours! So there I was, at five in the morning, in my dressing gown, on the landing stage slackening ropes! Ray was a picture of sartorial elegance in t-shirt,boxers and bare feet as he assisted me.

As we watched the river level rise until it was washing over the landing stage, and saw fallen branches cruise past us we decided that moving was not an option. We later discovered that the river is officially closed and in flood conditions. We did see a couple of hire boats, breasted up, being taken to the safe haven of the canal by crew from the hire company. It will probably take about 24 hours for the levels to drop enough for them to reopen the river. Although the level is already dropping. This evening we were entertained by the dragon boat crews training on the river, obviously "river closed" doesn't apply to dragon boats.

However before all that happened we spent a pleasant day on Wednesday sightseeing in Worcester.

Worcester Cathedral

The West Entrance

The West Window

Monday, 13 September 2010


We are currently enjoying the delights of Worcester.

Getting from the canal to the river was time consuming as there are two pairs of staircase locks to negotiate and there were quite a few boats on the move. Apart from that we had a very pleasant journey down to Worcester. The river seems enormously wide after the canals. I even spotted a couple of kingfishers.

We arrived here yesterday afternoon and moored on the embankment by the racecourse.  Not exactly rural but more pleasant than on the canal. Our main entertainment has been watching pupils from the King's School overturn their boats and end up in the water.

We will probably move onto the canal for a day or two tomorrow as these moorings are 48hr maximum stay and we still have five days to complete less than two days journey. We may even manage to do the tourist bit and visit the cathedral and museum.

Yesterday's journey 11.9 miles and 8 locks

So far we have travelled 634.3 miles, 555 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Saturday, 11 September 2010

She who speaks to cows.

Thursday saw us travelling down from Kinver to a spot between Kidderminster and Stourport. Anyone travelling on the Staffs and Worcester who needs to shop can probably get just about anything they need canalside in Kidderminster, there are two retail parks, one above and one below the lock. We only stopped to grab a couple of bits from Tesco then carried on. We found a nice peaceful mooring for the night where the kittens could be let out to play. That was until about seven, then the cows started!  After about ten minutes I had had enough, so I shouted "Shut up you noisy cows!", much to Ray's surprise they did!  I have now been renamed "She who speaks to cows".

On Friday we moved on to Stourport in wind and rain, neither of us fancied tackling the River Severn in 20 mph gusts so we stopped above the locks. Today was equally wet and windy so meeting up with Keith and Leesa this weekend is cancelled, or rather postponed to next weekend. We have found what looks like a good pub at Haw Bridge so that is where we are heading. It's a few miles north of Gloucester and we have seven days to do a three day journey, but as the weather forecast is a bit dodgy that is a good thing.

The plan for tomorrow is to head down to Worcester and spend a couple of days there.

Thursday's journey 8.2 miles, 7 locks and 1 tunnel

Friday's journey 1.8 miles

So far we have travelled 622.4 miles, 547 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 17 tunnels

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Going south

This morning was a little chilly, with no sun to burn off the dew until after ten. The day improved greatly and turned into a glorious afternoon.

I had a run-in with the lock-keeper at the Bratch, who was downright rude to me, which left me feeling stressed for most of the day. I don't do confrontations!

Apart from that we had a good day, nothing of note but lots of progress. We moored for the night at Kinver and went for fish and chips as I was still too wound up to face cooking. We should make it to Tewkesbury by Saturday afternoon, I hope!

Today's journey 9.4 miles, 15 locks and 1 tunnel

So far we have travelled 612.4 miles, 540 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 16 tunnels

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Much progress, much rain!

We made a fairly early start this morning, leaving Gailey about nine. As we had about nine miles before the first lock I got on with the washing as we went along. We had a slight worry about the engine as we were smoking more than normal and also running a bit hot. Ray moored briefly to check things but couldn't find any obvious problems so we carried on to Autherley Junction where we stopped for lunch. I walked up to Morrisons for some bread and milk in brilliant sunshine and walked back in pouring rain! Our lunch stop was a little longer than planned as we sat out a storm, including thunder!

When the rain eased off we carried on southwards in alternating sunshine and showers until we reached Awbridge Lock where we have moored for the night.

Circular weir at Awbridge Lock

Bridge with a gap in the middle for the rope to pull a butty into the lock

Today's journey 13.8 miles and 6 locks

So far we have travelled 603 miles, 525 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 6 September 2010

Windy weekend.

On Friday we travelled to Gailey, not far but seven locks, which of course is twenty-one locks by the time we have got Morgana, Destiny and Foxy Lady through. As the weather was nice we had a barbeque when we reached Gailey and Martin joined us, then the "grown-ups" piled onto Martin's boat for drinks till about one!

Kathy and I went shopping in Wolverhampton on Saturday, we were very good and didn't spend much. We must have spent at least half an hour broosing through books in Hobbycraft. Kaia had gone off to her dad's for the weekend and Ray and Scott spent their time fitting the LED lights on Merlin. The weather started to turn a bit nasty on Sunday so Kathy and I spent most of the day inside, beading. Ray and I had intended to start off for Gloucester this morning but as we woke up to 20mph winds we decided it wasn't a good idea. So it was another day of beading for Kathy and I, while Ray helped Scott and Kaia build a den in the woods. The weather forecast for tomorrow is a lot better, just as well as it is absolutely chucking it down at the moment. It looks like we will only make it as far as Tewkesbury at best for the weekend.

Friday's journey 2.8 miles and 7 locks

So far we have travelled 589.2 miles, 519 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


After going shopping in  Midland Chandlers, then waiting for BW to cut back a tree which was overhanging the canal and a bit unsafe we headed on to Penkridge. We moored up around lunchtime and headed into the market. It is well worth a visit, not a lot of food stalls but good for clothes and bits and pieces.

I had the bright idea that all this sunshine was far too good to waste so we decided to have a barbeque, the weather should have been like this for all of August.

We spent an excellent evening enjoying good food, good booze and good company. Tomorrow or Friday we will head back to Gailey then think about what we are doing for the next few weeks.

Today's journey 1.3 miles and 2 locks

So far we have travelled 586.4 miles, 512 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Heading south again

I had to do a couple of amendments to yesterday's blog, I had lost a day somewhere ( blame the Black Russians) and my photo wouldn't upload, both corrected now.

Today, which is definitely Tuesday, we headed up to the junction with the Trent and Mersey to buy gas cylinders and turn round. On the way Ray and Kathy had fun on the Wide going round in circles!

Ray and Kathy playing on the Wide

After the necessary purchases at the boatyard and a quick trip to the farm shop which sells excellent cakes we started off back towards Penkridge as we all want to go to the market there tomorrow. We made it as far as Midland Chandlers but far too late to shop so we moored up and will go there first thing tomorrow. We need an engine stop cable and Kathy wants a light for Scott's boat.

We have all had a smashing day in the sunshine but are all shattered so an early night.

Today's journey 9.1 miles and 3 locks

So far we have travelled 585.1 miles, 510 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 30 August 2010

Still on a canal, honest!

Saturday was Kathy's birthday, we just did a short run up to Tixall Wide so we had space to let the animals roam and a wide enough towpath to set up Kathy's gazebo without stopping people getting past. We had to moor just before the Wide as there were already to many boats moored. The name says it all, it is more like a lake than a canal.

This is why they call it The Wide

We had a nice day, Scott, Kaia and I had made a chocolate cake as a birthday cake for Kathy. We all had an alfresco meal together and were joined by Kathy's friend Martin from Gailey. I gave up at about midnight after several glasses of red wine, followed by a couple of Black Russians, I think it was gone two before Ray came to bed.

Today, Chris left us to head south to continue his mission of scattering his late wife's ashes on the entire system and tomorrow the rest of us will head up to the junction with the Trent and Mersey, turn round and head back southwards, Kathy is intending to stay within about a week's cruise of  Wheaton Aston, I think but we may head all the way down to Gloucester.

Yesterday's journey 6.1 miles and 2 locks

So far we have travelled 576 miles, 507 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lazy days

We have had a very lazy week. I've lost track of the days but after our stop for sugar plums, which weren't quite ripe, we moved on to Gailey where we spent the weekend. We generally mooched around doing not a lot. The kittens enjoyed it as they had space to play and trees to climb. Gwynie went wandering about 250 yards down the towpath to make friends with the boaters who were filling up their water tanks and waiting to go through the lock. She is far too adventurous! I managed to get a cold from somewhere, so have spent a week feeling pretty rough.

Before I was feeling ill, on Sunday we treated ourselves to a carvery lunch at the Spread Eagle, nice but a bit pricey compared to the last one we had. On Monday "The Bead Boat" came past, Ray the Bead makes and sells lampwork glass beads on board, so I spent some money with him. He was heading for the Stourbridge Glass Festival, I would like to go, but not this year, I'm too broke!

Tuesday saw us move on to Penkridge for the inevitable shopping stop, there is quite a nice market there on Wednesdays, including a livestock auction of poultry, I saw three nice bronze turkey chicks that would have fattened up nicely for Christmas but I'm not sure where I would keep them on a boat!

Yesterday we moved on to a mooring just beyond Acton Trussel where there is a bit of space so the cats can roam, they were beginning to get a bit stir crazy as they had been confined to quarters while we were in Penkridge as we were to close to roads and gardens where they could have got trapped in a garage or shed. Acton Trussell is obviously the place to live if you have money in this part of the world, every house we could see was detatched with a double garage. The only problem with this stretch of canal is that it virtually follows the same route as the M6 so there is constant traffic noise, apart from that it is a nice spot.

Last Thursday's journey 4.6 miles

Tuesday's journey 2.3 miles and 5 locks

Yesterday's journey 3.2 miles and 5 locks

So far we have travelled 569.9 miles, 505 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Doubling back and catching up

Since last Thursday we have, as the title says, been doubling back to meet Kathy and Chris. I now need to do some catching up as I have been very lazy and not blogged.

Thursday was a day for shopping and cleaning, the weather was fairly horrid so I wouldn't have travelled anyway. On Friday we headed back north to the junction with the Shroppie and then up the Shroppie to Brewood.

Brewood is a nice village, well served with shops and pubs, we decided to stay there on Saturday as we were only about three miles from Wheaton Aston where we were meeting the others on Sunday. I recommend the bread from the bakery in Brewood.

Sunday saw us do the three miles and one lock to get to Wheaton Aston. On the way I saw a kingfisher, but didn't have my camera to hand, luckily he was in the same spot when we came back today.

The garage beside the canal at Wheaton Aston has the cheapest diesel I have seen anywhere on the canals, and a pump on the canal side. It was closed on Sunday but we filled up before leaving there today.

Kathy and Chris joined us mid-afternoon and so we spent the rest of the day chatting and catching up on the gossip.

Today we moved on back to the Staffs and Worcester but this time headed north towards Penkridge. Kathy knew a good place to moor with some sugar plum trees nearby, so we will go foraging!

Friday's journey 7.3 miles and 1 lock

Sunday's journey 3 miles and 1 lock

Today's journey 11.4 miles and 2 locks

So far we have travelled 558.8 miles, 495 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

There and back again

We have just had a lovely couple of days, Mandy, Tony, Mikey and Dani have been visiting us. On Tuesday we had a picnic lunch, then went into Wolverhampton for a meal in the evening followed by a few drinks in the hotel bar. Luckily there is a good bus service between Wolverhampton and Compton.

Yesterday we took them all for a little trip down the canal, I wasn't sure how the kids would react but for the most part they enjoyed it. We only went down through three locks then turned round and came back, with a stop for lunch en route.

Tomorrow will be a "catch-up" day on shopping and cleaning, then Friday should see us on our way back to meet the others. I haven't managed to chat to Kathy since Monday so I'm not sure where they are!

Today's journey 5.6 miles and 6 locks

So far we have travelled 537.1 miles, 491 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 9 August 2010

Wolverhampton, almost!

Today we carried on southwards to Compton, which is about 2 miles west of Wolverhampton to meet Mandy, Tony, Mikey and Dani tomorrow. We could have taken the boat right into Wolverhampton but that would have meant working up through 21 locks to get there just to turn round on Thursday and work back down the flight again! I didn't fancy that idea!

It was another fairly uneventful day's cruising, there was a lot of traffic which we always seemed to meet at bridges and as it was windy slowing down to allow another boat through the bridge meant getting lined up for the bridge afterwards was "interesting" at times. We also encountered a boat about to enter a  narrow cutting with a blind bend but luckily they sounded their horn before entering and held back after we responded.

We are now on the Staffs and Worcester canal, undecided about what we are doing next. Kathy and Chris are quite a long way back, so we may head back to join them again. We want to be with Kathy for her birthday at the end of the month, then we may head down towards Gloucester, with a diversion, by road, to Peterborough for Mikey's birthday.

Barry was trying to convince Ray to spend the winter in this part of the world, but we are undecided at the moment. We only need about three weeks to get back to Watford so don't have to make our minds up until late September.

Today's journey 12.1 miles and 3 locks.

So far we have travelled 531.5 miles, 485 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Heading south

After a few days to sort out the boat safety inspection, which we passed thankfully, and another lovely visit to Barry and Alex we are on our way again.

After sleeping in rather later than planned we headed off up the Shroppie hoping to get somewhere between Norbury Junction and Wheaton Aston. Luckily we were the second boat in the queue for the five locks at Tryley so not too much delay, although the Tupperware (sorry, cruiser) in front of us grounded his outboard and we had to let more water down to give enough depth for him.

The canal is very narrow in places as it passes through deep cuttings, we had a minor collision with another boat, no damage done. We were both going slowly with just enough room to pass when the other boat hit an underwater obstruction which moved him sideways into our side.

Very narrow

Interesting place for a telegraph pole

The rest of the day went smoothly and we reached Rye Hill cutting just north of Wheaton Aston to moor for the night. as it is a cutting the phone and mobile signal is virtually non-existent so this probably won't appear until Monday.

Today's journey 17.5 miles, 5 locks and 1 tunnel.

So far we have travelled 519.4 miles, 482 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 15 tunnels

Monday, 2 August 2010

Weekend ashore

We have just spent a lovely weekend with Barry and Alex. On Saturday moring we moved Morgana onto the 48 hour moorings above the first lock of the Audlem flight.Barry and Alex came over on Saturday afternoon and suggested that rather than going for a pub meal that we go back to their place. We took the kittens with us and they attracted a lot of attention when we stopped at the Shroppie Fly for a drink on the way to the car. We all had a mad weekend surrounded by over 25 dogs and puppies, chickens and geese. The kittens were brilliant, very well behaved, a bit miffed because the chickens ignored them instead of running away and totally overwhelmed by the manic behaviour of the dogs, theyare so full of energy!We had a very late night, or early morning depending how you look at it. Barry fed us extremely well, so much of it home produced too! A gold star for Alex's trifle too!

We went over to Chick car boot sale on Sunday but didn't spend any money. We did come back laden with bits and pieces that Barry had which should prove useful on board and a couple of jars of home pickled onions. I got back to a message from Kathy saying they would be up the Anderton Lift yesterday but when I rang her I discovered they had been a bit too late, but they should be on their way up the Trent and Mersey

This morning we left Audlem intending to just do Audlem flight but we got through it so easily we decided to carry on to Market Drayton today. At least Ray now has two days to check everything for the boat safety inspection. We are moored on the 5 day moorings which shouldn't be too bad a spot for Martyn Ross to get to us on Thursday. Hopefully we can see Barry and Alex again before we are out of range.

Saturday's journey 0.3 miles and 1 lock

Today's journey 5.9 miles and 19 locks

So far we have travelled 501.9 miles, 477 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 14 tunnels.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Cheshire/Shropshire borders = lousy 3G signal

After repeated attempts to load Thursday's blog I gave up and decided to incorporate two days into one entry. I kept on losing my wireless signal.

The weather in this part on the world continues to be fairly miserable. I think we had summer in late May and early June. We travelled on through Middlewich and onto the Shropshire Union on Thursday. There were queues at the locks, summer holiday time is here! We often found ourselves the fourth or fifth boat waiting to go through the lock so progress was slow. It would have been faster if a few more people had been like me and helped other people through the locks instead of just waiting until it was their turn.

At Wardle Lock I met Maureen, a lovely lady, probably in her seventies or eighties. she lives in the lock cottage and was born on a working boat. By one of those coincidences that seem to happen the boat she was born on, no longer a working boat unfortunately, was three boats ahead of us going up the lock. We moored for the night in the middle of nowhere about three miles from the junction of the Trent and Mersey and the Shropshire Union.

Today we carried on up the Shroppie, past Nantwich and stopped just short of Audlem Flight, the traffic wasn't quite as heavy but we still had to wait at a couple of locks. There are some nice moorings with picnic tables and barbecue spots along this stretch of canal, if the weather had been better we might have stopped at one of them. When the rain eased off we walked up to Audlem and found it is possible to moor between locks in the flight so we will move up there early tomorrow.

Ray rang Barry and we have arranged to meet up tomorrow afternoon, if the weather was decent we could have a barbie but I think we will all go for a meal instead.

Yesterday's journey 5.7 miles and 6 locks

Today's journey 16.3 miles and 4 locks

So far we have travelled 495.7 miles, 457 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 14 tunnels

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Travelling alone

We spent the morning visiting the exhibition at the Anderton Boat Lift and watching it work. It takes about five minutes for the lift to raise (or lower) boats between the River Weaver and the canal but if you are actually doing the trip it will take you about half an hour. The rest of the time seems to be spent getting the boats in and out of the lift, sealing the caissons (the bath-like containers that hold the boats), doing technical stuff and getting the water levels in the caissons and the canal and river the same so the boats can exit.

Top right leads to the canal, bottom left to the river

The entrance at the top

The river trip boat entering at the bottom

The chap you can see is stood on the back of his boat in the top caisson

Halfway up (and down)

Narrowboat joining the river

And the trip boat now at the top

After a morning watching other people being busy we decided to move on, so we bid Kathy and Chris a fond farewell, after checking that none of us had anything that the others would need while we are apart. Things like mugs and glasses tend to migrate between the boats. We planned to reach Middlewich but found a lovely, offside mooring with picnic tables and space for the kittens to roam without disappearing into a hedge so we stopped about a couple of miles before reaching there. It did seem a bit strange only needing space to moor Morgana and Merlin!

Gwynie and Lance had great fun, running around, chasing each other and climbing trees. Ray rescued Gwynie from about ten foot up a tree, I'm sure she would have got down but he was worried she would climb even higher! It's his fault for letting her climb up his jeans.

Gwynie's favourite trick at mealtimes

Tomorrow we will continue our journey south and onto the Shropshire Union Canal, we probably won't get as far as Nantwich but we should still reach Audlem Bottom Lock on Friday.

Today's journey 7.9 miles

So far we have travelled 473.7 miles, 447 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 14 tunnels

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Narrow Canals again.

After several weeks on broad canals and rivers the Trent and Mersey seems very narrow. When the canals were built with locks that were only seven feet wide the canal builders didn't see much point in making the canals any wider than was necessary to allow two seven foot boats to pass each other. The bridges are designed to allow a seven foot wide boat to pass through, so it all feels a bit narrow.

We passed through three tunnels today, the first, longest one was reasonably straight, the second, shortest one had a bit of a kink in it and the third looks like it was dug by an enibriated worm. My theory is that the longest was dug first and that by the time they got to the third the engineer said to the navies "OK lads, you know what you are doing, I'll leave you to get on with it!". Kathy's theory is that they started on the beer and whiskey supplies in celebration after completing the first and carried on drinking until the had dug the third!

Anyway, we are now moored up by the Anderton Boat Lift, this wonderful bit of engineering takes boats from the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Weaver, a distance of fifty feet. We aren't planning to go onto the River Weaver but Kathy and Chris are so we will part company for a few days. I didn't manage to get any photos of the lift tonight because I would have been taking them into the sun, yes sun! I'll try for some before we leave in the morning.

Today's journey 5.6 miles, 1 lock and 3 tunnels.

So far we have travelled 465.8 miles, 447 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 14 tunnels.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Guess what? It's raining

The weekend was pretty good, took a trip into Warrington and got lights for Merlin at IKEA. I also spent far too much in Hobbycraft. We found some mushroom growing kits in Homebase but didn't fancy carrying them round with us, we had planned to go back for them but would have missed our bus back to Lymm.

Today we headed towards the Trent and Mersey, we nearly made it, I thought the T & M started at the junction at Peston Brook but it actually starts a bit south of that. Travelling on the Bridgewater was very slow, there are so many moored boats, we were only averaging about 2mph. We only just made it to Midland Chandlers before they closed so we could collect the valve for our calorifier (immersion heater) which we had ordered. The weather was as yucky as it has been for about the past fortnight, with no sign of improvement if the weather forecast is to be believed. Why do the weathermen always get it right when they predict rain?

Tomorrow we plan to head down to the Anderton Boat Lift. Kathy wants to take Destiny down the lift onto the River Weaver, I don't think we will bother with that on this trip.Something to save for another time.
So it was another uneventful day. We are looking forward to seeing Barry and Alex soon, and hopefully a visit from Mandy, Tony, Mikey and Dani next week as well.

The kittens have a  new trick, if Ray doesn't get their food fast enough they will climb up his jeans to get to the work surface. They better not try it with me when I am wearing leggings!

Today's journey 10.1 miles

So far we have travelled 460.2 miles, 446 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels

Friday, 23 July 2010

Escape from Manchester

We eventually escaped from Manchester yesterday, the weather did it's best to live up to Machester's reputation for rain. After a couple of day's of lousy weather we decided to make a break for freedom on Thursday lunchtime.

We left first, stopping off at the sanitary station for the usual loo emptying, water top-up and rubbish dumping and headed back to the junction with the main branch of the Bridgewater Canal to turn south through Sale and out into the country. By the time they had emptied (loo and rubbish) and filled (water) both boats Kathy and Chris were about an hour behind us, they then stopped off for shopping. By the time they reached us we had been moored for about three hours, I was beginning to think they had decided to moor up and catch up this morning.

After spending the night just outside Bolliington we moved on to Lymm today. Both days were very uneventful but there are a lot more boats, both moored up and travelling, than we have seen for a long time. It is becoming harder to find places for all of us to moor together, particularly where there aren't other boats.
Today was the first time in ages that we have sat outside in the evening.

We plan to stay here for the weekend, Ray and I intend to go into Warrington to Ikea tomorrow and Kathy is expecting visitors.

Yesterday's journey  10.7 miles.

Today's journey  2.1 miles.

So far we have travelled  450.1 miles, 446 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Full Circle, almost.

181 miles, 206 locks, 44 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge and 5 tunnels later we are almost back where we were early two months ago. we are moored at  Castle Quay which is just over a mile from where we were on the 20th May.

We set off around lunchtime with the usual Manchester weather, drizzle, dry, rain, dry for nearly 3 hours. As we passed through Worsley I managed to get a shot of the entrance to the Delph.

Also a shot of the boathouse that was built for a one day visit to the mines by Queen Victoria in 1851.

We crossed the Manchester Ship Canal on the Barton Swing Aqueduct.

 I'm not sure when the last time it was operated was, it would have to be a big ship that couldn't pass underneath it. The canal this side of Manchester is a lot cleaner than it was heading up the Rochdale.
Tomorrow is a shopping and laundry day so it will be at least Tuesday before we move on.

Today' journey 8.2 miles

So far we have travelled 437.3 miles, 446 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Bring back summer!

As you will have noticed we haven't moved very far. The weather has been lousy, I know we need the rain but couldn't it rain for half the day and be nice the other half instead of 15 minutes rain, 15 minutes dry, on and off all day. We went to the mining museum on Thursday, it is run by volunteers one chap we were talking to actually worked in the mine before it closed in 1970. Quite interesting, educational too.

Yesterday we moved up to Worsley, not very far but it meant we could all fuel up at the boatyard on the way. The canal here is orange, apparently it is due to iron hydroxide in the water. At the Delph in Worsley there is the entrance to the old underground canal network which linked the Duke of Bridgewater's mines. There were over fifty miles of underground canals but they are all closed off now. I might try and get some photos of the entrance to the tunnels tomorrow. We walked into Worsley to meet Scott's friend Luke who has come to stay for a week and found a pub that only charged £3.49 for their carvery. At that price we decided to eat out! I can recommend the Bridgewater Hotel, Worsley. Excellent value for money. We are still planning to go into Manchester but it will probably not be until Monday.

Yesterday's journey 1.3 miles.

So far we have travelled 429.1 miles, 446 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

We escaped in time.

British Waterways have announced that the Leeds and Liverpool Canal will be closed from the 2nd August between Lock 30 (near Gargrave) and Lock 85 ( the bottom of Wigan Flight). That is the stretch we did last week. The rest of the network just seems to have cautions about reduced water levels.

Today we moved on from Ince Moss to Astley Green. As we were getting ready to leave we saw 6 or 7 black mink playing on the opposite bank. It wasn't a very long journey, no locks and just one swing bridge. We did have a bit of rain on the way, and then a thunderstorm while we were at the pub but I don't think that was enough to make a difference to the levels in the reservoirs. It did give us an excuse to stay for another pint though!

We may stay here tomorrow so we can visit the mining museum, then I think it will be a longish run to get past the Manchester suburbs.

Today's journey 6.5 miles and 1 swing bridge.

So far we have travelled 427.8 miles, 446 locks, 53 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

23 locks and fishing for kittens!

Chris made it back to us nice and early then all we had to do was wait. There was no problem with BW letting three boats down so John and Jackie took the lead and we all set off. It was warm but not too hot thankfully and with John on his boat and Ray taking Morgana and Almyne that left Jackie, Chris and I to work the locks with a bit of help from BW.

It seemed to be a well maintained flight, some of the paddles were a bit stiff but not many. Our only problem was one we knew about before we started. One lock halfway down has a gate that doesn't open, so we had to separate the boats and take them out one at a time. We made good time and got down through the 21 locks in less than five hours. We turned the corner onto the Leigh Branch, down through the Poolstock Locks and met Kathy who had brought Destiny up to meet us. Then we headed back to Ince Moss to moor up.

When we all settled the kittens came out onto the towpath, Gwynhwyvar had fallen in yesterday and while we were sat relaxing Lancelot took a dip. Albert, the kitten we aren't having, fell in twice. At least they can all swim! We took Lance and Gwynie home with us for the first time. Gracie, the oldest cat, who likes to visit us for some peace wasn't amused when we made her leave before feeding time. The kittens seem to be settling in OK, they have managed to take up a lot of space on the couch for two small kittens!

Today's journey 4.2 miles and 23 locks

So far we have travelled 421.3 miles, 446 locks, 51 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels

Saturday, 10 July 2010

At the top of Wigan Flight

We have made it! We are now sat at the top of Wigan Flight, we might be able to go down tomorrow but there is one boat in front of us waiting to go down so if BW are only allowing one passage per day we will have to wait until Sunday. Chris managed to find a bus service that took him to Plank Bridge where Kathy is so he went to see her and stay the night, hopefully he will be back early enough in the morning if they do let us down the flight tomorrow.

Today's journey was uneventful just Johnson's Hillock Locks to interupt our smooth passage to Wigan. Even they were unlocked early so we were able to go straight through even though we reached there at 9.30.

If we are stuck here for the day I may go and investigate the delights of Wigan.

Today's journey 14.7 miles and 7 locks.
So far we have travelled 417.1 miles, 423 locks, 51 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Blackburn and beyond!

Blackburn was every bit as exciting as I expected. It's only redeeming feature was a fairly new large Morrisons close to the canal. After stocking up we carried on to Blackburn Locks only to find them padlocked. Last entry is supposed to be 4pm and this was at 3 pm. I went off down the flight on foot in search of a lock keeper while Chris phoned BW. I found a lockie and yet again there seemed to be confusion about the restrictions, however he did come and unlock the gates for us so we could carry on. I wonder if mentioning my communications with Debbie Lumb (NW Waterways manager) had anything to do with his willingness to help.

Now we are back in "urban sprawl" the canal is exhibiting the array of bottles, cans, bikes and supermarket trollies that I have come to expect. I can now recognise trollies from all the major supermarkets and DIY store by an eight inch portion of their handle protruding above the surface. Any seats along the towpath seem to be occupied after noon by various enibriated Scotsmen. Why are they always Scotsmen even in Lancashire?

We emerged from the suburbs of Blackburn and moored up near an old papermill with acres of woodland surrounding it. Only about 13 miles and 7 locks to the top of Wigan Flight now, so we should we down the flight on Saturday, water levels permitting. Although it has been raining I doubt it has made any impact on the water levels.

Today's journey 15.7 miles, 6 locks and 4 swing bridges.
So far we have travelled 402.4 miles , 416 locks, 51 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Getting very wet

Today's weather forecast was for light showers, Lancashire must have a different definition of light showers to me. We left our moorings at Barnoldswick about 8.00 to head down through the Foulridge tunnel and reach the Barrowford Locks by the time they opened at 10.00. At this time the rain was light so no great problem. When we reached the locks we found they were already open at 9.30 so we made swift progress down through the seven locks and on towards the "delights" of Nelson and Burnley. By this time the rain was, in my opinion, neither a shower nor light, it was chucking it down! I'm not complaining, we need the rain. At least once we were through the locks I could make the excuse that I had some baking to do and disappear under cover. The idea of me baking always goes down well with Chris and Ray so they had no objections. The rain got so heavy at one point they contemplated stopping but decided they couldn't get any wetter so carried on. It is a pity the weather wasn't better as some of the views once we were clear of the urban sprawl were fantastic even with limited visibility.

From Burnley the canal meanders along never far from the M65, I had intended to moor as far as possible from the motorway but it was impossible to hammer in mooring pins there so we ended up only about 200 yards from the motorway, luckily not too noisy.

Tomorrow we will have the pleasure of visiting Blackburn, a place my brother holds a low opinion of (understatement of the century), at the time of writing I'm not in a position to offer an opinion. A supermarket stop is in order as there is no shop near our intended moorings once we go down Wigan flight. Apparently the locals welcome you with a skip yard which stinks and is fly infested.

The sunset tonight held a promise of a better day tomorrow.

Today's journey 16.6 miles, 7 locks and 2 tunnels.

So far we have travelled 386.1 miles, 410 locks, 47 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 11 tunnels.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Back in Lancashire

I didn't blog yesterday as the signal was a bit dodgy. I suppose you can't expect too much when you are up in the Yorkshire Dales.

Sunday ended up as a no-travel day, the wind was blowing a gale and the rain came down. We did visit the Village Hall for tea and scones in the afternoon, very civilised. I have to say the locals in Kildwick are very welcoming, we spent an amusing hour chatting. The churchyard at Kildwick is heaven for a family historian, they seem to like relating every detail on the gravestones, even the fact that a husband was buried somewhere else. Pity that none of my relatives were from here.

On Monday we started out early, headed through Skipton and on towards Gargrave flight. The restrictions because of the lack of water mean you can only enter the lock flight between 10 am and noon then between 2pm and 4pm. Although we arrived before noon we missed the morning slot because there was a queue of boats waiting to go up the flight. We were the second pair of boats to go up in the afternoon and got part way up the flight only to be told "you won't complete the flight by four, you'll have to moor up". After we had stopped I re-read the restriction notice and it clearly says "enter the flight by 4pm" not complete the flight by 4pm. An email to BW followed, I received a prompt reply and it appears my interpretation was correct and that we should have been able to complete the flight. The delay didn't stop us enjoying a pleasant evening on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We saw the first curlew I have seen in years. It wouldn't come close enough to us for me to get a good photo.

Today we carried on to Barnoldswick which took us back into Lancashire. One stretch of the canal is very bendy, it has a couple of hairpin bends on it. We had the amusing sight of Chris, on Almyne, travelling in the opposite direction to us the other side of a field. 

You can just see Chris, passing right to left behind the moored boats as we were heading left to right the other side of the bend.
The lock keepers today were telling us that unless there is a substantial amount of rain the Leeds and Liverpool could be closed to navigation in just over two weeks. I found out today that the Rochdale Canal is closed at Sowerby bridge due to the lack of water. Generally it was a good day and we still hope to make it to Wigan on Sunday. The other canals don't seem to be suffering as much with water shortages.

Yesterday's journey 10.1 miles, 4 locks and 9 swing bridges.

Today's journey 7 miles and 11 locks.

So far we have travelled 369.5 miles, 403 locks, 47 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 9 tunnels

Sunday, 4 July 2010

I need to learn to turn pages!

On my last post I said it was downhill from here - wrong! I managed to turn over two pages together, we have another eleven locks going up before we start going down.

After my baby-sitting duties we moved on again today, it was a bit windy but dry and fairly warm. I was steering Almyne as Chris is away with Kathy this weekend but we did have Chris's sister Belinda with us. Belinda was doing the swing bridges as she has never steered a narrowboat. We did manage to temporarily close the canal! One of the bridges was very stiff to open and when Belinda tried to close it - it stuck! It wouldn't close fully but it wouldn't re-open either. It was possible to cross the bridge on foot so I rang BW and told them the bridge was stuck closed, they said they would get someone out.

The water levels made it hard to get Almyne into the bank in places but we managed. Morgana's water inlet got blocked with weed so she overheated and Belinda and I had to wait about an hour for Ray to catch up with us. As always the wind made steering hard. Apart from that it was a good day. We have moored for the night at Kildwick, we may move on tomorrow depending on the weather, some forecasts are predicting a nasty day. We need to make sure we are somewhere Chris can get back to us easily.

Today's journey 5.4 miles and 7 swing bridges.
So far we have travelled 352.4 miles, 388 locks, 38 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 9 tunnels.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

On top of the world

We made it as far as Riddlesden today, which means something actually went according to plan. We pulled pins about 8.30 knowing we had 11 locks to work today. Everything went very smoothly, there was one single lock, then a pair, then the Bingley 3-rise quickly followed by the Bingley 5-rise. Apart for the single lock all had lock-keepers to assist us through.

Shortly after leaving our mooring we passed through Saltaire, the village was built by Titus Salt as an "ideal industrial settlement" for his mill workers in 1850ish. As mill towns go it is impressive, I have visited it before and we didn't stop to explore this time  but it does look different from the canal. The mill buildings on either side of the canal are beautifully restored/preserved. I know one side houses the art gallery and small shops, the other appears to be residential. There is a huge park where an enterprising boatie has a wide-beam moored selling ice creams, burgers etc.

When we reached the 3-rise we caught up with 'Our Florence' and 'Trojan' who we first met at Clarence Dock. We followed them up the '3' and when we reached the '5' we were the fourth pair of boats in the queue. Luckily apart from the boat that was coming down as we arrived everyone was going up so we were able to follow each other with just a lock between each of us.

Bingley 5-rise from the bottom

And from the top, that's us at the back, hidden by the trees

It's a bit steep to walk up, you rise 60 feet in a distance of about 300 feet. The lock-keepers know their stuff and with their help we had a quick and smooth ascent. We are now on a lock-free stretch of about 17 miles until we almost reach Gargrave, 11 more locks, then it is downhill all the way.

We will be here for a few days as I have volunteered for baby-sitting duty. Tim and Margaret are coming to pick me up tomorrow and I won't be back until Wednesday. Ray should be kept occupied as one of the reasons for stopping here is to visit Puffer Parts who, by reputation, are an excellent chandlery and very helpful. Morgana still has a few "work in progress" elements so hopefully some will get sorted while I'm away. There is also a launderette here so I might even get the washing done for me while I'm gone as well!
We even get a good satellite signal so Ray can watch the footie.

Today's journey 7.3 miles, 11 locks and 8 swing bridges.
So far we have travelled 347 miles, 388 locks,  31 swing bridges 4 lift bridges and 9 tunnels.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The land of the swing bridges.

Now we are heading up over the Pennines back towards Lancashire. I have decided that I like the architect of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Instead of a lock every mile or so, these locks are grouped together so you get a few lock free miles then a staircase style lock. These locks are designed so that the top gate of the bottom lock is the bottom gate of the next lock. This means that three locks only have four gates not six. this makes travelling much easier, or it would if not for the swing bridges. Our smooth, semi lock-free passage is interrupted on a regular basis by swing bridges.

We are now out in the countryside, although tomorrow we will pass through Saltaire and Shipley, hopefully reaching the outskirts of Keighley at Riddlesden. We had an mostly uneventful day, met up with Narrowboat Phoenix and shared locks and swing bridges with them until Ray knocked our stern rope into the water as he got off a a bridge, I still had Morgana in reverse to slow her down, and the rope ended up round the prop. We bow-hauled Morgana past the swing bridge then moored to sort it out. Phoenix carried on alone. It didn't take long to sort out but as it was nearly four o'clock we decided to stop for the day. This is a very pleasant spot looking across the Aire Valley. Lots of fish to catch, including some really big carp. We caught lots of small fish but aren't really equipped for big carp so we just enjoyed seeing them swim past.

Today's journey 4.9 miles, 5 locks and 8 swing bridges.
So far we have travelled 339.7 miles, 377 locks, 23 swing bridges, 4 lift bridges and 9 tunnels.