Basking in sunshine

Sutton to Higher Poynton:  8.8  miles

            The world basked in sunshine today, the world, that is, of the Macclesfield Canal. It is such a joy to travel with gentle sun on the back of the neck, not the sniff of a rogue breeze and clear views into the hills. As if forecasting a still and calm day a heron perched motionlessly on an offside mooring at Sutton, unperturbed by an approaching boat. Twice more herons were posed, statue still, both in unusual pose, their wings spread out as if to soak up the sun’s rays.

From Sutton it is barely a mile to Macclesfield.  Sunshine splashed on flower heads beyond a bridge-hole, rhododendrons, past their best, but glorious in profile.  Then came Hovis Mill, well-proportioned and immaculate, fluffy white clouds gently floating above. Children’s voices drifted excitedly from a nearby school playground. Has Cleddau travelled this way before and seen Macclesfield so content with itself?

Onwards, past the mile or so of fenced-in AstraZeneca manufacturing plant, no boats approaching in the narrows, there were only cyclists and dog walkers alongside on the tow path. So rural: the canal creeping towards Kerridge, the hillsides descending sharply to the canal. Kerridge Dry Dock, Bourne Boat Builders… there is activity… Hello Wayne, hello Tim, see you tomorrow when Cleddau is delivered back for a week’s care and attention to her hearth…

The canal then passes through Bollington. By Adelphi Mill was moored a hire boat, Norwegian flags flying. Emerging from the town below were the eight-strong crew members, laden with supplies – and plenty of beer! On past the Black Country to Black Sea Expedition boat pair (still here?) and on towards CLarence Mill.  Was its chimney ever so clearly defined? Have before its little greenery shoots been observed?

Winter’s coming – anyone for coal? Approaching came nb Alton, the coal and diesel boat. The sun shone, its rays catching the glistening drops from a canoeist’s paddle; the sun shone, the crew of a day boat sat on the bank and enjoyed; water sparkled; walkers in vests and boaters with bared torsos did not look at all under-dressed! Past Lyme View; then past Ninevah, its name reflected in the water.

Topped with water, diesel and gas from Bailey’s Trading Post Cleddau prepared to moor – no wind to counteract her route, just a few passing boats. Then (with such good timing) appeared Quackers’ skipper, taking a rope, pulling her round!  The afternoon drifted by, boats passing with flags gently flapping. Washed towels baked in the sunshine, paint dried on the “Congleton Scrubber”…  

Dinner on the front deck: a vest-topped jogger stopped on the tow path opposite. “Hottest September day today in a hundred years,” he announced. Is that true? Whatever, it was a great day to just bask in the sunshine!

(Tomorrow: Cleddau and the Captain cruise back to Kerridge; Boatwif and the Captain will then retreat south to Beds.  Watch out for future Cleddau travels, in a week or so’s time…)

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