Southbound back to Stoke

       “You must keep folk informed,” announced the Captain on Sunday evening. “Shouldn’t you be blogging?”
        So:  Cleddau’s been on the move again, back down Bosley, (yes, remember the Bosley 12 locks, a downhill drop of 118 feet), down through rural east Cheshire towards Staffordshire.
        After the unexpected pleasure of  The Boar’s Head meal on Wednesday not being accompanied by piped musak but by live instrumentalists, Thursday and Friday became serious work days. There was Boat Stuff still to reclaim and sort from Techno’s Macclesfield garage; there was opportunity to paint the gunnels; there was an urgent need to relay the back deck matting

and to rinse off the dust from the cabin top and sides.  New boating neighbours on the shared pontoon watched with bemusement… was this what boating life was about?  They had a new (to them) boat and had yet to turn the engine on, let alone venture towards a lift bridge or a lock…
        By 3.30pm on Friday time was slipping by: clear up the buckets and hosepipes, bundle up the dusters and cloths, reload the roof with gangplank and poles – and depart…
        For near on two hours, in balmy sunshine, Cleddau headed south.

  Crafts of all kinds were out and about,

relishing the warmth and windless conditions. At its site at Holehouse Lane (Whiteley Green) the North Cheshire Cruising Club had set up camp for a sociable weekend, deckchairs outside every boat.

On through Bollington Cleddau cruised, through Kerridge, and under a turnover bridge to a towpath mooring

beside the Pony Club gymkhana field.
        On Saturday morning additional crew were taken on board at Macclesfield, a tasty home-baked loaf for lunch-time sustenance being provided byTechno Son-in-Law.

Help with swing bridges

and locks speeded the way.

At Bosley the sharp easterly breeze played havoc in the upper lock pounds, pinning the boat to the bank. But a spot of pole deployment is always an added joy for the long-armed Techno…
        Down on the long pound that stretches from Bosley Bottom to Hall Green there was time for both lunch and steering shifts.

         While Techno Son-in-Law favours a long heavy barge pole as his preferred  implement when dealing with boating incidents the Cheshire One always turns to her battered pink fishing net. At the Poynton moorings on Friday it had saved the day (rather, netted a rapidly sinking hose pipe connector) but despite best efforts  on Saturday it could not recover Boatwif’s blown off sunhat at the Biddulph Valley Aqueduct…
          Mid-afternoon the Cheshire Three were off-loaded at Congleton –  in time for a 7 minute train ride back to Macclesfield.
          Sunday produced cold easterly blasts and an unwelcome shower. For thirty minutes (just thirty minutes) the boat cruised on, the crew willing there to be space at the Ramsdell Hall railings. Maybe, on a holiday weekend there’d be no space… Through Bridge 85 – and the entire mooring length lay empty ahead!

Tied up by the black and white railings

the day became a stroll in a black and white locality:
Sheep

(Did  Baa baa black sheep originate here?!)
House

(Little Moreton Hall for a delicious lunch and a wander through the trimly clipped knot garden)
Cows

– accessorised by a black raven.       
        There is hope of another colour though – the woods in front of Ramsdell Hall seem to be showing a faint bluebell hue…
        Bank holiday Monday involved one last lock at Hall Green and a slower than usual transit through the Harecastle Tunnel.

Number four in the convoy, with two more boats behind, there was time to view the Harecastle “sights” (the spooky skeleton,

the midway point (about 1500 yards in)

and the colourful formations

created by the minerals that seep through the rock.
         There was plenty of mooring space at Westport Lake

– and plenty of conversation too. Strollers in holiday mood asked questions throughout the afternoon. Most thrilled was the 7 year old boy being allowed on board to gaze at engine room switches and dials. “How do you get electricity?” he wanted to know. His granddad was keen to talk on other matters: Burslem, a district not a mile away, was where John Wesley had preached in 1760 and set up the first Methodist Society. In recent years the grandfather, himself the Methodist minister in Burslem,  had visited the World Methodist Museum  in North Carolina  and seen there on a world map his own Burslem  church. It seems this is another case of “History going forward”…
         Tuesday will see the final ¾ mile cruise to Longport Wharf

(look at the age of its buildings) to deliver Cleddau into the hands of the snag-fixers…

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