A fine day but forgive the cliché…
Bosley Bottom Lock to Gurnett Aqueduct: 5.1miles, 12 locks, 2 swing bridges
Tucked up last night on the aqueduct below Bosley locks all was quiet, the skies dark. There was no urban orange glow, not even many other boating neighbours.
By the time Cleddau drew away from the mooring at 0950 this morning just one other boat was left. The bottom lock was full of water, needing to be drained before the boat could enter. Steadily the boat climbed the hill: draining a lock, entering the lock, filling the lock… An elderly couple were blackberrying. Two women jogged lightly down the tow path. Two other pairs (all male) were gazing studiously at gadgets. A rather large man began poking about behind a wall, his prodding endless; then he lay down and peered beneath the undergrowth. This is geocaching, apparently.
At about halfway up the locks the first of three boats coming down was met – and what a glorious morning it was to be working up (or down) Bosley. Above Bosley the canal continues its weave through a rural landscape: cows dozing in the sun or lapping the canal water, sheep gently grazing on lush grass, shy herons doing take-offs and landings just ahead of the boat. Had the weed-cutting boat been in action? Floating islands of fresh green reed were frequent!
Between Bosley and Gurnett there are the two swing bridges: the first, at Oakgrove, is electrically operated. You stand on the bridge, fingers pressed down on the OPEN or CLOSE button. Bridge operation shouldn’t take more than 1.5 minutes but how impatient some drivers are! The second swing bridge at Broadhurst can be a greater frustration: sometimes it is left open across the canal, sometimes it is closed but visibility of it is limited because of the tight bends in the canal either side of the bridge. If closed a designated bridge mover needs to insert a BW Watermate key, lift the white hooped handle and swing the bridge … but oh, how heavy this bridge is…
Past the wide open mooring spaces at Lyme Green Cleddau came, destination the Gurnett Aqueduct. The air was clear, Macclesfield Forest a darker blotch on the patchwork of hillsides ahead. Success! Where a couple of weeks ago the mooring spaces were filled end to end today Cleddau nosed in right opposite the Sutton Hall Pub sign.
By late afternoon the Captain was happily varnishing so Boatwif took off to explore. Right behind the mooring, though hidden by a dense hedge, is the Macclesfield Garden Centre. There Boatwif’s eyes were assaulted by surprises, by contradictions. Cows and sheep and goats for sale! Don’t they belong in fields? A large goat for £99.00! Christmas stockings? Christmas wrapping paper – and labels and bows! Boatwif was astonished: yes, there is a natural marketing order – Back to School, Halloween, Fireworks, Christmas… but selling Christmas cards and other paraphernalia on September 1st – Victor Meldrew’s words bubbled into the brain: “ I don’t believe it!”
The afternoon mission was supposedly to identify a Sunday paper shop for the morrow. Uphill then Boatwif plodded, into Sutton. First there were smart modern houses, an eighties development… smooth lawns, lush kerbside shrubs, white window frames and paintwork. Up the hill further to the old village: mixed age housing and type, the ex-Servicemen’s Club, the marquee in the field beyond, pristine gardens. Directions were sought to the village paper shop and there (“I don’t believe it!”) was a mannequin, a gold medal winning Olympic boxer. Then more: an Olympic cyclist; a garden-digging scarecrow; a cider-drinking trio… “I don’t believe it…” September 2nd is designated Sutton’s Flower and Vegetable Show – would these displays be connected…?
If at all there be a moral to these whimsies it might be: Open your eyes and prepare to be surprised!