Against the odds

New Mills to Higher Poynton: 8 miles, 1 swing and 2 lift bridges

“Shall we stay here then?” asked the Captain this morning. He’d been gazing at weather forecasts and met sites on the computer. “There’s a 98% probability of heavy rain today,” was his solemn pronouncement.  Should the Cleddau crew surrender, incarcerate themselves all day inside the boat on the canal above New Mills, seek out crosswords and cross-stitch and Trivial Pursuit and quiet games to keep themselves entertained…?  Or should they just be tough and brazen out the incoming storms? After all the boat was equipped with umbrellas (3 long ones, 2 short ones and a parasol at the last count) plus raincoats and boots and gaiters…  Maybe today would see the first wearing of the “tents” (alias ponchos, instigated by Techno Son-in-Law after a remark Boatwif made during the Huddersfield Narrow escapade.)

Once booted and gaitered the crew prepared Cleddau for cruise mode. A short-lived shower earlier had left raindrops standing proud on the polished roof surface. Boat untied, the journey got under way. Through New Mills first, Boatwif trying to explain in wide arm gestures the direction of the Goyt Valley gorge. Above the sky stayed blue, behind to the south and to the west ominous grey clouds gathered. A pleasantly positioned canal side seat was passed. Through the three (one swing, two lift) bridges; still the rain stayed away. Nearer Marple a little procession of boats approached – boats which had come up the Marple Locks this morning. Then at Marple itself there was a new but familiar sight, nb LIKE DUCKS 2 WATER.

A left turn. The wind was brisker, but still no rain… On past Goyt Mill. “There’s Goyt Mill, see,” sighed Boatwif, since in a temporary memory loss moment earlier on the Captain had been anticipating the mill, only to realise he was thinking of the wrong canal in the wrong county!  Look – a boat called Stepaside, any link with South Pembrokeshire? A few more rural twists and turns and then the canal cuts through High Lane. The happy pigs are still at the bottom of the garden!  Hi there! There were Les and Jaq, working hard inside nb Valerie. On past fields where horses grazed on tussocky grass, past little groups of offside moorings, then the Cage, the hunting lodge in Lyme Park, stark against the skyline. The breezes became gusts, there was talk of headwinds, though still the skies had not leaked.  Then Cleddau was creeping  down the long stretch of Victoria Pit moorings. Would the luck hold out? The towpath opposite was clear of moored boats; bow into the bank and a hard reverse brought Cleddau, moreorless, alongside her pontoon. Further luck now as Quackers’ skipper appeared to haul too on the centre rope. Only as the last fenders and ropes were adjusted did the rain begin to fall.

Short cruise completed, in the dry, against the odds!

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