Briefly (2)…

          It was a good decision to start early(ish) so as to be boating ahead of the promised rain…
           Away from the southern outskirts of Macclesfield by 0930, first stop the Oakgrove Swing Bridge.  The Captain lurked in mid canal

while Boatwif, the Bridge Operator, went ahead. A couple of cars raced across the bridge while the right key was being selected for the control panel. Once the key is in and a finger is on the OPEN button it’s a long wait before anything visible happens. A van driver held up by the dropped barriers

and short on patience reversed back onto the main road and sped off, heading south.
            It was at Bridge 52 that a certain amount of edging and squeezing occurred as two boats negotiated passage past each other.

After another three privately owned working boats had passed during the course of the next mile or so

it became apparent that something must be up, or that they were all heading up to somewhere… to Bugsworth Basin, on the Peak Forest Canal, it transpires, for the Buxworth Steam Gathering weekend.
            The new(ish) services block at Bosley Top Lock is now adorned by solar roof panels.

The 12 lock flight stretches a mile downhill. “Water level’s very low,” warned the Captain as he assumed paddle-winding duties at Lock 2. Often water surges over the overspill weirs before each lock but today ugly barriers and water retention walls poked above the channel while mud beaches were visible in the wider sections of the upper pounds.  Strong blasts from a south easterly wind made passage between the locks, well, doubly interesting… Haze hung over The Cloud

but temperatures were mild and the rain still several hours away. An hour and 50 minutes after starting off the locks were done,

not in record-breaking but in average time.
                On towards Congleton, past cows, both live – and painted!

There was a little cruiser flotilla and a workboat for stone masons. “You can photograph me!” called one of the workforce.

 Another, in rubber waders,

prepared to paddle…
On past Biddulph Aqueduct, a favourite mooring space empty today,

through the mess of bridges at Congleton,

over Dog Lane Aqueduct by Congleton Wharf… Here was a possible overnight mooring – but the Captain craved the railings… Three miles further on, just before Ramsdell Hall, are the glorious moorings overlooking gentle South Cheshire countryside and the (famous in these parts) black and white Ramsdell Railings. Here, shortly after a very heavy rainstorm, Cleddauwas moored.

Rain has lashed down again, sharp winds have rocked the boat but the stove is throwing out a wondrous warmth. Just for once there will be no late afternoon wander across the fields to Little Moreton Hall…

              Today: 10¼ miles, 12 locks

              Tomorrow: navigation through just one lock and the red waters of Harecastle Tunnel


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