Cow country and an aqueduct quest

Ramsdell Hall Railings to Bosley Locks: 9½ miles
          There’s a comfortable homecoming feel to being “back on the Macc.”  Perhaps it’s the combination of rural and dramatic settings with visually interesting structures that creates such affection for this canal.
          The black and white painstakingly repaired and repainted Ramsdell Hall railings

were clearly visible from last night’s dining position.

After a farewell to them this morning it was straight through one of the many Macc Canal bridges.

Local stone and graceful curved arches give these bridges a certain eye appeal. It is at Congleton that the first of the “snake” or crossover bridges is seen,

these designed to take the towpath from one side of the canal to the other. Just before Hightown was an innovation since last passing this way – some brand new end of garden decking.

Then the canal passes through a cutting; three differently aligned bridges cross the canal

and it is a skilled steerer who can navigate through all three without a scrape on one side of the hull or other!
           Not much further on comes another favourite mooring place, Biddulph Aqueduct above Dane-in-Shaw SSSI pasture.  You can sit on the seat here

and watch the Virgin trains whizz northbound

across a fine viaduct up the West Coast line to Manchester and beyond.
            If as a boater you should tire of aqueducts and bridges beyond Buglawton the canal soon enters a quiet phase. No road noise interrupts the natural sounds. On the left you become aware of the Cloud’s looming presence and if the light is right you can see the quarrying scars upon the hillsides.

The odd cockerel crows and the quietness is punctuated only by birdsong. Today a persistent mewling call came from above a copse of trees; was it a buzzard as the Captain suggests?
             There had been cows in fields on either side of the canal last night and there were more cows as the canal progressed towards Bosley. They gazed incuriously as the boat passed by.

The cows in this area of Cheshire come in several colour combinations, some all black or all rust and some are a mixed colour. The most attractive cow in these parts, of course,

is this one, helpfully immobilised but beautifully painted!
              Foragers have been out in groups of twos or threes or fours.

Some carry plastic boxes for their treasure while others have plastic bags weighing their arms. “Blackberrying?” the Captain called out once today.
             “Well, you’ve got to, haven’t you!” was the smiled reply.
            At Bosley Locks a group of four had somewhere found plump plums: there they were nestled in a container within a wicker basket.
            After three hours or so of lock free cruising Dane Aqueduct was reached. It’s always a pleasant mooring place from which to contemplate tomorrow’s Bosley Twelve.
           The Dane Aqueduct, according to Nicholson’s Guide, “is not very impressive from the boat but superb when viewed from the river.” That sparked this afternoon’s photographic quest. There was a clamber down a steep path through willow herb and fluffy weeds, right to the banks of the River Dane.

Trees in full summer growth blocked all view of the aqueduct (though the fungi were a surprise)

and all attempts at finding a way across to the opposite bank were foiled by lack of access. There is a clear footpath across the opposite field but how is it reached? Back up to canal level and then up the lock flight the aqueduct-deprived pair climbed. There is an awkwardness about patrolling a lock flight with walking poles but no windlasses to offer transiting boaters help at the locks…
            No footpath was found. Resigned today to defeat, the Captain and Boatwif turned downhill.  Could the disused railway line be a route to the river bank? There was a bit of a scramble up to it, no further access from it but a new view down over the bottom locks…

Conclusion: the Dane Aqueduct is a quest to be resumed another day!  

Tomorrow to Gurnett Aqueduct (and Sutton Hall)

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