Legal – and lower…

    It was as Cleddau was about to draw away from the Hightown shopping area of Congleton this morning that it happened. A man on a bike stopped, gazed hard, and then peered into his hand-held device.

 A modern-day boating equivalent of a train spotter? No, an official from the Canal and River Trust (Northern Canals) checking boat licences and registration numbers. He’d driven from Halifax, off-loaded his bike at Bridge 46 and had been pedalling the towpath (and checking boats) ever since.  In this role he averages about 11 miles a day. As Cleddauproceeded south from Congleton the Captain and the checker espied one boat without a current licence. What will be the consequences…?

You cannot cruise the lower stretch of the Macclesfield Canal without becoming aware of Structures. There is the impressive railway viaduct that parallels the Biddulph Valley Aqueduct,

the jumble of bridges (road and rail)
that greet the boater in the Hightown area of Congleton,
the pretty Dog Lane Aqueduct (near Congleton Wharf),
and the recent Billy Tights Footbridge which links two parts of a golf course.
Then, just beside Hall Green stop lock, there is a strangely decorative bridge.
From there it is but half a mile to the graceful swoop of the canal over Poole Aqueduct, crossing above a pair of locks of the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Then you bear sharp left (if going north) at Harding’s Wood Junction and cruise straight towards the red stained waters and the first lock pair of Heartbreak Hill. It’s not long either before the first mile marker appears, miles marked between Shardlow (in the East Midlands, towards Nottingham) and Preston Brook to the north (near the M56).

After the bluebells and forget-me-nots of the Macclesfield’s offside banks it is the tree blossom that is striking just now in the Church Lawton area. This afternoon blossom was drifting off trees in the breeze, floating inside lock chambers

and still shimmering, gloriously intact, on a hedge line beside the huge Bridge Farm dairy.

      If there was a theme at all to thoughts and conversations today it would have to be – boat toilets.  Cleddau passed Heritage Marina this morning where at that moment nb Mickey Jay was having its Airhead composting loo installed. A mile or so further on the canal takes a very sharp left at Red Bull Basin. The Captain hooted a warning single blast on the horn; there was a three blast return. At the corner the two boats met: from the back deck of the hire boat was shouted (somewhat desperately) “I’m looking for a pump out.” Try Heritage Boats, we advised.

Boaters who have been in this situation will know how unpleasant it can be. Roll ahead three locks to arrival at the Red Bull Services yard. There lay a different hire boat, its women-folk disappeared, while the men and the call-out engineer wrestled with pump out machinery to improve facilities aboard… While Cleddaufilled with water the Captain disposed neatly of the waste liquids and talk began between the crews. Cleddau’s composting  loo offered no surprise to these Norwegians.  “I have one at my hut in the mountains,” said the chattier man.  “It has six chambers. When one is full you just turn it round.” The mind ponders the design  – but is glad that there is no space for more than a single chamber in a boat’s bathroom!       A wander around the churchyard here at Church Lawton and the wood behind revealed plenty more spring flowers

– and some earthworks where tombstones were being removed. Wonder why…?
Today’s stats: 8 miles, 7 locks
Tomorrow: continuing downhill to Hassall Green – and maybe further






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