Many hands make light work

      There were five pairs of hands involved in getting Cleddaudown the flight of 12 locks at Bosley today. The Cheshire Three had offered their services as volunteer lock keepers.
     “We could leave home at 10, meet you at Bosley at quarter past,” the Cheshire Mum had suggested.  Alarm bells, alarm clocks, an electric swing bridge and about a three mile cruise flashed through the mind.
      “Better make it half past ten,” became the agreement.
      Through Broadhurst Bridge (locked open),

through Oakgrove Bridge (electrically operated)

and on through a wooded stretch.  Had the trees put on their Sunday best? Fresh green leaves were frilly, flouncy petticoats swaying above the water. “Forget-me-not, forget-me-not,” shrieked the sunlight, making, hopefully, more than just a guest appearance.  Birds sung in harmony – and cows trooped across a field as if to file solemnly into church.
      At 1020 Bosley Top Lock was in view, a boat just emerging, and a white sunhat darted up the towpath.

The Cheshire One was reporting for duty!  Windlasses were issued, the life-jacket located and Operation Bosley got under way.

With eager paddle-winders and gate-pushers

and an extra steerer the 118 feet passage downhill was smooth. Mugs of tea while in transit, opportunity for butterfly photographs

and lock-side chats – it was all most agreeable.

Regulars on this flight take note of their timings: aided by extra crew and most locks in our favour the Twelve were completed

in 1 hour, 16 minutes – and 32 seconds. (Yes, the Captain deployed his stop-watch!)

       Strange birds were floating off the Cloud – paragliders.

“Look,” said Cheshire Mum “I did that  last summer – but the mountain was higher…!”
       Lunch was aboard at the moorings at the bottom of the locks followed by a meander along another mile or so. The Cheshire One alternately fished with the battered pink net and sang – and latterly coaxed someone to partake in a game of dominoes…

On towards Congleton and the Biddulph Valley Aqueduct Cleddaucruised. 
       Here there was chance to explore.  Some rough steps lead down a steep path to the Biddulph Valley cycleway and track. “Let’s play, Granny,” said the Cheshire One, “we’re in a forest, no the jungle – and we’re princesses…”
       Techno Son-in-Law and Cheshire Mum appeared so a proper exploration could occur. Along a wooded path, over a stile and across the meadow into Dane-in-Shaw Pasture (SSSI). Techno Son-in-Law was enraptured, photographing butterfly eggs on lady smock, moving grass aside to discover fragile violets,

identifying  black knapweed  and self heal, spotting early growth of ox-eye daisies (though there are no common spotted orchids yet). Right at the base of the valley runs the River Dane. While Techno Son-in-Law established via his iPhone its source (near Buxton) and mouth (Runcorn into the River Mersey) the Cheshire One threw stones, hopped onto a mid-river shoal

and found a large stick. What better way could there have been than to spend a day moving a boat and, with Techno’s help, getting some extra nature study lessons!

       Mid-afternoon, after a clamber up from the valley bottom, the boat was reached. The Captain had put deck chairs out on the towpath and prepared ingredients for the first Pimm’s of the season!

       “Nice for some,” said some passing walkers, “We’ve been stripping wallpaper all day.” A cyclist escorted by a border collie emerged from the Biddulph Valley Way path. The dog paused, then shook its wet fur all over the Captain. Perhaps it had just been too good a day after all…!


       NATURE NOTES:  flowersidentified between Bosley and Biddulph:  bluebells,

meadowsweet, greater stitchwort, lady’s smock (cuckoo flower), cow parsley, dandelions, forget-me-nots
       Wildlife: buzzards, swallows, blackcap (northern nightingale), orange-tip butterflies, woodpeckers, moorhens, green-veined white butterflies
        Distance travelled: 7.5 miles, 12 locks
        Tomorrow: to Harding’s Wood Junction and downhill to Church Lawton

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