Over and Under
Water – when land-based you turn on the tap, use the washing machine, have a shower, and maybe use a hose pipe. Easy. A water meter or electricity bill may cause momentary thoughts about financial costs but generally speaking accessing water in the UK is easy. The climate produces regular rainfall and voila! Open the tap and out comes ‘liquid gold’…
It’s a little bit trickier on a narrow boat though. Each craft has a water tank (in Cleddau’s case with a capacity of about 140 gallons) and, to state the obvious, when it’s gone it’s gone! That’s the background to the Cleddau manoeuvres on Thursday: to continue forward along the Macclesfield Canal to the next water filling point (at Hall Green) would be to go too far. The water point bypassed the previous day about two miles behind might be a useful top up point… Thus, in order to fill up the water tank for showers and two urgent wash loads there was an onward cruise of 1.5 miles to Congleton Wharf,
a turning round manoeuvre and a northbound cruise of about 3 miles to turn round again – to pause at the (very fierce pressure) water point opposite Buglawton. And here began a theme for the next few days: if involved in filling up the water tank or going through a lock or pausing at a services area there would be a ferocious rain or hail storm!
Mid-afternoon on Thursday saw a drenched Cleddau crew mooring up at Ramsdell Hall Railings, a favourite mooring spot near Scholar Green. There is something very tranquil about gazing out of the windows at the elegant black and white wrought iron railings and at the open fields beyond.
There’s a footpath from here across three fields to the stunning Little Moreton Hall.
Question: Why trail through a mile of thick and gooey mud (in persistent rain too) to revisit a place previously visited several times before?
Answer: For the lunch, for the lunch…
A National Trust lunch is a treat, a couth one at that. Staff turned a blind eye at the muddied legs and boots And as anticipated, the lunch menu was varied and the fare very tasty.
You can be nothing but impressed by these centuries’ old buildings; character oozes from the quirky angles and bold patterning of the exterior. The second floor Long Gallery in the South Range, according to the room guide, is the longest wooden framed gallery in an English house, an ideal space for wet weather games and entertainment…
A blackboard notice in the yard indicated a butter-making demonstration. The Tudor lady prepared her equipment, a pancheon of cream and another of water, and a little salt to act as preservative. The cream, which would already have stood in the cool for a couple of days was poured into a table top churn – and the business started. Volunteer help was called upon to pound the liquid. Nearly three quarters of an hour later came the result… The cream had solidified and separated from the thin buttermilk. Volunteer hands again were deployed to squeeze out excess buttermilk and to pat the butter into shape.
Walking back to the boat the jagged shape of the Mow Cop folly was visible across the fields, high up on the escarpment.
Onward on Saturday, past Ramsdell Hall, past the rest of the railings and past the home mooring of nb Chouette (Wash crossing companion in 2014). How many sudden hailstorms must a boater take in the course of one short cruising day? Many, it seems.
At Red Bull the canal flows across Poole Aqueduct, bears left soon to reach Hardings Wood Junction. Here start the Cheshire Locks (many paired, side by side) which plunge the Trent and Mersey Canal downhill, under the Poole Aqueduct,
Late afternoon, called in for milking, the black and white cows of the 500 strong Bridge Farm herd were jostling to get into the dairy. This is Cheshire cheese country of course. As the hail hit the cows’ backs clouds of steam rose.
Tied up for a day at Church Lawton on Sunday (here is All Saints’ Church*, perched on its knoll above the canal) there had to be a wander. Spring flowers on many of the graves in the churchyard showed how cherished a place it is for the bereaved. Just outside the church grounds a path (public, alongside private land) twists and turns its way through woodland (portions of which are currently up for sale). Forget-me-nots thronged an open patch of ground; then bluebells cascaded down to a glimpse of open water. This, it became apparent, was Lawton Hall Lake, from which a surge of water dropped down to a stream far below the footpath. Enchanting. The joy and the thrill of discovering secret vistas just a little distance away from the towpath remains.
The descent of the Cheshire Locks continues on Monday, assistance promised by the Cheshire Three…
*”The church was founded around the end of the 11th century, probably by Hugh de Mara, Lord of Lawton. There is a tradition that in the 8th century the body of St Werburgh rested overnight on the site of the church while it was being carried from Lincolnshire to Chester. In 1652 the church was struck by lightning and 11 people in the church were killed. The body of the church was destroyed by fire in 1798 and rebuilt by 1803. Following the fire of 1798 the body of the church was rebuilt in brick in neoclassical style.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints_Church,_Church_Lawton
Stats since last post: 12 miles, 7 locks.
Remaining miles and locks to Liverpool: 104 miles, 44 locks
Monkton Moments* to date: 0 (though on the Lyme View and back trip last week someone had commented “Long way from Wales, aren’t you!”)
(Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections)