Raw winds and puffy clouds

Rode Heath to Ramsdell Hall: 6.44 miles, 13 locks
           Thursday – wind was forecast; wind there was. By the time this afternoon’s mooring was reached the wind was gusting up to 22 mph…
            However much Cleddau’s overall appearance was improved by her 2009 repaint her slab-sided profile remains. Cross winds can make her sulk, to become stubborn and to refuse to move over into deep water. Try leaving a lock on an exposed part of the Trent and Mersey Canal fully intending to go straight ahead while the boat is absolutely determined to crab left along the concrete edge, or worse, right beside a prickly off-side hedge. Try aiming to go into a lock, calculating whether to aim further to the right or to the left than usual to take account of the wind effect…

            On a positive note all these recent dry days have meant very little mud. Mud is never particularly welcome in a domestic setting and both Boatwif and the Captain possess, and indeed wear unglamorous but practical gaiters if wet weather or mud is anticipated. Gaiters are also excellent draught excluders in the ankle region, so these too were donned during this morning’s layering ritual.

            Before the Lawton Triple Locks were reached an array of lock gates (tall bottom gates, shorter top gates) could be seen at a CRT work yard.

         Later on today at the last lock pair (lock 41), before the turn back on to the Macclesfield Canal, repair work was under way. See an empty lock and you are likely to be astonished at its depth and at the height of the all-important gates.

Soon this morning there were glimpses again of Mow Cop, a folly high above Scholar Green.
Later in the day the Captain was heard to mutter “Not walking up there again, not today, not in this weather…” Last August’s expedition had been done in somewhat milder conditions!

          At the Lawton locks some gate-pushing help came from local walkers. Here the over bridges are solid and encased in brick; apparently these four locks are the result of a realignment of a previous staircase flight which was a few yards to the north. 

           Four locks done – on now to the closely located pair of Church Locks. There was a boat coming down and a dainty duet across the shortest pound, neither boat suffering a bruise or a scrape!

It was back to very familiar territory, past the All Saints’ Church and past the huge dairy farm, the cows this time in the sheds
and not queuing for the milking parlour across the yard.  A tractor (a sign of Spring?) was working a field
and then it was up the last three locks, past The Canal Tavern in Kidsgrove and a turn onto the Macc. Sharp turns can be a challenge for a lengthy non-bendy boat but this time Cleddaudidn’t add to the scar on the stone work…

Sheltered between the railway and the T and M cutting on Cleddau cruised, past familiar boat names, Bodger and May Un Mar Lady, Elsie Potter and yes, Flirty Gertie.
Another sharp right turn was negotiated, onto the Poole Aqueduct, crossing the T and M locks below. Wow! Heading into wind… snow still on the banks…
scarves wound round faces… there was just one more lock to navigate through, the little Hall Green Lock with a drop of about thirteen inches. Its very leaky top gates and the need to fish a lump of weed from the water slowed Cleddau’s passage through.
 Then, it was just a mile to go, a mile through Scholar Green (lovely name), and past Ramsdell Hall. If you’ve walked an Atlantic-facing beach in a westerly gale you’ll know what it feels like – the wind penetrates every pore and joint!

          No afternoon or evening walk tonight, not when it took three hours to warm back through! But the sunset through the galley window was pretty stunning…

(Tomorrow through Congleton and on to the base of Bosley Locks)

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