Ring in the new…
So, we made it! Just before midday on New Year’s Eve Cleddau made it to Bugsworth Basin on the Upper Peak Forest Canal.
HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!
Way back in the heady days of September sunshine there had been a whimsical thought, to by-pass the home moorings at Higher Poynton and to continue on to Bugsworth , the vast inland port nestled in the Derbyshire hills. The broken wrist interfered with that idea then – but with just a few daylight hours left of 2014 Cleddau was again moored up at Bugsworth.
Tuesday morning had brought a thaw – at least the canal was largely ice-free though snow still clung to exposed slopes and sunless verges. There’s a joy in seeing once again the familiar, even if it’s the first sighting in several years. Del Boy still appears to run this very yellow boat.
Then, once on the Upper Peak Forest Canal, there are the views over the Goyt Valley, as glorious as ever. On Tuesday though, the hill tops had an icing sugar appearance… There are manually operated bridges on this canal stretch, two wind-up lift bridges and two key operated swing bridges.
There is a winding hole just after New Mills giving enough water and depth to turn lengthy boats around. Often before huge structural plants had been spied there – but now a prominent red notice warns of Giant Hogweed Danger…
Even a short cruise can provide moments of unexpected interest: a Fire and Rescue Service crew were practising water rescues at Marple Junction, and a (new?) banner on the footbridge at the entrance to the Bugsworth Arm reminds visitors that it is the site of an Industrial Ancient Monument. Just a few metres beyond is moored a beautiful Andy Russell painted boat…
“Ring in the new…” There were no church bells heard as December 31st 2014 ebbed away and 2015 was ushered in. New Year’s Eve at The Navigation Inn (food good, beer good, very friendly atmosphere) overlooking the Upper Basin was no quiet affair. A five piece pop group (drums, three guitars and a very talented singer) belted out songs from long ago pasts. Only when the intensity of sound ringing in the ears prohibited further conversation (and sign language too) did the Cleddau crew sidle away, returning to the boat to pour some amber liquid and watch the fireworks set off locally as well as on TV.
Come New Year’s Day on Thursday there was an uphill walk and, after passing a contented pair of ponies, a downhill woodland slither to Whaley Bridge. Sometimes it is just curiosity that encourages diversions, first to admire again the lovingly cared for Whaley Bridge railway station,
and secondly, to trail up Reservoir Road to view , the feeder for the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals. Wind lanes were being whipped along the water’s surface while wavelets surged over the dam wall.
It was a bracing three mile or so walk, completed just as the afternoon rain squalls started.
Journey back to Higher Poynton started on Friday. Boat watered and serviced the Captain headed Cleddau out of Bugsworth Basin just before midday. There was a single (“I am turning right”) blast on the horn and the boat turned right back onto the canal. In strong winds the boat headed towards towards Furness Vale. Camera was at the ready at New Mills for a shot of a train crossing the viaduct – elusive again. Then the Captain briefly retreated below decks to put on further clothing layers. Too cold, the boat was moored up just two hours, two swing and one lift bridge after casting off – but moored up overlooking one of the best rural views in these parts…
What good is a good mooring in an idyllic setting if the electrics fail? From full working order to black nothing in a blink of the eye. Torches, back deck investigations, engine boards up… Was the cause the domestic isolation switch – or the fuse in the inverter – or the inverter itself…? 12 volts were recovered but with no 230 volt electricity the evening became a hark back to 12 volt boating times – a portable radio, a gas lighter for the hob, no microwave, no freezer, no TV, no computer. Time passed and the Captain sent a Help text to his favourite boat engineer.
Saturday. Clad in multiple layers to combat cold and waterproofs head to foot to combat rain the crew set off.
“See, other boaters use umbrellas too,” the Captain pointedly remarked, a jibe at Boatwif’s reluctance to juggle throttle, tiller and a third, often unstable, item. Yes, there were a couple of other boats also on the move in the steady downpour.
Two blasts on the horn for the left turn at Marple Junction. In thoroughly wet conditions just the occasional jogger splashed past along the towpath. Three hours after departure there was a shopping stop at The Trading Post back at Higher Poynton. The list was simple: a top up of the diesel tank, three bags of coal – and two hot fruit punches.
Moored up back at Victoria Pit now for a last night aboard there was a sobering thought – may “Ring in the new” not indicate the ringing in of a host of new boat issues… Beds back in Beds tomorrow.
Lessons learned for winter cruising:
- Keep the solid fuel stove burning (Captain: “It never went out!”)
- Cruise from late morning until no later than mid-afternoon
- Re-tune body clock to accept late breakfasts, lunches after mooring up, late dinners
- Prepare to wear a top to toe layer of wind-proof clothing
- Know where you can put your hands on a torch in the dark!