South west for winter: Day 7
Day 7: Fine weather for a final cruise
Middlewich to Aqueduct Marina, Church Minshull, 6½ miles, 1 lock
It was Thursday morning when Cleddau cruised westwards away from Middlewich. This canal length (Wardle Lock at the eastern end, Barbridge Junction at the west), is about 10 miles in total, with four locks. It connects the Trent and Mersey Canal at Middlewich with the Shropshire Union Canal, which runs between Wolverhampton and Ellesmere Port, north of Chester.
The sole lock of the day (and final lock of the trip – and the year) was reached. This was Stanthorne Lock. Blue sky, towpath puddles, the longer shadows of autumn, the deep and regular thudding engine of a boat emerging from a lock now ready for your own use made for a thoroughly satisfying moment…
Onwards: at a bridge hole there was a squeeze past an approaching boat. Although its hire crew were supremely confident about their situation the stern remained firmly stuck in the mud for quite some minutes…
Onwards again, farmland to the left, glimpses on the right down onto the Winsford flashes. As ever, the pretty gabling on the canal side building begged to be photographed… Contrails across a blue sky were a reminder that this is Manchester Airport country. How much faster those airborne vessels than the little narrow boats creeping along down below!
Two months ago Cleddau had moored at a site overlooking the pretty village of Church Minshull.. Then blustery winds and the infamous Shroppie ledge had conspired to make mooring up a protracted and frustrating business. Now though, as Cleddau glided by, there was chance to spot the pretty church , to gaze down into the valley and over across to a landscape lump. (Is it the ridge on which Beeston Castle sits?)
So this was it then, Cleddau at her winter destination…
Higher Poynton to Aqueduct Marina: 42½ miles, 46 locks
Cruising total for 2017: 674½ miles, 412 locks
Least said about the next few hours – spent in an excruciating drive across Cheshire and back to reorganise wheeled transport. Who would have thought that the north west’s greatest traffic delays seem to be in and around Middlewich… Only a close-up photo opportunity as the road went past Jodrell Bank alleviated some of the agony.
Day 8: Preparations made
Deck paraphernalia, curtains, blinds and textiles removed, shelves stripped of books
Steam cleaning, grit blasting and repainting awaits: faded Cleddau arrived as autumn hues were beginning to fade. Hopefully spring will bring bright and beautiful transformations to both boat and landscape.
Will Cleddau emerge from her winter hibernation something like this…?