Southbound, on a north west heading

Victoria Pit, Higher Poynton – Red Bull Aqueduct: 23 miles, 13 locks

Home for three nights.

Mail checked.

Admin attended to.

Grass cut.

Light weight clothes selected…

Then it was back to the boat to start the 2019 cruise.

The easterly blasts had gone and warm summery temperatures had arrived. There was earnest discussion abut the coal, whether to retain it on board in case of back to winter temperatures or to offload it so as to give more space on the bow deck. Space (and a now functioning Webasto heating system) won…

What a glorious day to start a summer cruise.    The sun shone, the world waved and bluebells bobbed.

In Bollington more mock wildlife seem to have emerged for spring – a flouncing flamingo, a frog prince  and a tower of giraffes.

And, sighted at Hurdsfield, what do you call this…? 

Near Hovis Mill the Canada goose which was so painstakingly building her nest ten days ago was still in residence.

Three hours after leaving Higher Poynton Cleddau was tied up at Lyme Green on Macclesfield’s southern outskirts.

“Pimm’s?” proffered the Captain.

Well, yes, all the requisites were on board, including fresh mint in a pot on the roof – all, that is, except ice cubes. (24 hours later there were plenty of ice cubes…!)

”We could come and help you down the locks on Sunday,” Cheshire Mum had suggested.

Then came a further suggestion: “How about we bring some more crew?”

By mid-Sunday morning a bike, many delicious bakery products    and 7 extra crew members had been loaded on board. Techno Son-in-Law fiddled about at the bow for a few seconds and then the boat was cast off.

The first obstacle of course is Broadhurst Swing Bridge, that which had caused considerable consternation, and the use of spanner and screwdriver a week or so ago. (See here) A visual check the night before had revealed that now there is a shiny new lock.

The Captain opened and closed the bridge (a drama-free operation) and onwards Cleddau cruised, the further mile to the Royal Oak Swing Bridge. Here the Cheshire One was in charge of operations, swapping fingers on the button regularly as the sun-warmed steel scorched her skin…

Onwards a further mile and a half, past cows and sheep, to Bosley. 

Would these extra hands make light work of the locks?

There was instruction, demonstration, elbow-swinging effort…  On a perfectly cloudless day the Cloud stood proud and prominent.

Cleddau proceeded downhill,   crew members variously walking, winding, pushing,  pulling, grazing…

At lock 4,  Duncan, Bosley’s chief volunteer lock keeper, was escorting a boat up the hill. Information was exchanged: 20 tonnes of clay it had taken to back fill the void at Lock 3 (now covered by fresh grey gravel).  He and Techno Son-in-Law (aka Cheshire East’s Countryside Ranger i/c Tegg’s Nose ) discussed strategies for dealing  with the scourge of dog poo – before going their separate ways…

There was a lunch stop at the moorings at the bottom of the locks: the girls inside the cabin, adults outside, tables and chairs on the towpath. Might this summer see a fair few towpath dinners…?

Onward a few miles, then Techno Son-in-Law disembarked, pedalled back to Macclesfield, transferred to four wheeled transport and collected the day’s visiting crew…Remember his fiddling at the bow at the start of the day? It was the setting up of a video camera of the cruise. It takes 8 minutes, runs at 10 times actual speed (and neither the Captain nor Boatwif was at the helm during the tree kissing episode…!)

An overnight mooring with clear views across open fields to the sharply defined Cloud was bliss!   In a parallel to real life, while Boatwif stood on the front deck mid-evening in Facetime communication with the eight hour time difference Cal Clan, a mother duck shepherded her raft of ten tiny ducklings along the canal.

Bank Holiday Monday was again dry and bright – there is a wonderful water tap at Bridge 68, wonderful because there is plenty of space to offload roof furniture and to wash a boat… Unlike on a previous occasion no-one took a planned  (or even unplanned) dip.  Weeks of smoke from the fire and days of dust from the Bugsworth paths had left the roof a darker shade of sludge.

It looks as if the dredging programme is still ongoing.  

On a sunny bank holiday cyclists, golfers, walkers, picnickers  and canoeists    were all out to play…

Onwards, past Dane-in-Shaw pasture way below Biddulph Aqueduct, over the Dog Lane Aqueduct,  past a white goose on her nest at Congleton Wharf,  past busy Astbury Golf Course, past Ramsdell Hall Railings, to pause at Heritage Marina for more gas and a new bow rope. Two more miles take the canal through Scholar Green. Who wouldn’t gaze back at the Mow Cop folly…? A mooring on Poole Aqueduct was right above the orange waters of the Trent and Mersey Canal, down which Cleddau will travel onwards towards the north west…

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2 Responses

  1. Jaqueline Biggs says:

    What glorious weather to begin your summer cruise! Fabulous pictures and excellent video which I am sharing now with my sister Susan. Yes I am in Alaska now and it has snowed three days in a row to welcome me! It is 29 F this morning.

    Lovely to see Abi, Tasha and Martin. Good crew!!! I am right there with you in my heart and mind.

    Love and Biggs big hugs,

    Jaq xxx

  2. Hi Jaq,
    We are now on our way down to Middlewich and we passed through Wheelock today.

    We remember the last time we did this route was with you on nb Valerie in icy waters … (December 2017). No ice this time, but some cracking thunderstorms and heavy showers late this afternoon! Temperatures have dropped a bit but there’s no need for a fire again – yet!

    The cows are enjoying the fresh grass in the fields and many of the trees are still ablaze with pretty Spring blossom.

    So glad you have got back to Alaska. There must have been some changes since you were last there…

    Love from us both,

    Sue /Boatwif and Ken /Captain

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