The final stretch
Thursday 16th June.
Back on the Macc – and there was a homecoming feeling about the cruise. The rounded bridge holes,
As ever, near Bridge 60, the painted cow sat watching the cut. What a gorgeous thing she is! Then it was up Bosley Locks on Friday, past a solitary foxglove, a bee hard at work on it – and past two other hard workers, Canal and River Trust staff cleaning weed off the lock gates and the chamber walls.
No late start on Saturday, the last day, for the three hour hop from Gurnett to Higher Poynton. It was 6.32 am* when the Captain quietly pulled away from the overnight mooring. Not a soul seemed about. At 0700 all was still around Hovis Mill, just one person strolled across the bridge ahead, a newly bought newspaper under his arm. Onward then past the new Macclesfield moorings (all spaces taken), onward past Hurdsfield and the AstraZeneca manufacturing plant , out below the ridge line, out towards Kerridge (“Look, a tribute to the Queen there”)
and onward through Bollington.
There had been confirmation via email that the Bollington Leak was repaired and the canal had been re-watered; proof was in the boats that been southbound in recent days – yet Seeing is Believing… The temporary dam at Bridge 27 was gone. There were boats moored on the aqueduct (not so three weeks ago, see last three pics here). There were boats in front of Clarence Mill – and the only heavy machinery in front of the huge building was a cherry picker raised high to aid the window cleaner. Where C&RT engineers had accessed the site there was some marking on the towpath – but that was it, no drama, no flags or signs, just a smooth cruise past the Bollington Leak site…
Not much further on though there was a sign to be noted. Approaching Adlington water droplets flashed off a canoeist’s paddles in the distance. Stewards were synchronising time keeping watches and one pointed to the sign on the bridge behind. Yes, competitors on the Cheshire Ring Canoe Race (a race over 96 miles, 92 locks and 5 tunnels) were starting right here!
Soon came the Wides (the shallow waters caused by coal pit subsidence) and after that a pause at The Trading Post for diesel and a replacement gas cylinder, then along a hundred yards or so to “home” at Victoria Pit moorings.
Was it all worth it?
In 53 days away from the mooring Cleddau and crew made a round trip of 309 miles, ascended or descended through 136 locks, worked through 32 swing or lift bridges, made 12 tunnel transits and endured 8 insect bites (shared between the Captain and Boatwif). There was rain (lots of it) and sunshine! Twice or three times there was a “towpath dinner”, a chance to eat an evening meal outside . There were new waterways, new places and new vistas – of course it was worth it!
*Why 0632* on Saturday morning? Well that was to do with a reminder from Cheshire Mum about the Barnaby Festival …
STOP PRESS: 21ST JUNE. THE BOLLINGTON LEAK IS LEAKING AGAIN, BOATS HAVE BEEN MOVED FROM THE CLARENCE MILL AREA AND THE ENGINEERS ARE BACK ON SITE EXAMINING THE PROBLEM…