The unexpected (part 2)
To come across unexpected things can be a joy; to have unexpected things happen to you can be, well, a nuisance…
The joy of returning to the Macclesfield Canal via Heartbreak Hill is that it is predictable. The canal climbs steadily, the locks, mostly side by side doubles, coming at regular intervals. The intriguing shape of the Mow Cop folly steadily becomes more distinct while the water gradually takes on its reddish iron ore deposit colour.
Just up from Rode Heath at lock 51 two figures seemed to be lurking at a lock gate. Was there a boat coming down? Apparently not. Ah, it was a shopping opportunity at the locks! Here was Mary, whose earnest efforts to raise £1000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital have long been achieved. She’d raised £13000 by the last meeting here, now her total is £17000. Jams, chutneys, scones, cakes, hand sewn and hand knitted garments are all created in her home a short distance away. Thrilled she was to explain her upcoming trip to London, invited by the Hospital to a meeting in October to describe her fund-raising activity. Look out for her at the Lawton locks – and help her increase her total even further.
Onward ; up through Halls Lock, then the two Church Locks, past the huge dairy farm, past Red Bull Yard, under the Poole Aqueduct, climbing still, past the Canal Tavern, taking a right at Hardings Wood Junction – and breathe deeply, back on the Macc after four months elsewhere… Make the sharp right turn at Red Bull Basin, cruise across the aqueduct now, catch a glimpse of the locks below and continue to Hall Green stop lock.
What were the future plans? Thursday could be spent moored at the black and white railings opposite Ramsdell Hall; there could be a walk up to Mow Cop perhaps or a trek across the fields to Little Moreton Hall.
Just past Hall Green Lock is a very convenient water tap. It’s rarely busy and there’s plenty of space to moor up. While Boatwif closed up all the windows and hatches to prevent water incursion the Captain eagerly assembled all his hose pipes and the task was soon under way – a good scrubbing, rinsing and drying of the boat. Muddy streaks and dribbles at foot apart intervals along the cabin had adorned the boat since her Anderton Lift ascent five days earlier. This was a good opportunity to smarten Cleddau up. All went well, no hassle from other boat users requiring tap use, few other boats passing. Job done Boatwif clambered along the offside gunwale to open the side doors, returned to the stern, skidded, crashed to the deck – and landed on her wrist. Bruises and grazes will repair themselves but by Thursday morning the Captain was for abandoning the Mow Cop and Little Moreton Hall options, heading instead for the Minor Injuries Unit in Congleton.
It was a pleasant cruise of just over an hour. Before midday the boat was tied up and the crew had trotted a couple of hundred yards downhill to the hospital, conveniently located on Canal Road.
Now two days or so from journey’s end the most seriously unexpected part of this entire trip is a left wrist in plaster and an appointment at the fracture clinic in Bedford next Friday.
On Friday evening, after a night on the Biddulph Aqueduct and a cruise past the painted cow (see previous post), boat and crew are facing Bosley bottom lock, with the Cloud looming behind. Tomorrow the Cheshire Three from Macclesfield plan to arrive to swell the workforce.
Shock, horror, there was an array of scarves, gloves and hats ready for purchase in a Congleton convenience store today … maybe this sort of thing should be expected as morning mist lingers and the days grow shorter. Is it really that close to the end of summer?