Time in the slow lane

A road trip (another!) up to Macc to take The Cheshire One home.

What next? Why not have some boat days… and nights?

The boat was still in winter mode but a few hours spent refilling the water tank, lighting the solid fuel stove, making up the bed and running the engine soon created a cosy floating residence.

Time for a cruise and a systems check at the start of the season – but where to? Favourite getaway destination is Bugsworth, at the end of the Upper Peak Forest Canal – but current tales of a leak and an impending canal closure just north of Marple Junction proved a deterrent. Better to head south then, all the way to  – well, to Lyme Green, the southern outskirts of Macclesfield, about 10 miles distant (and about 25 minutes by road).

The departure routine is familiar – back away from the pontoon, Boatwif to fend off Halcyon Dawn which is tied on the neighbouring jetty; swing the bow to the left; potter up the canal  B15-09-01    to the winding hole about fifty yards further on; manoeuvre the boat (think a three point turn, done in about a dozen shuffles) and then straighten up – and head south…     B15-09-02

The last cruise, over New Year, had been in a monochrome world through a still and snowy landscape. By contrast this trip was characterised by movement and colour.   B15-09-03    Sheep were earnestly grazing, lambs were variously gambolling about,  B15-09-14  inquisitively exploring the bank edges,  B15-09-16    closely monitoring their mothers or dozing in the sun. Duck pairs swooped overhead to make splash landings on the water.  On the towpath dogs were being walked  – but how unexpected it was to realise that of all the dogs spotted on the towpath a significant majority were spaniels. What is it with Cheshire dog lovers and spaniels then…?

Cleddau puttered along the canal, her crew spotting the familiar (the country pad with the helicopter in the garden,    B15-09-39   Tennis Court House, the boats moored at Lyme View Marina)  B15-09-35    and began to muse about The Tree. Where exactly was it? Could it be found…? Some years ago an English Oak had been planted on the Middlewood Way,


marking a particular wedding anniversary. “Try Bridge 23, it’s by a brook, just before a cutting,” texted Cheshire Mum. Found, it was nearer Bridge 22,   B15-09-34   but it’s still there, taller now, looking out towards Woodford and Manchester. Success!

B15-09-09       B15-09-08

Onward – there was Spring colour in gardens,  B15-09-22  in  hedges,  B15-09-30  by bridges    B15-09-12     and by walls, B15-09-23  fresh green reeds sprouting at the canal edges,   B15-09-24    trees dressed in their prettiest attireB15-09-25 and even boats with flower decorated bows.  B15-09-37

Then came some new sightings: the collapsed wharf beside Bollington’s Adelphi Mill is under repair; B15-09-11     the trees surrounding the Astra Zeneca manufacturing plant at Macclesfield have had a severe haircut – and look! It’s happened, new visitor mooring pontoons have been installed towpath side just before Buxton Road bridge in Macclesfield.   B15-09-21   If boaters moor sensibly there could be space for five or six narrow boats. The mooring period, however, is for 24 hours only.  Will folk stop and explore Macclesfield now, one wonders. It’s in Cheshire’s hill country but the view across the townscape is deceptive.  B15-09-19    The canal runs on a contour along the eastern side of the town which spreads across a valley, the River Bollin running at its base, the railway line just above it. You can walk down from the canal and up into the town, famed for its place in the silk industry. See here for museum information.  From a distance this is the impressive frontage of Macclesfield’s Town Hall  B15-09-38    – the town deserves a look.

Last week how were the good folk who live near the Macclesfield Canal spending their leisure time? There was a Pony Club event at Kerridge,  B15-09-27    anglers were comfortably settled on favoured pitches,  B15-09-32   Sunday footballers could be heard on the sports field far below Bollington Aqueduct, walkers and cyclists were eating al fresco at the Waterside Café at the mill  B15-09-33   and on Wednesday evening lacrosse players were practising at Poynton.

How did the boat systems perform during the few days of gentle pottering? All seems well, (including even the washing machine)   B15-09-26    although water delivered hotter from the Webasto would be a good thing in the mornings…

Still in the mind are several Macc Canal views:

Hovis Mill,      B15-09-20

pleasing bridge shapes and reflections in the water,  B15-09-28

a building high up on the Lyme Park ridge line   B15-09-36

and faces in unexpected places.

B15-09-10  B15-09-31

Sitting absolutely stationary on the M1 for 45 minutes on Monday afternoon (!) there was time to reflect on the ongoing Boat Reminders List… Must add “Clean boat windows” to it – after all Departure Date for the 2015 Summer Cruise is 22nd May, only about four and a half weeks away now.

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