We thought you’d gone for good…!

“We thought you’d gone for good!” said a mooring neighbour at Victoria Pit the day after Cleddau had returned from her Round Britain Round the North West / North Midlands travels… Well, the boat had been gone for 42 nights…

(Map 1 is the northern area covered, map 2 the southern area covered. Red arrows indicate outbound route from Vic Pit; blue arrows the inbound route from Stourport-on-Severn).

   

 On Sunday evening about a dozen boats were moored at Bosley Bottom, nine at least facing north, waiting to proceed up. There’s no access to Bosley Locks after 1pm and all boats must be out of the flight by 4pm. The crews on two “Ginger” hire boats, out from Stone, were travelling together. It was a hot evening and they all enjoyed convivial company outside until about 10pm.

Would there be a rush on the locks the next morning? The paddles would be unchained at 0830 so that boats could then start their ascents / descents.

It was 0745 when the first boat movement was heard, soon to be followed by others. Why rush to be in a queue when there was no time pressure…

As Cleddau was being untied damp cloud swirled around the Cloud    – moisture was in the air! The Captain went to set the first lock (Lock 12) – just as the first boat descending from the top was arriving from Lock 11. That was a good start.

Even better, making their way down the towpath, weed clearing rakes in hand, were two volunteer lock keepers. More familiar faces, familiar from Macc Canal Society Zoom meetings! Hallo! 

Up Cleddau climbed, lock by lock, the effort eased by an extra volunteer pair of hands. As the boat rose, so did the cloud. Here’s a shot of the Cloud from Lock 9 (Boatwif’s lock when on HALOUS duty), taken about 20 minutes after the earlier photo).   There’s been a major improvement to the lock landing here,    an easier place to pull in and wait for a down-coming boat to clear Lock 8.

Up.

Up.

Up.

More boats came downhill – more pausing to wait, before weaving past descending boats. 

The locks completed, the journey continued.

Farm moorings    and grazing cows  were passed before the next pause at the Royal Oak Swing Bridge at Oakgrove. There’s a local road that crosses the bridge between Gawsworth and the A523 towards Leek. Vehicles (their drivers, that is) can often be impatient here. The bridge barriers and the bridge deck are operated from an electric panel. The barriers were down and the deck about to swing when one car sped round the corner from Gawsworth, arriving right alongside the car already waiting at the barrier. Slowly it rolled backwards to take its proper place in the queue…

With the swing bridge closed and the operating key safely back on board Cleddau cruised on*.

Question: moor here overnight by Danes Moss Nature Reserve?   No, not this time…

The Broadhurst Swing Bridge lay ahead. It carries a local footpath across the bridge.

Two boats had come through and re-closed the bridge behind them. The Captain set off,    operating key in hand for the (non-electrical) lock, which once unlocked releases the heavy metal handle to be pulled up so that the bridge could be swung.

The lock wouldn’t unlock. Back to the boat the Captain came to try the lock with a different key. Fiddle. Fiddle. No success.

Back again he came – for a third key and some tools. Still a different key wouldn’t turn the lock. Drastic measures were called for.   Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle.  Then tools were used to unscrew the lock, to pull the handle, to release the mechanism, to swing the bridge…

Relief, the boat had passed through its final obstacle.

Onward, the Captain making a call to C&RT to inform them of his actions…

Question again: a mooring behind the Macclesfield Retail Park?   No, not this time.

Onward,

to try for a last night mooring at Gurnett Aqueduct.  

A morning walk (Tuesday) from Gurnett up to the village of Sutton brought a surprise.   The humble Post Office / village store has undergone a transformation. Fruit, veg, flowers and plants outside the shop, neat tables and chairs in the tea garden, and a sleek-looking interior…    Might make this place a destination for a coffee or lunch when cruising past next time!

Tunnicliffe is a local name, the artist celebrated by a road name, a plaque on a gable end  and by his name on a village sign.

There’s a magnet that always draws the camera to this shot at Plough House, associated with another Name, this one well known to fans of canal history…

From Gurnett Aqueduct Cleddau’s home mooring at Higher Poynton was still some four hours away. The canal passes the outskirts of Macclesfield where there’s some new housing at what had been a large transport depot. Remember there used to be goats kept on that patch of land!

Look at the bridge numbers    During March to June of this year the canal between Bridges 39 and 38 was closed, de-watered while a culvert underneath the canal was repaired – properly, this time. Look, this wall is being rebuilt,  that’s where the machinery must have accessed the canal bed… And that ahead is Black Road Bridge (number 38)   from where Boatwif took this photograph on April 25th

The towpath is still closed opposite Hovis Mill     because of a long running dispute about a dangerous garden wall.

On such a glorious morning many residents of the The Bridges Retirement Complex    were enjoying a seat in the sunshine on their apartment balconies.

The canal wends on, past dinky gardens in Hurdsfield,

past Astra-Zeneca’s manufacturing base,

towards Kerridge  and Bollington.

 

 

Kerridge Dry Dock

Adelphi Mill

Clarence Mill 

Onward, past the mills, for the last few miles to Poynton.

Bridge 21 –     remember the tree trunk in the water that blocked the bridge hole here…? (September 2019)

On, past the moorings at Lyme View (and a quiet thank you to the owner of Alikanas   for his 2010 introduction to Bourne Boat Builders). The hills draw the eyes,   then after a leaf-shaded stretch    there is the wide but shallow water at Higher Poynton.

The diesel tank was topped up at Bailey’s Trading Post  and on the way past Cleddau’s mooring pontoon was noted, ready for occupation.     Just a need to turn round now at High Lane so as to reverse up to the pontoon…

There was the small matter of negotiating a way through the final moments of a serious fishing match   and of waiting for another boat to turn and move off.

Then, with the slopes of Lyme Park in the distance,  it was back past the lines of offside moored boats, back to Victoria Pit, to pull in at the towpath opposite Cleddau’s pontoon and to reverse, undramatically, alongside the pontoon, stern to the bank, bow to the canal.     “Well, I’ve never seen that done before,” said the young father resting on the towpath seat while his three primary age children raced about.

Just sometimes then a manoeuvre goes well and there’s somebody there to admire it!

(*Within a few hours a C&RT email alert warned of broken mechanism at the Royal Oak Swing Bridge and of the navigation being closed until further notice…)

Bosley Bottom Lock to Higher Poynton:  16½ miles, 12 locks, 2 swing bridges

 Higher Poynton to Higher Poynton 4th May – 15th June: 235 miles, 182 locks, 4 movable bridges

  2021 Monkton Moments*- 6

(Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections)

  1. Passing boaters on Audlem Lock flight: “I’m from Hav’fodwest…”
  2. Nb Serena crew at Market Drayton: spent winter lockdown with family in Narbeth
  3. Towpath walker above the Bratch Locks: “I’ve got a house in Freshwater East – the best beach in the world…”
  4. Towpath walker at Stourton Junction: “Ah, Pembrokeshire…”
  5. Not really /strictly a Monkton Moment* – a boater at Kidderminster Lock said: “If you put ‘Aber’ in front of your boat name it would be Milford Haven…”
  6. Boater at Bosley: “Did you name this boat or did you buy it with the name on?” He had sailed off the Pembrokeshire coast and remembered the Cleddau King car ferry.

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