Boatwif Blog

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The Last Ascent

Just two days’ cruising lay ahead when Cleddau pulled away from Biddulph Aqueduct on Tuesday morning. To Bosley Locks would be a non-stop run of about 90 minutes. The Cloud, that steep lump of a hill just outside Congleton, was a silhouette in the morning haze.  The painted resting cow was a signal   that the locks were not much further ahead. Over the River Dane, then Bosley Bottom Lock was in sight.     Water trickled from between the gates indicating...

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Back to the Macc

Stone (Staffordshire) to Congleton (Cheshire) Stone in Staffordshire is a canal-minded town. The bottom lock (of four) is right beside The Star Inn. Early morning on Saturday only a father and toddler      watched proceedings as Cleddau rose in the lock. Boatyards, former workboats     and old buildings     make the transit through the town an interesting one. Then, with barely enough time to boil a kettle, the four Meaford Locks had to be tackled. Here stunning Autumn colour begged to be photographed!  ...

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Sliding into Staffordshire

From Atherstone to Stone The Coventry Canal tumbles down the 11 locks at Atherstone, weaves its way past open fields       and under the West Coast railway line towards Polesworth. This is a pleasantly kept, large ex-coal mining village  in North Warwickshire. When passing this way a few years ago church bells were ringing out across the Anker Valley. Where had the lovely sound come from? Only if you strain your eyes to the north east of the canal might you...

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Know your junctions…

After 89¼ miles northwards from the Thames at Brentford (or so the Norton Junction sign says) the Grand Union main line bears left and westwards, past some open fields, then through a tree-lined cutting and into the 2042 yard / 1867 metre long Braunston Tunnel.      As canal tunnels go it’s fairly high and also wide, wide enough to allow narrow boats to pass in opposite directions. There is a kink in the alignment near the eastern end, which does...

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Waiting at Weedon

There’s been a hiccup in the Cleddau Final Leg Cruise. Three days out from Milton Keynes the domestic alternator failed. Moored peacefully last Sunday evening near Stowe Hill the readings were worryingly low. “How could the batteries be charged to 94.3% this morning – and after four hours cruising be lower, at only 94%…” pondered the Captain. When percentage numbers seem high what was there to worry about? “The ‘fridge! The freezer! We need to get onto mains power before...

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The Final Leg: northbound from Milton Keynes

Cleddau had been tied up in Milton Keynes Marina for two weeks, recovering, as it were, from her summer adventures on the Severn, Avon, Wey and Thames. Exhausted, her engine had sounded rough and more often than not it was belching smoke… This was her above Stoke Hammond Lock on September 10th.   So what was the cause of this ill-health? The Beta Marine 43 engine is new, installed and commissioned in April 2014, having now run about 1100 hours. In...

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Twos – and a downward Three

It’s Numbers Time – end of Phase 6 of the Summer Cruise. When Phase 7 starts it will be a solo operation as Cleddau will spend a fortnight in Milton Keynes, while Tentatrice needs to be heading north again before then. For the record since departure on 22nd May from the Macclesfield Canal home moorings Cleddau has cruised 533 miles and been through 381 locks. It was on Tuesday (8th September) that things first seemed to come in twos: still...

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Up, up and over the top…

Up the Grand Union – on a mission. 2nd September: “0830 start then.” With so many locks and so many miles (27 of the former and 11 of the latter) to reach Cowroast in two days, there was boat work to be done… So, it was onward, under the M25,     continuing the climb. “Locks come thick and fast – but not fast enough,” the Tentatrice Captain remarked at some point. On a lock flight you don’t consider making a hot drink...

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From the Thames to the M25

The rubbish in the Thames Lock at Brentford on Friday afternoon (28th August) wasn’t such a shock second time round.     First encountered the previous Sunday it had appalled. After the glories of the sparkling Thames this is no picturesque sight… Now though it begins to make sense. Thames Lock at the southernmost end of the Grand Union Canal is some 121 metres / 395 feet below the summit at Tring in Hertfordshire. Water flows downhill, doesn’t it…. As the Grand...

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Look – there’s the Gherkin…

“Any advice?” the Tentatrice First Mate asked the lock keeper on Thursday afternoon. “Well, wear life jackets, have your VHF radio set up, have your anchor tied to your boat, put your kettle in the sink – and…” (with a sideways look at Monty, the Tentatrice Boat Dog) “your dog in the washing machine…” Hmm. Friday dawned, dry, calm, sea state 1-2, wind 6 – 8mph. All preparations had been made      and by 1030 the boats and boaters were ready...