Water Chaos. 24th May

Lime Kiln Lock to Stone Bottom Lock Winding Hole

Time to move on, well just a bit. We’d thought about moving early, but despite the sun waking us a lot earlier than normal we didn’t seem to get moving any earlier than normal. Other boats were on the move and we suspected we’d have to wait for some of the locks going through Stone today, but we had plenty of time.

I love these curved platforms around these locks.

Lime Kiln lock already had a boat going down, so I helped with the gates and reset it for us. The boats should now be spaced out, but when I rounded the bend towards Newcastle Road Lock I could see the same boat waiting for another to come up.

The gates had been left from a boat going down for one coming up, good practice. Although that boat was still filling with water at the tap below. There were plenty of people on hand to help from waiting boats. Each person who appeared from below said that it was chaos at the water point. Two boats moored on the service moorings, one had just had to do-se-do as it came out from the lock with the one leaving the water point, another arrived and pulled up on the off side, another trying to hold a position ready to come up the lock when it was their turn, but out of the way for the next descending boat to come past.

Our turn at last

Why so many boats at one tap? Stone has two taps, one here and the other below Star Lock. As we’d noticed the other day on a walk, the tap by Star Lock isn’t working, a big blue C&RT sign blurred with rain once said something, but is now illegible. We’d tried the tap and certainly nothing came out of it. There is no C&RT notice that we can find about this tap.

We needed water, the gauge was down to just under a quarter and we’d planned on doing some washing. Nothing for it but to head down the lock and hope there would be somewhere for us to wait our turn. There was nowhere near the tap so instead Mick moved Oleanna down to the chandlers where we decided to fill with diesel. We’d been hoping to meet up with Coal Boat Halsall, but by the time they get to Great Haywood we will most likely have turned off the Trent and Mersey and be on our way to Atherstone much further south.

Looking back towards the tap, less chaotic now

Apparently a few days ago someone had pulled up where we were to wait for the tap to become free and then an altercation occurred as someone had jumped the queue, fists were mentioned in the tale Mick was told. We waited patiently.

One boat that had been filling no longer had it’s hose out, the crew seemed to be having a nice chat with a coffee in hand, presumably unaware that they were hogging the services whilst others waited, patiently. He eventually pulled away, vacating a space for the chap who’d clung onto his boat for half an hour on the off side. It turns out that his wife had gone shopping for some bits and he’d been waiting for her. Have to say if it had been us we’d have arranged to meet somewhere up ahead once the tank was full. But each to their own.

Obligatory photo

When there was space for us we backed up and waited our turn. For such a busy place only having one tap working is ridiculous especially in this location. We asked the volunteers about it. When demolition work started below Star Lock on the old Leisure Centre the water was turned off, presumably just in case. The tap now no longer works and has been out of action for possibly six weeks! Will a supply be reinstated? If not then more waiting space should be provided to help stop boats backing up all over the place.

Dropping down Star Lock

With our tank full we worked down the next lock and pulled into a 24 hr mooring. From here we walked to Morrisons to do a reasonably large shop. Once this was stowed we dropped down Star Lock, a line of chairs laid out along the towpath for drinking gongoozlers. There was space here for us, this will do for a couple of days.

Out of action, but for how long?

4 locks, 0.81 miles, 4, 5, 6, who knows boats waiting for water,  6 volunteers, 1 admired cat, 85 litres diesel, 1 full water tank, 2 moorings, 2 boxes wine, 1 chicken, 1 freezer still not empty, 3 hours, 7 magpies, 1 postponement.

Down The Tube. 23rd May

Chipping Norton Theatre and Hampstead Tube Station

An early start for me, I was up and away from the boat at 6:45 to catch a train to Birmingham New Street. My journey was really quite pleasant. Plenty of space on the train, I even had a table to put my model box on. As the train approached Wolverhampton I caught sight of locks on the 21, each chamber empty and waiting for someone to head up. Then on the way into Birmingham I kept catching glimpses of canals, the water looking blue and un-churned by boat propellers. I had little idea of where about’s I was on the canal network only stations giving away vague locations.

Birmingham New Street

At Birmingham, which felt deep underground, we were kept waiting for our train to hitch up to another before we could get off. This made plenty of the passengers twitchy. As I got off I quickly ducked into a recess to avoid the mad dash of those heading for other trains. My experience of carrying models, that you have spent often weeks making, around on London tubes in rush hour coming in handy. I didn’t need to rush for my next train so when all was clear I just sauntered from one platform to the next.

Train with pampas grass steam

The next train took me through Leamington Spa where the topiary steam engine was looking very good with two carriages following it with windows. Next stop was Banbury, only a couple of minutes late, not bad for the new time table. Oleanna left Banbury heading northwards in mid December last year when the cut was partially frozen over, no chance of that today, I had little need for my jumper!

Will, the Producer picked me up and we soon arrived in Chipping Norton. Lots of hellos to people before setting my model up for our meeting. Today there was the Director, Producer and Production Manager. I worked my way through panto with the model. Various small additions were talked about, a few new ideas too. Everyone liked the general setting, based on an abstract Underground station. All in all a very good meeting.

Abstract underground

Gemma, the Production Manager, and myself sat down afterwards and went through the scenery bit by bit, discussing how things could be built. Marketing came along to take a sneaky peek photo for social media. I now have a list of jobs to do before I can move onto the next stage, colouring in, but they should only take me a day.

Will dropped me back off at the station and I made my way back to Stone, via Birmingham, then onto Stoke, standing next to the stinky toilet all the way, guarding my model like a pitbull! A late arrival meant I had 2 minutes to dash through the underpass to the other platform or wait another hour for the next train back to Stone. I legged it!

Tilly had been holding the fort for much of the day as Mick had taken advantage of me being away with work and had headed to London for the day.

Why London? Well for almost a year now he has been the proud owner of a 60+ London Oyster card, which gives him free travel around London. This comes as a benefit of our contact address being in London. It took quite a while for his card to be in his possession and today was the first time he felt he could head to London to try it out.

Hampstead Tube Station

What did he do when he got there? He got on the tube and headed to the deepest station on the network, Hampstead, 192 foot below ground level. Rose to the surface in one of the lifts ( deepest lift shaft on the underground) popped into Tesco Express, bought a sandwich, went back down in the lift and caught a tube back to Euston.

If he’d have known that both trains in and out of London would be delayed by an hour, he most probably wouldn’t have done the trip. On the bright side he might just get his money back.

0 locks, 0 miles, 5 trains for me, 2 car rides, 4 trains for Mick, 1 used twice, 2 tubes, 2 chicken and bacon sandwiches (1 gluten free), 1 chicken and avocado sandwich (GF) for breakfast, 2 hours model meeting, 3 thumbs up, 2 technicians, 320 steps not climbed, 1 really boring day, 1 good roll around on the towpath, 1 grey cat!

Dusty grey in highly fashionable right now
Especially on one side of the head!

A Spooky Coincidence. 21st and 22nd May

Brooke House Winding Hole to Lime Kiln Lock 30

Hiya!

Browsing through Facebook on Tuesday morning we came across photos of the next pound down from us being empty. This had been put on a local page and as ever boaters were commenting, blaming C&RT. Where as the more likely reason for the pound being empty was someone had left gates or paddles open at the next lock. The short length of the pound could easily be refilled from the pound above which is around 3 miles long, so we weren’t worried.

No boats at home today

We pushed off around 11am passing a few boats on route, nobody mentioned an empty pound to us and when we arrived I checked ahead. There was plenty of water, someone had sorted it.

Going down

The Meaford Locks were busy we managed to swap with boats at two of the locks, paused to empty the yellow water tank between locks, before the towpath changed sides again. Our hope was to be able to pull up on the five day moorings above the locks in Stone. From here it would be a ten minute walk to the station for me to get to my panto meeting. We were in luck, there was space.

Model finished

Tuesday afternoon I finished off my white card model ready for my meeting whilst Tilly became unimpressed with Stone and Mick had a walk down to Morrisons for a few bits. He returned via the towpath to see if he could find NB Mr Blue Sky who we’d shared the locks into Manchester with a few weeks ago. A rendez vous was arranged for Wednesday morning.

Ah the red and white rose of NB Mr Blue Sky

Wednesday arrived and two moorings became vacant (after one boat moved on!) so we nudged up, closer to the footpath to the station. A short while later Clare appeared, followed by Graeme at the helm of NB Mr BS, they slotted nicely into the gap behind us.

Tea and Cake!

Time for a catch up on their travels. Since we parted ways in Manchester they have been down the Shoppie, done some of the Staffordshire and Worcester then come back up the Trent and Mersey, covering at least twice as many miles as us. They also wanted a sneak peek at my model. Despite the still fairly early hour we all had a thin slice of birthday cake, only half left to go! It was lovely to see them again, our paths may cross next time they are over or when/if we venture over to New Zealand.

Always smiling

Mick walked up to help them with the Meaford Locks whilst I was left to finish off my technical drawings. A trial pack and check through of everything for my meeting, I was ready by 3pm.

Clean after a good wash down
Our neighbours with baked on grass

Fountains came along trimming the overgrown towpath and kicking up a lot of dust. We did get a knock on the side of the boat asking if they could cut alongside our mooring. Mick said yes as he could be stood ready to brush it off as soon as they finished. This proved a touch harder as the sun immediately baked it onto the gunnels, half an hour of washing got rid of it. At least we were in, our neighbour wasn’t, so didn’t get asked they just cut the grass anyway.

A good sized foodhall

We had a walk to the station to time it as my train in the morning is early, ten minutes without getting too puffed climbing over the footbridge. Then we walked down through town (the Co-op had gone) to the new Marks and Spencers which is canal side just below Star Lock. With sandwiches for tomorrow and a few bits and bobs we walked back along the canal to Oleanna.

I do like a good …

The bywash at Star Lock was roaring away, a boat was coming down Yard Lock above. As we walked along the pound we paused to pay our respects to Alex Bennett who’d died early last year in a boat fire here. We’d seen New Year in with her at Bugsworth Basin 2016/17 in the hold of her Fellows Morton and Clayton boat Tench, our paths had crossed a few times since.

We turned to carry on walking. The gates of Yard Lock opened, a snap shot of atmosphere with the leaking gates sprouting water behind the helm as the old workboat engine chugged it’s smoke into the chamber. As we got closer we could see that it was a Fellows Morton and Clayton boat. Closer still, it was Tench. We’d hoped we’d see her about somewhere, but in this pound where her owner Alex had died! A very spooky coincidence.

Hello

There was a chap at the helm, was that Brian from NB Elk? We’d seen him the other day in Middlewich and he was a very good friend of Alex’s. I checked later with a mutual friend and she confirmed that it most probably was Brian. We’re glad Tench has a new owner that will care for her as Alex did.

Check
Ah ha
Yep
Good to go

4 locks, 3 miles, 0 empty pounds, 5 day mooring to 48 hr mooring, 2 smiling New Zealanders, 4 slices of cake, 1 model ready, 12 sheets of drawings ready, 1 new yarn order, 1 assistants approval, 1 Tench, 1 spooky coincidence, 1 new owner.

The Plan. 20th May

Barlaston

Chimneys only just visible behind the railway, just off centre

Whilst googling Barlaston the other day a photo came up of Barlaston Hall, ‘That looks nice’, I thought. I mentioned it to Mick. He looked it up on the map, ‘It should be just about there’. He pointed out of the hatch and sure enough behind the railway and some trees we could make out the brick work of a rather nice looking big house.

Whilst I was working he went for a walk and came back reporting that the hall looked as though no-one was in, maybe it wasn’t occupied. He’d also been to have a look at the nearby village that had been built for workers at the Wedgewood Factory, a similar style of village to New Earswick near York, built for Rowntree employees.

From the bridge

It all sounded far too interesting not to have a look myself, so on Monday we did his walk in the opposite direction. We walked back along the towpath to Oldroad Bridge, here we crossed the canal and walked up to the level crossing.

The platforms
Seen better days

Wedgwood Station was opened in 1940 to serve the Wedgwood Factory, but in 2004 the line was temporarily closed for major works on the line. When the line reopened the station didn’t, the platforms now in need of repair. According to Wikipedia the area is now served by a rail replacement bus service, times can be found on the National Rail Journey Planner.

Avenued road

The new electric factory was built in the 1930’s, moving the factory from Etruria out to Barlaston where it was built in the grounds of Baralston Hall, which the Wedgwood family had bought. The road runs straight from the station up the hill, lined with giant oak trees. Younger trees are planted in between ready to take over when the older ones give up. The factory sits to one side of the road followed by the village.

Four houses not just two

The houses are much bigger than I’d imagined. They give off the impression that they are even bigger, double fronted even. But this isn’t true, each building is actually four houses the end properties having their front doors tucked around the side. A rather nice place to live with work a short distance down the hill, just a shame that the convenience store is now closed, possibly no longer that convenient for those with cars.

Long grass swaying in the breeze

Crossing the road we followed a vague footpath through long grass further up the hill. The sky blue and the view improving across the valley with each step. This brought us out onto the road near to what was most probably stables for the hall. One converted barn currently up for sale here.

St Johns

High hedges mostly of rhododendrons enclose the road. St John The Baptist Church has a wonderful Lych Gate which invites you into the grave yard. The tower is 12th Century, the rest of the building rebuilt in 1888. Inside there are memorials to the Wedgewood family but sadly the church closed in 1980 when large cracks appeared in the masonry due to subsidence. The windows have been replaced with perspex and grills and the face of the clock on the tower is smashed.

Just what would Tilly make of it here?

Next door is the Hall, what we’d really come to look at. The photo on Google really didn’t do it justice. A Grade 1 listed Palladian house built 1756-7 is attributed to Sir Robert Taylor with his trade mark windows.

Not a bad drive

A circular lawn sits in front of the main entrance, the other side of the building having a view that stretches to the canal and beyond for miles right across the valley. Wow!!

What a house!

Woods stretch off to the side, providing spinney like places to play in as I’d had when I grew up in Fulford, York. Our garden bordered on one side by a bank of rhododendrons just like here. This all felt very homely, the house however a couple of hundred years older than the one my Dad had built, it is also about ten times it’s size. But what a house!

What a view!

As we walked down through the fields below the views showed themselves even better, the view of the house wasn’t so bad either.

The garden pond

One field away from the railway a large pond sits, not quite a lake and possibly no longer part of the land that accompanies the house. What a place!

Just look at it!

Yesterday when trying to find out more about the house we’d come across sale details. The house has had a LOT of restoration carried out to it. Wedgewood cared for the hall until the 1960’s when it then fell into disrepair and was vandalised. Lead was removed from the roof, major subsidence from coal mining occurred and the fact that it had been built over a fault in the geology meant that it was only a matter of time before 4 inch large cracks appeared in the brickwork.

Wedgwood twice tried to get the hall demolished, but in 1981 a rescue plan was put into action by SAVE Britains Heritage (big article here). The hall had been offered for £1. If in the following five years the hall was not completely restored then Wedgewood would have the right to buy it back for £1. The subsidence from extensive coal mining in the valley was put right, the Coal Board ending up paying £120,000 in compensation and funded preventative works. With more funding from English Heritage and a loan from the National Heritage Memorial Fund work commenced. The hall is one of the biggest success stories in English heritage.

A house with 24 chimney pots

By the time we had walked back to the railway station we had concocted a plan. If we were to sell our house in Scarborough, NB Oleanna, scrape together all our savings we’d have just enough for a reasonable deposit. But that would mean we’d have no income and I doubt one panto design a year would be enough for a bank to give us a mortgage. So where could we get the remainder?

One way would be to share the house with our family. Siblings could sell their London properties, this would most probably mean we’d not have to sell our house in Scarborough, instead someone from the family could move to the seaside away from smoggy London. The Hall would be large enough to house more than Mick, Tilly and myself, so other siblings, now no longer living in London could also move in.

If anyone want’s to stable their horses we’d have a big paddock for them

With four reception rooms, 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, 2 attic rooms, a study, galleried landings, 3 garages, stables, an orangery, a self contained flat, 1 large kitchen, wine cellar (bigger than under our back steps) we’d most probably have to arrange to have a family get together once a month so as to see each other.

What would we do with Oleanna? Well the pond/lake could be dredged and could become an end of garden mooring. We’d need to build a couple of locks to reach the Trent and Mersey canal,, but these would mean we’d be able to get under the railway line. The station would be the next thing to improve, if we won the Euro millions, we’d be able to have work done to the station and make it into a request stop.

All perfectly possible. We just need to dissuade the people who have put an offer in already.

I think we have a plan!

I’m in love.

Not The Same As A Computer. 20th May

Barlaston

Present

Today started with tea in bed as usual. However today this was accompanied by a present and cards. Today was Mick’s birthday.

Secret socks

Last year was a significant birthday, this year with a 1 added to his total age the present wasn’t quite so good! He did get more than a few pairs of socks, these were just for the initial effect.

Paper!
Shred it!

Tilly helped with the tidying up, shredding the wrapping paper for us. I really like birthdays!

Who is coming out to play today?

I sadly needed to get a bit more work done, so as I sorted out sliding scenery Mick occupied himself on the internet with last years present and eight inches of table, whilst Tilly sat in a tree watching for friends and foes. After lunch we had a nice walk, returning to shower and put on smart cloths.

Neil’s pub

We headed out for a meal at The Plume Of Feathers, the Neil Morrissey pub. We’d booked a table and sat by the window where we could watch crown green bowling. The portions coming out from the kitchen looked large and as there was only one starter on the menu that I could have we decided to launch straight in to the mains.

Yummy!

Mick chose Fish and Chips which looked very good and I had a Warm Duck Salad with squash spinach and beetroot, with a portion of chips on the side. Both were very good and the chips were certainly the best we’ve had in a long time. A pint of Neil’s beer and a large glass of wine for me. A very nice evening with just one slight disappointment. Neil obviously couldn’t be bothered in making an appearance for Mick’s birthday (well it was only a minor one), so I didn’t get chance to ask him how it had been back in 1982 playing Robin Hood at Chipping Norton.

CAKE!!!!

No need to buy pudding. I’d managed to fool Mick into believing that the baking I’d been doing yesterday was part of my model! So he had no idea that I’d made the most chocolatiest chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and extra chocolate bits on top.

Huff
Puff
Blow

Candles blown out and a slice each. I suspect we’ll be eating it for quite a while!

Yum!

0 locks, 0 miles, 61st, 5 pairs socks, 39 chocolates, 1 sweatshirt, 1 fleecy top, 2 cards, 4 hours work, 4 miles walk, 1 major plan hatched, 1 green boat in the winding hole, 0 Neil, 1 pint, 1 glass, 1 fish and chips, 1 duck breast, 2 slices of very rich cake, 1 BIG Happy Birthday to my boy!

Early Start To Catch The Gas Man. 18th May

Lock 44 to Brook House Winding Hole

First Lock up to Red Bull Services

Alarm set, we’d had breakfast and were in the first lock of the day at 7:10 am, a little later than we’d planned but only by ten minutes. The plan was to reach the tunnel by 8 am when it opened to hopefully be the first through. All four locks needed some emptying, some more than others including one that had had a paddle left up on it. As we made our way past the boats at the services we noticed that there was now a space, one of the boats had moved backwards to the end ring.

Last uphill lock
Nearly there

At 8:10 am we pulled in on the waiting moorings by the north portal to the tunnel, the C&RT boat was just being brought out from the tunnel entrance. Would we be waved straight in? Sadly no, a boat had just set off from the south portal so we’d have a 40 minute wait.

Just about the same colour

Time for another brew and to try to use up the last of the gas I baked the remainder of my biscuit dough. Still not empty!

Boredom before she got tunnel fright

At 8:51 an Anglo Welsh hire boat appeared out of the tunnel, one chap stood at the front fending off. They all looked a touch chilly. With our pre-tunnel checks already done, light, horn, life jackets etc we were waved into the dark.

In
Out

Our passage through took us about 35 minutes the glint of light between the doors at the far end just coming into view as we reached about halfway. These were opened with about a third of our journey left, the occasional head of the tunnel keeper bobbing round to see how far away we were.

Garden in the sky
Tiled letters meant to stay

We emerged to no waiting boats and only two Canadian Geese grazing, a bit of a surprise. Well on track to reach Capital Gas by midday we pootled along the summit pound. Only four boats at Westport Lake, maybe people have been put off after the Oatcake boat had their windows kicked in a few weeks ago. On past the bottle kilns and potteries, Stoke boats and empty land that once contained factories.

Chiptastic surface!

The stretch of towpath past Festival Park up to Summit Lock has very recently been resurfaced. If you have had a recent paint job this would not be the place to moor! The path has been sprayed with tar and then a thick layer of gravel added on top, most of it nice and loose. Bicycles have difficulty getting a grip on this and spray the loose stones up in the air. Like autumn leaves kids can’t resist kicking either!

With two new bottles of gas (the second one must have been on it’s last breath, it certainly was giving off the smell of a just about to run out bottle) we then headed up the hill to pick up a few bits and bobs from Sainsburys. I have a cake to make in the next couple of days for someones birthday, chocolate has been requested.

Everyone wanting to be where we were

The service moorings at Etruria were empty, so we pulled in and made use of them, filling the water tank as we had lunch. The option was to back out onto the Trent and Mersey or go up to the winding hole, which is what Mick opted for. The junction had turned into a kitchen, everybody wanted to be there! A boat was coming towards us from Middleport, another just coming out from the lock wanting to turn towards us and we wanted to turn towards them and the lock. This all took a bit of doing but everyone ended up facing the direction they wanted to be in.

Down Summit Lock whilst refilling the lock below, Oleanna crossed the pound as the local helper on a bike appeared from below, who opened the gates and helped us down shouting to the boat he’d been helping to get out of the way ‘Boat coming down!’

Perfect timing

This stretch is so familiar and Mick always needs wants a train to go past when we’re in Cockshute’s Lock. Today a cross country train obliged with it’s timing bringing a smile to my boys face. The number of vehicles parked outside the house at Stoke Bottom Lock has increased again.

Baby Trent
Grandfather Trent in February

Passing over Trent Aqueduct where the narrow stream of the river starts. We’d last seen the river at Keadby on the 5th February, some 299.61 miles and about 270 locks ago. A bit of a different sight there!

Graffiti changes, a hot dog on legs had us hunting through Flintstone footage and then watching John Travolta singing ‘Sandy’ in Grease to find the reference which happens just at the end of the song. Wonder if this is where it came from?

Trentham Lock

Now we had the four mile pound towards Trentham Lock passing new warehouses that have gone up since we were last this way and all the gardens backing onto the canal. Once down the lock we only had to pass the Wedgwood Factory and then pull in on the outskirts of Barlaston. Here will do us for a day or two. Lots of work to get done and of course that cake to make!

10 locks, 12.32 miles, 10 biscuits, 1 wall route planned, 2676 m of tunnel, 2nd through, 2 bottles of gas, £26.15 each, 3 boxes wine, 6 possible chips, 1 left, 1 full water tank, 1 wind, 1 sharp left, 1 sour dough woken up, 1 sponge fermenting, 350 grams chocolate, 120 grams cocoa, 0 notification of my parcel.

Gas. 17th May

Rode Heath to Yew Tree Lock 44

Tyseley on her way

First boat to go by this morning had a bow full of crew all wrapped up against the chilly damp morning. This was Tyseley the Mikron Boat heading south after having work done at Northwich Dry Dock, she was heading to Welford where this years cast will start their touring by boat. We doubt we’ll get to Welford or Crick in time this year but may get to see them further south.

What lies behind the red curtain?

My yarn order hadn’t been dispatched until Wednesday so we decided to wait until after 1pm to check if it had arrived. I spent the morning putting things in my Puss in Boots model box and making notes. This always brings up ideas, at least my list is only one side of A4.

After lunch the weather had improved, the sun back out. We walked up to the village store in the vain hope that my parcel would be there. The main man did his best to help, but if it wasn’t there it wasn’t there! Maybe tomorrow or Monday, we can at least give him a call.

We need to be making a move so one of us will come back when/if it actually arrives. I have a feeling there is a shelf in the warehouse where the special orders go, and so far nobody has seen to them. Just a shame no other company has this specific yarn.

Mow Cop still in view for much of the day

Pushing off at 2:15pm we wanted to reach Red Bull today, we knew we’d not manage to get to Harecastle Tunnel in time before they shut. This would mean an early morning tomorrow to get through the tunnel and arrive at Etruria before midday. Why? Well you should never pass this way without replacing your gas bottles. In fact we’re doing our very best to arrive with two empty ones. The heating goes on to take the chill off, baking, extra slices of toast, jacket potatoes tonight all just to try to get the second bottle empty, it very nearly is.

Old gate posts alongside the lock

We worked our way up the six locks close together, Mow Cop getting closer all the time. At Lawton Top Lock there are two sets of stone gate posts. The bridge over the bottom of the lock is flat and wider than the others. The three Lawton locks replaced a staircase of three, the gates must have lead to the area around the old locks. I haven’t managed to find an old map showing them, but around 1897 a Smithy is marked between where the locks are now and where they used to be.

Halls Lock 49 recently repainted

Up Halls Lock, today considerably warmer than the first time we moored there on a hire boat twelve years ago, it snowed overnight and continued as we headed through Congleton. Today the hay in the fields was being turned.

No snow today
The church
Mum with her last two babies

Church Locks were a little congested. A single hander going up, a hire boat waiting to come down, us and a duck with her ducklings. She had decided that a good place to sit everybody was on top of the bywash, this resulted in several of them being swept over when the top lock emptied, her brood split in two.

Mellow Blue. Not the same

NB Mellow is still on it’s mooring and the cows had brought themselves in to be milked. A nice mooring, just a bit pongy!

With each lock uphill the water got more and more orange, we’re getting closer to Harecastle. With one lock to go before Red Bull services I walked up to check on mooring space as we didn’t really want to go any further. Three boats were moored up, gaps at the ends, gaps between them. Nobody sharing rings. I paced out the gaps, Mick did the same later. Oleanna is 26 paces, the git gaps added up to two Oleannas. Yes a boat may have left, not sharing rings was the main culprit. We moored up below the lock and settled in for the evening.

Orange

The pound was low when we arrived, alleviated when boats came past, letting water down. But gradually we listed more and more. Mick emptied the two locks above, then went to check below. At lock 45 one of the chambers is out of action at the moment. A top paddle is missing and what was causing our problem was a bottom paddle just open a little bit. This most probably would have gradually drained the pound overnight. Mick closed it up, the level gradually rose back to where it should be.

8 locks, 2.09 miles, 147 photos, 87 of a model, A4 of notes, 0 parcel AGAIN!!!! 2 boats coming downhill, 1 going up, 73 cows, 1 smelly mooring, 4 git gaps, 1 cracked paddle, 2 locks of water, 1 boat afloat, 1 endless gas bottle, 0 things to knit!