Turd Hop Scotch. 16th February

Caughall Bridge to Ellesmere Port Boat Museum Basin

P1040778smLast night we watched the final parts of Hard Sun. Part way through one of the episodes I recognised one of the locations along side the Regents Canal. We’d passed it in early June last year as they were filming interior shots of a drugs den, wonder if all the acros were just set dressing or actually needed to hold the building up?

P1230523smP1230526smP1230530smThis morning the top bits of the muddy ground around Oleanna were crispy crunchy with what lay below still squidgy and frost still lay in the fields. We knew that from here on in to Ellesmere Port was likely to be not so pretty and quite noisy due to the proximity of all the roads and industry. The industry of days gone by and access to the sea is why the canals exist so we don’t mind it.

P1230501smP1230516smBridges come at you almost constantly after the first pipe bridge. Old curved hump backed canal bridges, flat askew concrete motorway bridges. We worked our way along passing a long length of moored boats, the icy edges of the canal cracking as the water was sucked from under it.

P1230507smWanting to do a bigger shop to keep us going for a few days we pulled in at the 48hr moorings by bridge 141, which is half a mile away from Sainsburys.

P1230539smStepping off proved somewhat tricky as for every foot of towpath grass there was a large brown dog crap. Marple was bad last year, Nuneaton is usually bad but nowhere near as revolting as here. Even the dogs had had difficulty avoiding the mounds. For every perfectly formed pile there were two that had been trodden in and another that was so flattened that it fooled you into a false sense of clear ground. We played hopscotch with the turds as we moored up, keeping ropes up high off the ground just in case.

Walking round a motorway junction to buy a joint of beef is not what you do every week, but at least we’ve got Sunday dinner sorted.

P1230552smP1230570smWe pushed on, choosing not to stop and passed under more and more bridges. Then the welcome sight of the National Waterways Museum came into view through the last bridge hole. A chap who had been moored at Llangollen before Christmas was just about to pull away from the moorings so we carried on just past the gate to infront of the Reception building. On our very first trip out on NB Winding Down we came this far, filled with water, had a tiny look round the museum, winded and headed back towards Chester, today we were going to stay in the museum.

Two friendly ladies gave us information about the basin and where we could moor, how to get in and out of the museum after hours should we want to. We were also given a form to fill out which we could return with in the morning. It being a C&RT site we would need to find our Insurance Policy number. We’ll return in the morning to pay, the same as an entrance fee to the museum which we want to look around.

P1230574smTilly sat in the window being admired by visitors in the cafe, we were becoming an exhibit.

P1230582smHere there are two sets of locks leading down into the basin, narrow and broad. New water to us, we worked our way down with a group watching us. I soon enlisted the youngest gongoozlers into helping with the gates much to their glee. We waved goodbye and swung Oleanna round into the basin. Here a couple of large boats sit moored to islands. As long as we didn’t moor directly in front of the Holiday Inn or along the long side of the basin we could moor anywhere. Easier said than done as there are not many mooring rings. There were some gaps, but none quite big enough for Oleanna. Only one place left to moor, by the exhibits in between the islands. Mick backed us in and we tied to one ring and ended up having to use spikes for the stern. Doubt they’ll get pulled out by passing boats!

P1230596smShe warned me that there was canal everywhere and that I wouldn’t like it. She even came out to check that I didn’t! It’s another Chester! Sure enough the only thing going for the place was that I could have a bit of a run around on the grass, no trees, no sideways trees, no friendly cover, no holes to put my arms down. The view from the roof was quite good though. I bet it’s fun in the boat next door, it’s huge!

We’d considered going to a talk this evening about the Arts Council Project that had the Boat Museum Society pump out a lot of sunken boats last year. But this was going to follow the Societies AGM, which we didn’t fancy gate crashing. They seem to have talks ever month on various boaty subjects, wonder how many they’ll get in May when the archivist from Peel Holdings gives a talk?

DSCF7114sm2 locks, 4.54 miles, 1 canal with crispy edges, 367 turds, 238 squashed, 63 fully formed, 2 boxes of wine, 1 pair wellies, 25% off, 1 new exhibit, 1 very popular boat cat.

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