Beeston Castle Winding Hole to outside Nantwich Basin
For the first time this year, maybe this winter, I put thermals and padded trousers on this morning as it looked so cold and with wind chill added we could get nithered if not wrapped up well.
Above Stone Lock the pair of boats was still moored on the visitor moorings and just after the rings finished was a short narrow boat with a tarpaulin over it’s stern. As we slowly made our way towards it, it became obvious that the bow had come adrift as it swung out from the bank. It then proceeded with the assistance of the bitter wind to do a perfect wind (turn, called wind as you use the wind to your advantage to make the manoeuvre) right in front of us, returning it’s bow to the bank. No shunting back and forth, just a simple clean swing all the way round.
We could see that it had been tied on pins which looked like they were still hanging on it’s mooring ropes in the water. Once we’d managed to pull in I held Oleanna whilst Mick headed back to moor it back up. It then decided that it would rather be on the other side of the cut, but the wind soon pushed it back over. With all it’s ropes now on the off side and hard to get to, Mick managed to grab the centre line. By now the boat was by the start of the visitor moorings so he tied it to the first ring. It may have drifted from further up the pound, but it was certainly now facing the opposite way from where it had been left and moored a touch more securely.
A squeezing through the Anglo Welsh boats below Bunbury, then up the staircase on our own, just a family watching our every move. By now we were cold and hungry so we made use of the moorings before the services at Calverley.
We toped up the water tank whilst I cleaned out Tilly’s pooh box and then had a shower. The water tank needs to stay as full as possible with the likely hood of the canal freezing over, no water point will be passed without being used. Straight on at Barbridge. Obeying the sign at the bottom of Hurleston locks we kept straight on towards Birmingham, we’ve been to the furthest points in the other two directions so it’s south for us now.
Being not far from Snugburys Ice cream we could make out the ears of Peter Rabbit in their field holding onto his
dagger carrot as the sun was setting behind him. I’ve started to find him quite menacing.
So far this winter we have always seen a kingfisher along this stretch from Barbridge to Nantwich. I was beginning to think that today was going to be the occasion that proved the rule. But a flash of blue by the moorings at Henhull and one came out for a photo call, first sitting on a cratch cover and then a tiller. As soon as we passed he was away back low along the cut flitting this way and that to give us flashes of his blue back.
Arriving at Nantwich there were a couple of spaces before the service block, these are normally 24hrs, but for another month are 14 days. We decided to see if there was any space on the first stretch of the embankment so carried on through the bridge. However there was a line of boats stretching all the way to the aqueduct. Mick popped Oleanna into reverse and gradually pulled us back through the bridge hole to moor in one of the gaps. By now the freezing breeze had frozen our bottom jaws and we were glad to get back inside to the warmth of our stove. Stew and a Hot Chocolate Cake for pudding was well deserved.
We’ll most probably stay here for a few days and see if the icy winds from Siberia do their worst. We have shops nearby, a water point and if we run out of coal there’s the chandlers to top up our stocks.
This morning we heard of a boat fire in Stone last night, where the owner and her dog passed away. Tragically it turns out to have been Alex Bennett who we saw in the New Year with at Bugsworth Basin 2016/17, we also bumped into her on NB Tench last October on the Caldon. She was a well known face at boat rallies and she loaned NB Tench to Alarum Theatre Company last year for their Idle Women Tour (click on the link for a bit more about Alex). We hardly knew Alex but will miss crossing bows with her somewhere on the network. When we next see NB Tench she will have a new owner. Our thoughts are with her family and friends, such a sad loss.