Bonfire Night Mooring to Hannah’s Walk, Middlewich
With a jar of sourdough discard in the fridge we enjoyed some pancakes for breakfast. I decided not to put any blueberries in them, especially the frozen ones as I wanted to see what they were like plain. I still haven’t found the best temperature to cook them at. They have a glug of maple syrup in them, so if the pan is a touch too hot this caramelises before the mixture has cooked sufficiently in the centre to flip them over. Too cool and they take forever to cook through and look anaemic. By the last batch of them I had the temperature correct, well that’s how it goes with pancakes!
Verdict? I prefer them with blueberries in them.
Pushing off just after midday we made our way to Stanthorne Lock. A Canadian Mother stood in the field across the way watching over her offspring as their heads just about bobbed up through the growing crop.
Bridges line up and large Cheshire farms proudly show off their black and white credentials across the fields.
We passed the line of moored boats where the posters in NB Grace’s windows suggest you should slow down, we did.
Soon we arrived at Stanthorne Lock which required filling before we could descend. Blimey it took forever to fill the chamber. Mick came along to help with windlass in hand after the paddles had been lifted.
A family stopped to give their dog a drink and take photos, they wisely decided to stop by the centre of the lock, meaning everyone could keep their distance.
I wound a paddle up on the bottom gate, all of a sudden coming to an abrupt stop!? The paddle wasn’t showing above the metalwork, why wouldn’t it go any further?
A closer look and the reason became obvious. A stop has been added limiting the height to which the paddles can be raised. This is to limit the amount of water coming out of the lock. This was the lock which had had all paddles lifted on it in March 2018. The amount of water overwhelmed the pound below and caused a breach which left a huge hole in the canal at The River Wheelock Aqueduct, leaving a boat teetering on the edge. Maybe the stops have been added in case someone ties to do the same thing again.
The crew from a boat came up to help with the lock, this is quite normal practice and sociable, but I wonder how much of this will happen in our new social distancing boating? The usual comments and questions, ‘Aren’t these paddles hard’, I’d just been remembering the first time we’d come through this lock on a hire boat and what a B***tard the paddles had been then and how easy they are now. ‘How far you heading today?’ The answer came back, ‘We came out from Nantwich on Friday so today we’re heading back’. I nearly followed on with ‘And then heading home?’
With the gates open and paddles wound down there was a touch of deciding where to stand to be able to keep our distance as I did the hurdles over the lock beams.
The short stretch of mooring below the lock at the breach site was full and it didn’t feel right hammering in spikes to where there had been such a huge hole, so we carried on round the first bend where Mick could see armco. We pulled in then had to hunt for the metalwork lying somewhere beneath all the grass, this took quite some doing.
Tilly was out, sussed we were in a built up area and headed straight through the nearest sideways trees. No point in hanging around on the towpath here!
This is the nearest we’ve moored to civilisation for a long time. Plenty of people on the towpaths walking, not going into single file to pass others. Conversations right outside. It turns out we’d missed seeing an extreamly large abnormal load going through Middlewich today. A giant tanker full of medical grade oxygen was taking three days to get across Cheshire from Ellesmere Port to Staffordshire and numerous roads were closed for it.
Have to say we both are a little bit on our toes being moored in Middlewich. We’ve never had any problems here through the years, but the town does have a bit of a reputation and with plenty of bored teenagers in the world right now! Tomorrow we’ll head back out into the countryside.
1 lock, 2.07 miles, 2 aqueducts, 12 pancakes, 1 town cat, 1 jungle mooring, 2nd coat, 1 hour catch up with London, 0.5 tin of tomatoes omitted! 1 last night on the Middlewich Branch.