Townfield Lock 46 to Tilly Railings, Rownes No 2 Bridge 86, Macclesfield Canal
Today we were going to cover some water we’d covered six years ago to the day, but first we needed to finish climbing the Cheshire Locks.
Two locks up to the water point. Almost as soon as I set off to set the first lock it started to spit, by the time I reached the lock it was raining. I lifted the paddles and then returned to Oleanna to get my coat before I got totally soaked through. Of course because I did this the rain passed and faded as we made our way up the lock!
A cruiser has positioned itself between the two water points at Red Bull, I realised that as the C&RT office here is closed at the moment they will only get spotted when a number checker comes past. Of course they may have a very good reason for being here, but maybe being on the 48hr mooring would be more helpful to steel narrowboats coming in to use the services.
Water topped up, yellow water disposed of and all the rubbish added to the bins, we were ready to carry on to the top of the Trent and Mersey Canal, only another three locks to the summit.
Over the last few days we’ve had boats pass us, all of these have been heading for Harecastle Tunnel and today we passed them all waiting for their bookings tomorrow. Normally at this time of year you just turn up at the tunnel, book in and wait for the go ahead, but currently you have to book for one of the four days a week that it is open.
At Plants Lock 41 we rose up to the summit, my new boating PPE gloves now well worn in and showing the amount of locks we’ve been through.
In the car park of The Canal Tavern was what looked like a fairground burger van, generator whirring away waiting to serve some customers. We wondered what is going to be built behind the hoardings along side the canal. What will Hardings Wood Junction look like when we next come past?
Time to turn right to turn left onto the Macclesfield Canal. Mick swung Oleanna round and under the bridge. People sat high in their gardens catching up with friends out in the open, hope they had brollies as it was just starting to spit again.
Now we were retracing our bow wave from six years ago on Lillian. Oleanna has never been on the Macc. We remembered our first time approaching Hall Green Lock on a hire boat, our Nicholsons guide warning us of shallow waters, would our deeper draught on Oleanna make it? Would we have to drink the boxes of wine in the cellar to lift the stern?!
One scrape was all we heard as we approached the narrow channel before the lock. I stepped off and kept my eye open for Woofer deposits, the culprit barking a welcome from the cottage barn door.
Up all 1ft 3″ and we were now on the Macc proper. Six years ago we had been on a mission, heading to Macclesfield so that I could catch a train back to Stone, walk to Aston Marina to pick the car up and then drive to Derby for the Production week of April in Paris. I would then join Mick in Manchester several days later ready to start our ascent on the Rochdale heading for Hebden Bridge.
Today we had other things on our minds. The bridges. Well not the first one, flat with pipes running under it, but soon the first curved opening showed itself. The Macc bridges are our favourite. We spent a winter up on the summit four years ago and fell in love with their curves in every direction. Here’s a link to a post of appreciation . I’m sure there will be many more photos this visit.
With purple flowers growing from the mortar lines and the curves worn by ropes the first stone bridge at this time of year is so pretty.
Then the first high bridge with the uprights leaning outwards the higher they get. Canalside gardens backing neatly up to the water. Numerous things to look at.
Up ahead we could see the very brightly painted NB Rosie moored outside what is known as Teapot Hall. Teapots hang everywhere and true to their word they were sitting outside with a cuppa chatting to a chap. Waves back and forth.
Soon we were passing Heritage Hire Boats. Several of their boats had signs on the back doors saying ‘Thoroughly cleaned’. We couldn’t see if all the mattresses were laid back down in place indicating that they were all ready to go out.
Ramsdell Hall still sits back behind it’s large green lawn, although along the canal edge it looks like the lawn has been used to off load dredging from the cut. Here along the towpath there are railings, black and white and really quite fine. To us these are known as Tilly railings and by Rownes No 2 Tilly posed beside them for our Christmas card back in 2016.
We’ve been lulled into believing that where we want to moor will almost certainly be free, due to their only being liveaboards on the move at the moment. But as we approached the visitor moorings our hearts sank, boats, would there be enough room for us too?
A couple of gaps, luckily the first one just long enough for us, phew! This is a favourite mooring and I’d had my heart set on being here for a night for days. We slotted in and the doors were opened up for Tilly to reacquaint herself with the area. A lady sat in the bow of the boat behind so we had chance to chat. They are also heading for the Bosley flight this week when the locks will be open for a short window.
We all settled down for the afternoon, I took some time to listen to a seminar held by the ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians) on safe working practices that are being implemented in some theatres where sets are being taken down for storage and in other venues digital performances are happening.
Andrew Lloyd Webber the other day suggested that one of the new guidelines from the government for musicals would be that nobody would be allowed to sing! On the seminar they discussed opera singing that was being recorded at the Royal Opera House (Live from Covent Garden), camera men and other singers would need to be stood at least six meters away. Then there is the issue of how to deal with the brass and woodwind in an orchestra. Will all musicians be sat behind perpsex screens from now on? How will this affect the sound? All very interesting.
After eating Mick suggested we should sit outside to watch the sun go down. He’s never been romantic, so we’d be allowed to take our phones too so we wouldn’t have to talk to one another!
We did chat as the sun gradually sank in front of us over the next forty minutes. A rather lovely end to our first day on the Macc.
6 locks, 3.82 miles, 1 summit reached, 1 right to go left, 1 aqueduct, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 10 rainy minutes,5432738 cherries, 4 waiting for the tunnel, 37 teapots, 1 space just for us, 1 big Dad, 7 Mums, 7 calves, 1 set of colour coordinated railings, 0 Little Morton Hall view, 40 chilly minutes well spent.