Congleton Bridge 61 to River Dane Aqueduct
Despite not heading to York today the alarm had been set so that the hire car could be returned first thing. Mick set off to Macclesfield and I was soon out of the door myself.
Our mooring was about a mile away from the bottom of the Bosely Flight so I walked up to take a look at the queue. The sun was doing it’s best to heat up the world very well. Yesterday Fountains had been along the towpath cutting the path and around the bridge holes but leaving everything else. Meadow Sweet, cow parsley and even more foxgloves lined my route.
The farm on the off side, Crossley Hall Farm, has changed somewhat since last we passed. It’s taken a look at Google street view and back through our old photos to see quite what.
The most obvious thing is that the seated painted cow no longer sits on the mooring watching for boats up the canal. All the barns have been done up, new windows, ventilation holes blocked with dark bricks. It looks like they may now be holiday lets. Then the Hall has been restored. The timber is far more elaborate than it used to be. The huge stone chimneys now look like giant lego bricks, all just a bit too clean.
Trains thundered over the rail bridge, followed by the calm of the Cloud.
Possible shady moorings looked appealing as I walked along. The day was forecast to be very hot, my recky was to see if we’d rather move up to the bottom of the locks where there is no shade or rather sit under trees for the day.
The old overflows take you back in time. Cobbles and a walkway so that you don’t have to paddle if the water level rises. Today just a trickle wet the stones, it may be a different matter tomorrow depending on the number of boats using the locks.
I soon reached the 48hr mooring. 2 boats facing away from the locks and 3 towards. A chap on the rear boat had his engine boards up, so I stopped for a chat. The lead boat has been here for a couple of days and the others had turned up yesterday. There was still plenty of room for at least three more boats before anyone would have to get a touch creative with their mooring.
One of the boats that passed us the other day hadn’t realised that the Marple flight was also closed until July, they were needing to be in Wigan before then, so managed to get C&RT to open the bottom lock so that they could go up one chamber, wind and come back down again. They are now making their way down the Cheshire locks.
Back at Oleanna Mick had returned and a short discussion followed. Stay cool and watch boats arrive that we’d be behind, or move up to the bottom of the locks and wait in full sunshine. We decided to move, closing all the curtains to keep the sun out.
We pootled on up and joined the end of the queue. I thought we’d be fourth but one of the boats facing away from the locks had winded to face them now. Was the chap just painting his boat, or waiting for the locks too?
Time for breakfast. Mushrooms and poached eggs, yummy. Tilly went off to check the area and seemed to keep herself busy for quite some time. We pottered away the afternoon not really doing much, Tilly was far busier.
Mid afternoon a boat pulled in behind us. He walked past and tapped on the next boats roof. We could hear the conversation, he was concerned that he might not make it through the locks in time tomorrow. Mick checked the email and went out to give advice. The bottom lock would be opened at 8:30am, last boat in would be at 1pm and the locks would be locked at 3:30pm. He still seemed concerned. He walked up to the front of the queue and asked the lead boat to move onto the lock landing to make more space, ‘three more boats would be arriving’ and there wasn’t enough room for them!
So the boat at the front moved up, the new arrival quickly moving his boat to second position, he thought he might be able to share the locks with another short boat up near the front.
A while later another boat arrived. This boat was being moved from Nether Heyford on the Grand Union up to Braidbar Boats for a repaint and the chap on board, Paul, was a boat mover. We all conferred and agreed that we’d all easily be able to get up the locks with plenty of time. Another boat came past and headed to fill the gap left at third position, he was very quick to let everyone know he wasn’t pushing in, just using available space and knew who he’d be following.
The day had been hot and the evening still was. We decided to make the most of the view and set ourselves up for a barbecue over looking Congleton Viaduct. Some lamb marinated with garlic and rosemary, a potato salad (still using my Nantwich veg box up) and some hallumi and veg kebabs. We had a lovely evening sitting out but refrained from staying out to watch the sun go down as we wanted to go to the theatre.
Tonight we watched Act 1 of Small Island from the National Theatre. It tells the stories of a man and two women. Hortense who wishes to move away from Jamaica where she is a teacher. Gilbert wants to become a lawyer after being in the RAF in WW2. Queenie yearns to leave her Lincolnshire roots behind.
Hortense and Gilbert marry just before he climbs on board HMT Empire Windrush and promises to send for her. Queenie meets Bernard and marries him, her route to a life in London. So many dreams that we know will not be fulfilled. We’ll watch Act 2 tomorrow after doing the locks.
0 locks, 1.06 miles, 2 mile walk, 1 car returned, 1 taxi, 0 cow, 4th in line, 5th in line, 6th, 7th, 8th? 30C plus in the pram cover, 1 Betty cat, 1 nosy dog, 1 very hot Tilly, 1 boat mover, 1 barbecue with a view, 1 more favourite mooring.