Category Archives: Bridges

Heads Above Water. 27th March

Lockdown Mooring 1 to Lockdown Mooring 2, Cornes Bridge 96.

Back on the 16th March just about every theatre in the land closed it’s doors to the public, by the 17th all venues were dark, only a ghost light left lit in the middle of many a stage. Since then theatre companies have been doing all sorts of things, many adding online material that can be accessed for free.

From Thursday next week the National Theatre will be launching National Theatre at Home. One of their shows will be available on line for 7 days, starting with One Man Two Guvnors staring James Corden.

Animated Objects Theatre Company in Scarborough known for their large scale community projects and giant puppets have added various art projects for families to do at home, including building a biplane from a toilet roll and a cereal box. If you fancy having a go, just scroll down their website and Lee will show you how to do it.

Other theatres have launched campaigns to help raise funds so that when Coronavirus is all over they will be able to open their doors once again for people to join together in one room to enjoy live theatre. One such theatre is Chipping Norton, with it’s Heads Above Water campaign.

Chippy got in touch with performers and creatives who’ve worked there over the last few years and asked them if they could produce something to go on their social media for World Theatre Day, which was today. Now, I’m not a performer and would rather not have to appear in shot, but wanted to do something for the day. I make models, so that’s what I did. If you listen carefully you’ll hear Tilly’s bell.

This morning my little offering was all over their social media, along with Dames singing ditties or showing off their patent leather boots, King Rat threatening to raid fridges for Cheddar!

Today we needed to do some essential travelling. Our water tank was getting low and we also would need some shopping in the next couple of days. So much to Tilly’s distain there was no shore leave this morning, instead we pushed off and headed towards the lock where the new (to us) water point is.

We had an escort

Coming towards us was a boat, the chap at the tiller was well away with the fairies, I did consider shouting out to him but he spotted us just in time to avoid running into us. Once we’d passed all our neighbours we pulled in and started to fill with water.

Chiff Chaff

A load of washing was on the go and Tilly’s pooh box got a good clean and fresh litter. Mick walked down to the Chandlers to see if they might just have some milk, which they did, a touch more expensive than it would have been at a supermarket, but it was here and meant we could hold off going to the shops for a day longer.

Hello Blossom

The tap didn’t have that much pressure so the tank would take a while to fill. I gave my brother a call to see if there was any news on Jac and plane tickets. A day ago she’d managed to get hold of a ticket back to the UK from Melbourne which would be leaving Monday lunchtime. The first Andrew had known about this was in the middle of the night when he had an alert from his bank asking how money had been spent on Jac’s account in Melbourne when she’d also paid to watch something on TV in Hackney! She is however going to be checking with the flight centre every day to see if she can get a flight earlier.

Lockdown Mooring 1, narrow towpath

Tank full, it was time for us to reverse to the winding hole, where we turned, passed our mooring from the last week and headed back to Barbridge Junction. I popped up to the bow to see if anyone was coming, clear both ways I waved Mick onwards and we turned towards Nantwich.

Barbridge Junction

Our hope was to find a space near to Hurleston Junction where the towpath is wider, then we might be able to sort the boat covers and do some jobs on Oleanna without constantly avoiding walkers. But as we got near three boats were tucked in before the junction and once through Bridge 97 the 2 day visitor moorings were just about full.

Loads of boats

A printed C&RT poster stood on a pole at the end to try to discourage towpath use. A chap busied himself cutting wood on his workbench. NB Mountbatten and Jellicoe were breasted up awaiting the locks up onto the Llangollen to reopen. Several dogs ran about enjoying themselves. We could have slotted in, but decided to see if another mooring on our map might be free.

Men still at work at the locks

We pootled onwards, the next spot occupied. A week ago there’d been half as many boats on this stretch. A short distance on we tried pulling in, the Shropie shelf keeping us a touch too far out for our tyre fenders. Through the next bridge and we tried again. We were in luck, here was better too due to fewer trees so the solar panels could earn their keep better.

Who thought the Shropie shelf would pay off

A late lunch and only a few hours for Tilly on the towpath. Here the path is wider and we have the added advantage of an extra 18 inches of Shropie shelf to help with our buffer zone.

Walking with Tilly

The sour dough pizza dough seemed to work quite well, it’s not as sour smelling as my old starter was. A large oven tray was covered with the dough and baked for 10 minutes before I added the toppings.

Sour dough pizza

Tuna, red onion, sweetcorn (with added peas!) and plenty of cheese. It turned out rather well a touch more bready than previous versions.

A Shropie sunset

0 locks, 3.62 miles, 0.3 in reverse, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 straight, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 2 pints milk, 1 sister-in-law booked to come home, 11 boats moving including us, 18 inches extra buffer, 1 walk with Tilly, 1 game of stone, 1 very large pizza with leftovers, 1 little film, 1 coal boat first up Hurleston Locks.

Fusilli. 20th March

Nantwich

A shopping list was drawn up over breakfast with what we’d like to get from the shops. A Brompton bike and bags at the ready we walked into Nantwich to see what we’d find.

The arms houses are so pretty on a sunny day

Up on the embankment people kept their distance from each other. With less traffic on the road than normal it wasn’t necessary to press buttons at crossings. It being the last day of school, teenagers stood outside Malbank High School puffing away on cigarettes, we kept a wide berth as they enjoyed their nicotine.

Cafes open today, but not tomorrow

Town wasn’t as quiet as we thought it would be, mostly older people doing their shopping. Each bench around the war memorial had only one person sat on them.

Butchers

We headed for Pepper Street. Here an older lady jokingly warned friends she had the lurgy and to keep away! Then proceeded to stand close and have a good natter, this Social Distancing is going to take some people a while to get the hang of!

Now which one?

H. Clewlow Butchers had their display of pies in the window as usual. Mick made his choice then went inside, returning with a pie, a chicken and some frozen gluten free sausages.

Bread shopping

Next it was Chatwins for a loaf of bread. All these items a touch more expensive than if we’d got them at Morrisons, but at least we were supporting local shops.

Now a self scan shop

Holland and Barrett next to see what gluten free flours they had. Sorghum flour is out of stock everywhere I look on the internet, I knew they wouldn’t have any but I did manage to get some brown rice flour which should keep my sourdough starter happy, that’s if it can cope with a change of food. Here I was invited by the shop assistant to scan my own items, he just had to press buttons on the till.

Then to Morrisons. Fruit and veg seemed fairly well stocked the potatoes a touch depleted, but round in the next isle was a different story. Booze, only sweet or expensive wine left. We’re fine for now.

Down every isle the shelves were being restocked, the sound of boxes and plastic wrapping being cut away. Anti-bac handwash was going out on the shelves so we picked one of them up, we use this normally. Shampoo, meat and mustard were the new isles to be empty.

I’m glad I was brought up cooking and able to look at what was left on shelves and know we’d be eating tasty things for the next few days. Most things on our list were covered now just a few exemptions, so whilst Mick sorted the bike out I headed to Aldi.

The view from bridge 92

A shop assistant was astounded at the amount of frozen ham and pineapple pizzas they were getting through. Then a chap asked why the booze isle was empty. The manager explained that until there are more drivers they are restricted to one delivery to the store a day and she was ordering nappies and pasta rather than booze. Next week things would be restocked, but for now Nantwich would be a sober place to be.

Heading back towards the boat we stopped at B&M where Tilly’s cat food filled the shelves. £2.99 each of 3 for £10! I got one, she now has supplies for a month. I have to say I never thought I’d be buying free range eggs at Home Bargains.

Strange place to hide your pasta stash

After lunch we walked over to the bins at the services. Mick spotted in the skip a new unopened bag of Fusilli pasta with a date on it. What was this doing here? The only pasta in Nantwich. If I wasn’t gluten free we’d have had it, but left it for someone else to find.

NB Halsall had been due in Nantwich over the next few days and Mick had sent in an order. However they have had to change their schedule due to deliveries to them being altered. We tried working out where we might meet them, considered getting a bag of coal from the chandlers here. In the end we checked if they would still have enough stock for us if we met them at Calverley tomorrow, rendez vous arranged.

As Mick had a towpath haircut Tilly tried her paw at catching squirrels at the bottom of the embankment. It really isn’t fare! They jump from tree to tree without doing any calculations, its as if Isaac Newton never existed!

 

Us

Then we sat down to watch todays press conference. Life is different and will stay this way for sometime. Our summer plans of catching up with people in Yorkshire will not happen, we’ll still venture north as C&RT say they have no plans on closing the navigation. Emails full of photos will be sent to those we’ll no longer be able to see. The camera and microphone are now working on the laptop and tomorrow there is a planned get together of Mick’s family on Zoom. I suspect we’ll end up seeing more of each other over the next few months than normal.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1st chiffchaffs, 4 shopping bags, 1 laden bike, 0 porridge, 0 wine, 1 coal boat rendez vous, 1 bag of pasta, 1 shaved head, 1 speedy squirrel.

Pigs Not Ponytails. 19th March

Coole Pilote to Nantwich Aqueduct

Over the last couple of days we’ve been discussing whether we should wear gloves whilst working locks now. Apart from when we venture to the shops this is when we might be in contact with the virus. So far I haven’t bothered, making a mental note of what I touch when back on the boat and giving those places and my windlass a wipe down.

Shhhh!

Mick however today decided that he’d wear gloves to protect others as well as himself. Doing so makes you a touch more aware of what you touch. He wore his rubber coated gloves and I pulled out a disposable pair for working our way down Hack Green Locks.

Bstruction

I’ve also changed how I tie my hair up. A ponytail doesn’t quite keep it all away from my face when working locks and this gets quite annoying when you are trying to avoid touching your face! So today I decided to revert to pigtails. All good so far, except my hat doesn’t quite sit on top of them.

A few boats had come past this morning and the lady from the boat behind us had been out for a walk with her dog and cat. We pushed off at nearly midday, well Tilly had been out finishing off her friends!

Tilly’s work of art from yesterday!

The communications mast from the Secret Bunker hid behind the trees for much of the mile to the locks. We wondered how much toilet roll was stashed away down there in the cold war and if it still might be there.

There’s the mast

Our new modus operandi for working the locks seemed to work well. That was until I spotted bedoingee lambs in the field alongside the locks and had to take a photo!

Baa!

My camera would now need a wipe down. One little lamb obliged when a bedoing was requested and both Mick and I bounced up and down to keep it company.

Over kill maybe, or better safe than sorry

The locks were easy work, followed by wiping things down and disposing of gloves. I think the top of the cabin sides of Oleanna will end up being very clean at this rate.

A zoom in to the hill tops just in view confirmed that we could see Mow Cop on the horizon a familiar sight from the Trent and Mersey and Macclesfield Canals.

Mow Cop

Then a dart of blue, quickly followed by another! Two Kingfishers sprinted ahead of us. We kept our eyes glued to where we thought they might have landed. The camera worked overtime pointing in their general direction and I was lucky to get one reasonable shot with the two of them. I wonder if they were by their nest as it’s now breeding season.

Two in one photo!

We pootled along soon reaching the outskirts of Nantwich. A long line of boats greeted us, did this mean the embankment was full? No it meant the usual boats that stay in one place for a fortnight were doing just that, close to a bridge and away from visitor moorings.

Jellicoe

Along the first stretch of 2 day moorings we spotted Jellicoe the butty for NB Mountbatten. Here is a possible mooring for a supermarket delivery, but as none are available we decided to continue on towards the aqueduct. Last time we passed here NB Valerie was moored along the embankment. Today another green boat sat on the same mooring.

Nantwich Aqueduct

As we rounded the bend of the embankment we could see that there was plenty of space up ahead near the service block and the ramp down to the roads below. We crossed the aqueduct and found ourselves a place, furthest away from the road as possible.

Not so sure, it’s a bit dry round here!

Our shopping trip was put on hold until tomorrow when we’ll face others in the queues at the tills. So Tilly got to reacquaint herself with the hill we’re sat on. Too much footfall for her liking, but better than BUMingham.

Just need to stay on my toes here

During the afternoon I received an email that I really hadn’t expected. Dark Horse have decided to continue with The Garden. They don’t know when or if it will get to be seen by an audience, but want to continue as if it will be. So this afternoon I have scanned my drawings and emailed them off to my friend Graham for a quote. I will colour up the model and in April we’ll have a virtual production meeting via Zoom. Depending on when the show goes ahead will depend on how much I can achieve of my design as I’m not sure charity shops will be open for me to start collecting costumes.

Pink sky

Late afternoon the laptop was handed over to the IT department. It’s all very well arranging for meetings to take place over the internet, but you really need to have a working microphone and camera for such things. After an hour or so, both were working. Mick is now going to see if he can connect my camera up to the laptop at the same time so that I can walk people through the model more easily than with the laptop.

2 locks, 3.93 miles, 2 outsides, 0 friends, 4 muddy paws, again! 1 job to continue, 2 Kingfishers, 2 pairs gloves, 2 antibac wipes, 2 pigtails, 1 last of everything fresh stew, 1 sister-in-law in Australia, 6 weeks lock down in China starting to lift, 0 new measures here.

Hop, Skip And Slip. 15th March

Beeton Wood Bridge to Coxbank Visitor Moorings.

Turnover bridge Shropie style

A touch of shore leave for Tilly whilst we had our breakfast. Three boats came past, two heading towards the locks, oh well, we’d have to reset them for ourselves. As we made ready to push off the cows could be heard in the distance, at least they hadn’t been audible all night.

Top of the flight

The Adderley flight is an easy one. I’d expected all the locks to be empty, but the second one down was full due to a paddle that had been left halfway up, good job there’s plenty of water coming down!

How did someone miss this?

We passed boats coming up hill in the bottom two locks of the flight, one a familiar boat from a couple of years ago. They have a cat, Tilly had had a stand off over whose territory the benches were in at Nantwich.

One coming up

At Hawksmoor Bridge a boat we’d been following was just settling onto the visitors mooring. New stop planks all numbered up had been left by the bridge. There was a stoppage here until recently which caused a shortage of water down into Audlem. But today the levels are back to normal, just a shame that the canal under the bridge is very shallow. Oleanna made a big lean as we came through, it was like being back at Ryders Green!

Labelled stop planks

On to the top of the Audlem flight. There’s a handy mooring just two locks down which is where we planned to moor for the day.

It’s a bit lumpy through that bridge hole

Works at the top lock cottage are all completed now. The lower half of the very big extension is brick with the upper half timer clad that has had time to silver. Mick wasn’t too keen and I think it swamps the original cottage somewhat, the silvering timber will never make it fade into the background.

The lock cottage

No goodies for sale, here today. I didn’t bother checking in the fridges as I didn’t fancy a chilled medication.

I hitched a lift back on Oleanna to get round a muddy patch on the towpath on the way to the next lock. Down the lock and then we had a choice of where to stop as the moorings were empty.

Our first lamb this spring, certainly not a new born

We chose the first stretch just before a very very muddy length of towpath. It was just long enough for Oleanna and neither of us would have to wade through any mud. Just after we’d tied up it started to rain, perfectly timed.

Tilly came and went during the afternoon and I had a catch up phone call with my brother. Jac my sister-in-law had been planning to fly to Melbourne last Wednesday for the rest of the month to visit her Mum and family. I’d wondered if she’d gone, she had. My brother is quite calm about what is happening, he just hopes he gets his wife back sometime. It was good to have a catch up and hear news from London.

New tyre fitted

A few days ago Oleanna had caught a tyre whilst we were moored, so Mick set about replacing one on our wheels that has had a puncture for ages now. It fitted, we just need Oleanna to catch another one sometime and not around her prop!

As the tyre was pumped up a boat came past up the locks. I could hear Mick talking to a lady asking if she was alright. I bobbed out to see what was happening. The lady was walking between the locks windlass in hand and had come across the quagmire on the towpath. She’d tried to get round it, only a mountain goat or Tilly could do this up the steep bank, and had slipped onto her hand. Nothing broken thank goodness as her husband sailed away up to the next lock.

The ladies boat by the next lock

Only one thing for it, we’d give her a lift. Shoes back on, cratch rolled up, Tilly back onboard as their dog ran to find Mum on the towpath, we untied and got the bow just past the muddy section where the lady could hop on the bow with me. She was very apologetic about her muddy shoes, but really that didn’t matter, we’re muddy as anything at the moment! Mick reversed us back up and the lady could hop off and walk on up to the next lock. Her husband was closing the bottom gates at the lock about to start filling the chamber, wonder if he got an ear full?

It rose another inch before it went back in the fridge

My sourdough starter had come out of the fridge earlier with the aim of waking it up to make some pasta for a lasagne tomorrow. It warmed up and after a feed sat on the dinette table slowly growing all afternoon. Just a shame it ended up back in the fridge as we have sausages that will need eating tomorrow. Oh well it can come out and be woken up again tomorrow, I might make a loaf too.

As a joint of pork cooked away in the oven the sun set in the cloudless sky. What a wonderful sight.

Wonderful

7 locks, 2.82 miles, 3 uphill boats, 0 baked goods, 1 starter woken, 1 sister-in-law out of the country, 1 starter put to sleep, 1 new tyre, 4.5 hours shore leave, 1 muddy lady rescued, 1 joint pork, 3 year old balls of yarn, 1 bag of socks I really must update my etsy shop.

Woodseaves. 14th March

Goldstone Bridge to Beeton Wood Bridge 66, then a bit further on.

Time to see what has been blocking the way ahead for a while. I’ve started to get bored of photographing every tree that gave up it’s will to stand upright during the storms, but today going through Woodseaves Cutting the camera was out.

Two years ago it was so magical along this stretch, today it still is, it just shows the scars of the February storms.

Heading in

By Cheswardine Road Bridge clumps of snowdrops filled the banks, these have long been past their best in less sheltered sites, and daffodils covered the tops. We now entered the cutting. Vertical rock hugs the canal and towpath either side, cut through around 185 years ago. Just how did Thomas Telfords navies do this? How long would it take us now to do the same with our diggers and lorries?

As we cruised along patches of red earth showed where things had slipped and every now and then there would be a pile of logs and sawdust.

High Bridge

Two walkers with their dogs could be seen up ahead by High Bridge clambering over something on the towpath. The colour gave it away, this must have been where the main landslip had been.

Blimey

A short distance on from the bridge a large red scar came down from near the top of the cutting. Red earth and large red boulders covered the towpath all very straight edged as if they’d been precut. The boulders were large and we’re sure some must have fallen in the water, but we sailed on past at our sedate speed, no bumps from below.

More trees had come down and there was another large red scar with tree roots by Hollings Bridge. Thank goodness the wet and windy weather seems to have eased as I’m sure there is a lot more that could have come down in the cutting given half the chance.

Still magical

On reaching the top of Tyrley Locks we were slightly relieved, we’d made it through without incident.

More red roots

The house at the top of the locks is up for sale. Built by Thomas Telford in 1837 it really is a picture. Three bedrooms and a private mooring for £385,000. Exposed beams and a bathroom with a walk in shower that looks like Tilly stepped in a pot of blue paint before doing circuits.

A great looking house

A change of footwear was obviously needed with the amount of mud and standing water around the top gates of the top lock. Quite a lot of branches and twigs accompanied us down where the next lock sat waiting for us with it’s top gate open.

Glorious mud

From Lock 3, I could see there was a boat below the bottom lock, were they coming or going? We knew there was a boat ahead of us, but I could have sworn there had been one heading for the locks. The pound between the bottom two locks is where we got stuck two years ago. Signs, now very worn, warn you not to stop in the pound.

Tyrley Lock 1

I hesitated to go and set the next lock, but Mick and some walkers said that the boat was heading away from the bottom of the flight. I had another look and sure enough it was. So as Mick descended I walked down to fill the next chamber.

Hang on! There was someone at the next lock. Then I could see the roof of a boat rising, there had been a boat coming towards us as well as one going away. I closed paddles and lifted others to empty the lock so they could use it. Swung the gates open and waved them in, then headed back up to let Mick and Oleanna out of the lock above.

NB Bessie Surtees

Walking back down the lady recognised me. ‘Are you Pip?’ The boat was NB Bessie Surtees, our paths have crossed a few times over the last few years, but I’ve never met them before, sorry I don’t know your names. They come from Scarborough too, so it was very nice to finally meet them. Having said that we both kept our distance, something that will be common practice over the next few months.

Bye bye

As the boats swapped over we waved farewell and continued downwards. Normally Mick loiters in the throat of a lock and closes the offside gate for me, but not here, I wouldn’t let him. The bywash is a torrent and could easily have pushed Oleanna onto rocks on the offside, so it was much better for him to just gun it out of the lock and into the next one, leaving me with the gates.

Phew!

Phew, no getting stuck!

A family were walking up the locks so I enlisted their help to open the gate and close it again. We pulled up short of the first bridge into Market Drayton, pulled out the shopping bags and walked into town to stock up on fresh food. Our walk felt like we were walking into the lions den, Corovirus just waiting to pounce. Normally a busy supermarket is just that too busy, too many people, but today this had a different edge to it.

Only expensive pasta left, or an open bag

Luckily the things we wanted were on the shelves, fresh veg, milk and bread along with our Saturday newspaper. We don’t see the need to stock pile, also we don’t have the space. We did however check the loo roll isle, nothing. Pasta, only the really expensive stuff left, opposite the gluten free fusilli, we picked up a bag just in case! Long life milk, none.

A box of white wine was added to our trolley to make up for the missing one the other day. There were plenty of people about, only one face mask though. This was a home made version worn by an old chap. I’m not certain but it was either made from a white cotton vest or from a pair of new pristine white underpants.

Cheese Twist mountain

A quick call into Lidl where Mick was very pleased that there hadn’t been a run on cheese twists! We were done now and headed back to be away from the crowds again.

Betton Mill Wharf looks like it is now being used by C&RT for it’s work boats. A much better use than a few years ago! This is where we came to talk to Stillwater about the build of our narrowboat that wasn’t in October 2012. For those who don’t know the Crown Prosecution Service took the boat builders to court last year on two counts of fraud.

Now a C&RT yard

Since we went to the sentencing hearing last April, not much has happened. When we left court further hearings had been arranged to confiscate funds to be used as compensation to the victims, us being only one of several. Late last summer I contacted the lady who’d been looking after us to see who we should contact regarding what had happened. This is when she informed us that the hearings had been cancelled. She could give us no reason for this and was of a similar opinion to us about how ridiculous this was. We always knew we’d never get our full money back, but the court had suggested we’d get something. But it appears that you can fraudulently take money from people and get away with it if you keep your nose clean!

It appears nobody would have told us about this and we haven’t been told officially either. Maybe things were said in court for our benefit then not to be acted upon. What a joke our underfunded legal system is!

Blimey! That’s a big one

Anyhow back to today. Soon we came across the biggest tree that had been across the cut and to some extent still was! The jagged crack on it’s trunk suggested the force at which it had fallen.

Crack!

We pulled in about a mile further on where the towpath was relatively green and dry. A herd of cows watched our every move from half way across the field on the off side. They made comments and I’m sure would have given us marks out of ten if they had hands.

Moo
along with many more!

Tilly and I played stick for a while and then she was left to her own devises, climbing trees, pouncing, she doesn’t need me for such things.

Tree

Shortly before sunset, Tilly came home a touch hungry. The teenage bovines in the field across the way had managed to get to the canal and were running around kicking and mooing, goading us. Then they were joined by another gang of teenage boys in the field alongside the towpath. We were surrounded with mooing and noises that sounded like several were elephants in disguise.

We looked at each other, then at Tilly who no longer was looking longingly, watching the birdies, but was warily keeping an eye on lip licking cows through the hedge. ‘Lets move’ we said to each other. Tilly agreed.

As we moved along the cows followed us, even more amassing behind. They must have such a boring life. Will this be what human teenagers occupy themselves with should/when the schools close? I suspect we’ll find out.

5 locks, 5.61 miles, 4 landslips, 7 trees down, 1 big bird, 1 high bridge, 9 boulders, 2 Scarborough boats in 1 pound, 1st meeting, 1 box of wine, 1 packet gf pasta, 1 loaf bread, 2 cheese twists, 1 joint pork, 1 cabbage, 4 carrots, 4 parsnips, 0 toilet roll, 1 newspaper, 1 y front mask, 2 boaters wanting to wash our hands, 0 compensation, 326 teenagers, 472853245 moos, 2 moorings, 1 quiet evening at last.

Hitchhiker And 1000! 13th March

Norbury Junction to Goldstone Bridge 55

Tilly was allowed some shore leave as we had breakfast, thankfully she returned home before we’d finished so no mad cat woman required on the towpath. Mick made a call to his dentists in Scarborough, they were still seeing people. However where we are right now isn’t the easiest place to do a day trip from, so he has moved his appointment to May when we hopefully should be nearer.

Up at the junction a boat was already on the waterpoint, they nudged back and made room for us to pull in. Water topped up, yellow water emptied and rubbish disposed of we were ready for our days cruise.

Good job there is room at the junction as there isn’t by this bridge!

What has happened to the etiquette of not mooring close to bridge holes? Just through Norbury Bridge on the off side is a permanent mooring, on the towpath there is normally a short distance before the 48 hr mooring sign, leaving a space by the bridge. This seems to be happening more and more.

Scaffolding
The other side

On we pootled in a northernlyish direction. Our next bridge was High Bridge, the bridge with the double arch and telegraph pole right in the middle of it. Just how many photos have I taken of this bridge? But my photos today would be different as the south face was covered in scaffolding.

That one will have been in the way

Evidence of more trees that had come down in the storms. One huge trunk turned out to be just a limb that had peeled itself away from the main part of the tree.

A Green Fergie

On through Grub Street cutting. The boats are still here along with the beautiful blue Daimler half under wraps.

Get that roof mended please!

I think the roof of the shelter will need some attention very soon!

Well worth a stop if you’ve never been, of even if you have

The chap on the fender boat stuck his head out to ask if Tyrley was open again. Past The Anchor, too early in the day to stop for a pint of 6X.

Boats, boats and more boats

Lines of moored boats slowed our progress, not quite as bad as at Goldennook up towards Chester. Sheep grazed in fields above and below the canal, some chomping away on crops laid in lines where they had grown.

Still no bedoingy lambs

We passed an immaculate NB Percy, Nev had been on board a few days ago but there was no sign of life today, we waved anyway.

Please would you come and give Oleanna a polish?

This morning we’d pin pointed two possible moorings, depending on when the rain arrived would determine how far we got. Black Flat Bridge arrived and we only had a touch of drizzle in the air, so we continued.

Looking out for fish

A couple of churps. A Kingfisher. We both looked up as a blue flash passed us at the stern. Normally a Kingfisher would carry on skimming the surface of the canal to quite a distance up ahead to find a perch. Not this one though!

Oleanna trying to keep quiet behind the bags of coal

He swooped up onto our cratch cover and caught a ride with us for a few minutes.

Thankfully there was enough time to get my camera out and take a few photos.

Look at those markings

Being only about 50 ft away I managed to get some good photos showing off his plumage. Wow! What a treat! We felt like we’d been chosen. So beautiful.

Just Wow!

Then he took off and headed back to where he’d come from. Thank you for spending a few minutes with us.

The rain was now trying harder, so we had a go at pulling into possible moorings on the embankment, with great views. But the Shropie shelf thwarted that idea.

Great views along this stretch

Soon we reached the next visitor mooring with rings at Goldstone Bridge. No view but a suitable place for Tilly to keep amused and us to stay dry for the remainder of the afternoon.

I browned off a pack of pork mince, then split it in two. One for the freezer, the other for a bolognese sauce which will last us a couple of meals. This sat on the stove top gently bubbling away the afternoon as we watched the news regarding the virus.

Okay

It doesn’t seem like it will be long now before numerous events will be cancelled and everyone’s life will be contained to some degree. What a strange time lies ahead for us all. Stay safe and well my friends.

0 locks, 7.74 miles, 1 straight, 5 trees, 1 bridge, 2 kingfishers, 1 hitching a ride, 2 outsides, 1 damp day, 70% rent, 500 grams when cooked equals 360 grams, 1000th Oleanna blog post.

The Verdict. 9th March

Hunting Bridge 7 to Wheaton Aston

Tilly headed out this morning and managed a whole half hour before returning home. We’d decided she would dictate when we moved on today, we needn’t have worried as she was home long before we’d finished breakfast. Despite there being very little footfall here it was deemed too unsafe to go to the toilet, so she came back to use her box instead! This mooring doesn’t seem to have floated her boat quite as much as last time so no Mrs Tilly stamp. It’s the lack of trees! Anyway I used it all up last time.

A little bit dense at the bottom

After cereal my loaf of bread was sliced open. Maybe a little bit too dense at the bottom. Once sliced we toasted some each. Gluten free bread always takes an age to toast, especially homemade. Hope we have sufficient gas to last this one loaf! Verdict, well a little bit heavy but maybe that was because I think my starter is a touch too liquid and I had to add some extra flour to the mix to help clean the dough off my hand. I’ll have another go at this recipe and see what happens.

Is this an orchard? Or vines near Chillington Bridge

Nature seems to be conspiring against our trip north, along with the canal system not playing ball. Our original plan, Trent and Mersey, Macclesfield, Huddersfield Narrow, work, then Huddersfield Broad, Calder and Hebble, Aire and Calder, River Ouse to York has been out of the window for a while due to the destruction of The Figure of Three Locks in the storms.

No they’re not, but neither are we!

We’re in no rush so had planned another route. Shropshire Union, across the Middlewich Branch, up the Trent and Mersey to the Anderton Boat lift and onto the Weaver. Back onto the Trent and Mersey, up to the Macclesfield, Peak Forest Canal onto the Ashton Canal. Then the Bridegwater to Leigh and the Leeds Liverpool, at Wigan we would turn right and head over the top to Leeds. I’d go to work then we could carry on to York.

I’ll be needing my walking boots back out! No urban towpaths anymore

However there is a new stoppage on the Macclesfield near Marple, an unstable embankment. We were really looking forward to cruising the Macc again, but this may no longer be possible.

Bet that made a good noise

The winter stoppages on the Shroppie are due to finish soon, but the storms have brought down numerous trees. Most have been cleared quickly, but at Woodseaves Cutting above Tyrley Locks trees have come down along with some of the cutting. Reports were that there were trees stood upright in the middle of the canal! Woodseaves is a magical place, a steep damp cutting. We’ve been waiting for a couple of weeks now for news that the way ahead is clear. A notice on Friday said

Engineers have inspected the affected area and are advising contractors the best way forward, to safely remove the trees that are blocking the navigation. A further update will be provided next week.

Crabbing along against the wind

Then Filance Lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal has been closed for much of this week due to concerns from boaters. So even if we changed our minds, there would be no point in retracing our steps and heading that way, well not until the end of the week and we’d rather carry on up the Shropie if possible.

Plans are having to remain fluid, but at the moment we can’t go far, so we’re taking it slowly.

Avenue Bridge

Not far today. Just to Wheaton Aston where we hoped to get a mooring on the services side of the bridge to get a delivery.

First Shropie Kingfisher

The Shroppie for the most part is made up of embankments and cuttings, it’s course quite straight with flights of locks. Today we saw plenty of the destruction that the storms had wrought. Every cutting we came through had evidence of trees having given up and fallen across the cut.

I so hated cross country runs, think the chap with orange arms hates them too!

Most trees along here are covered in ivy, some creating a waterfall from branches all very atmospheric but adding to the weight of branches in stormy winds, no wonder so many gave up the fight.

Ow!

Others simply snapped with the strain. Several boats sadly had been moored in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up with trees on their roofs. Have to say we’d have moved Oleanna onto an embankment rather than hope for shelter around these trees!

A couple of hours after pushing off we arrived at Wheaton Aston Lock the wind was quite strong, so it took quite a bit of effort to get Oleanna away from the side to enter the lock. A lady came up to help with the offside gate as her boat was just winding to come back up, I loitered to close the gate for her.

Wheaton Aston Lock

The water tank was topped up and I walked to see where we might be able to moor. A space just after the winding hole had our name on it.

Just by the water point and service block there is this in the ground. Was it the base to a crane? Fixings for some mechanism of water control? Or the base for a gun in WW2?

What was this?

As we were tying up rain started, by the time the covers were all poppered back into place it was heaving it down. Once the online shopping was complete we watched another Morse story, Service of the Dead. We’d seen this one not too long ago, so I knew Morse shouldn’t have been getting too attached to that woman!

They’ve found us!

1 lock, 4.82 miles, 1 solid loaf of bread, 4 crossed legs, 1 cloud given the go ahead, 1 Joe understudy, 8 trees down at least, 2 routes north blocked, 1 way open back through Birmingham! 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 handy mooring, 1st helicopter, 4 murders, 1 suicide, 1 stumble, 8 Jag review, 1 very wet afternoon.

Apologies if you got this post yesterday and are getting it again. The internet on the Shropie can be patchy and play tricks on you, as it has done. So sorry if you get this post a second time. Due to uncertain internet I may not be able to post every day.