Category Archives: Bridgewater Canal

You Have Reached Your Destination.


Nine weeks ago on the 9th May we moved back onboard Oleanna, leaving Goole on the 10th. Today we’d reached our planned destination, Lechlade.

The above map taken from data provided by our Victron Inverter

Our vital statistics for our trip down are as follows

Nebo 366.54 miles 270 locks

Canalplan 364 miles 1.25 furlongs 270 locks

Our Victron Inverter 403.5 miles (?)

Nebo’s map of our journey

Interesting how both maps have gaps in them, both in different places.

So,now where?

We need to make our way back northwards, currently there is only one route open to us, the River Trent.

Apologies to those who get their updates by email. You won’t be able to see the map from victron as it was embedded in the post. The IT department may see if he can replace this today, but you have already received the post, so you won’t be reading this bit anyway!

Bang On Time. 4th June

George Greaves Bridge to Little Leigh Aqueduct 205, Trent and Mersey Canal

Waking early with plenty of sunshine streaming in through the windows along with the weekly Geraghty zoom this morning meant there was ample time for Mick to cook breakfast, back to the usual standards today.

Is that better Ade?

Zoom topics included relocating snails, foxes relocating shoes, a green soft top Ford Consul and which was quicker the Bakerloo or Northern line?

The covers were ready for a speedy departure, pushing off at 11am. Ahead lay Preston Brook Tunnel which is open to southbound boats from 30 to 40 minutes past the hour. Did we have enough time to reach it before the next window had expired?

Straight on for the tunnel

Not too many moored boats to slow our progress. Midland Chandlers is closed on Sundays so a new float switch couldn’t be purchased, that will have to wait a while longer. A boat coming from the tunnel towards us carried on at a narrow section, we had to hold back a touch, didn’t the chap know we had only a few minutes to spare and he was rapidly using them up!

Bang on time!

Thankfully we made it to the northern portal just as the clock reached 11:30, bang on time!

With life jackets on, big torch at the stern, head light on and cabin lights too we went straight in leaving the Bridgewater Canal behind. *It’s been a while since we’ve been through Preston Brook Tunnel, in fact we can’t quite remember when it last was, have to check the blog. Thankfully it wasn’t too wet.

That’s a bit of a queue

As we popped out the southern portal a line of boats were sat waiting for their turn, five in total. There was nobody behind us, but the lead boat was going to wait a few more minutes before setting off.

Preston Brook stop lock was left open for us. A height difference of about 2inches, the water flowing over the top of the top gates. Blimey these small gates were a touch hard to move, considering their small size they were rivalling some of the gates at Wigan.

Time to get back to work for me. Model making equipment had been dug out from under the dinette before we pushed off this morning. Now to pull out some white mount board and get started. I thought I’d checked my stocks and seen a full sheet of white and a good amount of black, but someone had already used at least a third of each! Oh! Would I have enough to make the basics?

Careful cutting was required and I had just enough white card for every bit of model including a front cloth. But should I change my mind and need to remake anything (which is quite likely) I may well be short. It may be a week before I can restock my card supplies as Middlewich doesn’t have an art shop! Eek!!

A shoe box of bits

Being slightly ahead of our schedule meant we’d not be needing to do the full four hours cruise today. We carried on past where we were meant to stop for the day and found a sun puddle to sit in quarter of an hour away from Saltersford Tunnel. Here our solar could keep topping up the batteries for a bit and Tilly could have a very good afternoon, Good Afternoon! See you later.

I managed to get the majority of my initial white card model made, just the Town Square left for tomorrow then I can put it all in the model box and see what needs altering and if I need more card sooner rather than later.

1 lock (if you can call it that!), 6 miles, 1 straight on, 2 canals, 1272 yards of tunnel, 2 mysterons, 5 waiting, 1 basic white card nearly done, 0.75 sheet of card, 5 hours shore leave, 64 instead of 68 stitches.

*We last went through Preston Brook Tunnel in May 2019.

Orchids! They’re Two A Penny! 3rd June

Dunham School Bridge to George Gleaves Bridge.

With the drawing board still out I continued doing sketch drawings for panto as Mick stood at the helm moving us along the Bridgewater Canal. Archways that need to do so many things took up much of my morning.

It’s exhausting being a boat cat!

Our arrival at Lymm was well timed, tucking into a mooring near to Sooty’s house. I headed off to be papergirl today and to stretch my legs. Sooty’s house is still quite a picture, just not as well tended. The hanging baskets used to be brimming with colour when Matthew Corbett owned the house.

Lymm was busy, by the Cross was a fishmonger, another stall was the food bank filled with supplies. By the time I’d picked up a newspaper and a few bits everything had been taken at the food bank and the fishmonger was packing up, no point in stopping to see if I fancied anything for a barbecue this evening.

Drawings drawings drawings

Early lunch and then we were on our way again. Back to my drawings, rostra, more archways, the coach, canopies. Then the Town Square. My sketches had suggested I had more room on stage than I actually have, Chipping Norton Theatre is very compact. Sadly one request from John may not be possible, but I’ve not ruled it out yet.

All pink

The occasional look up from the drawing board to see where we were. Rhododendrons in full bloom, how wonderful. I know they are in invasive species but I grew up with a bank of them in our garden, with happy memories of hiding between them and piling leaf mould around their bases. The deep red and dark purple ones my favourites.

Mick kept slowing Oleanna, were we coming in to moor? Out of the hatch I could see the tower of Daresbury Laboratory. A hire boat were pulling over to moor up, ropes at the ready to hop off on the off side. One chap asked if they could moor there, Mick replied that he thought they wouldn’t like it. Through the very next bridge you most certainly can’t moor on the off side, numerous large signs inform you of this. Their pulling over however gave us the advantage of going on ahead to hopefully find a good spot for a barbecue.

So many boats moored up, some of the better places already taken. Then a stretch where the road stayed away, the railway was across the far side of a field and maybe just maybe the towpath was wide enough for us to cook outside today.

My sketch drawings finished enough for me to start making a white card model the drawing board was stowed away. Time to marinade some steaks.

At Christmas, Kath, Mick’s sister had given me a selection of barbecue spices which you can make into marinades or just rub on fish, meat or veggies. Time to give one of them a try. With some sizzle steaks (wish I’d spent more on the meat) in some of the Montreal spices and some veg kebabs we sat outside enjoying the evening sunshine.

Our mooring was filled with buttercups and so many Marsh Orchids, they’re really common round here!

The steaks themselves were a little tough, better quality meat required next time, but the spices were very nice. Plenty of that mix left, and there’s another three flavours to try too.

Some more knitting of socks. My current pair are for a friend who’s feet do not match each other and need to be that bit longer than I normally knit. I’ve been happily knitting away over the last few evenings, but realised that I’ve too many stitches on my needles to turn a heel over an inch, so the main foot is most probably an inch too long. This means pulling out quite a lot of rows, a recalculation is required before I do though.

A sunset for two

0 locks, 13.3 miles, 1 stop for a paper, 3 in the queue for water, 0.5 tank will do us, 6 sheets of drawings, 1 drawing board put away, 4 hours shore leave, 0 secret handshakes, 0 secret milkshakes, 2 chairs on the towpath, 4 steaks, 4 kebabs, 68 sts rather than the usual 48 or 52, 1 lovely evening.

The Pumpkin In The Room. 2nd June

Plank Lane to almost Dunham School Bridge, Bridgewater Canal

Our start was delayed by Mick having to return the car to Enterprise this morning. As I worked on a couple of new ideas for panto, scribbling them down in my sketch book John was sending through new ideas and new excerpts from the script. I had to pause to read through what he was sending and adjust things accordingly.

Once Mick was back we soon were ready to push off. It suddenly got very busy! NB Petroc was pulling in for water and then most probably to use the bridge. As we pulled out another two boats approached, one immediately taking our mooring the other pulling in behind the line of moored boats.

Being on the flat for a few days it’s time for me to take advantage of not being needed to work locks or bridges and crack on with work. A planned place to pull up for lunch was agreed, this would coincide with a zoom meeting with John.

I stayed up top to pass Pennington Flash a very popular mooring, we’d have moved up last night if there hadn’t been the car to return. Then it was time to scan images, add a few new references to folders I’ve shared with John, all the time keeping an eye open as to where we were. In Leigh I popped up top as we said farewell to the Leeds Liverpool and hello to the Bridgewater Canal, you now have to book your passage on the C&RT website before entering.

Marsh Orchid?

Mick pulled Oleanna into the bank at 12:40 right alongside what I thought were orchids. My meeting went well, just a couple of small adjustments and things I want to alter when I make the white card model. We’ve come up with a slightly different idea regarding the coach, normally the design is based around a pumpkin, well I’m not going to say anymore as I don’t want to spoil it for those who’ve already booked tickets.

Cruising through builders tea

No stopping here or the day, we have a schedule to keep up with and today we needed to skirt round Manchester. A boat came past just as we were ready. This chap was cruising whilst his dog followed him along on the towpath. The boat’s speed left something to be desired! We trundled along in and out of gear following.

Tilly likes the drawing board

With my drawing board set up on the dinette table I got on with sketching out a groundplan and trying to solve problems I’ve given myself. The flying bars just aren’t quite in the right place and an angled wall is a touch annoying, but I’ll get there.

Landmarks still need to be seen. Worsley with it’s half timbered building and orange water. There were a couple of interesting boats moored at the boatyard and photos were being taken of a wedding party.

Very blue today

I managed a photo of the lighthouse and then made sure I waved towards our friend Cat who lives just by the M602. Then it was time to be back up on deck as we approached the Barton Swing Aqueduct, thankfully no ships were passing on the Ship Canal today so we could cross without a long wait.

On the far side of the aqueduct a boat faced us, a zoom in with the camera showed that it was moored to the bridge bollards, hope it’s left enough space for a widebeam to get past!

Onwards past the Trafford Centre to Waters Meeting. I bobbed my head out of the bow doors to make sure Mick would be turning right. Just because I’m working doesn’t mean I can shirk my navigational duties.

Not THE facade

Mick thinks there were more boats moored on the Bridgewater than he remembers, meaning our progress was slower. Through Sale and on to Altringham where I bobbed back outside again so that I could see what has happened with the development at the Linotype Works. The clock tower still stands and the base of a chimney, but where was the frontage? Had they removed the writing?

He doesn’t like them either!

No, the iconic building which was going to be converted into flats was deemed not structurally sound, so had to be taken down. The developers are going to rebuild it using as much of the original materials as possible as it’s a listed building. Have to say we don’t think a lot of the new builds surrounding it, in fact they are pretty ugly from the canal, maybe they are more eye pleasing from the road.

This has potential!

Not far now, we’d wanted to moor near to Dunham Massey tonight, but time was ticking on. So as soon as we reached somewhere green enough without a nearby road we pulled in and gave Tilly three quarters of an hour of shore leave. At first she didn’t think much of it, too many runners and woofers. But then she must have discovered the meadow behind the fence, she was gone for quite a while. I heard her bell, only to find that she’d found a friend to bring home. A badly timed walker on the towpath meant Tilly headed for Oleanna where the front doors were open and a chink in the cratch cover allowed her access! Damn!!!

Soon after we’d settled in we were joined by another three boats, at least one setting up a barbecue. We settled for Crispy Lemon stir fried chicken.

0 locks, 18.8 miles, 2 canals, 1 right, 1 aqueduct, 1 wave to Cat, 1 thumbs up, 1 pumpkin in the room, 1 sketch groundplan, 2 portals drawn up, 1 iconic building gone, 1 friend or should I say starter! 1 almost Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Sideways Snow. 31st March

Thorne Lock to Thorne Services Visitor Moorings

A phone call to Sean to see if he’d be visiting Thorne today or tomorrow came up with the answer we’d been expecting. The weather was not suitable for him to fit boat covers so he wouldn’t be making a trip to Thorne this week. Only one thing for it, the Senior Citizen Railcard would be put to use and Mick would go and collect it from Cottingham, which is north of Hull. We checked the times and prices of tickets, then checked a split ticket website and managed to get £5 off if Mick got one return to Brough and another to Cottingham.


In a lull between snow storms we headed out, Mick to the station and myself to Sainsburys for some milk as we’d run out. I thought today might not be so interesting, other than the sideways snow, so took a photo of The Little Shop. It’s one of those shops I really want to go in, but sweeties from a big jar are not something we need. Maybe next time I’ll have to arrange to have a young person with me, the need then will be greater.

Back at Oleanna I had some lunch and set about weaving ends in on my socks. Then the world got busy!

Across the way a narrowboat was being brought down the slipway back into the water. No bung in the exhaust just the engine running to keep any water from going into the engine. Once floating the boat was winded alongside us, then it vanished! Where had it gone? I’d sat down to do some more weaving for just a couple of minutes and it had vanished. It must have gone into the dock opposite.

Then another narrowboat arrived. The tractor came down the slipway to meet it, but the prevailing wind really wasn’t helping things, the bow missed the opening and as they went into reverse the boat was blown down past us, necessitating a more powerful return.

Ooo, new gates!

Two boats in the mean time had just come up Thorne Lock, they stemmed the wind waiting to get past. Once they were clear the rumble of a big boat came close, in front of it a big skip boat filled with generators and big hoses. C&RT getting ready for the work at the lock. Earlier on I’d seen a chap setting out mesh on the grass on the offside, maybe this is where the generators will be positioned next week.

Cabin top dropped to get under low bridges.

Then another skip boat came past, Robin Hood pushing the new lock gates. These will have been made at Stanley Ferry and most probably have come all the way by water. The top of Robin Hood’s cab had been dropped to get under the railway bridge in Thorne.

Lots of big blue boats

The two boats and their skips breasted up on the lock landing, hopefully there will be a volunteer on duty for the weekend to help single handers through.

Is that our cover?

Mick soon arrived back with a very natty package including handle, we had our cratch cover back.!

Goodbye Staniland, we did try waving to Jonathan.

In what we thought was a lull in the weather, we untied. Mick kept Oleanna on the mooring until I’d got the bridge open, stopping a reversing bin wagon in the process (not sure how many you get for one of those!), then he zoomed her into the lock avoiding being pushed this way and that by the wind.

Going Down Thorne Lock

A chap came over to chat and watch. Next week he’s picking up his first narrowboat from Lymm, cruising up the Bridewater, up the Rochdale 9, Ashton canal, over the Pennines via the Huddersfield Narrow and along the Aire and Calder to Thorne to moor. Thankfully he’s getting help with his first ever locks on the Rochdale 9, but then single handing from there. He hadn’t been aware of Thorne Lock closing on Monday for over a month. I wished him luck and told him to take his time and enjoy himself.

One space left

We pootled to the services, but would there be space for us? One side of a pontoon was available so we could get water, phew! Here is a 24 hour visitor mooring behind gates with the services, until tomorrow unless other wise signed all visitor moorings have been 14 days. We slotted in and started to fill the water tank. This would take a couple of hours as the pressure could compete with all the slow taps on the network. We also did a load of washing and got the dishwasher earning it’s keep.

The cratch cover went back on, the zips all sewn back in by machine, much better than my hand sewing. SPL had also darned a couple of little tares, one that had been there since it was made, the other possibly from a tussle with NB Billy a couple of years ago or when we’d got too close to a lock gate. Not bad for £25 plus a train fare to Cottingham.

By now we were both very cold. What was the likelihood of someone passing wanting water? It was getting dark after all. We decided that we’d stay put for the night and if no-one else had moved off in the morning we’d pull out and leave a space available.

The last batch of socks

My aim of knitting ten pairs of socks during March was achieved, admittedly the tenth pair being a diddy pair. All adult socks were packed up and addressed ready to be sent off. I’m going to let my fingers and needles have a bit of a rest for a few days, hopefully I won’t get twitchy fingers and start on something else.

1 lock, 0.37 miles, 4 trains, 1 cratch cover, 1 boat through the impending stoppage, 1 swing bridge, 1 reversing bin wagon held up, 2 tugs, 4 gates, 2 boats swapped, 1 hour of sideways snow, 20 frozen digits, 1 full water tank, 10 pairs, 1 March Challenge completed.

Where To Now?

Over the last few months our aim has been to get to see family. Heading to London meant we’d be able to see all our siblings bar one with relative ease. But what about that missing one, Anne! How could we get to see Anne?

Anne isn’t in the south. In fact Anne is quite a lot lot further north. This would take some planning.

The first part of our route would see us leaving Rembrandt Gardens and retracing our steps back to Fradley Junction. Here though we would turn left and head up to Great Haywood, Stoke, Middlewich. Onto the Bridgewater Canal (you have to book that online now), up to Leigh and join the Leeds Liverpool Canal. West to the Rufford Branch, turn down there to Tarleton. Another booking would need to be made to cross from the River Douglas to the River Ribble, then up Savick Brook and The Ribble Link on to the Lancaster Canal.

Up to Glasson

Just over 22.5 miles of the Lancaster Canal would bring us to the Glasson Branch where we’d head down the locks to the Basin. This portion of the journey would amount to 315 miles 2.75 furlongs and take us through 197 locks so a bit more effort required than our trip to London from Goole. According to Canalplan this would take us 153 hours and 36 minutes, so at 7 hours a day (which we rarely do) it would take us 22 days, add in a few days off for bad weather, waiting for the tides to be right crossing to the Lancaster Canal, so make it 29 days.

Then our journey would require a touch more planning, mostly on the food and wine stakes as I’m not too sure whether we’d find many shops on route. We could visit The Port of Lancaster Smokehouse before we left, their smoked goods would last us a while.

Glasson across Morecombe Bay

Choosing a suitable tide we’d exit through the lock out onto the River Lune, keeping to the channel away from the numerous sandbanks, heading southwards before we turn to the west, crossing Morecombe Bay and heading to Barrow-in-Furness where we’d pull in for a night at West of Duddon Sands Windfarm.

Up to Barrow-in-Furness

This would be 19.42 miles, so at 6mph 3.25 hrs cruising time, we may however have had to wait for the tide to turn so as to avoid all the sand banks on Morecombe Bay.

Barrow to St Bees

Continuing northwards we’d pop out alongside Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve, hugging the coast passing Sellafield to near to St Bees, where the coast to Coast walk starts. We’d beach here for the night. 32.6 miles, so a 6 hour day.

Passing the nuclear coast

Still hugging the coast we would pass Whitehaven and pull in at Harrington Marina. A short day with only 10.5 miles, 1.75 hours. I think we’d have a meal at The Lifeboat Inn, except it doesn’t look like they serve food, so it would be smoked salmon again!

To Brighouse Bay

From here we’d set a course to the North West and Scotland. Yes we could pull in to Kirkcudbright but I’d rather beach at Brighouse Bay a favourite bay from my early college years. 25.75 miles , 4 to 5 hours cruise avoiding the rocky headland.

Our course would now be South West, crossing to the Isle of Whithorn, just over 11.8 miles, 2 hours, but there is a small harbour here and a Post Office with a shop where we could pick up some milk.

Brighouse to Isle of Whithorn to Cairnryan

From here we’d go back out to sea, cross from Cutcloy to the Mull of Galloway, then hug the coast, keeping an eye on the lighthouses at Crammag Head, Killantringan and Corsewall, popping into Loch Ryan to moor up with the P&O ferries at Cairnryan for a much needed break after the 69 miles of concentration taking 11.5 hours.

To Ailsa Craig

An almost due north course of 20 miles, 3.3 hours, would have us pull up on Ailsa Craig, where we’d make use of the little jetty.

Overnight at Troon

Heading back to the west coast near Turnberry we’d skirt our way northwards to pull in at Troon. Here we’d stock up on a few bits and bobs at Morrisons and check in with the RNLI. 28.25 miles, 4.75 hours.

Ardrossan to visit the castle

From Troon we’d cut across the bay avoiding the SSSI of Bogside Flats and what looks like a lovely beach. Hooking round into Ardrossan Harbour, an Asda and a Castle to visit here, well it’s only 9 miles so we’d have to fill the rest of the day.

Maybe we’ll stop off at the islands on the way back

We’d keep along the coast then to the east of Little Cumbrae and Great Cumbrae where we would take advantage of the Clydeport Road which stretches out into channel. 10 miles, maybe 2 hours to avoid larger vessles.

We’ll have a kip at Kip

Northwards to Inverkip where we’d seek shelter in Kip Marina, hopefully they have a visitor mooring suitable for a narrowboat. Just over 11 miles, so 2 hours cruise.

The final leg

Round to Gourock where it looks like there is a pontoon in the bay. Tilly may have to swim ashore for supplies. 6 miles, so we might just add this onto the day before or after, all weather dependant of course!

Our Destination

From here a North Easterly course will bring us across the mouth of Gare Loch and Helensburgh Ferry Terminal, 4 miles, so under an hour. Hopefully we won’t get in the way of the PS Waverley for a few days. From here we are kind of hoping that Anne might just come and pick us up by car as I think they live up the hill a touch.

Route round to Scotland

So in total we would have 45 hours cruising at sea, over about 12 days, so back to our more normal cruising times, with one long day.

So Anne we’ll see you around the 11th 12th August. Hope that’s okay!

198 locks, 572.7 miles, 41 days, 4th sister, 1 plan, or maybe we could go up the east coast!

Walking Uphill. Catch Up. 7th February

There she is

Lisa sent through a photo of Oleanna this morning. The level at the docks is just about normal and Oleanna was sitting there in the rain. Yesterday it must have been sunny at the marina as the solar panels were doing a good job of keeping the batteries topped up and the engine bay got up to 8 C. It’s handy being able to check on her from afar, keeps our minds at rest.

Paper stretched and ready

Here in Scarborough I’ve been busy with work. A new, to me, art shop is proving very handy. I’ve not had chance to go into The Art Room yet and I can’t see what art materials they normally stock, Delia responds to emails swiftly and is very helpful. This week I was after a pad of thick cartridge paper and a wooden board so that I can stretch the paper properly. If water colour paper isn’t stretched, when you start to paint the paper cockles and will never lie flat again. In the past I’ve half heartedly taped paper to a plastic board, but this never really worked that well. So I have invested in a board that will take A3 paper comfortably. This will first get used for my boat origami paper design. Then I hope to use it for paintings of the waterways, which I’ve been planning on doing for some time now. I have the equipment, the reference, all I need now is the time!

This week I’ve started work in earnest on Panto for Chipping Norton. Sketch technical drawings enable me to make pieces of model, then do adjustments. Yesterday I finished working my way through the show, there is still lots to alter and work out, but I have solutions for most things. I’m quite happy with my galleon set, but the smugglers inn isn’t right yet! Hopefully this coming week things will get sorted before my next work arrives on the doorstep!

Cotton top measuring up

I’ve finally finished knitting a top for my sister-in-law which is now measured out and blocking on some new foam mats I’ve treated myself to. These will be handy to take back to the boat as they breakdown into foot squares, but once clipped together they give me 3ft square to pin items onto. They will save me pinning things out onto the back of our mattress on the boat and hoping things will be dry before bedtime!

Cricket on the TV, who’d have thought

Mick, whilst not watching the cricket, has been working on the blog. Two years ago we moved to WordPress and our current deal is nearly up. There are things we’d like to try to improve, but unless we spend more money they are proving hard to sort. Paul (Waterway Routes) suggested sometime ago we tried, this is free but we’d need to pay to have the blog hosted, which is all working out at a similar price to if we stayed put. We could go back to Blogger and Open Live Writer, but photos had been problematic, Mick is still working his way through the blog inserting them and I like the way wordpress works.

Tomorrow Tilly it’s too dark to go for a walk now!

However we miss having a blog roll that moves with peoples posts and a forwards and back button. Mick has found the relevant code, we may need to enlist my nephew Josh into giving us some guidance with this. We’ll see what happens.

Mick is taking his time reading the book he selected from our Christmas stash. The chap has left Kate Saffin and Alarum, headed to the Exeter Canal and is now somewhere on the Bridgewater Canal.

I on the other hand have finished mine, which I’ve really enjoyed. When we first moved on board I read a lot, but in the last couple of years I’d got out of the habit. With so many books to choose from I was spoilt for choice. So when Sam from NB Red Wharf said that Canal Pushers was really good and Debby from NB Chuffed asked for a review I thought I’d best start there.

I like a good crime story and with it being set on the canals it started off on a good footing. Andy Griffee has taken the theory of a serial killer, pushing people into the waterways around Manchester and set a similar story on the Stratford, Worcester and Birmingham Canals.

Jack has just picked up a narrowboat to see if a life afloat will suit him after recently being divorced. Let down by a friend who was going to help him learn the ropes he is soon rescued by a lady walking the towpath, Nina. A friendship is formed between the two of them, Nina keeping herself a bit of a mystery.

Look at those whiskers

Knowing the stretch of canal where the book is set is quite warming to a sole that misses being on the cut right now. Jack’s experience of The Navigation Inn at Wooten Wawen made me smile as it was very similar to ours when we hired our last boat from there seven years ago. Stratford with the tourists and theatre, Wedges, Packwood House, all the time Jack learning how to handle the boat as the mystery of the death of a young homeless lad unfolds.

Not breakfast, but a beetroot and feta burger in homemade gf buns with lockdown chips

Several plots intertwine, gradually unravelling themselves at a narrowboat pace. There are several moments where the pace speeds up which has lead to a couple of nights where I’ve kept the light on whilst Mick has snored away. I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to give the plot away, as it is well worth a read. My only criticism, I’ve always walked down hill to the shops in Alvechurch, not up hill.

Verdict, a good read especially for those with a canal interest, but this is not required and it certainly doesn’t turn into a manual for narrowboat handling. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series River Rats which takes place in Bath. I may read my way down towards the Kennet and Avon via Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin. I wonder if there are enough novels to cover the whole network?

Also not breakfast, but turnip curry, beetroot and carrot curry with homemade gf nan breads

This weekends walk will prove to be a rosy cheeked one as it is currently trying it’s best to snow, although I doubt it will settle. An east wind will be whipping up the sea and will chill us to the bone, thermals needed today.

Last week we braved the climb up onto Oliver’s Mount. Down into the valley to then climb back up the other side and then further all up hill. We chose to go cross country avoiding felled trees up to the top.

Up the top

Here on the summit a telecommunications mast stands. Back in the early 1990’s this was the only place in Scarborough to get mobile phone signal when the telephone exchange had a serious fire knocking out all landlines in the town. The other high point here is the war memorial that marks a view point.

We took our time looking for family names. None from the Geraghty side, but quite a few Capplemans. I shall have to dig out the family tree I was sent after my Dad passed away and see if any of them are mentioned.

The view right up the coast

Oliver’s Mount makes for a great view point. Looking down all the usual landmarks have found new positions around town (as they do!) and the South Bay looks more like a smugglers cove. Views right into the North Bay and up the coast, we took our time spotting friends houses.

The South Bay

The way back down we followed the roads which make up the Oliver’s Mount race track, stopping to say hello to the beach donkeys who are on their winter holiday, sadly they were just a touch too far away for a good photo.

Us last week

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 level back up, 1 glimpse, A3 sketch board, 20 sheets, 0 cow gum, 1 new proscenium, 1 white card sketch model complete, 409 pages, 1 cotton top, 67 pins, 2 t-towels, 6 capplemans, 5 miles up and down, 1 bored cat in need of a hobby, 1 windswept short walk, 0 cobwebs.

Us today!

Where Were We

2020. Sheepcote Street Bridge, Birmingham.

2019. Thorne Lock, Stainforth and Keadby Canal. LINK

2018. Chester, Shropshire Union Canal. LINK

2017. Lime Kiln Lock, Trent and Mersey Canal. LINK

2016. Newark Show Ground. LINK

2015. Hemel Hempstead, Grand Union Canal. LINK

2010. Bramble Cuttings, Trent and Mersey. LINK

2020 A Long And Winding Year.

Get yourself a cuppa and put your feet up, this is a long post.

Into BUMingham

Having seen New Year in on the North Stratford Canal we commenced the new year by cruising in to Birmingham or as Tilly would have it know, BUMingham, she’s not too keen!

What a stripy world!

A meeting with Amy from Dark Horse Theatre Company about a project in the summer set out our years cruising as I’d need to be in Huddersfield then York for the show. Then it was time to pack and get myself ready for ten days in Vienna. This would be the longest I’ve been away from boat life since we set out in 2014. Half of my clothes were packed up along with a basic scene painting kit and I jetted off to what was a mixed experience. Despite the problems I had a wonderful time working with a great team in the theatre, I hope one day to return.

Whilst I marvelled at the wonderful scenes in Vienna and pulled my hair out at work, trying to keep a calm exterior, Mick and Tilly headed back out into the countryside towards Tardebigge on the Worcester and Birmingham. Here they met up with a friend Chris who was planning a boat build.


Mick and Tilly came back into Birmingham to pick me up and then we set about exploring the BCN. There is plenty to explore and we didn’t quite manage to go everywhere, but we did our best.

Smethwick Locks

We headed up Smethwick New Locks onto the Old Main line. Stopped at Dudley Port Basin, coconuts accompanied us down Brades Staircase, then through Netherton Tunnel where we’d planned on visiting Hawne Basin, but thick ice thwarted our first attempt. The following day we succeeded and had a bumpy ride along the Dudley No 2 to fill our diesel tank.

Emma and Ted

Factory Locks brought us back onto the Old Main Line, we visited Wolverhampton, turned onto the Wyrley and Essington Canal and wiggled our way through the rubbish to Pelsall Junction. Here we had a wonderful get together with my bestestest friend and her son Ted (my Godson) who were over from Sydney, an all but too short lunch with them before they headed onwards on their whistlestop tour of England.

The Cannock Extension and Anglesey Branch were ticked off followed by the Daw End Branch, The Rushall Canal, Tame Valley Canal and up the Ryders Green Locks back into the centre of BUMingham early February.

The Jewellery Quarter kept us busy with visits to Smith and Pepper a time warp jewellery manufacturers, The Back to Backs, The Coffin Works. We watched the film 1917.

The Garden white card scale model

I designed costumes and made the white card model for The Garden for Dark Horse whilst we sat out storm Ciara which was to wipe out the Figure of Three Locks on the Calder Hebble. The damage to the locks looked great and not fixable quickly, a rethink to our cruising route was needed for me to get to work in the summer.

We went to the Symphony Hall and listened to Schubert and Berg spurred on by Dimitrios from NB Galene. Storm Dennis kept us from cruising to our next evening of entertainment at Titford Pump House, a bus replacement did the job so that we could see Alarum Theatre Company’s Acts of Abandonment. Little did we know at the time that this was to be our last live theatre until December.

A night out in the countryside for Tilly and a last night in the city to fill our bellies with curry. Then we were off again, up Smethwick Locks under the M5 where the scaffolding was being taken down. We turned up the Oldbury Locks following a boat that turned out to be NB Sola Gratia. A spin round the Titford Pools was in order before we returned for another diesel top up at Hawne Basin.

The Walsall Canal now beckoned us, that was a bumpy ride over trolleys, trees and all sorts! A fantastic fabric shop, the New Art Gallery right by our mooring and The Leather Museum kept our interest for a couple of days before we climbed up the Walsall Locks back up to Wyrley and Essington Canal.

The garden at Urban Moorings

The ladies at Urban Moorings welcomed us for an overnight visit, time to work the washing machine hard as we plugged into the electric. Then we kept our fingers crossed for a mooring at The Black Country Museum, which thankfully worked.

Marion and John came to meet us for an afternoon at the museum and we all enjoyed fish and chips with plenty of salt and vinegar in between visiting shops and watching chain links being made. The following day we took a boat trip into the Dudley Tunnel, had a second visit to the museum along with a portion of chips before heading out to moor in Tipton and have a visit from Heather from NB Bleasdale, followed by a pie at Mad O’Roukes Pie Factory.

The 7th of March saw us descend the Wolverhampton 21, leaving the Birmingham plateau behind us. Blimey we managed to pack a lot into the first ten weeks of the year! Just as well really. Onto the Shroppie where I had my first successes with gluten free sour dough bread, Tilly got to remember life in the countryside and we were treated to Shroppie Sunsets again.

Burgers with the Margees

The recent storms had brought down numerous trees and caused landslips so our progress was a touch slow heading northwards. We had a lovely lunch with Alison and Laura the Margees at Norbury Junction, they were to be our last visitors on board Oleanna for quite sometime.

Passing NB Bessie Surtees on the Tyrley Locks we actually got chance to chat for the first time. A stop to stock up in Market Drayton, we saw our first homemade mask (a pair of y fronts repurposed) and the start of empty shelves in supermarkets with people gleeful to have a twelve pack of toilet roll under their coat.

The Audlem flight was busy with plenty going down and NB Mountbatten coming up, delivering coal as they went. Theatres closed that day and we started to put into practice new ways of working locks hoping to keep ourselves safe. As we socially distanced around the shops in Nantwich people were joking about the virus. We shopped, adapting what we bought to what was available and then got ready for our first Zoom with family on the 21st March.

We stocked up with NB Halsall at Calverley then made our way onto the Middlewich Branch and down Cholmondeston Lock. The following morning (23rd March) we listened to our gut instincts. If lockdown was to happen we’d rather not have to negotiate locks to get to shops or services, so we winded and headed back up Cholmondeston Lock onto the Nantwich pound. Our gut instinct was correct.

Adam and Adrian on NB Briar Rose

The next few days we saw plenty of boats moving, finding places they wanted to spend the coming weeks, heading for home or temporary ones like NB Briar Rose. Jac my sister in law eventually managed to get a flight back from Melbourne where she’d been to celebrate her Mum’s birthday, at last everyone was where they should be.

We tried different moorings out for size as the need to fill with water or get shopping arose. It was also good to keep Tilly moving, both to stop her from getting bored and to help the local wildlife survive.

Our decision to be on the Nantwich pound turned out to be a good one, we ended up mooring at the bottom of Hurleston on the visitor moorings most, this became ‘Home’ for us where we watched spring turn into summer.

Watching the field behind the hedge be ploughed, planted and start to grow. Listening to the Lapwings enjoying the bounty in the potato fields. Getting to know our neighbours at a distance. The wheelie shoppers. The huskies out for their morning walk. The egg farm at the top of the locks. Weekly veg boxes from Nantwich Veg Boxes which we collected for ourselves and NB AreandAre. Supermarket deliveries were sought each week, sometimes only managing click and collect. The sun shone and Tilly had freedom. The coal boats kept us stocked up with fuel and our waterless (composting) toilet took one need to move out of the equation.

By mid-April my design for The Garden had been reimagined into an illustrated audio play. I was to do the illustrations, then they would have audio and some animation added to be available online. Chippy panto started to gear up with the hope that all would be back to normal-ish by the end of November for the show to be mounted.

We winded, went for walks, watched plays on the internet, winded, ate cheese scones, winded again! Tilly ventured further afield, across her field. We had barbeques, brownies and watched the reservoir banks get mown by remote control.

By Mid-May we were allowed to travel, so we hired a car for a day trip to Scarborough to see how our house was after the tenants had lost it during lockdown. In need of some tlc we now made plans for the rest of the year. We would be returning to life on land for a while, but planned on cruising as much as we could before then.

On the 23rd of May the suspension of the 14 day rule was lifted, our ‘home’ mooring was now 48 hours only so it was time to start moving again. Some boats around Hurleston headed off straight away, others remained a full 14 days before pushing off. We spent the next two weeks pootling to the far ends of the pound, Hack Green and Calvereley, the gunnels got a repaint and we said farewell to NB AreandAre who were heading up onto the Llangollen.

Cholmondeston Lock

With a full boat of veg and fruit from Nantwich Veg boxes, a Sainsburys shop and a visit from NB Halsall we were ready and on the 10th June we pushed our ‘home’ mooring away for the last time this year, Calverely was visited for a top up of water a toilet refresh and then we were off, turning onto the Middlewich Branch and descending Cholmondeston Lock, our first lock in 80 days. New gardening gloves became my boaters PPE and worked well, better than sanitising every five minutes.

Across onto the Trent and Mersey where we headed for Bramble Cuttings for a couple of nights. We’d been hoping to be able to drop down onto the Weaver but the Anderton Boat lift was still closed. So instead we winded at Whatcroft flash and headed up the Cheshire Locks hoping to catch Bosley Locks being open for a day to make our way onto the summit pound of the Macclesfield.

Nice Lock

It was nice being back on familiar ground again, although it took a little while to be able to do the Trent and Mersey hurdles over the lockgate beams with ease after sitting still for so long.

Our chairs were brought out onto the towpath to watch the setting sun at Tilly Railings and a barbeque was enjoyed on the Dane Aqueduct as we waited in line for Bosley Locks to open.

Bosley Locks and The Cloud in the background

With a single hander in front and one behind everyone helped out where we could making our passage up the locks a very jolly if hot one that only took 2.5 hours. Over the next ten days or so we pootled our way along the Macclesfield Canal, such a lovely stretch of water and oh those bridges! Still our favourites.

Calling in at Bollington Wharf we had our gas locker lid mended and had a top up of diesel. Foxgloves filled the canal banks and woods, we stopped at favourite spots along the way turning under the snake bridge at Marple onto the Peak Forest Canal at the end of June, heading for Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin.

Saturday 4th July the pubs could re-open, we however went for a walk and waited for our delivery from Sainsburys along with a diesel top up from NB Alton. A batch of cheese scones were made to help us down the Marple flight on the 7th, we were the second boat down and it felt like we were pioneering boats going where no one had gone for months.

A couple of nights at Droylesden Marina saw to the washing pile and to recharge our batteries before we descended into Manchester. Our last narrow lock of the year was to be Ancotes Bottom Lock 1 on the Ashton Flight where we paused for a night at Telford Basin before tackling the Rochdale 9 on our own the following day. Patience and sheer determination got us out of Lock 92 at the bottom and was rewarded with a cheese scone as we made our way out to the Bridgewater Canal and Worsely.

The 14th July saw us rising up the Wigan Flight. We’d made arrangements to share the locks with NB Billy but it was decided by the volunteer lock keepers that they might be over long to share with, so instead we teamed up with John and Lindsey on NB Merganser. With the help of the Wigan Flight crew setting ahead we made good time up the flight, we then slowed down leaving the others to head off ahead of us.

The next few days we found ourselves leapfrogging NB Billy, or should that be hopfrogging? But we finally caught them up at Blackburn to share the locks. Another spectacular sunset was enjoyed by all near Foster Swing Bridge.

We’d planned to take our time along this stretch, but with local lockdowns looking possible in the area we decided to push on. The Burnley Embankment was busy with walkers and not a place to stop so we continued on to the bottom of Barrowford Locks. The following day we were caught up again by NB Billy so we shared the final flight up to the summit with Clare and Pete.

Our sixth anniversary of being fulltime boaters happened to coincide with pulling up at our favourite mooring on the network, the curley wurlys above Bank Newton. The following day the clouds lifted and we got to see the view. A barbecue was just managed before it started to rain.

It wasn’t quite plain sailing down into Skipton as the skipper of NB Amelie ended up in the cut at the bottom of Bank Newton and then we had problems with lock gates and swing bridges. Mick and I had an overnight in Scarborough leaving Tilly in charge and with the magic food bowl primed. On our return to Skipton we were met by two octogenarians leaning out of the upstairs windows of their house waving. We joined Margaret and Robert for a lovely meal, good to see them even if we were a bit nervy being in their company inside.

Sunny weather accompanied us onwards and finally I managed to take the photo I’ve been after for four years, Oleanna coming towards me under Parson’s Bridge. Now we have the matching pair, Lillian going away from us, Oleanna towards.

At Bingley five rise we teamed up with NB Barley to descend with the help of Lock Keeper Clare, carrying on to Saltaire in the sunshine.

A pause in Rodley meant we could meet up with friends Graham and Tracy in their new garden room, very nice to have a good catch up with them. The following day we took the opportunity to have lunch with my cousins Julie and John, our first pub in months.

Meeting up with Jenny and Andy on NB Barley again we shared the locks down into Leeds with them early the next day. A lack of water meant it took an hour to do one pound as water was let down from above, but we made it in the end to Granary Wharf. Shame the lack of water followed us, in fact the basin did a good job of emptying itself overnight. It took quite a few hours before boats had enough water to be afloat again, we all made a hasty exit as soon as we could.

Back into the big locks of the Aire and Calder we motored on to Ferrybridge where now only three of the power station cooling towers remain, a very sad sight.

Down Bank Dole Lock, the slow filler and we headed to Selby. Our trip up the Tidal Ouse was an interesting one a there were SO many trees floating about, we had to try our best to loose them before passing through what few bridges there were. Kingfishers escorted us just about all the way to Naburn which was a real treat. Instead of pulling up in York we decided to head on up to Ripon, we’d spend time in York on our way back, or so we thought!

Above Boroughbridge a familiar boat came into view, NB Billy. This was the last time our bows would cross this year. At Oxclose Lock we had some time for Tilly to explore before heading up into Ripon Basin to meet up with Robert and Margaret again and for Tilly to show off her ability to spot otters.

I’d get it in the neck if I didn’t include a photo!

On our way downstream the river was rising, we stopped off for a meal at The Dawney Arms making the most of the Eat out to Help out deal. Wonderful food and chance to meet up with Kerry the Landlady and hoped that the river level would ease overnight. Fortunately it did and we made our way in to York. We had hoped to meet up with old friends whilst we were in the area, it turned out the only people I got to see where Jaye and Duncan for lunch. Social distancing, rising rivers sadly put paid to seeing other people.

Over the next ten days the river rose twice. On one fall we made it back into York to pick up a supermarket delivery but very quickly headed back to Naburn where we ended up breasting up in a line of four boats tied to the floating pontoon by the water point. Levels didn’t rise so much as to necessitate wellies or waders, but it did put paid to the London Leckenbys joining us for a few days at the nearby campsite. A big disappointment all round.

But on the 31st August levels had dropped sufficiently for us to head back to Selby accompanied by Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, new boat owners. Naburn was their very first lock, Selby was to be their second! It was such a beautiful morning, we led the way but then let them go first when we reached Selby, we were likely to be able to stem the tide better, but they managed the lock with ease.

Lovely to see Bridget and Storm

At West Haddelsey we had a visit from Bridget and Storm, so lovely to see them. We’d planned on being good and sitting out, they’d even brought their own chairs and the camper van for their own toilet. But as it started to rain we bent the rules taking shelter inside Oleanna. This was the day I gave a second phone to the god of the cut.

For a replacement we headed down to Goole, calling in at Viking Marina to check we would have a mooring later in the month. After filling up with cheap diesel we then headed off up toward Doncaster and Sprotbrough where we caught up with Mick’s niece Fran, before returning back onto the Aire and Calder to do maintenance jobs and enjoy our last days onboard.

On the 18th September we pulled into our berth at the marina, finished off the contents of the freezer and started to pack. Two trips in a hire car to Scarborough and we were moved, Tilly joining us the second time.

Back then we imagined we’d be down to Oleanna doing jobs on day trips and by now we’d have had a couple of weeks out on the cut, but this simply wasn’t to be.

Living Room reclaimed

Jobs in the house keep me busy, along with starting work on the postponed Chippy panto. Mick for a while applied for supermarket jobs, hoping to be a delivery driver. The only job he was offered was as a meet and greeter just before Novembers lockdown. We both decided that maybe we’d cope without the money.

Not as low as she got after the breach

Then before Christmas came the news of the Aire and Calder breach. Fortunately plenty of people are keeping an eye on all the boats including Oleanna.

Blimey what a year!

So our vital statistics for the year 2020 according to canal plan are

Total distance is 792 miles, 2 ½ furlong and 339 locks . There are 82 moveable bridges of which 5 are usually left open; 233 small aqueducts or underbridges and 41 tunnels – a total of 19 miles 6 ¾ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 365 miles, ¼ furlongs of narrow canals; 242 miles, 4 ¾ furlongs of broad canals; 81 miles, 3 ¾ furlongs of commercial waterways; 76 miles, 1 ¾ furlongs of small rivers; 0 miles of large rivers; 27 miles of tidal rivers; 202 narrow locks; 118 broad locks; 18 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

Sadly with Oleanna’s log book where it should be, onboard, I’m not able to offer up the engine hours, litres of diesel, gas bottle or bags of coal. This year I can’t even work out how many boxes of wine we’ve gone through!

However I can tell you that from one page of journeys on our trip computer, missing out all the journeys in between the start of the page and the end, the total distance travelled would have been 2.25 furlongs. Instead it actually amounted to 56 miles 7.5 furlongs with 19 winds (turning around). This was of course in Lockdown 1. Grand total number of winds this year, 67.

Christmas Day 2020, Scarborough Spa

Here’s hoping that the pandemic calms down, we all get vaccinated and the breach on the Aire and Calder gets sorted so that we can go boating again. After all we didn’t plan to move back on land permanently!

Not a bad view

Hands, Face, Space. 31st July

Bradley Swing Bridge to Lanehouse Swing Bridge 189

Strange dreams for both of us last night, until I realised that the smoke/CO detector above our heads was beeping, announcing it required a new battery. Mick removed the detector from the ceiling and popped the battery out, deciding it could wait for morning.

Next thing we knew was boats going past at just gone 7am, two heading back to base at Silsden the other a private boat heading towards Skipton. Our mooring had some shade but it was busy with passing boats. Most of the day boats from Skipton came past us yesterday and winded a little bit ahead of us before returning. Maybe we’d be better off elsewhere to sit out the heat of the day.

Bradley Mill

After our cuppa in bed we rolled back the covers and pushed off, leaving Bradley Mill (an old spinning and weaving mill) behind us. Breakfast could wait until we were moored up again, hopefully in a larger area of shade away from the busy road.

Just around the bend was our first swing bridge of the day, Hamblethorpe. Easy to move and enough time to have a look at the memorial to seven Polish Airmen who died when their plane crashed near Skipton in 1943.

Plenty of shade here

A fine wooded stretch follows, perfect for shade on a hot day but very close to the busy road below, we continued.

This way or that

The next swing bridge is Milking Hall sat at the edge of the wood, a path leads up the hill away from the canal with a mossy sign pointing the way. I like this bridge, if it was snowy it could almost be in Narnia. One thing I did remember about it was how the landing has an overhang, this caught us out when passing through last time on Lillian, crunching off a chunk of paint on the top of a gunnel. Mick kept well away as I opened up the bridge, a hire boat with a 60th birthday party came round the bend so I let them through before walking on to the next bridge.

Such a picturesque village

Redman Swing Bridge links the towpath to footpaths in Kildwick, a village that clings to the hillside, the road to the valley dipping under the canal. Mick now had to go very slowly indeed as I needed to get up ahead to take a photo I’ve been wanting to take for four years.

This is the bridge

Four years ago as we passed through Kildwick I’d paused after letting Lillian (our old yellow boat) through Warehouse Swing Bridge to take a photo. At the time we were heading over the Pennines to spend that winter up on the Macclesfield, where we hoped Oleanna would get launched. The photo I took of the stern of Lillian passing through bridge 186 became the photo to keep of her, as if we were saying goodbye.

Out with the old

Since then I’ve been wanting to take the same photo but with Oleanna coming towards the camera, saying hello. It’s taken us four years to get back here, but today we finally managed it.

In with the new

I couldn’t quite remember where I’d stood last time, so stood on the bridge to take the photo. This was maybe just as well, being at a slightly different angle otherwise the moored boats would have blocked the view of Oleanna. It is close enough for my liking, different seasons and a very blue boat, but the post box is still in view. Our four year mission now complete.

Views but a touch too warm

We now hoped to find shade and stop for the day. The first possible mooring didn’t have much in the way of trees, then the depth wasn’t sufficient. On through Grange Swing Bridge where a new stretch of pilling is being put in.

Is this Tumbelweed No 5 who used to write a blog?

Then we could see shade up ahead and a view to the off side. This would do us for the day. The back doors were opened, along with the front, hoping for a breeze. Tilly was given eight hours and we settled down to have breakfast at 10:30.

A text prompted Mick to turn on BBC1. Here was Mr Johnson confirming what had been mentioned on the news last night regarding local lockdown measures across the North West and West Yorkshire. Better to stand in front of the cameras rather than announce the new measures by tweet!

Full of fish

Our route ahead remains open, but no meeting friends or family other than on park benches until we reach Leeds! The next stage of lockdown relaxation has been put on hold for at least another two weeks. So the doors of any theatres that were about to reopen for socially distanced performances remain firmly closed for the time being.

The new three word slogan for the pandemic way of life was mentioned at the press conference. So we decided we’d have a look at where Mr Johnson was suggesting we should head using what3words

To Wigan

To reach our new destination, we would have to head back west over the Leeds Liverpool Canal to Wigan.

Via Liverpool Docks

From here we’d have a choice, either all the way to Liverpool docks, out across the Mersey, round Liverpool Bay heading west, across the River Dee then follow the coast line westwards to LLandudno and the Irish Sea.

Via the Ribble

Or at Burscough turn onto the Rufford Branch, out onto the River Douglas, turning left onto the River Ribble continuing out to the Irish Sea to turn southwards to follow the coast to Llandudno.

Via Pomona Lock

Or into Manchester on the Bridgewater Canal, drop down Pomona Lock onto the River Irwell followed by the Manchester Ship Canal, joining the River Mersey at Eastham Locks.

Via the AndertonBoat Lift

Or the Bridgewater Canal to Preston Brook, down the Trent and Mersey to Anderton, down the boat lift onto the River Weaver, head westwards to Weston Marsh Lock where we’d drop down onto the Manchester Ship Canal.

Via Chester

Or the Bridgewater Canal to Preston Brook, down the Trent and Mersey to Middlewich, across the Middlewich Branch, turn northwards on the Shroppie to either Chester, dropping onto the River Dee (this route may not be possible due to the lock onto the Dee) or continuing to Ellesmere Port to join the Manchester Ship Canal.

Via Ellesmere Port

Or at Barbridge Junction on the Middlewich Branch turn south onto the Shropie, onto the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal to Stourport, River Severn to Gloucester, Gloucester and Sharpness to Sharpness, then onto the River Severn again continue on past Portishead hugging the south coast of Wales, then head northwards until reaching the Irish Sea, up the Menai Straight and eventually Llandudno. But this route would just be silly!

Via the Severn, such a long way round

Maybe we’ll not bother and carry on with our original plan, Norway. 😉


A very warm day followed, we were glad we’d found some quality shade. I headed out for a walk to stretch my legs. I headed along the canal passing two open swing bridges. Down a very rubbley footpath towards the River Aire.

Poor Mum having just landed

From here I had to play cow pat hopscotch, then cross a field of sheep, the now fully grown lambs still wanting to suckle from their Mum, two of them so forceful they actually lifted her off the ground. Then back up onto the towpath, shortly before a cooling breeze and rumbles of thunder came past.

Sunset after the storm

0 locks, 2.79 miles, 5 swing bridges, 4 years for a photo, 1 lorry, 1 tractor, Tumbleweed 5, 29.7 degrees, 1 hot day, 8 hours, 1 hot tired cat, 1 boat still heading eastwards, 0 roast tonight, 1 salad, 1 Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval, 1 theatre designer in need of a job!

Ramp My Ar**! 12th July

West of the M60 to Gerrards Bridge 6, Leeds Liverpool Canal, Leigh Branch

We nudged our way closer to Wigan today, we plan on ascending the 21 locks on Tuesday. A few days ago Mick put a notice on the Wigan Flight Crew page of facebook to see if we could team up with anyone, or see if any volunteers might be around to assist. By the end of today we had arranged to team up with NB Billy who are approaching from Liverpool, so we will rendez vous below Lock 85.

Astley Green pithead

The towpath was busy today, the sun had brought everyone and their distant relatives out to enjoy themselves alongside the water. Our arms became tired from all the waving we were having to do to youngsters. One little lad told us ‘You’re on a boat!’

Through Vicars Hall Bridge we could see the pithead at Astley Green. We’ve never visited the Lancashire Mining Museum, currently closed, maybe we’ll stop next time we pass.

A carpet of green and yellow

Yellow lilies fill the offside, most winding holes are full of them, today their green leaves shone out at us before they ducked under the surface. Boats were on the move too, most we’d seen yesterday so they must have been on an out and back trip for the weekend.

Dusty smelly and noisy. Hope they were enjoying themselves

In the distance all morning we’d been able to hear gun shots, a shooting range somewhere, this was however soon taken over by numerous motorbikes at Astley Raceway MX. The raceway was open to prebooked bikes and no spectators were allowed, despite this the track was heaving! Talk about pollution! Both noise and from the fumes, we didn’t hang around to watch.

Monty and Montee

Gardens with ornaments kept us occupied, a little wendy house occupied by Monty and Montee (we think that is what female gnomes should be called).

Darth Vader and R2D2

Just a little bit further along I thought I could see two more gnomes, Darth Vader and R2D2, but disappointingly they turned out to be a toadstool and a water pump!

Waterway Routes with added info

For the last few days Mick has been listening to the England West Indies Test Match. But today it was absent, yet he knew how we were or were’t doing. In the corner of the Waterway Routes map, he’d managed to get the score to show. Not good as we lost mid afternoon.


A peloton came towards us, the man out in front smoking a fag, all this exercise is good for you!

Three shades of hydrangia, back gates held together with yellowing expanding foam and the mill now refurbished, the windows on the corner looking right down the canal.

HIts of the past, yet modern

A new looking building at one of the little arms looks interesting, and the wild flowers alongside the moorings were stunning.

Leeds Liverpool straight ahead

At Leigh Bridge 11 we left the Bridgewater Canal and joined back onto C&RT waters, the Leeds Liverpool Canal, Leigh Branch.

Footbridge 10 came into view and we started to look for somewhere deep enough to be able to pull in, it wasn’t that hard, we just had to do our best to avoid the woofer deposits. Tilly thought this would do for the day, we weren’t too sure though.

Bridge 10

After lunch Mick set off with a bike to pick up a click and collect order half a mile away. On his return he had to call me for assistance as the footbridge did not have a ramp as he’d hoped. As I go to the bridge some cyclists who’d just crossed over the bridge were offering to help the old man with his shopping! We managed and were soon able to continue on our way.

Old lock gates

But how much further? Pennington Flash looked appealing, but the shear volume of people about put us off.

The housing around Plank Lane has now been finished, every house with solar panels on the roof. It’s all quite different from when we first came here on NB Winding Down and we’re sure the basin is much bigger than it was back then. The housing may be complete on the east side of the bridge, but more houses are going up on the west side.

Plank Lane

Mick pulled us over so that I could hop off to work the bridge, but we’d been beaten to it by a boat coming the other way. The chap turned his key of power, then pressed the button. Flashing lights, barriers and up the bridge went. They came through first then it was our turn. A quick count of cars suggested we’d held up 16 vehicles, but I suspect it was more.

I’ve not been under it before

We pootled along, the towpath now not so pristine, far fewer people. Pulling in a short distance on we were happy until I spied an ants nest, so we nudged up a few hundred yards further along a nice stretch of armco making mooring easy.

Out went Tilly to the birds displeasure and we settled down for the remainder of the day and a roast chicken. Tomorrow we’ll edge closer to Wigan to the last nice mooring before Poolstock Locks.

0 locks, 7.38 miles, 2 canals, 152 mx bikes, 58 kids to wave at, 4 aching arms, 0 ramp, 1 lift bridge, 16 minimum, 1 quieter stretch, 3 hours, 5 covid sketches, 1 roast chicken.