Category Archives: Bridgewater Canal

The Three P’s. 20th April

Pickering’s Bridge to Longacre Wood Trent and Mersey Canal

Another pretty frosty morning, no photo sorry as I actually wanted a bit more sleep before having to function properly.

Warm enough to knit outside today

A flat pootle today along the Bridgewater. We planned to stop at Thorn Marine to see if their chandlery might have a 200amp slowblow fuse for the bowthruster, we need to replace the spare that is no longer spare. I also wanted to stock up on Fertan and white spirit for when I start repainting the gunnels, grabrails, welldeck, locker lids, patches of rust. A boat was moored on their service mooring, but we found space under the bridge to tie on rings.

Red and fancy

As Mick went into the chandlery, I headed off with a shopping bag. Yesterday we’d forgotten to buy more potatoes, a roast chicken just isn’t right without roasties, especially when there is duck fat to use up! With a Sainsburys Local not far away I set off to walk into Stockton Heath.

Some wonderful terraced houses with ornate terracotta tiles and lots of red brick buildings that Manchester does so well. I also spotted an F type Jaguar, 2 Porche, a Lotus all within my short walk to Sainsburys. I think Stockton Heath may be for Footballers!

A wellie woofer

I was on the look out for the three Ps. Potatoes, a Saturday Paper and Porridge oats. Only standard white potatoes and expensive porridge available, I made note where newspapers were and went to see what Aldi round the corner had to offer. Somehow some pate managed to go into my basket along with other P’s, oh well!

I’d checked there were papers at Sainsburys, but not which flavours. I suspect our flavour had been where there was now a big empty space. I asked the assistant where there was a newsagents, ‘Morrisons across the bridge in the village’. That would be across the ship canal towards Warrington, not too much further to walk.

Not a good photo click it for details, there’s a train set in the attic.

Morrisons tend to have a good gluten free isle, so I picked up a few things there, some Pepper crackers, Pudding of the black variety, some sPread and a Paper. At least they all began with P, well sort of!

Back at Oleanna, Mick had disposed of the yellow water, not had any luck with a fuse, forgot what else he was meant to be buying other than a bag of coal. He had also found a recycling centre which had a skip for general rubbish. Bins are scarce on the Bridgewater so despite there being signs for no pedestrians, Mick made use of it.

The last cooling towers at Fidlers Ferry, soon to be blown up

Plenty of people were on their way to Walton House and Zoo. I’d not heard of it until recently, I think it was Are and Are who visited. The towpath was extreamly muddy not encouraging us to pull in. Families with pushchairs, children clinging onto Grandads hands tried their best to walk round the quogmire of mud. Another place to visit maybe later in the year. We paused for lunch then continued.

Click photo for details, right next door to the Post Office

Should we take a detour down the Runcorn Arm? We went there on NB Winding Down and headed off to the lauch of The John Godber Company in Wakefield years ago. It deserves another visit, even if it’s only just to show Oleanna and Tilly what they’ve been missing all these years. However it has been added to the next time list as we still don’t know if we need to put another day aside for Mick to return to Scarborough in the next couple of weeks.

Shhhhh!!!! Black milkshakes!

Shhhhh! Lots of building work around Daresbury. A new black stealth building has gone up, wonder what will go on in there? Shhhh! A touch further on there were lots of earthworks going on. It looks like there is going to be building work on both sides of the canal here, a huge housing development.

New housing estates

The time for Preston Brook Tunnel south bound passage is at half past the hour for ten minutes. Would we make it in time? A call in to Midland Chandlers would be handy, for those things Mick hadn’t managed to get at Thorn Marine, but would that mean we’d miss the next window of oportunity?

NB Spey

Too close to call, we pulled in. No fuse, expensive white spirit but Fertan on offer. We then had to stand and wait whilst the chaps had a little chat. Was there enough time? Outside NB Spey was moored up, Where there’s brass was an interesting read when Tom posted regularly. He’s now busy with a book and album.

A boat came towards us from the tunnel, we slowed down to pass. With a window of only ten minutes to enter the tunnel we still wondered if we’d make it. No need to worry, we entered the tunnel just as our clock said 15:30!

Preston Brook Tunnel

The tunnel was a little bit wetter than we remembered, with the tunnel light on and a torch poitning to the roof at the stern we could see the drips approaching. Someone seems to have ripped several of the arrow signs off the walls that inform you of which way out is nearest. I didn’t spot the halfway mark either. My job as navigator is to make sure we both know which way is out, so I felt a touch redundant.

Seventeen minutes later we popped out the other end, no waiting boats, just sunshine.

Lock 76 Trent and Mersey Canal

Dutton Stop Lock 76 was in our favour, up we rose the 2 inches, now properly onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. Where to moor for the night? Should we head to the rings at the breach site which are very popular moorings. But now the hedge has grown there is little view down across the valley which was the main attraction there. Or we stop where the wood was thick with trees and wild garlic. A length of armco showed itself, we pulled in, tied up and Tilly was given two hours. So NOT enough time! Just a tease amount of time!


Two ladies stopped for a chat, Tilly showed off her climbing prowess, then got spooked by bicycles and then ommited to see two woofers. There was however enough time to get on the roof and the chap was good at popping his dogs on leads. Then Tilly was off into the thick of the aroma. Mick picked some wild garlic, I made some garlic butter which went ontop of a lamb hotpot. The recipe I looked at which suggested this had a very misleading photo, the top of their hotpot had no way seen any wild garlic as it was golden brown and not green! It was a very tasty hotpot and there was some butter left over for our chicken tomorrow.

Lamb hotpot with wild garlic potatoes

1 lock, 9.4 miles, 1 tunnel with 3 mysterons, 2 chandlers, 3 P’s, 2 many posh cars, 20kg coal, 1litre fertan, 15grams wild garlic, 1 green hot pot, 1 astounded cat, 1 Mrs Tilly’s stamp of approval.

Sooty Doesn’t Live Here Anymore! 19th April

Bollington Underpass to Pickering’s Bridge

Sorry Tilly, it’s time for us to get moving again, we need water!

As we pootled along we wondered if we’d be joining a queue at the next waterpoint at Ye Olde No 3. We weren’t disappointed, one boat hooked up and another waiting, the usual wind pinning everyone to the bank. The first boat still had about 15 minutes to go, the second boat said they’d be a while filling up, we had no choice but to wait as our tank was only quarter full. After a while the boat ahead of us decided they had enough supplies to last them a few more days, we compared notes as to where the next tap was, that would do them. It took quite a bit of effort to get off the bank and around Oleanna, Mick pushing thier boat out as much as he could to get past our bow and pick up speed to be able to stay away from the long line of moored boats behind us.

He’s not here anymore

We nudged up and it was soon our turn. As soon as the hose was filling our tank the washing machine went on. This is normally a Mick job, but today it was mine. I forgot to turn the temperature of the wash down to 30C, so it took ages for the water to heat up, at least I’d remembered to put it on a quick wash.


Next stop Lymm. Time to post the next batch of socks off and stock up on a few things to tide us over till we reach a bigger supermarket. Sooty’s house wasn’t quite so picturesque as normal, scaffolding up to a probelmatic chimney stack by the looks of it, but the obligatory bright blue sky zinged the white walls out as usual. The new owners not quite such keen gardeners as Matthew and Sooty used to be.

Lymm cross

How far to go today? It was already later than we’d planned. To reach our planned for destination (Shhhh secret handshakes and milk shakes) it was another three hours. Another hour of cruising would have us mooring around Stockton Heath, not so good for Tilly. In the end we pulled up just after Pickering’s Bridge, the towpath muddy, but not as muddy as elsewhere, a small bench should we want to sit on it and a tree for Tilly to claim as her own.

4 beds £695,000

We passed two canalside houses for sale. One a short distance before Lymm the other possibly the nearest property to the M6, which strangly enough isn’t shown in the photos. Obviously someone hasn’t been put off as it’s SSTC. Click on the photos for a nosy.

2 bedrooms £295,950

Unfortunatly Mick didn’t receive any phonecalls back from either the hospital or the boiler people today, so the next trip to Scarborough is still a little up in the air. This doesn’t help us in planning where to be to catch trains, or to pick up a hire car! Now such planning will have to wait till after the weekend.

Tilly’s Bridgewater tree

0 locks, 5.4 miles, not quite far enough, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing, 1 very helpful shop assistant, 5 pairs posted, 2 votes posted, 2 hours shore leave, 1 big tree, 1 bouncy woofer.

Appointment Logistics. 17th 18th April

Bollington Underpass

Good morning

We’ve nearly had some spring weather the last couple of days. Waking early with the sun streaming in through the gap in the curtains, left by someone overnight!

Tilly doing her John Travolta impression

Thursdays sunrise was accompanied by frost on the towpath and fog clinging to the canal, well worth waking up for. Thankfully the stove was in so a quick jostle of the coals and opening up of the air vents brought it back to a blazing glory. By midday however I’d wished I’d let it go out, the sunshine warming up the boat nicely. The vents were closed down, into night time mode, just enough to keep it going until later on.

Tilly came and went. When the towpath has been busy she’s sat on a locker at the stern and watched people and woofers pass by. On one occasion I went to fill the coal skuttle very interesting, She needed supervising and a golden lab came running from as far as I could see straight for Oleanna. I suggested Tilly should take to the roof or go inside She jostled me under the pram cover, closing me in! How rude! The dog walker was adamant that his dog had stolen the tennis balls from our mooring spikes a week ago and that his dog remembered us. Well I think his woofer may have thought that at first, but rushing back and forth sniffing the air He could smell my sweet aroma!


The embankment has been good when there’s been no hard rain. Shore based facilities have been sorted, trees, plenty of friendly cover to keep me busy for hours. Just a touch muddy under paw. This one needs another stamp of approval!

Look at those sunny colours

Inside I’ve been resting my swollen foot, my back and blowing my nose! Socks have been processed, packaged up with postage labels paid for, ready for the next post box we pass. Then it was time to do some sewing on Mick’s slippers.

Not the prettiest of stiching but hopefully it will last a while longer

I had to hunt out the strong thread I’d bought for mending the boat covers, a leather needle and my leather thimble so that I didn’t end up puncturing my own flesh too often. The front of the toe was stitched round, then more glue applied underneath it from the top, left to dry and then pressed firm to make it stick. I was going to leave it overnight but decided that maybe I was just putting off the awkward sewing, so got on with the job in hand. Not the prettiest of sewing ever, but it is far FAR better than it was before. Hopefully this will last a good while before it wears out.

Big waves

Boats have come past, including the lady who tied to a fence post back on the Calder and Hebble a few weeks back. I can’t remember if she was coming over the Huddersfield or Rochdale, I suspect the later as she was hot on the tail of another narrowboat. A rib also came past at what seemed to be a reasonable speed. However the wake they left behind was way over the banks, I just had to hope Tilly wasn’t stood on a gunnel.

Up in Scarborough Mick had seen a nurse at the doctors. He’d found a piece of board to put over a cracked floor board on the quarter landing, stopping you thinking you were about to go through the floor. Lots of washing, hoovering. The oven isn’t quite a shiney as it had been, but neither is the boats!

Oopps how did they end up on my plate?!

The appointment for an engineer to upgrade the boiler at the house had been for all day, then that was narrowed down to the afternoon. But when the afternoon came there was a phone call from the office saying that they’d been called to an emergency! An new appointment could be made anytime from next Monday. All fine for most people, except we’ll be further away by then and someone else living in the house who cannot be asked to hang around for an engineer to turn up as they’ll be at work. Some thought on this was needed for another trip back to the house.

Votes added to the pile of post

We’d been hoping that our postal vote for the Mayor of North Yorkshire and York would have arrived in time for Mick to pick them up. Thankfully after a visit to the dentist Thursday monrning, Mick still had a few things left to do at the house and was there when the post arrived, which included our postal votes. These are now crossed, signed and put in envelope B ready for posting. Also in the post was an invite for Mick to attend Scarborough Hospital for a routine screening. Would we be able to get an appointment for the boiler on the same day? Would he be able to get to the hospital for his appointment without an overnight stay? No-one was answering the phones to see if this could be arranged. Will we ever be free from medical appointments this year? I’ve just booked visits to my dentist too which require us to be near to a station! Oh all the logistics are getting far too complicated.

Come out and play!

Sadly no exploring for me, resting my back and foot seems to have worked though as both have improved greatly. Hopefully if we come back this way later in the year we’ll get chance to visit places I’ve missed this time.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 buses, 3 trams, 4 trains, 1 slipper, 2 sausage days, 9 Hours! 4 parcels, 2 crosses, 1 house ready, 2 boaters ready to move onwards.


This is our 2,000th post on the Oleanna blog. I remember the days when I used to get excited for the 100th or 200th post on the NB Lillyanne blog!

Back in 2014 we started our life afloat on Lillian (NB Lillyanne for new followers) a temporary boat whilst we waited for NB Oleanna to be built, we’d already waited quite a while! Lillian was bought with the previso that once we finally moved on board NB Oleanna we would have the year afloat that we’d been looking forward to for so long.

The original build didn’t go as it should have and we started to look for a new boat builder. Jonathan Wilson was the man to build us our boat, the delay had been handy as living on Lillian gave us some better ideas for the build, and some things we knew we’d not be wanting!

It took us until 7th April 2017 to move Tilly and a third of our possessions on board. That is when our year afloat started. The life suited us, so we just kept on going, an end date never entering our minds. Then covid came along. If it hadn’t been for our troublesome tenants during the first lockdown in 2020 I’m fairly sure we’d still be full time live aboards. But our house needed to be reclaimed. Would we prefer life on land to life on the water? Would we be able to afford both house and boat? We knew one thing, we wouldn’t be letting it out to long term tenants again!

So now, we spend as much of our time afloat as we can, actors lodging in the house for much of the year whilst we cruise the network. Time in the house is spent doing jobs, reclaiming and improving things for both us and those who stay there. The house just about pays for itself all year round, fingers crossed. Time on the boat has always been about travelling, more so now to make up for being static for a few months a year.

Some jobs on board have slipped in the last few years. The gunnels haven’t been touched since Oleanna was out for blacking in 2021. The grab rails have been patched but not finished. The roof is still in need of a very good wash, we’ve either been moving or it’s been raining so far this year, well that’s my excuse! The cabin sides really need a polish. But these things all take time and we’d rather be moving than doing chores. We’ve never been shiney boaters at heart.

July 2019 on the River Wey

We’ve had some questions recently regarding our new Bully Boy Batteries and how they are doing. Paul said we’d left our readers on tenterhooks after mentioning that they seemed to be charging at different rates, or something along those lines. Well I think Mick’s answer was that he’s stopped wondering why they are doing this and has just accepted it. With our new batteries we certainly don’t have the concerns over capacity as we used to, especially at the end of last year when we were down to just two of our original batteries. Because they have so much more capacity they take longer to charge, so if we are staying put for the day and want to run the dishwasher the engine goes on. This does mean we also get a full tank of hot water. But some days we’ve had enough capacity to use our immersion heater to heat the water using electricity therefore the engine is not required. We expect this to happen more and more in the summer when the solar panels provide a lot more power.

August 2022

USB rechargeable lights in cupboards. These are proving to be pretty good, so far. The one that is in The Shed has had to be charged, mainly because it is used several times a day. The others in the pull out corner galley cupboard light up every time I go in there and have made me realise that at some point I’ve taken the square baking tin to the house, hence a round batch of flapjack the other day.

I’ve also had a few people ask me if I’ll be designing Chippy Panto this year. Well, no I’m not. Before I arrived in Chippy for rehearsals last year I’d already decided that this year I wanted to boat through the summer and be able to enjoy it. Last summer we’d cruise in the mornings and just about every afternoon I would work. Over the last six years I’ve designed the last five pantos in Chippy which I have really enjoyed. Designing and painting my designs is what I really love doing, being part of a building with a family feel is very special. But last year I started to miss boating, not being able to return home to Oleanna at weekends is hard too. So in January I got in touch with John before he got in touch with me about this years Panto. I shall miss it, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to go and see Jack and the Beanstalk later this year, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas with out Chippy panto.

Rapunzel 2021

This of course will free up my afternoons so hopefully this year Oleanna will get some much needed touching up, if it ever stops raining! I do still need to feed my creative soul and I’m hoping that doing some paintings of places on our travels will do this for me.

So along with this being our 2000th post, we’ve had 3,068 comments, 17,431 photographs, 172 subscribers, on 16th June 2021 we had the most views, Friday is the most popular day at 9am, views from 96 countries, Thwaite Mills on 31st March the most viewed post, 733 likes (I suspect this is actually higher and mostly from Ade), hang on he’s just liked another! 1,845,360 words written, not including this post!

*Some of these figures may be inaccurate as I’ve had to collect the info from various places

This last Christmas I had an old friend ask what we would do with Oleanna when can no longer boat, whether that be through our physical ability to boat or should the waterways start closing around us due to lack of funding. I said we’d still keep her, find somewhere for her to be, maybe on land if needs be, where we could still stay on board. But here’s hoping our floating days will continue for many years more. We’ll keep writing the blog and sharing it with those who want to read it and hopefully we’ll get to meet a few more of you along the way.

For those of you who have followed Oleanna from the beginning in 2015, a BIG BIG Thank You for reading all our ramblings through the years. I doubt if anyone other than ourselves has read every single post. For what started off as a diary for us to look back on in years to come, for family and friends to keep up with our travels, we now have a lot of new friends, some we’ve yet to actually meet. We find looking back on posts interesting, after all there is useful information in amongst the breakfasts, socks and stamps of approval. Thank you for coming along with us.

Smiling as ever!
Click photo to go to petition

All Hail Let Loose. 15th April

Bollington Underpass, Bridgewater Canal

Overnight we were woken on several occasions with torrential rain or was it hail beating down on Oleanna. This continued throughout the day and evening, interspresed with bright sunshine every now and again. Strong strong winds whistled round, rocking Oleanna. Maybe our position on the embankment had given us a windy mooring, maybe it was like this everywhere.

Extra poppers needed popping on the cratch cover. Doing this I somehow tweeked my back. After 91 broad locks and walking into Manchester I go and tweek it by sitting on a locker and pressing a popper!

Hail bounced up under the mushroom vents, landing on the dinette table, sofa and bed.

The weather, nose blowing (we’ve now both got colds) was not conducive for a visit to Dunham Massey! Even Tilly curled up on the sofa for much of the day in switched off mode. So what to do?

Breakfast of course, it was medicinal honest!

I got the blog upto date and then spent time weaving ends in on socks. There will be several pairs going in the post very soon, when I find the next post box.


Mick did some route planning. Now we are over the Pennines, we feel a touch more confident in planning our route southwards. There are people we’d like to meet up with, trips back to Scarborough to be factored in, dentists and would we be able to support the Fund britains Waterways campaign cruise on the Thames from a bridge? We now have a plan and just need to see if friends and family will be free as we pass.

Not so good

Surprisingly quite a few boats came past, all at speed to keep their line in the blustery wind. Mick popped his head out the hatch. A boat that had moored up after we’d arrived was on the off side. Was this intentional by the owner to avoid the worst effects of the fresh air? Or had their spikes been pulled out by wind and passing boaters? He waited for the next bout of hail to pass and went to have a look.

This outside is very troublesome! It needs extra tying up

The wind assisted for a bit, pushing the boat back across to the towpath, with our boat hook Mick managed to catch it. The ropes had been tied to the spikes so there was still a means of attaching the boat to the bank. He hammered in the stern pin, then gradually worked his way along. Centre line followed by the bow. All single pins, just how far had they been hammered into the soft ground. Now they were hammered down as far as they possibly could be, hopefully the boat would be staying put.

Pulling her back in

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 outdoor shoes for me today, 1 dormant cat, 319.5 miles to reach our goal, 4 lemsips, 1 stove lit, 5 pairs socks ready for photos and posting, 1 tweeked back, 1 fat foot, 2 boaters falling to bits here!

Cheering Dave On. 14th April

Trafford Park to Patricroft Bridge to Bollington Underpass

Subjects on the Geraghty zoom included Woodcraft Folk, empty lofts, line drying and phonics. Joans little chair was being enjoyed as a place to sit for the latter by Penelope.

More moving boats than we’ve seen all year

Yesterday Mick had started to show the symptoms of a cold. A drug run to Asda was required. I headed off, the car park thankfully only partly full and most of the shops still closed. Asda was open and provided me with Lemsips and tissues. If Mick has the lurgy I am more than likely to follow soon. I hope Paul doesn’t come down with it too.

Sadly not wide enough here to wind

As I arrived back Mick was rolling up the covers ready to push off. We’d thought we might be able to wind before the Barton Swing Aqueduct, but a chap on the boat behind us last night said he couldn’t turn there and his boat was shorter than Oleanna. We cruised on northwards to be able to head south. Across the aqueduct, a line of boats could be seen in the distance following us. We got winded before they came past.

Back over the swing aqueduct and back past Kellogs. Yesterday it had smelt of coco pops, we weren’t too sure what was being produced today. Right at Waters Meeting and onwards heading south now, the correct direction.

Runners in the marathon

As we approached Edge Lane Bridges it was time to cheer on the Manchester Marathon runners. An old collegue from the SJT, Dave Jackson was taking part, so he deserved a shout out when ever the course came close. ‘Go on, Dave you can do it!’ He won’t have heard us, but hopefully our support helped him over the 26 and a bit miles.

Long and straight. This is a stretch I quite often spend down below working, not today. I got to see all the houses, cyclists, dog walkers, pubs, moored boats, runners. Just about every bridge we went under we could see heads bobbing up and down running along. The trams all crammed with people, Manchester is one busy place. By the time we reached Timperley the majority of runners must have passed. The broom coach possibly already picked up the straglers, those determined to continue asked to carry on running on the pavements so that the roads could reopen.

A house for sale by the Linotype Works. £435,000 for 3 bedrooms. Work is still on going. The top of the facade currently removed, new terracotta pillars added. It will be interesting to see what it ends up looking like when it’s finished. Behind the facade, walls of breeze blocks suggest something not so special will but onto it.

Trees and bird song again

Now the countryside came to meet us. Bird song rather than pedestrian chatter. Mud rather than tarmac. Quite a lot of mud, in some places you would definatly require wellies. We made our way towards a favourite mooring just close to Bollington Underpass. Here the bank to the north is good cat country. To the south is Dunham Massey and a bus into Altringham.

Yep, She promised it would be better.

We moored up. Tilly was given 3 hours and off she went. She came back a few times as walkers or dogs came past. But then nothing was seen of her for a couple of hours, she returned with just nine minutes to go before cat curfew would be called.

That’s a joint of pork!

After last Sundays disappointing roast pork, we’d got ourselves a joint. The skin was scored and librally salted, a little bit of sechuan seaweed sprinkled on top too. Potatoes, parsnips and carrots roasted in some duck fat, coloured up wonderfully and the crackling was good and crisp. There’s plenty left over too for the next few days.

0 locks, 11.5 miles, 1 wind, 2 trips across Barton Swing Aqueduct, 2 boxes tissues, 16 cold pills, 16 lemsips, 2 pints milk, 2 packets gf mini cheddars, 5 shouts for Dave, 1 submerged decorator, 18 moving boats (more than we’ve seen all year!), 1 favourite mooring, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 proper joint for 8.

Selfridges Isn’t Just For Footballers! 13th April

Thomas Telford Basin to Stretford Marine to Trafford Centre Visitor Moorings

Last night was nice and quiet in the basin. Only one goose sitting on a nest so there wasn’t another goose to squabble with and the human residents were quiet too. Before we headed to bed Mick logged onto our C&RT account to book our Bridgewater passage. The Bridgewater Canal is run by Peel Holdings therefore not covered by our C&RT licence. There is an agreement where boats can transit the Bridgewater Canal to reach C&RT waters, Leeds Liverpool, Rochdale or Trent and Mersey. It used to be that you could just enter their water without booking, so long as you only stayed 7 days. Now you have to book this via the C&RT website. There is also an option to extend you visit by 3 days. This is intended to be used within 28 days so boats can visit Liverpool and then return without having to stay off the Bridgewater for several weeks before booking again. This may come in useful for us, so Mick ticked the 3 day extra box.

Breakfasted, and wrapped up reasonably warm we pushed off, thanking the residents for our peaceful night. The entrance in and out of the basin is a tight one, but we know Oleanna can manage it, it just takes a bit of patience to get round.

Time for the Rochdale 9. I’m not sure how many times we’ve done these locks, maybe four times? Dale Street Lock 84 was surrounded by rubbish this morning, a council worker arrived to pick everything up from those who’d sat on the benches drinking last night. Water flowed over the top gate by several inches, not unusual for the Rochdale 9. Some of the locks have bywashes, others don’t.

I lifted a paddle to bring the water in the lock up to match that above. We brought Oleanna in and I lifted a paddle to empty it. Over the top gates there are handrails on both sides. These are very narrow and the hoik up onto the lock beam is quite high. Sixteen years ago I sprang up onto the beam and crossed over without thinking about it , today my knees make me nervous of such things, but both paddles were needed to level the lock with the water below. I crossed the gates twices then realised I should be able to walk round over the road bridge. This made me happier.

Piccadilly Lock

Now down into the depths for Piccadilly Lock 85. Today it was dark, relatively clean and we were on our own. I wondered if the top gates when they were replaced had been made higher, they certainly looked it. Climbing up to get over to the other side was not appealing, could I manage to empty the lock using only one side?

I lifted the paddle and watched as the water emptied. Gradually Oleanna descended. The bottom gates here have a windlass operated chain to open them as the building above has encroached on the space. This is usually quite hard to operate. I waited, worked out which way to turn my windlass. Water still rushing over the top gates, would it ever level out? I waited for the water below the lock to calm, tried the gate, waited some more. Then I could feel the gate just giving a little, phew I wouldn’t have to climb over the top gates.

Only accessible by canal

Access to the next lock is only by boat, sixteen years ago I remember climbing down some steps to it, but this route has now been blocked off, I suspect to keep people from the pubs on Canal Street away from the waters edge. Here I made a mistake, in that I lifted the bottom paddle on the offside. This ended up not being enough to empty the lock fully. Mick climbed the ladder, lifted the other paddle, my gate now opened. Maybe if we’d left it a few more minutes it would have obliged. If I’d started on the other side it maybe would have been easier as I needed to be that side to get back on the boat anyway.

Under bridges and buildings

Back on board we headed to Princess Street Lock. Here rainbow planters cheered up the banks, it was starting to rain. Several runners ran up the towpath and wanted to continue along the canal, only to find they were running onto a pontoon that led nowhere! Then more runners came, and more, and more! How many? I asked one chap if he was the last, no reply. When Oleanna was out of the gates Mick warned me that there were more runners to come all wearing kahki.

A C&RT workboat appeared to be on the lock landing at Tib Lock 89. Some helpful person had however untied it’s mooring lines and possibly had a rifle around in a cupboard. Only brooms to disturb in there. I retied it to some railings and a mooring ring, hopefully leaving enough room for a boat on the lock landing. Not sure how long it will last before someone else decided to untie it though.

Blossom instead of graffitti

Trees on either side of the lock were filled with pink blossom. The flag stones on the offside covered in a layer of slippy green that even my anti slip trainers couldn’t cope with. Working carefully we descended.

Very very high!

At Albion Mills Lock the building work we’ve been under has now finished, the tall building stretching high above the canal. Panels stand out from the building looking like someone has stuck sheets of steel deck haphazedly onto it. Here I ended up having to enlist some one to help with the lock gate, we’d waited quite a while for the level to equalize.

A good place to shelter from the rain

Tunnel Lock 91. Here a chap had made himself a home tucked up by the gate chain mechanism, well under cover of the building next to it. The offside here looked even greener, serious lack of footfall to keep it clear. The top gates were also high and very green too! I hoped that one paddle would do the job, it maybe had, but would the gate open!?! I asked the chap if people had difficulty with the gate and he said most did, it was rare for this gate to be opened. The chain slipped rather than doing anything productive. I’d have to walk round, climb over the beam, be hissed at by a goose to open the gate.

The End

Just before Dukes Lock 92, who should we pass but the boat from Littleborough. Had they come down the locks last night or early this morning? They were making use of the last moorings before reaching the Bridgewater Canal.

If only the sun had been out!

The top gates were open so Mick sailed straight in. Here there is no bywash, apparently it was bombed in WW2 and never replaced, so excess water comes over the top gates. Gongoozlers who didn’t mind getting wet loitered on the bridge to watch our progress. Paddles lifted and then patience was needed for the levels to equalise. The first time we ever did this lock was on NB Bergen Fjord and the bottom gates really didn’t want to open, we ended up with two windlasses on the chain gear. Now I know to wait for the water below to calm right down, take the strain on the chain. My first go had a small amount of movement, maybe if I adjusted my windlass to give me more umph then it would open. I took the strain again, one extra turn had the gate open just that bit, the levels equalised and I easily opened the gate. Looking back at the amount of water still coming over the gates I was surprised at how easy it had been.

Maybe one for a painting

Should we stop or continue? We continued in the rain, we were wet now anyway. A cuppa and some flapjack as we cruised our way out of Manchester as another huge running club ran the towpath. ‘Come on guys lets see if we can beat the boat!’


The Bridgewater is very familiar water, the sights in the rain were passed easily. At Waters Meeting a narrowboat came past, pram hood up as they do round here. We followed it to the left. He pulled over just before Stretford Marina so we could pass, only to find out we were pulling in to the services.

A flat cap wearing chap in a blue coverall took our ropes and asked what we were after. Diesel and coal please. The chilled medication cabinet was empty despite all the adverts outside! He pulled the long hose out and topped up our tank whilst I topped up our water. He chatted away to Mick. There were comments about having to stay alive as the state pension keeps going up, but how anyone actually spends it all puzzled him. He’d been to buy himself a new fountain pen, spent over £800 on one with a pot of ink. The shop assistant in Selfridges had seemed a bit off with him, ‘I brush my cap every day! Anyhow Selfridges isn’t just for footballers you know!’ What a character, he plays the flute and owns two baroque flutes.

A roaring trade

We winded Oleanna, time to head north. Left at Waters Meeting, we pulled up on the last rings outside the Trafford Centre. After a late lunch with the last of the flapjack we headed into retail hell. A Saturday afternoon at the Trafford Centre not my idea of a good way to spend our time, but a neccessary one. At John Lewis we waited and waited to be served. Numerous shop assistants walked past, none asking could they help or that someone would be with us soon. Eventually Mick managed to get someone to go into the back room for my laptop which was now mended with a new hinge, Hooray!

A new SD card for my camera was required, but despite there being numerous staff about the place none were available to unlock the rack so we could purchase one. I felt that MIck was on the border of a Geraghty strop, we left the store. Game had what we were looking for, it took some time to pursuade the staff that it would work in a camera and they weren’t just for games consoles. A very quick visit to Primark for a couple of t-shirts and we were out of there.

But it looks so good!

Time to sit down at last.

It’s nice to have my laptop back, I don’t keep aiming for the delete button and turning it off!

9 locks, 6.3 miles, 5.35 miles walked, 2 lefts, 1 extra bum, so much water, 91 Locks of the Rochdale finished, 32 miles traversed, 1 bored cat, 63.7 litres, 40kg coal, 1 laptop, £800 pen! hope the ink was free, 1 immaculate flatcap, 1 Bridgewater licence, 1 SD card, 0 flapjack left.

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.