Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I wet myself and a colourful cow

It was a rather misty start to the day.  Well actually it was rather misty all day!  Jan was scurrying around inside Waiouru doing all the necessary chores whilst I wandered up and down the towpath impatiently waiting.  At one point I stood on the gas locker and took a photo to the north across the Cheshire plains.

We quietly passed all the moored boats above Bosley Locks at 8.00am and moored on the water point above the top lock to fill the tank.  The volunteer lockie arrived as we moored and told Jan to wait at the top because he needed to run water down to the pound below Lock 5 as it was almost empty.  A CRT van arrived with two more employees whilst we were waiting.  Then a second volunteer lockie arrived.  Jan started to get excited thinking she would get help with the locks.  Alas she was to be disappointed!  Very little help and every lock was against us.

The CRT services building at the top lock

Despite this we set of in good cheer settling into a routine where I’d steer Waiouru into the lock and then go forward to set the next.  Jan would work me down and reset the lock as I headed off to the next lock.  On first glance it appeared to be a simple plan.  However at Lock 2 I positioned myself square on to the paddle mechanism with legs apart and slightly bent.  Then using my arms and thighs I quickly wound up the paddle.  I’ve found getting a good rhythm reduces the possibly of a stiff mechanism stalling the operation.  Unfortunately not everything went as planned  I had completed about four rotations of the windlass when a jet of canal water shot out of the vent between my legs soaking my crutch.  I had wet myself and it wasn’t even caused by excitement or fear.  Waddling around to the opposite paddle mechanism I positioned myself so I wasn’t astride the vent and quickly completed four turns of the windlass.  There had been no rush of water out of the vent so I peered over it and promptly got a face full of canal water.  Two face washes in one day.  I’m the cleanest boater on the Cut!

The locks arrived and departed very regularly and we were at the bottom in just under two hours.

Jan said good morning to a man who was walking up the flight with a couple of bags of rubbish.  Obviously a boater moored at the bottom of the flight.  On his way back he mentioned to Jan that his wife had told him the folly I blogged about two days ago <here> is actually a hunting lodge.  When we reached the moored boats Jan noted he was aboard nb Henry.  So now we know.  It’s not a folly!

We passed nb Red Admiral which we saw last year, but can’t remember where!

Then we passed the following boat which we definitely remember being moored around Stoke on Trent last summer.  It’s covered in solar panels; even on the sides between the windows!

Jan was inside Waiouru as we crossed the aqueduct just before Congleton.  I glanced to the right and noticed the adjacent railway bridge and took a photo.

I shouldn’t be surprised by all these railway bridges as the rail lines usually follow the same general route as the canals.

Most of the cows we saw today were standing, but this one was laying down on the job.

Eventually we could see Mow Cop Castle (got it right this time Halfie) on the skyline and knew we were getting close to our Monday destination.

Having difficulty seeing in in the photo above?  I’ll zoom in..

The plan was to moor just beyond the Heritage Boats hire base but before we reached there Jan saw the house she wanted.

Apparently there is room for a pony, pool and separate cottages for mother and mother-in-law.

We arrived at our destination at 3.00pm where I made the spontaneous decision to then walk to Mow Cop Castle.  It’s not very far from the canal (in a straight line), as my crutch and face had dried it seemed a good idea to do it today rather than waiting until tomorrow morning.

The route is a mixture of roads and footpaths with must of it uphill.  Good news as it will be easier walking back! Smile

I took a slightly circular route (it was deliberate) and happened to stumble upon this nook in a wall close to the entrance to the castle.

It’s an old well.  The wording reads

"To do good forget not"
"The Squire’s Well 1862"

I’ve read other bloggers posts about walking to Mow Cop but I don’t recall any of them mentioning this well?

There are splendid views of the surrounding countryside………. on a clear day!  Today wasn’t that day…..

Great view south towards Stoke on Trent, which is out there somewhere Smile

And a great view of Chester to the north

Oh,  I forgot to mention the relevance of Mow Cop.  It’s all a fake….  One of those English Folly’s.  This one was built in 1754 by Randle Wilbraham of nearby Rode Hall.  It was apparently constructed as a summerhouse looking like a medieval fortress.

Mow Cop Castle is also famously known for being the meeting place of the first Primitive Methodists and there is a stone at Mow Cop commemorating this event.

So all your primitives, this it where it all began.

I made it back to Waiouru in time to find Jan had baked me one of her self saucing puddings (orange this time) and was in the midst of seasoning the steak.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The White Nancy and a high risk action

But first I must mention the rather dilapidated boat we passed yesterday.  I noticed the boater was growing tomato plants inside the boat.  Jan cruelly exposed my sheltered youth by explaining they were “electric tomato plants”!  Never having tried marijuana I didn’t know what it looks like!  Seems as if my wife had a wilder youth…… But she said that like Bill Clinton, she didn’t inhale!  (Jan here: what I really said was I didn’t smoke only Inhaled)

I learned about the ‘White Nancy’ when reading about Bollington last night.  After loading the map on the laptop I identified it’s location and the shortest route.  At just under 1.5km each way it looked like a quick walk before we departed.

Waiouru is moored on the aqueduct (left arrow) and the White Nancy is on top of Kerridge Hill (right arrow)

Waiouru is moored towards the far end

The shortest route up the hill happened to go straight up the face and gave me a good workout.

Here is a close up of the monument

Wikipedia describes it as being the shape (profile) of the logo for the town of Bollington and was built on the orders of John Gaskell to commemorate Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.  The structure originally had an entrance which has now been blocked.  The originals of the name are disputed with it possibly been named after Gaskell’s sister or the horse that pulled all the construction material to the site.  It is constructed of sandstone rubble which has been rendered and painted.

Weather permitting, there are good views from the top of the hill.

Northwest to Manchester

West to north Wales

East to Chapel-En-le-Firth

Beside the White Nancy is what appears to be a circular foundation.  But I have no idea of its former purpose?

Jan managed to take a number of photos of one of the crossover bridges that can be found on the Macclesfield Canal.  This design allowed the horse to cross from one side of the canal to the other without needing to remove the rope connecting it to the boat.

We finished the day above Bosley Locks and after a light dinner I walked forward to inspect the flight.  It was here in 2007 we were delayed a day whilst waiting for one of the locks to be repaired.  I met a couple from Texas at lock 11 who were watching a single handed boater come up the flight.  He had exited the lock and tied his boat before returning to close the top mitre gates.  As he returned to the towpath side the far side gate swung back open.  To my surprise he went to his boat and retrieved his boat pole.  Looking at us he said “I’m a bit lazy, I should really walk back around to close the gate!” He then proceeded to reach across the full lock chamber with the pole and attempted to close the gate by pushing on the end of the gate beam with the pole.  I told the Americans that this looked a very risky action as it would have been very easy for the end of the pole to slip off the gate beam.  As he applied more force the gate started to move and instead of the pole being square on the the beam the angle became more acute.  The end of the pole slipped off the beam and the boater lost his balance.  Rather than falling into the lock he attempted to jump to the far side.  Well he didn’t make it.  His arms came down heavily and vertically on the coping stones whilst his chest hit them horizontally.  He could easily have knocked himself out or winded himself on impact.  He was floundering around in the lock and whilst watching him closely I suggested he make his way to the ladder.  Fortunately he didn’t appear to be seriously hurt but I think he can forget about having a serviceable camera and phone.

It was a poor decision for any boater to make, especially a solo boater!  If he had wanted to close the far gate he would have done better to have used a boathook and pull the gate shut.  Better still, spend an additional minute and walk back around the lock to close it.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Principles of Boating

Since commencing a life on the canals we’ve identified a number of unwritten principles.  The first is; if you are going to meet an oncoming boat then there is a greater than 75% chance it will be on a blind bend or obscured bridge hole. The second is; if you find a nice and isolated stretch of good mooring another boater will moor either immediately in front (or behind you).  However when you are desperate for a mooring you will find the moored boats spaced out to ensure there’s no available room.

After a good rest at Bugsworth Basin we recommenced our cruising.  But not before stopping at the basin services to dispose of the rubbish and fill the water tank. I managed to wash, rinse and chamois dry the starboard side whilst waiting for the tank to fill.  Jan did the two swing bridges and then the two lift bridges on the way to Marple Junction.  It must have been Saturday because we passed four boats going in the opposite direction.  One assumes they will spend the weekend at Bugsworth Basin.

One last look across the valley (I assume it’s the Goyt Valley?) before we reached the junction.

Having already met one boat at a swing bridge and another at a bridge hole we weren’t particularly surprised to hear a horn when commencing our turn at the junction onto the Macclesfield Canal.  We stopped partway into the turn and allowed the charity boat to come under the bridge.  Actually it hovered in the bridge hole and we eventually realized  they were intending to wind (turn around).

We usually forget to take a photo in this situation, but after only having discussed this failure on our part several minutes earlier, Jan grabbed her camera and took the above photo.  The steerer invited us to pass through the bridge hole and narrows beyond whilst he winded.

We’ve been on the Macclesfield Canal before, but for the life of me there is very little I remember.  I do recall there was a one day stoppage at Bosley Locks because a cill had collapsed.  I also remember it hosed down the entire trip resulting in me being soaking wet and chilled to the bone at the end of each day.  One of the reasons why I didn’t want Waiouru to have a cruiser stern!

We passed what looked to be a cemetery headstone adjacent to the towpath and as it was so unusual I took a photo. 

After zooming in on the photo I think it’s a canal milestone.

There was a local tractor convention near High Lane.  You know you’re getting old when you recognize the machinery and don’t think it’s particularly dated!

There was an adjacent workshop

Jan couldn’t recall Goyt Mill from our last trip.  However my ancient grey cells did.  There was a second mill at Bollington where (if my memory is accurate) we moored and went into the town looking for a laundrette.

Goyt Mill wasn’t plastered in mobile photo antennas last time!  Actually the mill is quite new when compared with some of the other mills we’ve seen this year.  Built in 1905, it has six floors and in its heyday as a cotton mill it had 82,000 mule spindles.  The machine was manufactured in Ancoats.  Power was supplied by a sole steam engine fuelled by coal from Poynton.  The building now has multi-users.

We were peacefully cruising along when Jan suddenly exclaimed “Isn’t that a folly?”.  Sure enough, on a hill in the distance was a lone building.  I used the large camera to take a photo and then cropped it to enhance the image.

Is it a folly and what is its name?

Shortly after passing Lime View Marina we passed this sad sight.

It’s probably now abandoned and (we via our licence fee) CRT will have to pay to have it removed.

The weather today has been a rather mixed bag.  It started being warm and sunny before turning to light rain.  However as we approached our destination for the day it changed back to sunshine. There happened to be a vacant 60ft space on the 48 Hour moorings at Bollington which we were happy to occupy. 

This is Clarence Mill which has been converted into luxury apartments.  This former cotton mill is considerably older than Goyt Mill having been built in 1834, some three years after the canal was built.

Whilst Jan started on dinner I managed to polish the starboard side.  That’s the entire boat completed for this year.  Sleep won’t be problem tonight!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Feet happy, arms sore!

The legs must have felt yesterday’s walk because I writhed, thrashed, turned and twitched for some of the night.  At one stage I think I bit Jan in my sleep…. No black eye this morning so perhaps it was only a nightmare!

The stubby toes were still tender but a walk to Tesco and Whaley Bridge brought them back to life.  The belt needed to be taken in a notch which probably means a couple of kilos of perspiration were lost during yesterday’s walk.  It will only be temporary!

Nothing particularly special jumped out at me walking down the main street.  It looked like a normal town with most buildings constructed from the local stone.  Actually it could have been on the other side of the Pennines.

The one building that did catch my eye was the Mechanics Institute which was built in 1876.  The building now houses the local library and councils offices along with three reception rooms.  Apparently Mechanics Institutes were fairly common.  They were built to provide adult education on technical subjects and were often funded by local industrialists.

Back at Whaley Bridge Branch Junction there is a moored boat with an apparent NZ connection.

The canals are suffering from an infestation of these damned kiwis.

The weather forecast indicated clear skies in the afternoon so Jan did a load of washing in anticipation whilst I erected the rotary line on the stern.  The sun did put in an appearance which made me so excited I decided to wash and polish the port side.  Wear sunglasses or the next two photos might blind you!

I was exhausted after all that polishing and had to stagger back aboard for a cold ale to rehydrate.  The feet might be better but the arms are now sore.  Only the starboard side to do (tomorrow) and that will the last of the polishing for this year!

Just checked the engine hour meter.  It will soon be time to do a major service.  I’ll have to brace myself for the ‘Indian Rubber Man” trick and caress that hot engine without burning myself. 

All the local critters can breath a sigh or relief….. We’re eating vegetarian tonight!

Friday, 26 September 2014

In the clouds and unhappy feet

Finding a local high feature and getting some panoramic views of the Peak District seemed a good idea.  After carefully examining the map a walk to the northeast of Bugsworth Basin looked promising.  24 kilometres would get me to Kinder Low.  At 639 metres it appeared to be the highest hill in the local area.  After tracing the local footpaths I had a route that could be transferred to the gps.

The first hill was Chinley Churn.  Wikipedia describes this as a large nondescript hill which has been heavily quarried.  I did notice the rock face as I made my way up the zigzag path.  Halfway up I met a couple coming from a different direction.  They immediately identified me as Australian and mentioned they had a son living in Melbourne.  For my part, I noticed they were wearing jacket and fleece whilst I was in a Tshirt. 

Chinley Churn

Two thirds the way up Chinley Churn I looked back to see Chapel-En-le-Firth in the valley below.  There is a multi-arched railway bridge in the middle-left of the above photo.  At the time I didn’t realize my walk would enable me to take a photo of the other side of the bridge.

The route from here took me along the ridgeline until Bugsworth disappeared from sight. 

Whaley Bridge with Toddbrook Reservoir behind and to the left

At Hill Farm the footpath descended and crossed the A624 before climbing slowly to the saddle behind South Head.  It was at this point I passed two walkers coming from the opposite direction.   The were wearing jackets, gloves and had their hoods up.  I also noticed they looked very wet!  I’m still in my Tshirt.  A small bell started to ring in my head Smile

From here I could see the next intermediate hill on the horizon

Shortly after reaching this feature the weather started to deteriorate and I realized why those other two walkers were wet and wearing jackets. The ground started to get very soft and as I’d already read the National Trust sign I knew this area was a 7000 year old peat bog.  However some people had kindly laid stone slabs to create a designated path.

As you can see in the above photo the cloud closed in on me and I started to get quite cold and wet.  Despite the lack of visibility my brain told me to keep going and reach my goal.  However by now my feet were giving me a completely different message.  One that cannot be written on a public blog! Smile  I realized the possibility of being able to take photos from Kinder Low and Kinder Scout was most unlikely.  However having come so far I didn’t want to turn back.  I pressed on reaching the top to see absolutely nothing!  Wikipedia states the following about Kinder Low

 Kinder Scout is a moorland plateau and National Nature Reserve[2] in the Dark Peak of the Derbyshire Peak District in England. Part of the moor, at 636 metres (2,087 ft) above sea level, is the highest point in the Peak District, the highest point in Derbyshire, and the highest point in the East Midlands. In excellent weather conditions the city of Manchester and the Greater Manchester conurbation can be seen, as well as Winter Hill near Bolton, and the mountains of Snowdonia in North Wales.

I hadn’t planned a return route and after looking a the gps decided to head back to South Head.  I was just clearing the cloud/mist line when a party of six walkers appeared from my left heading towards Kinder Low.  And here was me thinking I was the only crazy person on the hill!

Once out of the mist I had good views to the north.  The thing I immediately noticed was the sky on the horizon to the north.

The @#$%^ weather was clearing!  If I had arrived at Kinder Low an hour later I might have seen something.  On reaching South Head I took a photo of the signpost and decided to go south towards Chapel-En-le-Firth.  It’s boring walking back the route you came.

Walking down Beet Lane (which started as a rubble strewn groove) I was able to get a view of that same railway bridge from the opposite direction.  From this position it was possible to see there were actually two bridges.

Went past Ben and Kelly who were doing their usual grubbing around.

On reaching  the village of Chiney I checked the map and realized a short detour would enable me to follow the Peak Forest Tramway Trail back to Bugsworth Basin.  Well it was actually my feet that made this decision.  Presumably because they knew it was likely to be easy going.

The Peak Forest Tramway Trail

This is the route of an early, horse drawn, rail system linking the local quarries to the Peak Forest Canal at Bugsworth Basin.  The product was local limestone that was transported by canal to Manchester.   The trail doesn’t follow the exact original route.  I took this photo to the side of the trail.

On arriving back at Waiouru five hours after departing (slow walker) I found nb Alton filling and emptying the tanks of the boat opposite (diesel & toilet).

The price of diesel looked very reasonable.  (see photo below)

However as we had bounced on the bottom a few times coming up from Marple to Bugsworth Basin I thought topping up the tanks now might add to any potential problems on the return journey.

Interestingly, the boater opposite told Jan they have a paid permanent mooring in the basin.  I hadn’t realized this was an option.