Sunday, 29 April 2012

Against all odds we arrive on the Macclesfield Canal.

It has taken us a week to climb the Cheshire Locks, mostly due to inclement weather. We see no point in getting cold and soaked standing on the back when arriving a few days later than we thought we might arrive makes not an iota of difference to anyone, our schedules are far too vague to really be thought of as plans.
Anyway, setting off early Monday from Middlewich, we went past

the last canalside reminder of the vast salt works that once dominated the town, how come that salt doesn't all melt in the wet weather? Before leaving Middlewich I would like to say thank-you to Kings Lock Chandlery, during the course of the engine service we found that the seal on the cooling system pressure cap was knackered and Aqueduct did not have one in stock, so arriving in Middlewich we nipped down to Kings Lock who also did not have one but one of the staff immediately jumped in his car and went down the local motor factors and got one for us. That'll do me for service.
We moored about a mile north of Wheelock and then the weather intervened.

So we stayed put. No mobile signal so no internet, but it is the World Snooker Championship from The Crucible in Sheffield so we are a bit preoccupied.
On Wednesday, as the heavens opened once again, we had a brief visit from the B.W. veg pledge operatives,

who kindly smothered the side of the boat with wet grass cuttings.
We eventually moved on on Friday, getting into the real Cheshire Locks.

When the knees finally give out and the back will bend no longer, then we dream of living in a lock cottage like this; no chance, couldn't afford the left hand chimney let alone the cottage. Oh well, we can dream.
We had promised ourselves a stop at Hassal Green and a beer or three in The Romping Donkey but when we got there, to our horror, not only was it closed but

 the new owner has decided on some radical remodelling. This is a four hundred year old listed building with protected status and some vandal has ripped half of it down with out even bothering to apply for planning consent, it's enough to make you weep. So we went on through the next two locks and had cheese and biscuits and a cup of tea on board and watched the snooker.
Saturday we were off early again. At lock fifty-four you have this terrace of attractive old cottages on one side

whilst on the other

you have a bit of a contrast.
The church at Church Lawton sits in a circular churchyard atop a mound.

 Generally taken to mean that in pre-christian times this would have been a site of ritual significance that was taken over by the new religion. Did you catch the archaeologists jargon there? I'm a real Time Team junkie.
A stop at Red Bull services for water and a pump out and then up the last couple of locks under the aqueduct.

Then a sharp right

under the junction bridge at Hardings Wood, a few hundred yards further and there is another sharp right

and you are heading north and going over the aqueduct you just went under

and you can look down on the locks you just came up. If you were in a car at a motorway junction you would think nothing of it but on a boat on a canal such over and undering is something special.
At Hall Green you meet the stop lock that divides the waters of the Trent and Mersey from those of the Macclesfield Canal and when you look at the lock cottage you begin to realise you are heading into a different part of the system, no more mellow red brick but

a grey gritstone, redolent of the hills of the north. The bridges are now

of the same dour stone, Peak Forest here we come.
We eventually moored at bridge eighty-seven, just by The Rising Sun where we partook of a more than adequate lunch and the couple of pints we had been denied at The Romping Donkey. Jennings Cumberland Bitter and it was in splendid condition.
Today it is back to raining torrents and blowing a full gale so here we have stayed, watching the snooker on't telly in the shadow of Mow Cop.

Watch this space.............

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