It was raining when we got up, the sky was a uniform grey but at least it wasn’t too cold. It stopped raining quite quickly but the clouds didn’t clear – and that sort of set the weather for the day : showers and grey dullness.
There was an interesting temporary structure at Bridge No 17 Narrows – where it looked like a farmer had built a temporary bridge so he could get across the canal. Not that any of us would have used to to cross the canal as it looked extremely unsafe.
The canal was extremely quiet and we made good time across the rolling Cheshire countryside to Stanthorne Lock No 3. The canal through to Wardle Lock No 4 was moderately moored up but there wasn’t a queue for the lock and there weren’t any moving boats on the main line so we were able to swing straight round and up into King’s Lock No 71
Unlike our previous trip up here when there was just about no water above Booth Lane Middle Lock No 68 there was too much water plus a blocked by-wash so water was flowing down over the tow path making things rather unpleasant. So whilst we worked the boat through the lock I used a pole from the boat to basically punch a hole through the weeds which had blocked the grating up which, although it didn’t completely clear the problem, did allow a lot more water to flow through and the water level slowly dropped back down to a reasonable level.
We stopped on Rookery Moorings for a bite of lunch so that when we got to Sandbach we could get straight into a pub. The moorings here are good and deep and straight and there are some rings although the spacing is a bit odd so we had to use a mooring pin as well. We did the same trick as last time at Sandbach in that we went up through Wheelock Bottom Lock No 66 – which is a duplicated lock so we went up the right hand lock, turned in Wheelock Winding Hole and went down the left hand lock (which was already full so we didn’t waste any water) before mooring up on the visitor moorings by which time the rain had returned with a vengeance
The Cheshire Cheese Pub was open so we popped in for a pint and tried to check on bus times into town. The pub was extremely busy but we managed to find a seat in the corner whilst we drank our beer before leaving the pub and walking up and across the canal bridge to the bus stop where we waited for about 4 minutes before the bus into town turned up.
The bus doesn’t take that long to get into town and by the time we did the rain had backed off again so it wasn’t too bad wandering round the town centre and round the market in the market square which was starting to wind down but was still quite busy.
We had a table booked at The Old Hall in the evening but headed there for a pint before exploring the other pubs in the town centre.
The Beer Emporium is a great little bar – its really an off licence that carries a huge range of beer but also sells several Real Ales and Craft Ales. It can be extremely busy so you’re likely to be either standing up for your drink or wedged in round one of the small number of tables.
The Lower Chequer is off the end of the market square at the top of Crown Bank and is a two roomed Joules pub which is full of character.
After wandering round town we headed back to the Old Hall for our meal and had a table near the rather impressive fireplace
We’d never eaten at The Old Hall, or any of the pubs in the Brunning and Price chain, but the food was extremely good and we had a very enjoyable time.
At the evening we headed back to the boat.