Down and then Up Again

From Ladybird Moorings to Martin's Bridge No 3, a distance of 14 miles, 6 flg and 26 locks.

We travelled up on Friday night and had a pleasant evening on the moorings drinking some bottled beer. We’d left the fridge on from last weekend so we could just load it all up. We put the cool blocks in the bottom to act as thermal ballast. It was an early night – I think we were both in bed before 11pm!

As we approached Audlem Top Lock Visitor Moorings a boat cast off and started down the locks and we basically joined the back end of a small queue of boats heading down. There were a lot of boats coming up too so we basically had to wait a bit at each lock – so even though there were only 2 of us we actually couldn’t have made it down the locks any faster. We pulled in on Audlem Vistor Moorings (above wharf) and we headed off to the Pub and the Co-Op. Nick went to the shop and I went to the pub and found that it only opened at noon, so I sat round waiting for Nick and then we sat round for a few more minutes until the pub opened and our order was taken promptly by a member of staff who brought our drinks to our table.

This was the first pint of hand pulled beer I’d had since the lockdown

First pint of Real Ale since lockdown… it was nectar

and it tasted pretty damned good. It was a little warm but the second one was perfect. We sat there in the sun, relaxing, and it was so tempting to have a third and basically stop for the day but we really thought we should push on a little more. So it was back to the boat and down past the wharf

The Shroppie Fly
The Shroppie Fly

We knew we wanted to eat out on the last night so Nick popped in as we waited for the lock and booked a table for the following Saturday.

When the lock was about 3/4 empty a boat cast off from the waterpoint below the lock (they’d been moored on the waterpoint at the wharf when we’d been sitting outside the pub) and proceeded to make its way slowly down the canal with its engine noise drowned out by the yapping of the dog on the back deck. They apologised to Nick for the barking dog but not for pulling out in front of us.

We got to the bottom lock and made our way past the moored up boats and then met a boat coming the other way who wanted us to speed up to try to pull them off “the ledge” as “it’s pretty big here”, but of course by the time he told me that we were almost past him anyway. I think if he’d dropped his speed a little bit he might have drifted out with no real problems.

The boat in front of us was only going as far as Overwater Marina and they seemed to be making good speed – which of course you can along this section of canal. There wasn’t much traffic moving and we made good time to Nantwich where, for once, the moorings weren’t totally full… there were however two boats moored on the no mooring section opposite Nantwich Sanitary Station, one was a boat with some young women on it and one was a “working boat” who really should have known better.

We arrived at Hurleston Junction Visitor Moorings (south) to find relative chaos – boats coming down, boats wanting to go up and queuing from both sides of the junction. I held the boat and Nick leapt off taking one of the Cobra Walkie Talkies with him – he wandered round and talked to everyone and established that we were the fifth boat in the queue to go up. One of the boats going up was an old wooden Thos Clayton oil boat called “Spey” – this was the first time up the canal because until Hurleston Bottom Lock No 1 was rebuilt they’d never been able to fit up the flight – they fitted through there but they were a little worried about lock four but said if they didn’t fit they’d pull to the side and let everyone else go through. However they did fit and after about an hour we started up the flight. One of the boats in front of us had an early evening table reserved at The Dusty Miller which there was no way they were going to be able to make, even if they hadn’t been delayed. Although there were other boats going up the progress was swift and before we knew it we were out of the top lock. We decided we’d move a bit away from the locks and moor up for the night – so we stopped just before the bridge, where we had some beautiful views over the countryside and tucked into a chicken casserole that had been sitting in the slow cooker all afternoon.

Sunset across the fields
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