More painting

The Shroppie seems to have been plagued with closures this year and Wheaton Aston Lock No 2 seems to have now fallen to bits and could well need some major work on its gates.

So maybe its a good thing that Nick and I are only going up this weekend to do some more painting and to basically leave the boat in some sort of habital state. At the moment the front and back cabins are full of all the stuff from the front cabin and bits of stuff left over when we replaced the floor in the back cabin and the bathroom.

We’re also, weather permitting, replacing the battery master switch which after 20 odd years of service is basically failing rapidly… last time we were there it actually went awol under the battery charger which then got a bit warm running everything!

We’re also planning to fix the leak round the central roof ring which is letting water into the roof and has made a mess of the walls in the middle cabin.

Of course we’re going to be drinking a bit too so we’ll probably be in The Talbot or the Red Lion (probably the Red Lion on Friday and the Talbot on Saturday)

Everyone Needs a little Salt in their Diet

From Cow Lane Bridge No 123E to Nantwich Aqueduct, a distance of 18 miles, 7 flg and 11 locks.

None of us were feeling particularly rested when we got up on Sunday morning. The highlight of the rather disturbed night had been a woman saying, rather loudly, “Where do they Pee, Ooh, Ohh, on a canalboat”. Seemed rather odd that someone who had no problem of getting rather drunk finds it necessary to spell out the word poo.. but then again it takes all sorts I guess.

[ Google Route Map embedded here ]

We started the long slow crawl up the locks away from Chester. The locks might have been good for barges and paired up narrow boats but with no gate paddles and really badly positioned ground paddle outlets they aren’t fun at all.

As we worked through Tarvin Lock No 38 a boat moored above the lock cast off in front of us (how original!). As the locks are broad Neil headed off up the canal to make sure the people knew we were behind them.

They were waiting for us at Greenfield Lock No 37. One of the gates doesn’t open all the way and of course they weren’t pulled in behind that one so Nick had to try to get a narrowboat through a gap that wasn’t really wide enough.

So we got the gates closed and Neil was standing by the ground paddle. The woman off the other boat turned to me “Do you think one paddle 1/3 of the way?” I said that with 2 boats I’d suggest both paddles 1/3 to 1/2 way, and that I was going on to the next lock to get it ready.

Neil wound his paddle up half way and the woman looked at him and said something about how opening his paddle only was only “helping” our boat.

They didn’t come through the next lock with us – odd people. I guess its something to do with people with boats from Longport (see the Tyrley Locks Post for more details).

We worked the next lock alone but then another boat (single handed) asked us how far we were going and could he share locks with us – which is fine by us as it makes things so much easier on the locks.

Being Sunday there were lots of fishermen out – trying to outwit the fish, so we had to crawl past them, and then past all those damned linear moorings… still at least the weather was OK and we could stand there and watch the world go by.

Working through Beeston Iron lock was fun as we went through together (naughty, naughty Mintball!) and sharing locks was so much easier. However as Anglo-Welsh was still open we pulled in for a pump-out and a new bottle of gas, but luckily a boat there wanted to go up the locks so the single handed boat was happy. As the locks are a staircase it takes a while to prepare and work through and we had just got the lock ready for us to go through by the time the pump-out was done, so we didn’t lose too much time.

The traffic on the A51 was still as slow as it had been on Friday.. don’t you just love road works! At Barbridge Junction  a Challenger Boat came out of the Middlewich Branch with no sounding of their horn, no person on the front deck keeping lookout, no they just steamed of the junction and then proceeded to move at a snails pace past all the boats. They would speed up slightly in open water but at the first sign of a bridge it was power down to tickover, wobble the tiller back and forth and just about make it through the bridge hole.

We were hoping they would turn up the Llangollen but no such luck and we were stuck behind them until they turned off into Nantwich Basin .

We stopped for the night on the Visitor moorings just before the aqueduct and headed into town for a couple of beers and a curry

Antiqui Colant Antiquum Dierum

From Beeston Stone Lock No 33 to Cow Lane Bridge No 123E, a distance of 11 miles, 2¼ flg and 7 locks.

Beeston Iron lock was totally empty when we got to it the next morning, so we bounced the bottom gates to dislodge anything that might have been stuck between them, and then filled the lock and worked through with no real problems. The bottom gates have a rather large gap when closed and it looks like its been caused by boats clipping the edge of the gate as they go in and out of the lock as the biggest gap is right at the top rubbing strake level – hopefully BW will get it fixed soon as its not going to be long before someone leaving the top gate open will drain the pound.

[ Google Route Map embedded here ]

Some people think linear moorings are “nice” and “interesting” to pass. I suggest they are made to travel the canal between Nixon’s Bridge No 114 and Faulkner’s Bridge No 116 , preferably several times and then say how wonderful it is.

The canal was pretty quiet all the way to Christleton Lock No 36 where we had to wait for a boat ahead of us to go down and a very slow boat to come up – the boat coming up came up on half a paddle.

The locks down into Chester aren’t the fastest and it was early afternoon by the time we had made it to Cow Lane Bridge No 123E , turned in the winding hole and taken up the last 52 foot of the rather short length of visit moorings.

After a quick freshen up we headed out into the City to do a bit of sightseeing. We started walking clockwise round the city walls, taking a slight detour to have a closer look at the amphitheatre and then a walk through the “Roman Garden”, and its collection of fragments of salvaged stone work, to the river. We got back onto the wall and walked round past Northgate Staircase Locks Nos 41 to 43 , over St Martin’s Way (A wonderful example of what Labour were capable of doing in the 1970s), and to Northgate where we came down off the walls and headed into town for a beer or two.

If you are in Chester, and you like your beer, then you must visit the “Old Boot Inn” in EastGate which is a Sam Smiths pub and serves Old Brewery Bitter for a staggering £1.34 a pint. When I bought the 3 drinks and it was £4.02 I thought the barman had made a mistake… but he hadn’t.

So we were forced, from a point of fairness, to do a whole cycle of rounds.

We then wandered off, completed our walk and went back to the boat.

We decided to try the Mill Hotel and Spa as its supposedly a great real ale pub but the whole of Chester seemed to be in there, so we wandered round town and found a Marstons pub to have a lightish evening meal in before heading to the “Bear & Billet” on Lower Bridge St. An Okells “Beers of the World” pub it had a good range of Okells ales, other hand pulled real ales and draught European beers .. How many places in the UK do you know that sell Dark Budweiser Budvar on draught?

We left just after 11 and headed back to the boat. Not sure why we bothered as the drunken sots of Chester stumbled noisily past the boat until the early hours of the morning.

A trip to “The Wharf”

We needed to do some work on Mintball to get her ready for the BSS certificate, there wasn’t a huge amount of work to do and it seemed silly to drive all the way to Market Drayton just to do a couple of hours work so we decided to do some boating as the same time.

We headed south from the moorings to Tyrley Bottom Lock No 7 . The locks were moderately busy with us meeting a boat at just about every single lock, but we didn’t really have to wait at all which was good.

When we got to Tyrley Top Lock No 3 and Tyrley Wharf (which for some reason doesn’t have a CanalPlan ID) we moored up and decided to go and try out the Four Alls which is about 10 minutes walk up the hill from the wharf.

The pub was quite nice, they had an extensive food menu which included light bites as well as full meals, and a decent range of real ales. It was tempting to sit there and have an even longer lunchtime than we planned but we wanted to push on a bit.

So back to the boat and off through Woodseves cutting which stretches from Tyrley Farm Bridge No 59 to Cheswardine Bridge No 56 which as it’s not high summer wasn’t actually totally overgrown so you could see just how friable the sandstone they had to cut through to make the cutting in the first place is. The quality of the stone, and the fact that after two weeks without rain water was still oozing out of the rock, also explains why they are always having problems with slippages. Having been through this cutting in high summer I had to say that I found it much more interesting, and prettier, in mid April rather than late July/August.

Once you are out of the cutting its only a shortish run to Goldstone Bridge No 55 and it’s pub (called the Wharf). There is a winding hole here and an extremely neat private mooring which looks like the remains of some sort of gauging dock.

There are a lot of moorings along this section so progress is not much faster than going through the cutting but there is a lot to see and the people on the moored boats seem to be friendly enough.

It’s a long winding, gentle chug through open countryside to the tiny settlement of Knighton whose inhabitants apparrently don’t have to pay “tax” under a charter granted by King Charles II. From a canal point of view you could pass Knighton by without even noticing it if it wasn’t for the rather large factory behind the old Cadbury Wharf. A few years ago when we came through the factory was making drinking dhocolate and the air was full of the sweet smell of chocolate, this time however it wasn’t apparently making anything and the only thing we could smell was the nearby sewage works! The bank side opposite the wharf has been rebuilt from engineer’s blue brick but don’t even think of mooring there as it’s sitting on rocks!

Knighton Wharf is perched right at one end of the Shebdon embankment, which is quite an impressive structure, especially when the trees aren’t fully out and you can see just how high up you are: the views across the surrounding countryside are pretty impressive too.

Shebdon Wharf is located right next to Shebdon Aqueduct and here is the second pub called “The Wharf” in just a few short miles. The moorings here have just been refurbished with an overhanging top, rubbing strakes and rings and with steps down to the pub it’s a handy place to moor up… which we did.

After doing some work on the boat we popped down the steps and tested the pub – like the FourAlls it has quite a wide ranging food menu with some extremely good value deals. The beer, which was Everard’s Tiger, was extremely quaffable 😉 . The next day we turned at the winding hole at the wharf and returned, without visiting the Four Alls, to the mooring