The Cheshire Ring


This is my family blog of our trip from Kings Bromley around the Cheshire Ring, anti-clockwise.  We decided to go anti-clockwise after reading and reviewing comments from the canal world discussion Forum.  There are also various stops for water or to drop off waste, some timed, some not.

Day 1.

Day 1 started on Friday 19th August 2011.  We arrived at Kings Bromley and unloaded the car.  It took a while!  I left work at about 11.30 am, drove home, loaded up, dog and all. As we approached the turn off for Kings Bromley, the radio sparked up, advising that there was a van on its roof just before our turning.  We had not put Tom Tom in this car, bum!  Never mind, nose instinct took over and we took a back road route to Kings Bromley from Catholme.  Good diversion and we made Kings Bromley safely. 

Back to narrowboat stuff.  We left Kings Bromley

(empty mooring shown here from the iphone)  

At 14.50 (I will use the 24 hour clock) and turned left onto the Trent and Mersey.  Now note please, we use the Pearson Guides for our mapping, supported by Canal Planner and various other gadgets, but Pearson's are our main resource.  As such I will provide real timings which may differ from Pearson's guide times, its just what happens on the day but Pearson's were very close and the timings are very useful.  oh, I also checked that my camera clock was accurate.  I had learnt from earlier expeditions to ensure the camera clock was accurate as picture taking can be problematic when trying to identify what the photo was about!

So, we passed bridge 58 at 15.25 and bridge 62A at 16.25.  Here are some photos from that time slice.

Sorry about the un-professional over-exposure of these piccies.  I am still learning about the new camera.

Armitage Shanks Toilet factory

Armitage Narrows at 61A
 You need to send someone walking ahead to ensure that you don't meet someone coming the opposite way

What can I say, you see all sorts.
Its one of those night lights in his/her hands

At 16.35 we made Bridge 64 and at 17.00, Bridge 67.  This leads to the Rugeley moorings and, as usual, they were very busy.  We overnighted at Bridge 69, arriving at 17.30 having been here before when we did the four counties ring.  It is rural, with just the railway line to annoy, although the line is mainly passenger carrying, with little freight at night.

Day 2 20th August 2011

Saturday morning arrived with good weather and we set off at 08.20.  The first lock is Colwich Lock, an easy lock with no queuing when we arrived. some really nice houses here.  Through the lock by 09.01.

The next lock is at Great Haywood and, as expected there was a queue, just two boats though and we cleared by 10.00 am. 

Shugborough Hall as we approach Great Haywood

And a few shots as we approach Great Haywood

The lock at Great Haywood

Anglo Welsh boatyard just beyond the bridge.

Just to make sure we know which way to go!

A boat for a neighbour, NB Tammy!

Great Haywood Marina Entrance

Johanna and Lola puppy going for a walk.

Lola puppy has some learning to do as do we.  We tried making a pen in the kitchen area but it was not a great success so we will have the cratch and cover fitted sooner than later and this area will become her "crate" as Labradors need their crates.  When she went for a walk and wanted to go back onto the boat she would simply sit, wanting to turn around, not knowing that the boat was in front of her!  She will learn.  Puppy training starts next week (w/c 12 September) but she has already learnt quite a lot from us.

And what did we see, another Lola boat!, nice paintwork too.

Passing Great Haywood reminded me again of the four counties ring after seeing the Anglo Welsh Boats here.  A relatively long line of boats so we were on tick over for a while.  Now then, our tick over is 500 revs and we are very slow, why is it everyone else travels faster past boats?  What is your "tick over"?  perhaps a tad rhetorical.  Just around Great Haywood, on our starboard side is a fruit farm, very interesting how they manage their strawberries, all up a height.  Bridge 78 was passed at 11.05 and thence to our third lock, Weston Lock, not properly marked on the Pearson's guide by the way.  Canal and River Services are based here tel 07970 413808  The old Weston wharf is being challenged by a new housing development. The Saracens Head is at Weston and the food is very, very good and exceptionally cheap.  By 12.05 we arrived at Bridge 82.

Interesting photo just before Bridge 82, spot the odd thing?

Lock no 4 at Sandon fast approached and we were at the lock by 12.30 with a boat in front. 

This shot was taken at 12.56 just past bridge 85

Lovely house just outside of Burston

And I thought this was quite picturesque, shame  I did not stop and use a tripod for a better set photo

By 13.36 we arrived at Aston Lock (lock 5), just passed the Aston Marina.  We enquired about a long term  mooring here in the past but they were far too expensive.

At 14.19 we arrived at the first of the Stone Locks (Lock 6), the one where the Star Inn is adjacent the lock.  Problem ensued.  We managed to go up the lock no bother.  However, coming to open the gates they just would not open enough for us to get out.  As passer by commented that the gate had broken before and was probably bust (local term)  We tried to get out but to no avail so I called BW to report a stoppage.  In the meantime we decided to use the boat hook to see if we could find if the problem was a blockage of some sort.  Success!  a piece of pipe, about 15ft long was extricated (hoping it was not some important part of the lock.  This was removed by Kath (my wife)  and another guy - well done both.  the lock opened, I cancelled the call with BW and on we went to the second Stone Lock (Lock 7 of our journey). 

Lock 94 (Our 7th lock of the holiday)

Stone Canal Cruising Company

We got here at 14.50 so the delay was not too bad.  Third Stone lock at 14.56 (lock 8) and fourth Stone Lock at 15.05 near the non-existent Rising Sun (looks like the pub made way for a housing development), i did spend 20 minutes trying to find it before venturing back down the canal to the Star Inn for a pint.  Only had one as a full scale domestic was ongoing inside and the male of the pair (the other looked like a female) was already kicking the interior door to the pub!. 

We moored up here for the day as there was a good long run of armco mooring, which we prefer to hammering in stakes.

Our spot
 The Star was moored opposite us and advertises Tina Paramore as a boat painter.

Day 3 21st August 2011

Onwards and upwards, pins out (well the paper clip type) at 08.30 and through the Meaford Locks locks 9 to 12 by 09.25  (formally locks 34-31).

The third of the Meaford Locks

Kath and Sarah

By 09.50 we passed Bridge 102.

At 10.15 we were passing Wedgwood.  Having visited Wedgwood on the Four Counties Ring we declined a return on this occassion (not sure if it is still open but judging from the cars going over the bridge it must be.

At Trentham Lock (lock 35), about 11.00 with 2 boats in front, we were approcahed by a RSPCA fund raiser who identified himself and offered to take some photos of all of us on the boat and then email them to us later that day for the pricely sum of £1.  True to his word, here they are, could have done with a filter but who am I to talk!

Bridge 105 at 11.02
The obligatory Swan photo, taken at 11.19 next to Bridge 106

Next the picturesque Stoke Incinerator! We passed this at 11.38

After the wonderful incinerator we next arrived at the first Stoke lock (No. 36) - 12.10 am with just one boat in front.  This lock is a slow filler from my recollection and was where a van passing over the bridge above through a glass bottle away which landed on our then hire boat.

Just before Lock 37, these popped up

Between Locks 38 and 39 taken at 13.21

At Lock No.40 (13.45) we met a guy who was on a lads boat and clearly plastered, otherwise he should really not have been wearing that hat!

We made a rubbish drop here and then onwards, pasing Festival Park at 14.03

Thwn our industrial heritage creeps upon us

the photos speak for themselves.

We pootled onto Westport Lake where we moored up for the night so we could get to Harecastle reasonably early, although there was no rush for us.

Westport Lake

Day 4 - 22nd August 2011

08.30 Longport (Westport Lake)

Me trying to make navvygator work
 You guessed it, the Harecastle Tunnel

And thats Brian counting us out

The tunnel too about 35 mins, so a pretty quick trip.  We exited at 09.26.

Next was to make the turn into the Macclesfield, a little tight but reasonably easy at 09.36.

A very picturesque start

Hall Green Lock at 10.22, a shallow lock.

This is the Swing Bridge no 90 taken at 10.37

Heritage narrowboats marina at 10.52

Ramsdell Hall at 10.58

Bridge 72, view of Railway Viaduct at 13.00

Bridge 68 just before the water point which is on the off/starboard/right side if travelling the ring anti clockwise.  We left the water point at 13.50

Lola and Johanna enjoying the view 14.26 just after Bridge 60

Bosley Locks, no 9 at 15.13

Bosley Lock No 5, Slacker! (15.17)

Another Slacker at Lock no 3

Lock No. 1 at 16.26

17:00 Oakgrove
Pub not bad, mixed grill, missing egg, overcooked steak, over priced for what it was, pretentious and catering for the 4x4 brigade.

Day 5 - 23rd August 2011
09.04 Oakgrove

We we very close to the hydraulic swing bridge,  I truned the key and started lowering the barriers, noise and lights indicating what was happeniong when some looney woman in a micra tanked (as tanking a micra can get) over the bridge, just missing the lowering barriers, absolute madness.

After this is a manual swing bridge, 48a. which I did with not too much bother

Bridge 43 at 09.51

One of rthe turney ones for horses at Gurnett Aqueduct

Bridge 41, big wall huh?

We stopped in Bollington, on the viaduct so we could go to the bakers

We arrived in bollington at 11.30 and left at 12.16
Heading to Marple we got to Bridge 5 where there is a shelf which makes mooring a pain.

We were lucky and found a mooring between bridge 1 and 2 just before heading onto the Peak forest canal.
We met two drunks in a wee boat who i did not like the look of.  They moored up across and up a bit from us so I decided to take their photo for them, I think it did the trick.  Another boater aboard Wedgwood moored at the water point, what more can we say.

We moored up at 15.11 by the way

Checking the Marple flight for the next day, I find another considerate boater had moored at the lock overnight

Day 6 - 24th August 2011

08.37 Marple

Now these were hard, very hard locks, mainly because the paddles are pigs.  So much so I had to swap with Kath and do the locks as she steered.

The moored boat

Using two windlasses on one paddle, they were so hard to turn!

Yup, thats me helping
Finished the flight at 11.05, not bad given most were against us and there were no other boaters about to help (Bridge 16)

Marple Aquaduct 11.13

Haughton Dale Nature Reserve 12.24

Nice run after the locks, very rural.

So, we pootled past Haughton Dale and the shallow around there (they are shallow, stay centre of the canal).  We got to Bridge 2 at 13.30 and stopped in a park.  Was not sure about the park so I had a walk with Sarah to look at a better place to moor.  Walked all the way to the Basin Museum, a bit boring in my book.  As we walked back I noticed the basin Marina ( just a small canal off shoot really) and decided to see if they sold boaty stuff.  I wanted some fenders and another handcuff key to help the decent through hell (later post).  Whilst there I was offered a secure overnight berth for £5 which I gladly accepted and I reversed in to make the departure easier.  Whilst moored up there I had a chat with a live aboard there who recommended we make an 8 am start and get through to at least piccadilly basin as Ashton could be a bit frisky.  I decided to fuel up and stuck 100 litres in.  Oh did it rain overnight, it pelted down so I reckon any loonies in the park would have stayed at home.  The marina manager did recount stories about mooring ropes being set alight!  We also passed some Paramedics looking for a body in the canal, normal stuff then

Day 7 - 25th August 2011
We left Portland Basin at 8.05 am.

Lovely picture of the Basin Museum, we turned left here
A very calm start, what a day to come!

Passing Guide bridge we were quite chilled but not sure about where the day would end, Piccadilly basin or Castlefield.

We got to Lock 18 at 09.00

Lock 17 at 09.15.  as i nudge out of 17 the boat grounded.  Quick look around and I noticed that the water was about two foot down from the water mark, bugger.  So there we were, stuck half out of the lock.  a quick chat with BW and a guy would be despatched.  A chat with the guy behind and we opened the paddles to fill the canal between 17 and 16, a long stretch with two swing bridges.  Unfortunately the divvies behind him closed then despite our remonstrations.  More the fool hime as we were not going anywhere so neither was he.  Eventually BW man opened the paddles and we made it out at 10.30, a delay we did not need, but not as long as it felt.
Lock 15 was 11.05, sadly I took no photos at this point due to watching water levels and having to clear all sorts of crap from the prop

First Photo was taken at 11.25, very industrial round here

Lock 13 and city of Manchester stadium way ahead of us (11.25)
Easier paddles here as they are hydraulic assisted
Lock 12 at 11.46

Bridge 11 at 12.35

Circular Tower block 12.58

Lock 7 at 13.29, a long day already

Lock Number 5 at 13.51

It was here just past the winding hole that there is a low bridge which I was warned about twice and ignored twice as i sent a text message.   BANG, head hits the old railway bridge, knocks me over and leaves me with a a bleeding head, uncontrolled boat and some concussion, what an idiot!

The blood and pain dealt with, boat under control again we pass another low bridge, no 6 at 14.05.  I behaved as I was already a Gorbachev look a like!

Lock Number 3 at 14.19
Milliners Wharf at 41.21

New Lift Bridge just past Milliners Wharf 14.27

Lock Number 2 at 14.32

Yippee! Lock Number 1 at 14.48

It was here we decided to get to Castlefield and do the Rochdale 9.

So we now join the Rochdale for the first time

Now then, a thing or two about the Rochdale 9.  First of all a whinge about British Waterways.  These locks have some unusual features to the first time visitor.

So lets start with the first lock, number 84 - Dale Street Lock.  This one was overflowing and we could just not work out how to open them easily.  Now some will laugh at that and others will learn.  We first tried to open a downstream paddle, this just flooded the walk way.  We called BW for advice and they said a crew would be with us in ten mins.  30 mins later they turned out.  The older of the pair asked if I had opened both up stream paddles.  I said not and he moaned that if we had there would be no problem and he could have sorted the BW boat out rather than come down here to explain what was required - some attitude, wonder how he will cope when he becomes part of a charity!  So the second of the two, much more patient, helpoed me open the paddles and thence the gates.  First lock done - why did BW not put up a note of guidance?

Now because of a lack of familiarity with these locks, we did not have time to take photos, that combined with the fact that this is a well known area for chance thefts so the camera was stowed in the bowels of the boat.  Try which shows the locks I am describing and also provides some good advice.  When you leave this lock you will find yourself in a under ground modern cavern featuring concrete pillars.  Stay in the centre and its fine.

The second lock, Piccadilly lock number 85 is in this underground cavern, not too difficult this one.  Bear in mind all these locks are doubles still so try to find a friend to double up.

The third lock, Lock 86, Chorlton Street lock, was a real pain.  It has a chain driven gate on the right side (going down) which did not work when we were there.  Instead, you wait at the left gate and the water level will eventually let you open it.  This lock was a real nightmare and our friends in the bars above cheered when we eventually got the gate open.  one even offered to bring me  a pint, how nice was that.

The fourth lock, no 87, comes with a bar barge on your left and a wobbly pontoon to offload your lock openers, this is something to be aware of as their is no towpath in parts.  This lock was also a bugger, as the downstream gate would not close.  Try as we might, with help from beefy bar drinkers, the gate would not close so we rang BW again and waited.  As we waited NB Teasel arrived down and through a mixture of paddle opening and brute force, we got the gat closed and both boats entered the lock and descended amid much cheering from our bar drinkers once again.  The local gay radio station was on a balcony, no doubt re-counting our progress to its audience.

After that the locks, with Teasels assistance were managed, each of them real pigs (the locks I mean).  Lock 88 wa smet and beaten.  Same can be said for Locks 89 to 92, the latter being named Dukes Lock

18:30 Castlefield was upon us and we checked out the arm to the left and found a nice mooring past NB Chance towards then end of the arm.

Our mooring on the Castlefield Arm
 Next door neighbours
 NB Chance (I love this boats design)

Excellent.  27 locks in one day, what an achievement.  We had Fish and Chips (Sarah had scampi) from a shop on Liverpool Road and we all enjoyed them, exhausted though we were.

To be honest 27 was too many for us all.

Day 8 - 26th August 2011

Day off in Manchester/resting.  Sarah came with us to Marks and Spencers and enjoyed buying a couple of new outfits.  Johanna chilled on the boat with Lola.  in the evening we took the metro and went to Faulkner Street for a Chines meal at Pan Asian.  It was nice but the Chicken Curry we ordered was padded out with potatoes! 

Back to the boat full and tired out.

Day 9 - 27th August 2011

08.30 we leave Castlefield.  I had mentioned whilst at Portland Basin that we could do with a pump out.  It was getting close to the we MUST do a pump out.  So, today would be a trip to the easiest pump out station.

Comments here on are place holders for me to fill in later
Pump out
Marco Marco bill
solar lights failed - read the instructions?
Hurt knee cap
17.31 Bridge 208

Sunday, Day 10 - 28th August 2011
08.30 Bridge 208
16.45 just past Kings Lock Middlewich

Day 11 - 29th August 2011
09.02 Middlewich
Heartbreak Hill
Some doubles broken
15.50 Bridge 139 Rode Heath - nice mooring

Tuesday Day 12 - 30th August 2011

08.50 Rode Heath
Harecastle South
NB Theddington
17.40 Barlaston lost kart tyre,  poo all over
Plume of Feathers nice food cross reference with earlier

Day 13 - 31st August 2011
09.35 Barlaston
16.00 Weston on Trent Saracens head drink only

Day 14 - 1st September 2011
08.20 Weston on Trent
15.25 King's Bromley