Thursday 9th June 2016
Post script to last night:
Last night Maples and Toque met a new friend called Sally at the convenience store in Congleton. We assisted a gentleman so that he could go into the store and purchase some items.
So today will be spent cruising for a few hours and then on to tackling the Bosley staircase of 12 locks. The countryside is made up of chocolate box cover stuff with green rolling hills, hedgerows and some dry stone walls. On our east side we are running parallel to the Peak District which is well known as a great place to hike. The Peak District is not something you could compare to the Canadian Rockies by any means but it is one of the highest areas of England.
Our initial cruising was just that, cruising along in sunshine on the Macclesfield Canal.
The Macclesfield Canal was built in 1830 and was probably the last canal built prior to the advent of the railways. We are now officially in the County of Cheshire which has a reputation of being where the well heeled from Manchester live. Gorgeous stone cottages with trellises of roses and ivy growing up the walls. The very small size of some of these houses makes it appear as though only a dwarf could live in them.
Another feature of the area is the unusual egg shaped stone bridges and lots of them. They are quite unique.
We had a substantial lunch in preparation of a couple of hours of hard labour – well hard labour for Fras. The 12 Bosley locks climb 110 feet in a mile. All the locks were against us so we had to empty everyone one of them which slowed us down. This wasn’t too much of a problem but it creates a lot of backwards and forwards opening gates and closing them twice. Due to the canal breach further up on the Macclesfield there is no traffic coming down towards us as no one can get through where the earth work repair is occurring. This means anyone following in our direction will all have to empty the locks and go through the same process that we did. We are hoping to hear tomorrow that the canal is reopening in which case there will be a flurry of boating activity with boats moored either side on the move.
There was some pretty tricky maneuvering required to get into these narrow locks as the angle as well as the current caused by the locks emptying at a rather fast speed caused issues. At one of the locks there was a Wagtail sitting on the arm of one of the locks but unfortunately we were unable to get a photo of him. Have cheated and put in google photo.
Bird life here is prolific and very melodic. There are also lots of lazy Canadian geese here who can’t be bothered flying home for the season and boy do they foul up the towpaths with all their dumpage. There are also many Mallard ducks with their young on the canal and the most we have counted in one batch is 11 ducklings. There was one batch that nearly went from 7 down to 5 very quickly as two of the little ones got caught between our boat and one of the narrow bridge underpasses. You usually only have 6 to 12 inches of clearance either side and it is not unusual to bang up against the side so you could imagine what would happen to little baby ducks. Di felt really ill as she was driving the boat at the time and the thought of drowning/squashing them was not sitting well. Somehow though as we popped out the other side of the bridge these two chicks surfaced at the rear of the boat and mother duck came hurtling down the canal to rescue them. Phew!!
We have been cruising behind our German friends most of the day so we have made arrangements to rendezvous at the Kings Head for dinner tonight and of course a few beers. After a substantial dinner including some crumble pudding (as you do) we walked back to the boats in the pouring rain. Note the pooch in the pub – pretty amazing.
It was lovely to go to bed tonight with the sound of rain on the roof of the boat.