Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Last night just as we were dropping of to sleep what sounded like a Chinook helicopter passed over FL very low, must be a RAF base close by.

We haven't moved for the last two days, the battery bank hasn't dropped below 80% so the solar panels are doing their job. The painting of the port side coach lines have been finished. In addition, the rear deck gutter has been electric wire brushed, sanded, rustproofed and a coat of primer applied ready for a coat of bilge paint.

I rang a mate of mine yesterday, he has been following the blog and reckons I'm always working! I assure you I'm not, maintenance on a boat is something that needs to be kept on top of though, I don't find working on the boat a chore but an enjoyable way to pass a few hours. So far the painting jobs done have been no more than touch up jobs. The roof requires rubbing down and painting at some stage, I might hire a paint shed to do that.

It's about a two mile walk into Audlem whose centre is right beside the canal, three pubs, upholsterer, charity shop, Co-Op, butchers, cycle shop and an undertakers make up the vendors. I dropped into the famous boaters pub the Shroppie Fly for a Timothy Taylor's Landlord  and sat beside the lock gongoozling before making the walk back to FL.

These cattle graze in the best setting ever.

The Old Priest House coffee shop.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Short cruise

Before we moved of yesterday morning, we went to the workshop of Cratch Covers & Canopies and spoke to Hazel & Tim about a new cover for FL. We looked over some of their work in the marina and liked what we saw, style and material was decided on but  unfortunately this busy couple can't fit us in to the end of July, as we will be on the Thames by then we will probably wait till we are back up north in November.

We cruised for four miles passing through Hack Green locks and moored above Mickley Bridge, the canal here slices through farmland. The local canal society have placed a lot of tables and benches on this stretch but we are the only ones here to use them. 

Masking tape and paint came out again, the large panel's coach lines were rubbed down and painted, only one more section to do on the port side which will hopefully be done this morning, weather permitting. Today it's a bright day but very windy, showers are forecast with snow on high ground, 

Luckily no high ground around here.

Moored at this marker.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Church Minshull to Nantwich

Saturday - We made our way down to Middlewich to top up the water tank, then we climbed the three Middlewich locks, squeezing past the two hire fleets with excited crews starting holidays. Turned onto the short Wardle canal that leads FL on to the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union canal.

After the last few days of good sunshine we are now getting damp, the sky releasing showers on us, a few quite heavy. We carry on to moor at the affluent village of Church Minshull, although the Nicholson guide doesn't show a pub in the village, there is a sign at Minshullhill Bridge pointing the way to The Badger Inn 500 metres away.  If someone has gone to the effort to point the way then I feel we should attend. So off we walked down the hill which was a bit hair raising as there isn't a path until near the bottom and a few cars were speeding over the brow. The Badger had a warm friendly welcome for us, two bars and a large dining room, we managed to get a table for two as it was still early, all tables were occupied by the time we were eating. The food was excellent, pie and mash for me and salmon for Sue.

Sunday - The sun was back as we left Church Minshull at 08:00, it was still cold,  fleeces and hats were helping keeping the chill out. We like this link canal (connects the Trent & Mersey to the Shropshire Union),  the scenery is stunning, some of it agricultural interspersed with dairy herds and green fields. At Barbridge junction we took a left and made our way past the junction with the LLangollen Canal to moor at Nantwich Junction Bridge.

We arranged to meet our buddies Paul & Elaine at The Star in the village of Acton, we had seen signage at Acton Bridge telling of the pubs real ale, real fires, good food and dogs welcome.. ..just the job.

We got a message that they were at the pub but it was shut, as in run down no one been there for yonks, shut. You would of thought someone would have taken the canal sign down by now! No worries we had a stroll along the towpath with Sammy & Bombo into Nantwich and sat in the garden of the Oddfellows Arms where we had a good catch up over a glass of Pedigree ale and later coffee on FL.

Andy, Paul & Elaine with Sammy and Bombo.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Coach lines.

Friday - we moved a few miles down the T&M and moored at Brambles Cutting, out came the paint brushes again.

The coach lines were looking a bit thin, the result of to much polishing.
After masking up 'Manchester Red' paint was applied

Now the colour matches the roof rail I painted two weeks ago.
That's two panels done only six more to do, the painting was easy the masking up takes ages.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Billinge Green Flash'

Tuesday - Our last day on the Weaver, we had a trip to Northwich to have a look around the town. The Victorians have built many Tudor style buildings in the town, the pedestrianised high street is still thriving where other towns have lost their soul. The Sunday Times rated Northwich as one of the best places to live in the UK.

Next it was back to the Anderton Lift where we shared the caisson with NB Chloe, the eccentric skipper Gordon dressed in a 1950's life vest, shorts and green socks pulled up to his knees, a veteran of many lift journeys, a thoroughly nice chap who reminded me of Griff Rhys Jones.

Meeting the trip boat half way up.
Back up on to the Trent & Mersey we turn south and moor near Marston. In the evening we walked the towpath to The Salt Barge a where we both enjoyed a Tatton Brewery pint of best.

Wednesday, we moved along the canal in the continuing sunny weather mooring at one of the flashes, a feature of the landscape around this area formed from subsidence from salt mining.

View across the flash.
Sue received a message from Sharon on NB Oakapple that they were just leaving Middlewich and would be with us shortly....good job we have a stock of red wine. ..I heard the distinct note of Oakapples Gardener 2LW engine a good 15mins before they came in to view, time to get the kettle on.

Once tied up Sharon & Richard came aboard for tea and cake, twenty minutes later the first bottle of red was opened and before we knew it was late evening and we hadn't had any dinner. So we pooled a few bits out of the fridge's and retired aboard Oakapple for Nacho's and  a Titanic beer.

Richard Sharon and Sue.

Thursday, both crews decided not to move as it was another glorious day. The morning saw paint and brasso come out, the afternoon saw tea and G&T's on the canal bank while we all worked hard doing nothing in particular.
Sharon, Andy  & Richard.

In the evening Sue made us all a tasty pork goulash, which we had with wine and laughter. There are now 5 empty bottles of wine to dispose of .. this oakapple crew are a bad influence

I'm sure that whisky bottle was full before Richard got hold of it

Monday, 20 April 2015

Devils Garden to Devils Garden

 We left the mooring at 09:15, a cloudless blue sky but a niggling cool breeze from the east is still present.

From here the Weaver valley opens out to large farmsteads with fields of cows and sheep, a calf still wobbly on it's legs is being washed by mum. After the M56 the rural setting disappears and is replaced by yet more chemical works that stretch from here to Western Point two miles away, the town of Runcorn is behind these works. The Weaver ends at Western Point a lock at Western Marsh allows passage onto the Manchester Ship Canal.

The busy M56 motorway ahead
 We winded FL, after filling the water tank at Sutton swing bridge we retraced our course and put the pins in at Devils Garden again.

It could be easy to be rude about the Weaver but I wont,  it is what it is, shaped by it's past. A waterway route canalised in places to get 1000 ton ships to the now decaying wharfs to move cargo from industry to the Manchester Ship Canal and the world beyond. The Thames it is not, no affluent residences along it's length but it still has charm with it's mix of industrial and rural sections. It has huge locks with very friendly and helpful lock keepers, there is  hardly a flow to the water, it has history and some fine bridges..... and of course it has the Anderton Lift, a stand alone reason to make this trip.

I have been researching Devils Garden on the river Weaver to how it was so named, the best explanation is from Frodsham's Brewery who also make an ale using the name.

"It would seem that Devils Garden is a name the locals have given to an ex marl quarry in Kingsley. When the quarry closed it became a marshy area and it is reputed that animals including dogs and even people have fallen in NEVER to be seen again!"

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Barnton to Devils Garden

Flipping freezing when we left Barnton this morning, hats and gloves were in addition to coats. 

A short cruise to Saltisford Lock where Ian the keeper locks us through, we are out in the countryside proper now, cruising through a quiet green valley. The only humans around are in a touring caravan park on the south bank and at Acton swing bridge where there is a waterside (two for one meals) pub and unusually for the Weaver a few waterside residences.  

Just before Dutton lock there is a derelict boat that has been slowly breaking up since 1993, (no money left in the kitty to remove it). The lock keeper informs us there is a 70 strong canoe race taking place in the next reach, canoes I don't mind, at least they are looking where they are going unlike rowers. We moor before the racing crews arrive at Devils Garden, a nice isolated spot.

We have set the satellite dish up and will watch the F1 this afternoon while a leg of lamb roasts in the Epping stoves oven.

Semaphore signals controlled access to locks in the past.

Saltisford lock could probably lift/lower 15 FL's in one go.

Caravan park.

22 year old wreck.
Exiting Dutton lock, Dutton viaduct carrying the West Coast Main Line in the background.

Devils Garden mooring.

Devils garden.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Vale Royal to Barnton

We left the Vale Royal moorings at 09:45, sun with a chilly breeze again. On the south bank a salt works is spread out for a mile its conveyor belts rattling the salt into a huge silo. The spoil from this industry are in huge mountains heaps along the bank, one of the heaps is covered in plastic sheeting.

At Winsford we winded and retraced our route back through two locks, a short stop at Waitrose in Northwich for supplies and we were passing the Anderton lift to starboard and the huge Brunner Mond chemical plant ,with it's huge wharfs to port, soda ash and polythene are created here , some of the buildings look derelict.

Once we get past the works things begin to improve, the channel becomes a meandering rural river. We moor at Barnton which for us is the best part of the river we have seen so far. Behind the towpath hedge a dairy herd is grazing on the hillocks between the gorse bushes. The sun's warm, time to get a paint brush out again.
Barton Mooring

Friday, 17 April 2015

River Weaver

Friday - After I had visited the Anderton lift visitor centre we cast of from our mooring on the banks of a nature park for our first cruise up river on the Weaver. The river takes us back to Northwich this time passing through the town, there are three swing bridges in town all of a suitable height for FL to pass under comfortably. A handy Waitrose is canalside, Sue has earmarked a stop there on our return journey.


We rang Hunt Lock lockkeeper as we passed under Navigation bridge and he had the lock ready for us as we approached. There are two locks side by side, one is huge, we used the smaller of them which still dwarfed FL. The keeper sends down a line for you to tie your centre line to which he hauls up and ties to a bollard then manually opens the sluice. The side sluice keeps FL gently against the lock wall as we rise.

As we left, the helpful lockie told us he would ring Vale Royal lock to let them know we were on our way, sure enough the lock was ready when we arrived half hour later.

Town swing bridge

Hunt lock.

A Cogged quadrant opens\closes the gate.

Unusual lock ladder.

I like the lines of this vessel.

We are now moored at Vale Royal Cut.