Been a bit slack with my blog so all I am doing for now is keeping my Map up todate with where we are.
For the real information and supurb photos follow Diana at.
Saturday 23rd June. Etruria.
In to Hanley in the afternoon to look through the museum, The Spitfire is away having it's restoration completed and should be on display next year. in the meantime there is a modern skeleton of a spitfire where it will go. A visit to a mall to forful a Diana need then back to the boat.
Sunday 24th June. 4 miles 3 locks, 2 lift bridges.
Diana walks to the first 2 locks which are a staircase. Has a think about it for a while then sets them with the bottom one empty and the top one full. we are going up. All works according to plan and we wander through some sharp corners as we leave Stoke on Trent. I remember having trouble getting Llanarrow around them 8 years ago and now having the same trouble with a10ft shorter boat. We pull up at a pub just before Milton to see if they do Sunday Roasts later in the day as Jim & Anne will be passing through. Place not suitable so we move on a few hundered yards and moor up. Jim gives us a call mid afternoon and we pass on our location. They are just 9 miles away and we are soon together. We decide on a canal side pub at Denford that we are driven to. A couple of pints and a meal then time to go back to the boat so Jim & Anne can drive home to Preston.
Monday 25th June. 7 1/2 miles, 5 locks, 1 tunnel.
We continue up the Caldon to the point where the Leek branch diverges to the right then crosses over the main line which is now 3 locks below. This is new to us and is a lovely canal but which after going through a tunnel terminates short of Leek. After turning the boat ready for the return trip we moor up have tea then walk the 1/2 hour into Leek. We had been here before by car with Alan & Marian. Diana remembers a lot more than I had. Some interesting brick and other buildings which had us taking photos till dusk before a long trek back to the boat. absolutely buggered.
Tuesday,26th June. 5 miles. 5 locks, 1 tunnel.
Back track down the Leek Branch to do a you turn back onto the main line. Down three locks, under the Leek Branch and then just around the corner is the Holly Bush Pub. This is where we had eaten on Sunday. It is lunch time with no moorings outside we go around the corner to find one and walk back. A long lunch, a pint, hot day, two more locks and we are done for the day. We soon find a wall to moor up to. It is a bit high for Diana to climb off the boat but time out is required..
Wednesday 27th June. 1/2mile. 30miles on a stream train.
I take a walk and find a spot right outside The Boat Inn at Cheddleton and across from the Railway station. We buy an all day rover ticket. The Tea and scones special was full so missed out there. It was a bit of a pity as the dinning car was called "Diana". The train, pulled by a small Tank engine travels west to Froghall where we are off for 30min while the engine changes ends before heading east past Cheddleton to Leek Brook Junction. There is no station here so we stay aboard as the engine swaps ends again before returning to Cheddleton. What next? Do it again but this time we get a bite to eat at Froghall during the change ends performance. So thats it twice, remember today is a day for taking it easy so we do it again, They only do three trips a day. For a variation we get off at Consall, the stop before Froghall. This is a station in the middle of bush which is proudly looked after as part of the Vintage railway scene as it was in the 50-60's. Plenty of photo oportunities here. Talked to an engine driver who had much knowledge of steam operations. More photo's as the train came to pick us up and complete the last run of the day. Sitting on the boat The Boat inn looked inviting so after a pint and a meal it was bed time.
Thursday 28th June. 5miles, 3 locks.
A bit of a different start to the day. I was up early to put some paint on the boat before the heat set in. About 7 we get a knock on the boat asking to borrow a phone. This dog walker had found a deer stuck in a lock struggling to get out. He rang 999 and I picked up a windlass and rope before heading down the towpath to a lock he said was 3 miles away. 30 mins later, either a fast walker or a short 3 miles, I find the deer still struggling in a full lock. Best option is to empty the lock and hope he can stand on the bottom I hooked the rope around his antlers to hold his head above water. He couldn't touch the bottom of the empty lock so I talked to him as we waited the 10 min for the emergency services to arrive and take over. It was not to long before we opened the gate and negotiated him out of the lock and eventually he bolted across some farmlad towards the bush.
For the rest of the day Diana and I set off past the lock of drama where I explained what happened. After stopping for water at Consall Forge we continued past the Consall Railway station. The station and canal are so close that we pass under the cantilevered platform. The next lock was the limit of our travel in 2010 as it was the last place to turn a 70ft boat. With Molly Rose at 60 ft we could now continue to Froghall. Well almost as there is a low and narrow tunnel 400 yds before the end. We moored up and walked the rest to take the photos. We have now completed the Caldon Canal and Leek Branch. An interesting event was when in a narrow bit of the canal we meet two boats comingthe otherway (only boats we had seen all day) they decided to back up and we passed further on.
Friday 29th June. 51/2 miles, 5 locks.
We walked back to the Froghall Basin to look at the basket making place and visit "Hetty"s Tea Shop" which had been recomended by one of the boaties we passed yesterday. I would say the best cafe type food we have had here and at a reasonable price too. It has my recomendation for boaters and other travellers to partake. After that Lunch we head back up the canal and end up outside the Flint Mill at Cheddleton. Take the evening walk into town, visited a School Fayre and ended up at the Black Lion which had been recomended by a local a few days ago.
Monday 18th June.
It's great to have met locals, some of which have become good friends. The Canal in Cogleton runs along the side of the hill near the top. Today we are taken to Tescos at the bottom of the hill so we can load up and have it brought to the top by car. Diana & I go back into the village part of the town in the afternoon. Charity shops get the going over.
Tuesday 19th June.
Once again we are taken touring. Lunch at a delighfull Pub on the outskirts of Gawsworth, followed by the long way home via Rudyard Lake and over the hill back to Congleton.
Wednesday 20th June, 11 miles, 1 Lock, I Tunnel.
A leisurley meander south with a stop for rain, visit a boat yard to enquire about selling Molly, fill with water and arrive at Harecastle tunnel as a flotilla of 7 boats are about to enter. Was a bit rushed but we joined on behind, following a working boat and Butty. Through in 36 minutes which is about average for us. Continued on to moor up at Westport Lake, Stoke on Trent. More discussion on Food but this time it is Diana wants to go to "Lidl", a mile away. Good choice as there is a new business opened in Tunstall just up from the canal. Must come back tomorrow when it is open.
Off to the "Tool Station". Turned out to be a cataloge type operation similar to Argos. Might have been new to me but there are 300 branches in the UK and this one had been open 3 weeks. For those on boats wanting maintenance things for their boats this place is very convenient. Cross bridge 128 and go up hill. Next we are off to Burslem which has some magnificant buildings that we haven't seen since 2010. Not much has changed but we both have better cameras to record the images. On our way back to the boat around 1800 we toss the coin to see which way to go around a busy roundabout with very few predestrian options. The coin fell rightway up. We came across one of those back street gems and although closed were invited in after Diana had her face pressed to the window for a while. We were in a Chininey Pot Museum. It was closed for removations nether the less after a brief Health and safety briefing we picked our way through a magnificant collection of pilled up chimeny pots. Facinating guy who has been collecting, renovating and selling pots for 40 plus years. He is hoping to have the museum building structure repaired and the pots back on display to reopen his museum when the ceramic poppies are brought to Middleport for display in a month or two. Just down from bridge 126. If we get the chance we will visit again.
Friday 22nd June. 3 miles.
Compulsory stop at Middleport potteries today. Just managed to squeeze molly on behind another boat on the mooring outside the potteries and lost Diana for three hours while she supported the English economy. I fiddled around on the boat. She did come back with an RAF 100 aniversary mug for me from the pottery next door. It will be treasured. As we left and moved around the corner we found extra moorings have been developed in front of the pottery. Arrived at Etruria, filled with water and now moored up for a couple of days on the Caldon Canal.
Sunday 17th June. 4 1/2 miles.
Hair wash day and as a special treat after all the work the lock girl did yesterday we put the generator on the towpath to run her hair dryer. Also did some washing and found that the combined washing machine and hair dryer were too much power so we delayed the washing. All's well now. Wwe set off for Congleton with a stop for water on the way and a bite for lunch on the move. Arrived and moored up just 300yds from Alan and Marian's. Walked there and then it was off to Congleton Park and a free Brass Bands concert to celebrate Fathers day. It was a bit cold but we were dressed appropriately. Music was good especially a youth Steel band from Stockport. Railway pub for a roast and then coffee back at Alan & Marian's to finish the day.
Friday 15th June, 7 1/2 mile + 4 miles on foot.
Set off from our base of 4 days at Bollington. Stopped for water in Macclesfield. then soon after stopped again for lunch and have a chat to Richard on his birthday. From there we walked through Dane Moss to visit Gawsworth Hall in the village of Gawsworth. Diana had checked their website for details. What it didn't tell you was that today they are closed to the public, so best we could do was take a few pictures from the road and visit the church. Walked through the village before returning via Dane Moss. Back on the boat we continue to the top of the Bosley locks, a flight of 12. 3 kiwis from Tauranga moor up behind for the night.
Saturday 16th June. 1 1/2 miles, 12 locks, 118 feet vertically.
Rained most of the night so when we woke there was no enthusiasim to tackle the locks. We turned the heater on and waved to the 3 kiwi's as they set off, having to get their boat back by Monday morning. Rained on and off till about 1300. By 1400 we decided it was worth moving although thunderstorms are forcast. These are the first locks since coming up them in September 2016. Diana goes to set the lock, looks at them a few times then comes back to confirm which paddel has to be opened. I reminded her that water flows down hill. There were some difficulties on the way down with low water and going aground in a couple of the pounds. As we approached lock number 11 the thunderstorm arrived so we put the boat in the lock and stayed inside waiting for the heavy rain to stop. Good plan except another boat coming down caught up with us so we had to move on during a really heavy downpour. I kept the boat under a bridge while Diana set the lock. We are now at the bottom, rain stopped, and we moor up for a dry but cool pleasant evening.
Wednesday 13th June.
The beacon (White Nancy) on the hill above Bollington beckons again. We have been told about different ways to climb up there. We set off the way we went the first time and got to the near vertical climb bit, read the instructions and realise they are still the same so take a different route which proves to be an easier. Still worth the climb but the weather is overcast and hazy with a cold wind so are not there for long. Return via some different streets and see a bit more of this quaint village. Return to a familiar cafe for lunch then back to the boat mid afternoon. Diana goes food shopping and returns via her favourite charity store. Third visit in two days. I do some prep work on patching bruise marks on Molly's hull.
Thursday 14th June.
Walk down the towpath to Dave & Angie's boat to meet up and take a bus to Maccesfield then Alderly Edge. Bit of a mix up with the driver who sold us an all day ticket that only worked for the first 3 mile leg of a 4 trip journey. Alderly Edge is the centre of the "Footballers Triangle" and all the footballers wives are said to give there cast off (worn once) clothes to the charity shops. Not so says Diana. The bus stop for the return journey is outside a Waitrose supermarket so I make a small and important purchase before catching the bus home again via Maccesfield. I do some paint touch up and finish the day with a simple tea of cheese and Tomatoes on toast.
Sunday 10th June. 1/2 mile
Moved down canal a bit. Time for a pump out and icecream. took on water and moored up a little south of Higher Poynton. A quick lunch and then off to Lyme Park. Did the walk we normally do. Up hill all the way for near on an hour. The reward was scone with jam and cream. Diana went to the house to check out what was a good secondhand book stall but it has changed and now not that good. Then it was the hour walk back to the boat Down hill! There was a bit of rain about so didn't think it worth going on today.
Monday 11th June. 3 1/2 miles.
Away at a reasonable hour with the intention to get to Bollington embankment when the overnight stayers have left. Good idea but most had stayed leaving one berth for us. So thats good but not so good for Dave and Angie we are meeting here. They come past mid afternoon and carry on a mile or so, turn around but there are still no berths for them. They sit alongside for a while as we chat and catchup before heading off to find another mooring. See you tomorrow.
Tuesday 12th June.
Dave and Angie have turned their boat again and come looking for a mooring with us but nobody has left this morning so it is carry on and turn again. By the time of their return one boat has left and they can fit into a mooring 3 boats away. So today is a meeting of boating Friends. There is us. Angie and Dave who we met comming out of Liverpool in 2014. Pat & Roger who we met going into liverpool arrive by car for a very pleasent lunch and chat in a local pub. Mid afternoon the car people leave us, Angie and Diana go charity shopping and the boys sit on the back of Dave's new boat and chew the fat for an hour or two.
Wednesday 23 May,
Another day for recovery. Did eventually wash the top and one side of the boat. With that done the mooring ropes are attached and other bits and pieces back on top. Diana spent the afternoon walking the towpath the otherway to Whaley Bridge to do what Diana has to do. A three hour trip of which 1hr was walking.
Thursday 24th May,
The inside of the boat is now looking clean and tidy. In the afternoon walked up to Furness Vale where there is a Community Centre operating a shop, Post Office and cafe. It is only open for 3 hrs, 2 days a week and looks like it is the center for oldies. As we left Diana got talking to a local from Whaley Bridge and she walks down the tow path once a week for a cuppa tea and walks home again via a public path. We got talked into going with her which involved a long drag up the hill above the village. At the point I said it was enough for me. I was inticed to continue to a seat overlooking the valley below. By now it is down hill and we are at the half way point so carry on we do. From the top we can see a 10mile track we have walked before so I had better not be a wimp now. We Carry on down into Whaley Bridge stopping at a local farm for fresh eggs and tomatoes. Our guide leaves us in town at the ice cream shop. From there it is on the flat along the towpath home with a stop at Tesco's for a few bits. about three hours away.
Friday 25th May,
Cold with showers most of the day. The Eberspacher (diesel heater) worked a treat so we stayed warm and cosy until a walk to get some picnic food for tomorrow's adventure with Jim & Anne. Packed our bag, put the covers back on Molly and set her up to leave for a few days.
Saturday, 19 May,
Back to the boat, Cleaning ,sorting checking until a voice from inside tells me that Meghan is on her way.
Into the car back to the let where there is a reasonable sized TV to watch the wedding. All over by 1400 so back to the Cleaning, Sorting & checking. Another ready meal at the let and feet up for the night.
Sunday, 20 May,
Pack the car and leave the let. Now it is time to start putting all the clothing back where we can find them. After lunch we remember early closing on Sundays so off to Tesco's to fill the cupboards. Oat cakes & Pork Pies are in the trolly to add two more ticks to our english favorites. With every thing on board we feel like we are back in the grove except I have taken over Diana's sore throat and runny nose and am short of energy.
Shortly after 5pm we hear a call from across the canal. Jim & Anne of "Pilky's tours" were in the area so called in to see us. We had a great old catchup but declined to join them for a meal, mainly due to my energy levels and we would be spending Bank holiday weekend with them next week. Early to bed.
Monday, 21 May,
The car is due back at 1130 so we drive to Hazel Grove and then catch a bus to Stockport. This being the 4th year we have been into the same phone shop to set up a data plan and get a new simcard for Diana you would expect it to be simple. This year the data plan was established quite quickly. Diana's simcard, another story. We keep the same number by sending each other a text every six months on our UK simcards. As soon as I put mine in at the airport it worked. Diana has changed her phone and needed a smaller card which I thought would be simple, but no when they tried to find her number it had been disconected, Why? the rules have changed and you need to use the phone every 3 months. We last used it 3 months and 5 days ago. The end result after 60min on the phone, is that she can reactivate her number but they have to post the card to her. All going well we will have the card this weekend and she will have a phone again.
Tuesday, 22 May,
Diana has had a busy day as I spent it doing very little. Up for breakfast then back to bed. Up for lunch and make the bed. Diana has spent the morning on domestic duties which I slept through. After lunch she walked into New Mills to do whatever she had to do. I could only manage a few tasks but feeling a little better. Hoping for better tomorrow.
Wednesday 17 August. 10 miles, 1 lock.
Looking to put in a big day. Away before 0900 traveling around the edge of Milton Keynes. Mostly amongst trees and parkland with a few clumps of houses. Many moored up boats to trickle past until we get to Wolverton where we spend 1 1/2 hours supermarket shopping. I decide not to stop for lunch to make up some time. 2 miles later we are into the first of the locks up to Bilsworth tunnel. For 5 miles there are no towns on the canal but the view and atmosphere make for a nice days boating. We reach the bottom of a flight of 7 locks but because of the heat moor up for a while. At the top of the locks is Stoke Bruerne, a well known canal centre where CRT have a museum. I walk up the locks to check it out while Diana puts her feet up. Too much walking to villages recently and her hip is playing up. I don't know what the Temperature is today but working locks with no shade doesn't seem like a good idea. I spend some time in the museum and make plan for tommorow. I wont tell you the plan I will blog what happend later.
Tuesday 16 August. 8 1/2 miles, 1 lock.
About an hour into the morning travel we go down Fenny Stratford lock. The drop is a masive 1ft 1inch and takes us to the bottom of the hill with 11 miles before we start up the other side. The Canal Guide suggests we vist Willen and Great Linford so stop for lunch at the bridge giving us access to Willen then off to find the Church of interest. 20 minues later we arrive to find the church locked and the main point of interest is inside. Wander around for a while ad then see a note with a phone number to ring for access. Shortly after we are in. The ceiling is very tall for the relitvel small church and inerior is painted pink, picked out in white and gold. Quite different. Back to the boat with less than a mile to moor up for Great Linford. We take what looks like the quickest route and end up at the top end of the interesting part with thatched, brick and stone buildings. Then down past the pub to the old Manor House and associated church and buildings. We walk back to the boat along the tow path and this isn't the quikest route. Back on the boat and move to moor up opposite where we have just been. Not a long day travelling but a lot of walking so we are left with a few miles to catch up tomorrow.
Monday 15 August. 5 miles, 5 locks.
Walked into Leighton Buzzard for a look around. It is a Market Town with a good selection of shops in the main street. There are a few chain stores but they are generally in adjacent streets so don't detract from the Market Town Feel. Diana had a fix of Charity shops, before lunch & internet at Costa. Bought a small amount of food before going back to the boat and headed off around 2. We went past a large hire boat company before the first lock and were imediately followed by hire boats. Very pleased we didn't leave any latter as we were 2nd in the que already. We meandered through the country side for 3 miles before reaching a flight of 3 locks. Volunteers were on hand to help and organise who should do what. Interesting results some times with pairs of boats going up and down which requires a crossover in small pounds between the locks. Carried on to do one more lock and as we approached I could see it was going to be difficult to moor up with a boat on the lock mooring. When we got there the couple of the boat were pocking around in the hedge so assumed they were picking blackberries. No the were trying to catch a baby Moorhen. It was covered in green paint. There was paint stuck to tree roots and the side of the canal. Looks like a pot of paint had been dropped while painting a boat, We have past a number of boats moored up with crew out with paint brushes today. Back to the moorhen, The one in the hedge was eventually caught with a net when it came out into the open. When we left they were trying to entice another one with bread and the net at the ready. They were planing on taking them to a vet to get cleaned up. Soon after we moored up. Interestingly the bloke on the Green boat behind us was removing masking tape from his boat. I finished the day preforming an oil change.
Sunday 14 August. 5 1/2 miles, 9 locks.
Away a bit later this morning but still at a good time. A couple of old boats had gone down the lock so I went to fill it up before we got underway, and what did I find? A windlass. Even the long time boaters can have a memory lapse. As we are following the old boats we have to fill each lock before we go down so progress is not fast. At the second lock we are pleased to see a boat catching up but alas they are travelling with another so we are still left to go down by ourselves. The locks are spaced out a bit more now so there is a sence of a rest between each one. We are in open country and in many places there are no hedge rows so we can enjoy the panaramic views. Around lunch time we see an advert for a nearby pub so phone to make a booking. Not interested in walking the 880yrds to find out they are booked up. It was a 16th century Thatched, village pub with a carvery. In the past most places with a carvery are big and very commercial, this retained its village character and provided a good range of meats and veg with a complimentary ice cream to finish. Diana had a Stem Ginger sticky pudding. No room for tea tonight! Took a few photos around the village of Slapton before walking back to the boat and continuing on through 2 more locks before mooring up just short of Leighton Buzzard. In the distance we hear a brass band playing and contemplate walking into town but, enough is enough, we have been on our feet all day.
Saturday 13 August. 7 miles, 16 locks.
Away at a reasonable hour and slowly worked our way through the first 4 locks by ourselves. Although we were still in Berkhamsted it felt like a country canal. At lock 5 Diana gives a gasp "Where's my windlass?" Yep it is at the last lock. There was a Heron there and the camera was in full flight and the usual sequence of events when we leave a lock was broken. Most of the climb so far the locks are reasonably close, this one was a good 3/4 mile behind us. Off she went at a good pace hoping that no one would have taken her most precious windlass in the collection. This gave me the chance to prove to myself that I could, if need be, take the boat through a lock solo. Well I can. Takes time and one doesn't want to rush and get something wrong. Once I was through it was about the time I expected Diana back so moored up and wandered back down the canal and found her at the first corner with a happy face. 2 locks later we are at the top of the hill. 420ft above the river. We trundeled along for about 3 miles and stopped for lunch before it is time to change the mindset and start down the otherside. There is a flight of 6 locks and while trying to get enough water into a leaky lock to open the gate another boat appears. They were a great help as their boat lives nearby and they are very familiar with the locks and they have a crew of 3. We were going so well until a boat comming up got caught by the wind and turned him right around so that he had to go into the lock backwards. This all takes time. Last lock has an ice ream shop so we managed to lick away at one of those. The other boat left us at the bottom of the flight and we continued managing to join another boat through the next 2 before they stopped for the night around a couple of corners to a swing bridge which was opened by a nearby fisherman and we stop before the next lock. Generator out and 3 woads of washing done before diner and an early night.
Wednesday 10 August. 6 miles, 12 locks.
Left our smelly mooring and went up the first two locks before we pass aTesco supermarket with moorings provide, would be sill not to stop. At the next lock we are joined by another boat. First time we have shared a lock so far. At this lock there is a Canal Centre so we plan on stopping and loosing our companion. As it turns out there are no moorings so we see them again at the next lock. After that we let them go when we stop for lunch. With lunch over we are preparing to move when a boat goes passed so we race off behind them and go through the next 8 locks with them. We had seen them several times before on the Oxford, Thames & Grand union. After the last lock they have a spot ahead where they plan to spend the night and we take the first available mooring which is behind the first boat we shared a lock with. Finised the day with a walk around the old part of Hunton Bridge.