Rewind to Saturday 7th September
Congleton to Gurnett
We made a big decision today – after looking at the logistics every which way, we decided to stop the daily car shuffles and leave the car in Congleton until we came back round to Middlewich. Although it’s always reassuring to have the car as a backup, it was a daily chore for Richard and we never did fulfil our plan of using it to explore sights away from the canal.
I started the day with a dog walk back towards Lamberts Lane Bridge, a fine turnover bridge which, back in the day, allowed for easy passage of barge horses when the towpath changed side. It was quite early by Indigo Dream standards, so I hadn’t really taken in the fact that it was a turnover bridge. Imagine my alarm then when Ollie, who was off lead, vanished! He’d gone over the bridge and right down to the towpath on the other side. He has these “plan Ollie” moments and I do sometimes worry that he is becoming a bit senile; but sometimes I think that he knows exactly what he’s about and just enjoys giving me a heart attack! Because of Ollie, we ended up walking a bit further than we intended, but it was another very fine morning so it didn’t matter…
Once we’d done the dog walking and feeding, we took advantage of the car to take a trip to Tesco and stock up our food/drink supplies. When we got back, a new boat was moored behind us. They were just tying up and the man of the boat seemed quite pleasant until we let the hounds up on deck (not on the towpath and nowhere near him!). He then went on to regale us with his opinion of dogs and their owners. Now, we sometimes meet people who are scared of dogs, we sometimes meet cat people, but it’s very rare to meet someone who just doesn’t like dogs. He really didn’t like them or their owners and he didn’t understand why anyone would want a dog, or why people talk to their dogs etc etc etc ad infinitum. Now you may have noticed that we love dogs and I often natter to my hounds – all in all, we thought it was best to just move Indigo Dream as soon as possible! Who’d have thought there would be such a disturbed individual (him not me, obviously!) on the waterways :-D
We had a great sense of anticipation as we cruised toward the Bosley Locks – they’re a great favourite of ours and we’ve yearned to return there. Aah, they didn’t disappoint – they were every bit as lovely as we remembered. Although we got into our usual rhythm at the lock flight, we had a rather sedate passage as we got behind a single-hander who was very slow indeed and had a tendency to leave the top gates open behind him (until Richard went up to help him and hinted that he shouldn’t!). But the Bosley is to be savoured so we benefited from the sight-seeing time!
When we set out from Congleton, we passed a family who were just getting ready for a canoe trip. We had assumed they were just having a little paddle around the town, but they caught up with us at Lock 6, having paddled, then portaged, all the way. This is a pretty serious journey for the young ones in the group, realy well done. Like us, they were no strangers to logistics – they were camping on the greensward on the offside of lock 6 and had shuffled their car to the bridge above the lock so that they could easily pick up their camping gear and other supplies.
The Bosley flight was very quiet, with very few other walkers, so Archie lock-wheeled most of the way with Richard. Henry Beanz settled into running between a lock then cadging a lift up to the next, while Ollie just got off for bimbles at each lock but did not run between them. Well, not until we got to the short stretch between locks 4 and 5, where he indulged in some joyful zooming. Ollie does love to run, but because of a chronic muscle weakness caused by being starved by his previous owners, he does pay tend to pay for zoomies with stiffness later :-(
Luckily I had the greyhounds on board as we approached the top lock, because we met some truly badly behaved terriers with their well-to-do owners (judging by the shooting set clothes they were wearing). As Richard tried to cycle up the path, the two terriers set about nipping his ankles, making it impossible for him to move on. The owners did absolutely nothing to stop this behaviour or admonish their dogs, though they did say that it would “serve them right” if Richard ran them over. Quite extraordinary!
We got to the top of the Bosley towards the late afternoon; we now had a long lock-free pound ahead until we reached the Marple flight. We knew we wouldn’t reach Marple top today, but we weren’t sure how far to go. The weather continued to be fair so it wasn’t a chore to keep cruising and with the boat full of supplies, it wasn’t essential for us to find a pub.
Our first potential stop was the Fool’s Nook, another familiar haunt from our time on nb Dragonfly – but we were surprised to find that the pub is closed and up for sale. We carried on with a vague second target of Macclesfield. However by 6.30pm, I was feeling a bit weary, so we stopped at the wonderfully picturesque Gurnett aqueduct. By 7pm we were in the nearby Old Kings Head pub, which we really enjoyed as it was dog-friendly, cosy and served good, but plain, pub grub. It was a good end to a good day :-)