Rewind to Monday 4th May
Middlewich to Anderton
It was the most perfect day for cruising today – sunny and hot, with a distinct absence of the wind that has enjoyed pushing us around the canal the last few days.
The fine weather incentivised us to get moving, and we shouldn’t have been surprised at the number of boats on the move, though strangely after the busy junction, the Trent and Mersey beyond Big Lock is relatively deserted.
The passing traffic meant that all the locks were set our way – we still had time to buy some cakes from an enterprising family who had set of a lockside cake stall to raise money for charity – yum! :-)
We had a smooth turn and passage through the Middlewich locks – there is an awkward turn between two of the narrow locks with a dry dock right on the angle. A man from the boatyard was very anxious when he saw Indigo Dream coming out of the lock above – he cautioned me not to touch the stop planks – they’d drained the dock that morning and were afraid that I might dislodge a plank and re-flood it! In all my passages through this section, I’ve never touched the dock, but the boatyard boys watched me avidly (no pressure) until I got past cleanly (to their grudging respect!).
Once we were past the locks, we stopped off at the rubbish tip on the left hand side. While Richard was ditching our rubbish, I noticed a few boats passing the other way – past a little plastic cruiser moored innocuously (but untidily) on the towpath side. Just after we set off, a boat came round the bend towards us at speed – there was plenty of room for us to pass each other alongside the moored boat, but I was surprised that the oncoming boat didn’t slow down at all. He passed at speed and the man in the moored cruiser went ballistic – it’s one thing to shout “slow down” from your side-hatch, it’s quite another to stalk down the towpath issuing death threats to the passing boat; mind you, the speeding boat did nothing for boater relations by saying “can’t hear you” to the man yelling furiously at him. The whole thing was really unpleasant and, in the end, I had to muse on the fundamental truth that two wrongs could never make a right.
But we soon put it behind us and had a blissfully peaceful cruise along one of my favourite stretches of canal – the Trent and Mersey is stunning, surrounded by lush countryside and teasing us with glimpses of the Weaver Valley below. It’s a canal which lends itself to contemplation – I marvelled, again, at the beauty of the English countryside. In the brief breath between the blowsy gaudiness of the ornamental cherries and the delicate awakening of the apple blosson, there’s time for the greening. There is nothing to compare with the multi-hued extravaganza of the trees as their leaves unfurl in every shade of green.
I’ve always dreamt of mooring at the flashes – they are so scenic, reminiscent of Tixall Wide but not such a mooring hotspot. We’ve never managed to time it right for an overnight stop, but we did moor for lunch in an idyllic spot flanked by a shallow lake on the other side of the towpath. I’d hoped that the hounds would have a cooling dip in the lake, but they decided to have a quick zoom around before going back to the sofa :-)
I don’t have much more in my notebook – I did note that Oakwood “marina” – currently just a few posts in the water, is advertising “pre-completion discounts”. I had a wry thought that it should really be a pre-commencement discount!
Northwich always feels like Indigo Dream’s spiritual home because this is where her build was finished by the ever-obliging Olympus Narrowboats. So it was that Richard dropped me off on the exact spot where Indigo Dream was moored for several weeks while we chased our original boatbuilder to get her finished. The plan was for me to get a cab back to the car in Nantwich while Richard took the boat up to Anderton to find a 14 day mooring as close to Uplands Marina as possible. That would enable the yard’s boys to finish the snagging list.
The stretch up to the Anderton service block is mainly 48 hour moorings, but Richard found a small section between the 48 hour post and the service mooring where we could leave the boat. I soon caught up with the boat and we soon packed up and headed for home.
It’s a long old drive home and we’re becoming very aware of the distance involved in this year’s odyssey, so it’s likely that we’ll cruise long weekends this year, but less frequently (hope that makes sense).