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The Odyssey 2009: Day 48

Posted by indigodream on 15 September, 2009

Wednesday 9th September

Rode Heath to Kidsgrove Junction

A view from the top of Lock 53 - the water's already a strange colour; you can't see it from here but that valley is very deep

A view from the top of Lock 53 - the water's already a strange colour; you can't see it from here but that valley is very deep

The day dawned bright today – both in terms of the weather and of my spirits (especially with the memory of our convivial evening out last night). Well, I say ‘dawned’, after our uncharacteristically late night the crew’s collective name of the ‘Indigo Dreamers’ was well-earned!

We had a relaxed morning, noting how few boats actually slowed down going past us. But despite our ‘tuttings’, Indigo Dream didn’t move an inch – that’s the power of a properly tied mooring!

Once we were up and about we once again divided our labours. Richard took the car off to Kidsgrove but this time he’d have to cycle back to our mooring spot. The locks come thick and fast here and I didn’t fancy single-handing through them. Never mind, it’s only 3 linear miles and it’s downhill! Kidsgrove is a good place for the car – there’s free parking at the station and we had worked out that he should be able to get a train back from our journey’s end on Saturday.

The attractively curved parapet of Snapes aqueduct

The attractively curved parapet of Snapes aqueduct

In the meantime, I walked the dogs up to lock 53 and, by coincidence, found a perfect rummaging spot; head for the derelict buildings below the lock and go through the open gates to the field beyond – there’s a well-worn path (though I’m not sure if it’s an ‘official’ footpath) which winds its way through the field and gives great views to the deep Dane Valley below. Blue and Lou had a great time here, rummaging through the overgrown thistles, looking for rabbits.

I was surprised by how lively the dogs were today – they’ve spent most of the day rummaging around the locks. There’s a certain pattern to their behaviour. If you want to find Blue then look to the next lock – he’s always scouting ahead; if you want to find Lou then look to the lock behind, she’ll be fast asleep in the grass and won’t catch up until she absolutely has to!

The canal finally decided what it wanted to be today – a beautiful and rural waterway well-suited to leisure boaters (and their rummaging greyhounds). The weather was stunning – we’re often lucky at this time of year.

Very scenic around these dramatic deep paired locks

Very scenic around these dramatic deep paired locks

Today’s stretch of the Trent & Mersey was very scenic. There are fine views over to the  distant Mow Cop, rearing dramatically over the landscape in complete contrast to the dusky depths of the Dane Valley nearby.

There were lots of boats on the move today – a nice mix of private and hire boats. We swapped locks with nb Muffin, whose owner was wearing a WRG tee-shirt. I wondered if they were on their way back from the IWA National.

Lou has spent a serious amount of time just lying the grass by each lock today. She seemed strangely reluctant to lie on her sofa. I think she really enjoys the feel of sunshine on her fur. We had to call her at almost every lock – she’d have just stayed at the bottom lock all day if she’d had the chance. It was good to see her bounding joyfully between locks though. The vet said she should be hopping lame with the level of arthritis in her knee – she proved him wrong today. Mind you, I did confine her to the boat later, we do now have to keep an eye on her exercise to get the balance between her having a good life and not putting too much strain on her joints.

The view over to the Mow Cop

The view over to the Mow Cop

We did meet another greyhound couple today – they were on a hire boat coming down at lock 48. Sadly they’ve left their greyhound at home – she’s too keen (i.e. has a high prey drive) and they didn’t trust her not to leap off the boat or down the towpath after little creatures. Fortunately ours aren’t quite so bad though I did keep an eye on them – there are an inordinate number of tiny Yorkshire Terriers along this stretch…..

Note: There are a number of footpaths leading off the towpath into the surrounding countryside around Lock 48

After a solid few hours of locking, we stopped for lunch at Church Lawton – there are moorings here and they seem to be 14-day – a useful spot for the future.

We weren’t plagued by the ‘rural’ aromas today, though we did wonder at nb Mellow, which has a permanent mooring by a large farm and it’s attendant giant tank of slurry. The tank has a ‘skull and crossbones’ warning sign plus a note saying “dangerous gases: do not enter”. Well, maybe the mooring’s very cheap…..

Services and moorings at the BW Yard at Red Bull

Services and moorings at the BW Yard at Red Bull

Note: There’s a lively bywash below Lock 46

We reached the famous Red Bull services by mid-afternoon – there are good 48-hour moorings here as well as the usual services. The moorings are a bit close to the road for our dogs though the yard may be gated at night. There are also mooring rings above Lock 42 – this seemed like a pleasant spot though it’s shallow offside.

We got to the last of the day’s locks and made a dash for the Harecastle Tunnel; we’d estimated that we’d be just in time to get through. But there was a narrowboat and its disgruntled crew waiting at the moorings. It’s a very long story but as of September 1st the tunnel’s on its “normal” opening hours – a few slow boats and a generally unhelpful attitude meant that the boats coming through from the South wouldn’t be out in time for us to start our trip, even though it was only 3.30pm.

That's the Macclesfield Canal being carried above us on this unassuming aqueduct....

That's the Macclesfield Canal being carried above us on this unassuming aqueduct....

Now we’ve heard different things about whether it’s safe to moor overnight at the northern Harecastle portal so we decided not to risk it. It’s not a particularly nice place to stay anyway. Sadly there’s no room to wind at the portal so we reversed back to the junction, reversed onto the Macclesfield and moored up by Bridge 97 (Macclesfield), pointing the right way for the morning.

I was particularly proud of our reversing. The other boat had reversed back before us and within 100 yards had given up on the tiller – the male crew hopped onto the towpath and towed the boat back to the junction while the ‘missus’ fended the front off the bank with an old broom. In the meantime, I neatly reversed Indigo Dream back, with the assistance of Richard as my ‘bow thruster’, using the pole to make adjustments at the front. It was a swanky piece of work. Buoyed by my success in successfully reversing round a 90-degree junction (which I used to be nervous about going forwards in the Dragonfly!) I carried on back down the canal until I heard Richard utter the shocking words that I never thought I’d hear from his mouth –  “Sue, slow down, you’re going too fast…….”

Pleasant moorings above Lock 42, and only a short walk back to the pub at Red Bull

Pleasant moorings above Lock 42, and only a short walk back to the pub at Red Bull

It was very early when we moored up, so we settled down to some chores – Richard did some painting and polishing while I trimmed the deck mats, made the tea and caught up with the blog. He also had an expedition to Tesco – he’d thought it was very nearby, it’s not!

As we’ve moved further north, we’ve noticed that people are getting friendlier and kinder. Today was no exception – we’re moored below some back gardens. One of the locals popped his head over the hedge and offered us some pears – his tree’s had an abundant crops and he’s giving them away. He even delivered a bag to the boat.

Other than that, we’ve only seen one or two people on the towpath. Despite the proximity of the road bridge (and people shouting greetings from above) no-one seems to bother coming down to the towpath. My heart sank at 11.30pm when a mini-motorbike whizzed past the boat (twice) but we didn’t have any bother here at all.

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Photoblog:

I knew that Lou had overdone it yesterday

I knew that Lou had overdone it yesterday

Lou enjoying the landscape - this is her typical behaviour at locks....

Lou enjoying the landscape - this is her typical behaviour at locks....

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Intriguing footpaths off the towpath - there's plenty of countryside to explore around here

Intriguing footpaths off the towpath - there's plenty of countryside to explore around here

Some of the paired locks need more than a litte maintenance....

Some of the paired locks need more than a little maintenance....

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Seeing dates on the lock structures all adds to the interest - this one is 1895; see how 'rusty' the water is here....

Seeing dates on the lock structures all adds to the interest - this one is 1895; see how 'rusty' the water is here....

Unusual arch supports - reminds me of barrel staves

Unusual arch supports - reminds me of barrel staves

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Fine pack of 3 lurchers. We thought they might be too hot in the car but the owners, enjoying a lock0side pint, assured us that the dogs were ok.....

Fine pack of 3 lurchers. We thought they might be too hot in the car but the owners, enjoying a lockside pint, assured us that the dogs were ok.....

I was worried by the sight of this weed - this pernicious stuff is what's blocking the Wednesdbury Oak Loop on the BCN; Hopefully there are too many boat movements here to let it take hold....

I was worried by the sight of this weed - this pernicious stuff is what's blocking the Wednesdbury Oak Loop on the BCN; Hopefully there are too many boat movements here to let it take hold....

Precision parking.....

Precision parking.....

New boatyard - welcome comfort on the otherwise bleak final approach to the northern portal of the Harecastle tunnel

New boatyard - welcome comfort on the otherwise bleak final approach to the northern portal of the Harecastle tunnel

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