Tag Archives: Macclesfield

Day 25 – Farewell To The Big Mac

After our day out in Manchester, we set off this morning to overcast skies and a chilly wind, but no rain – hooray! Today’s our last day on the Macclesfield canal as we turn on to the Peak Forest canal.

There are so many pictures we could take of geese and ducks with their young, but we couldn’t resist this one with them all lined up in a row following Mummy.

Sadly not everything on the waterways looks as healthy as the geese above, with these two boats looking particularly poorly 🙁

It wasn’t too far before we reached Marple junction. For today, we turned right and onto the Peak Forest canal – we’ll be headed back the other way and down the Marple locks in a day or two. We’d got the wooly hats and warm coats out to keep the chill at bay.

This section is lock free, but there’s a good mix of lift and swing bridges, some electric and others like this one requiring a bit more muscle power.

The views remain spectacular all along this stretch. I’m not sure that I improved it though 😉

We’ve seen this boat before, but think maybe just on Facebook rather than in the flesh.

The canal forks in two towards the end, and we headed for Bugsworth basin. The basin was pretty much all filled in after the canals fell into disuse, but has been lovingly restored over many years starting in 1968, and finally reopening officially in 2005. Can you spot Oliver?

The site used to be a real hive of industrial activity, with lime kilns burning and shipments of coal, quick lime and various other cargoes constantly headed in and out. These days, it’s rather more tranquil.

Let us know your caption ideas for the above!

Day 24 – Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner

We decided to play at being tourists today and took the train in to Manchester. It was a mile walk along the disused railway track to Middlewood Station with trains once an hour.

We wanted to visit the Museum of Science and Industry, having visited some eight years ago on a hire boat while doing the Cheshire Ring. We walked along the canal and saw this fine horse sculpture tucked away.

Their show stopper item is the Stevenson’s Rocket, it was quite incredible to see such an old steam train (built in 1829), and how impressed folk were with it travelling 35mph – faster than a horse!

They also had a textile section, and demonstrations of the old working looms turning the raw cotton into reels of cotton. This is only a small sample of the number of machines that would have been in operation in a fully working mill, the noise must have been deafening.

Toby took a shine to ‘Baby’, a replica of the world’s first electronic stored-program computer built in Manchester in 1948. Quite a size when the phone in our pocket is more powerful.

We also had a look round the section with all the planes, and cars.

We had a go at the virtual reality experience, and a space experience hosted by Tim Peake. The views were from the International Space Station and then a landing in the Soyuz capsule. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like that, I’m sure we looked like a pair of muppets to those walking by, it was quite incredible to see the picture change as you turned your head, it made me feel quite queasy, there was no way I was going on the Red Arrows Experience after that!

Toby picked up a new coat having ripped beyond repair his much loved fleece, he also picked up a new pair of sandals. What a shame he didn’t by a new pair of boots, having discovered a hole in the sole on the way back to the boat! I fear we may have achy legs tomorrow as we did a lot of walking, thankfully there are no locks ahead!

Day 23 – Trust Your Navigator

Back to my beany self today – yey!! Another dry lock free day, so we we enjoyed the scenery. I really like this picture of the Heron, he looks old and weathered with his long beard and grey coat keeping him warm – Toby was more impressed by the crocodile than I was.

We soon reached Bollington and stopped off at the services (not quite the same set up at as motorway services!) refuelling (118 litres) and a new gas bottle. I’ve been reading the log book from three years ago when Romy, Peter, Pat and Judith did a similar journey, the entry for the 14.06.16 stated that Bollington Wharf services were closed as the husband was in hospital. I asked the lady about it and she said he was very ill after falling off a fork lift truck and ended up selling the business to the current owners.

We passed Clarence Mill which brought back memories of a trip by hire boat many years ago, we stopped and went in to the cafe, and had to ask what a barm cake was – a soft roll to us southerners.

We moored up at Higher Poynton and took a walk along the Middlewood Way which is a disused railway. The photo below shows the old platform and what would have been the railway line. I wasn’t so sure the footpath would lead us here, Toby’s words to me ‘trust your navigator’, he was right!

We spotted some lovely flowers on the way, I particularly like the petals of the pink wild rose, they leave lovely heart shaped confetti on the path.

Our circular walk took us on a not so well used footpath and then through a farm, the donkeys looked like mirror images of each other – I wonder if they’d fallen out?

A half way stop at the local pub, I asked Toby if he still wanted to stop, his response ‘I’ve been saving my poo for this pub’!!!

Day 22 – Wipeout

It’s very rare, in fact it may even be a first, that we started and finished on the same guide book page, and only 1.5 hours cruising today.

I wasn’t feeling too great, I think it was the after effects from my treatment and the rushing/stressing/worrying about getting back. We had a later than usual cast off at 10am. No locks today and only one swing bridge, it took me an age to figure out that I needed to pull up the oval white pully thing, it’s only when I walked round to say to Toby I couldn’t figure it out, that I saw the instructions!

The scenery is really changing as we approach the Peak Forest canal, how could you ever tire of this view?

As the towpath switches sides, the bridges have a wonderful curve, this was to allow the working boats to walk their horses up and over the bridge to the other side.

We stopped at Macclesfield opposite the Hovis Mill; for many years it was still owned by Hovis, used as a print works for their packaging and publicity material. Back in 1998 it was converted into apartments – what a fab place to live. Toby went hunting at the chandlers for new pipe fenders – not too fat, and ones with a loop at the top rather than a hole at the bottom – sadly only the fat ones were in stock. I made some more apple, sultana and ginger flapjacks for Toby’s smoko break.

It continued to rain on and off, and I still wasn’t feeling great, so we decided to stay put. I fell asleep and Toby worked on his canal buddy app, played some games and helped rescue a boat trying to moor up in front off us who were struggling in the wind.

Day 21 – The Hatch-Trick

The day started off overcast, and it wasn’t long before the rain began so it was on with the waterproofs.

Luckily the rain didn’t last long, so whilst I was in a lock I made the most of the free fresh water to clean off some bird mess on the side of the boat. We thought the stairs up the off-side of the lock looked rather tricky to negotiate, so didn’t try any fancy tricks with them!

Working single locks is so much easier than doubles. We ended up with Sarah walking on to the lock ahead and leaving me to close the paddles and top gates after driving Oliver out. This worked very well and we made good progress. Some cows in a neighbouring field looked on rather bemused, I think the brown one had a bit of an itch and was giving itself a good old scratch.

As we work our way towards the Peak Forest canal, the hills are getting more impressive. The countryside around here is really lovely, and very lush and green (no surprise with all the rain!)

We stopped off at Bosley lock services to do a self pump-out, which wsa down a little side arm off the main canal. We had to reverse in, and it was rather shallow. We picked up something on the prop, which later turned out to be an old cargo strap (metal buckle included). It had made a bit of a racket banging about, but after some reverse I thought we’d got rid of it. Hindsight suggests all I’d done was wrap it around a bit tighter! That makes it three in a row for finding something down the hatch.

We were thinking to moor at Oakgrove but the road was a bit noisy, so we moved a little further on to a nice spot with some woods between us and the road. After mooring up, I opened the hatch doors and found some nice flowers to greet us through the hatchway. Bonus points if you can tell us what it is.

This evening I’ll be watching the football (Champions Leage final), and Sarah’s planning to watch The Great British Bake Off: The Professionals. Sorted!

Day 20 – Together Again

My gamble paid off, I went for the 6.45 bus to The Churchil arriving at 7.30. After a nosey at the paper and a cuppa, I wandered over to the day treatment unit at 8.10 (my appointment was at 9am!). They were able to see me straight away, and I was all done by 10.15, an all time record. I ran to the bus stop and managed to make the 11.11 train. The last train from Stoke to Kidsgrove was a single carriage, it seemed so small and slow compared to the cross county trains.

We were back on board by 2.15, and by 2.30 we had cast off for new adventures. We’re also in to new territory on Oliver, as the longest we’ve been aboard is 3 weeks.

Only one small stop lock, and then a water point, so we pulled in and filled up. I started steering and was on the wrong side of the canal – back in driving mode!

All of a sudden, there seems to be an abundance of yellow Iris flowers along the canal, they’re quite stricking with the strong tall stems and beautiful coloured flowers.

Toby checked the weed hatch, and today’s find was just a little weed, it made us both smile.

We moored on the aquaduct at Congelton, one space left betwen two boats, Toby did a grand job steering us in.

Mum and dad gave us a card with instructions not to open until the 31st May – today. There was a lovely postcard inside and some money to treat ourselves with a dinner out.

Finally, I should also update you on the weight loss challenge of losing a stone while we’re away. I weighed myself at home and I’m 5lbs down (in three weeks), which isn’t bad. Hopefully the 12 locks tomorrow morning will all help!

Day 19 – Maintenance day

With Sarah in Oxford, it was strange waking up in the morning with nobody beside me! I took a short walk up to the Red Bull services (nothing to do with the drink manufacturer!) to get a few pump-out cards and get rid of some rubbish.

I then set off for Screwfix in Tunstall again, to pick up the drawer runners that they didn’t have in stock yesterday. This time I took a different route, avoiding the traveller caravan park and territorial cows. Instead I had a lovely park and lake… and a dry ski-slope which I wasn’t expecting in little old Kidsbury!

One of Sarah’s delicious flapjacks helped keep me going until I reached town. I got a coffee there – my first latte for 3 weeks – and then cheated and got the bus home as it was spitting with rain and my legs had had enough of walking for the last 2 days.

A quick stock-up in Tesco and then back to the boat for a lunch of local Staffordshire oatcakes. Meanwhile Sarah enjoyed a pub lunch with Barry and Rosemary down at the Greyhound.

In the afternoon I got the new drawer runners sorted and did a few other odd jobs on the boat, before relaxing with some computer games and TV. Sarah phoned and we sorted out the security camera at home – proof below that it’s now working again!

Oliver is still sitting comfy on his mooring, waiting with me for Sarah to return tomorrow 🙂

Day 18 – Farewell Sarah!

Today we headed for Kidsgrove on the far side of Harecastle Tunnel so Sarah can catch a train back to Oxford for her ‘supercharge’ drips at hospital. We cast off before 07:30 with the aim of getting there for the first passage at 08:00, and it all worked perfectly – we were the only ones there, moored up outside the entrance and ready to go! The lovely Derek from C&RT gave us our safety briefing and we were soon on our way.

After the tunnel we turned on to the much nicer Macclesfield Canal, and moored up just after the aqueduct that takes it over the Trent & Mersey,

Once we’d got settled in, Sarah packed her bags and we walked the short distance to the train station at Kidsgrove, where Sarah caught her train.

After waving farewell, I caught the bus into Tunstall (back on the other side of the tunnel) to get to Screwfix, and then walked back over the tunnel to get home. I paused for lunch to eat my sandwiches by Golden: the flame that never dies, Stoke-on-Trent’s answer to the Angel of the North!

The route over the tunnel follows the path that the horses used to take all those years ago, when boaters had to ‘leg‘ their boats through the tunnel. The cows in the field weren’t very friendly, so I ended up taking the long way around after they started moving to surround me!

I had an interesting encounter at the caravan park with a sweet young girl, maybe 10 or 12 years old, asking if I was looking for ‘greenies’. I politely declined, but had my suspicions… googling back at home shows them to be amphetamines (either that or her bogeys!).

I arrived back at the Kidsgrove side of the tunnel, where you can see the entrance to the older tunnel designed by Brindley, which is now unusable. There was also a queue of ‘yoghurt pots’ waiting to go through – presumably all together as it’s unusual to see one on the move, let alone a group of them.

I stopped by in the large Tesco nearby to stock up on the Pimms, and then it was back on board to do a few jobs, before settling in for the evening with a glass of red wine and the Europa League Cup final on TV to watch.