Sunday, February 28, 2010


We are to stay a while drifting about between Anderton, Barbridge and Wixhall with very few locks but plenty of miles to explore. That is on the Trent n Mersey, Shropshire Union and even the Llangollen.
Our grateful thanks to our friends Sue n Vic for travelling with us over that hill. As Sue has said in her blog, we have known them for many years and if it was not for the ice in Banbury some years ago I would not have got on the internet to write this blog or even create our web site.
After Tesco man delivered the goodies we set off in the afternoon and managed to do about 4 miles after going down that big lock.
Heading for Anderton but stopped at Whatcroft where we found Geof n Mags in Seyella. Next day we followed them for 5 miles to Anderton. There we found new facilities so topped up our water tank after using our washing machine on the way. We turned round here by the marina and found our mooring for the weekend with those batteries fully charged again.
We had a refreshing cup of tea on Seyella before setting off to see that boat lift and take a walk round the park land with Ann and Geof in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Cheshire locks

Since leaving Harecastle tunnel we have gone down heartbreak hill heading for Middlewich. A total of 31 locks in only 12 miles taking three days to do it. Many of the locks were about 10 feet deep so the hill got us down about 300 feet. So far we have been very lucky to be able to keep going despite this prolonged winter. The days were usually warm dry n sunny when we moved. The water tap at Wheelock was not frozen so we topped up our tank there.
We woke up to another day with ice on the cut and grey skies. It proved hard to get ourselves going on down the hill through more locks to the bottom.
We noticed that another factory has turned to dust, Bisto gravy is no more next to British Salt. We got diesel at Kings Lock chandlery, a well stocked shop worth a look in. They allowed me to make my own declaration and charged 65 pence and £1.10 for a litre. Then we went down 3 more locks to the visitor moorings. Before falling asleep after all that effort we paid a visit to friends on a boat called Seyella. Thanks Geof and Mags for the chat, tea n cake. Then we crashed out after getting fish n chips from the shop not far from the canal.

Next day our good friends Sue n Vic on No Problem followed Seyella heading yet further north while we stayed to do some shopping.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Tunnel

We walked round Westport Lake early in warm sunshine after an overnight snow fall. We saw pieces of old pottery on the shore line looking like sea shells. There were a few water birds about like ducks, moorhens, coots, tufted ducks, geese, swans and others.
We set off to our appointment with British Waterways to travel through the 2 mile Harecastle Tunnel. It opens at 11:30 but the boat which went earlier was able to pass through.
We then had to wait an hour for two working boats to come through from the other end! The old tunnel had sunk in the middle so much of our roof ‘furniture’ was removed. At one point we had to squat down to avoid hitting our heads. After about 45 minutes we emerged at the other end. It was a bit noisy with the ventilation fans on full blast and it was just pitch-black looking back.
The water at the northern end was red with iron which coated many of the following locks. Some of the locks were doubles so we made good progress with our two boats.
In two days we had got down to Hassal Green, having done 18 locks in over 8 miles. We have earnt our Sunday day of rest.

Cruising north

Our next stop was at Stone. History tells us that it was here that Josiah Wedgewood met James Brindley to plan the creation of a canal to run north south for 46 miles either way. So much of the pottery was being broken on the roads that water transport was considered.
We had not moved long enough to fill those batteries but it felt good to make some progress on a sunny day. It got cold over night and we woke to find ice on the canal but were not trapped by it. Took on water and continued up the hill to stop at Barlaston near the Wedgewood factory. We had done the tour back in 2005 when we last passed this way. Many of the bridges on the way were a bit low so had to keep pulling our cover down to get under them while it snowed. That trip was more substantial having done 7 locks and 3 miles. Many of the locks were deep n heavy to open but at least the batteries were full by the time we stopped.
Next day we continued through Stoke on Trent and its industrial wasteland of the potteries.
This is one that has gone since 2005
Sad to see so many derelict building and old bottle kilns, some of which have been destroyed since we past this way. The bridges were so low on the way through that we even removed the chimney to get under one. We stopped to consume soup made by Vic on No Problem and then picked up a plastic bag round the prop as we moved off. It was extremely cold putting a fore arm in to pull the bag off.
Eventually got to Westport Lake in the afternoon when it snowed. On the way we had passed at least one factory working but believe that even Middleport is under threat of closure.
As we were passing through Prince Charles and Camilla were looking at the Staffordshire Gold Hoard to be seen at the Potteries Museum. Huge crowds and cold conditions put us off having a look ourselves.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We have moved!

Great Haywood had become our comfort zone having stayed in the area for so long. It was a place with everything we needed, water, diesel, walks and bus trips. We had got to know many of the boaters there.
It was warm and sunny when we moved north on the Trent n Mersey canal. There was some ice but it had been broken up by moving boats. We went through 3 locks and travelled 6 miles. The locks have bridges across them which saves having to walk all the way round. While the locks were relatively easy we had done enough by the end of our first journey of the year.
It is all very well having so much power stored in those new batteries. They gave us a whole day of use without having to run the engine. Now we have run out of hot water! While our fire is on there is always a kettle of hot water for use, it is just not on tap. While travelling with No Problem we share Sunday roasts together. In the afternoon we walked out round Burston and realised that it was still light at 5 o’clock. The local community are protesting about a possible wind farm being built in the area. If we do not invest in new power generators there will be a power shortage sooner or later.
It was only a short hop past a new marina at Aston near that lock with a mile post that indicates Shardlow 46 one way and Preston Brook 46 the other. Found moorings either side of bridge 90 and waited for Mr Tesco man to deliver our order. It duly arrived and got put away thankfully before it rained.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Power upgrade

Trevor at Adverc recommended a larger alternator and some Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. This type have a longer cycle life and are low maintenance. I am told that the new spec with 600 Amp Hours of battery capacity and a 110 Amp alternator should meet our needs. Only time will tell as the proof is in the pudding. My old batteries were showing their age after 3 ½ years having lost much of their capacity. One of the reasons given for the 70 Amp alternators failing was that it did not have enough output for the loads put apon it.
AGM battery bank
Adverc delivered the goodies to Great Haven Marine Services and John installed it all. We were so lucky to be able to get in and out of the marina in between periods of ice and snow. Got to a mooring by 4 pm travelling through a blizzard! The batteries were full by then and we did not need to run the engine that evening as was previously usual. The next day after 18 hours of use the batteries were still reading 12.3 Volts after supplying 67 Amp Hours of power.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ice, snow and friends

While we were at Tixel the ice came and then it snowed. It is just a bit depressing when we lose our freedom to move about, not quite knowing when it will clear again. It is OK for a while so long as our water and diesel tanks have been topped up and we are within walking distance of the shops.
A few days later the ice cleared and No Problem arrived late in the day having come down Tixel lock and breaking some patchy ice on the way. By now we were all running out of supplies so placed an order with Tesco. It had warmed up by then and thankfully we were able to get to Great Haywood Junction in sunshine. We got water and loaded the supplies from Tesco which had arrived as arranged on the magic internet.
I was telling Vic about our problems with rain still getting past our sliding hatch. If the wind is in the ‘right’ direction it blows the rain along the slider and under the hatch. One solution may be to grind a gulley across the side to redirect the water. Vic kindly offered the use of his grinder and I cut the groves. Now waiting for rain and wind to prove the solution but next day all we got was more ice.