Tuesday, 30 July 2013

oo-er...............another tunnel!

We leave Etruia on the Monday morning to put Swamp Frogs in Festival Park Marina for a few days while we go and visit family and friends in Southampton. We had a wonderful time in Southampton (albeit very rushed) catching up with everybody but it truly is a big wrench leaving Swamp Frogs and we couldn't wait to get back. We got back Thursday teatime and had a "cheerio" meal with Fred and Lisa  as they will move south and we are heading north in the morning. It was so nice spending time with them both and we will meet up again when we head south for the winter.
We left the Marina the next day and moored up at Westport lake for the weekend.

As it was so nice we thought we'd try our new purchase out......A small foldaway BBQ.......well, after burning the top of our new table and then red hot charcoal spitting out onto the tinder dry grass which started to smoulder it was decided that we'll extinguish the BBQ due to safety reasons and the fact that on lookers thought I was doing some kind of crazy rain dance when I was only stamping on the smouldering charcoal...... I can see the local headlines.....Crazy boater sets fire to the grounds around Westport Lake....ho hum!!!!

Up early and onwards to Harecastle tunnel (2926yds long) which I was not looking forward too....I really do not like the tunnels maybe it's because they are so small and I feel claustrophobic??! but in we go following 4 other boats. Going last is good because I can go at my own pace and not worry about anybody behind......it's so hard to steer the boat when you have jelly legs!!!!!

The southern end.....
Almost 3000 yards later, the northern end,
Look at the colour of the water? YUK!!
As you can see from the second picture there was 2 tunnels but the one on the right has long since closed due to subsidence. There are no ventilation shafts in the tunnel and they shut doors at the southern end and use an extraction fan to remove exhaust fumes.....was all a bit scary but ok in the end.
Out of the tunnel and we soon pass the junction of the Macclesfield canal.

The Maccy is through the narrow bridge on the right.
We make good timing with Suzie at the helm and me doing the legwork we cover 11 locks in just over 3 miles and moor up at a place called Rode Heath. We end up staying here for a couple of days due to weather (nothing to do with the hangovers we both have). We had a great time here in Rode Heath and spent a lazy afternoon at the local pub with a couple of retired Police CID inspector's and a couple of boaters and between us we put the world to right's and had a good laugh doing it!
We leave Rode Heath very early the next day to make our way to Church Minshull to meet up with Dennis and Ann (A.K.A. Lord and Lady Malakas) owners of NB Emily.
Getting to Nantwich we have to get through a heavy stretch of locks this is often called "heartbreak hill". It's at this point after 4 1/2 months Suzie decides that she will take over on the tiller and I can do the leg/lock work. I have to point out that this is pure coincidence that Suzie has come to this decision and that I do 22 locks in 1 day (this is defo our record)!!!!!!!


Going down nice and slowly

Another successful lock done,
Well done Suzie

Anyways, hard as it is to believe, it was a coincidence as Suzie was unaware of what laid ahead and to be honest it was great seeing her on the tiller going in and out of locks and her gaining more and more confidence.
On the way we pass Malkins Golf Course which advertises breakfast so we moor up in a pound (the space between locks for those that don't know) and in we go at 09:30....."are you still serving breakfast" I asked......"ummmm we start around 10:30" the blokey behind the bar says.... "hmmmm....okay no problem, we are in no rush"  so we sit on the terrace and wait and well worth the wait too....if you pass here do stop (between locks 62 and 63) as it was a scrummy breakfast set in beautiful surroundings and great value too at £7:85 for 2 breakfasts and 2 coffee's.
We make good progress and I am enjoying doing the locks although when it's raining I'm not so sure I'll feel the same.... We arrive at Middlewich and moor for the night.
I've got to turn left, very tight and with a boat coming at me 2 boats moored
on my right AND another boat coming out from the left!!!
From here we continue down the Middlewich branch of The Shroppie and moor at Church Minshull (Thank you Fred Webster for the mooring advice, you were 100% correct, I expected nothing less)
This branch is reknowned for it's wildlife and we were very fortunate to see a river dolphin.....very very rare and known only to exist on this stretch of canal.
A bit blurry as I had to be quick!
The next day we were joined with Denis and Ann (AKA Lord and Lady Malakas) owners of NB Emily
After a few drinks we walk to the Badger Inn for a meal...."lets do a short cut" I say. "I have a new phone with maps and all, we can follow the map".......what the phone didn't show is an overgrown footpath covered with thorns and nettles and said footpath meanders (is this the right word?) at the edge of a 100ft sheer drop......The girls were not impressed with me!!! needless to say we walked back via the road!
Our view overlooking Church Minshull....stunning!

More or less the same view the next morning

Lord and Lady Malakas with Suzie aboard NB Emily

We both left the next day, Denis and Ann back to Nantwich and us to moor up at Barbridge Junction where we meet up with Suzie's Brother-in-law Steve. It's a flying visit as Steve is on his way to Germany to see Kiri his wife.

Steve with Suzie and a spider crab!

As you can see, Steve loves his dogs Phyllis and Karla

I've just told Steve I will be watching the Grand Prix
and does he want to watch it too?

It was great seeing Steve and after a few beers we visit the pub.....again (It does seem that our lives revolve round visits to the pub......maybe it's true?)
Next day Steve and I watch the F1 Grand Prix (well done Lewis) and then we say our goodbyes and Steve makes his way to Dover and we make our way to the pub.......again!!!
We leave Barbridge Junction and make our way into Nantwich where we meet up with Denis and Ann again. This time we have a Indian curry as they read about our sorry tale in Stoke. I wasn't disappointed this time! The Red Melon......lovely Indian restaurant, lovely food....10 out of 10! Then next door to The Black Lion for the pub quiz. Denis and Ann's "team name" in the quiz is The Malakas' and they are fondly known as Lord and Lady Malakas........it's a Greek word which roughly translates into English as "a nice person, a friend, a mate"....where we would say "hi mate" when meeting someone we know, the Greeks would say "malakas"....that's what they told us anyway (I must Google it)!  We do the quiz and come a respectable 4-5th out of 9+ teams. At this point I must add that had I'd been lisened to, we would have got 2 more points and come 3rd!.....tis only a game and was a great night, brilliant fun as Suzie grabbed the mike and gave us a burst of something she called singing during the quiz.......we are now barred from The Black Lion!!!

What will happen next..........???

Since the last blog we've done 31 miles, 35 locks.
This gives a grand total of 223 miles 100 yards, 164 locks and 7 tunnels (tunnels over 1000yds only).

1 comment:

  1. No matter how many times I've been on that stretch of canal, I have yet to see the illusive River Dolphin, you were sure lucky! :P


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