Na, just a new outlook on things. Sorry for the Star Wars reference.
When I decided to change my long-term goals and head toward Liverpool/Chester/Wales directly instead of taking the long way around through Leeds, my outlook on things became somewhat brighter. Without the looming trek northward through innumerable locks and industrial areas, I now feel more like I did last summer. Carefree and relaxed.
The weather has had a bit of a turn as well, finally. The last couple of days were bluebird sunny (although not particularly warm) so I decided to take advantage and do a couple long ones. As I had friends wanting to meet up for dinner, I spent Thursday and Friday high-tailing it from Marple to Rode Heath.
Those two days were long, difficult, and tiring. The weather was perfect, but 35 miles and 25 locks in two days is a lot. It might not sound it but it meant a couple of 9 hour days, back to back. The locks are the toughest part, especially single-handed and with other boats waiting behind. Most people are very generous, patient, and helpful however. I had tons of help from Rob in the Bosley flight, he came ahead from his friend’s boat to speed me through (he’s on the left, more about his friends later).
Upon finally reaching the bottom of that flight, friends from the northward trek moved their boat to make room for me on the Dane Aquaduct moorings (see previous blog), where we had a very pleasant evening together. Thanks again Alan and Helen on Thomasina! On my way down the flight, and while we were relaxing canal-side, we were joined by two unusual guests.
These two goats had been hanging around the locks all day, just following random people on the towpath. They were extremely clean, very calm and friendly, and didn’t seem distressed at all. I’m sure they were someone’s pets. We called the RSPCA and the CRT, as well as sending various tweets, so there’s lots of awareness and I’m sure they’ll get home soon. Aussie-boater (a youtuber) was spending a couple of days there so he’s keeping an eye on them as well, thanks for that!
I left early the next day, but not without a morning hello! Yes, they were waiting for me right outside my window.
Friday saw me arrive onto the Trent & Mersey and turn northward. This stretch of canal is a bit different that any other I’ve seen, as many of the locks are ‘doubled’. I’m not clear on the history of it but there are very few examples on the system, most are on this stretch north of the Harecastle Tunnel. At each lock location, there are actually two locks side-by-side. This allows boats to travel in opposite directions simultaneously, or two at once in the same direction. Quite efficient actually.
I went through a lot of these with Neil and Sue on their boat Chrissie and they were ever so helpful! It’s quite common for crew to help other boaters through locks, especially when one is single-handed (as I am), but they went a step beyond and I’m very grateful.
Having reached the bottom of this flight (knows as “Heartbreak Hill”), I found a nice, quiet mooring. This where I met Cate and Bob at the Broughton Arms pub, and where they treated me to dinner and drinks and we had a good ‘ol catch-up. I hadn’t seen them since the Kennet and Avon last year where we did the Caen Hill Flight together (downhill). They were on Guy and Rose’s boat (see post 25 – Caen Hill). Lovely people who became good friends in a very short order, and we stayed in touch all winter. It was wonderful to see them again, hopefully we’ll do some cruising together in a couple of weeks.
So, I’m continuing on the Trent & Mersey Canal, heading toward the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal where I’m planning on putting into a marina for a bit and getting solar panels installed. I survived well last year without them since I was running the boat almost every day and the batteries stayed well charged but in the rain this year, that’s not the case. So I’ve decided to go for it and spend Robbie’s inheritance. Sorry buddy.
More soon, I’m getting back in the groove now and loving every minute. Please don’t hesitate to comment or send me a note, I love to hear from everyone back home…