Sunday, 29 July 2018

July 25-29: Ellesmere Port back to Nantwich

Wednesday 25 July Back to Annie at Ellesmere Port
Today was spent travelling by car to see Flo in Nottingham, where we left our car. Using our Two Travel Together Railcard, we travelled via five trains to Stockport, Crewe, Chester, Hooton and Ellesmere Port! It was ok, and we enjoyed the varied scenery, with waits being short in between trains. Walking half a mile to the Boat Museum, we had a snack in the cafe. The fridge had been switched off as the inverter indicated “low batt”, probably because the solar panels had not kept the batteries charged enough. Once this had happened, we guess the batteries did charge up, as they were at 100%! …. at least, that's our theory! A friendly Holiday Inn employee told us it was a quiet night there, so we stayed put.

Thursday 26 July Ellesmere Port Boat Museum to Chester (9 m iles, 5 locks)
We like to support the National Waterways Museum/Boat Museum: The tickets can be reused for a year, here and in Gloucester, too. Passing up the two narrow locks, which had rather stiff paddle gear, surprisingly, John squeezed Annie past the trip boat moored outside the cafe and we set off, passing only one moving boat all the way to Chester.
leaving our mooring - Holiday inn on left

approaching the lock

looking back at concrete Mersey flat and our mooring in the lower basin

Boat Museum top lock

Liana operating the top lock

avoiding the trip boat as we left the lock

Past oil storage depots and large sewerage works, under both M56 and M53 motorways, Chester Zoo is hidden from view as you pass bridge 134. After bridge 133 and before the impressive ston railway aqueduct, we spotted a cow in the canal, unable to get out because of black rubber and wooden post type piling, Liana phoned police (not interested) and RSPCA, who took details. We did what we could. Reaching Chester, we passed Taylor's Boatyard, with three old wooden cruisers on the slips, and moored beyond the dry dock, within which two narrowboats were being welded and blacked. John emptied all the loo holding tanks at the nearby Elsan point, and we watered up at the water point by the dry dock.
As Liana wanted to shop at Tescos, we continued past Telford's Warehouse and up the triple staircase, watched by helpful tourists. Liana found the paddle gear hard work, though. Water rushed over the bottom chamber's leaky top gates like Niagara Falls, so John kept Annie well back.
triple staircase at Chester

Conversely, once in the middle chamber, when full it seemed about 50cm low to John. He still managed to get Annie into the top chamber, but deep draughted boats may need to let some water down through the top chamber top paddle, maybe, to raise the water level.
Mooring near Tesco, we were glad to get inside Tescos to cool, as Liana was overheating!
We finished the day with salad and red wine for tea, relaxing in the cratch and watching the world go by.

Friday 27 July at Chester near Tesco and to Christleton (2 miles, 5 locks)
The beautifully sunny morning saw us brealfasting, watching loads of people walking past, going to work or language school, tourists and dog walking. We spent a leisurely morning in Chester, shopping, buying a new gas kettle (to take pressure off the batteries) and enjoying a Costa coffee.

Chester is lovely to walk round
After lunch, we set off to Hoole Lane Lock, to find the top gates wide open. Liana closed them so we could go up, guessing the wide Mill Hotel restaurant boat had left them open. Sure enough, they returned as we were leaving the lock. The man said they had “left the bottom gates of the next lock open for us”. Arriving at Chemistry Lock, we found that a boat coming down had had to close the bottom gates to do so. We waited and helped. The restaurant boat had caused extra work to both ourselves and the other boat, which some might consider a little selfish, in an age where the norm is to close both sets of gates before leaving a lock behind. They are big, heavy gates and slow filling locks, too. An approaching boat meant we could leave the top gates open as we left Greenfield lock. The canal hereabouts is rural, with large overhanging ash and willow trees. Three hours later we moored at the Cheshire Cat (Vintage Inns) moorings, Christleton, again. It was still hot, so we had a belated Wedding Anniversary meal there, outside. When John reminded staff after a long wait for sweets, Liana got a ginormous Eton Mess!
John's sharer cheeseboard was uninspiring, with six tiny but nice crackers and “three cheeses” all being pale or red cheddar in plastic wrappers! He was glad he wasn't sharing the crackers! We relaxed watching tv.

Saturday 28 July Christleton south to Calveley (11 miles, 6 locks)
Up late, but refreshed, we set off about 0900, past the Wirral Trust Community boat and a day boat, which were just setting off – cheery waves all round!
leaving the Cheshire Cat

waterside gardens
We wore jumpers for the first time in weeks. The strong breeze whipped dark clouds across the sky quickly, obscuring the sun, with occasional brief splashes of warm sunshine as blue sky allowed the sun to appear.

the hill is a WW2 fuel store
The first eight miles were lock free, so Liana did some boat work and puzzles until Wharton's Lock, which we shared with NB Pyxis, an Aintree beetle boat bought recently to enjoy before and during retirement by her pleasant owners. It took forever, after which we had a deli/salad lunch and filled up with 204 litres of diesel (70p @0%, £1.20 @ 100%) at Chas Harden's boatyard below Beeston Iron Lock.
fuelling at Chas Harden's Boatyard

Beeston Iron Lock

This time, we went up it alone, got soaked by a sudden storm, and moored. The rain stopped, Pyxis came past, so we dashed to join them in the Beeston Stone lock and Tilstone Bank lock. A hireboat entered Bunbury staircase ahead of us, with boater having first lock lesson. All went well, and we had a nice chat with boater and her tutor. Annie was caught by a strong gust of wind as she left the lock, so Liana “missed the boat” and had to join after the moorings. Mooring at Calveley, before the bridge, we watched Lewis Hamilton gain pole position in the Hungarian GP qualification.

Sunday 29 July A rainy day in Cheshire: South to Nantwich (5 ½ miles, 0 locks)
Mum/mum-in-law Flo's 88th birthday today, God Bless her! Sarah, Sister Ali and brother David and family are visiting, so Liana will try to phone her mum later.
We woke up to the sound of wind and rain, for a change! John made tea and got out the fruit loaf, after which we settled in to write up ship's log (Liana) and blog (John). The forecast was not good for today, but we only have 5 ½ miles to travel to Nantwich past Barbridge and Hurleston Junctions, ready to pick up Carson and sons George and Josh tomorrow :)
Dodging most of the rain, we took our time and enjoyed the lockless journey, passing loads of other boaters who had also set off in the sunny intervals, travelling North.
jumper and gilet again

Barbridge Junction: You can wind by bridge 16 before the breach

Liana roof cleaning at Hurleston Junction

Liana finishing off the roof as we pass Nantwich Marina

moored at Nantwich

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