Thursday, 16 August 2012

We Lose A Crew Member, (At Least For A While)

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Kingfisher on Middlewich Branch
I wasn't actually sure Michael would stick with a decision to travel back home for a while, particularly as a planned weekend break with his mates has failed to materialise.  He badly wanted to be with Odin, but equally I think was starting to suffer "cabin fever", despite actually having been a very useful member of crew, both steering, and working locks.  However he decided he would spend some time away, so Cath walked up with him to Winsford station, (about a mile from our overnight mooring), and pushing the bike, to put him on the first of two trains, before she cycled back to join Chalice again.

Bored dog ?
The Middlewich branch of the Shroppie is actually very attractive, with stunning views across to the flashes at the head of the Weaver at some points.  I was mindful though that we have suffered our worst ever queuing for locks on this canal, and relieved when there were no more than a couple of boats waiting to go up the lock at Minshull, (where we had been very badly delayed last year).  However at the next lock along, those coming the other way were a bit less lucky - I counted a queue of six, so the last of these would have doubtless waited over an hour, given how slow some of the crews seem to be operating the locks.

Sleeping dog.
At Barbridge Juncton we once again turned left, and to the South, on the Shropshire Union main line.  (Eventually we'll get to do the "Shroppie" North of here, but we have not had the opportunity yet.)

Shortly South of the Junction a Day Boat decided to forge on past a hire boat at a restricted spot, (I think the hire boat crew had had the sense to hold back), coming forward into a space in front of me that didn't really exist. They therefore decided to ram their bow between a moored boat and the towpath, then swung their tiller hard the wrong way, guaranteeing they hit us broadside with the swinging stern end!  Chalice has already lost enough paint and blacking that I don't get emotional about such things, but I imagine that some owner that have more shiny boats might have had a few words with the crew involved!

Between lower Audlem locks.
Eventually you get to a rather attractive pair of locks at Hack Green - well attractive apart from a bridge that is missing its parapet, and hence festooned in orange netting.  It has been like this every time we have been through, so there is clearly no urgency to repair it. We have queued at Hack Green in the past, but again there were few hold ups today.

Unusually w now have almost a plan of where we intend to stop each night, and tonight's plan said Audlem, but didn't require us to tackle the whole 15 lock flight.  Cath and I though it would be good to try and moor near the Shroppie Fly pub, and have at least a drink or two, and maybe a meal.  David ges involved in activities on the Intrnet on Thursday nights, meaning "Skype" calls to other friends, so we thought we could leave him in peace.

Looking for moorings near the Shoppie Fly.
We did manage to moor almost opposite the"Fly", but being in a cutting, David lacked his essential Internet connection.  However moving up one more lock, placed us instead on a pleasant embankment mooring.  David got his Internet, and we had our meal at the Shroppie Fly, sitting outside with Odin, who continues to impress us by how well he behaves, (far better as a three month old pup, than the vast majority of adult dogs).

The water inflows below the locks make life "interesting".

Near Winsford (Middlewich Branch
to Below Audlem Lock 11
Miles: 18.0, Locks: 8
Total Miles: 332.9, Locks: 162 (Worked)


  1. The bridge rebuild at Hack Green was pulled from last winter's stoppages...

  2. Ah - one learns something new - thanks Ray!