We had a stretch with batches of locks going through some industrial areas today. The canals only exist because of industry and this area has a history of salt and this still continues today. It used to be mined but we passed a brine processing plant. Not pretty, yet nature is also there and art had been included in a bridge over the canal.
We had planned to lunch in the middle of the stretched out locks, though we didn’t expect a pretty spot. When we got to Middlewich junction there were locks, diesel, a water point, Boatyards and chandleries. A busy spot with several essential services if not aesthetically pleasing. But there was also a beautiful arch on the junction and lots of flowers in boxes decorating it.
We stopped to look for a spare of the link that had broken on the bow fender. I went to a chandlery and tried to describe the specialised piece of chandlery. “A D-shackle?” she said. I didn’t know what it was called. She showed me one. …Nope, certainly something that was attached to the fender chain but not what had broken. ” A bottle link?”… She couldn’t find anything that matched my description, but suggested the other chandler. This time I took a photo of it on the way.
This chandler said “a quick link” and got one for me. I suggested I should get another one as it seemed the weak point and another might break, but he said he only had one and also they were meant to break to stop the boat sinking! I was very grateful he had one, as they seem to be hard to come by and pretty important. Shane is now puzzling about improving the positions of both bow and stern fenders.
The stop was good timing, we had lunch and I noticed a boat that we hired a couple of years ago. We had been looking for it in is previous mooring spot. This boat had been on television as part of “don’t tell the bride” when hired for a stag weekend. My main memory of it was torrential rain, as we tried to load it when we arrived and falling out of the high bed in the middle of the night and chipping a tooth on the floor- I have slept on the wall side on a canal boat ever since! The rest of the holiday was fun, I’m sure and it didn’t put me off boats.
We headed on through the rest of the locks and the next three beside the junction, has assistance available from Canal and River trust volunteers. Another stroke of luck – we had lunch at the same time as the volunteers, so got their help.
It was windy today so I had opted to do the locking. At the third of the these locks there was one volunteer and I went along to do the other side to seeing the paddle but he said to leave it and he would do it, as it was very stiff. I asked if that was a challenge and he said I could test my muscles if I wanted. I said I’d give it a go and he could finish it off, if I couldn’t do it. Another woman came up and was about to put her windlass on and he told her that it was very stiff but “this lady was going to try”. I thought this was going to be a test for the new ratchetted windlass for sure. So he wound one side and I wound the other and it was very stiff ( similar to some I had done before) and the guy came round after he’d done his side, ready to take over, but with the use of the ratchet, I got it done. “Magic windlass” I said. Had a quick chat, with the woman there, about pros and cons of different windlasses and that this one saved me removing it and repositioning to the point where you could make the most of your strength, when it got too difficult, and she thought that was a good idea, as she hasn’t tried that before. So I hope that is useful for her. Shane thought that I may have spoilt the volunteer’s day by depriving him of the opportunity to help me. ( He did help because he did the other side and the second one is usually easier anyway). He did look a bit peeved.
After the locks there was far more countryside. Shane saw a flash of kingfisher. I had missed it. Then I was driving and I saw one perched and it stayed there and I drew level and got a a fantastic view, able to see it in detail. Shane came out in time to see if fly off.
Got moored in a Country park, so had a nice walk there with some nice carved wooden bench/ artwork, and no industrial sights and sounds at the end of the day, but plenty of information about the salt industry and it’s legacy. Apparently there are many unusual species there, due to the lime in the soil deposited from the past industries. We didn’t find the rare species, but saw loads of rabbits.