Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Cheshire Ring - Congleton to Sandbach

Cheshire Ring - Congleton to Sandbach
16th August 2006
Macclesfield and Trent & Mersey Canal

14 Miles
27 Locks
9 Hours

Yesterdays thunderstorms cleared away leaving a glorious summer day for the descent of Heartbreak Hill. The final four miles to the Hall Green stop lock passed quickly and uneventfully and we soon found ourselves looking down into the orange water of the T&M from Pool Lock Aqueduct, a structure which is more impressive when viewed from below. Red Bull junction performs its curious circular descent, taking the canal back on itself using the first two locks to lose the necessary height.

As we emerged from lock three, a hire boat made a desperate dash to move off from the waterpoint before we passed, cutting it all so fine we had so apply reverse gear to avoid a collision. Things got interesting when they realised that Tilly had walked ahead and set the lock ready for our entry. I pointed out that it was our lock and after much muttering on their part I politely pointed out that it is very bad form to push into the stream just as another boat was about to pass. Result: more huffing and puffing.

As we descended the lock a self righteous plonker from said boat decided to come and remonstrate with me for criticising them, trying to justify themselves by claiming that they were merely trying to clear the water point for us - how thoughtful! But I has the last laugh. These locks are mostly duplicated so for the next eight I raised a top paddle on the parallel lock to fill the chamber for them before they arrived. It was very amusing to see the result of my "killing with kindness" policy.

By the time we reached the Wheelock flight proper a queue had build up at lock 55 involving 9 boats, which took and hour and a half to clear. Here we had time to catch up with Sarah (2 boats ahead) and avoid contact with Mr Pushy who was behind us.

Heartbreak Hill dragged on interminably, as it always does and we paused at Hassall Green for ice creams, provisions and to purchase a copy of Narrow Boat Planning by Graham Booth.

It was a relief to reach the bottom of the flight at 5.30, but Belle had an appointment In London the following day so we pressed on the bridge 160, near Sandbach and about 15 mins walk from the station. The mooring was very secluded and one which we will use again.

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