Tuesday 15 August 2006

Cheshire Ring - Higher Poynton to Congleton

Cheshire Ring - Higher Poynton to Congleton
15th August 2006
Macclesfield Canal

17 Miles
12 Locks
8 Hours

Today we played tag with nb Sarah, who had been our companion since Manchester. Among her crew was a girl called Emma, who quickly became Tilly's new best friend. The girls swapped back and forth between the boats, ultimately settling for Sarah because of her superior DVD capabilities! At one stage we lost Tilly for over three hours, only to see her plodding up the towpath from the foot of the Bosley locks.

This section is the "Mac" at its best, with open countryside interspersed with small towns. It may be lock free in the main but it certainly isn't without interest. Bollington is passed high up on an embankment complete with aqueduct, providing excellent views of the area. The Middlewood Way also accompanies the canal, providing good walking and cycling potential for those that prefer to move under their own steam.
Next came Macclesfield, complete with the original Hovis Mill, with the hills rising up to our left. Finally we arrived at the top of the Bosley flight, overlooked by the impressive Jodrell Bank radio complex.

All 12 locks (if you exclude the stop lock at Red Bull) on the Macclesfield are grouped into the Bosely flight which drops the canal by 110 ft in about a mile. I decided to test Jeff's boat handling skills by awarding him points out of ten for each lock, with one point deducted for each bump, no matter how slight. He rose to the challenge and was dismayed when he did a double tap on the penultimate chamber, breaking his perfect record and resulting in a score of 118 out of 120. Not bad for a 12 year old and represents a record I am not sure I could achieve myself. This feat of navigation marked his boating coming of age and an acceptance that he really can be trusted at the helm.

Just before Congleton the canal takes a wide sweep to the north before arriving in the town amid a collection of embankments and cuttings. We moored at Congleton Wharf and tramped down the Dog Lane Aqueduct to the Wharf Inn, under an atrocious thunderstorm which soaked us to the skin. Both families shared a table and enjoyed the rather splendid ales offered by the CAMRA pub.

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