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AUGUST 2017

Thursday 31st. Sunny with showers. Gailey to Oxley. Through one lock just past our mooring and then a long cruise, I did get off a walk a fair distance as I am still unable to do the locks and need the exercise. Our loo is playing up, so Dave rang Lee Sanitation, the suppliers, for some help, apparently it is the circuit board and we need a new one. We made arrangements with Oxley Marina for the part to be delivered there tomorrow, so we can pick it up, so we are moored outside tonight.

Had a long chat with Troy who has taken on another contract, I am so pleased he is doing so well, you never know how things will turn out with a new business. If you are a business and need a contractor, Complex Technology.co.uk is the way to go.

Wednesday 30th. Overcast after a wet start but brightened up by 1pm. Penkridge to Gailey. Another day of queuing for locks, all because two boats together, who insisted on one going through the lock and instead of going on to set the next, waited to help their mates through, even though Dave and the boat in front offered to help. Some people need a good slap! Dave managed to pick a few blackberries to go with our apple and plum crumble, all the fruit cutesy of the tow path.

At one of the locks who should be going in the opposite direction to us but an old friend, Owen NB Guilt free indulgence, a quick chat and we were on the move again.
We moored just below the last lock at Gailey, a country spot but near enough to walk to places of interest. We walked to the last lock where there is a small shop, bought ice creams each and sat and watched a few boats pass through the lock before returning back to the boat for an early tea and to chill out.
Great Haywood rang to give the boat valuation, we were more than pleased.
My shoulder and arm have really taken a beating today with lots of pulling the boat to the side with the center rope at each lock, but fingers crossed at the moment it doesn't feel any worse.

Tuesday 29th. What a difference a day makes...cold, windy and showers. We left a little later than usual as so many boats had already gone and we didn't want to queue at the lock just around the corner. One was just going in as we arrived, then one waiting to come down and then our turn. It then started to rain so after a while we decided to moor up for a bit to let it pass.
We set off again but now we were behind a hire boat who was a tad slow, but Dave helped them through some locks. When I followed on into the lock they had vacated Dave told me to ride the gate; apparently the hire boat, who was a lot shorter than us had stayed at the back of the lock but when the paddles were opened, as sometimes happens, it drags you forward., on this occasion the undercurrent was so strong it sent him crashing into the gates, even though he was in reverse, causing a bow wave that shot into the boat cabin, so they will be paddling for a day or two.
Two locks later we are in a queue of four boats, they all kept creeping forward but I couldn't be bothered to do that but when it was my turn, I shot past the others so there was no mistaking who was going next, the Iron Butterfly.

Monday 28th. Hot sun. Stone to Tixall Wide. We left Stone after a two day stopover, down five locks and a long cruise to our destination of Great Heyward to get the boat valued. We were not impressed with the boat sales as they were supposed to contact us by phone and didn't, so Dave phoned them again to say we were approaching the marina. The entrance was very narrow with a very tight turn, I went to the front of the boat to see us in, however, when I signaled for a slow down as we weren't going to make the turn, we didn't and we head butted the side, quite hard. It was lucky Dave was driving as 'shit happens', of course had it been me, 'you were not paying attention', 'you can do better than that' 'what the hell are you doing' the list goes on. We went in and moored up outside the office on a pontoon and waited after speaking to a bloke on the side. We were just about to leave in disgust when the office rang to see where we were...the conversation went along the lines of 'outside your office on a pontoon' 'can you come into the office', no, there is a locked gate we can't get off the pontoon', 'oh yes, we will come to you then'. Finally a girl arrived and talked us through the selling process, took some photos and information and said the valuer would give his comments in a day or two and off we went, neither of us felt confident.

We wanted to moor on Tixall Wide as this a very pleasant spot but on arrival there were a lot of other boats with the same idea, we did eventually find a spot, all be it on a bit of a bend but at least it had armco, and shade.

Saturday 26th. Sunny and warm. Barleston to Stone. We said our goodbyes to Gaye and Mike and set off down seven very busy locks, there were queues at some, to stop at Stone for the night, we needed to get set up early as the Grand Prix was on and Dave cannot miss it. Once the race was over we headed into town where there are lots foe charity shops, so we were in our element. We then found ourselves in Weatherspoons for tea. Although we are on a 24hr mooring we have decided to stay here tomorrow as its busy, with lots going on as we are between two locks, its great to watch the antics of some boaters.

Friday 25th. Sunny and warm. Stoke on Trent (Barlaston). A pleasant cruise through the potteries at Etrueria, down a very busy flight of locks, past the Wedgwood factory to a tranquil mooring in the country. We sat on the tow path in the sunshine to enjoy our last day with Gaye and Mike as they have had more bad news and are having to fly to France to be with a bereaved friend. We enjoyed our last evening playing Rummykub.
Dave did the first bit of fishing this year and caught four Bream. I tried to wind a lock but couldn't manage as my arm is still so weak and painful, so I did the driving, I even got a compliment from Dave, saying I maneuvered the boat into a tricky lock even better than he would have, Blimey!

Wednesday 23rd. Dank start but turned to sunshine later. Bosley to Newbold Astbury. Passed our friend Terry, NB Alfie and then it was down the Bosley flight of12 locks, it felt easy as we met boats going up at every lock bar one. We wanted to moor up just after the locks but there was no where that inviting, so we went on and on and on until we found a lovely, tranquil spot in the sunshine with no one else for miles.
I fed and watered the roof pots and then sat on the tow path in the sun awaiting the arrival of Lion, who turned up later than expected but had stopped for a pub lunch and shopping. There are a huge amount of boats about, hire boats, day boats, private boats and even some canoes. I was chucking some unwanted food out of the window for the ducks when raised voices assaulted my ears, the canoeists had crept up on us and nearly had food in their laps, they were not happy.

Tuesday 22nd. Warm and muggy. Macclesfield to Bosley. Dave and I went to Paradise Mill and the Silk Museum. The Silk Museum tells the silk heritage story, giving an introduction to its journey along the Silk Road and how Macclesfield is forever associated with this industry. Silk buttons which were the start of the Macclesfield silk story, silk escape maps and parachutes which helped to win World War II. The mill is just how it was left in 1981 when it ceased trading, the looms and accompanying machines are all there, we had a demonstration of how it all works and the labour intensity of the workings to produce silk cloth.
Mike set off for the walk in health center as he needs to renew a prescription. When we left Macclesfield, we left Lion as Mike still didn't know if it would arrive before he had to move on.

We passed the Hovis Mill, which stands beside the canal at Macclesfield. It was the original home of Hovis - that delicious bread that has remained popular for more than a century. The product of the mill was actually the grain used to make the bread - the wheat is ground in a special way to leave the distinctive flavour in the floor. Bakers who buy the flour to make their bread can sell the loaf as Hovis. Flour was milled here from 1898 to 1904 when the business outgrew the mill and was moved to Trafford Park, Manchester. However, this mill was retained for the production of the paper wrappers in which the loaves are commonly sold.

Monday 21st. High Lane to Macclesfield. Dry but chilly. Lion led to start with, then he ran aground and we passed him, then we got behind an old chugger that was doing 1mph, they sound good but I certainly wouldn't want one. I spotted some plumbs and apples on the side of the canal away from the tow path, so we picked enough for a crumble, Lion didn't get any they need a lesson on scrumping and foraging!
We moored on the Macclesfield visitor mooring pontoon, a nice spot but Lion decided he wanted to be the other side of a bridge and kept going as he thought the moorings would be better, wrong, I am not moving, so we will spend the night apart. A lot more boats about now, its nice to see their antics.

We walked into town, there are some very steep hills here, one down and then up to the town center to do the charity shops and then treated ourselves to tea in Weatherspoons. After this of course, it was a very steep up hill, back to the boat. Alfie a boat we met last year in Market Harborough had moored up close by so I went along for a chat, Terry was very pleased I had stopped to say hello, in fact we chatted for an hour, what a nice guy and his little dog Meg. He introduced me to his mate on another boat who had a rescue Jack Russel who has a lot of problems, he is working hard to sort him out but is getting despondent, this is his third home, probably because he is a problematic, mixed up little boy.

Sunday 20th. Sunny and mild. We used the services and nipped into Tesco's before leaving Bugsworth on route for the Macclesfield Canal starting at Marsworth, finally stopping just outside High Lane, the village after Marple, on a tranquil mooring in the country. Although there were 4 bridges to lift and swing, we only had to do one as other boats manned the others, result! We passed Lion, who had left before us, waiting in a queue at the water point at Marple, I bet he wishes he had used the one at Bugsworth which had better pressure and no one waiting. We passed a huge mill, obviously built to impress with its imposing front and towers, lovely to see these old buildings still in use even though its not for the purpose it was built.

Saturday 19th. Wet and windy and so cold I lit the stove...in August! As the weather was so awful we decided to stay put in the warm and cosy lounge of the boat, still moored at Bugsworth Basin. About 7pm a working boat appeared, so we took on diesel and Lion, diesel and a pump out, so we are all set for the good weather report for tomorrow. Dave and Mike walked to the pub for an evening tipple, thinking there was live music, but there were just 10 people and 6 dogs, so they didn't stay long.

Friday 18th. Sunny and warm with showers. Still at Bugsworth Basin but the village has chnged its name to Buxworth as Bugsworth was deemed to common for a posh village.

Ruth the lady Mike helped yesterday, offered him her car for the day, so the four of us could drive round and see the sites. We went to Bakewell, where Mike bought a tart and pudding, we didn't as the cost was prohibitive. We also visited Speedwell Cavern which takes you on an underground journey by boat. Set at the foot of the spectacular Winnats Pass, high above the village of Castleton. Enter the inner world of the underground cave system in the heart of the Peak District National Park and absorb the atmosphere. We looked at Chatsworth House from the outside and then made our way back to the boat.

Thursday 17th. Marple to Bugsworth Basin. More rain but later it turned to warmish sun. We used the services and then backed up to rejoin the Peak Forrest Canal and continue to, firstly, Wharley Bridge and then on to Bugsworth Basin. We found a very congenial spot to moor and then we all walked to the Navigation for a drink and to look at the menu, but too pricey for us, although Gaye and Mike are going to eat there.
Gaye and I spent the afternoon sitting in the sunshine while the boys did boating stuff. Dave did the 730 hour oil change and Mike did his, as well as talking and helping a women on another boat, much to Gaye's annoyance. Gaye and I were befriended by a duck, who spent the afternoon in our company and I mean close company.
In the evening we walked to the Navigation to join in their quiz night but were warmed on arrival that because of the inclement weather it may not take place if to few people turned up. The start time of 9pm came and went but we hung on and at 9.20pm the quiz started. Why did we wait...we only got three right out of 15, they were some very hard questions like, which Rocky film had 'The Eye of Tiger' theme tune and how many sons did Mike Baldwin have in Coronation Street...the answer to both is 3.

Wednesday 16th. Sunny and warmish. Mike appeared first thing the water pump had stopped working again, so armed with our bike pump set off to re-pressurise the tank. All seemed to be OK.
We set off for a leisurely cruise to the bottom of the Marple lock flight of 16. It took 3 1/2 hours to reach the summit and Dave was shattered, even though he had used the bike to ease the load.

Tuesday 15th. Sunny and warm. Mike decided to go first today but as he was going to the lock got something around his propeller, which stopped dead. It was something with wire cable and he couldn't shift it, so called out 'River Canal Rescue', however, in the mean time Dave went to have a look and between them, with wire cutters, managed to get it off, mainly because Dave put his hand in the black eerie water and could feel where to work, not something Mike or I, for that matter would want to do. I did a last shop at Aldi before we set off, in front of Lion this time, up five locks, which took us from the Huddersfield Narrow onto the Peak Forrest Canal. I was not sorry to leave the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and all those locks behind, we should at last get some relaxing cruising, giving my arm a much needed rest.
We decided to stop in the country but it was limited on places deep enough but we did manage to find a nice spot by Haughton Dale Nature Reserve, when Lion turned up he had to moor away from the side as it was to shallow, that extra three inches of draft makes a lot of difference.
Another hedache for Mike, his water pump stopped working, he was happy to buy our spare, but it was to powerful, so Dave had a look at his old one and fiddled with it, announcing it was working under test, so decided that it was something else that was causing problems; apparently there is some tank that is under pressure that makes the pump work, could this be the problem. Pump reattached and working again, but for how long?

My arm, although still extremely painful, I am noticing little things I can do today which I couldn't do yesterday, so slowly but surely it is on the mend, after 23 days.

Sunday 13th. Uppermill to Mossley, Lancashire. Sunny and warmish. An easy day, mainly because I was driving and Dave locking down seven locks over 2.24 miles. Lion ran out of water, even though he filled up at the same time as us,before the tunnel, so they had to move to a water point before they could shower etc, so we left them to it, although Dave did set the locks for them.

Friday 11th. Marsden, Yorkshire to Diggle, Lancashire. Overcast and cold. We were up at 7am to get the boat ready for the tunnel trip. Off with the cratch cover and flower pots, Dave then wrapped towels around the corners of the cabin to fend off knocks from the low rock roof and sides. CaRT then appeared and measured the boats, height, width, draft and air draft, we passed them all, thank goodness.
The pilot then boarded the boat with extra lights, hard hats and other paraphernalia so we were ready for the off by 9am as Lion went first at 8.15am.
I sat in the cratch as the pilot had my chair on deck. The tunnel was freezing cold, wet and noisy when the trains went by in another tunnel. It was long and bendy and very narrow with jutting out bits of rock, even though Dave is a very good captain we have an array of new gashes and scrapes to the paintwork and Dave kept hitting his head on the roof, thats why they issue hard hats. The trip took 1 hour 35 minutes which is a good time apparently. We finally emerged into the light where Mike was ready with his camera. We were frozen so Gaye whisked us aboard Lion for hot drinks for which we were very grateful.

A bit of information: Four parallel tunnels make up the Standedge Tunnels in northern England. These four tunnels are comprised of three railway tunnels, and one canal tunnel. Perhaps most importantly is the historic significance of the tunnels. The canal tunnel was built in 1811, and the railway tunnels, particularly the central tunnel, was completed in 1848 by the London and Northwestern Railway. All the tunnels provided important transportation routes.
The Standedge Tunnel is the longest, deepest and highest canal tunnel in Britain. It is 5,500 yards (5,000 m) long, 636 feet (194 m) underground at its deepest point, and 643 feet (196 m) above sea level.
Once the tunnel was completed after 17 years of man hours, it provided a through route. The canal tunnel is wide enough for a narrow boat to pass. Interestingly, engineers created wider areas throughout the tunnel to provide passing lanes for people. Today, a lock chain is used to prevent two-way traffic from becoming a problem. The last boat to use it was a commercial boat in 1921. This tunnel was officially closed in 1944, and it deteriorated as a result. Restoration efforts have enabled people to use it once again.
 The Standedge Tunnel (pronounced Stannige) is the crossing point between Marsden and Diggle, across the boundary between the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester conurbations.

We walked into Dingle village for a paper and bread and found a chippy, so we had a bag of chips to share, which we haven't done in years and sat in a pub garden to eat them, then joined Mike and Gaye in the pub for a drink, most enjoyable.
Spent the evening playing Rummikub.

Thursday 10th. Sunny and warmish. A long climb up for the final eleven locks to the summit of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, making a total of 42. All the way there has been problems with water depth, overgrown vegetation and fierce by-washes which empty in front of the lock chambers, pushing the boat out of alignment with the opening, making the boat hit the wall. I should think we have lost more paint and added numerous scuff marks to her on this canal than any other.
We are at Standedge Tunnel Entrance tonight, ready for them to measure the boat in the morning to make sure we will fit through, so fingers crossed as I really don't want to go back the way we have come.
Spent the evening playing Brag and didn't do to well!

Tuesday 8th. Wet. After boiled eggs and soldiers we set off just before 9am. Dave was again on lock duty but we went first so he could at least help Gaye by leaving the lock behind us emptying. Again lots of long very narrow bits of canal to negotiate, all overgrown, in fact at one lock the overgrowth was like a curtain in front of the lock, so I couldn't tell where the walls were or even when the gates were open and all this on top of a fierce by wash right in front of it. Finally after lock 21 we had to moor up as lock 22 is padlocked and passage has to be booked for the onward journey, ours is booked for Thursday but we will try and bring it forward.

Monday 7th. Sunny and warm. Dave and I did last minute shopping, used the services, filled with diesel and set off after Lion. As the Huddersfield Narrow Canal has single locks we gave them a head start but at lock three they were there so we had to slow up. The canal is different from any we have been on before, the start was like a jungle, followed by the hanging gardens of Babylon, long narrow tunnels that went on and on and lock after lock, and on top of all this, lack of depth of water as its all silted up. Poor Dave had to do the locking as my arm is still useless, even steering is agony but we both managed. It is an early night all round as we are all shattered.

Sunday 6th. Deighton Station, Huddersfield to Huddersfield Centre. Windy but dry. Met an Australian who had lifted a lock gate off its hinges when his front button got caught under it, the exact same thing happened to Mike but his button fixing broke instead. Luckily for us the Aussie was behind us or we would have been stuck and missed our booking for the Standedge Tunnel on Friday. The locks are very short and narrow, so although both boats fit, its a tight fit. At the last lock, number 9, on the Huddersfield Wide neither gate would open completely, so we had to go through singly. On arrival at our mooring point for tonight we used the services where we met a lady who lives aboard by where we will moor up. As she was the font of all knowledge we asked for some info on the area. She told us to go for Sunday lunch to a pub called the Vulcan, located in the back streets, a bit rough but good value; we then backed up to where we wanted to be, Lion arrived a little later as we had gone on ahead at the faulty lock.
Dave got on his bike to do a recce of the area, when he returned he said the Vulcan was very jaded and didn't think Mike and Gaye would want to eat there, well he was wrong! We had the best lunch for months and at only £3.95 for a plate full of carrots, cabbage, swede, mash and roast potatoes, yorkshire pud, choice of beef, pork, chicken or lamb with lashings of gravy and accompanying sauce, even the beer was ace according to Mike, so four very happy, impressed customers

Dave and I walked into town expecting it to be mostly closed but it was mainly open, so we did the things of interest so we need not go back tomorrow. I spotted a walk in hairdressers, so as my hair had got unruly went in, at just £11 for a trim. The hairdresser was very fit, handsome and charming as well as Greek, we got on like old friends and when I left he and his wife said how good it had been meeting me, I didn't say it, but the pleasure was all mine!

We spent the evening aboard Lion, playing Brag, I lost badly but Dave made up for my bad luck, so we came away a little better off than when we had arrived. As it was lunchtime when we had gone for our Sunday lunch, by the evening everyone was starting to feel peckish, so Gaye got out the cheese and biscuits which slid down a treat.

Friday 4th. Dewsbury to Mirfield. Sunny and very, very windy. Once Lion had had its pumpout and bought gas, we set off for the bottom of the Dewsbury Arm and a sharp turn right, so tight that we had to put the boat nose on a weir and gently turn before we could enter the lock, and who was already in the lock, only the two cruisers from yesterday, going one at a time, so progress was slow to say the least. It was the same at every lock waiting for them clear before we could continue and they didn't seem in any hurry. At one lock there was no where to moor so we had to tread water on the river with the wind pushing us about, no fun at all, waiting for the lock to clear of cruisers, yet again. At lock four we had a problem, I entered but the boat was to long to close the gate, so Dave had to take the bikes and rack down and take off the rear button, we then just squeezed in but it was very tight with the tiller jammed to one side. We made it through and just a little way further on moored up for the night right outside a Lidl's, so that was a plus.

Thursday 3rd. Broad Cut Top Lock to Dewsbury. Sunny with showers and wind. We moved on to Horbury Bridge to catch a bus to the National Coal Mining Museum of England. The third time we have used our bus passes. Although visited 12 years ago, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience as it had improved and we didn't remember much of the previous visit, the outing ending with coke and cake in the cafe. Mike enjoyed it but Gaye didn't come underground as she suffers from Claustrophobia.
After donning hard hat and collecting the head light we descended down in the cage to the mine, although now a museum, it was once a working pit. It took us through the ages of mining, when children started work at 5 years of age to todays Unionised efforts.

Lion needed a pump out and bottled gas, so Mike rang a marina at Dewsbury to book it and to get moorings for us both for tonight. It was arranged that the owners would have already gone home but to take the first available mooring and breast up and in the morning all his requests would be dealt with, however, on arrival two cruisers were in the spot allocated to us and they were NOT moving. Not knowing what to do and nobody to ask we ventured into the marina which was packed with boats, found the pump out station and Lion moored there, while we breasted up to a wide beam. Early evening the owner came home from work and found us tied to his boat, luckily he was OK about it and had a long chat with Dave, even giving a few pointers about our onward journey. I have done all the driving today as my arm is still useless and it would be impossible for me to wind the locks.

On the way to Dewsbury, while waiting for a lock, I spotted a tree of plums by the tow path, so boat hook in hand I managed to pull some branches down and picked some, they will make a lovely plum crumble.

Wednesday 2nd. Wakefield to Broad Cut Top Lock. Sunny and warm with a few showers. Dave and I walked in to town, he got a denim shirt in a charity shop, we then went to Morrisons and B & M for provisions. The other two went to Sainsburys and then the art gallery, we finally left early afternoon through three very hard locks, as my arm is still useless Dave had the pleasure of operation, so now he knows when I said 'that was hard', it really was.
We moored up right under a railway bridge near a pub, so the two boys went off for refreshments while us girls got th tea ready. When they got back we heard all about the extortionate prices The Navigation had charged for a small bottle of cider, £4.50, they were not impressed. Another good evening aboard Lion for cards.

Tuesday 1st Stanley Ferry to Wakefield. Sunny and wet spells. Michael got his cratch cover mended and then scrubbed it while we filled with water, used the elsan and dumped the rubbish.
When we arrived at Wakefield the mooring was right by a building site, so not ideal as they were having a bonfire and drilling, apart from alot of other noise, so the boys walked on to see if there was anywhere else. They found a good spot not that far away but nearer the town, so we upped sticks and moved there.

I saw some huge blackberries growing by the canal, which are now aboard, waiting to join apples in a crumble.
We walked into town past a delightful chapel on the old 'pack horse bridge', it was locked so we couldn't go in. The Chantry Chapel of St Mary the Virgin was built by the townspeople of Wakefield in the mid 14th century as an integral part of Wakefield's new stone bridge (which replaced earlier wooden bridges) across the River Calder. It was first licensed in 1356.  Its purpose was to provide for a priest to say mass for the souls of the dead to reduce their time in purgatory. For almost three centuries it was used for many secular purposes - as a cheese-cake shop, a corn merchant's office and a newsroom, for example, and finally as premises for a tailor. The Chantry was restored to the church in the 1840s.

While in town we came across a Weatherspoons, so in we went for tea as Tuesday is steak night. We also walked past Wakefield Art Gallery but as this is not our thing we gave it a miss.

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