Sunday, 6 August 2017

Gently to Middlewich

It’s been another pretty successful day, though I did manage to trap my thumb in the bow doors earlier and now have a pretty blue line under part of the nail. You’d think after over thirteen years living aboard I’d have learnt to keep my fingers out of the works, but not so seemingly. It’s settled down now, so no need to drill a hole through the nail to let the pressure out or anything…

We made a very lazy start to the day so as not to get to Middlewich too early. We must have judged it right as we crossed with a few boats as we approached the town. Setting off at nine for the hour’s run meant we got here just on ten and found spaces on the visitor moorings through the first bridge. It’s pleasantly open here but the pound tends to rise and fall quite a bit with Stanthorne Lock above it and Wardle below. It needs dredging out as every time Wardle is worked we settle onto the mud and lean over very slightly.

As soon as Stanthorne is turned, up we come again. If both bottom paddles at Stanthorne are raised at once, a single wave, a soliton, comes charging down the pound. It’s quite dramatic if you happen to be heading towards the lock – it’s not normal for a narrowboat’s bow to rise and fall with a wave passing under it.

It’s possible to walk to the shops from either bridge 28 behind us or 29 ahead of us. 28 is better as it leads to a footpath for the first section rather than a busy rat run with speed humps. After a quick coffee on arrival, we went first to the Lidl (not Aldi, wrong again yesterday, Bruce) as it’s further away and did what shopping we could there. We got back to the boat in nice time to stow it all away and take a short rest before lunch.

This afternoon, we repeated the trip as far as the Tesco, where we got the stuff we didn't fancy at Lidl. It’s been a relaxing afternoon since, recovering from our exertions. Tomorrow, I’ll make a further expedition to the butcher before we drop down Wardle lock and across the junction to get a pump out. Then we’ll start the haul up the Cheshire Locks, stopping above Booth Lane, probably. We quite enjoy the so-called “Heartbreak Hill” – it’s only a problem if you are trying to do the Four Counties in a week and need to get up the lot in one go.

I spent an idle moment working it out the other day. There are 203 lock-miles in the Four Counties Ring and a week’s hire is just six days and a widgy bit, given that you lose most of the start and finish days at the yard. At 3 lock-miles an hour, that’s over 67 hours cruising, at least 10 hours per full day. And still the hire yards tell the punters it can be done, no problem…


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