Saturday, 23 June 2018

Onward and upward

It's inevitable to use that title at some point in an account of climbing the Cheshire Locks, aka Heartbreak Hill. I had thought that last nickname was an invention of the leisure boaters, but I came across it in Tom Foxon's Number One the other day, so it must have been used by the real working boaters.

Setting off at half seven, as seems to be our habit at the moment, we were soon at the foot of the Lawton Treble. Sheila set me a bit of a steering challenge in that the empty locks alternated left and right of the pairs, so I had to swing the boat back and forth.

Again, we had a good road, not just up Lawton but Hall's and Church Locks too and did the whole run in 90 minutes. This meant that we arrived at our finishing spot immediately above the top lock at nine, rather earlier than we'd intended. There were still quite a few boats tied here, but one was just setting off and we've got a good mooring away from the overhanging trees.

There are rings set in the towpath and some Armco to chain to close to the water below the smart stone capping. It's a pity then that the reed beds have grown out from the offside to the extent that there's only room for one boat to get by outside us, necessitating some juggling about and hanging back if boats come from both directions at once.

The weather is definitely picking up. We spent the morning in the cabin reading and knitting, mostly, but this afternoon has been warm enough that we've been sitting out in the well deck.

We plan to get a pump out at Etruria, sorry "Festival Park Marina", but I see from the useful list on the No Problem blog that they only do a fixed declaration for fuel. Dipping the tank to see if we've got enough to get back to Mercia showed that we've got about a third of a tank, probably less than 70 litres of useable fuel altogether. It will be prudent to stop at Stone again to fill up.

Tomorrow, another half seven start, up three locks to the service wharf for water, to dump rubbish and to start a wash load, then up the last three to the tunnel mouth. Once through, we'll go on to Westport Lake as usual. I expect it will be pretty busy on a sunny Sunday in June.

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