Tuesday 17 September 2013

Cheshire Ring or Circus Ring

The decision was made – we'd do the Cheshire Ring. This meant, since we'd moored up just through the bridge where the Macclesfield canal starts, we'd have to reverse back through the narrow section and the bridge, before starting our way down the Marple locks. Simple enough idea on a wet morning in September. Except…

First a single boater came up the Macc just in time to get through the bridge and turn left before us. He chatted cheerfully, not apologetically, as he passed – how was he to know we were facing the wrong way? Then a windlass wielder came through the bridge on foot to say that his boat was coming up the last lock. He thought there'd be time for me to do my reversing before then, so I pushed out to get in position. Suddenly, with a blast of horn, another boat swung in under the bridge from the Bugsworth direction. "Oh," said the windlass wielder, "where did he come from?" Because of how I was set, the new boat didn't realise I was manoeuvring to come back through the bridge, and thought I should move out of his way so he could get to the water point. Once he'd passed, I was able to get into the channel and reverse back through the bridge, but I was also getting signals from the 70 foot boat for disabled people that moors just opposite where we had spent the night. He apparently wanted to follow us through and wind in the junction. As I came out I found the boat waiting to emerge from the lock, the singlehander alongside the towpath waiting to go in, and another boat coming down from Bugsworth wanting to go down the Macc. There's not a lot of space at the best of times for turning, and the water is shallow enough to make manoeuvres difficult. So I turned to face the lock, invited the boat from Bugsworth to back up a little and reversed up after him towards Bugsworth, the singlehander followed me backwards, the boat coming up came out of the lock and tied up on the towpath, the singlehander went for the lock, neatly avoiding the 70 footer that was coming out of the Macc. The 70 footer winded nicely and went back through the bridge, followed by the boat that had come out of the lock, followed in turn by the boat behind me, and I was at last able to get into position to go into the lock myself. By now, of course, it was down, and it takes a very long time to fill!

It's the first of 16 dropping 216 feet in about a mile. You can work out the average – these locks feel deep! Between numbers 10 and 9, you come across Lockside Mill, which used to be "Samuel Oldknow's Warehouse".

The gated water entrance reminded me of the Tower of London's Traitor's Gate – if you went in, who knows whether you'd ever get out! Whatever, I'm sure Dave would help you – he's one of those nice CRT volunteers and gave us a hand down the second half of the flight.

After the locks, it's the aqueduct.

Quite a relief that they didn't make you lock all the way down to the bottom of the valley and up the other side! To one side the railway gets a similar lift.

Tonight we're moored up just a little after, in the middle of nowhere – blackberries and elderberries for picking, sheep bleating, no-one else on the cut. And, 100 yards away, that railway line with a huge goods train every 5 minutes!


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