Thursday 29 September 2016


Lock 66, just out of Wheelock, is the first of the long series that takes you right up and away from the Cheshire plain.

Like many on this stretch, it is a side-by-side pair though, as here, one of a pair is often temporarily or permanently out of commission. They come in rapid succession.

The higher we climbed, the windier it got! When doing normal cruising speed, Erin Mae copes fine with wind, provided it's not too strong. The difficulties come at slow speed and, especially today, when emerging from a lock on a bend.

With the wind from the right, there's little problem coming out of the right-hand lock. But if you're in the left-hand chamber, even a slight right-hander just ahead can see you pushed to the side with no hope of escape!

You go down the side to push the bows off, but by the time you're back at the steering position the wind has blown them in again! At one lock I had to get off onto the central pontoon with one of the centre lines, to pull Erin Mae well out into the main channel. With the wind we had today, that took a fair amount of effort. However, as they say, it's a ill wind that blows nobody any good.

We'd run a wash-load while coming up the hill, and in no time at all after mooring up at Rode Heath it was out on the Vango whirligig with the sun / wind combination doing a fine job of getting it all dry. Rode Heath is a nice spot with mooring rings, about half-way up "Heartbreak Hill", very convenient for those who don't fancy doing it all in one go.

We've tied up just by the entrance to "Rode Heath Rise", of which Nicholson's guide says "Once the site of a salt works, it has now been landscaped and restored as a wildflower meadow."

From up here, there's not much sign of wildflower proliferation, but perhaps it's the wrong season. And it looks a long way down the path. At least, should we decide to explore it, the wind will be blowing us back up the hill on our return!


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