Sunday, 15 September 2013
Big Trip - Day 20
We had a good evening chatting to Chris and Steve about boats and all sort of other things. Steve was able to answer lots of our questions about the Stanlow oil refinery, such as what type of oil goes into the ships, and why pipes have bends in them.
And this morning we saw them again, as they volunteered to help us up the huge triple staircase locks at Northgate. We set off at 9am, and Chris and Steve were already emptying the bottom lock and filling the top two, in preparation for our ascent. In spite of the low cloud, there are fantastic views of the Welsh mountains.
They are very deep and imposing locks. Unfortunately the paddle gear is hydraulic, so each paddle takes dozens of turns, but they fill really quite gently. A passer-by helped open a few gates, and a very docile pigeon sat on the gates and was completely unpeturbed by them being pushed open. Steve has put a full description on his blog. Many thanks for the help, and we hope to meet Chris and Steve again when AmyJo is on the water.
At the top of the locks, the canal takes a course round the city walls of Chester, and under the Bridge of Sighs -- between the jail and a chapel where condemned prisoners could get the last rights before being executed.
Our journey up the lock had been timed so that we could visit Tesco which is right by the city centre moorings. This plan was slightly scuppered when it turned out that the store didn't open until 11am. So we ran a wash load, lit the fire, and I washed the Anderton boat lift drips from the side of the boat which was now next to the towpath. A second visit to Tesco was also short-lived as I found I needed a pound coin for the trolley. But then everything went to plan as I shopped during the browsing time and had the goods on the conveyer belt when the tills went live at 11am.
The rest of the canal through Chester is also quite interesting, with lots of old and new buildings.
The area round the lead shot tower is being redeveloped. Fortunately the tower itself is listed. They used to make shot by pouring molten lead through a sieve at the top, and by the time it reached water at the bottom it had formed itself into perfect spheres. Together with the water tower with its blue tank, it means Chester has a notable skyline.
All the locks were in our favour, and we met three boats coming down so could leave some gates open for them. The locks are vicious on the way up though, and opening a paddle -- any paddle -- fully means the boat is swept across the lock and whacks into the opposite wall.
There is a lovely lock cottage for sale right next to Tarvin Lock. Yours for just £455,000.
As the forecast torrential rain hadn't arrived, we decided to carry on for a bit. We passed the Cheshire Cat pub, where we've eaten very well in the past, went through Waverton, and past the interminable moorings at Goolden Nook. I confess I passed on slightly more than tickover: the wind was strong and gusty, and any lower speed would have had us scraping down the sides of the moored boats; plus they were being buffetted by the wind far more than by our wash.
We moored just before the entrance to Tattenhall Marina at about 2.30 -- good timing as it turned out, as there have been some torrential downpours since we stopped. We have another family visit planned for tomorrow, so we won't be going far, and if the winds are as strong as forecast, we may not go anywhere at all!
8 miles, 8 locks. (239 miles, 131 locks)