Monday, 16 September 2013

Big Trip - Day 21

We woke to a sky with blue patches in some directions, and threatening black clouds in the other.  We set off at 8.40, with a fairly unambitious target in mind as we were expecting a family visit later.

At times the weather was sunny, but every now and then a sharp shower would pass over, often lasting just half a minute or so.  We had to turn the first lock, and while Adrian did so the wind really got up and it was also very cold.  This whole stretch has some fantastic views of Beeston Castle.

We knew the hotel pair, Duke and Duchess we ahead of us, but we relieved to see them getting fuel at Chas Hardern boats.  It meant we overtook them at Beeston Iron lock, which actually is made of iron, and has a notice warning of dire consequences if you try putting two boats in it.

Along the way we picked up a single handing boater, which made the locks easier in some ways.  With two boats in the lock, there's much less bashing about.  The locks have lovely little round buildings alongside.

At the Bunbury staircase pair, the bottom lock was already empty as two boats were coming down, and the top was being filled by a hire boat at the top.  It meant it was the perfect opportunity to practice the Bunbury Shuffle.  So we started with two boats in the bottom lock and one in the top.

When the water had levelled, our lock partner moved into the top lock.
Then Adrian moved Briar Rose over to the other side.

Then the hire boat moved into the bottom lock.

Finally, our lock partner moved over, and Adrian could go into the top lock.

The hire boaters had seemed bemused by the whole concept, but after I told them the manoeuvre had a name, and was a kind of badge of honour, I reckon they'll now be telling all their friends!

We stopped at the services at Calvely to fill the water tank, and started a wash load.  Then we carried on to Barbridge Junction, where a boat was coming out of the Middlewich Arm and turning south.  It hit the off side pretty hard before getting round.

We looked longingly up the Middlewich Arm.  We've intended to do it several times, but one thing or another has always prevented us.  Unfortunately it's not on the agenda this trip either, but will remain a reasons for returning to this area.

We moored up at about 1.30 immediately before Bridge 100 and I went to scout out car parking opportunities.  Adrian made banana bread, while i prepared dinner.  At about 4pm my sister arrived with her husband and their two girls.  We took the kids for a walk up to the junction, they enjoyed looking at ducks and swans, and we had cottage pie for dinner.  It's been great seeing them all again (and all together this time!) and Rachel and Emily are both real little characters (and seem to quite like the idea of boating)

The phone and internet signal here is variable to say the least, so we've been forced to come over to the Old Barbridge Inn for wifi

8 miles, 6 locks.  (247 miles, 137 locks)

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