Monday, 27 June 2016

Cruising the Bridgewater Canal

I went for a wander along the moorings (2 miles form Preston Brook) before taking off the other day and found out why they weren't marked in my Pearson's Canal Guide. These mooring were put in after September 2012, a plaque in the concrete and a search on the CRT website explained why. Apparently the breach made a huge hole of the canal that is usually around a metre deep.

Twenty minutes and one stop lock of less than six inches depth and we were right on time to enter Preston Brook Tunnel (1138 yards). This tunnel is a lot straighter than the previous two we have passed through. We exited the tunnel on to the Bridgewater Canal and made a short stop at Midland Chandlers, not that we could find what we were after!

Another short cruise on Friday, a couple of hours to Lymm got us on to the 3 day moorings around lunch time, the 48 moorings were reserved for working boats involved in the Transport Festival on Sunday. Not too many boats moored there just yet but it soon started to fill with some big boats. In the meantime we went for a wander into Lymm. The centre of town was marked by 'The Cross', a Grade 1 listed building erected in the 17th Century 

The Transport Festival exhibits began appearing from Friday afternoon. I took some pics of a few interesting vehicles.

We set off from Lymm on Sunday morning before things got too far underway with the Transport Festival, we'd already seen our share! A bit of a squeeze through the working boats and then we were on our way again.

The sunken boat near Lloyd's Bridge, mentioned by Irene on NB Freespirit back in May, was still there as we passed. I guess it has been left for the Bridgewater Canal management to get rid of.

Missed the mooring I was looking for at Dunham Underbridge to head off to Dunham Massey Estate so a mooring at the Dunham School Bridge was the next logical stop. It was a nice walk to the estate, about a half hour or so. After a cuppa at The Lavender Barn, we wandered through the grounds among the fallow deer and then on to house. We easily spent four hours wandering around the estate and could have spent longer, always easier since we are National Trust members and it was all free.

The house

The stables
As seems to be normal procedure now, it poured rain last night and this morning (Monday) looked bleak so I donned the full wet weather gear in preparation to scare the rain away for a two hour trip to Sale and it worked well; no rain today!

Cruising the Bridgewater has tossed up a few new experiences for us with water, rubbish bins and mooring rings very limited but we have enjoyed the wide canal and wide bridges.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Back to Anderton

It was a late start today as I tried to organise our passage into Liverpool Docks, it's been a little difficult since we are not carrying a printer/scanner on-board. I hadn't checked the forms on the Canal and River Trust website, it would have been much easier if they were online forms rather than PDFs. Anyway, with the help of Jo at the CRT Office in Anderton I was able to have the forms printed out, I filled them in and she scanned and sent them off for me.

We were hoping to get off earlier because of the tunnel timings, both on the hour. We were five minutes late for Saltersford Tunnel so a 35 minute wait at the entrance ensued. Not a long tunnel by any means at 424 yards, just that you can't see the exit with the bends in it.  By the time we were about a mile from Preston Brook Tunnel I knew we were going to miss that entry too so I called it a day at some nice rural moorings not marked in our Pearson's Guide, the mile post is just outside the boat.

I picked up a bargain at the Nantwich Canal Centre Chandlery, they were getting rid of Dri Dek tiles at £1 each rather than £5.50, our well deck needed fitting out! With time on my hands the tiles are all done.

Our timetable was geared around picking up new blinds for the boat in Middlewich on 21 June and making our way to this point has been quite enjoyable. We planned a stop along the SU Middlewich Branch just above Venetian Marina where we met Will and Michelle from The Graphics Boat.

It was a cool night and they had a fire going on the side of the canal so we took our drinks and our chairs over and introduced ourselves. By the time we had left they had organised some templates for us to upgrade the front of our boat. Not sure when I will get around to doing that since painting the bow requires me to hang out over the canal. David and Gwen in NB Harebell also turned up so it was a nice gathering.

We continued on to Middlewich via an overnight at Church Minshull to get out of the pouring rain. In Middlewich the crowd just got larger! With the nice weather back we were on our way to the King's Lock Pub when we came across Silvie and Michael from NB Chartwell, whom we had met on the Oxford Canal last year.

We did manage to pick up our curtains, on time and as promised by Pam from Jennie Edwards Interiors in Middlewich. They don't look too bad!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Touring Scotland

With Serafina back in the water I headed on up to Scotland to meet up with Rachael. A few days catching up with friends and relatives just south of Glasgow and it was time to head north. We had booked accommodation in Ballater, just near Balmoral, the Scottish holiday home of The Royal Family. We took the £12/head tour of the grounds and ball room, we weren't after the hunting and fishing options.

Across the bridge to the gate house/ticket box

After our Balmoral tour we headed just down the road to Braemar. We dropped in to Braemar Castle, on the outskirts of the township, used as a home up until 2008.

River Dee passing through the centre of Braemar

Two days in Ballater and we headed west across the Scottish Highlands totally (almost) at the mercy of the GPS which took us along quite a few small single lane lane-ways with passing places which kept me on my toes, across the top of some large mountains with ski resorts and through some beautiful scenery. 

We arrived at our first stop, the 14th century castle Eilean Donan, only a few miles short of our final destination for the next two days, Broadford, Isle of Skye.

View from the castle, the meeting of three lochs
The castle was in a great position on a small rocky island but that didn't help when the English arrived with a three of their ships around 1700AD!

Broadford Hotel, Isle of Skye, Scotland
The trip across to Skye took nearly five hours and a lot of concentration so it was good to finally get to the hotel and take it easy for the rest of the night. The next day saw us off to another castle, this time Dunvegan Castle and Gardens, the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.

Walled garden
After our tour of Dunvegan we headed off to the Fairy Pools. It took us a little bit to find them, they weren't signposted as well as they could be. I took a few photos after a couple of kilometre trek to the pools, although flowing, the locals tell me that this was only a trickle to what normally comes down from the mountains.

Time was starting to get on so heading back to the hotel we called in to check out life on Skye in the early days as a crofter (a crofter rents a small landholding to work). Very basic accommodation set up in a series of thatched huts, that included a small barn, weaving hut and blacksmith hut. Things have become a little more civilised these days as crofting continues on Skye and in Scotland.

Our last stop for the day was at Flora MacDonald's grave. This lady was famous for rowing the boat that contained Bonnie Prince Charlie ( as in the song '...speed bonnie boat like a bird on a wing...') to safety after he's defeat at the hands of the English at Culloden.

We packed a lot into the last few days and we headed south breaking the trip up into two days, the second being a comfortable three and half hours, arriving back at Serafina in the early afternoon. That gave us plenty of time to drive over to the supermarket once unpacked to load up the refrigerator and cupboard ready to head off in the morning. Driving to the supermarket was certainly a treat as it is usually a walk there with my backpack.

We are now moored just near Hurleston Locks as we start to make our way north again towards Liverpool. I forgot to mention that we now have one fully operational toilet, although a four hour repair at £50/hour I'm hoping things don't breakdown too often! I think a plumber would have been cheaper!? Never thought I would say that!