Nov 23rd 09
Sorry for the recent hiatus, there have been several days where we have had a very poor dongle signal and also we have been a bit preoccupied with one thing and another. However since the last blog we have been there and back again, so to speak! We left our mooring with the beautiful views on Tuesday, November 17th and cruised up to Whaley Bridge. There is a junction just before Whaley Bridge itself that turns into the Bugsworth Basin, however we continued on past this to see what the moorings were like at the end of the canal – not brilliant I’m afraid! We passed lots of permanent moorers then finally arrived at what were designated visitor moorings but there was no space at all! So we turned around and headed back down towards the junction. There is a large Tesco’s here and we really needed to do some shopping so we pulled in at the end of the permanent moorings and tied up illicitly! One is supposed to have a long-term mooring permit to moor here, which of course wehaven’t! However as we were only stopping for about an hour to give us chance to go shopping we didn’t think anybody would mind. It was pouring with rain by this time and we were very glad that we didn’t have far to walk toTesco’s, it was very close indeed.
We managed to get all our shopping back on board and whilst I was stowing it away Clive untied the boat and headed off to the junction and turned right. The channel was quite narrow here but finally it opened out into the Bugsworth Basin itself and we saw a couple of other boats moored up so we went and joined them. It was still raining so we were very glad to get the boat secured and get inside where it was warm and dry.
We didn’t set foot out of the boat until Thursday because the weather was so inclement! We then decided it was time to go out and have a look around and find out what Bugsworth Basin was all about. It turns out that this was once a teeming, thriving industrial centre. For over 100years it was a centre for the production of burned lime and all around there are the ruins of lime kilns and other buildings relating to the industry. There were many narrowboats here in those days, all carrying limestone from the quarries to be turned into lime in the kilns. There would have been smoke billowing all around from the kilns and hundreds of people around working either on the boats or in the lime production but it finally closed in1927. Now it is a quiet, peaceful and very pleasant place having been restored and reopened to pleasure boaters in 2005.
On our tour of the site we discovered there was also a pub (surprise, surprise!) called The Navigation. So we popped in and had a wee drinky poo and a chat with the landlord. We wanted to know if it would be OK for us to stop in the basin a bit longer than the allotted 48 hours it stated on the notice board. He said it would be OK, that BW wouldn’t fine us for staying over. The reason we wanted to stay is because Vicki was coming up to visit us for the weekend and it was a really convenient place for her to get to and be able to park her car right next to the boat.
On Friday morning we decided to move the boat, just a short distance to the water point so that we could fill the tank and also turn the boat around because the channel we were moored in was actually a dead end. That done we reversed back down to our mooring, now facing the way out!
Vicki finally arrived about 9pm having had a three hour journey up from Cambridge. It was lovely to see her – it’s been a while, six weeks in fact! We had dinner and then just sat and chatted until it was time to go to bed.
Saturday arrived with drizzle – yeuch! However we had been expecting it and decided it wasn’t going to stop us going out. Whilst Clive and I had been in The Navigation on Thursday I had picked up a leaflet for an Otter and Owl park which wasn’t far away so we decided to go there. We got all togged up in our waterproofs and piled into Vicki’s car. It didn’t take us long to get there and when we arrived we decided to start off in the café where we had a lovely cream tea! After our snack we braved the elements again and set off on our tour of the park. It was very soggy but we still enjoyed walking around the grounds and finally arrived at the little wooden cabins with their enclosures and ponds where the otters lived. There were several speciesof otters in the park from the tiny little Short Clawed Asian Otters to the enormous Giant Otters of South America. Unfortunately because of the clouds and the teeming rain I just couldn’t get any decent photographs, it was just too dark! It was very frustrating. However we really enjoyed watching all the otters, who of course were in their element – water! They were all extremely vocal and we soon found out why – it was lunchtime! The keeper arrived with lots of lovely fish and the otters were soon tucking in with gusto!
There are also quite a few owls at the park, they were not so enamoured with the rain and very sensibly stayed under cover. There were also pole cats and pine martens –I was really surprised at how big the pine marten was, having only ever seen one on TV before. They are much bigger than I imagined. We were also delighted to see a couple of Scottish Wildcats and even a sly old fox!
Finally when we were as wet and soggy as we could possibly be we decided enough was enough and headed back to the car. We took a detour back to the boat via Tesco’s for a few more bits and pieces then finally we were back on board. The boat was soon festooned with dripping waterproofs and we also put a clothesline up in the saloon to dry our trousers! Still we all agreed that seeing the otters had made it all worthwhile.
Once we were all dried out we realised we were getting a bit peckish so we donned our waterproofs once again and strolled down to the pub for a meal and a drink – miraculously it had stopped raining! We ordered our meals and Vicki and I plumbed for a glass of hot mulled wine each – yummy! Our starters arrived and were very nice indeed. A short time later our waitress emerged from the kitchen with a large plate and promptly dropped it (hot plate!). The contents went all over the carpet – oh dear! What made it even worse was when I discovered it was my venison casserole that had gone for a burton! The waitress was extremely embarrassed and very apologetic, explaining that there would be a short delay before my meal arrived. Meanwhile Vicki and Clive’s meals arrived and I told them to start without me. Eventually mine arrived and it was delicious, well worth the wait. Finally replete we headed off back to the boat.
Vicki wanted to leave before lunch as she had a three hour drive in front of her so I rustled up some bacon butties for brunch and finally, about 11.30am, we said goodbye to her. About half an hour after she had left we decided to take advantage of a lull in the weather and set off back down the Peak Forest Canal, back the way we had come. It took us about an hour to arrive back at the moorings with the lovely views we had left last Tuesday. We soon tied up and were back inside in the warm, just in the nick of time before the heavens opened. It was also very windy and the boat kept bumping up against the bank! A few minutes later Clive’s phone rang, it was Vicki. She had broken down just before she reached the M1, at Chesterfield! She had tried to phone us earlier but neither of us had a signal so by the time she finally got through to us she had already had the roadside recovery people out to look at her car, which was overheating. They thought it might be the thermostat, or it could possibly be the water pump, they weren’t really sure! However they filled her up with water again to be on the safe side and after speaking to us she very apprehensively set off again. Fortunately by taking it slow and stopping on the way to let the engine cool down she finally arrived home at 5o’clock! Poor kid! She has to drive to Heathrow Airport tomorrow to fetch Ben who is arriving back from Peru so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the car will cope! She is taking a big bottle of water in the car just in case!
So we are staying put for the next couple of days as the weather is going to be a bit grim according to the forecasters. Hope to goodness it clears up over the next couple of weeks – it has to be nice for the wedding!