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Wednesday Oct 28th - Oakgrove (Fools Nook)

Friday Oct 23rd – Hem Heath to Kidsgrove


We got up early as planned, had a quick breakfast then we were off!  It was pretty uneventful cruising through Stoke on Trent and we were pleased to see that the canal was much cleaner than when we passed this way last year, then it was full of all sorts of rubbish and not very pleasant! 


Once through Stoke on Trent it wasn’t long before we arrived at the Harecastle Tunnel.  We had to moor up and speak to the BW guy first.  He took down our licence number, checked the name of the boat, asked if we had any pets on board, how many souls on board etc etc then gave us a list of dos and don'ts whilst in the tunnel. He told us we would have about a 30 minute wait as there was a boat coming through the tunnel from the other end – Harecastle is a narrow tunnel and there is only room for one way traffic. A short while later he came over to tell us that the other boat was making good speed and it would be through shortly.  Sure enough about ten minutes later the gate opened and a narrowboat emerged from the tunnel, then it was our turn! 


The entrance to Harecastle Tunnel

The journey through the tunnel took about 40 minutes and there are places where the ceiling gets lower and lower and you do have to duck – fortunately neither of us are particularly tall so it wasn’t too bad!  It was long, dark, dank and drippy but finally we emerged at the other end having not seen or heard the Bogart, nor did we smell bacon cooking!  We were however very glad to see the sky again. We were in for a bit of a surprise though, the water lever at this end of the tunnel was really low, about eight inches lower than normal and when the water is shallow it makes quite a difference to the way the boat handles, it feels as if it is being sucked down and scraping the bottom, so the going is quite slow. 


Red Bull junction

It wasn’t long before we reached the Red Bull Junction where we turned off the Trent and Mersey Canal onto the Macclesfield Canal.  A short while later we arrived at the aqueduct at Kidsgrove, which takes the canal over a road and this is where we moored up for the night, almost in the same spot where we had moored last year!


Saturday Oct 24th - Kidsgrove to Congleton


It was a bit drizzly when we got up this morning and we both donned our waterproof jackets.  We soon arrived at Hall Green Lock, which is a stop lock – a lock that only changes the water level by about a foot!  I recognised the cottage next to the lock and whilst I was winding the paddles a lady came out of the cottage with a dog.  I asked her if this was the cottage where Wolfie lived and she said that it was – she was ever so surprised that I knew!  Wolfie is her grandson, he is nearly four years old and we met him as we passed through this lock last year.  His name is Wolfgang and he is named after Mozart!  His mother is a classical music buff – she told us that she also likes Beethoven but didn’t feel that she could call her baby Ludwig!!! We didn’t see Wolfie today because he is now living in Norfolk with his mummy. 


I remembered that last year I was extremely nervous watching little Wolfie around the lock, he was ever so little and had come out of the cottage by himself to “help” me with the lock!  His mother came out a short while later and chuckled at my concern - she explained that her mother had been a boatee and that she herself was actually born on a narrowboat, Wolfie had lived in this cottage ever since he was born and so was perfectly at home around the lock. 


Once through the lock I went back inside to get organised for our trip to Huddersfield.  Clive had expected the journey to Congleton would take about an hour, however due to the shallowness of the canal and the fact that there were a lot of moored boats around, it took us double that!  We finally arrived though and fortunately there was plenty of room on the moorings, which was a huge relief.  Because I had been inside the boat packing and getting the boat ready to leave I hadn’t realised that the early morning drizzle had turned to rain – Clive hadn’t put his waterproof trousers on and he was therefore wet through! 


Once we were moored up and Clive had got all his stuff ready it had finally stopped raining so he set off to walk down into Congleton to fetch the hire car whilst I put everything on the bed ready to load into the car when he got back.


Clive arrived back a short time later with a little Renault Clio and we soon had all the bags packed into the boot and were ready for off.  Last thing before we set off we decided to move the bags of coal that were on the roof into the cratch – just in case somebody took a fancy to them! 


It only took us about an hour and a half to drive to Huddersfield and it was great to see Clive’s parents again.  There was a lovely pot of stew waiting for us when we arrived and we really enjoyed it –especially me, I always enjoy food that I haven’t had to cook!


Sunday Oct 25th


On the way down to my sister Thelma’s party we stopped off at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to visit my Auntie Nellie (my father’s only sister) who was 90 years old on October 10th.  She has been in hospital for a few weeks but was looking very well when we went to visit her and she is hopefully going to be discharged very soon.  I got Clive to take a photograph of us – well I was looking reasonably presentable as I was on my way to a party and Auntie Nellie looked great!

Auntie Nellie and I

We had a lovely time at Thelma’s party.  It was great to see my brother Nick and my nephew James and his lovely little girl, Ella. It was also really good to see some old family friends like Pat and Claire whom we see far too little of unfortunately.  Clive’s mum and dad came too and so did Clive’s sister Carol and her husband Ivan.  Later on in the evening we all got our instruments out and had a bit of a jam, then it was time to go home to bed.


Monday Oct 26th


We finally left Huddersfield late morning after saying our farewells. We didn’t drive straight back to Congleton as we were making a detour via Great Haywood.  When we had called inat the marina there on the boat last week to use the laundry facilities Clive had a word with one of the engineers and asked if he could make him a couple of brackets to bolt onto the stern so that when Terry arrives with the finished “pram hood” there would be something for him to fasten the bottom of the canopy to.   When we arrived the brackets were ready for us, he had made a great job of them, they were exactly what we needed.  Clive just needs to paint them now so that they match the boat! 


Once we had our brackets we headed back up the M6 to Congleton and were very relieved to find Lady Arwen all in one piece, exactly where we had left her – I do get a bit paranoid when we leave her overnight on her own, so after two nights I was doubly worried, but needlessly, she was fine!  We unpacked the car and stowed everything back on board then Clive left me to unpack whilst he returned the hire car. 


Although we had actually been on the mooringsfor 48 hours already it was far too late to set off and try and find anothermooring so we stayed put for one more night.


Tuesday October 27th – Congleton to the bottom of the Bosley Lock Flight


It was surprisingly mild when we got up thismorning – especially considering this time last year temperatures had plummeted and we had our first snowfall!  We had a very pleasant cruise indeed through the lovely countryside which flanks the Macc.  We remembered from last year how pretty it was.  We didn’t intend going too far today and eventually arrived at some visitor moorings just before the start of the Bosley Lock Flight.  We moored up and got settled in for the evening.  Much to our dismay there was absolutely no mobile signal whatsoever and therefore the dongle didn’t have a signal either – a black hole!  However much to our amazement we had an excellent TV signal so after dinner we settled down to watch the news then David Attenburgh’s “Life” programme. After that we watched a couple of episodes of NCIS on the computer – yet another series that Vicki has downloaded for us.  Then it was off to bed!


Wednesday October 28th – Oakgrove


We didn’t rush to get up this morning, there was no point as we are not in a hurry to get anywhere for the next few weeks!  After breakfast I got the breadmaker out and set it going to make us a nice fresh loaf of bread.  Then I got my boots on and we headed for the first lock.  I had initially put a jumper on but that didn’t last long, I was soon far too warm – it is unbelievably mild for the time of year and evidently is going to be warmer still tomorrow – amazing!


I was rather disappointed as we reached the first lock to see another boat in front of us – I then assumed that every lock was going to be against us for the whole flight and there are twelve of them - groan!  However I was proved wrong, apart from the first lock, which I had to empty after the other boat had gone through, there was a constant stream of boats coming down the flight so it was just a case of waiting for one boat to come out of a lock then we went in.  It meant that we could leave the gates open as we left each lock so that the other boat could go straight in and they did the same for us – easy peasy!


Finally we reached the top lock and there was a water point immediately after it so we pulled over and filled up our tank.  There was also a disposal area so we could empty our bin as well.  The breadmaker beeped to say it was finished so I got the loaf out and put it to cool.  Once the water tank was full we headed off again and after a short time we arrived at Oakgrove.  We just happen to know that there is a very nice pub across the road from these moorings called Fools Nook!  Last September on our first journey North, Vicki, Gareth and Indy joined us in Congleton and we cruised up to Oakgrove with them and moored in this very same spot so that we could go and have dinner at the pub to celebrate Vicki’s birthday. As we remember the food was very good so we have decided to go and sample the fare again this evening. 


Until tomorrow…………………………….



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