On Wednesday 13th May, the lockdown restrictions on the English waterways were relaxed slightly to permit day trips for leisure boaters. So I took the opportunity to fire up the narrowboat and do a five-hour cruise down towards Fazeley Junction and back.
After crossing the Mersey estuary with Minimal List aboard NB Perseverance, we now had a 36-mile journey up the Manchester Ship Canal, to get to Salford. Also aboard, as before, London Boat Girl Lorna.
In mid-October I moored the narrowboat on the Macclesfield and hopped on a bus and a train to Liverpool where I met with Jo and Michael of “Minimal List”. They had a rather interesting trip planned, to take their narrowboat across the Mersey estuary and up the Manchester Ship Canal. Joined by Lorna (aka “London Boat Girl”), we got up at a ridiculous time of the morning and set off. This is Part 1 of that journey, covering the Mersey crossing.
For the final leg of my 2019 autumn cruise, I continued along the Upper Peak Forest canal, south towards Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth basin. The six mile streth of canal includes two swing bridges and two lift bridges so I shamelessly took advantage of some passing hire boaters to help me through.
The northern end of the Macclesfield canal was in sight (well, about six miles away) and a beautiful day dawned so the engine was engaged and the boat chugged along up to Marple where, at a T-junction, you meet the Peak Forest canal. I turned right and headed south along the Upper Peak Forest, just a little way to find somewhere to stop.
My journey up the Macclesfield canal continued, leaving a lovely mooring at the top of Bosley locks and going through two swing bridges which weren’t as bad as I feared even though they are a nuisance when you’re travelling solo. Through Macclesfield itself where I stopped to nip to the shops, and then Bollington before stopping just on the north of the town.
Pressing on from the mooring at LMH – see last vlog – I unexpectedly stop early for a week when the Bosley lock flight is closed due to a leak in the canal at the top. Once it’s re-opened, I go up the flight in a pretty good time, all things considered, despite the peculiar “dual top gate” installation on these locks.
Having explored the furthest, murkiest depths of the Caldon canal, I turned around, came back the way I’d come and continued up the Trent & Mersey canal, through Harecastle tunnel and then took a sharp left onto the Macclesfield canal. Spoiler alert: it’s utterly lovely.
Having stopped overnight at the end of the Froghall arm, I turned the narrowboat and headed back the way I’d come, up to the junction where the Caldon canal had split into two. One very sharp left turn later and I was going down the Leek branch through heavily wooded sections and a very narrow tunnel indeed, emerging at the navigable end of that part of the canal.