Monday 19th September
Swanley Bridge Marina to near Hurleston Junction
1 mile, 0 locks
First job of the day was the saddest - we bade Sue and Ken farewell. A much shorter joint voyage than the previous two years, but it was so good to spend some time with you both again and on such a lovely stretch of the canal system.
as we left our mooring opposite Swanley Bridge Marina at 08:30 to moor up in the marina for a service at 09:00. The latter all went very smoothly and we were able to stay in the marina to make use of all their facilities - launderette (bedding and towels), showers, elsan, rubbish, water and diesel
before we left to move a little further down the canal. A busy domestic day with things that had to be done, but it could not be called exciting.
Tuesday 20th September 2016
Near Hurleston Junction to The Shady Oak Pub, Beeston Castle
8 miles, 10 locks
Today is where the perfect timing came in from start to finish of the day. We slipped away from our moorings at 08:30 to arrive at the four locks at Hurleston to find no queue. There was, however, a single-hander just leaving the first lock, so we thought we were in for a long transit down. We were, however, wrong as two hire boats arrived behind us with a lot of adult experienced crew and they all pitched in to get everyone where they needed to be which included two single-handers coming up.
We made it down in around 35 minutes - vastly quicker than when we went up a couple of weeks ago.
We arrived at Barbridge Junction to use the services to find it empty. As we were ready to leave this boat popped out of the Middlewich Arm straight into the opposite bank before winding and getting the stern stuck on the far bank. He was getting it sorted when
This boat emerged to join the fun!
It all got sorted and we were able to proceed onto new waters for us. Just before bridge 103a Chris spotted this Texaco garage - too good an opportunity to get the paper to pass by, so I was equipped with the voucher and some money and sent off to see what they had
The problem was getting there up this steep embankment! Someone has left some blue rope to help haul oneself up which I did successfully.
The next hurdle was the railing - it is a good job I have reasonably long legs. Then it was across a busy road, but I was successful and found it had most basic supplies before I had to repeat the journey in reverse to get back to the boat. The only safe way down the embankment was on my bottom - not dignified, but needs must.
I asked the other day what the 'cupboard' in a bridge was for and Les from nb Valerie answered that it was for stop planks - had I waited until today I would not have had to ask the question as this one has no doors.
Yet more perfect timing as we approached the staircase locks at Bunbury - there were two voluntary lock keepers and the lock was ready for us.
The locks here are broad, so even better a boat came up behind us to share the two staircase locks and the next two.
This lock cottage struck me as odd with no windows on the canal side - did the lock keeper not want to view his work?
I did note a mobile home in the garden, so I wonder if someone has bought it as a project? It certainly has potential.
The second lock at Beeston is iron sided and although it is notionally a broad lock the advice is only one boat at a time as there have been boats caught on the side. The boat that had shared the previous four locks with helped us with this lock, so we stopped below the lock and gave them a hand.
We are moored with Beeston Castle as a view from the tow path - it really is an idyllic spot and one we look forward to re-visiting on our return.
nb Inca - this is another boat name you need to look at very carefully! For those who did not see their post - look HERE.