Harecastle to River Dane Aqueduct, Macclesfield Canal
11.5 miles, 1 lock
The 'smashing' day actually started the evening before when Chris knocked a wine glass off the table. Thankfully he had thoughtfully emptied it first, but it still took ages to clear up to ensure no glass was left to get into Monty's paws. Then very shortly afterwards it was my turn - I dropped a small glass dessert bowl whilst washing up, so the clear up process was repeated all over again! I did suggest we should break a match to ensure three breakages, but despite not doing so I am glad to say everything else on the boat remained intact that evening!
And so to the next day which dawned dry if a little overcast. We were up bright and early and ready to go through the tunnel by 08:15 as requested the night before. We had read the instructions (they do appear at all tunnels on the canal network) and were all kitted out in waterproofs (tunnels are usually very wet) and life jackets. The tunnel keeper came across with more instructions which mainly related to what to do if anything goes wrong - a long blast on your horn every 30 seconds until you hear the answering three quick blasts when they will send a rescue party. Is it like this at every tunnel? No most do not have tunnel keepers at each end. A lot are wide enough for two way traffic and those that are too narrow are short enough that you can check visually to see if it is clear. At this tunnel it is one way and is strictly controlled. The other issue is that in some places the roof is very low, so care is needed to ensure you don't bang your head. Tragically a couple of years ago and man died in this tunnel. His wife was inside (my place of choice in a tunnel) when she realised the boat was banging the sides, so she went to check and her husband had gone. They think he must have banged his head, been knocked off unconscious and subsequently drowned. Hence the advice to wear a life jacket. Because of this I decided I should stay out on the back deck with Chris.
At 08:25 we were off with our air horn ready as our boat horn was deemed not to be loud enough to hear. The gate was opened and off we went and easily cleared the gauge.
Once you are in, the gate is closed behind you. They will allow up to 8 boats at a time to transit, but we were on our own.
Then daylight disappears as the doors are shut and the noise begins as the fans are put on to force the air through. This is when poor Monty began to pant and shake - I am afraid it does not take much to upset him. I had to retreat inside for his sake. I sat down hoping he would come and sit with me, but no he just stood looking miserable, panting and dripping saliva. When I got up and moved around he actually seem happier, so I amused myself with the duster and polish, cleaned the bathroom and toilet - not a 'smashing' birthday activity
I also hung up my cards - extra string was needed this year.
As we neared the other end Monty and I went back onto the deck and we very soon emerged safely and bade farewell to the tunnel keeper at the north portal. It took us a little over 35 minutes. If you have not appeared after 1.25 hours they will come in to look for you.
The first thing you notice on exiting is the very red water.
This the view behind us as we made our way towards
the junction of the Macclesfield Canal
Turn left and onto new waters for Tentatrice. We were here 22 years ago on a hire boat, but have very little memory of it, so effectively new waters for us as well.
And what a delightful waterway it is - it could be described as 'smashing'
Very shortly after you join the canal it turns sharply right and there is an aqueduct over the Trent and Mersey Canal that we had just left
There is one very shallow stop lock with a very narrow exit going south; entrance for us going north. We did not want any 'smashing' here, so Chris kept well back until they had exited and were clear.
The visual delights were indeed 'smashing'.
This row of cottages could almost be described as Neapolitan had the middle cottage been a little browner!
And the pink one is called 'Teapot Hall'!
Onward we travelled past Ramsdell Hall
With these magnificent railings on the towpath side. They were beautifully restored to their former glory in 2008/2009 with money from the Macclesfield Canal Society and British Waterways.
The reason for such delightful railings can be found below
And indeed one might say it is 'smashing'!
There are several narrow parts on this canal and almost invariably it is where you meet oncoming traffic.
We were both very taken with this multi-lingual sign in Congleton
And as for the views they get better
No hesitation here - straight across
So we moored nose to nose. We could have gone up the bottom lock, winded (turned) and come back down again so we would be ready to move off again on Monday, however our side hatch is on the starboard side
And who could resist such a view?
Sue and Ken from nb Cleddau have been here since Friday and are helping out at the 'Halous' event as members of the Macclesfield Canal Society - this has been held at the 12 Bosley locks for the last 24 years. They aim to have 1 to 2 volunteers on every lock on the Saturday and Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Monty and I left Chris with the Sunday paper (and to have a nap!) whilst we walked up the flight and there at lock 5 we found Sue.
Also present at the event (well running it) were Patrick and Angela from nb Chouette (seen here looking very smart after a re-paint earlier this year). They were the third boat in our convoy across the Wash two years ago.
The day ended on board nb Cleddau celebrating my birthday and our 'Wash' reunion with some champagne from a Gloucestershire vineyard - a birthday gift to me from our friends Jane and Chris who did so much for us last week - thank you both - it was very good. Inevitably we did not manage one good photo of all of us, but this was the best of the bunch. From the left - Angela, Sue, Me, Patrick and Ken.
Had we not had the problem with our batteries we would not have come this way. It was a truly 'smashing' day, so maybe the delay was for a good reason.