Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stuck in the middle of Middlewich

We left our moorings at Rode Heath in beautiful sunshine yesterday morning and continued the journey down 'Heartbreak Hill'. The lock gear has recently been greased, but it is still very difficult at times to operate. We shared the steering and the locking all the way to Wheelock and then enjoyed a steady cruise into Middlewich.
Louise at the helm on Heartbreak Hill
We then headed onto a new stretch of water for us, beyond Middlewich Junction towards Preston Brook. The excitement lasted for about two minutes !! As we passed Middlewich Narrowboats, we were told that there was a stoppage at Lock 74 for 'Health & Safety reasons'. We tied up behind a hire boat at Lock 72 and went to investigate the problem. Three CRT workmen were congregated around the bottom gates, all looking bemused. There were several boats tied up obviously waiting to ascend the locks, but nobody was going anywhere.

The problem was a pillar adjacent to the gate hinge had come away from the brickwork and was in danger of becoming completely detached. The gate was leaking badly and so until a decision was made by the 'H&S Committee' the lock was to remain shut. How long for was hard to say, but after much head scratching and a general lack of communication, it changed from 'not until at least tomorrow if you're lucky' to 'let's go to Kidsgrove and get a couple of Acro props and do a temporary repair'. In the meantime it gave us time to get provisions from the nearby town.
Lock repairs by 'Bodge It & Scarper'
Once the decision was made to do the repair, things moved pretty swiftly, and just over four hours after we arrived, we were able to descend the locks. We moored at Croxton for the night at the location which suffered a breach (or at least one of them) last year. The repair job is excellent and you can see why it took a long time to fix.        

Today we have had a lazy day. The dogs woke us at about 5.30am, but it did mean that Louise decided to put the bread maker on and we awoke later to the smell of fresh bread. We did some odd jobs and lazed about until late morning and then cruised up to Anderton. Apart from the industrial section around Northwich, it is a lovely section of canal, although the towpath and banks could really do with some attention. We are moored just before the boat lift and have enjoyed a walk around and a lovely meal at The Stanley Arms tonight.
Anderton Boat Lift
A relaxing afternoon by the river. 

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