Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back on my old stomping ground

The last few days have been great. Fabulous scenery, good company and the chance to catch up with some old work colleagues.

Bosley Locks was early on the agenda for Wednesday. We really enjoy this flight of 12 locks and it's hard to believe that they are the only ones, apart from the stop lock at Hall Green, on this 26 mile stretch of canal when you are surrounded by hills for most of its length. We were straight into the flight as a boat was just leaving the bottom lock as we approached. We shared the locking and the steering and met a couple of boats coming down, and only having to turn one lock as we ascended the flight. Without seeming to rush at all and taking in the views as we went, we were at the top in under 2 hours. 

Bosley Locks
The phrase 'It's a small world' is often heard, and today was no exception. Louise was chatting to a couple of walkers half way up the flight who were watching us through a lock as they had a picnic lunch. Louise thought she recognised the lady, but couldn't place her. Turns out she works at our local supermarket in Derby. I'm sure the chap she was with would have been her husband..................

Louise was again at the helm as we approached Fools Nook electric swing bridge. She's not a fan of technology - turning keys and pressing buttons and all that. Just one 'City Link' van held up for all of a minute or two, but looking less than impressed by the experience. I'm sure he appreciated my cheery wave and thank you as he sped off once the barriers raised. Slow down man !!
Approaching Macclesfield
We were heading for Gurnett Aqueduct for the night and hoping there would be room. We were in luck as we rounded the bend, although the rings here seem to be awkwardly spaced and very wide apart. We were soon joined by our youngest son Luke and his girlfriend Annabelle who were going to be with us for a couple of days and we decided to try the Sutton Hall pub close by. What a lovely place. 480 years old and a former convent amongst other things. A fabulous meal, a varied and interesting menu (Louise loved her tandoori Hake fillet with cauliflower bhajis) friendly service and dog friendly too. A definite winner.

Sutton Hall. Luke not really wanting to be photographed !!
Yesterday we moved on up to Bugsworth Basin. Sunshine most of the way apart from a very brief shower. Not many boats moving at all and of course lock free, so the new crew were pretty redundant. The old mills along this stretch are a reminder of the industry that once was. Clarence Mill at Bollington in particular is a magnificent building.
Clarence Mill
We were at Marple Junction by early afternoon and turned right onto the Peak Forest. The water is a little down on this normally shallow water and we scraped the bottom on several occasions. The crew were soon in action on the swing bridges along here. The views out over the hills were fabulous once again.

Views across to the hills...........magnificent
Passing through New Mills, the smell from the Swizzels sweet factory was lovely. I'm sure everyone has tasted a packet of 'Love Hearts' in their time. Well this is where they came from.
Swizzels factory
Bugsworth is a lovely spot to moor and pretty quiet at the minute. Just a handful of boats scattered around the basins.

We ate last night at The Navigation, once run by Pat Phoenix of Coronation Street fame, before we were joined by our friends Paul and Jane for drinks. Today we have stayed put. We had always planned to stay here for a day or two as we have the time, plus the weather has been very wet. It was a chance to invite some of my old work mates along for a catch up. I worked up here as a young cop back in the 80's and have a lot of great memories and friends up here. We have had a steady stream all day and it's been great taking a trip back down Memory Lane with them. 

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