Monday 8th May - Rode Heath
Classic English countryside.
Today we are staying at Rode Heath as Tim the engineer is coming to service the engine. As we have nearly clocked up 1000 hours, he is going to do a full service and check the batteries as well.
All went well, except that we needed a replacement fan belt and the batteries needed topping up. This meant that Tim would need to source the belt and fetch the water and we weren't sure if this was going to take a few hours or a few days!
Fortunately for us, Tim returned the same day and completed the job. We were also delighted to receive a visit from Wayne and Daniel, who are Bourne Boatbuilders, it is always good to see them.
Tuesday 9th May - Rode Heath to Wheelock
We left Rode Heath in sunshine and made our way through the 14 locks down to Wheelock. The countryside is stunning and the trees are standing proud in their fresh green coats.
From one of the locks I spotted two herons standing beside a small pond in a field. It is the first time I have seen more than one heron at a time!
Ella leaving one of the duplicate locks, another beautiful day with near perfect cruising conditions.
Malkins Bank was home to the families of boatmen who worked for the salt and chemical industries, and the golf course is built on top of the huge Brunner-Mond sodium-carbonate works.
Some of the bridges when you exit the locks have very low headroom, I needed to duck!
This is an old arm of the canal which used to go into the chemical works, it is now used by a boatbuilder.
Deep concentration, watching the water exit the lock and looking for the moment when the gates are released by the water pressure and therefore able to be opened.
We moored up at Wheelock and we paid our statutory visit to the Pet Store, Toby knows his way there now!
Wednesday 10th May - Wheelock to Middlewich
As we left Wheelock heading for Middlewich, evidence of the salt mining becomes more evident. The canal has suffered from subsidence and the sides are reinforced with concrete and metal.
The salt works quite close to Middlewich has a mountain of salt, looks like an indoor ski slope!
In Middlewich we leave the Trent and Mersey Canal and turn right on to the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union.
However there is a very short canal connecting the two called The Wardle Canal, and the first lock is called Wardle Lock.
This boat was waiting to come down the lock, I was impressed with the artwork on the sides of the boat.
We moored up opposite a garden where swans were nesting. The mother swan turned the eggs whilst we were there and the gentleman seemed to think the eggs were due to hatch about the 15th May.
In the evening,as the weather was so lovely, we decided to eat at the King's Lock pub. Unfortunately, they were so short staffed that our food never made it out to us, and the cook appeared to apologise, saying that it had been sat on the hot plates for 45 minutes and we were welcome to our money back. We accepted and had fish and chips instead!!
Thursday 11th May - Middlewich to Nantwich
The next morning we made our way along this favourite stretch of the canal, until we got to Aqueduct Marina. Here we pulled in and moored up at the visitor pontoon.
We met up with Paul and Julie Lewthwaite on nb After Time. Paul and Julie bought the boat whilst they were in New Zealand and had arrived in England at the beginning of the week. They plan on spending half the year on the boat and the other half back in New Zealand. Happy Cruising!!
On our way back to the boat we spotted nb Windrush. This boat was also built by Bourne Boatbuilders and was launched about six weeks before ours. Sadly, the owners have decided they have had enough of life afloat and nb Windrush is up for sale!
We continued to the end of the Middlewich Branch and turned left onto the Shropshire Union Canal narrowly missing a narrowboat coming towards us with the skipper looking behind him!! We moored up on the embankment at Nantwich and spent the afternoon wandering through the town.
Friday 12th May - Nantwich to Overwater Marina
This is it, the last day of our cruise, and we woke to pouring rain! The forecast was for showers, but it was relentless rain!!
We cruised over the handsome aqueduct over the road in to Nantwich and headed towards the marina.
At a point where the canal narrows we saw a cow stranded on the wrong side of the canal - how she managed to get there I'm not sure but she looked most forlorn!
Her friends were standing on the other side of the canal wondering how she was going to get back!
We arrived back at the Marina by 1pm, moored up, had lunch and put together bags of essential bits and pieces to bring back to the house.
So, this is the end of our Spring cruise. We managed to get further than we thought we would, Windsor instead of Henley, we have had some of the best weather for cruising that we have ever had and we have met up with more friends and family than we have ever before.
The figures for our trip are pretty impressive -
The map shows our route and we are delighted that we have managed a circular tour, something feels very satisfying about that!