Book 13

Canal Cruising 2017

An eBook and website by Cyril J Wood

The title photograph shows a modified nocturnal photograph of the Bridgewater Canal at Castle Quay, Castlefield, Manchester


Click here for the latest entries or on the required section below to follow links

Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2017 Part 1

  Chapter 2 - Easter Escape Cruise 2017
  Chapter 3 - Canalmanac 2017 Part 2
  Chapter 4 - Summer Cruise 2017


Chapter 5 - Canalmanac 2017 Part 3

Canalography 2017


Return to Introduction


Chapter 1 - Canalmanac 2017 Part 1

First of all I hope that readers had an enjoyable and restful Christmas and New Year. We saw the new year in on Squirrel after the Lymm Cruising Club New Year Party which was most enjoyable. We took the opportunity to catch up with old friends and made a few new ones as well! The canal wasn't frozen over the New Year and the winter has been reasonably mild up to now but I suspect that this might change over the next couple of months.

2017 commenced with a shock announcement from the Bridgewater Canal Company that due to replacing Vicars Hall Bridge 1·5 kilometres above Boothstown Marina on the Leigh Branch, the canal would be closed from the 13th February to the 16th June 2017. Whilst I do not normally comment on canal management matters, I, along with many boaters that I have spoken to, consider this time scale for bridge replacement to be outrageous. Obviously, the Bridgewater Canal Company under-estimate the value of through traffic to the canal. I feel sorry for canal users (not just those based on the Bridgewater Canal) planning to access the Leeds and Liverpool and Lancaster Canals via the Bridgewater Canal as well as boaters wishing to access the canals in the opposite direction during the closure period. The Canal and River Trust would not have closed a waterway for this period of time for a bridge replacement and at this rate the new Mersey Gateway Bridge (the second Runcorn Bridge) will be completed well before this one. Maybe, with this and the on-going problems surrounding the reciprocal arrangement between the Bridgewater Canal Company and C&RT, it is now time for Bridgewater Canal boaters to bite the financial bullet and lobby for the canal to be taken over by the C&RT.

The closure notice issued by the Bridgewater Canal Company

The Inland Waterways Association as well as other interested groups brought pressure on the Bridgewater Canal Company who rescheduled the closure period so that it ends in May. Not a perfect solution but at least it misses part of the boating season. Maybe they will think twice before issuing a closure notice in future without accessing in greater detail the ramifications of a closure.

On a more cheerful note, every year I usually reproduce a couple of canal images from Christmas and Birthday cards that I have received. This year one Christmas card of note was an IWA card showing "Heading for Home"... a beautiful illustration by the renowned canal artist Alan Firth (deceased). The location could be one of the pounds between Tyrley Locks near Market Drayton on the Shroppie or the bend approaching Bramble Cuttings on the Trent and Mersey Canal. I think it is the latter but I will leave it up to you which it is or if you think that it is an alternative location please let me know.

Possibly either Tyrley Locks Pound or the bend approaching Bramble Cuttings

(Illustration - Alan Firth)

I also received a birthday card from my daughter and son-in-law that featured a photograph of the Llangollen Canal near Wrenbury (bridge 18 I think). The photograph on the card was taken by Mandy Jervis and is a worthy candidate to be included here.

Bridge 18 on the Llangollen Canal near Wrenbury

(Photograph - Mandy Jervis)

At the beginning of February I had my first weather photograph of 2017 televised on the Granada Weather Report. It was of Bidston Moss Nature Reserve and at first it may not appear to have any canal-related connections. Bidston Moss was once a tidal marsh that connected to Wallasey Pool and isolated Wallasey at high tide. In fact the name Wallasey translated from Gaelic means Welshmen's' or Strangers' Island. Two ship canals have been proposed to connect with Wallasey Pool.

Wallasey Pool - part of the Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks System

The first was an extension to the Bridgewater Canal from Sale to West Kirby at the entrance to the River Dee utilising Wallasey Pool as part of its route. The second proposed canal was an extension to the Pool of ship canal dimensions, cutting across Bidston Moss to Leasowe where it would have connected with Liverpool Bay allowing ships to avoid the treacherous sandbanks in the River Mersey. Thomas Telford, the renowned canal builder and civil engineer was consulted for both schemes and when inspecting the location of Wallasey Pool he is reported to have said… “Look... they’ve built Liverpool on the wrong side of the river!” His inference was that the natural harbour of Wallasey Pool should have been taken advantage of instead of reclaiming land from the Mersey to construct the Liverpool dock system. Neither of the ship canal schemes came to fruition but the one that was to have connected to the Bridgewater Canal did pre-date the Manchester Ship Canal by seventy years. If either of Thomas Telford's schemes had been constructed the area depicted in the photograph below would have been in the centre of the waterway. For more details about Wallasey and Birkenhead Docks go to the Wallasey Pool chapter of the Wyre Heal local history section of the Diarama Website.

A screenshot of the Bidston Moss weather photograph...

...and the original photograph

It is no wonder that the British are a nation of weather watchers as we have had some really bizarre weather recently. I travelled up to Lymm on the Monday afternoon following hurricane Doris to make sure that the boat was okay and not affected by the gale force winds that we had experienced. I had been keeping an eye on the weather all morning whilst in work and, after some initial showers it cleared up. When I finished work at lunchtime I went home, got changed, collected Ruby and headed up the M53 and M56 motorways. Half-way to Lymm the rain started again. By the time we reached Lymm it had stopped. The boat was alright and I started up the engine, which fired first time. I turned on the central heating to make sure that it was okay as well. Satisfied that all was well I checked the mooring ropes and tightened them up. I am not convinced of the integrity of the centre rope and, because the front end of the boat protrudes past the end of the jetty, a bow mooring rope cannot be used. We then made our way back to the car as it started to rain again. Instead of going straight home I went to Midland Chandlers to find out if they sold replacement deck boards (I couldn't see them on their website). On the way the rain turned to hail, sleet and then snow. By the time I reached Preston Brook the rain/hail/sleet/snow had stopped. They didn't stock deck boards, just the sound deadening pads that fit beneath them. Disappointed, I left the shop and got Ruby out of the car. We walked past the shop to the motorway viaduct and looked at the junction bridge at Waters Meeting to see the work that had been done there.

New pipe work on the Junction Bridge at Waters Meeting, Preston Brook

 After taking a couple of photographs we returned to the car and headed back down the M56. The the sun came out so we stopped at the Boat Museum and took more photographs... this time of the sun shining on the Ship Canal. It was difficult to believe that less than an hour earlier we were driving through a heavy snowfall... mind you, we were now on the Wirral Peninsula (geographically speaking) which possess its own microclimate. This microclimate, created by the warming effect of the River Dee, River Mersey and Liverpool Bay plus the multiple rain shadows of the Cambrian, Bickerton and West Lancashire Hills, ensures that we do not receive the severe weather experienced by the rest of the country. With the photographs taken, we headed home down the M53 in brilliant sunshine after a busy and unpredictable (weather-wise) afternoon.

A sunlit Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port

A couple of days later another of my photographs was used as a backdrop to the Granada Weather Forecast on ITV. The photograph in question is of the River Mersey and Liverpool's skyline at sunrise which I recently took on my way to work.

A screenshot of my latest Granada Weather Forecast photograph - Sunrise Over the River Mersey and Liverpool Skyline...

... and the original photograph

On the Saturday that the clocks went forward Ange and I escaped to Liverpool for the morning. It was a beautiful day with good light and warm sunshine so needless to say the Leicas got an airing! We had a drink in the Matou Pen Asian restaurant/pub on the second floor and roof garden the Mersey Ferry Terminal at the Pier Head. When I was writing the Liverpool Link section of the Canalscape website the Canal and River Trust gave me permission to use a CGI artist's impression of how the Link will look as it runs towards the Museum of Liverpool. I promised myself that I would take a "real" photograph of this view from the roof terrace of the ferry terminal when I could. Well the day had arrived for me to keep that promise and the photograph, as well as the original CGI, are reproduced below.

The original artist's impression CGI of the Liverpool Link...

(CGI courtesy of Canal and River Trust)

 ... and my "real" photograph of the same location

As Easter approached, our thoughts turned to our Easter Escape Cruise. As we had the week before Easter off work, we planned to cruise along the Trent and Mersey Canal and Shroppie Middlewich Branch then retrace our steps. We had missed Lymm CC's Opening Cruise due to family commitments but the Club had organised an Easter Cruise to the Lion Salt Works at Lostock Gralam and we hoped to catch up with them at this location on our way back. We don't know if the weather will be kind to us without getting soaked or frozen in the process (I can remember one Easter Cruise when we were pelted with hailstones whilst passing through Billing Green Flash) but we will just have to see how the weather is and take it from there. Hopefully the weather will be good and allow us to enjoy a cruise in reasonable if not beautiful conditions.


To be continued in... Canalmanac 2017 Part 2


Click to return to Contents


Chapter 2 - Easter Escape Cruise 2017

On our Easter Cruise we were to be accompanied by Paul and Wendy Savage on their narrowboat Adreva but due to a mix-up over the dates we had both booked different weeks off work. Nevertheless, we arrived at Lymm on the Friday evening ready for our Jive Class in Lymm CC's Clubhouse. The Jive Class was a refreshing start to our holiday. After the class we were treated to a beautiful sunset when returned to the boat exhausted. We had already loaded our clothes, food, etc. onto the boat ready to set off the following morning so it was straight to bed.

Jive class in "full swing"

Sunset at Lymm CC's moorings

The Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and promised to be a beautiful day. After a few last minute jobs we set off in the morning sunshine and I don't think that the engine revs went above one thousand RPM as we "pootled" along. We planned to stop at Stockton Heath to do our food shopping and also paid Thorn marine a visit for a few bits and pieces as well as the obligatory ice creams.

View from the tiller whilst cruising through Thelwall wooded cutting in the spring sunshine

Ruby waiting to "lick the stick" at Thorn Marine

With our shopping completed and lunch consumed we set off again and had arranged to meet my daughter Lisa and family who were working on their boat Adeline on the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club's moorings at Walton. Nathan... Lisa's husband was doing a good job refitting the windows to their boat and we can't wait for their boat to be completed so that we can cruise together when possible. We had only planned to stay a couple of hours there before setting off again but there was a barbeque planned for the evening and we were invited.

BMBC moorings at Walton

Son-in-Law Nathan working on Adeline's windows

A mooring was temporarily vacant that we were told we could use for the night so we stayed. The barbeque was excellent and enjoyed by everyone... especially Ruby who, I am sure, ate more tit bits than she is allowed. Before we retired to the boat for the night we were treated to yet another beautiful sunset which heralded yet another hot, sunny day to follow.

The barbeque at Walton

Sunset at Walton

The following morning, after saying our goodbyes we set off in the warm spring sunshine, made a leisurely (fifteen minutes) passage through Preston Brook Tunnel and decided to moor for the night at the Dutton Breach moorings. This gave me the opportunity to catch-up on the cleaning of the outside of the boat ready to give the starboard side its first coat of wax. After this we relaxed in the warm sunshine and enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful location.

Waiting for the tunnel passage time at Preston Brook

Ange steering Squirrel into Dutton Stop Lock

A half-cleaned Squirrel at Dutton Breach Moorings

After a lie-in the following morning we set off for Middlewich. The weather wasn't as sunny or warm as the previous two days but at least it wasn't raining. We noticed that Canal and River Trust had been busy replacing the sunken towpath edging at Acton Bridge... well done. Crack on with the rest now please!

New canal edging near Acton Bridge

We were cruising along around lunchtime and Ange decided to make us bacon and egg barms. I could smell the bacon cooking and Ruby came out to the back deck. She looked at me with her tail wagging and a doggy smile as if to say "Mummy's cooking bacon and eggs" then turned around and returned to the kitchen just in case anything got dropped onto the floor. Our canine companion never ceases to amaze me!

Whilst passing through Billinge Green Upper Flash I saw a sign on the towpath announcing that the proposed HS2 railway line would cross the canal at that point. There goes one of our favourite mooring places! A little way around the corner there was another sign followed by yet another just before Bramble Cuttings. There goes two more of our favourite moorings. Sentiments that are shared by many boaters that I have spoken to on the subject.

Notice of proposed HS2 Canal Crossing at Billinge Green

At Middlewich we moored adjacent to the playground above Big Lock and walked into town for shopping. Ruby came with us and gained many admiring looks from shoppers whilst we waited for Ange outside Tesco. We stayed there for the night and planned to visit Kings Lock Boat Chandlery the next day after we had negotiated the locks to see if they sold phenolic plywood deck boards.

Another bright day dawned and we made mincemeat of the locks, mooring above Wardle Lock mid-morning. We went to Kings Lock Boat Chandlery and it turned out that they did sell the deck boards and what's more, they would cut the board to size for a reasonable fee. We came to the conclusion that it would be well worth the money to have then fitted by professionals rather than me risking making a mess of cutting them as I don't possess the best woodworking skills! They had a slot on Thursday so we arranged to be there at 10.00 am to have the boards fitted. Next, we went to the Kings Lock Public House and had a drink outside adjacent to the lock in the sunshine. Ange put her drink down for a second and Ruby was quick off the mark to sample the lager and blackcurrant in her glass. We returned to the boat for lunch and saw a Creighton Inlander 32 similar to Lisa and Nathan's boat Adeline. This one was called Summer Breeze and it moored just in front of us. I had a chat with owner Nick Drayson who informed me that he was on his way to the Jazz Festival at Nantwich. Nick's Creighton is unusual in that it has a longer centre cockpit and a shorter rear deck. I later received an e-mail from Nick complimenting me on the Canalscape website.

Creighton Inlander 32 - Summer Breeze

Not long afterwards I heard the thump, thump, thump of a classic narrowboat engine. I grabbed the camera and jumped off the boat just in time to see ex-working boat Lindsay towing its butty Keppel coming towards us. I ran to the bridge and managed to take a few photographs of this classic pair of Admiral Class narrowboats constructed at Northwich by Yarwoods in 1959. No doubt they were making their way to the annual Easter Gathering of Boats at Ellesmere Port,

Ex-working narrowboats Lindsay and Keppel at Middlewich

Not long after this we set off again and moored for the night just below Bridge 22 near Church Minshull. This is one of our favourite moorings. It has a nice, wide towpath for Ruby to play ball on, is virtually, in the middle of nowhere and is accordingly nice and quiet except for the occasional Virgin Pendolino whooshing along the West Coast Main Line railway track nearby. Once moored the polish came out and the starboard side of the boat was polished. Before long that side of the boat was back to its usual shiny self. Yet another pair of narrowboats passed us on their way to Ellesmere Port. This time it was the 1912 Fellows, Morton and Clayton butty Ilford being towed by a converted motor boat. Needless to say... the Leica came out to play again!

More narrowboats on their way to Ellesmere Port

Butty Ilford's steerer

We were due back in Middlewich on Thursday so the next day (Wednesday) we cruised up to the winding hole. On the way we passed yet another HS2 Proposed Crossing notice a few hundred metres from yet another of our favourite moorings. This was the fourth crossing we had encountered. Do you think this is a conspiracy to rob us of our favourite mooring places? Back at Middlewich we moored above Wardle Lock ready to go to Kings Lock Chandlery the next morning.

Threatening skies over Bridge 31 at Middlewich

After breakfast the next day the skies looked threatening and heralded unsettled weather but for now it was dry and sunny. We were beaten to the lock by a procession of hire boats and made the chandlery for 10.30... a little later than planned. After double mooring, Pete the carpenter made a start on our boards.

The Buffalo board prior to cutting...

... and being cut to size...

... and the finished article - very professional

The care he took was to be admired even down to sealing the bare edges of the cut boards to prevent any ingress of moisture. The job was completed by mid afternoon and after paying we set off down the locks. At the first and second locks Ruby stayed with me on the locks but got on the boat at the third lock to keep Ange company. We moored in our usual spot adjacent to the playground above Big Lock and then went into town for some shopping. We had a nice tea on board and watched TV with nicely full stomachs.

Ruby keeping Ange company through some of the locks

The weather looked threatening when we set off the following morning and took a turn for the worse by the time we had passed through Big Lock. It was raining heavily necessitating waterproofs, the Brolleymate and large umbrella coming out.

Big Lock in the rain

Brolleymate complete with brolly erected

We planned to meet our friends Wendy and Paul along with other members of Lymm CC at the Salt Museum, Lostock Gralam so we were not to be deterred by a bit of rain and pressed on. Just after Croxton Aqueduct I saw a mink running across the towpath but, as it was raining, I did not have the camera to hand and missed the opportunity of photographing it. The rain was intermittent and by mid-afternoon reached the Salt Museum. We moored at the end of a line of boats quite a distance from the museum as we had not planned to visit it and there was a better chance of having our friends mooring close to us. When we stopped I was cold and wet so stripped off and got straight into the shower to warm up. Later, a disappointment was that one of the new deck boards had swelled in the rain and was catching on the bottom of the rear doors. Pete had done too neat a job and not accounted for the boards swelling with the heat of the engine and the rain. Our friends had stopped at Dutton for the night due to the rain so they would not be joining us until the following day

Boats from Lymm CC moored near to the Salt Museum

The rain stopped during the night and in the morning I took the opportunity to finish giving the boat its first coat of wax. When time allows a second coat will be applied. I also took a few photographs of the canal here as I had not had the opportunity to capture it previously. Ruby had a good time playing with one of her friends... Fudge whose owners were Beryl and Colin off nb Miss B'Havin. Our friends arrived mid-afternoon and managed to moor next to us. That evening we had a roast dinner courtesy of Wendy who had cooked a leg of lamb complete with roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Beautiful!

Shiny Squirrel with the port side now waxed

The Trent and Mersey Canal at Lostock Gralam

Ruby and Fudge playing chase me

Roast dinner on board Squirrel

The next day was Easter Sunday and after breakfast we said goodbye to our friends who were out for the rest of the week and planned to cruise to Audlem on the Shroppie. We reluctantly set off in the opposite direction and wound our way along the River Weaver Valley until we reached Anderton. Here was the first sanitary station we had come to since out outward journey. We were on our spare toilet cassette so took the opportunity to empty them both whilst we could. After setting off again we noticed that the Fudge Boat was moored close to the boat lift so pulled in and purchased some fudge to take home (four bags for £5). Ruby was first in the queue at the side doors but unfortunately is not allowed any fudge due to the large amount of sugar in it. We first met Heather and Tony Gregory, owners of the Fudge Boat a few years ago and last year they were moored in the same spot when we bought fudge from them.

The Fudge Boat moored at Anderton Boat Lift...

... where Ruby was first in the queue at the side doors

Heather Gregory - fudge cook

It was quite windy on our trip back towards Preston Brook but at least the rain kept off. After passing through Dutton Stop Lock we were first in the queue for the tunnel. The sun was shining by this time and I couldn't resist taking photographs of the flowers and the tunnel approach. I also took a couple of photographs inside the tunnel at the wide section nicknamed the "Cathedral".

Blue Forget-Me-Nots at the side of the canal at Dutton

Bluebells lining the tunnel approach at Preston Brook

The wide "Cathedral" inside Preston Brook Tunnel

Once through the tunnel we had lunch on the move and made good time reaching Stockton Heath about 5.00 pm. We moored in front of Miss B-Havin and it was not long before Ruby was calling for Fudge to play chase with her. We chatted with our friends and after tea watched TV in bed on the last night of our Easter cruise.

Narrowboats moored at Stockton Heath

Next morning we made a quick visit to Thorn Marine to replace an empty gas cylinder then continued on to Lymm. We pulled into the arm in front of the Clubhouse and loaded the car with our clothes, food, etc. After a quick chat with some of our fellow Lymm CC members I put the boat back on its moorings and we braved the M56 and M53 motorways filled with Bank Holiday traffic to home,


Timetable for our 2017 Easter Cruise

Saturday 8th April 2017 -

 Lymm to Walton

Sunday 9th April 2017


 Walton to Dutton Breach Moorings

Monday 10th April 2017


 Dutton Breach Moorings to Middlewich (above Big Lock)

Tuesday 11th April 2017


 Middlewich to Bridge 22 S. U. C. Middlewich Branch

Wednesday 12th April 2017


 Bridge 22 S. U. C. Middlewich Branch to above Wardle Lock

Thursday 13th April 2017


 Above Wardle Lock to above Big Lock

Friday 14th April 2017


 Above Big Lock to Lostock Gralam (Salt Museum Moorings)

Saturday 15th April 2017 -  Lostock Gralam
Sunday 16th April 2017 -  Lostock Gralam to Stockton Heath
Monday 17th April 2017 -  Stockton Heath to Lymm

Easter Escape Cruise Epilogue

We always enjoy our Easter Escape cruise as the countryside is slowly awakening from its winter slumber. The weather might not always be great but being away on the boat gives us a chance to charge our bodies' batteries after the post-Christmas period and the associated stresses that work and winter brings.

On this trip, the impact that HS2 will have on our local canals was highlighted. We knew that there was to be one crossing of the Bridgewater Canal at Agden and another on the Trent and Mersey Canal somewhere near Bramble Cuttings but were not expecting there to be four crossings between Church Minshull and Billinge Green. With Virgin Trains offering a journey time of just over two hours from Liverpool to London one questions the need for an even faster service and the associated impact and devastation to our countryside.

Nevertheless, it was a nice, relaxing cruise and a brilliant start to our cruising year. We are now looking forward to the cruises that we have planned for the coming year. Let's hope that the weather is not too unkind to us!

Sunset over Winsford Top Flash taken from Church Minshull close to an HS2 proposed crossing


Click to return to Contents


Chapter 3 - Canalmanac 2017 Part 2  (in preparation)

On the last few days of our Easter Escape cruise we noticed that one of our new deck boards had bowed and we had arranged to return it to King's Lock Chandlery at Middlewich on the Saturday after our return for inspection. We were at Lymm for our Jive Class the night before so after breakfast we removed the offending board, put it in the car and headed for Middlewich. When we arrived, even though we had made arrangements earlier in the week, Pete the carpenter was not available but a phone call from the office summoned him. Whilst we waited for him to arrive we drove to the canal moorings adjacent to the children's playground where Paul and Wendy were waiting for us on the return from their Easter cruise. We had a cup of coffee and Ruby played with their cat Rosa before we returned to Middlewich Chandlery to see how Pete was getting on with our board. He had decided to replace the complete board only cut it a quarter of an inch narrower on each side where it was adjacent to the gas cylinder lockers.

Enjoying a drink at the King's Lock in Middlewich

The Trent and Mersey Canal at King's Lock...

... and around the corner at Middlewich Narrowboats

Whilst he finished it off we retired to the pub for a drink and watch boats descending the adjacent King's Lock. With the board completed we walked back to Paul and Wendy's boat in the bright sunshine taking turns carrying the board. After lunch we bade farewell to our friends and returned to Lymm with our new deck board. The board fitted perfectly and we will have to wait and see if the bowing problem has been prevented with the board being slightly narrower. Satisfied with the board we loaded our things into the car at a busy Lymm CC moorings and returned home.

The next weekend was May Bank Holiday Weekend and there was a Lymm CC cruise to the wide lagoon between Saltersford and Barnton Tunnels. Ange and I both had the Friday off work and after shopping for essentials we loaded the car and headed up the motorways for Lymm. We were early enough to miss the Friday congestion and we had soon loaded our stuff on the boat and were under way. We moored for the night at Moore and after tea met Wendy and Paul in the pub who were not able to come on the cruise due to domestic responsibilities. Next morning we made an early start and arrived at Preston Brook Tunnel in time for the 9.30 am passage. The weather was sunny if not exactly hot and we were soon cruising along the Weaver Valley.

The Trent and Mersey Canal at Dutton looking towards the stop lock

The flowering wild garlic gave the wooded cuttings a heady aroma that is usual for this time of the year. When we reached Saltersford Tunnel we were in a queue with other Lymm CC members on the cruise. Once through the tunnel we moored parallel to the bank and not stern first like the other boats that possessed traditional sterns. once moored we caught up with other Club members some of which we hadn't seen for a while.

Flowering wild garlic which gave the cuttings a distinctive aroma

Boats from Lymm CC moored in the lagoon between Saltersford and Barnton Tunnels

Catching up with Lymm CC members in the sunshine

Angie's son Michael brought Shannon to the lagoon who was joining us for the rest of the bank Holiday Weekend whereas Michael just stayed for the day. After tea Ruby and I went for a walk along the old horse path that runs over the tunnel. I had not been along this path before and, needless to say, took photographs of it. We were woken up at 5.00 am the next morning by the owner of the boat moored alongside us. Our aft mooring pin had come out during the night and our stern had drifted across the lagoon. I walked down our gunwale with the centre rope (that was just long enough), jumped onto the towpath and pulled both boats to the side of the canal. After relocating the mooring pin I added a centre pin to give a bit more security in the muddy bank, After breakfast Shannon took me into the field behind the lagoon that overlooks the River Weaver to show me the view. After taking a photograph of it we returned to the boat via the old horse path over the tunnel.

The old horse path over Saltersford Tunnel

Unusually shaped Saltersford Tunnel air ventilator shaft

The River Weaver seen from the hill  behind the lagoon

We dodged the muddy puddles on the path and were amused at the way Ruby did the same! We set off to go back through the tunnel and the Black Prince day boat before us in the queue ran into the trees that swept the life belt off the roof. After the boat entered the tunnel we collected the life belt and when we caught up with the day boat at the other end of the tunnel we pulled alongside them and returned the life belt. They were not aware that they sad lost it and were grateful that we had returned it, ensuring that they did not lose their equipment deposit.  The sun was shining as we travelled through the wooded cuttings and dappled the water with patches of sunlight. Shannon was sitting on the foredeck and took a photograph that is reproduced below.

Saltersford Wooded Cutting

(Photograph - Shannon Armour)

Cul-de-Sac Bridge 204 - Trent and Mersey Canal

We passed through Preston Brook Tunnel and moored for the night at Stockton Heath. Panny's Chippy was visited a little later to provide our tea that was up to the usual standard. We all had a lie-in the following morning and we set off for Lymm after breakfast. It was the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club's Opening Cruise and we passed many of the Club's members making their way back to Walton and Runcorn. We were surprised to see my son-in-law Nathan accompanied by my grandson Nathan Jnr steering Adeline coming towards us. The boat looked great and Nathan shouted over that my daughter Lisa was following in Jus' Roamin'... her mother and partner's boat. Lisa was accompanied by Grace who, no doubt, would have provided her mother with a continuous commentary all the way from the Watch House Cruising Club at Stretford.

Lisa and Grace on nb Jus' Roamin'

We reached Lymm at lunchtime and moored temporarily in the arm outside the Clubhouse. The car was loaded up whilst I emptied the loo and we set off for home after putting the boat back on its mooring after an enjoyable, unusually dry, if not sunny, Bank Holiday weekend.

The day after we returned from the may Bank Holiday Cruise the post man brought my monthly copy of Waterways World. I was surprised to see one of my photographs in the Favourite Mooring spot. The photograph in question was of a favourite mooring spot in Spud Wood near Oughtrington on the Bridgewater Canal a few hundred metres from Lymm CC's moorings and is reproduced below for your appreciation. It was taken last July on a really hot summer's day just before we went on our Summer Cruise to Liverpool.

The photograph of Spud Wood as featured in Waterways World...

...and the actual photograph as taken

Liverpool was also to feature later on in the week. We spent Friday evening at Lymm CC for the last of our Jive Classes, slept on the boat and after breakfast the next morning we left for home. We dropped Ruby off and emptied the car then caught the bus to Liverpool and headed to the Steam on the Dock steam fair at Albert Dock. We met Wendy, Oliver and Paul for lunch at a café in Williamson Square then headed to the Albert Dock. We visited the same Steam Fair last year and it offered many photographic opportunities. Unfortunately, the light was not as good on this occasion as it was overcast and the light lacked warmth plus the ability to add depth and contrast to subjects. After admiring the miniature traction engines, steam wagons and narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway locomotive we set our sights on the steam tugs Daniel Adamson and the smaller Kerne that were moored alongside each other adjacent to the Maritime Museum entrance.

Steam tugs Daniel Adamson and Kerne moored alongside each other at Steam on the Dock

Paul and I went on board the steam tug Daniel Adamson and I was surprised to be greeted by a guide called Jimmy Lawson. Jimmy and I worked together at Bidston Steel Mill and it has been a few years since we had met. Next we went on board Kerne. I subscribe to the Steam Tug Kerne Preservation Society's Facebook Page was aware that one of my old school mates... Paul Kirkbride (aka "Barrel") was involved in the restoration of this beautiful steam powered tug and was half expecting to bump into him. We were walking around the deck when a voice shouted... "Cyril Wood... well I never!" It was Paul Kirkbride. We had not met for fifty years and after shaking hands and a hug I introduced him to the other Paul. We chatted for a while and Ange saw us talking and shouted "Hello Barrel." This was Paul K's nickname at school to which he replied laughingly "I see my reputation precedes me!" Paul K told me that Chris Hayes... another of my schoolmates, who was Kerne's engineer, was in the engine room. We walked around to the other side of the boat to where the engine room ventilator flaps were open. I could see a familiar face in the engine room and I shouted "Is that Chris Hayes down there?" The reply came back... "Is that Cyril Wood up there?" I was amazed that Chris also recognised me after fifty years.

Yours truly and ex-colleague Jimmy Lawson

(Photograph - Angela Wood)

Paul Kirkbride... one of my old schoolmates - see below

Chris Hayes... another of my old schoolmates - see below

A photograph I took at Withensfield School in 1966 showing Paul Kirkbride - bottom left and Chris Hayes - top right

It was turning out to be quite an emotional day but I managed to keep my feelings in check! Reunions over, we made our way back to the dock side and continued our perambulations around the steam fair. Paul bumped into one of his colleagues and after introductions we continued our walk. As we reached the swing bridge over the Albert Dock entrance we were treated to the sight of two steam-powered narrowboats crossing the Albert Dock. The first one was Emily Anne... a replica, narrow-beam Dutch barge fitted with a tall chimney to keep smoke and steam exhausts from the steam engine away from the steerer's face. I had previously seen this boat on the Llangollen Canal and at Agden on the Bridgewater Canal although it had a shorter funnel fitted then!. As the boat approached the swing bridge the tall funnel was lowered to allow it to pass beneath the bridge. Next came Whistle Down the Wind (aka Steam Pig) which also lowered its chimney for the same reason.

Emily Anne - a narrow beam Dutch barge replica propelled by a steam engine

Emily Anne previously seen passing through Agden on the Bridgewater Canal

Whistle Down the Wind (aka Steam Pig) - a steam powered narrowboat

Whistle Down the Wind later moored adjacent to the Tate Gallery and I couldn't resist a closer look. The steerer was having trouble manoeuvring the boat onto the quayside and I joked "You could do with a bow thruster!" The comment fell on stony ground and whilst I was photographing the engine the steam exhaust valve was opened making me jump.

Whistle Down the Wind's twin cylinder Leak compound engine

No doubt this was the owner getting his revenge for my comment! The boat was built by Liverpool Boat Company just like our own boat Squirrel and there was a most informative poster telling all about the boat and how it worked. This boat has a connection with my childhood as the film "Whistle Down the Wind" was my favourite film when it came out in 1961 and Geoff... the boat's owner was in the film as well. No doubt the fact that Hayley Mills who starred in the film had something to do with my liking it. We had now seen most of the exhibits and retired to Costa for a well earned cup of coffee. Paul and Wendy had a surprise meeting of some friends and after greeting them it was time for us to make our way back home after a great day packed with re-unions and surprises.

Later that week we had to go to a neighbour's funeral. Both Ange and I took time off work for the funeral but where Ange had to go to work afterwards I had the rest of the day at my disposal. It was a beautiful day so carpe diem... I seized the day, After dropping Ange off at the bus stop for Liverpool I went home, collected Ruby, got changed and we went to Lymm to cut the grass on our moorings. On the way we stopped at the Boat Museum... aka National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port to let Ruby have a wee. When we walked along the Manchester Ship Canal we saw the MSC work boat Burscough moored on the opposite bank of the canal adjacent to the point where water was let into the canal for the first time. A few minutes later an immense chemical/oil tanker... Defne-S slid past without making a ripple on the water on its way to discharge at Runcorn. Whilst at the Boat Museum I took the opportunity to enquire about mooring in the Lower Basin when we visit during our Summer Cruise. I was quoted £4 per boat per night mooring fee plus a one-off payment of the standard entrance fee to the Museum for each adult which is currently £9.75 per adult and £6.00 per child (between 6 and 15 years of age) but I will be able to get away with paying the £8.50 concessionary rate for over 65s (makes me sound old doesn't it?) and Ruby won't have to pay at all! Also, we don't have to book places in advance as there are usually plenty of moorings in the Lower Basin.

Manchester Ship Canal work boat Burscough at Ellesmere port

Chemical/oil tanker Defne-S making its way to Runcorn

We arrived at Lymm about 2.00 pm and after chatting to a few members who were about I started strimming the grass ... supervised by Ruby of course!. It was a lovely, hot day and and I was regretting not wearing shorts. After my jobs were completed I was sorry to have to come home but needs must and so we made our way back to Wallasey. The next time we are at Lymm is the weekend that the boat comes out of the water for hull cleaning, hull blacking and sacrificial anode replacement.

Bitumen, sacrificial anodes and other bits ready for use

I had already purchased the necessary bitumen and sacrificial anodes that are waiting patiently in the hall along with fresh oil, filter and antifreeze, etc. Whilst waiting in-between coats for the bitumen to dry I plan to service the engine as well as a few other jobs to be ticked off the "To Do List". Lets hope that the weather is as good then as it has been for the last few days.

The weekend before the boat came out of the water we didn't go up to Lymm due to shopping and family commitments but Ruby and I did escape for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon. We drove to Golden Nook near Tattenhall, parked the car and walked along the towpath towards Tattenhall. We had our lunch on a bench kindly donated by the Shropshire Union Canal Society and wandered up a farm track towards an enormous rape plant field. The light was good so the Leica D-Lux 3 came out to play.

The Shroppie looking North towards Golden Nook

Farm track at Golden Nook

Rape field with Beeston Castle in the distance

Ruby enjoying exploring in the rape field

In one of the fields adjacent to the canal are a couple of unusual concrete structures. I first saw them when I was a child and my Father told me that they were World War Two air raid shelters for the farmers and their livestock but I am not sure that he was correct. Maybe they are something to de with Pluto (Pipe Line Under the Ocean) as it makes its way from Stanlow Oil Refinery at Ellesmere Port to the underground storage tanks at Beeston that can bee seen opposite Chas Harden's boatyard. Can any readers suggest an alternative purpose? If so e-mail be at

Strange concrete structure in a field at Golden Nook

A little epilogue to our walk along the Shroppie at Golden Nook happened a little later on in the week whilst I was walking Ruby in Central Park, Wallasey. I bumped into an acquaintance that I see quite often whilst he is walking his Springer Spaniel. He told me that he saw me at Golden Nook walking along the canal. The person in question also has a narrowboat and I was spotted by him unbeknown to me. Just goes to show... you never know who is watching you!

As expected the dry weather broke the next day and I during the next few days I kept my eye on the weather forecast for the end of the week. I am hoping that it is at least dry from Saturday when the boat comes out of the water for the previously mentioned hull cleaning, blacking and sacrificial anode replacement... but I am not holding my breath!

I travelled up to Lymm early on the Saturday morning with Ruby in brilliant sunshine (breath a sigh of relief) to prepare the boat for coming out of the water. Ange did not accompany me as she had a wedding to attend along with her sister so I planned to collect her on Monday after I had applied a coat of bitumen to the boat's hull. Once I had brought the boat from its mooring to the slipway the boat that was out before me was re-launched by Rob Hoyle... Lymm CC's Harbourmaster. Then it was our turn. Once the boat was manoeuvred above the trolley the tractor pulled the trolley and boat out of the water. Once the boat was secured I inspected the hull, sacrificial anode condition and especially checked the propeller split pin and securing nut as we had a problem with this when we first bought the boat a few years ago. Paul Savage and his son Oliver had promised to come and give me a hand and they soon arrived to help. Next, the power washer was connected and it was time for me to don my overalls. I had brought a clean pair from home and at first I thought that they had shrunk in the wash as they did not fasten around my waist... much to everybody's amusement. I later removed them and put on a pair from the boat that did fit and we commenced cleaning off the hull. Once started we made good time with the cleaning.

View from the rear deck whilst being slipped

Yours truly wearing ill-fitting overalls

(Photograph - Paul Savage)

Paul power-washing whilst Oliver supervised

Once completed, the boat was then left to dry whilst we had lunch and afterwards, we gave the hull a rub-down with production paper to give the bitumen a good "key" to adhere to. Next, I disconnected the batteries' electrical connections to protect the sensitive electronic circuits in the alternators, inverter, charger, panel regulator and auxiliary equipment. Before long Alan and Phil Savage arrived to weld on the new sacrificial anodes. Once the anodes were fitted I took advantage of Phil and asked him to loosen off the engine's oil filter which was too stiff for me to remove and he also put a tack weld on the rudder where it is attached to the tiller tube to take up some play. I plan to replace the top bearing when I can and Phil also opened up the kitchen sink drain on the hull which had been damaged at some time in the past.

Phil Savage welding on new sacrificial anodes

New sacrificial anode alongside an old one

Jet-washed, sanded down, new sacrificial anodes fitted and drying off ready for the first coat of bitumen

With these jobs completed the electrical connections previously disconnected were replaced and as the hull was dry and we applied the first coat of bitumen (don't forget the weed hatch and uxter plate). The three of us had finished the first coat by tea time and Paul and Oliver left, promising to return the next morning for "round two". Sunday morning dawned sunny with clear skies so after giving Ruby her walk and having breakfast I made a start on the second coat supervised by Ruby from the rear deck.

Lymm moorings on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning

Ruby "supervising" from the rear deck... "Dad, you've missed a bit!"

Paul arrived before too ling and between us we had the second coat completed by 10 o' clock. There was nothing else we could do until the next day when this coat will have cured so we had an ealy lunch and relaxed in the brilliant sunshine. We chatted to other Lymm CC members and all too soon it was time for Paul to head for home. I was grateful for his and Oliver's help without which I would not be as far advanced as I was. Before tea Ruby and I went for a walk around Lymm and strolled along the gorge that was the site of a nail slitting mill in time gone by. The mill was powered by the Slitten Brook that threads its way through the village from Lymm Dam in a gorge before passing beneath the Bridgewater Canal at Barsbank Aqueduct. There are actually two aqueducts here,,, the one carrying the canal over Barsbank Road and adjacent to it another carrying the canal over the Slitten Brook. The latter is not normally seen as it is quite difficult to reach but this did not deter Ruby and I.

Barsbank Aqueduct carrying the Bridgewater Canal over Barsbank Road in Lymm

The second Barsbank Aqueduct (just visible in the bottom of the photograph) carrying the canal over the Slitten Brook and gorge

The next morning was yet another hot sunny morning that saw the third coat completed before ten o'clock. After tidying up we headed for home to collect Ange. We returned mid-afternoon after doing a bit of shopping on the way. I couldn't believe my luck... Tuesday was yet another hot sunny morning. I had "saved" Ange a coat to paint and true to form got stuck in with the roller. My only issue here was that she didn't wear the overalls offered to her. If I was to paint dressed in normal clothes I would be in serious trouble!

Ange applying the fourth and final coat... without overalls!

With the fourth and final coat applied we went into Lymm. I managed to find the time to have a much needed haircut at the barbers in Lymm Village and we then had lunch sitting on the tables outside Sextons. The waitress even brought Ruby a fresh bowl of water to drink from! We sat in the hot sunshine with not a care in the world, watching everyone bustling past us. On our return I busied myself jet-washing the boat's roof, bow and button (stern) fenders with my Kärcher ready to be re-attached when the final coat had cured.

Ange enjoying lunch at Sextons in Lymm

Mission accomplished and waiting to be relaunched

We had planned to go back into the water on Saturday but, to accommodate a fellow member who had some emergency repairs to be made to his boat's rudder our re-launching was brought forward to Thursday teatime. On Thursday morning we had some unexpected visitors in the shape of a family of swans who were preening their feathers on the slipway immediately behind the boat. They soon disappeared when they saw Ruby who wouldn't have hurt them anyway.

Our visitors on the slipway...

...and them leaving in convoy a little later on

Another member had a visit from The Cover Company who were fitting new cratch and cockpit covers to his boat. When this was completed we took advantage of their visit and asked for quotes for a "dodger" around our rear deck hand rail as well as a cratch board and cover for the foredeck. We originally planned to have this undertaken by All Seasons Boat Covers who did such a good job on our previous boat "Total Eclipse" but they were extremely busy with other work. Consequently, as their prices were reasonable we decided to book the Cover Company for the dodger and for the cratch and cover in the future. Thursday was the hottest day yet and we drove to Stockton Heath for some shopping. One of the shops that we visited was the Pets Pantry and whilst there we saw tubs of doggy ice cream. As it was a really hot day we treated Ruby to a tub. We hadn't seen this product before and needless to say Ruby really liked it. It was called Billy and Margot Iced Treats and she really enjoyed it. Shopping completed we return to Lymm ready for the boat to be re-launched. This went without a hitch and we moored the boat on the canal frontage ready for me to do the engine service the following day. Once the engine service was completed I polished the port side of the cabin paintwork and with the last minute jobs completed we set off and cruised towards Preston Brook in the hot sunshine.

Back in the water looking nice and shiny

As we were passing through Lymm Village we saw a day hire boat belonging to Claymoore Navigation Company trying to make the turn by the Icebreaker Tunnel at full throttle. It banged into one of the moored boats then bounced off a couple of others. I stayed well back and they passed us with about a metre to spare, still going a full throttle despite the shouts from other boaters. I was glad that they were behind us and we carried on at a more leisurely speed than they had been going at! It was a beautiful afternoon and we ambled along relishing the sunshine with cold, refreshing drinks and snacks to hand. The canal was populated by ducks with their cotton wool off-springs in tow and swarms of midges murmurating in the hot sunshine at the edge of the waterway.

Leaving Lymm behind on a hot, sunny afternoon

Just after Grappenhall the bilge pump turned itself on for a few seconds and ejected some brown coloured water into the canal. I didn't think anything of it and put it down to some water that had entered the engine compartment when we were launched. A couple of minutes later the engine temperature alarm sounded. We pulled in at Stockton Heath and on inspection a cooling water hose connecting the engine to the skin tank had burst. It was only at the end where it connected to the engine so I trimmed it back to remove the offending section, connected everything back and filled the cooling system with water and fresh anti-freeze. The problem was solved but we decided to stay at Stockton Heath. The day hire boat we had previously seen at Lymm came speeding along the canal. Various boat owners shouted at them to slow down and next minute they were right across the canal going in full reverse then full forward. They bounced off the two boats moored behind us and then the inevitable happened... they bashed into our freshly painted hull! I shouted at them to no avail and took photographs of their collision before they sped off towards Preston Brook. I telephoned Claymoore to tell them about the incident and they informed me that we were the twelfth complaint that they had received. As you can imagine I was not best pleased (to put it mildly) and promised to e-mail them the photographs that I had taken and call into their base on the way past.

One of the Gryphon collision photographs taken just before they made contact with our freshly blacked hull

Not long afterwards my daughter and her family passed us on their Creighton Inlander 32 - Adeline, as they made their way to the annual FBCC Rally hosted this year by Worsley Cruising Club at their Patricroft moorings not far from Barton Swing Aqueduct. When we related the incident to them they told us that there had been trouble at their Walton moorings as well!. With the boat securely moored we went into Stockton Heath for shopping including more of the Billy and Margot Iced Treats that Ruby enjoyed so much.  Not long after we returned from shopping our friends Paul and Wendy Savage arrived. We planned to have a leisurely cruise to Marbury Country Park a mile or so south of the Anderton Boat Lift and, after Shannon being dropped off by Michael the next morning, we eventually set off after lunch. We made a stop at Claymoore Navigation Company's Preston Brook hire base where we spoke to a lady called Norma. After introducing ourselves as "complaint number twelve" she was most apologetic. I showed her the photographs and the marks on our newly painted hull after which she offered to let us use Dutton Dry Dock (which they now control) to touch-up the scratches.

Dutton Dry Dock now operated by Claymoore Navigation Company

This was a nice gesture and we plan to take her up on the offer in the not too distant future. Norma told us that they received twenty complaints and that the hirers of the boat abandoned Gryphon at Midland Chandlers and tried to make a clean getaway. But, thanks to the diligence of one of their members of staff, they managed to apprehend them before they "escaped". They did not want to admit to the trouble they had caused plus the fact that they had severely damaged the hire boat necessitating it to spend a couple of days in the dry-dock to repair the stern tube, rudder and tiller. Needless to say, they didn't have their deposit returned! A little later, whilst in the queue for Preston Brook Tunnel we actually met Gryphon being returned from the dry dock. Preston Brook Tunnel was passed through in a leisurely twelve minutes and we moored between Eaton's Bridge (number 212) and the Dutton Breach Mooring Site. The view may be better from the Breach Mooring Site but nevertheless, this proved to be a nice, quiet mooring (although no television or 4G signal) and we look forward to mooring here again in the future. Ironically, the Breach Mooring Site was full of boats from Lymm CC that had not gone to the FBCC Rally! But that didn't worry us... Ange had brought a couple of latch hook knit and stitch kits to keep everyone busy.

Latch hook knit and stitch and a cuppa on the towpath

Eaton's Bridge (number 212)

After a lie-in and late breakfast the next morning we set off for Marbury Country Park. Ruby did not seem to be herself and was having difficulty urinating but we kept her well hydrated and planned to take her to the vet when we return home. In the meantime we passed the Anderton Boat Lift and called at the sanitary station there. Marbury Country Park was just around the corner and we found a nice mooring close to the footbridge across the canal.

Adreva and Squirrel moored at Marbury Country Park

Once safely moored we went for a walk in the Country Park and planned to have an ice cream from the ice cream van usually parked in the car park. Along the way we played one of Paul's Woodland Games... "tree statues" and took photographs of items of interest including the inside of a rabbit warren that had fresh tracks and droppings in it.

Cornflower at Marbury Country Park

Inside a rabbit warren we came across - no sign of Alice though!

Unfortunately, we arrived at the car park too late and the ice cream van was closed so we made our way back to the boats via a different route. We came across a field with cattle in it. They were friendly and seemed very interested in us especially Ruby who approached them cautiously... not barking or behaving in a threatening manner and even managed to sniff one of them close-up. Paul, however, managed to get a kiss off one of them and Shannon cautiously stroked a couple of them!

Ruby saying "Hello" to the cattle at Marbury Park

Paul receiving a kiss from one of the cows

Shannon being brave... mind those false nails now!

Back at the boats we had tea on the towpath then turned around and set off back towards Anderton. There were no moorings available so we carried on, eventually mooring in the wooded cutting on the other side of Saltersford Tunnel. The next morning dawned damp and miserable... a complete contrast to the weather we had enjoyed over the previous week (well... it was Bank Holiday Monday after all!) We set off early having breakfast on the move, made the 11.00 am passage through Preston Brook Tunnel (just) and were soon back on the Bridgewater Canal. Midland Chandlers was open and there were empty moorings outside so we stopped there for a few items. Whilst we were there I saw the smallest narrowboat I have ever seen. It was an aluminium Sea Otter that the owners told us was twenty one feet in length and deemed it worthy of a photograph.

One of the smallest narrowboats I have ever seen... a twenty one foot Sea Otter

After a quick cup of coffee we then carried on to Lymm. Lisa and co were moored at Stockton Heath returning from the FBCC Rally which, apparently, they all enjoyed. The weather had brightened up quite a lot and all too soon we were back at Lymm. We moored temporarily on the canal frontage whilst we loaded our things into the car and said our goodbyes to Paul and Wendy. I then put the boat back on its mooring and we made our way home having accomplished everything we planned to do whilst the boat was out of the water and had a most enjoyable cruise to Marbury Country Park as well (even if some inconsiderate day-boat hirers tried to ruin it). Just in case you were wondering... the vet diagnosed Ruby as having a urine infection and since taking her tablets and medicine like a good girl has made a full recovery.

Regular readers and fellow anoraks may be interested in a new addition to the Diarama (Canalscape's sister) website. It is entitled Two-Way Radio Protocol and covers many aspects of two-way radio communication including walkie-talkies and CB Radio.

A couple of weeks after the trip to Marbury Park I received a telephone call from Steve at The Cover Company telling me that he wanted to come and measure-up for our rear deck dodger. I hastily arranged a day off work and the Tuesday before the Summer Solstice Ruby and I drove up to Lymm early in the morning of what promised to be a beautiful summer's day. Not long after we arrived at Lymm Steve telephoned me to tell me that he was waiting at Lymm Cruising Club's main gate so we walked down the mooring and let him in. We chatted whilst he fitted the fastenings to the handrail then made the template from which the dodger would be made from. Two hours later the template was completed and Steve left promising that the dodger would be completed before the end of the month... in good time for our summer holiday cruise.

Steve from The Cover Company marking out the dodger template...

...fitting the template to the new fixings...

...and the finished template from which the dodger will be made

Just before lunch I saw a GRP, centre-cockpit cruiser coming past the moorings. It was the Cambrian which was made by Sam Weaver of Waverton in the mid-1960's. This boat went past my parents' mooring at Beeston every week whilst it carried novice canal cruisers to Llangollen. It was one of the first GRP cruisers and had many unique features such as a sink made from the same material as the rest of the boat that was tilted to be emptied and the water ran into a trough and then into the canal.

The Cambrian made by Sam Weaver in the mid-1960's

Sam Weaver went on to make other boats of a similar design one of which was called Waverton and was Cambrian's stable-mate in the hire cruiser fleet. We had seen Cambrian at its mooring above Kings Lock Middlewich but this was the first time we had seen it on the Bridgewater Canal. After lunch I cut the grass on the moorings then chilled out for an hour or so. With the front back and side doors open Ruby found a nice cool place inside the boat wafted by the breeze passing through the boat. Suitably chilled out I tidied up packed everything away and returned home with the air-con turned up in the car after an unplanned but productive visit to Lymm.

Nice, tidy moorings with newly cut grass

The following weekend was a triple whammy... it was the River Mersey Festival in Liverpool, Lymm Transport Festival and Lymm CC's President's Cheese and Wine Cruise to "Spike Bridge" which is located between Walton and Moore. We had had a busy week at home and work and really needed to chill-out so the President's Cruise won! We arrived at the boat early Friday evening. After loading the boat we decided to stay on our moorings for the night and were soon joined by Paul and Wendy with Adreva who moored alongside on Sapphire's vacant mooring (with permission).

After a catch-up we had an early night ready to cruise to "Spike Bridge" the following morning. After breakfast we headed up to the winding hole just past the moorings and made our usual one hundred and eighty degree turn in one go (unlike some boaters I could mention). Lymm Village was crammed with historic narrow and wide boats and at one point there was just enough room for us to squeeze through the moored boats which stretched right around the corner past Brookfield Bridge. I don't know what would have happened if a wide-beam boat wanted to pass through!

A busy Lymm Village due to the Historic Transport Festival

As we were passing the boats I heard my name shouted and as I turned I saw my old school friend Paul Kirkbride that regular readers may remember I bumped into at Steam on the Dock who had come to the festival on the converted ex-Fellows Morton and Clayton narrowboat Alder. We had a quick discussion about engine lubricants... Morris Lubricants in particular, as used on the steam Steam Tug Kerne before bidding him farewell and carrying on. Moored next to Paul was another converted ex-working narrowboat called Beattie and the owner Nick Grundy shouted across the canal... "Are you the Cyril Wood from the Canalscape website?" To which I confirmed that I was and we had a quick conversation during which he told me how much he enjoyed visiting the website which he thought was a credit to me. Fame indeed! Further details about Beattie can be found at the boat's website...

My old school friend Paul Kirkbride on his narrowboat Alder

Passing through Thelwall Cutting

We carried on to Stockton Heath where we stopped for a quick visit to the shops then carried on to Spike Bridge. At Walton the Bridgewater Motor Boat Club's moorings were full of boats on their Summer Cruise and my daughter and grandaughter (whose boat Adeline is currently moored there) gave us a wave as we went past. We passed the other boats from Lymm CC at "Spike Bridge", turned around and double moored on the side of Adreva.

Boats from Lymm CC moored at "Spike Bridge"

Reflections at "Spike Bridge"

"Spike Bridge" isn't really a bridge but a collection of gas pipes that span the canal at this point and the spikes refer to the railings that deter vandals from climbing on the pipes. Once safely moored we brought our folding chairs out and joined the other members assembled in the clearing ready for the cheese and wine to be brought out. In the meantime we chatted and caught up with all the latest gossip.

Lymm CC members chatting at the President's Cheese and Wine Cruise

There was a good atmosphere at the gathering even though there weren't all that many boats attending... quality not quantity! After consuming some cheese and partaking of wine we returned to our boats just as it started to rain. Next morning was one of those drizzly mornings when it is too dry for a coat and too damp for a fleece. We set off for Lymm about eight thirty and joined the procession of boats cruising in the same direction as we were. Ruby had had a busy weekend watching the world go by from the rear deck and socialising with other Lymm CC members' dogs so felt the need to recuperate on her bed in the aft cabin.

Ruby sleeping on her bed on the way back to Lymm after a busy weekend

We made a brief stop at Thorn marine then continued on our way. We waved to Paul Kirkbride just before we squeezed through the moored boats in Lymm Village, put the boat on its moorings and made our way home after a wonderfully relaxing weekend.

The following week I received a telephone call from Steve at The Cover Company telling me that he had finished our dodger and would like to fit it on Tuesday the 4th July at 2.00 pm. On that day I arranged to leave work early, collected Ruby from home and went straight up to Lymm. Steve wasn't far behind us and by 3.00pm the dodger was fitted.

Steve from The Cover Company fitting the dodger

The dodger fitted...

...and from a different angle. The creases should fall out in time

The end result is excellent. There are a few creases in it but they will fall out when we get some warm weather. The dodger was just finished in time as when Steve was packing his tools away it started to drizzle. Once I had seen Steve on his way I did a couple of jobs and we were on our way home as well after a quick but productive visit.

Squirrel and new dodger fitted on its mooring at Lymm

That weekend it was Angie's birthday and we travelled up to Lymm on the Friday evening. I had promised to help Paul with his kitchen refit on Adreva and he arrived at the Clubhouse early Saturday morning. After lunch Paul and I went to the Tool Station to pick-up some gas fittings. By this time we had made a dent in the refit of the kitchen but Paul wanted to get rid of the old cooker and fridge as the space they were taking up was exactly where he wanted to be.

Adreva arriving at Lymm

Adreva's old cooker destined for Lisa and Nathan's boat Adeline

I suggested that my daughter Lisa and her husband Nathan might be able to find a home for them on their boat Adeline which they were refitting. After a quick telephone call they came to collect them and were most grateful that I had thought about them. After they had gone we chatted to Ken Powell who was painting Laplander's hull after having new sacrificial anodes fitted by his son. Ken used to be a professional painter and he told us that one of the secrets to a good finish was to use the "tongue technique". This is when you put your tongue out on the right hand side of your mouth whilst applying the paint or, in this case... bitumen! Ange uses this technique and it appears to work. We were treated to seeing a classic cruiser passing the moorings. The boat was called Plover B and the owner told us that it was built on the Oxford Canal in the late 1950's. A little later we heard the unmistakeable sound of narrowboat Stork's classic Gardner engine starting up and soon if left its moorings making smoke rings in copious quantities.

 Ken Powell painting Laplander's hull using the "tongue technique" to ensure a good finish

The classic cruiser Plover B passing through Lymm

Stork leaving its moorings

We planned to go for a birthday meal with Wendy, Oliver and Paul and after we were suitably washed and changed we all went to The Swan at Bucklow Hill near Tatton Park where we enjoyed a lovely meal in beautiful surroundings with good company. With our stomachs suitably filled we returned to Lymm via Agden where we were treated to a beautiful sunset that was crying out to be photographed.

Our gang waiting for our meals at The Swan Bucklow Hill

Sunset at Agden

Back at Lymm we said our goodbyes to Wendy, Oliver and Paul before retiring to our boat after a busy but great day. The Sunday was Angie's birthday and after a lie-in we had breakfast then headed for home to continue the birthday celebrations we had planned.

Later that week Liverpool was treated to a visit from the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner. When she was due to sail we drove down to Seacombe Ferry on the opposite bank of the Mersey to Liverpool's Pier Head to see her leave. We also watched the firework display that usually accompanies the departure of distinguished guests to the river. Readers may be interested to see one of the photographs that I took of her departure.

 The Queen Elizabeth and the firework display for her departure from Liverpool

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The preparations for our 2017 Summer Cruise were continuing. That weekend we were up at Lymm again helping Paul with his galley refit and taking stock of what we had in the cupboards and making a list of what was needed. As well as the more usual requirements, I wanted to fit lights beneath the seating on the aft deck as the newly fitted dodger now makes it a bit on the dark side at night. Consequently, weatherproof LED lights were purchased along with a weatherproof switch to control them. I had mounted the lights on lengths of plastic moulding which I plan to attach beneath the steel seating with heavy duty adhesive. The switch will be screwed onto a convenient location adjacent to the engine control lever but beneath the seating with the electrical cabling being fed through the gear change/throttle cable conduit, through the engine compartment to the electrical cupboard.

LED lighting and switch prior to fitting on the aft deck

Ruby likes to lie on the foredeck floor but we are aware that the steel decking becomes very hot in direct sunlight and we didn't want her to damage her pads on it. There was previously plastic matting on the deck but it was not comfortable either for her to lie on or for us when walking on it. Ange suggested some form of covering similar to artificial grass that had drain holes to allow rain water to drain away might be a solution. I had seen something like it in Aldi a while ago but they had since sold out. On a quick visit to B & Q (dogs allowed in the store) a similar product in the shape of a thin, exterior carpet similar to artificial grass but without the strands was in stock. After inspection, a four foot by six foot six inch length was purchased from them (£20) and it will be taken up to the boat and fitted on our next visit.

Exterior carpet for the fore deck

I had also telephoned the Canal and River Trust to order our temporary licence. Bridgewater Canal licence holders can obtain a discount under the Reciprocal Arrangement between the C&RT and Bridgewater Canal Company provided that you are registered with C&RT. A three month licence was decided upon which, for a forty five foot narrowboat, currently costs £58.58. I will be spending a week on the boat during October so a three month licence would cover me for that period as well. After paying for the licence it was sent to us as a PDF e-mail attachment that only required printing out and cutting. Once printed out I laminated it in the same way that I laminate our Bridgewater Canal licence so that it is not damaged by condensation. We didn't go up to Lymm the weekend before our holiday cruise was due to commence as Ange had holiday shopping that she wanted to do. I was off work from the Wednesday prior to the holiday cruise so I packed the clothes I was taking, did some shopping, took Ruby for her holiday coat trim, etc. I would be making a couple of trips up to Lymm with food, clothes, etc. and doing a few last minute jobs as well.

On a totally unrelated subject, my daughter Lisa has been experimenting painting canal roses on various items. She started off experimenting on small items such as plates, egg cups and containers. Judging by the results I think that she has definitely got a talent for this kind of thing and she hopes to become proficient enough to sell items on eBay and might even take commissions in the future.

Some examples of my daughter Lisa's canal roses painting

(Photograph - Lisa Hitchcock)

She has also been experimenting painting canal castles as well. Her first attempt was of the castles in narrowboat Tamar's boatman's cabin adorning the lid of her paint box. The painting was done from memory as she has not seen Tamar for over thirty years since our dear departed friend Alec Levac sold the boat in the 1990's. The similarity is uncanny and if this is her first attempt I wonder what kind of canal artist she will turn into? Watch this space!

The original image of the canal castles painted in Tamar's boatman's cabin...

...and Lisa's interpretation of the same scene, painted by memory on the lid of a storage box

(Photograph - Lisa Hitchcock)

As planned, on the Thursday before our 2017 Summer Cruise Ruby and I drove up to Lymm with a car full of stuff for our hols. When we left Wallasey it was sunny and dry but as we neared Lymm on the M56 it started to cloud over. On our arrival at the boat club John Moult's boat was being relaunched after having some work done. The tractor was playing up... the power steering was not operating and it took two people to turn the steering wheel. I looked after the hooking up of the trailer whilst John and Alan off nb Ches wrestled with the steering. Half way through the operation the heavens opened and we all were soaked by the rain.

Rain on the cut... the size of the the raindrops cannot be gauged in this photograph

With John's boat safely back in the water I returned to the car and waited for the rain to stop. After nearly an hour it eased off sufficiently for Ruby and I to load up the trolley and go down to our mooring. I put some of the stuff I had brought away and fitted a replacement TV in the back cabin as the original one was faulty. By the time I had finished the sun had come out so I dried off the front deck and fitted the covering as previously mentioned. When it was completed Ruby gave it the "paws up".

The new fore deck covering fitted

Ruby trying out the foredeck covering... she gave it the "paws up"

No sooner had I finished but it started to rain again. This time it was really heavy and accompanied by a couple of thunder claps. I put my tools away, tidied up the boat and when the rain eased off again we locked the boat and made a dash for the car. A quick visit was made to Midland Chandlers on the way home to purchase a couple of replacement LED lights then made our way home. I hadn't completed all the jobs I planned to do but at least some of them were done.


To be continued in... Canalmanac 2017 Part 3


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Chapter 4 - Summer Cruise 2017  (in preparation)

We had been looking forward to our 2017 Summer Holiday Cruise for quite a few months. It had been a busy year and the promise of relaxing on the boat and cruising to Ellesmere Port, revisiting some of our old haunts that we had not been to for a few years was exciting. A couple of years ago we had cruised down the Northern Shroppie as far as Brockholes Aqueduct just past Beeston Castle but, this year we hoped to be able to stop at some of the places we did not have time to visit including spending some time in Chester before heading across the bottom of the Wirral Peninsula to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port where we planned to moor in the Lower Basin. Short of cruising down the Ship Canal and out into the River Mersey this is the second closest we can get the boat to our home in Wallasey ten miles away. Last year, on our Summer Holiday Cruise to Liverpool when we were passing Jesse Harley's Octagonal Clock Tower after exiting Stanley Dock we were less than two miles from home in a straight line which is the closest we can get to home. The last time we moored at the Boat Museum was in 2011 before we headed out onto the Manchester Ship Canal. However, on our 2017 cruise after Ellesmere Port we would be retracing our steps the way we came without the excitement of the Ship Canal and the subsequent voyage up the River Weaver.



Timetable for our 2017 Summer Cruise

Saturday -  



















Saturday -  
Sunday -  
Monday -  
Tuesday -  
Wednesday -  
Thursday -  
Friday -  
Saturday -  


Epilogue to Summer Cruise 2017


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Chapter 5 - Canalmanac 2017 Part 3  (in preparation)




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Canalography 2017

Our canal cruising experiences and milestones during 2017



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The story most probably continues in

Book 14

Canal Cruising 2018

Finances, time and health allowing!


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or select another book below...




Book 1 - 1959 to 1982


Book 2 - 1983 to 1999

Book 3 - 2000 to 2005

  Book 4 - 2006 to 2007
  Book 5 - 2008 to 2010
  Book 6 - 2010
  Book 7 - 2011

Book 8 - 2012

Book 9 - 2013

Book 10 - 2014
  Book 11 - 2015
   Book 12 - 2016
nb Squirrel
Canals on Screen
Canalscape Photography
Photography in One
The History of Lymm Cruising Club
The Duke's Cut - The Bridgewater Canal
The Big Ditch - Manchester's Ship Canal
Shroppie - The Shropshire Union Canal System
The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal
 Mersey Connections
Wonders of the Waterways
2011 Gardner Engine Rally Report
Foreign Forays - Canals of the World
Worsley Canal Heritage Walk
Castlefield Canal Heritage Walk
The Liverpool Docks Link

nb Total Eclipse

Don't Call it a Barge

Canis Canalus

Footnote and Acknowledgements
Site Map
Go to the



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Updated 27/07/2017