Saturday 28 December

We woke to perfect calm and a lovely sunny morning and so we cast off and headed towards Ellesmere Port, which marks the northern limit of the Shropshire Union Canal.  Ahead lies the Manchester Ship Canal for which boaters need a Certificate of Seaworthiness and permission from Peel Holdings  to travel along it.   We have neither so we’ll be returning to Chester tomorrow.

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Ellesmere Port Dock may be picturesque, with views of the Manchester Ship Canal,  the Mersey and Liverpool in the distance and the Waterways Museum there may be  worth a visit but the museum was closed when we arrived and the water tap was visible behind a locked gate and the Elsan point invisible without local knowledge.   With a pair of binoculars we spotted a four inch sign disclosing its location hiding behind a couple of moored working boats – this was only after we asked of its whereabouts.   We decided we would attempt to gain access tomorrow morning when we turn the boat around.  We didn’t feel Ellesmere Port was a welcoming port of call, despite the sign suggesting otherwise.  Perhaps it should have said “Ellesmere Port, you’re welcome to it!”

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Friday 27 December

We had a really lovely Christmas at Laura and Marc’s with our new granddaughter.  Also James announced his engagement to his girlfriend Ali, so we enjoyed a double celebration.

.  Santa's Little Helper

But now we’re back on board.

It was so windy on Thursday night we were surprised to find the boat still moored exactly as we’d left her, on just mooring spikes.

I did a big Tesco shop in the morning while Storm lit the stove and got the boat warmed up.  The wind continued to buffet us day so we stayed put and instead in the afternoon we went into Chester to look around the shops.  Fatal – it’s impossible to do this without buying something!

Sunday 22 December

We awoke to find the boat broadsides across the canal.  The Saturday night revellers of Chester obviously thought it was a good wheeze to untie us!   We’d heard that the basin in Chester was fairly full – maybe that was why noone else was moored along the 500 yards of moorings provided so we decided to move on and join the others in the basin.

Having negotiated the Northgate staircase locks (3) we moored up in the one remaining space left.   This will do us for Christmas.

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We hope you have a Merry Christmas and we’ll continue this blog when the festivities are over.

Saturday 21 December

We’ve been moored in Christleton for the last few days; a lovely picturesque village just on the outskirts of Chester    Today as the sun was shining we decided to make the most of the good weather.  After five wide locks we moved into Chester and moored up near the shot tower where they used to make lead shot for 12 bore cartridges by dropping hot lead from the top and as it fell the droplets would cool and form balls.

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It was touch and go whether we would get through the last lock though because as the trip boat from the Mill Hotel which was out ahead of us, left the lock, the steel collar  that anchors the lock gate to the stonework snapped leaving the gate leaning at a procarious angle.   Thankfully we only need one lock gate open on wide locks to get out and the damaged gate was not resting on the good one remaining.   The trip boat captain came to warn me of the damage and agreed to notify the Canal River Trust engineers.

Within an hour of mooring up, the weather had turned and strong winds and hailstones were battering us against the canal edge.  Doors battened down we listened to the noise whilst warmed by the stove at 30 deg C.

Tuesday 17 December

Our return to Chester was delayed by a day.  The sunny weather was perfect for motoring but urgent repairs were needed when our Bilge pump stopped working (this protects the engine bay from flooding) so we had to put our plans on hold.

 

We managed to buy a new pump at the chandlers at Barbridge Junction and then moved along to the sanitary station at Calverley  to fit it, as we’d ordered a delivery of coal from the coalyard opposite.

 

While waiting for the coal delivery I finished off the scarf I’ve been knitting and instead started to try to teach myself to crochet.  A lot more practice is required.

Monday 16 December

We’ve been on a trip today as our batteries are suffering from lack of action.   Today we returned to Barbridge Junction, (10 miles and six locks), which only took five hours.   This just shows how little distance we’ve covered in three weeks!   When we moored up we discovered we’d had an email from Canal River Trust advising us that the route into Chester is now open ahead of schedule so we’re heading back towards Chester tomorrow.   Our batteries should now last us until after Christmas.