Thursday 11 December

Filled up with water again this morning and worked our way down through the 12 locks which were all set in our favour.   We passed a boat coming up, in the pound between locks 9 and 10, the crew from which disappeared below to reappear with coffees and windlass once we’d exited lock 9.   Thankfully they’d left the gates open to Lock 10 but we’ve no idea what they look like and didn’t get chance to pass the time of day.

We made good time and continued on until about 2pm when we moored up at Scholars Green where the Rising Sun is a very welcoming hostelry with real ales and roaring open fires. (12 locks, 9 miles)

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Wednesday 10 December

Wide away at 2am sitting up in bed drinking tea after only three hours sleep as we are buffeted against the bank in the strong gusting wind.   We couldn’t relax and had to check we were still tied up as we’d had to use pins when mooring as there were no rings available. We’d double pinned but still weren’t confident that these would hold us in the strong winds.

However, the wind must have calmed down at some point as we didn’t see four am and instead woke to a calm sunny morning, still safely tied up.

Our aim today was to return to the top of Bosley Locks and use the laundry facilities there (a distance of 7 miles).

As we passed through Macclesfield, I hopped off at Bridge 36 and, like a ninja, ran up the steps to the newsagent beside the bridge to buy some milk while Storm hovered with the boat under the bridge. I was back in less than a minute and we continued on our way.

We arrived at the top of the locks before lunch.   I’ve had a CRT pre-paid electricity card since we visited Market Harborough in the summer but I’ve not had an opportunity to use it until today as there are very few places that offer laundry facilities or electric hook up.

The card has been in my purse and after hearing that storing them with magnetic bank cards renders then useless I was relieved when it worked.   I’ve now stored it in its own plastic wallet in the drawer to ensure it will continue to work in the future.

A successful afternoon – clean towels & bedding washed, dried and stored away and a snooze before making Spaghetti Bolognese for tea.

Tuesday 9 December

The Navigation Inn at Bugsworth Basin is worth a visit.

I wake trying to recover some duvet – for a little dog Max takes up a disproportionate amount of space as he lies legs akimbo between us. The clock says 7.30 but its still dark and a little chilly so I get up and put more coal on the fire and take a peak out of the window.   Pink sky in the morning, sailors warning.

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Eventually, having untied our stiff ropes, we move forward onto the water point and fill up with water and deposit our rubbish in the skip provided by CRT, and then start retracing our steps towards Middlewich. It is a bright sunny morning and we decide to put the washing machine on but we haven’t been going long when the sunshine disappears to be replaced by grey skies and plummeting temperatures. We should have paid more attention to the pink morning sky.

The dusting of snow on the hills has disappeared and we realise that one advantage of cruising the Peak Forest Canal at this time of year is that you can actually see the peaks because in the Summer, when the trees are in leaf, they’d be hidden.

We take it in turns to steer and with all my many layers on, I’m a good advert for ‘Michelin Tyres’. When not steering I go below to keep warm.

After lunch, the wind gets up too and to maintain steerage we pass moored boats at a speed above tick-over and that means we reach Bollington quicker than we’d expected and moor up at 3.30pm.

At least the rain held off until after we’d moored up but we are now sitting huddled in front of the fire listening to the rain beat down on the roof while also being buffeted by the wind.

(14 miles, 2 lift bridges, 2 swing bridges)

Monday 8 December

Alton arrived as arranged and stocked us up with diesel, coal and gas. With a cheery wave Brian grinned and said ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’.  (We’ve not heard that one before!)

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Max and I walked to Bugsworth Basin and we spotted this weather forecast and happy pig along the way.

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The Basin was once a thriving port on the canal but is now a sleepy backwater and conservation area with the River Goyt running down one side of it that drowns out the noise of the A6 which passes along the other side.   In the Summer time when the trees have leaves, you don’t notice the road at all.

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As the sun was shining we decided to make the most of it and take Max for a longer walk along the old Peak Forest Tramway to Chinley and back. There was a thin dusting of snow on the hills around us.

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Even the trees know that Christmas is just round the corner as we spotted this elk …

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We got caught in a couple of sleety showers while we were out but were back at the boat before lunchtime and spent the afternoon enjoying the tranquillity, reading and watching further sleety showers come and go.

Tonight we may visit The Navigation Inn, the only business still operating in the Basin.

Sunday 7 December

The sound of raindrops on the roof just made us snuggle back under the quilt.   I weakened first and went to put the kettle on and refuel the stove before hurrying back under the covers, having taken a peak out of the window to determine that it was indeed raining with very overcast skies but at least no frost.

After breakfast we took Max for a walk into Whaley Bridge.   As we set out it was spitting with rain but as we got into town the heavens opened and despite hiding under our umbrellas, the bouncing rain was soaking us from our feet upwards.

 

The Whaley Bridge end of the Peak Forest Canal

The Whaley Bridge end of the Peak Forest Canal

We scurried back to the boat and decided to stay put today.   I set about tidying cupboards and put the finishing touches to our Christmas tree and then made some mince pies and sausage rolls.

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Our gas bottle ran out today – only the second one this year. 26KG/annum.

Alton, the fuel boat, came past in the dark and rain at 6.30pm and Brian asked if he could sort us out in the morning, somewhere between 8.30 and 9.   We said we’d be ready. They chugged off towards Bugsworth Basin and I’m sure they’ll be glad to get indoors, away from the cold and wet.

Saturday 6 December

Saturday 6 December We woke to the sound of breaking ice as a passing boat broke the thin film of ice that had formed on the canal overnight.

Ice crystals on the bench beside the boat this morning

Ice crystals on the bench beside the boat this morning

We waited for the sun to come out before we began our slow pootle to Marple where we filled up with water.   We moored up behind the trip boat and I realise that I’ve not made nearly enough effort with my Christmas decorations… IMG_3224

The water tap wasn’t frozen but the pressure was so poor, it took us over an hour to fill our tank. We set off again and turned right onto the Peak Forest Canal in the direction of Whaley Bridge.   After six miles, two lift bridges, and two swing bridges we pulled up outside Tesco at Whaley Bridge. At least if we get iced in now we won’t starve. Tomorrow we will move into Bugsworth Basin at Buxworth to await the arrival of Alton, the coal boat, where we’ll stock up with fuel supplies.   (Total 8 miles, 0 locks, 4 moveable bridges)

Friday 5 December

We’re waking later each day as the nights get longer!

The sun came out eventually and we moved off but with so many boats moored along the canal there was no chance of breaking the 4mph speed limit as we passed them at tick over.

As we passed Upper Poynton, a dark cloud appeared and by the time it passed overhead we were prepared with umbrellas. The heavy shower lasted about ten minutes and the sunshine returned.

We kept going and reached High Lane by lunch-time and pulled in. Not long afterwards another dark cloud approached and this time it didn’t rain – it hailstoned.

As the afternoon went on the temperature dropped and by this evening the footpaths looked as though they were made of quartz as the hailstones had frozen.

(Total 5 miles, 0 locks)