Friday 20 March

Our desire to see the eclipse was satisfied this morning thanks to clear skies and we managed to capture its reflection on our cabin wall.

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After the excitement of that had all died down we set about sanding the primer we applied yesterday and then painted the gunwhale with undercoat.

We popped back to the chandlers this afternoon to see they had any more paint but, with prices way above anything we’d ever paid before, we decided to give it a miss.

From there we walked into Nantwich to give Max a walk and we came back with a bread loaf and two vanilla slices.

 

 

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Thursday 19 March

We woke to thick fog again this morning.   The ‘BBC Weather’ on my phone was indicating that this would be with us all day and Radio 4 was warning asthma sufferers to stay indoors as the air quality was poor.

We decided to chance it as we only needed to travel two miles into Nantwich to fill up with water, diesel, coal and buy a new windlass at the chandlers. (I inadvertently dropped one in the canal at Wrenbury when it bounced off the tarmac towpath).

As we were filling up with water the sun came out and after finding a mooring we prepared to wash the port side of the boat and paint the gunwhale with primer to cover up our battle scars, in readiness for an undercoat and a coat of black enamel.

While the primer was drying I polished the cabin side with Mer while Storm fitted a grille to the side of the boat, over the loo vent.   He’s been meaning to do this for ten months!

Fingers crossed its fine again tomorrow so we can apply the undercoat.

Once we’ve finished painting this side, we’ll move the boat and look for somewhere where the towpath is on the other side of the canal so we can do the other side.

Wednesday 18 March

We left Whilley Moor Lock and headed for Hurleston Junction (10 miles, 11 locks and two lift bridges).

After early morning mist, the sun soon burst through and our journey was lovely in the sunshine.

We had a bit of a wait at the top of Hurleston locks while the two boats in front of us let some extra water through so they could proceed as the water level in the pounds between the locks was quite low.

There was enough water for us to pass down through the four locks without running aground and once through we turned towards Nantwich and moored up just clear of the junction.

Tuesday 17 March

We walked Max across Whixall Moss nature reserve but to the untrained eye and without information boards to assist us, there was little to see as we were warned not to stray from the marked footpaths, which were all quite muddy. Either side of the paths were ditches of what looked like beer (oh if only) but it was the peat surface of the bog that was giving the water its colour.

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We also inspected Bridge No 1 on the Prees branch as it’s a Grade II listed structure. It’s a lift bridge and the only thing we could think of as to why it was listed is that it is made entirely of wood, but other than that it looks like any other lift bridge.

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After exploring the area we motored on.   Despite having had a decent walk this morning, Max decided he would prefer to walk some more and leapt off the boat at one bridge and ran ahead before jumping back on at the next.   He is getting to be a very cocky Cocker!

We travelled on past Whitchurch to Grindley Brook where we filled up with water and showered at the services there.   We then passed down through the staircase of three locks and continued on through five more locks before reaching our destination of Willeymoor Lock Tavern.     In 2011, when moored at Wrenbury, we passed this pub either mid morning or mid afternoon on our way out or back when the pub was closed and so we promised ourselves we’d call in this time.

The sun came out at 4pm this afternoon and it was so nice in the sunshine that we were only in shirt sleeves.

Monday 16 March

We left Chirk Bank early and made good time covering 9.5 miles and two locks before lunch.

“Ram P” was on guard on the towpath as we went through Hindford.

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We shopped at Tesco in Ellesmere before continuing on our way and covered a further 5.5 miles before mooring for the night on the edge of Whixall Moss; a raised bog rich in flora and insect fauna.

Despite it being grey and cold all day, we think Spring must be just around the corner as we noticed that there were lots of birds around, all very excitable and strutting their stuff.

 

Sunday 15 March

Our rendezvous with Laura, Marc & Summer in Trevor was timed to perfection today as we all arrived at the same time so they could just step aboard at the junction with the aqueduct.

We were meeting up for Mother’s Day and Laura had made me some lovely raspberry and white chocolate muffins which we all shared, especially Summer who spotted cake and made a beeline for it.   The box of chocolates were saved to be devoured later.

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Trying out the Captain’s chair

 

James & Ali hadn’t forgotten me either and had bought me the DVD of Mr Turner which is perfect as we missed seeing at the cinema.

Laura & Marc had specifically requested a trip across the aqueduct and they stayed out on deck with Storm to appreciate the experience, whilst I stayed inside the boat with Summer.

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The trough of the Aqueduct

Once at the other side and through the lift bridge we moored up for lunch before continuing our mini cruise towards Chirk before winding near Chirk Marina and returning to Trevor.

After a lovely afternoon together we waved cheerio to our visitors and we winded and headed back over the aqueduct for the third time today.   We motored on to Chirk Bank before mooring for the night.

 

Saturday 14 March

We popped into town for fresh veg, milk and bread and our Saturday paper and then made ready to leave town before the hire boat rush.

Storm went ahead on foot to check the route was clear of incoming boats and we made it back to Sun Trevor Inn just in time to see three boats heading towards us, with mixed ability crews on board.

We treated ourselves to a bar meal at the pub this evening which made a nice change. One of the regulars, a farmer, asked us where we were from and it turns out he stays in Beverley regularly and has frequented Nellies and has stayed at The Dog & Duck as well as The Kings Head and the Beverley Arms. It’s a small world.