We were awake very early and after our slow day yesterday, we wanted to get a flier today. Looking out though we discovered thick fog. Having had breakfast it was starting to lift slightly and by now we could see two boat lengths ahead. For the first couple of miles we knew we’d be passing moored boats at tick-over so we decided to set off (still before 7.30am!)
By the time we reached the Shebdon Embankment visibility was much better and we started to pick up speed and make progress.
Our progress was relatively short lived though. As we entered Woodseaves Cuttings I couldn’t see the end. A large ash tree had succumbed to ‘Die Back’ and masses of foliage were blocking the canal.
With our engine still running, but by now in neutral, Storm went to the front of the boat with a saw, and was sawing and breaking branches. I then turned the engine off and I could hear voices coming from the other side of the foliage and they too were trying to clear branches away. They were hire boaters and their inventory doesn’t include tools so they were glad we’d got a saw. They confirmed they had a phone signal and that they’d called the CRT.
Eventually another boat came up behind us and he too had a saw on board so he climbed on our boat to help Storm with some of the bigger branches.
Two guys from CRT approached from opposite ends of the cutting, armed with only a mobile phone. They took photos and said they would ring back to base once they got a phone signal. Their mobiles didn’t work in the cutting and off they went again.
Eventually after about an hour and half of vigorous exercise the canal was sufficiently empty of foliage to risk trying to pass by and we were pulled through using our ropes, after which we continued on our way.
In contrast the rest of the day’s journey was a doddle. Five locks at Tyrley (where you could buy home grown vegetables at the top lock), four locks at Adderley, (where you could buy fresh farm meat), 15 locks at Audlem (where there were fresh cakes to buy at the top lock). That was dinner sorted!
By the time we reached Audlem top lock in the early afternoon, the sun was shining.
As it was such a nice day we decided to make the most of the good weather and keep motoring as long as possible. We’d done about four locks of the Audlem flight when I spotted that the bottom paddles were up on the lock below which suggested that someone was coming up the flight. Storm went to investigate and discovered a boat two locks below coming up and whose wife was working the locks. Now it is possible to ‘lock wheel’ (set locks ahead ready) but only when you can be sure no-one is coming down. The wife said said she hadn’t seen us, but didn’t apologise. We waited half an hour for them to come up.
Now sunny days are all well and good but unfortunately it encourages some people to wear skimpy clothing and it is often people who really shouldn’t. The man steering the boat had a pair of swimming trunks on and really he should have worn shorts. I’m now scarred for life. The box of vegetables advertising courgettes and tomatoes was empty two locks further down the flight.
Enjoying the warmth, we carried on through the two Hack Green locks and through Nantwich, making it back to Barbridge Junction before dusk. A good day at 25 miles, 27 locks and one tree.