Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Bit of a Marathon.

Tuesday 20th September, 2016 at Nantwich.
We were moored overnight just above the Grindley Brook staircase locks and, as these locks can get very busy and the queues can get very long, we decided to make an early start to be first through the locks. Today, we had a lie in and didn't set off until the sun had risen!
We always have admired this beautiful house by the lock, very much in the "Telford" style of Beech house at Ellesmere. It used to belong to the permanent lock keeper. Lucky man!
M found another of C&RT's amusing notices by the refuse bins.
By 8am, we were in the middle lock of the staircase of three locks. The gates of the bottom two locks were leaking very badly and R had to put more water into the middle lock before moving out of the top lock.
Then, again, he had to put more water into the bottom lock before we could get MM safely into the bottom lock.
A C&RT lock keeper was supposed to have started by 8:30 but there was no sign of him/her - so R helped a hire boat behind us whose crew were very nervous about doing a staircase on their own - but they managed brilliantly.
Another three ordinary locks follow just round the corner from the staircase and, because we were first through, they were all in our favour.
Good thing that we had started early as R counted 16 boats coming towards the Grindley Locks in the next two hours! We guess that some of those would have had to queue for four or more hours!
The weather was lovely again today, sunshine and no wind. Guy basked lazily in the sun while we toiled at the locks. (you just can't get the gorillas these days, says M!).
We call this red tray "Muggy". It was a gift from our friends Brenda and Martin on nb "Odyssey". It is perfect for holding cups secure when we are jumping on and off doing locks.
Wrenbury Wharf has an electric lift bridge. M always enjoys opening it because it means that she gets to stop the traffic and it was a very satisfying feeling to make four cars wait while MM made her stately progress through the bridge. We had noticed a lot of hire boats out on the canal in the last few days. This is one of the main hire bases on this canal and it was empty of boats - they were all out! We supposed this is down to a rush of late bookings due to the good weather.
Our dear friend Jenni is in the vicinity at the moment on nb "Rufford" and we had provisionally arranged to meet here at Wrenbury. However, a call from Jenni resulted in a change of plan as, for various reasons, she had decided to go on to Nantwich so we decided to keep going and to meet her there instead. This meant another nine locks and nine more miles but we didn't mind as the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. It should have taken us another six hours, but we ended up doing it in just over four, largely due to the amount of water coming down the Llangollen canal, which meant that we were doing 4 mph just on tickover! M, who was walking the towpath, could barely keep up!
The four locks at Hurleston were quite busy but there were boats going up and down, so we alternated through the locks.
Finally, the last lock of the lovely Llangollen (note the alliteration, says M!). So farewell to the Llangollen and back on to the Shroppie, one of our favourite canals.
Not long after, we spotted Rufford ahead and we hooted them cheerfully with MM's horn. This is the first time that MM and Rufford have met.
It was lovely to see Jenni, William and Ed and to meet their friends Neil and Sarah. We sailed the two boats together and moored up just before Nantwich marina.
We all went for dinner together at the Black Lion in Nantwich - a double treat for us as we got to spend time with Jenni & Co and we rarely eat out (that is because M is such a good cook, says R).
Phew! What a marvellous day. Nineteen locks, four lift bridges and fourteen miles in just under eight hours. A great day!
Today: 14 miles, 19 locks and 7.7 hours (and 4 lift bridges).
Trip: 408 miles, 280 locks and 289.7 hours.

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