All posts by Duncan

Day 3 Wheelock to Red Bull

Interesting people met – 0

Idiots encountered – 1 – Plus one absent idiot!

Classic album – Queen – A Night at the Opera

There are some days, when boating, that just happen! And today was one of those days. We set off, we did locks , we did more locks, and we arrived at our destination. As such, it’s a day where there is little to tell.

The locks in question were Heartbreak hill between Wheelock & Red Bull. I believe it is so named (and if this isn’t true it should be) because the 26 locks are spaced in such a way that you either walk a very long way, or are forever getting on and off the boat. Heartbreaking!

But before we get to the locks we come to the absent idiot who, deciding he no longer needed his boat, moored it on the water point at Wheelock with a for sale sign on it.

Understandably, someone (who wanted water presumably) moved it and tied it haphazardly to the bank 20 yards further up. As we set off from our mooring, it decided that would be a good time to shed its moorings and drift into the centre of the canal!

Resisting the urge to simply barge past it ( it was a fiberglass cruiser so I think I could have done that with little risk to Blue Rover) I re-tied it just as haphazardly to the bank, and off we went.

As flights of locks go, it was pretty plain sailing, with most locks set in the right direction.

One thing about Heartbreak hill that makes it less of a chore is that it contains the best lock on the network (Lock 58 at Hassle Green). This is where you go under the M6 and then immediately up the lock,  with the traffic streaming down the Motorway, though it’s at its best when the sun is shining and the motorway is solid with traffic so the cars are travelling slower than us. At that point, as you stop for an ice cream at the lock side shop, life is sweet.

The ice cream shop may be gone, but its still a wonderful place that reminds me why I love boating!

On up the locks and enter stage right today’s idiot. Today it was a chap walking down the locks as we went up. It was a duplicated lock, and we were going up the one farthest from the towpath. There was a boat coming down the lock above – perfect – we both leave our gates open, pass in the pound and continue on our merry way.

However, said idiot decided o be “helpful” and open the top gate of the other lock. On explaining the error of his ways, he simply said “never mind, I needed the excercise & there will be another boat along in a minute” and wandered off. AARRGH!

He did at least take the hint when a I set off round the lock to close it and came back to shut the gate.

Rest of the locks were uneventful and, fortunately, there was water in the pound past “Smelly Corner” (between locks 47 and 46), so called because it’s a corner and , thanks to a very large dairy farm by the canal, it smells. Last time we came this way, I was very glad to arrive safely at lock 46 having scraped the bottom all along the 1/2 mile pound from lock 47! (Leaking sill to blame apparently).

3pm saw us arrive at Red Bull and a perfect sunny mooring spot. Just in time to risk taking the drone to the air for a second time – this time, better shots of a boat coming through the lock and still managed not to kill or drown the beast. Result!

Night at the Opera really is a good Album – not a bad track on it!

Day 2 – Middlewich – Wheelock

Hours Cruised – 4

Interesting people met – 2 – including an itinerant blacksmith

Idiots encountered – Too many to mention

Classic album – Rush – Moving Pictures

Day two, and the objective is Wheelock, and the Barchetta Italian restaurant. Based simply on that fact, today’s classic album has to be Moving Pictures by Canadian prog gods Rush – Those who don’t get the reference need to listen to the album (track 2).

First stop was Middlewich big lock, and encounter with interesting person number 1. Local guy, obviously a professional gongoozler who knows the canal well, and willing to deliver advice on lock operation to anyone who would listen. However he did have a very cute border collie named Meg, so he was obviously a sound individual.

Past big lock, we moored up just behind a narrowboat pair (Emily & Bronte), and interesting person 2, but more of that later.

Into Middlewich to stock up with provisions, with visits to butchers bakers and in lieu of a candlestick maker, Tesco! Though interestingly interesting person 2 did make candlesticks.

So we get to Bronte & Emily, and interesting person 2 – Working from the narrowboat pair (Bronte housed his forge) was an itinerent blacksmith, selling a range of ironwork, from candlesticks, to  fire irons & door knockers. Apparently he build Bronte, (the tug of the pair) 22 years ago, and has been travelling the waterways since, plying his trade – #livingthedream. If you want to check out his work, his website is

Back on board having purchased a birthday present ( can’t say what as the recipient may read this and don’t want to spoil the surprise, but needless to say it may be a forge fabricated gift!) we set off to negotiate Middlewich locks, and this is where our day was beset by idiots – (warning – the following paragraphs contain a rant – skip forward to “rant over”  if you want to avoid it.

Middlewich locks are tight at the best of times with short pounds, and a rather interesting 90 degree bend between locks 73 And 72 (going up). This arrangement is no problem if you take the “One up, One down approach”. In this way, two boats leave their respective lock, cross in the pound, enter the next lock and continue on their way – simples!

So Why oh Why did people coming down think it was a good idea, despite a boat coming up the lock below, to refill their lock and follow the boat in front down, thus resulting in 3 boats in a very small pound trying hard to avoid each other and the sides of the overflowing pound!! Add into this the 90 degree bend, and …. ( you get the picture). What’s worse is that it doesn’t save them any time, as they simply then have to wait in the next pound. At least it gives them a chance to get over the stress that their lack of forethought has caused them and everyone else.

What makes it worse is that when you point out that manoeuvering is going to get tricky, the response is, “don’t worry, he’s very experienced” …. AAARGH. You could almost understand if the culprits were novices!


Above Kings lock, we decided to stop for lunch. (Mettricks pork pies this time – last of the Mettricks stash). 30 mins later, blood pressure back to normal, about to set off, and a boat pulls out behind us. It’s decision time, there’s a lock 200 yards ahead – do you let them pass? Of course you do! That way you are doing the hassling from behind!

2 hrs later arrive at Wheelock. Sat outside the Barchetta restaurant enjoying a beer in the sun, and who should arrive but friends from home! I really must check the boat for tracking devices! Nice surprise though and a chance to see the photos from the Big Geordie Wedding.

Evening finished with a great meal at the Barchetta, and back to the boat for Eurovision – obviously. Smart money suggest the UK stand a chance of doing well this year – will they never learn!

Day 1 Anderton to Middlewich

Hours Cruised 4

Interesting people met – None – though we did pass a guy with the most amazing sideburns ! – might regret adding this element, but the canals are full of them so fingers crossed.

Classic Album of the day – Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life

For anyone who happens on this blog, it is basically a record of a trip from Anderton to Crick to visit the Crick Boat Show. 14 days – 1 boat, 2 people and a dog ( aging Border collie named Boo – Yes that’s her in the photo)

Arriving at Anderton, we parked the car only to realised that we had positioned it so that all the doors and the boot were positioned 0ver muddy puddles, meaning that unloading without covering the boat in mud was a challenge. A challenge that I a might add, we rose to admirably!

With the exception of the discovery that we will have a leak in the engine cooling system – something to investigate later – unpacking, filling up with water and eating lunch – An excellent (as always) Chicken and Bacon Salad box from Metricks butchers in Glossop – were all uneventful.

After touching up some major scrapes on the hull ( not sure where they came from since we painted it 2 weeks ago!  I can only think someone has been borrowing the boat and joyriding, playing dodgems with locks and other boats!) we set off about 3:30 turned left out of the marina and set off for Crick.

Just before the Salt Barge, it was good o see that GrowlTiger, was back on its “Home” mooring. Having not moved for the past 2 years, spotting it on the Weaver 2 weeks ago was a tad un-nerving

Plan was to stop at Bramble cuttings but moorings were full, and didn’t fancy brestin up – (in hindsight,  probably a mistake given my objective of meeting interesting people on the trip. But in my defense, I only set that objective after making that decision!), so carried on to just short of Middlewich.

As we moored by a large field with few trees, I saw it as an ideal spot to “get back on the horse” drone wise – previous week – Drone, V large tree  – flying backwards while concentrating on filming – you get the idea (Apparently it’s number 8 in the top 10 rookie mistakes that lead to drone crashes – but thanks to some help from Sam from Arundel Tree surgeons, and some amazing tree climbing the drone lived to fly another day – who says there are no such thing as miracles!)

So took it for a short flight. At one point even flying over water!!!
Film was very bad – Def need lots of practice. But drone returned in one piece, so all round – result!

Finished the evening listening to some of the Eurovision Entries. 30 mins of this and I had the “daily classic album” idea. But it did get me thinking, it would be ironic if this year we won it, so become the host next year then voted to leave Europe in June!