Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Stockton Brook to Rode Heath Tues 12th Aug

Rain & lethargy meant a fairly slow ten thirty start, through the boring bit of the Caldon again (and once again did one lift bridge solo, the other with offered help) and back to the Trent & Mersey. Filled up with diesel at the Black Prince boat hire base at festival Park, Stoke (36l in tank, 10l in cans, I'd put the remaining spare 5l in earlier in the morning). While moored there, a storm broke with thunder and an impressive hail storm; I set off again once I'd got waterproofs on as I wanted to make it to the Harecastle tunnel before four (passage guaranteed as long as you get there by then). The sun came out as quickly as the rain had started.

I didn't have much time to wait at Harecastle; David the BW lockeeper had been an electrician, gave it all up when there were more regulations & tests than anything else, and ended up looking after one end of a canal tunnel; not bad. It's narrow, so one way; they put a batch of boats in, then shut the doors (quite ominous) and pull air through with a big fan, which is quite odd. I played a bit more bad accordion in the tunnel, which the people in the boat behind me heard, surprising over the engine noise. Took me 34 mins, which the far end lockeeper said was fine; it's even harder to judge speed in a tunnel than out in the open air.

After the tunnel there's the junction with the Macclesfield canal & the north; then it's locks, locks and more locks. I managed two flights, and moored up at Rode Heath, which may be called Thurlwood, I'm not sure. On the way down met a kayak-er called Andrew who'd left from Manchester and was heading down to his daughter's in Worcester; my comment about him going 'the long way round' went unremarked, but I met him again on the way back when he admitted he'd meant to head south east towards the tunnel, not north west... interesting chap, though, was carrying camping gear, his kayak had a trolley to haul it past the locks, but they did seem nearly as much of a procedure as if on a boat. They're so much easier on a bike, I recall. ;-)

Without a drop touching my lips, I managed to get cheap white wine in my laptop keyboard, and it started playing up... me being me I removed it from the machine, lit the the stove and hung it up to dry. After a pint in the Bourton Arms (quiz night, I should have gone to the other one) I reinstalled it... working so far, but there may be long term effects. Oh well.

Llangollen is very much within reach now; I did here today that traffic is actually pretty quiet. I guess that canal boat hire - an expensive luxury - is an easily dropped expense. Good for me, less good for the hire boat companies...

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