Sometime last year Starcross' front fender must have taken a knock, although I don't remember doing it and for some time now its been hanging down so low that the bow itself would hit anything before the fender did. Re-positioning it was a two-person job (one to hold the fender up, the other to shorten the holding chain) and it needed to be done somewhere where the boat could be turned end-on to the bank, something that wasn't possible on our mooring at Norbury Junction.
Tower Wharf was ideal, so this was the first job of the day. Having waited several months to be done, the task was accomplished in a few minutes and by 9.20 we were away back up Northgate 3-Rise and on out of the city.
The broad locks on the old Chester Canal are quite awkward for a single (narrow) boat when going uphill. In most broad locks, such as those of the Grand Union, the technique is to position the boat alongside one lock wall and then draw the paddle on the same side of the lock. The incoming water passes under the boat, rebounds from the opposite wall and holds your boat in place. Not on the Chester Canal it doesn't. For some reason the water emerges directly under the boat and pushes it across the lock to the opposite site - quite fiercely if you open the paddles quickly. When the lock is half-full, the water changes direction and pushes you back again! Attempting to hold the boat with a centre line passed round a bollard and back to the steerer results in the front of the boat crossing the lock, but not the back and leaves you diagonally across the lock. I'm sure there must be a way of using these locks without looking as if you don't know what you are doing, but I haven't found it yet.
It took about three hours to get back up to Christleton, after which we started looking for somewhere to stop for lunch. Eventually we found a spot opposite Waverton Golf Course and with the sun actually showing some warmth for the first time in ages we took lunch on the roof.
The view from the roof during lunch at Waverton Golf Course
After lunch, Hil set off to cycle into Tarporley, agreeing to meet me at Wharton's Lock later in the afternoon. I was about half an hour late for our rendezvous, partly because on the way I encountered the longest line of moored boats I've ever seen - 126, not counting a few empty spaces - which I had to pass on tickover and partly because I called in at Tattenhall Marina for some coal. At least, I thought I'd bought coal but quite honestly I was so distracted by the young lady who served me that I failed to realise that it was actually smokeless fuel, which wasn't what I asked for or wanted - but I didn't mind and at least it had been supplied by John Jackson and his narrowboat Roach. My route took me past the Shady Oak pub, well-known to boaters on the northern Shroppie and I tried to take a photo from the tiller. The sun was all wrong and I couldn't concentrate on steering and photography at the same time, but for what its worth here is the photo
The Shady Oak in 2010
The reason I wanted a photo was to compare it with this one, taken in 1972
Shady Royal Oak in 1972
There are a few tales to tell about the boat in the foreground, but I'll save them for another time.
Reunited with Hil we continued through the Iron lock at Beeston and tied up back above Beeston stone lock just as the sun was setting and in time to capture this shot.
End of the day at Beeston stone lock