Friday, 29 October 2010

Through Middlewich to Drayton

Wednesday 27th October: Billings Green Flash to Barbridge Jc
After yesterday's rain Wednesday dawned bright and clear at Billings Green Flash
Dawn at Billings Green Flash
In fact, the sun was a bit of a problem, being bright, low in the sky and shining straight into my eyes. Even with a l.ow brimmed hat and sunglasses I had to proceed for long stretches in "Adolf Hitler Mode" i.e. with outstretched arm and raised palm to try and deflect the glare!
My promised crew member, Martin,met me as planned at Middlewich having  journeyed from the Lake District by train and bus and, after a quick lunch  we set off up the town's locks and onto the Middlewich branch. 
At Cholmondeston lock Martin was reminiscing about a trip almost exactly ten years ago when he took a picture of Class 37 diesel hauling a passenger train on the line that crosses the canal here. Class 37s were on their way out even then and I was just telling him that I thought I read somewhere that there were only three left in service when two of them hurtled across the bridge with a nuclear flask train from Sellafield!
The visitor moorings at Barbridge were almost full when we arrived at six o'clock, but my years of training in mooring Starcross at Norbury Wharf stood me in good stead as I neatly slotted my 51ft boat into a 52ft gap in the line of moored boats. Needless to say there was nobody about to witness it.

Thursday 28th October
Barbridge Junction to Market Drayton
An easy day, for me at least because Martin insisted on working all the locks! He said it was to make sure I didn't over-exert myself as I'm still on some heart medication but later admitted it was because he was worried he'd bash the boat about too much in the locks. He needn't have worried as I think I must have nudged just about every lock wall on the way up.
The first locks were at Hack Green, where new lock gates are waiting to be fitted during the winter stoppages:

We were lucky at Audlem with empty locks and oncoming boats and managed the top 12 in a hundred minutes, including two lengthy delays behind another boat at the very top. Adderley locks came and went without really noticing and we tied up at a prime spot at Market Drayton's visitor moorings at 17.30.
Another two excellent days' boating.

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