The weather in Lancaster has been unlike that elsewhere in the country recently, with no sign of the snow and ice other areas have had, so I didn't expect ice on the cut at Bridge 47 on the Shropshire Union this morning.
There'd been none yesterday afternoon on the way up from Norbury, from where I'd set off after a tedious drive down the M6 enlivened only by a car on fire on the hard shoulder somewhere in Cheshire. (The driver was standing safely, if disconsolately, nearby).
It took only a few minutes to break enough ice to be able to set off, but a good half-hour to untie the frozen mooring ropes. I couldn't use the time-honoured method of pouring boiling water over them as I belatedly realised that I hadn't brought enough with me from Norbury and was already down to my last two litres!
My original intention was to get to Market Drayton today, but once I was on the move the ice started to get thicker and it was only the thought of being marooned in the middle of nowhere without water ("water, water everywhere. . . .") that kept me on the move.
Breaking ice all the way, the first feasible stopping point was Goldstone Wharf. BW installed a water point here a couple of years ago as a replacement for the non-operational one at Tyrley, then promptly hung an "out of order" notice on it. The notice has gone, but the tap was dry (perhaps frozen?). The Tyrley point has since been repaired, so I pressed on taking advantage of the fact that another boat had obviously set off from Goldstone recently and cleared a way. However, Tyrley's tap was also dry so I had no option but to carry on down the locks to my original destination. On a good day I can get through the five locks at Tyrley in about an hour, even single-handed, but with snowy locksides and slippery towpaths I was in no hurry today and with all five being against me it took over an hour-and-a-half.
Market Drayton has a double water point. The first tap I tried was also frozen and I was reconciled to the idea of drinking nothing but beer for the rest of the trip but the second one produced a steady flow and enabled me to re-fill my water bottles and carrier. (I'll be able to get some beer in the pub tonight!)
I'm only out for a few days so will turn round here and start heading back tomorrow.