I'd intended to stay in Manchester a few days and then make my way in a leisurely fashion back to Anderton by the end of the month, but something's cropped up at home that requires my presence sooner rather than later.
We therefore made an early start from Castlefield with the intention of completing the 30 miles, one lock and three tunnels back to Anderton today. It had already started raining and once we were clear of the city the wind quickly got up. The rain cleared by mid-morning but the wind continued all day, although thankfully it was a headwind rather than a crosswind most of the time. Nevertheless conditions were so unpleasant that Ken and I took turns at the tiller, half-an-hour a time, whilst the other sheltered in the cabin.
The Canal and Transport Festival was taking place at Lymm with a number of working boats, narrow and wide, the centre of attraction. Amongst the former was coal boat Alton, complete with Brian who remembered selling us a fender at Wheelock in April and commented that we had managed to fit it. Well, up to a point, Brian, up to a point. . .
We timed our arrival at Preston Brook tunnel just right for the 3.30pm passage although we had to follow three other boats with that in front of us proceeding very slowly and displaying a bright white light to the rear!
This boat also held things up by attempting to enter the 12ft wide Dutton Stop Lock with the boat in front of him.
Then we were passing the site of the massive breach that closed the Trent & Mersey for eight months last winter. The removal of the trees here has created extensive views over the valley of the Weaver and CRT has thoughtfully provided new mooring rings to create a popular informal stopping place.
We then had to follow the slow boat through Saltersford and Barnton Tunnels, still with his back end lit up like Blackpool Illuminations, whilst listening to his front end banging and scraping its way along the walls.
Getting in to Uplands Basin is a challenge at the best of times, with a narrow entrance under a low bridge followed by a right-angled turn onto the jetty. But in today's wind it was even more so. I managed it without too much trouble but only because no one was watching.
Finally, after over ten hours non-stop travelling we reached Starcross's home berth almost two months after setting off on this trip.
The next appointment is with the bottom blacker here at Uplands Basin early next month, then there is just the rest of the summer to look forward to.
(Written yesterday but posted today due to lack of a signal at Uplands Basin).