Day-by-Day: 2013

Not a Good Start to the Year

Wednesday, 2nd January: At Uplands Basin
I arrived at Uplands soon after 11.15 after coming from Lancaster by train to Warrington and then the 46 bus. As expected, having been left for almost a month in the worst of the winter weather the boat seemed cold and damp and a lot of rain water had found its way into the rear bilge and also under the cabin hatch from where it had fallen onto the top of the cabin ceiling, causing a partial collapse. The batteries seemed very low, giving only a flicker of light, although the engine battery was sound enough and the engine started easily. 
After checking with Dave that he had some diesel available (last time he was sold out) I moved over to the tank and took on 105 litres at 89ppl. Only afterwards did I realise that I hadn't been asked for a "declaration" (i.e. how much of the fuel was for moving the boat, which attracts a higher level of tax). Presumably he makes the assumption that anyone in a marina in winter only uses fuel to charge the batteries and I was happy to go along with that.
I then left the marina and took Starcross a little way along the Trent & Mersey as far as the Anderton Lift. I left the engine running while I had lunch. Here I attempted to light the fire, but the stobe door glass was cracked and the spare I had turned out to be too small - not that I could have fitted it as the nuts on the studs that held it in place were seized solid.

 Instead I carried on as far as Barnton Tunnel, where I winded and returned to the Basin. Here I was distraught to find that four hours of engine running had made no difference whatsoever to the condition of the batteries. I was intending to stay overnight, but without heat or light that was clearly impossible, so I walked along the towpath to Winnington Swing Bridge and caught a bus into Northwich, where I had a meal in Wetherspoons (the best of a bad bunch of pubs in the town) before another bus to Warrington and a train home. The only consolation was finding the Lower Angel pub in Warrington on the way between the bus stop and the railway station.

Some Progress
Monday, 28th January: At Uplands Basin 
 Dave, the manager at Uplands Basin, had agreed to check my batteries and pronounced them kaput. He then ordered and fitted replacements, but just before I went back to try them out he rang me to say that he thought they might be alright after all, so he had refitted them.
But when I tried them they worked for about 15 minutes and then failed completely - or so I thought.
Dave sent someone to fit the new ones and these worked well, but when I started the engine I quickly realised they weren't being charged!  Eventually the fault was traced to a broken isolator switch and when this was replaced everything was fine. I decided to keep the new batteries though as the old ones had been in use for over four years and were probably on their way out anyway.
I still wasn't able to stay overnight as Hil hadn't been well and I needed to be home to look after her.

Exploring Anderton
Thursday, 31st January: At Uplands Basin
I had intended to take Starcross out for a run today, but the wind was so strong that I didn't think I'd make it out of the Basin and even if I did it wouldn't have been pleasant to stand on the back and struggle all day. It was a shame as otherwise it was a nice day!
I paid Dave for the work he'd done and then went off for a walk around the village and along part of the North Cheshire Way. In the evening I ate in the Stanley Arms - reasonable pub food, although it has pretensions as a restaurant. The Thwaites Bitter was OK though, although the other ale, Draught Bass, was a little out of condition.

Friday, 1st February: At Uplands Basin
After cleaning and tidying the boat I thought I'd go and see if the visior centre at the Andereton Lift was open. It wasn't, being still closed for the winter.

Instead I took a longish walk around the country park on some paths that aren't on the OS Map, but which do allow a circular walk.
View of the Anderton Lift from the river path

The Chemical Works from the Country Park

First Trip of the Year
Uplands Basin to Middlewich and back 
14th - 16th February  
Thursday, 14th February: Uplands to Lion Salt Works
Having been down in Hereford for a few days we called in at Uplands on the way home. After lunch Hil and I went for a walk around the country park before Hil left for home at about 16.00.
Shortly afterwards I braved the wind that was again whistling through the basin (I now realise this is the prevailing direction for the wind hereabouts) and successfully reversed Starcross off the pontoon and out of the basin without difficulty. With not much more than an hour of daylight remaining I just had time to go as far as the Lion Salt Works at Marston for the evening.

Friday, 15th February: Lion Salt Works to Middlewich 
Overnight Mooring at the Lion Salt Works

 The much-neglected brasswork received a polish this morning before I set off at 10.45 for an uneventful run to Middlewich. I reached the Big Lock at about 13.15 and after having negotiated the noddy-boat tied up on the lock-landing and then winding  I tied up outside the park at 13.45, spending the afternoon wandering around the town and, after a fish-and-chip supper, visiting a few pubs.

Saturday, 16th February: Middlewich to Uplands
It had been a very cold and frosty night, but the fire had stayed in, due largely to the use of some smokeless fuel Hil's dad had given me, which always burns more slowly than coal or wood. Once through Big Lock (noddy-boat still on the landing) I found some ice on the cut, although a northbound boat had cut a channel.
Damp had got into the electrics overnight and the wiring required a squirt of WD40 to bring the instrument panel to life, but it was a clear and sunny day.
Not a cloud in the sky - only vapour trails!
There was more ice on the cut at Billings Green Flash and anxious not to damage a moored boat, I gave it too wide a berth and ended up running aground on the invisible outside edge of the channel.
At Old Broken Cross the CO alarm inside the boat went off. I didn't realise at first what it was as it sounded like a vehicle reversing horn, but eventually I could tell it was coming from inside the boat. The stove door had fallen open and with the flue cap in place all the unburned gasses had come into the cabin and set it off!
There was a buzzard and a kingfisher in quick succession at Rudheath - unexpectedly as its a semi-industrial area, and then I was soon passing the Salt Works again and back at Uplands for lunch. A tidy-up of the boat followed and then I got the 46 bus to Warrington and a train home.

Back into Summer Mode
24th March: At Uplands Basin
 Hil and I had planned to come down to Uplands during the week but we had to put it off due to other commitments and then heavy snow and gales! But by Sunday the weather had abated enough for me to make the journey down by car, taking the bedding and a few other bits and bobs. First job was to re-fill the water tank and find out if there were any leaks. As the hosepipe is too short to reach the nearest tap I had to take Starcross out of the marina and onto the water point. After filling the tank I was overjoyed to discover that for the first time in three years we were "leak-free"! Better lagging and the fact that Uplands Basin is 33 locks lower in altitude than Norbury and more sheltered were no doubt factors here.
I celebrated by a visit to the Stanley Arms and then went over to the Anderton Lift visitor centre for a bite to eat. It was still very cold with strong winds so few visitors about other than several parties of ramblers. 
After lunch I took Starcross on the short trip to Barnton Tunnel, winding just before it and clouting the concrete bank in the process (I blame the wind!). I also hit the wall at the sharp turn into the Basin (the wind again) but redeemed myself by managing to reverse onto the mooring pontoon, a manoeuvre I'd not dared attempt before but which I actually found easier than going straight in, which requires yet another ringht-angles turn into an 8ft gap between two lines of moored boats.
Just as I was tying up I found that one of the chains that holds the front fender in place had broken, the deliberate weak link having given way, but it was too cold and too late to attempt a repair and the fender needs replacing anyway so I left it and came home.

Two Days at Anderton
10th - 11th April at Uplands Basin
Wednesday, 10th April
Took the train to Warrington and then the 46 bus to Anderton, arriving 1115. I washed both sides of the boat and polished one side, but then the polish ran out! I managed to re-attach the bow fender but I think I will look for another one to replace it sooner rather than later. I also did some inside maintenance, repacking the gland on the stove flue pipe so that it no longer rattled and then took the boat out to the visitor moorings for the evening.

Thursday, 11th April
My favourite job - brushing the chimney and clearing out the soot from the stove, especially the bit that collects on top of the baffle plate and has to be prised out with fingers. When I posted about this on my blog someone suggested putting a sheet of tinfoil down on the plate beforehand and I'll try that next time. Then I black-leaded the stove - but when I lit the fire afterwards the smoke alarm went off as the fire dried out!  The fire alarm went off again later when some paper in the red ash bucket started smouldering. I couldn't see where it was coming from at first and thought the floor had caught fire - good job I was on board.
After all that excitement I set too with the brass restorer and polish to try and get the brasses back to an acceptable standard. Then it was back to the Basin and another successful attempt at reversing onto the pontoon before going to see when Dave (Manager) could arrange the hull blacking - We settled on 8th July although that was further away than I'd hoped for.

The Early Summer Trip
23rd April - 23rd June: Anderton - Rochdale Canal - Leeds - L&L - Anderton
 A trip over the Pennines and back to meet up with brother Gareth and his family to celebrate his 60th birthday on a hire boat on the Leeds & Liverpool.

Tuesday, 23rd April: Anderton to Middlewich
I met Ken Harrop at Warrington bus station and we caught the 1445 bus to Anderton. After dropping off our luggage at the boat we went for a look at the Anderton Lift, which Ken hadn't seen for some time before setting off at 1645 for a smooth and fast run down to Middlewich.
A view of the Anderton Lift from the footpath alongside the river
There were no other boats moving and we were tied up above the Big Lock for 20.00 for a meal, after which we walked over to the Boar's Head for a pint or two.

Wednesday, 24th April: Middlewich to Rode Heath
Set off 09.30 through the locks at Middlewich, making it to Rumps Lock by 10.43  The bow fender had got knocked about a bit during the climb and we stopped at the next lock to try and adjust a bit more. It was therefore 12.00 by the time we got to Crows Nest lock. This was against us, but the steerer of the downhill boat, for which it was set, was waiting for a cake to come out of the oven and couldn't move so she siad we could have the lock. After seeing nothing at all on the move all morning, there was a queue of four downhill boats at the Lock 68!  We took on drinking water from the water point at Wheelock, near to where Starcross had spent two months last Autumn waiting for the canal at Croxton to be re-opened and then at Malkins Bank we met working boat Alton from which Brian sold us a new bow fender (£72).  I had intended to ask whoever sold me a fender to help me fit it but as Alton was on the move and as I had Ken with me I didn't like to. Brian seemed happy that we'd be able to cope with it though and gave us some tips.
Coal Boat "Alton at Malkins Bank
 We thought we'd have a go in the next lock, where we could use the top gates as a platform from which to work. Fortunately there was no traffic around as we spent an hour-and-a-half and then had to use some rope as well as the chains to support it. It was therefore 15.30 before we got away, stopping shortly afterwards for lunch. We eventually called it a day at Rode Heath, by which time it was 19.00

Thursday, 24th April: Rode Heath to Macclesfield
An earlier start this morning, getting away at 08.15. The first locks were Lawton's Treble, which we accomplished in 40 minutes. At Red Bull, where we stopped at the services/water point for an hour, we saw the first ducklings of the year: almost a month later than usual due to the cold weather. We also took the opportunity at one of the doubled locks to improve the position of the bow fender, with some success. Anxious to make progress we didn't stop for lunch and passed through Congleton by mid-afternoon, where we were called upon to rescue a dog's ball from the cut by its owner (the dog's that is).
By the time we hit Bosley locks it was raining again and the flight of 12 took 1hr 50 mins  (just over 9 mins per lock).
Bosley Locks
 We had intended to stop at Fool's Nook for the night, but the pub there was closed (permanently?) so we passed through the busy swing bridge with its electronic controls and pressed on to the Gurnett Aqueduct south of Macclesfield, where we just managed to squeeze on to the end of the very busy visitor moorings at 20.10.

Friday, 26th April: Macclesfield to Marple
We were just about to set off when the heavens opened - so we didn't! Fortunately the rain soon stopped and by 09.15 we were away. It was an uneventful run apart from being asked for money by a beggar in Hall Green ("Can you lend me 20p for the phone?!) We tied up at Marple, on the visitor moorings before the junction at 13.15 and left the boat shortly afterwards to go home. 

Monday, 29th April: At Marple
I got back to the boat, walking from Marple Rose Hill Station about mid-day and found the mooring lines very slack and one of the bow fairleads torn off. Someone must have gone past very, very quickly! After unpacking and sorting the boat out I went for a walk along the Peak Forest Canal and over Marple Ridge before calling in at a few pubs in the town.
Looking over Manchester from Marple Ridge
Tuesday, 30th April: At Marple
I was expecting Hil to come to the boat tomorrow, but she rang this morning to say she'd got her days wrong and would be coming tonight!  I washed and polished one side of the boat, did the brasses and went shopping. Hil arrived about 18.00, hot and bothered after a tiring train journey from Manchester and the uphill walk from Marple station. We had a short evening walk before tea.

Wednesday, 1st May: At Marple
Hil left to go back to work at 12.30 after which I did some more shopping and read a book. I ate early and then went for an evening bus tour to Glossop, Stalybridge, Hyde, Bredbury, Compstall and Marple calling in at a few pubs on the way.

Thursday, 2nd May: At Marple
I had to go home today to collect a prescription but was back at the boat by 17.00. Hil had already arrived and was just back from a walk to Lyme Park. We moved the boat off the 48-hour moorings and on to the Peak Forest Canal opposite the boat club.

Friday, 3rd May: Marple to Bugsworth
Annette arrived at 10.30 and we set off along the Peak Forest Canal an hour later, stopping on the way for lunch. We had two lift bridges and two swing bridges to add variety to the trip.
Higgins Clough Swing Bridge
Turflea Lift Bridge
 We passed through New Mills and the canalside sweet factory, where they make "Swizzles" and tied up in Bugsworth at 16.00 where we had a walk around the basins complex and over to the Navigation for a couple of early evening drinks before returning to the boat to eat.
Bugsworth Basin
Saturday, 4th May
In the morning we walked over the hill into Whalley Bridge and then back round on the towpath before setting off after an early lunch for the run back to Marple. We had difficulty in finding somewhere to moor at first as a lot of the visitor moorings are in very poor condition. Eventually we went back to the visitor moorings on the Macclesfield Canal, where Annette's sister and family, who live locally, called in to see us before we all left for home.

Tuesday, 7th May: Marple to High Lane
Because time was not an issue I travelled back to Marple all the way by bus: via Preston, Chorley, Bolton and Stockport, which took seven hours including stops. I had over a week before I was due in Manchester so decided to turn round and have another look at the top end of the Macclesfield Canal, starting with a short run to High Lane. 

Wednesday, 8th May: High Lane to Higher Poynton
Today I was hoping to top up with diesel and replace an empty gas bottle. I disconnected the bottle ready for changing and mopped out the locker, removing water that had found its way inside probably from the locks on the Trent & Mersey. I set off about 12.00 and called in at Lyme View Marina, which has an easily accessible diesel pump. I took on 60 litres and a new gas bottle and then found out that they don't take debit cards!  As I didn't have enough cash on me I had to go into Poynton to find a machine - a two-mile walk. I could at least get a bus back but to add insult to injury I hadn't taken my bus pass and had to pay!
Starcross at Lyme View Marina
I winded at bridge 20 and came back to tie up opposite the marina for the night. Hil rang to say she'd been offered a summer job at the Maritime Museum. I walked across to the Miners' Arms later on but it was a very "foodie" place and the beer was too cold, so I didn't stay long.

Thursday 9th May: Poynton to Bollington
Away by 09.10 just after Hil rang to say that she'd call in on the boat on her way to Lichfield. We agreed to meet at Bollington so I had first of all to go up to bridge 15 to wind and to see if there was anywhere there to empty the elsan cassette (there wasn't). Despite high winds causing a few problems I got to Bollington at 12.10 and found a spot on the embankment near Clarence Mill. Hill arrived shortly afterwards and we walked up to White Nancy in the rain.
Bollington from the path to White Nancy

Hil at the White Nancy Monument

Hil had to leave shortly after we got back and I lit the fire and made a cup of cocoa while the rain poured down outside. Fortunately it cleared up enough by evening to allow a walk out to a few village pubs.

Friday, 10th May: At Bollington
Another cold and wet morning. I took the bus into Macclesfield and had a walk around the town finding a cafetiere for the boat in a charity shop. I had another lazy afternoon back on the boat but did polish some brasses when the sun came out later on.

Saturday 11th May: At Bollington
Bollington Aqueduct

Yet another cold and wet day. I took the boat to wind it at the winding hole two miles down the cut and returned to Bollington, being lucky enough to find another spot on the embankment. Then I tidied up and got the bus to Stockport, then Manchester and a train home.

Tuesday 14th May: Bollington to Marple
I met Hugh at Stockport station before getting the 392 to Bollington. After lunch and a bit of shopping we were away by 14.30, by which time it was raining again. We stopped for water at Poynton Trading Post and rang Duncan to see if he could join us but he couldn't. Although it was 18.05 when we got to Marple we decided to go down the locks to avoid having to do it in the morning. They were all against us and someone had left all the bottom gates open!
Marple locks

The pound above lock 2 was very low and we had a let some water down the flight to get into the lock.
Low pound at Marple
We got to the bottom at 20.40 (an average of 10 mins per lock) and tied up twenty minutes later on the far side of the aqueduct. It was still raining heavily so we stayed aboard for the evening.

Wednesday 15th May: Marple to New Islington
It was raining again in the morning as Hugh and I set off from our mooring below Marple. We had a brief stop for coffee at Dukinfield Junction during which Mark rang to say he had arrived at Guide Bridge station and was making his way along the towpath towards us. We set off to meet him and picked him up soon afterwards. All the locks beyond Fairfield Junction were against us and being security-locked they made for slow progress.
The Ashton Canal has certainly been tarted-up since even our last visit ten years ago and the environment is much more welcoming than it once was.
New Islington, Ashton Canal
 We were just passing Store Street Aqueduct when Hil appeared on the towpath to join us, which meant there were four of us to tackle the first two locks on the Rochdale Canal that would bring us to New Islington Marina for the evening. Hil left again to go to work but Duncan came down from Mossley on the train for a few drinks.

Hugh, Jim and Mark aboard Starcross at New Islington Marina

Thursday 16th May: Manchester to Rose of Lancaster
We'd been asked by CRT to be at lock 81 for 08.30 for our booked passage of the Rochdale locks out of the city and got there to find them preparing the lock for us. We were the only boat going up but there were two coming down and we should leave the top gates open until we met them. They would be leaving bottom gates open for us, which made it easier all round. We eventually met them at lock 71 and a volunteer lockie accompanied us from there to lock 65 where the booked passage ends.
iCoalpit Higher Lock, Miles platting
We stopped at this point for a belated breakfast - more like lunch - after which Duncan left us. All went well until we arrived at Grimshaw Lane Lift Bridge just after two o' clock, The bridge is self-operated, but refused to open! Eventually I rang CRT who sent someone out, but he couldn't get it to work either. Three other staff turned up and they all had a go, resorting to hitting the control box at one stage.
CRT staff attempting to get Grimshaw lane Lift Bridge to work
Eventually they gave up and told us they'd be sending for someone else. This turned out to be an electrician who arrived about half-past-six - and changed two fuses!
Meanwhile, two other boats arrived behind us, whose crews had not known about the need to book and had just followed us up from Manchester, although they'd had to ring CRT to get through lock 65, which had been locked behind us. With the bridge now open we set off, but Mark, who'd been steering, didn't tell me we had something round the prop, which became apparent as soon as we set off. I had to stop at the next lock landing and let the other boats through. I then forgot to put the weed hatch cover back on after clearing the prop, but fortunately realised before any damage had been done. Then it started raining again.  All hopes of reaching Slattocks for the night - or even further - had long-since been abandoned and we pulled in at the Rose of Lancaster pub for the night.

Friday, 17th May: Rose of Lancaster to Littleborough
It wasn't raining when we set off this morning at 09.00. Duncan re-joined us after the first few locks and we made good progress up the flight to Slattocks.
Slattocks Lock and Lock Cottage
We'd just left Slattocks lock when I heard a nasty screeching sound coming from somewhere on the boat. We stopped to investigate and a passer-by, who'd actually stopped to say that he recognised the boat from Norbury Junction, helped us to diagnose the fault - or rather what the fault wasn't, eliminating the gearbox as an issue. I called River Canal Rescue at 11.45, but they were busy and it was 15.30 before someone turned up. By then the engine had cooled-off and the noise had gone away! The engineer gave me his number to ring if it came back and we decided to carry on to Littleborough, although by the time we got there at 19.00 it was back.
The two boats we'd met at Grimshaw Lane turned up shortly afterwards and we enjoyed an evening in the pub with Geoff and Michelle, who travel together and attempt to make a living on the cut from wood-turning and painting respectively.

Saturday: 18th May: Littleborough to Todmorden
Duncan rejoined us again this morning as we set off in light rain. The "noise" was still very apparent so I rang the engineer and agreed to meet him at lock 32, where he diagnosed a failing "Python Drive" (a flexible coupling between the engine and the propshaft. I'd had this fitted in 2008 along with the new engine so I knew it was expensive so I was pleased when Dave (the engineer) confirmed that it would be covered under River Canal Rescue's parts replacement scheme.
It would be a few days before he could source and fit a new drive but he advised me it would be fine to carry on as, after all, I couldn't do much more damage!
 Annette joined us briefly in Walsden and met up with Duncan, who she hadn't seen for many years and we agreed to meet her and husband, Stuart, for the evening in Todmorden. It had rained on-and-off for most of the day and there was so much water coming over the top gates at Todmorden lock that it was difficult to get a level.
Todmorden Lock
The guillotine gate has a sensor that requires an exact level before it can be opened and with so much water coming over the top gates this was impossible. The only answer was to open the top paddles as well and try to lower the level of the pound above. This took about twenty minutes and very uncomfortable they were too, with Starcross being buffeted about in the chamber.
As planned, Stuart and Annette came over later and took us to a nearby pub where we were entertained in the bar by Shaun Ruane, a well-known operatic tenor who was there at a family party.

Sunday, 19th May: Todmorden to Sowerby Bridge
For once it wasn't raining this morning and we left Todmorden at 08.53, precisely. Annette turned up again in Hebden Bridge, bringing lunch with her.
We shared the extra-deep Tuel Lane lock with a hire boat just after Annette returned, this time with our clean washing that she'd taken home yesterday! We rewarded her with a drink in "The Moorings". After tea, Mark went out to try and find a decent pub, but I'd had enough and stayed in for the night.

Monday, 20th May: Sowerby Bridge to Brighouse
The first task this morning was to buy a handspike to operate the locks on the Calder & Hebble. The paddle gear on these locks is a mixture of conventional gear worked with a windlass and that which can only be operated with a spike. The first opportunity to use it was at Salterhebble, where a lock-keeper helped us down the flight of three including the bottom lock with its guillotine gate.

Mark using the handspike at Salterhebble

The long-throw windlass also came in handy on most of the Calder & Hebble locks, where the paddle gear was extremely stiff and heavy. We got to Brighouse at 14.00. I was going no further because after Brighouse there is the first of the river sections and I wanted to get the drive replaced before going further. Mark went home by train and I rang the RCR engineer who confirmed that the part was "coming tonight" although he then said he wouldn't be able to fit it straight away and we eventually agreed on Friday.

Tuesday, 21st May: At Brighouse
I spent the morning tidying the boat, including clearing the drain holes on the sink. A difficult job, especially when it comes to putting it all back together again. I had a walk around Brighouse town in the afternoon and found it pleasant enough. The evening was cold and drizzly and I had to light the fire early.

Wednesday, 22nd May - Thursday 23rd May: At Brighouse
I caught the train home via Hebden Bridge and Preston as I had an appointment at the doctor's. On Thursday I made my way back to the boat via Manchester and Huddersfield. I tried a few of Brighouse's pubs in the evening but wasn't impressed.

Friday, 24th May: Brighouse to Horbury
Dave (RCR engineer) arrived at 09.40, fortunately after I'd finished mopping out the bilge area in which he had to stand to work. As promised he had it fitted and working by 11.30. Bob (Telfer) arrived at 12.00 and we set off in strong wind and rain onto the Calder. It wasn't exactly ideal for river boating but by now we were getting close to the deadline for getting to Silsden on time to meet Gareth and family on their hire boat. At Shepley we passed through the repaired lock that had re-opened on Thursday after a lengthy closure and which had also threatened the planned rendezvous.
Rob's turn with the handspike at newly-reopened Shepley Bridge Lock
We stopped for the night at Broad Cut Lock near Horbury Junction and tried the Navigation pub. It was very quiet for a Friday night but with the only ale being Black Sheep at £3.35/pt it's not surprising.

Saturday, 25th May: Horbury to Leeds
Today got off to a bad start with a misunderstanding between Hil and I over where we were to meet. We eventually found each other at Stanley Ferry. With deep and wide waterways and little traffic about we made very good progress and got all the way to Leeds by 17.30. All the (four) visitor moorings in Clarence Dock were occupied but a local trip boat operator told us which of the permanent moorers was away and we were able to "borrow" his berth for the night. I had to get back to Stanley Ferry to retrieve the car, but was able to get a through bus almost straight away and was back for early evening.
Clarence Dock, Leeds
 Sunday, 26th May: Leeds to Apperley Bridge
Hil left to move the car again as we were in a restricted parking zone. Bob and I soon found ourselves behind two other boats as we began the climb out of the city, meaning that all the locks were against bus.
Oddy Two-rise
The locks are a mixture of conventional ones and two and three-rise staircases as you gradually climb the Aire valley out of Leeds.  Hil was waiting with her parents, Jean and Geoff, at Calveley where we stopped for lunch. Jean and Geoff then joined us for the afternoon run as far as Dobson's Locks. Bob wanted to treat us to a meal out so we drove over to Shipley for a curry.

Monday, 27th May: Apperley Bridge to Silsden
 More guests today, with Hugh and Jeanette meeting us at Shipley. The Bingley three-rise was quiet, but the five-rise was thronged with spectators.

Hil working the paddles
Jeanette "helping" to steer

We stopped at the top for tea and cakes in the lockside cafe and Bob left for home. Hugh and Jeanette also said goodbye here leaving Hil and I to take the boat on to Silsden, through the numerous swing bridges on this stretch.

Tuesday, 28th May: At Silsden
Hil left for home today and I had a day on the boat, with a walk round Silsden. I was going to move the boat up to Silsden Boats' yard, but they don't sell diesel to passing boats so I stayed where I was.
Hugh and Jeanette called round later on and took me back to Knaresborough for the evening.

Wednesday, 29th May: At Silsden
Hugh and I made the journey back from Knaresborough by bus via Bradford and Keighley, stopping off there for a pint of Timothy Taylor's. In the evening I found that none of the three pubs in Silsden did food, so I had to get a ready meal from the Co-Op!

Thursday, 30th May: Silsden to Keighley
Gareth, Pat, Tom and Rachel arrived at Silsden to take on their hire boat "Marley's Drum" from Silsden Boats. Meeting them here was the reason behind the trip. It was their first ever boat trip and we expected to be able to assist them with locks and bridges and "show them the ropes". "Marley's Drum" however, turned out to be a widebeam, meaning lock-sharing was out of the question.
The remainder of the party, Tom and Kim arrived soon afterwards and "Marley's Drum" set off, followed by  Starcross. As newcomers they found it hard going at first and made slow progress, with a few "near misses", but Gareth soon got the hang of it and we made it to Skipton for the evening, celebrating with a meal in the "Woolly Sheep"
"Marley's Drum passing Kildwick

Friday, 31st May: Skipton to Gargrave.
Hil got a bus back to Silsden to pick up the car then we set off at 11.00 in convoy with Gareth and Family on "Marley's Drum" and two day boats (fortunately we didn't see those after the first swing bridge!).  There was excitement at Bridge 174 when I got a tyre stuck on the rudder. At first I assumed it was on the prop, but thankfully it wasn't and it came off quite easily.
Getting the tyre off the rudder

We stopped for lunch after the first of the three Gargrave locks and then went up the next two. I left Starcross on the visitor moorings and Gareth winded "Marley's Drum". I took over the steering but almost got hooked-up on the bottom gates as we descended the lock again. I found the wiudebeam boat slow, noisy and unresponsive and wouldn't want one, despite the extra room inside.
We came across a boat drifting over the cut at the bottom lock. Hil and Gareth re-tied it but then realised it had been facing the other way!
Back at Skipton for 19.30 we had takeaway Fish & Chips and then Hil and I drove back to Gargrave and to Starcross for the night.

Saturday, 1st June: At Gargrave
Hil left early to go back to Lancaster and I got a bus into Skipton to say goodbye to Gareth and family and to retrieve my hat from their boat. After a walk around the market and lunch in the Black Horse I returned to Gargrave and a lazy afternoon on board Starcross, leaving for home the next morning by train from Gargrave station.

Wednesday, 12th June: Gargrave to Bank Newton
I came back on the train having managed to forget to bring the boat keys. Fortunately there is an "emergency" front door key hidden on board and once in I had full access to a spare set.
I set off about three o'clock working the broad L&L locks on my own for the first time ( 2 at Gargrave and 6 at Bank Newton). They were quite easy to work and I did get some help from other boaters. At the top of Bank Newton I moved on a mile or so to an isolated spot out in the country.

Thursday, 13th June: At Bank Newton
A very cold and windy day. I walked into Gargrave for a paper and a coffee in the Dalesman cafe then spengt the rest of the day on the boat. The strong winds continued all day and at times the canal looked more like a river.
Canal or River? Above Bank Newton

Friday, 14th June: Bank Newton to Barnoldwick
Away about 09.00 - and the wind had dropped a little. A took on some water at East Marton and also took a photo of the double bridge, which fascinated me many years ago as a child when I first came across it in the first book on canals I ever bought.
The bridge at East Marton
I shared Greenberfield locks with another boat, although I ended-up doing as much work as I would have done single-handed, then stopped at Barnoldwick Boat Yard for diesel (90 litres @ 89ppl + tax, which on a 50/50 split and two bottles of Elsan fluid came to £119). I then move over to the towpath side and tied-up for a few days, going home by bus.

Monday, 17th June: Barnoldwick to Barrowford
I met Ken Harrop at the boat and we set off about 15.00. Foulridge Tunnel works on a timed entry system, but there is no indication anywhere as to what the times are! We had to wait 40 minutes for a 17.00 entry.
Foulridge Tunnel. Note traffic light controlling entry.
We tied up above Barrowford Locks on what might-or-might-not have been a legitimate mooring (signage was unclear). Hil arrived from home shortly afterwards for a meal but then had to set off for work shortly afterwards. Ken and I had a walk round the village, ending-up in the White Bear.

Tuesday, 18th June: Barrowford to Church
Away at 09.40 with help down the locks from a towpath-walker, which was very welcome as these locks are heavy. Stopped on Burnley embankment for lunch, where Annette joined us for the rest of the day.
Lunch stop on Burnley Embankment
 The motorway noise was intrusive over the next stretch but there were some good views to the hills to the north. The swing-bridges can be a pain on the L&L, but we met the only boat of the day at one this afternoon, which saved us the job of opening it. We got to Clahyton-le-Moors at 17.00, where Hil and Annette left us and then carried on for a mile or so to a mooring spot that was indicated in Nicholson's Guide (something they don't usually do).  we were ready to stop because the last two swing-bridges had been really heavy and awkward to work and I came too close to one damaging my paintwork!

Wednesday, 19th June: Church to Adlington
Another 09.40 start and we were soon descending Blackburn Locks.
Blackburn Locks
The afternoon became very hot and we shared Johnson's Hillock locks with a single-handed boat deliverer. Tied up near Adlington and walked to the pub.

Thursday, 20th June: Adlington to Dover Lock
A short run first thing, to Adlington village for a visit to the shops. We took water at the top of Wigan 21 (locks) and as we entered the top lock it began to rain. Fortunately this didn't last long and we took it in turns, five locks at a time, to steer and lock-work. 
Wigan Locks
There were a few problems with stiff gates and broken paddles, but we made reasonable progress. Having set off at 12.25 we reached the bottom lock at 17.45, which doesn't sound very impressive, although we lost quite a bit of time waiting for uphill boats in the middle part of the flight. Stopped at Dover Lock for the night.

Friday, 21st June: Dover Lock to Manchester
Plank Lane Bridge is boater-operated, but can't be used during the morning rush-hour, so we delayed our start until 09.00 to get there soon after it re-opened at 09.30.
Plank Lane Bridge
 We soon passed two "working" narrowboats and a Leeds & Liverpool short-boat "Severn", which were on their way to a rally at Lymm. When we stopped at the sanitary station (insanitary station would be a better description) at Worsley they overtook us and we followed them to Water's Meeting, where we turned left for Manchester arriving at Castlefield Basin at 15.30.

Saturday, 22nd June: In Manchester
No boating today, instead Ken and I went our separate ways to explore the city. Ken spent most of it in the Museum of Science and Industry, while I had a walk up the Rochdale Nine and then to new Islington to look agt the restored early Victorian terraced houses in what is now Anita Street, but was originally "Sanitary Street!"
Anita Street, Manchester
After that I took the 50 bus to Salford Quays and had a look around the developments there.

Sunday, 23rd June: Manchester to Uplands
A long day because I needed to leave the boat and go home for a while so we decided to aim for Uplands in one go.  An early-ish start at 08.00 followed almost immediately by a stop at the sanitary station and we were leaving Manchester behind by 08.30. Not a pleasant day for travelling with a stiff breeze and heavy rain so we took it in turns to steer and hide inside the cabin until mid-morning, when things improved.
The Canal and Transport Festival was taking place at Lymm as we passed through but we had no time to stop and enjoy it. We were, however, hailed by Brian and Anne-Marie from coal/fender boat Alton, who had sold us a fender at Malkins Bank back in April and remembered us.
We arrived at Preston Brook tunnel just in time for passage, which is on a timed basis - boats can enter for only ten minutes in each hour in either direction. The boat ahead of us was showing a bright light to the stern, which made steering harder than it should have been and we also followed him through Saltersford and Barnton tunnels.
Before then we passed the site of the huge breach at Dutton that had closed the canal for six months last winter.
Site of the breach on the Trent & Mersey at Dutton
The wind returned by late afternoon and caused a few problems. Getting in to Uplands Basin is tricky at the best of times, with a right-angled turn under a low bridge followed by another right-angled turn to the jetty. It's also a bit of a wind tunnel. I opted for a "brave" approach and just managed to get into the arm before the wind blew me down the cut! We had arrived back at base at 18.45 after almost an eleven hour, non-stop day!

Summer Maintenance

Wednesday, 31st July: At Uplands Basin
Starcross spent all of July waiting to have a coat of two-pack epoxy applied to the hull. Part of the delay was due to the need for a hull survey to establish the true extent of some pitting that Dave (Manager) had found when preparing the boat, which resulted in a need for a little welding.
I was disappointed to find that the two-pack had only been applied up to the rubbing strake, leaving the area between there and the gunwales untreated and still looking tatty. Even worse was the news that Dave had found that the paint on the gunwales was peeling away and there was rust underneath. It was obvious that it wasn't a job he was interested in doing!
I had intended to go out for a short run but the weather was so bad I stayed where I was.

Thursday, 1st August: Uplands Basin to Rudheath and Back
Weather was a litle better so I set off to Rudheath to charge the batteries and think through how I was going to tackle the gunwale problem. On the way I met Barry and Sandra from blogging boat "Are and Are" and that cheered me up no end. I only had time for this short run before I needed to catch the bus and train home.

Wednesday, 14th August: At Uplands
Hil and I had been down in the midlands, near Lichfield and called in at Uplands on our way home. We made a start on stripping one of the gunwales - a tedious job involving chipping away at them with hand-tools. The non-slip covering came away easily where there was rust but over most of the gunwale, where no rust was present, it was a difficult job. 
We were interrupted by the unexpected arrival of David Evans, of the boat trip era, who was having some work done on his own boat at Lymm and had come by on the off-chance of finding the boat.

Thursday, 15th August: At Uplands
We finished stripping one gunwale and got a coat of Fertan rust converter on before leaving for home.

Wednesday, 21st August: At Uplands
Bus to Preston with a visit to the optician and then the market before getting a train to Warrington and the 46 bus. Arriving in mid-afternoon I had time to put a coat of primer over the Fertan, which seemed to have done its stuff, before tea.

Thursday, 22nd August: At Uplands
Did the "missing" blacking on one side of the boat  then turned it round and started stripping the other gunwale.

Friday, 23rd August: At Uplands
Finished stripping the second gunwale and got a coat of Fertan on.

Saturday, 24th August: At Uplands
Put primer on the gunwale and did a general tidying up before getting the bus to Warrington and a train home.

Sunday 1st September: Uplands to Big Wood
Hil dropped me off at Uplands on her way to Hereford. I put a top-coat of anti-slip paint on one gunwale and then took Starcross onto the water point to fill the tank. While this was happening I touched up some of the bits of blacking that I'd missed. When the tank was full I set off for the short trip to Big Wood (about 1 mile). I also fitted new "lift the dots" studs to the A frame and tried out the sample bungees from AJ Canopies on the cratch cover. Then I put a coat of primer on the nose

Monday, 2nd September: Big Wood to Wincham and back to Marston
Took boat to Wincham to wind and then back to Marston. Blacked the remaining side of the boat and put two top coats of red on the nose and fitted the rest of the Lift the Dots. Starcross now has a full set, possibly for the first time ever in my ownership. I woodstained the bits of the frame that needed it - although paint would have been better -  washed the roof and washed and polished one side of the boat.

Tuesday, 3rd September: Marston to Uplands
Spent the best part of two hours mopping water out of the bilges then put a third coat of woodstain on. Used the last of the anti-slip paint on the left-hand gunwale and polished the brasses. Then too boat back to Uplands. walked to Winnington to get a number 4 to Northwich and the 45 to Warrington for a train home.



1 comment:

kentheboat said...

Its nice to see you enjoying starcross

ken field
the guy who owns norbury wharf simon is a ex ken field boat owner