Now don't berate me. Things have been very busy and frustrating in the last few weeks. I'd be having a proper old rant right now, were it not for the despicable murder of a member or crt staff down south this week. Instead, I'm feeling more forgiving of them - certainly the chaps /chapesses on the ground at the moment AND even in praise of the statement issued by the boss man - which for a change was actually very well written and sincere!
SO then. I left you halfway between Marple and Bugsworth (Buxsworth) basin - BOTH spellings appear to be correct depending on which book/map you read! The Peak Forest canal is lovely but VERY shallow (practically impossible to get along side most of the time) and even in April with a reasonable amount of water in it, we struggle to get through a couple of shallow bits. Still, we made it to the basin (after a segway up the Whayley Bridge arm to check with water supply being pumped up from the river Goyt) - I'm not wishing to be alarmist here, but as the reservoir that feeds it is STILL empty and under repair, THIS appears to be all that is filling the peak forest and Macclesfield canals... it's no wonder they are both shallow and timings on lock flights are being introduced (again)
At an appropriate time, we made our excuses, explained we'd be back in a few days and offered help/support where we can. We chugged out of the basin in a rather solemn mood but thanking our lucky stars that "our" problems were so insignificant.
. . . . . . . . . .
Now those of you paying attention (I know it's hard when waffle on) MIGHT remember, the reason why we came up here was to begin our revised route to the Llangollen (caused by that landslide on the T & M that happened 21st Jan but which CRT had done nothing about yet)... Well, during our journey, it became apparent CRT had ALSO closed the Macclesfield canal due to a collapsed culvert in Macclesfield... Curious as to HOW the works were progressing, we decided to chug as close to the stoppage as possible and take a look for ourselves.
True to form, no sooner than we'd come up lock 1 and the bosun buggered off to set number 2, did I get "stuck" on the bottom... the only way to get going again was to leave the boat in forward gear and leap off with the centre line to pull it along ... once through the shallows, we made our way up to Staleybridge and moored for a night outside Tesco. This has to be on a par with the one in Ellesmere for 'boater convenience' - shame it's a Tesco *other militant grocery outlets are available but still handy none-the-less.
As we made our way upstream, we came to our first PROPER hurdle... just before lock 9w there is a sandbank of "washings in" from the hillside... this had been here (but not as bad) in 2019 when we last came up)... NOW it's a proper problem (well for us) and we ended up beached betwix the bank (more than half way across the centre channel) and the shallows on the offside.
It took several reverses and "runs" at it to eventually get past, only to then discover the lock landing ahead wasn't usable enough to get the bosun off! - That resulted in a bit of a 'Costa Concordia' list of 45 degrees for WAY longer than felt comfortable before yet more reversing , rocking the boat and brute engine force got us off and afloat again.
Still, it added a bit of excitement to us and entertainment for some walkers who'd gather to
shout useless suggestions show their support!
We broke the journey up and moored for a night in Uppermill - this time ON the old trip boat moorings (having been told it's gone for good it seemed fair enough)...
Next morning, up to Diggle - through some of the toughest locks on the system that took both of us with a windlass each on either side of the paddle gear to get moving on one occasion . We also got stuck again for longer this time just after the service block - same place as in 2019 and from memory, where Robbie Cummings did too when he filmed HIS trip over it the other year... WHY they can't just dredge it a bit more is beyond me. ANYWAY - once at the top, it was time to chill in the sun and await the next days tunnel passage.
I'm going to "gloss over a bit here" - mainly because it is all very negative and frankly I want to ENJOY this life. Suffice to say, CRT are still enforcing a policy no longer required and using Covid as excuse to do so - namely, insisting on a volunteer piloting your boat through the tunnel and if you don't agree to them being at the helm, bashing their way from side to side, you are not allowed through... Keeping it short, I expressed my concern and the stupidity of this policy - especially on semi trad where both skipper and chaperone could be 2 m apart but the pilot would not budge and shortly before 10pm I got an email from crt to put me on the naughty step until Monday when they would make contact to discuss my future (return) bookings before they would ALLOW another passage.
I waited until "office" hours to respond and sent a very fair summarization of how I'm thinking of their performance and offering suggestions to think about in regards flexible policies. I HAD considered sending this photo showing that 2.2m could be attained between skipper and chaperone but hoped when we "talked", this would not be necessary.
WE even managed to get a haircut done at the 'Waterside' barbers by an ex-boater (Australian chap and very friendly), followed by a bottle of wine on a balcony overlooking the river .