Still looking

Well, I’ve still been keeping an eye out for a second hand narrowboat of my own. I’ve had some great holidays this year on my Ownerships shared boat, and been really lucky with the weather (1 week at easter and 2 separate weeks in the summer – and lovely weather for all of them). But a boat of my own would give me more flexibility over when I can go away on it.

So in between long stints of working abroad I’ve been keeping an eye out, mainly on the various brokers websites. I saw a boat that appealed, so before flying out to Denmark I went and took a look. Then after a lot of thinking I made an offer. The vendor is also abroad at the moment so it will be next week before we can discuss things further.

If the sale goes ahead then I also need somewhere to moor! Well everyone says that moorings are hard to come by, but having followed Andy Edward’s blog ‘Khyamanzi’ for some time, I know that Brinklow Marina is newly opened and so I rang to see if they have space. They do, and I now have all the information that I need and the terms and conditions, so if my offer is accepted I shall have to go and have a look and sign up.


Late summer cruise

The end of a great week on board Rodbaston.

I was joined for the bank holiday weekend by Stu, Kim, Jo and 9 year old Adam. After getting on board on Friday evening, we head north up the Macc for a short distance to the nearest winding hole where we turned and returned to moor near the marina, for dinner in the pub.

Next morning we were off to Harecastle and through the tunnel. Lunch was taken just after Westport Lakes then we were off onto the Caldon Canal. Up through the deep staircase locks and we were off along the narrow and windy Caldon. The first part is pretty industrial, but as time goes on it gets narrower, windier (is that a word?) and more beautiful. We stopped at Hanley Park – it’s got great facilities for kids and Adam was able to let off a bit of steam. Moored overnight at Milton and went in search of a pub for food that was also ‘kid friendly’. The nearest pubs weren’t suitable but we were pointed to a pub up on the main ‘A’ road which did good food (huge portions) and had a bouncy castle and other play areas.

Next day we carried on through the Stockton locks and on to the junction in the canal. We took the Leek Branch, winded just before the bridge and moored. It’s an easy walk from here over the aqueduct and down to the Hollybush pub. Had a great Sunday lunch sat outside; but it’s a very popular pub and we did well to get in early. By the time we left, the queue was out of the door!

Kim and Jo were working on Tuesday, so this was half way through their trip and we started back from whence we came. We ended up mooring at Milton again and visiting the same pub for dinner. Well, familiarity makes things simple!

Next day we were up early to make progress back as we had to get through the tunnel so that Jo and Kim could get back to their cars. Well, I was up early and set off – everyone else got up eventually! We had breakfast at Hanley Park, then it was back down through the staircase locks. Some boaters going up asked if we had had any problems coming through Milton as they had heard reports of kids throwing stones. Well, having moored their the last two nights, we were glad not to have had any problems. We were amazed to hear the stories of another boat coming down behind us, who said that on their way up there had been someone sat by the locks taking pot-shots with an air-rifle!

We were making reasonable progress so stopped to eat pizza (cooked on board) at Westport lakes. We were intrigued by a chap sitting playing the most bizzare instrument – a round thing with holes in it which he patted with his hands. Unfortunately I’ve completely forgotten what it was called! After lunch we went on, through the tunnel and eventually back to the marina.

Stuart and Adam didn’t have to get home, so were going to stay another night and go and visit Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford before returning home the next day. So we dropped Kim and Jo at their car at the marina and continued up to Congleton. Kim and Jo met us there and we all went for a curry. The moorings at Congleton Wharf had all filled up by the time we got there, so we went over the aqueduct and moored on pins just past it. After eating Jo and Kim headed off and we returned to the boat.

Next day we returned to the marina from where Stu and Adam departed in their car, and I waited for friends to arrive. The rest of the week was very lazy just tootling up the Macc to north of Buglawton and back. Unfortunately we had a drive plate failure on Wednesday evening and so spent Thursday having it changed for a more ‘industrial’ version more suited to the 43hp engine on Rodbaston.

Fortunately we were fairly close to the marina so it was a short trip back once the work was complete, just in time to fuel up and get a pump out before the marina closed.

A great week with fantastic weather. I’ve had three weeks on Rodbaston this year, and all have been great weather. Considering the wet summer and all of the flooding I’ve been really lucky. It doesn’t usually work out like that for me, so I’ve made the most of it πŸ™‚

And so to home

We weren’t in any hurry today – we decided to get back to the boatyard and finish the holiday this afternoon. We set off in dry weather down to Congleton where we moored at the Wharf to go and get papers and cakes and sat outside and ate lunch. We also cleaned the left of the boat while we were there, then finished the short journey back to the marina. All too soon we were back to reality on the M6 south, after a great break.

The Fools Nook

Set off with the aim of getting to the Fools Nook at Oakgrove for lunch and then moor either just before or just after Bosley Locks depending on how we felt when we got nearer. Pootled off through Bollington and stopped at Macclesfield to take on water and for a quick shop for provisions.

We carried on to Oakgrove where we moored up just after 1pm. Perfect timing (we thought). A single-hander was about to come through the swing-bridge, so we gave him a hand through before wandering into the pub. Then disaster struck – the pub was packed out, but we found a small table in the corner, only to be told that they had just stopped taking food orders as they were so busy. Seeing the disappointment in our eyes the landlady said that she could do the hot baguette for us. Anyway when she found that we were boaters and that we had our heart set on having a full meal she took pity on us and offered us a table if we were prepared to wait for the rush to die down. Boy are we glad that she did – the food was absolutely fantastic. We’d highly recommend the pub – but be sure to book a table. Even on a Wednesday lunchtime!

In the afternoon we carried on to the locks where we decided to go on down. Taking it in turns we made good progress despite following a boat down and not finding many coming up. We moored at the bottom of Bosley Locks and I set about cleaning the roof and right side of the boat. We were surprised to see a hire boat arrive and start the locks at about 7.30 in the evening. Looking at the speed they did the first one, they would have been very late getting to the top. It looked like there was one adult and two kids on board, so although the kids helped a bit, he was effectively doing the locks single-handed. I wonder what time they got to the top!

Tried the satellite dish again, and with the clear view south quickly had a perfect picture again.

Past Marple Junction

A beautiful sunrise meant that we ate breakfast in the cratch before setting off. As we moved along the Peak Forest canal, it did cloud over and got quite breezy at times, but at least it stayed dry today. At two of the lift and swing bridges we met other boats who had already opened the bridges, so we were able to move quickly through, which was helpful. There seemed to be many more boats on the move today than yesterday.

We moored up briefly at Marple Junction for a spot of lunch and for a brief look around before my parents went to find a nearby geocache. We then continued back down the Macclesfield canal and thought about mooring near bridge 18 at Adlington Basin. Unfortunately we decided to carry on to the ‘good moorings between bridges 20 and 19’. The remaining spaces were all far too shallow for us to moor so we had to continue to see if we could find somewhere better. We eventually found a nice spot between bridges 24 and 25.

We had a short walk and found the nearby pub, ‘The Windmill Inn’. It looked very nice but we didn’t investigate further as we were going to eat on board. It has a post box in the wall of the pub but there are no other facilities locally. The moorings are nice and quiet and there is a very neat car park adjacent, so this would be ideal for picking up or dropping off passengers.

Things hadn’t felt right in the afternoon and a trip down the weed hatch once we were moored revealed some fabric wrapped around the prop. Things should feel better tomorrow now that’s been removed! Put the satellite dish up and within moments we had perfect TV reception for the evening.

To Bugsworth Basin

Good weather initially, broken up with some showers in the afternoon.

Had a lazy start this morning, cycled into Sutton Lane Ends to pick up a newspaper and bread. Then after breakfast set off for Macclesfield. Moored at bridge 37 next to Puss in Boots pub. Shopped at the Co-op just up the hill, then moved back to the water point and filled up while awaiting arrival of family who had left their car at Heritage Marina and were coming out in a taxi (Β£20). Once they arrived we loaded up and continued north.

We were aiming to get to Buxworth Basin, probably a little ambitious given the time left available and considering the shallow, winding nature of the Peak Forest canal. Anyway, the fantastic views easily made up for it and we decided to continue on to get to the basin. We weren’t sure what space there would be at the terminus, but found that there was plenty of room even though we didn’t arrive until gone 7pm.

We ate in the Navigation pub. First impressions were very poor – two of us were given very dirty cutlery which we had to send back. Clean cutlery soon arrived (or was it the same, just given a spit and polish by the waiter out of sight?), followed my the meals. Huge portions of good food didn’t disappoint, but neither did it leave any room for a sweet!


A prompt start as we had to get to Gurnet Aqueduct to collect the car so that my guests could return home.

Going through Bosley locks could have been quicker as we were following a boat up the first half of the flight. I had to show my crew the ropes as this was their first trip on a canal boat. They did very well until at one lock, they let the boat coming down out, and then to my surprise shut the gates before I had entered. A quick beep on the horn and they realised that something was missing from the lock! At the top of the locks we got rid of rubbish but weren’t able to take on water as a cabin cruiser was moored on the water point. Today was the hottest day of the year so far, with some places in the country reaching 30 celcius.

We moored at Gurnet Aqueduct, and fortunately the car was there. (Not only had it not been stolen, but also we had parked it in the right place!) After saying goodbye I cycled into the village for a look around and later made arrangements with family who were coming out to meet me the next day.

Even more mozzies and flies around tonight as I sit on the towpath with a book and glass of chilled wine.

Have you got the Keys?

We initially just moored on the towpath opposite the marina while we moved one car to Gurnet Aqueduct, where we thought we would be on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning when my guests would have to leave.

On their return we set off north towards Congleton. I jokingly asked James if we sure he had everything – such as his car keys – and then we had to stop while he walked back to the marina car park to collect them! It was fortunate that we discovered this minor error now, and not once we arrived at Gurnet!

So we were now on our way, and could make good progress. At least we could have done if Sarah and Andy had brought some towels with them. So we stopped at Congleton and nipped into the town. So once we had bought towels, shoes, clothes, a handbag, had a drink in the pub, bought some eyedrops as something had brought my hayfever on badly, looked unsuccessfully for a green mop for Sarah (don’t ask!), bought sweets at the Olde Sweet Shoppe and been persuaded by the deli to buy some of their special garlic cheese, we were on our way again.

We had made poor progress, so decided to abort at bridge 61 and visit the Robin Hood pub at Buglawton. It had been quite warm all day so we sat and ate in the garden. It was standard pub fayre, but more than adequate. After a sweet we returned to the boat for further drinks and card games. Lots of mozzies and flies about.

Summer Cruise

I’ve got Rodbaston for the week. Andy, Sarah, James and Zoe are coming up for the weekend, then I’ll be joined by my parents for a few days before returning the boat on Thursday.

I arrived at the marina at around 4.30pm and loaded the boat then awaited the arrival of my friends who were joining me for the weekend. They arrived quite late so we stayed in the marina overnight, moving out first thing in the morning to be out of the way of the changeover of the hire fleet.

First looks

I’ve been keeping an eye on the broker’s websites for some time. I was working in the north of the country a couple of months ago and on my way home popped into a brokers to view a couple of boats I had seen advertised. To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. They were nothing like they were described; the particulars hadn’t mentioned the fact that one boat wasn’t complete, and that another had a substantial leak from a side hatch (it was an advantage of visiting while it was raining, but the warped floor would have given it away anyway). These were boats being advertised as being as good as new and supposedly in great condition. One was a ‘Crick show boat’ for a builder last year! Oh well, put it down to experience and cross that broker off the list. Glad I didn’t make a special journey!

I thenΒ  scooted across to Sawley Marina where there were a few boats that sounded promising. Well, it’s so difficult to tell from the websites! One was interesting – a 70′ boat which had been used for some sort of business, with desks, IT infrastructure etc on board. It was promising, had potential, but would have needed quite a lot of work to change the layout into a more ‘domestic’ arrangement. Shame as it seemed to be a soli, well built boat in good condition for its age. Another boat seemed to be exactly what I wanted, in the condition I wanted, with the facilities I wanted, and not too much over a price that I could have managed. But being so early on in the ‘looking around’ stage, I thought that I should look around a bit longer rather than making an offer.

That was a mistake – in the next 3 months I never saw a boat that came anywhere near that one. By the time I had realise, it had of course been sold.

Ah well, keep looking!