Monday 13th September: Kerridge to Marineville, Higher Poynton: 4.8 miles, 0 locks
So, at about midday today Cleddau returned to Adlington and slowly cruised past her home mooring of the past two and a half years. When we had left, on June 15th, conditions were bright but blustery, today they were damp, developing to downpour!
There was time for a little wander in Bollington this morning - at last I seem to be getting the layout of this twisty, deep small town, known locally as Happy Valley. When you drive through the roads are narrow, not straight for long, not flat for long. But from the canal the impression is very different. The streets and houses, schools and playing fields are mostly far below but the two great mills, Adelphi and Clarence, are right beside the canal and towpath. Long flights of stone steps lead up (or down) from the towpath at various points of the town. I came down from the aqueduct, a massive structure under which the large Remembrance Day procession parades each November to the War Memorial. I passed the sign indicating the walking bus crossing point and came upon the Civic Centre, above the Library, venue for the Cheshire One's Naming Ceremony four years ago, an occasion of great happiness, and drama too, when the Fire Service was called to attend and the Sea Cadets paraded by.
Clarence Mill is on the northern end of the aqueduct, Adelphi just under a mile further south. Both now house offices, cafes, small businesses, apartments. If you know where to look and if conditions are clear right on the top of a steep hillside overlooking the town is White Nancy, a conical tower with what looks like a knob on the top, built as a summerhouse for the local Gaskell family. Walkers strive to reach it, gasp for breath on attaining it and celebrate with any form of picnic they can muster. Bollington folk are sturdy folk: each year on Christmas morning the town's brass band climbs to this point, there to play a range of Christmas Carols.
Back at canal level straight after Clarence Mill the scenery becomes entirely rural - and very green. Towards us this morning was coming a procession, a crocodile of walkers.
"A ladies' health walk," called the Captain. "Do you miss it?" Thirteen ladies (and one man) strode along. "Ladies do it for the conversation," I replied. A little later a single file of sheep paraded along the offside bank, the grass coarse and tussocky. A final "procession": hire boat, second hire boat, then ourselves, making such slow progress that it was becoming difficult to steer. then a breakthrough: the hire boat in front of us slowed further, waved us on, moved a bit faster, let us pass, its helmsman muttering something about the other crew being fast asleep.
Since June contractors have thinned and in some cases felled the overhanging trees: fungi is apparent now on the piles of newly chipped wood. Then, just before our final destination the water widens, notices warn that the depth is shallow, the result probably of mining subsidence in the late 1880s from Poynton's many coal mines.
Then, in not untypical weather, heavy rain, we came to the Trading Post, a small canal side chandlery that sells maps and ice-cream, bottled gas and kindling. We filled the water tank. I asked for gas. Customers ahead were booking the Day Boat for a trip out. "There's no sharks or pirates on this canal...?" enquired the would-be captain. It made me laugh; it made me think: in all our watery wanderings this long summer Sharks no, but Pirates aplenty, many at Bedford River Festival and some again on the Shropshire Union just last week.
Gas supplied, tank filled, it was time to manoevre into a new mooring. We'd have stayed aboard one last night but a rescue vehicle arrived, Ketchup the Campervan. "Come on Granny, you're sleeping at our house tonight..."
APPENDIX 1 - TRIP STATISTICS
Return Trip: time taken: 37 days
Mileage: 334.14 miles
Engine Running Hours: 196.3
Fuel consumption: 403 ltrs
Round Trip: total days afloat: 60
Total mileage: 641
Total locks: 405
APPENDIX 2 - SUMMARY OF DUTIES
(Information collated following crew discussion at Peterborough, 15th August, 2010)
i/c Navigation and Planning
i/c Daytime Catering