Arrived in Middlewich today: after a total of 37.35 miles (and 47 locks) since last Friday. The direction had been generally south from Macclesfield to Harding’s Wood Junction and then mainly north to Middlewich.
one point during the morning there had been a long drifting about wait for a
lock, during which Boatwif from the back deck had been gazing into back
gardens at Malkin’s Bank. They have brown bins round here, she observed,
property of Cheshire East Council apparently. At
Tesco this afternoon Boatwif enquired
of the checkout lady whether Middlewich is in the next authority, Cheshire West
and Chester – but no, no change of council area for Cleddau yet!
day started with an eight lock descent to Wheelock, a good place for boat servicing.
At the very first lock there was another male act of courtesy. In return for
filling an adjacent lock the boater offered to close up CLeddau’s down lock: “One good turn deserves another,” he
pronounced. Boatwif then trotted ahead fifty yards or so to the next lock, where
a mystery man filled the lock and swung open the gate. In an intriguing accent
and with a slight flourish of the arm he then stated: “This is your lock, for today.” The
voice was from Canada, Calgary – and on reflection it dawned on Boatwif that of
the (then) four male acts of courtesy met on the Trent and Mersey in the last
two days, three had been made by bearded gentlemen. Some hours later, at King’s Lock in Middlewich,
a chap materialised from below the lock. “I’ll turn the lock for you,” he said “She’s
still round the corner.” There was no sign of his boat, nor of “her”. Chat
ensued and advice was gratefully received about moorings in Chester. The
Captain became involved in discussion ... the man scuttled away and from the back deck came the
shout “I’ve just bought three bags of coal!” Now down below the lock was the coal
boat, Alton of The Peak ForestCanal Carrying Company, a very familiar sight for Macclesfield Canal boaters.
The charming helper was Brian – and he too is bearded. Ladies, the thought
occurs that if you have a man in need of a courtesy course, encourage him to
grow a beard and then send him off to the northern end of the Trent and Mersey...!
the Wheelock flight comes about a three mile lock-free stretch. The wind
blew strongly, earflaps were pulled down over ears, a rabbit made a brief appearance A couple more (stiff-paddled)
locks down brings the canal to the edge of Middlewich. From the southern side
factories, salt works and salt mountains dominate.
north though, the town is altogether more welcoming.
The sign details facets of the town’s history (and the nearby lilac tree brings back strong childhood memories...)
for the day: battery charge at 68% this morning
Distance travelled: 7.8 miles (and 16 locks)
heading west on the Middlewich Arm to Church Minshull.