On a more serious note, Karen mentioned that she was concerned she wouldn’t be able to get out on her own, either. We decided the best thing would be to get to the back of the boat so at least there are fenders, the propeller and dollies to get hold of to help you up onto the lowest point on the boat. It reminded us of David and Victoria; before they lived aboard full time they used wetsuits to practise how to get out of the water – very sensible in retrospect.
The promised sun didn’t arrive until later on Friday, but we set off for Stockton in the morning anyway. Karen did most of the driving and I operated the locks; we usually work the other way around but fancied a change. After the first couple of locks we stopped for water opposite the Blue Lias pub. No other boats came past whilst we were there, let alone pull up for water, so we took the opportunity to have lunch before we went up the remaining eight locks.
In a few weeks, the pub garden will be packed with people, the moorings will be packed with boats and no doubt there will be hanging baskets giving some colour to the place
Poor old Buddy was really confused with our role reversal. He is used to being with Karen when we are locking and waiting at the locks with her. He wouldn’t wait at the locks with me but just stayed alongside the boat as Karen drove.
The Stockton flight is very pleasant; the locks are close together, are very gentle and not too deep. It’s probably the easiest flight of double locks for single handers to do.
We moored opposite Kate Boats at the top of the flight and walked back to Bascote to get the car. Once we parked the car up we pulled the boat over to the boatyard for a pump out before the final ¼ mile or so to Nelson’s Wharf.
After we set off again we passed Malcolm who lives on a permanent mooring by the Two Boats pub. I stopped for a quick chat with him and he explained that he now has ferrets in the cages outside the boat so Buddy should keep his nose away. We always stop and have a chat with Malcolm when we pass this way and, as he is from the area, calls people and their dogs, ‘buddy’ which is always confusing 😉
The sun was out for a lot of the time during the afternoon and we were soon down to our shirt sleeves having discarded our coats and fleeces. We saw several male Brimstones again but, sadly, no other species. It’s a bit poor in this area this year as we have seen four different butterflies whereas around the UK, nine different species have already been seen – all common and widespread ones too.
We moored at the entrance to Nelson’s Wharf which is where we will be based for our training courses this weekend.
Once we had moored, Izzy came over and said they had reserved a spot up their private arm for us complete with power and water. I said we would stay where we were for Friday night but may moor in the arm for the next two nights.
Looking down the restored arm (you can’t really see it but they have their own stanking plank store under the footbridge)
I mentioned the other day that we had decided on a different route to Liverpool going via the Peak Forest canal, so we could walk up Kinder Scout. Someone left a comment on the blog entry reminding me that the lock flight at Marple is closed for long term repairs. It shut in early September and is due to reopen at the beginning of May. We will be going down the Marple flight, after Kinder Scout, on our way to Manchester and Liverpool. As we hope to go up Kinder Scout on the weekend of 12th May everything should be OK for us even if there is a delay of a week or so.
We will set off on the Grand Union from Flecknoe in a couple of weeks after meeting up with friends on their boats. At Braunston we turn north up the Oxford canal to its terminus at Hawkesbury junction where we continue up the Coventry and Birmingham & Fazeley canals to Fradley junction. There we join the Trent & Mersey canal and travel up through places like Stone and Stoke on Trent to its junction with the Macclesfield canal at Kidsgrove.
We then travel the length of the Macclesfield canal to Marple junction where we join the Peak Forest canal. It’s then a shortish way (six or seven miles) into the terminus at Bugsworth in the Peak District. From there we can walk up Kinder Scout, see some friends before heading back to Marple and down the flight (which should be open by that time), along to the end of the Peak Forest canal where it joins the Ashton canal which takes us into the centre of Manchester. We’ve been on all these canals before, but we haven’t been to Liverpool on the boat, so it’ll be new routes for us from Manchester to Liverpool.
If it all goes to plan we will be in Salthouse Docks in Liverpool by 11th June which is when we are booked in for a week’s stay.
Stop press: my boots still haven’t dried out from my dunking even though we had the stove on tickover ☹