Sunday, 21 February 2016

Hassall Green (halfway up Heartbreak Hill)

In order to keep to the plan to get as close to Warwick as possible for when Karen starts her contract we need to get to Kidsgrove by the end of the weekend.  This is about eight miles and 26 locks from where we moored on Friday night.  On Saturday morning we walked 5 ½ miles back to Middlewich to get the car and take it to Sandbach.  We then set out to tackle half the locks – it was a miserable grey and wet day so we knew it would be ambitious to do the whole flight in one day.  Buddy was sensible and found shelter at every lock.

The flight of locks we were ascending are known as Heartbreak Hill or the Cheshire Flight.  I had forgotten that they are nearly all paired locks and Karen has to give appropriate signals so that I know which lock to go into.  You can only just see her in her blue jacket here on the right.

Karen has a set of signals to indicate which lock she is setting for me and whether a boat is coming down
She does tell the children that she is always tempted to give the wrong signals.  Last time we came up here it was a gloriously hot day and we remember having a barbecue as the next day I dropped it in the water whilst cleaning it.  

One of the locks at one pair was closed for repair works.

This lock has been closed since Christmas so the chamber walls can be repaired and new lock gates installed
We were surprised to see an oilseed rape field starting to bloom.  We had already seen a few hawthorns in leaf which seems rather early.

Oilseed rape in bloom
This picture shows how damp we were…

What a grey day - probably why we didn't see any other boats on the move!
…but there’s nothing better than a hot shower after a day in the rain – an added bonus would have been if this had been a Six Nations’ weekend . We moored for the night in a quiet rural location near a village called Hassall Green.  As we finished early for the day I had plenty of time to cook a chicken vindaloo from first principles.

Our mooring for Saturday night
These are the 12 locks we went up today.  The lock in the bottom right of the last picture shows the lock under the M6 that you can see between junction 16 and Sandbach services.


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