I cannot resist one further post on the subject of our recent canal trip.  Surprisingly, the most memorable night of the trip was the one that promised the least.  Obliged to moor at the bottom of the Frankton flight in order to be there for the limited lock opening times (12:00 to 14:00), the sky put on a fantastic show .

We tied up at the epicentre of nowhere as day turned to night and clouds rolled in from the west threatening the end of the world – the cloudburst was not long in coming:

Storm brewing

Within half an hour the rain had disappeared to the east and a lowering sun floodlit a dripping world. On the way down the flight I had noticed plaque to Cressy at the exit to the second lock so it was a short walk over Lockgate Bridge and up the flight for a closer inspection. The full story of Cressy is told in this book – it could be argued that this is the starting point for the entire revival and renovation of England’s canal system. The reason we can still travel these waters is almost entirely due to L T C Rolt and his crusade against the canal closures. We have much to be grateful for:

Cressy plaque

Narrowboat Oakmere
Evening ...

The humpback canal bridge at the Weston Branch junction, Lockgate Bridge 71, is not entirely compatible with 21st century vehicles, especially modern-day farm machinery. From the water the bridge looks quite innocent, but because the canal sits on embankments above the adjacent landscape, the approach roads on either side climb particularly steep ascents. Not only is approaching traffic invisible but for a tractor carrying a plough, it is near disastrous – nobody was injured – the driver having glimpsed the heavens thought better of it, reversed down the slope and took a different route:

Lockgate Bridge 71 Lockgate Bridge 71

Finally, I cannot close without mentioning again Oakmere’s glorious engine room.  It is the beating heart of the boat which generates a warm glow throughout the cabins; it looks wonderful and sounds like it was conceived by Thor – the Youtube clip makes it seem a bit clackety but nearer the end of the clip you begin to hear its true deep thud – bliss 🙂

Note the Brasso and the shining metalwork – that’s why my elbows ache!  Why four chimneys you may ask – I leave you to work it out/offer suggestions (owners of similar vessels don’t get to play 😉 )

Narrowboat Oakmere


  1. Sarah Longes - Mirador Design · October 22, 2014

    Is that tractor really doing a wheelie over the bridge? 😉

    • northumbrianlight · October 22, 2014

      Indeed it is Sarah – involuntary and in slo-mo but a wheelie nonetheless 🙂
      The driver’s heart must have been in his mouth for a moment – mine was!

      • Sarah Longes - Mirador Design · October 23, 2014

        Talk about right place, right time! I really did laugh out loud 😉

      • northumbrianlight · October 24, 2014

        For once I was ready and waiting, expecting it to be a tight fit and then that happened 🙂

  2. harrienijland · October 22, 2014

    Fine set; the light under the bridge is beautiful.

  3. Tish Farrell · October 22, 2014

    Oh I can see you had a lovely, lovely time, Robin. Splendid photos. And that blooming ludicrous tractor! I get so cross about the oversized agricultural machinery that farmers insist on using – filling up the roads, compacting the soil, driven by people on their cell phones! And yes a big cheer for LTC Rolt. I did not know he had helped to save canals (what a good egg), but I do know his definitive biography of Thomas Telford – Local Hero.

    • northumbrianlight · October 22, 2014

      Many thanks Tish – we did, it was a very memorable trip. We get monster farm vehicles around our way too, particularly around harvest time – my only knowledge of these things and the associated economics comes from the Archers 🙂 I think that driver will have dropped his cellphone in fright!

      Tom Rolt’s Narrow Boat remains an excellent read but my favourites are his Landscape with Canals and Landscape with Machines.

      I am a fan of Telford too – not just for his achievements on the canal system but also his churches scattered around the Highlands and Islands.

      • Tish Farrell · October 23, 2014

        Yes we have a good one in Bridgnorth just up the road. He also rebuilt many of our Severn bridges after the big flood of 1770s-ish swept the originals away. Ironbridge Museum holds The Telford Collection – which includes letters and Telford’s Atlas – a fantastically huge autobiography – hand written with all his engineering plans. I once ran a job creation project at Ironbridge which had bemused 16 year olds trying to transcribe the Telford letters. They did grow quite fascinated in the end.

  4. Pit · October 22, 2014

    Absolutely fantastic!

    • northumbrianlight · October 23, 2014

      Many thanks Pit – now just waiting to get back on board 🙂

      • Pit · October 23, 2014

        I simply can’t get enough of that gorgeous engine. I have to come back again and again at this post and look at it.
        Have a great trip,

  5. Cate Franklyn · October 22, 2014

    Just terrific shots and posts!!! Enjoying this very much.

    • northumbrianlight · October 23, 2014

      Many thanks Cate, it was a grand trip – no more until the next time which is probably March or May next year.

  6. socialbridge · October 23, 2014

    Pure delight! Gorgeous photos.

  7. Photography Journal Blog · October 23, 2014

    Love the clouds and color in the first photo.

  8. suej · October 23, 2014

    Looks like you had a great time. I am most impressed with the engine, Robin ….

    • northumbrianlight · October 23, 2014

      We did thanks Sue – the beloved wants one at home for the heat it generates – much more exciting than your standard central heating boiler 🙂

      • suej · October 23, 2014

        Sounds a fun idea!!

  9. restlessjo · October 23, 2014

    Wonderfully happy days! I love that first reflected clouds shot- what a beauty 🙂
    Are you familiar with the canal system around Leeds, Robin? I was quite impressed with the wharves and the renovation work on the Waterfront.

    • northumbrianlight · October 24, 2014

      Yes, you are right, they were very happy days – we have never had an unsuccessful trip on the canals. It is much helped by the escape into a much slower pace of life.

      I know some stretches of the Leeds & Liverpool Jo but it has been a while since I had a look around Leeds. Planners/Architects have taken a much improved approach to canals over the last 10-20 years. Where once the buildings turned their backs on the canal system, they now embrace them.

  10. LaVagabonde · October 24, 2014

    That tractor doing the wheelie is scary!

    • northumbrianlight · October 24, 2014

      If he hadn’t had a plough attached to the back I think it would have flipped over – I don’t think he will be trying that again.

      • LaVagabonde · October 24, 2014

        My great-grandfather died when a tractor tipped over on him…

  11. elleturner4 · October 24, 2014

    Oh my goodness…that tractor! Beautiful photos…I love canals. Thanks 🙂

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