Old friends …

This morning we walked from Wharton’s Lock on the Shropshire Union to base camp at Beeston Castle.  This was somewhere we have been meaning to visit ever since acquiring a share in the narrowboat of the same name in 2006.  In 2010 we changed to narrowboat Winthorpe and finally, in 2014, moved onto narrowboat Oakmere. Within sight of Beeston Castle, Oakmere was moored a few hundred yards from narrowboat Winthorpe – a very tidy set of coincidences.

The ascent of Beeston Castle (remains of) must be saved for another time.  We had both left our money on the boat and didn’t have the required £7.40 demanded by English Heritage to reach the ruin on the hill – I am assuming they have installed high speed escalators with the option of a zip wire descent.

As an alternative form of entertainment, we walked the road that circles the castle hill and discovered a series of well-to-do, beautifully maintained old Cheshire farms – Castlegate, Castleside and The Home.  Classic preserved architecture, there was probably as much to see and  admire than at the castle (remains of).

On a narrowboat my perspective is narrowed by necessity – there is a clear division of labour – the good lady (not dressed in red for fear of cattle – see earlier post) works the locks while I (the high seas Captain) steer the boat – a huge responsibility. This means I am bound to the tiller with my camera – juggling tiller, bow thruster, gears (a push and pull rod just like a 2CV), accelerator wheel and camera shutter is a gift not given to many.  The downside is that there is a certain sameness to the images – A View from the Bridge:

Cruising through ... Cruising through ...Oakmere ...Iron Lock ...Oakmere ...

... below Wharton's Lock

Adios amigos – I must get back to the bridge where there is a complete lack of Internet connectivity.


  1. Cate Franklyn · May 26, 2016

    I am soooo fascinated with these boats and of course your stories. The last shot is gorgeous. What is that knitted looking basket thingy on the front?

    • northumbrianlight · May 27, 2016

      Hi Cate – they are modeled on working boats from as early as the 18th century. The view is the stern and traditional boatman’s cabin – that is a rope fender which protects the rudder. Trust all is well – not on WP much at the moment due to very limited broadband access on the canals – all the best, Robin

  2. Tish Farrell · May 26, 2016

    Lovely, Cap’n Robin.

    • northumbrianlight · May 27, 2016

      Thanks shipmates – there is an anagram based on Tish in there somewhere 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · May 28, 2016

      Got it – cryptic crossword clue:
      Tish mixes spam with additive for good friends at sea
      You get time to think at the tiller 🙂

      • Tish Farrell · May 28, 2016

        Mm. May be too much time? 🙂

  3. Jonathan Caswell · May 27, 2016

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  4. Jonathan Caswell · May 27, 2016

    Does the canal go right by a processing plant or factory?

  5. LaVagabonde · May 27, 2016

    I just love the circus-y look of that boat. I would not be surprised to see dancing dwarves appear… The price for visiting the (remains of) castle seems outrageous.

    • northumbrianlight · May 27, 2016

      I like the idea of dancing dwarves 🙂 There is probably a direct connection between the painting on gypsy caravans, circuses and narrowboats – typically the narrowboats are decorated with castles and roses although not on Oakmere.
      The views from the top of Beeston Castle are supposed to be wonderful but it needs a clear day – a bit of haze will be all it needs to abandon a second attempt at the summit 😉 All the best, Robin.

  6. easyweimaraner · May 27, 2016

    is it possible to rent such a boat and to discover the land via waterways? I would love it, but I’m not sure if we are the perfect match for a boat…. it could end “titanic-ish”

    • northumbrianlight · May 28, 2016

      Yup, lots of hire companies all over the system although as a first trip I would do the Canal du Midi which has boats which are easier to handle and lock keepers. You would love it!

  7. restlessjo · May 27, 2016

    That’s the life! 🙂 🙂 But I refuse to believe you would have used the zipline, had it been there. Fun thought though!

    • northumbrianlight · May 28, 2016

      Never under estimate my derring-do/stupidity:

      The lady in red is Pam, the man flying through the air is me and the in-depth commentary is from my middle son, Matt
      Enjoy Jo 😀

  8. Pit · May 27, 2016

    Thanks for the wonderful pictures. Btw, we still have buttons with “captain” [for me, of course] and “crew” [for my wife]. 😉

  9. greenmackenzie · May 28, 2016

    Enjoy! It look idyllic 💕

    • northumbrianlight · May 28, 2016

      Many thanks – the Captain is being dragged to the shops in Chester today as penance for issuing too many orders to the crew 😦

      • greenmackenzie · May 28, 2016

        Well that sounds like a fitting punishment😜

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