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