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.

Narrowboat Oakmere

The weather has turned in the UK, neatly timed with our maiden voyage on the good ship Oakmere.  This has been a long time coming – first seen at Overwater over a year ago, it has been an impatient wait to complete the share swap from our previous boat, Winthorpe.

It is a glorious boat with a dedicated engine room, something even the beloved admires.  It also has traditional controls – engine speed is managed by a small brass wheel and forward/backward gears by a push-me/pull-you brass lever, not unlike the gearing on a 2CV 🙂 .  I have used this system just once before on the Northwich Trader, Florence, so it was a challenge to exit the marina without any embarrassing collisions – mission accomplished.

The trip down to Nantwich was completed under blue skies but this morning Autumn has kicked-in with a vengeance.  There are many good things about the new boat, best of all, the full width bed that pulls out from under the tug deck; when the wind and rain is attacking the cabin sides, it is just too tempting to hibernate.  Next stop Wrenbury if we can ever be persuaded to emerge.

(Apologies to followers, I am only posting for the next two week due to the limited availability of a decent 3G signal).

Narrowboat Oakmere Narrowboat Oakmere Oakmere Narrowboat Oakmere

The long day closes

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top.  Back on the good ship Winthorpe and we feel on top of the world – and the final photograph was taken from on top of a bridge – tenuous, I know.

It had been a long and busy day. The drive down the M6 starts well enough at the Carlisle junction but the further south you travel the busier it gets, the more likely the delays – it never disappoints.  Arriving at the boat is always a relief and once the car is unloaded. the bed made up, the kitchen stocked and the coffee made, life immediately takes on a gentler pace. It very quickly feels like home.

I don’t know what the next two weeks has in store but today the weather was near perfect. We took a slow walk along the towpath to Audlem as the long day closed in a soft April light:


The Shropshire Union

Bridge 79The Shropshire UnionThe Shropshire UnionOverwaterOverwater

As anyone familiar with the English canals will know, the grooves worn in the iron bridge guards are from the ropes of horse-drawn working boats – a tangible connection with a distant past.

There is a good wifi connection in the marina, hence this post.  It may be the last for some time.

(click on the images to enlarge)