Saturday, August 20, 2016
One odd place to another!
Nantwich is an odd sort of place. Pleasant enough. But odd, we thought. The cruise from there on to Audlem was beautiful, however. Dairy herds spread out across lush pastures, hillier countryside beyond. Swallows graced us with their presence a lot of the time, singing shrilly in the trees between sorties for food over the canal.
Hack Green Locks interrupted the tranquillity for a short while, and a brief encounter with shallows on the off-side whilst waiting for an oncoming boat to pass an obstacle. Kantara lurched quite violently to port as Grace drove her onto the invisible mudbank, but no harm was done, and we reversed off easily enough.
The Secret Nuclear Bunker is marked clearly on the OS map, and canalside signs make sure that all passers-by know about it. We didn't visit it - it claims to be a day's entertainment - but we've added it to our Llangollen/Weaver trip.
Arriving at Audlem, we filled up with water and disposed of rubbish after the first two locks, then moored at the Visitor Moorings above Lock 13. We had lunch at The Shroppie Fly ("No hot food today because of the hot weather"), and perused the fascinating Audlem Mill Canal Shop adjacent to it.
We strolled into the village, too, but it was here that we discovered that Audlem's also a pretty strange place. It has the feel of a very old village where not much has changed over time. There are few shops, and most of those were either closed or closed down. A Co-Op and a traditional butcher's shop appeared to be the only suppliers of food.
Back at the boat after two hours, we decided to carry on up the Audlem Flight, and stop for the night at the top - 15 locks up. It was a good decision. Nearly all of the locks were set in our favour, and, apart from the really tricksy sluices at the bottom of each one of them, pouring water out from the side across the canal in currents that made steering difficulty, all went well.
Until Lock 4, when the engine cut out without warning, just as Grace was taking Kantara in. The engine exhaust had been unusually smokey for a while, but nothing else had seemed to be wrong, and I thought, "Oh-oh!"
I took a centre line, and pulled the boat back to a place where we could moor her without being too much in everyone else's way. I tried to phone River Canal Rescue, found my phone had no signal, took it up to higher ground and tried again, failed and went back to the boat, tried Grace's phone, heard RCR's phone ringing. And it rang, and it rang, and it rang. They were closed for the day, except for emergencies. And this was not one of those.
So here we are. Stranded. I'll phone RCR first thing in the morning. It's a pleasant spot between two close locks, with the constant background sound of rushing water.