Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Onto the Shroppie

Croxton Flash
We overslept a bit on Sunday morning, and got moving at around 10:30, only to stop again about a mile and one lock (Middlewich Big Lock) later. There's a Tesco close to the canal, and we had a short shopping list that had grown out of what we'd forgotten in Lymm.
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The stop, brief as it was, turned out to be rather unfortunate, for we now found ourselves ascending the narrow locks behind a hire boat. A boat from Canal Club (name and shame time), who had shamefully allowed a woman with an invalid father and two children to ascend the locks without having had any useful basic tuition. The mother was clearly very stressed because she was struggling to drive the boat, her little boy of about five was out of control (her fault, not Canal Club's), the teenager hadn't a clue about operating locks, and the old man, though he claimed to have “done the whole system” seemed to know little more than anyone else in the crew.

My biggest concern was their safety. The little boy was sidling up and down the gunnels, the teenager was dancing on the roof, juggling the windlass, and the old man, overweight and breathless, looked fit to expire at any moment. None of them wanted to take any notice of my advice. It was all very sad. At best, they were not going to have a very enjoyable holiday, and at worst, one of them was going to die. I helped them all I could, gave instruction and advice, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears, and their very slow progress to Middlewich Junction caused a great deal of distress amongst other boaters. Feelings were running high.

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The last we saw of them was as they drove into Wardle Lock, with a young man, possibly from Middlewich Boats, now at the helm. He'd heroically jumped aboard when it became quite clear that the poor woman was not going to be able to make the 90 degree turn onto the Shropshire Union Canal.

Meanwhile, we'd passed the other boats that were waiting their turn to turn off the Trent and Mersey, and pulled up outside the chandlery there – only to find they close on Sundays. Grace reversed Kantara away, and across in front of one of the waiting boats.

After a boat had entered the scene from King's Lock, there were no fewer than six boats waiting to enter the Shroppie. When two craft from Middlewich Boats came onto the scene in reverse, wanting to wind and reverse back to their base, the whole pound took on a rather chaotic character. It reminded me of this video, though not nearly so bad!
Here we stayed for some time – time enough to make and eat a light lunch – until finally our turn came and we started up the Shropshire Union Canal.
It was only then that I realised that, having not taken any photos when we went down the Middlewich Locks because it was raining, I'd not taken any this time, either, having been rather distracted by the Canal Club Boat.
Standthorne Lock; photo -
It had taken us 4½ hours to travel the 4½ lock-hours from our overnight mooring. Standthorne Lock was slow, the two miles after that were fine. But come bridge 22, where there's a perfect visitor mooring, we'd had enough for the day, and we moored there. 

The Shroppie's looking beautiful. The spot where we moored overlooked Top Flash and the River Weaver. We sat back and enjoyed it.

Favourite boat name of the day – NB Nomad Rush. Very appropriate, don't you think?

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