The big news for us at the moment is that Chloe and Shandy
have sold their house. They’ve got a cash buyer who wants to complete in four
weeks so it’s all going to be a bit hectic in Daventry for a while. They plan
to bunk up with some mates of theirs until Shandy finishes his college course
then move over to Ireland and stay with his mum and dad till they can get
As we feared, the temptation to ascend Wincle Minn proved
In fact during the two weeks we were at the top of Bosley locks we
had another hike up the 400m Croker Hill,
and climbed The Cloud which, although only
360m, feels a lot higher. This is partly because we started from lower down and
partly because the path was almost vertical.
Brian and Ann Marie went off on their monthly run to Elsmere
Port so we worked the locks for them on their way down.
The Macclesfield canal
was built around 1830, about 40 years later than the canals at either end of
it, meaning that Thomas Telford could use the working experience of a whole
generation of bargees in the design of it. The straight lines across big
embankments and aqueducts mean that progress was as rapid as possible and the
120’ descent is made in one flight of 12 locks in just over a mile. The paddles
were made big so that the locks emptied fast, but the sluices were designed so
there was hardly any turbulence. It really was state of the art high tech stuff,
and it means that nearly 200 years later a good crew can drop a fully laden 72’
boat down the whole flight in just over an hour.
These days, at that rate, you
bring an awful lot of water with you, but it wasn’t always so. At each lock
there used to be a side pond into which, when emptying, half the water could be
drained, making it available for the next fill, and saving the lower locks and
pounds from overflowing. None of these side ponds are in use anymore; in fact
the one next to the top lock has been turned into a garden, but it makes you
realise that even at a time when it was all under threat from the railways,
canal design was improving and evolving.
Apparently Macclesfield is known as “Treacle Town”.
Depending which source you listen to, this is either because of an incident involving
a spilt wagon-load of treacle which was scraped off the cobbled streets by the
locals, or to commemorate the benevolence of the silk mill owners who gave a barrel
of treacle to their workers at Easter. One can only imagine the joy and rapture
that must have eclipsed the mill workers upon learning that instead of a pay
rise this Easter they were to be presented with a whole barrel of treacle. Whatever,
there is now a Treacle Market on the last Sunday of the month.
We heard that the
January one was a bit of a disaster with stall-holders hanging onto their
gazebos in the teeth of a hurricane, but the last Sunday in February dawned
bright and dry so we went along for a gander. There were no end of stalls
selling local food and produce; lots of Cheshire Cheese of course, several
bakers with delicious looking bread and cakes, hand-made chocolates and
petit-fours as well as honey, wine, preserves and pickles of every shape and
size. About the only thing we didn’t see for sale was treacle.
At the other end
of town there were lots of craft stalls and antique sellers. We very nearly
bought loads of stuff, but in the end we were very restrained and came home
with a lovely big pork pie. As Dave is so fond of saying; “There’s no meal in
the world that can’t be improved by the addition of a pork pie.”
After their run up the T&M Alton came back a week and a
bit later and we were on hand again to help them back up. The day after that we
took Legend down which meant that we’d walked the flight about ten times
We moored for one night at the bottom, then moved on a couple of
bridges to what we’ve named Three Oaks (for obvious reasons)
for four more
nights, most of which we spent in Chesterfield. Anne’s house is now on the
market so we had a weekend helping tidy up her garden and doing odd jobs around
the place in the hope of attracting more potential buyers. If you’re in the
market for a six bedroomed house in Chesterfield with a huge kitchen and a very
tidy garden we’d love to hear from you.
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