Friday 19 May 2023

Macclesfield Canal. Peak Forest Canal. Bollington To Bugswoth Basin.

After spending a winter under the trees Legend was looking decidedly grubby, so while we were moored on Bollington Aqueduct Dave’s first job was to clean up the port side and scrub the gunnels. They’re looking a bit faded (who’s idea was it to paint them red?) so they’ve gone on the ‘to do’ list, along with painting Legend’s name on the back panel. We’ve been incognito since October when we repainted the front end while we were in dry dock, and it’s surprising how much we don’t like not having a name on our boat. We feel like we’re trying to hide something.

While we were there, Dave agreed to do one last coal run, this time on Nb Halsall. He spent the day crewing for Rachel on the Trent & Mersey from Trentham through Stone to Great Heywood.

A coal boat version of a drive through!

Very enjoyable and very nice to spend a bit of time with Rachel, but hard graft. We clearly need to move a bit further away!

Whiteley Green was our next stop. Before we moved we took our car into Norman’s Motors in Macclesfield who Brian had recommended to have a new front shock absorber fitted. After an altercation with a pothole in January the top of the strut had popped out of the wing and Dave didn’t have any means of doing it himself.

Andrew had it sorted by the next morning and was very reasonable. He gets a five star recommendation from us.

From the aqueduct we moved on to Whiteley Green for the full 14 days, although we weren’t on board for most of it. Dave was back out on site in Ireland for the whole fortnight, and Ann-Marie joined him for the second week after Easter. The day after she’d dropped him off for his flight, Ann-Marie discovered that windscreen wipers weren’t working. There was a bit of panic, and a phone call to Norman’s Motors, who came straight out to her and apologised for forgetting to “plug them back in.” Maybe four and a half stars then.   

Over in Ireland, Shandy was now full time basic training for the NI Fire Service, so only able to help at weekends. Chloe, despite working and from home, looking after the kids, driving to the builders merchant and the tip, and providing endless cups of coffee, still managed to get out on site to help a lot, but the list of jobs that needed finishing before the final concrete pour was quite daunting. During the first week we got the re-bar lintels over the sun room and living room windows ready, then Gerry the bricklayer came along and built the fireplace and chimney, and helped put the big RSJ into place for the kitchen window.

However, the biggest challenge was building the five gables. That took a lot longer than we’d reckoned; the higher we went the slower it got. All the bracing had to be moved up a level, with a second tier of scaffolding planks on top, all the panels and webs had to be lifted up twice, and all the angles had to be marked, taken down and cut, then taken back up again. On Easter Monday, between them Dave, Shandy and Gerry hoisted some of the trusses up into place to act as guides for marking the gable angles, and Dave made a
 cutting jig to use with the circular saw. That made a much neater and more accurate job of it, but it was still slow and tedious.

By then, much to the children’s delight, Ann-Marie had flown in like Mary Poppins, and Chloe could spend more time on site. The weather didn’t help with wind and rain hampering the operation, but they eventually got it all ready for the final concrete pour.

We gave ourselves a day off on the final Saturday and took the kids to the circus, followed by dinner at Mo’s Grill. All great fun and good to be able to relax a bit amid all the stress.

Back home, we moved up to Higher Poynton for a few days. Ann Marie came over from the wharf with wool and a crochet hook for a ‘crafty day’ on board Legend; it was really good for the girls to spend time together without being at work.

As we were close, we took a picnic over the valley to Lyme Park NT. Walking over there we saw our first ducklings of the year, and then had a lovely time walking round the gardens with all the spring bulbs coming out. We had a very interesting guided tour round the Butler and Housekeeper areas, then walked back home past the Cage hunting lodge.

On the Saturday morning we put the bikes in the car and drove to Marple Bridge where we did our first parkrun for a month at Brabyns Park. 

Afterwards we found a fabulous looking coffee shop called Libby’s and went in for a post run croissant. Lots of other runners were in there as well; unsurprising as it was delicious!

We left the car in Marple and cycled back to the boat. There was a three boat queue for the water point at Poynton, so we had lunch while we waited, then moved up to Hawk Green. We had planned to go a bit further, but there were some lambs in the field opposite, so our world stopped for a couple of days while we watched them boinging about.

We did manage to tear ourselves away from the lambykins to go for a walk over the hill to the Peak Forest canal and then along the Goyt valley to Roman Bridge.  On the way we saw a sign for an open day at the Roman Lakes Leisure Park tea rooms. We’d heard good things about them, so we put it in the diary. We popped into Marple on the way back and almost fell over the Scouts and Guides St Georges Day Parade. We’d completely forgotten what day it was and poor Legend was buntingless!

In the morning the forecast was for rain later, so we did an early two mile hop round Marple Junction and onto the Peak Forest to Strines, and then moved the car to Furness Vale. Walking back we popped in on Kate and David who live at New Mills on Nb Bosley. We first met them on the Lancaster canal more than ten years ago, so it was fabulous to catch up over a cuppa.

A couple of days later we’d moored up Furness Vale and had all our ducks in a cliché, ready for a road trip south. Dave had a routine blood test booked in Camberley and we’d managed to get our dentist check-ups on the same day. We were up and on the road to Southam before 9, then after an all clear at the dentist, back in the car to Whitchurch for a cuppa and a catch up with Coops, before carrying on to Camberley.  Karen put us up for the night and we nipped over to Fleet to see Mum and Dad before the long drive back home. We do like getting the most value out of every drop of diesel!

The last time we were up this way Bugsworth Basin was drained for repairs and we couldn’t get there, so the trip down one of the two ends of the Peak Forest was New Water for Legend. Dave had been down there several times on Alton delivering fuel, so he’d picked out his favourite spot and neatly backed into the secluded middle basin.

Legend was finally the other way round so he could get the starboard side cleaned and scrubbed. Meanwhile Ann-Marie was sorting out the inside ready for our visitors. Anne and Andy were coming to stay and it was ages since we’d seen them. We were very much looking forward to sharing Bugsworth, Whaley Bridge and all the stunning countryside of the High Peak with them.

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