Wednesday 22 January 2014

Macclesfield Canal. Poynton to Whiteley Green.

You’d be amazed at how much mud an average sized fluffy puppy can acquire in the course of one walk. Paddy, during the two weeks we were looking after him and through no fault of his own, managed to transport a sizable volume of it from the towpath and the adjacent playing field into the boat.
He also brought in a whole load of good times and taught us a great deal about dog ownership. Before Paddy, our walks would be planned; we’d have a rucksack with a packed lunch and flasks of coffee and a route and a map and our pockets would be full of hats and gloves. With Paddy, there would be a helter-skelter to get all three of us out of the boat with wellies and a lead and dog-walking attire (i.e. muddy-from-last-time) with not the slightest idea of where we were going apart from out, and our pockets would be full of doggy treats and poo bags. By the time Chloe came to collect him we knew our way around Poynton like natives and we were dab hands at cleaning furry feet in the well deck. We did love having him, he’s absolutely adorable and so well behaved, but it did make us realise that we are far too set in our ways to have a dog of our own. Not that we didn’t know that already.

Jono and Nicole came over for the day while we were at Poynton. They walked past Braidbar Boats, whose boatyard at Lord Vernon’s Wharf was just behind us, and were very impressed with one of their newly built boats that was just being completed. We agree, they are gorgeous looking craft with beautiful lines and a very high quality fit-out. They’re also eye-wateringly expensive and deservedly so. Never mind Jono, just keep doing the lottery.

The morning that Chloe came to pick him up we took Paddy for a last run round the playing field. There were a bunch of other dogs down there and he got happily worn out chasing them around. Chloe had a quick bite to eat then we packed Paddy and all his paraphernalia into the back of her car and off they went home. In the afternoon we drove over to Chesterfield to say Happy Birthday to Anne and cook dinner for her.

Without a fluffy puppy in it, the boat seemed a bit empty when we got back, but by the time we’d put all the stuff back that we’d stashed in the car boot and moved down to bridge 20 it was like he’d never been there. Bridge 20 on Greenbank Lane was a lovely spot;
just enough room for one boat, a place to park the car and, best of all, an established bird table right outside the window. Instead of having to wait two or three days for them to get used to it, our own bird feeder was inundated as soon as we put it up.
Within an hour, along with blue tits, great tits and a robin we’d been honoured with visits from a chaffinch, a coal tit, two beautiful nut hatches and a squadron of half a dozen long-tailed tits.

A scan of our OS Explorer revealed a hill not too far away called Andrew’s Knob. Well, there was no way we weren’t going up that was there? Despite a steep climb to get there,
it turned out not to be quite as big a tumulus as we were expecting, but we took a photo of it anyway.
The thing in Ann-Marie's hand is a banana. The thing behind her is Andrew's Knob.

On the way back we yet again found ourselves on a section of the lovely Gritstone Trail.
We often use this long distance footpath, along with the Middlewood Way which runs parallel to the canal, as part of a circular walk, with the towpath making up the return part. We’d known that Ann-Marie’s boots were worn out for a while, but we’d been putting off the inevitable search, purchase and wearing-in period of a new pair in the hope that they’d perhaps get better, or something…. Anyway, we can’t really blame the rain or the steep hillside or the wet grass for what happened next. Her lug-free soles unfortunately reached their limit and disappeared from beneath her. She managed to turn round so that, thankfully, she didn’t toboggan to the bottom on her backside, but, with an audible splat, she still did a spectacular belly flop onto the muddy hill.

The next day John and Gill came to see us, which was lovely. They live at Woodlesford on the Aire and Calder and we hadn’t seen them since we boated to Stanley Ferry with them on board. We had a little walk in the afternoon then all went out for a meal in the evening. This life has blessed us with such wonderful friends.

We woke up the next morning with a mission. New Boots for Ann-Marie. Stockport has two or three small independent outdoor clothing shops and a couple of big retailers so we bit the bullet and went round them all. Twice. To cut a long story short she ended up with these.
They’re leather and they’re going to take a bit of breaking in, so since Ann-Marie got them we’ve been going for short-ish hikes and she’s either been taking wellies or her old boots with her as back up.
We left Bridge 20 and moved a little way down to Whiteley Green just before Bollington.
The view from here is terrific; the pimple on the hill in the background is called White Nancy. It’s a monument built to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Waterloo, though why it’s on a hill in Cheshire, God only knows. One of our short-ish hikes included yet another bit of the Gritstone Trail and a climb to the top to see what all the fuss was about.
The views from up there out over the Cheshire Plains, Stockport and Manchester are as good as it gets,
but as an edifice we found it somewhat lacking. There’s no plaque or sign or even a bench to sit on. The walk along the aptly named Saddle of Kerridge was good, and Ann-Marie’s new boots got put to the test on the very muddy and slippery path back down to canal-level.

Another place we’ve been to on foot while we’ve been moored close enough is Lyme Park. The House itself was used as Pemberley in the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. Here is what will now and forever be known as Darcey’s Pond with a stern and brooding Darcey look-a-like, who’s just about to go for a swim, methinks.
Here’s Miss Elisabeth Bennett having a rest from all the excitement. Lawks-a-mercy.
It’s a great place to visit, apart from the magnificent house itself there are plenty of signed walks around the estate, a children’s play area, a café and a vast deer park. It lies mid-way between the Macclesfield and the Upper Peak Forest canals so over the last couple of months we’ve come at it from all angles, as it were.
For a while now, when we run short, Dave has been making bread. Doing that and using powdered, rather than fresh milk has reduced our supermarket visits considerably. The other day Ann-Marie found a “No Knead” recipe on the web which starts off as a bowl of goop like this
and, after you’ve left it overnight, ends up as a delicious crusty loaf like this with hardly any effort.
To make it all perfect, it was a beautiful, sunny day in the middle of January and we had lunch out in the well-deck.
On the table were home-made rustic bread, home-made chutney and chicken that we’d cooked on the log burner. It’s a hard life.

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