Marbury to Whixall Moss

Todays video journey here:

Today was a day of many clothes. Started off in hat/scarf/coat and ended up in shorts and a T-Shirt. Trying to keep up with the weather is a challenge everyday.

Started off fairly early as we had a fair distance to cover today. We paused at a bridge hole to let the boat coming down through. They paused to let us through. We both stood there, hovering our boats (which is not easy to do), too polite for one to take the opportunity to come through. It’s so painful and it drives me crazy. I tried waving, I tried shouting, nothing. Why on earth it’s not boating etiquette to maybe flash your tunnel light like you would a cars headlights to signal someone forward I don’t know. It would certainly make these strange, Japanese level of politeness, situations easier to read. In the end I went for it, for a while I thought they too decided to go, christ, now it will be like a bad case of playing chicken but in the end they stopped again and I came through. Apparently they tried waving too, who knew!

Ready to face the locking of the morning, we passed through Grindley Brooks locks 6,5,4,3,2 and 1.

On lock number 6, Richard asked me to have a gentle word with the lady from the hire boat company as she decided to start opening the paddle to flood water into the lock without checking we were indeed ready for it. It is a particular bugbear for Richard and rightfully so, boats move around in locks so the person at the helm needs to be ready to respond or the rope needs to be secured before letting water in.

On lock number 5, the hat came off and the coat unzipped. It was again, right by a pub but only being about 10:30am wasn’t open yet! The happy hirers were coming back again, this time on the way to return their boat with a solemn promise to do it again despite their banging hangovers from last nights fun.

On lock number 4, the coat came off and the jumper was swapped for a lighter top. I helped a single hander down the lock and we had found a nice rhythm.

On lock number 3, the jeans were off and the shorts were on. All of a sudden there was a busy queue so I left Richard to figure out what the deal was. There was waiting room for 2 boats below the lock and the rest have to wait before the bridge. I got chatting to a lovely couple from Llangollen who were on their way back to their mooring. Sooooooo much advice about where to moor, what to do and general chit chat. On the boat before them was 2 chaps who were very jolly and between us we killed the time waiting our turn. As the boats came down the locks, we each took the turn going up it.

On lock number 2 it became apparent what the delay was. Ahead was a 3 tier staircase lock, this batch of boats coming down had been grouped together to come down the staircase one after the other. By doing that the boats ahead of us has to wait before they were called forward and therefore the queue had built up. Lock number 2 also had a bitch of a by-wash and we watched each boat waiting get knocked into by the boat coming down as the by-wash water pushed them into the side where the boat was waiting. I prepared myself but we had run out of boats coming down, win!

We were then advised to wait. The 3 boats that had been waiting up at the top were fed one by one into the staircase and the 3 boats that had been in the pound below lock 1 went up to queue in front of the staircase. It was then a long wait to get the 3 boats up and then 4 boats coming down the other way. There was a lock-keeper at the top of the staircase organising this but no-one at the bottom so it ended up being a bit like chinese whispers where you hope to hell that you’ve heard the message right.

A couple of boats on the way managed to get caught in the wash and ended up in the side of the boat but it was all slow and no damage done. Then the heavens opened, cue waterproof going on.

Just as we were told he was taking 3 boats up next, it changed to 4, we were in the next batch as boat number 4! I needed to hear it from the horses mouth so walked up the flight in the sideways rain to confirm with the lockie, all true and woohoo, it felt like when you’re queuing for a theme park ride and you find out you’re the last ones allowed on this turn!

Lock number 1 went by in a flash as I decided to take over at the helm, i’d had enough of talking to people (lol). The nice couple from Llangollen were just heading into the bottom tier of the staircase so I pulled under the bridge for a bit of respite from the rain. Richard was running the lock and it wasn’t long until the doors opened and we were off up the stairs!

It all went very quickly and the lockie was super friendly as we pulled away to continue the journey. Sun came back out but still raining – god this weather is so confusing.

As the day opened out and I started to dry off we enjoyed the twists and turns and a bit more exercise for me as i then got off to lift the bridge. These manual lift bridges have hydraulic mechanisms you operate with a windlass. Obviously it’s easier than if it didn’t have it but I still find the last few turns very tiring on my arms. I have naff all upper body strength so it’s good to be doing some form of strengthening for them.

Not a lift bridge but i’m intrigued, who lives in this bridge!

A boat comes out of the arm that leads to Whitchurch just as the heavens open. Waterproof coat back on as we soldier on hoping the rain will ease off.

His crew very kindly open the next bridge and hop back on so we hop off to close it. They tried this at the next one but couldnt get back on the boat so we went through and they closed it for us. We had a chuckle with them as their boat seems to bimble off and not stop for them. It did eventually but quite a long way on from the bridge.

As I said in the previous blog I enjoy the more wiggly canals as I like being surprised by the next view. With my animal tourettes, this is often amusing as Richard is bombarded by the occasional ‘SHEEP’ but this next hour was great as the poor man had to suffer amongst other things, ‘GOAT’ and ‘ALPACA’, then we turned the corner to this beauty! God I love a fluffy cow!

With nice new dry clothes on we reach Whixall Moss and pull up for the night with a view to explore the mosses tomorrow.

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