Lord Toulouse Cruise Summer 2013

 

If you want to skip the text, run down to the bottom of the page for links to pictures, video's and maps of this years journey.

Our cruise this year took us far away for our Evesham mooring of over 20 years and LT's permanent mooring since 2007.

Lord Toulouse, with Wendy and I on board, left her Evesham mooring, for possibly the last time, on March 1st 2013. Our journey took us up the River Avon to Stratford Upon Avon. From there we travelled the Southern Stratford canal to Kingswood Junction, where we turned right onto the Grand Union Canal. Our route now took us up the Knowle lock flight, through Catherine De Barnes and into Birmingham, where we stopped for March 8th and 9th. The 10th saw us mooring at the Black Country Museum, with the intention of visiting the museum on the 11th. Alas, the museum is closed on a Monday! We continued on a sunny but very cold day to the Wolverhampton 21 flight. They soon warmed me up! I used my bike to set and close the locks, while Wendy steered LT. At the bottom of the flight we take a right briefly onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and a short distance from there at Autherley Junction, left onto the Shropshire Union Canal. This is a lovely stretch of canal and we spend several days travelling up through Brewood, Wheaton Ashton (where we bought diesel at an excellent price) Norbury Junction, Adderley, Audlem, and finally to Barbridge Junction. Here we turned right onto the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. For the first part of this years trip we are using the moorings of Peter and Jeanne Stockdale at Bridge 8, Church Minshull as a base. We arrive on March 18th. Our good friend Maggie has agreed to collect us by car and after an excellent pub lunch at the Badger Inn, we return home on March 19th.

March 27th soon arrives and we have returned by car to LT and are ready for Cruise 2013 trip Two. Only a few days this time as we have commitments' at home but long enough to travel somewhere we have not been before, Ellesmere Port. The route is back down the Middlewich to Barbridge Junction, right onto the Shropshire Union and keep going till the end. We stop in Chester for a couple of days and explore the delights of the city and a restaurant or two. There was an incident with a working boat crew member and two dogs, and a doctor and........., enough said. The National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port is host to the Historic Boat Rally and Sea Shanty Festival. I like folk music but the sea shanty stuff was not for me. We moor in the bottom basin with many of the old, restored, working boats and some dogs!. Our 11 year old traditional style, shiny, narrowboat somehow looked a little out of place next to the 'proper' narrowboats. We did almost cause an incident with an over hot wood burning stove. The less said about that better. On April 5th we arrive back at Bridge 8, having attended to the blocked pumpout pipe on the way, not nice!

Part three of this years trip took us to a previously visited canal and one we had not been to before. We left on April 26th and headed once again back down the Middlewich to the Junction, this time turning left and proceeding south to Hurleston Junction. This is where the renowned Llangollen Canal starts. The 4 locks at the junction are easily walkable and soon we have ascended to the Llangollen Canal proper. On April 28th we the reach the top, of the fairly recently opened, Montgomery Canal. We have booked passage on route for 10am April 29th. We meander our way along the navigable 7miles of this delightful canal, with it's wide countryside views, to the end of the current navigation, at Gronwyn Wharf. Turning round we eventually moor up for the night opposite the Queens Head pub. The following morning we head back to the Frankton Junction and rise up the flight. 12 noon was the booked time for us to go through and the lockie soon had all the boats organised and on our way. Just one regret, we should have spent another day on the Mongomery. The weather was steadily improving and on Mayday, in brilliant sunshine, we travelled slowly across the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Our intention was to get all the way to Llangollen, however LT is much deeper in the water than our previous narrowboat, 'One Moore', in which we had been to LLangollen some 20 years ago, and we struggled to get much past Trevor. A short way up there is a winding hole and we decided LT had enough bumping along the canal bottom. We turned round and headed back. By May 5th we were back at Bridge 8 and heading home once again by car.

Trip four, took us again along familiar and unfamiliar canals. We left Church Minshull on May 17th and headed towards Middlewich. At the junction we turned right and headed south down the Trent and Mersey canal. This was new section of canal to us. At the circular Hardings Wood Junction we turn back onto familiar territory and the Macclesfield canal. From here we continue until we reach Marple. Not all in one go of course, we met up with friends at Congleton, visited Moreton Hall, Macclesfield and the silk museum's, and various other places on route. Going north along the Peak Forest Canal we soon reach Dukinfield junction and a right turn takes heading towards Huddersfield along The Huddersfield Narrow. Strangely named, as it is in fact a wide canal. Perhaps it is so named due to the sever lack of water under the boats. It is so shallow in places that LT struggles to carry on. At Uppermill, she, and I, have had enough. We moor up and decided to walk the last few (11) locks to the the Standedge Tunnel. The weather is foul. It's a good job we did leave LT behind, as there is no way she would have navigated the canal. So little water, in one lock both the top and bottom gates were open! We will return one day and go through the tunnel and visit the dark side, which is the Huddersfield Broad. The Huddersfield Broad is in fact narrow and as LT is 62 foot long and some of the locks are only 57 foot long, it's a bit of a non starter. On our return journey, saw some unpleasantness at Stalybridge, where LT was spat at by a yoof, who was refused a trip. Must admit, I was tempted to give him a watery dip but that would probably have got me in more trouble than him! Other than that and the lack of water and the weather, we very much enjoyed the Huddersfield Narrow. Returning back down the Peak Forest, we went right to the end, Whaley Bridge and moored for a night in Bugsworth Basin. A truly lovely spot. We met up with a canal chum for dinner, making it even nicer. Stopping at Bollington on the Macclesfield Canal a day or two later, we took a bus into Macclesfield and another to Biddulph Grange Gardens, a national trust property and well worth the trouble to get there. From there we continued our way back eventually reaching Church Minshull and home by car on June 7th.

Trip five. Having returned home, essentially for council meetings, Wendy and I arrived back at LT on June 12th and headed off straightaway to Middlewich. The Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival (FAB) organised by Middlewich Town Council is a must visit in the locality. We met up with old friends and met a few new ones, enjoyed the music, dance and processions and had a brilliant time. We headed off again on canal new to us, on June 16th, our destination Anderton. Here we moored overnight with other boats that were going down the Anderton Lift the following morning onto the River Weaver. We were travelling with 3 other boats, The Great Escape, Cormorant 11 and Time Out, Skippered and crewed by John and Angela Cheesebrough. We had met the latter two before and John had organised the weaver trip, for members of the Cotswold Canal Cruising Club ( 4C's ). Although we had travelled on the lift before we had only gone to Northwich on the River weaver, before returning back up the lift. This time we intended to experience the entire navigable length from Runcorn to Winsford. We stayed on the Weaver from June 17th to 21st. Mixed weather spoilt an otherwise very enjoyable time. Once back on the Trent and Mersey we headed back to base, arriving on June 23rd.

Trip six and one of the best bits of the whole summer. The journey started on July 2nd (my birthday) and once again we headed for Ellesmere Port. On route we had to have a survey done, so that LT was cleared to be fit for our trip along the Manchester Ship canal to Eastam Dock and our passage across the River Mersey. This was achieved in Chester without ceremony and took about 10 minutes and cost 30! Still needs must. We moored in Chester on July 3rd and 4th and on the 5th slowly chugged to Ellesmere Port where we were fully briefed for the trip, by organiser Mike Carter. We had already paid the crossing and lock fees and had been given July 7th as our crossing date. Early indications were that the weather would be fine and sunny. There were a total of 10 boats making the crossing. And so it came to pass. Up early, magnificent cloudless sky, hot, sunny and almost wind free, perfect conditions. We left our mooring at 7.30am ish and travelled to Eastam. A slight delay while the lock was prepared for us however, we were soon tied up with a much lager ship ahead of us in the lock. We slowly dropped down into the enormous lock, and then off we went. In convoy, well sort of, we gradually made our way toward Liverpool. On arrival LT and narrowboat Black Pearl waited in the River for all the other boats to clear the Liverpool lock. We eventually got into the lock some 30 minutes later and tied up on the pontoon. At this point all the levels were the same and we neither fell or went up in the lock. Once out, there was a short distance through Liverpool Marina and Docks to Salthouse Dock and our mooring for the next two weeks. An absolutely fabulous memorable trip, many thanks to all concerned. Amazingly, mooring here is free for 14 days, including rubbish collection. Electricity is available as are fuel, pumpout and cassette emptying. A truly brilliant service, especially as access to Liverpool and all it's wonders are only minutes away on foot. While there, we visited various museums, 2 theatres, restaurants, an open top bus tour, The Cavern, shopping, what a city, brilliant. We stayed on LT until July 12th when we had to return home. We left Liverpool by train and journeyed  to Crewe, where we were kindly collected by Peter who took us back to Church Minshull, via lunch in The Badger Inn, excellent once again.

Trip Seven - The final push
We returned to Liverpool on July 19th, hire car from Enterprise 'we pick you up'. Collected from home and left at Enterprise Liverpool depot, about 1 mile form Salthouse Dock. As the ad says, they also drop you back and as we had lots of bags, it proved a very successful way to return to LT. On July 20th we headed off along the marvellous newish Liverpool Link, accompanied by C&RT staff, to make sure we were all safe. Excellent service. We had been instructed not to stop before bridge 10 for mooring, so we didn't! We spent the next few days travelling to Manchester and then to Salford Quay on the Manchester Ship Canal. The passage onto the MSC through Pomona Lock needs to be booked and we were let through on July 26th with narrowboat 'Carmel Maric' who we met on the Mersey crossing. Salford is well worth the 48 passage fee and although the moorings for narrowboats are not great and the water is covered in rubbish, the quay with the Lowry Centre, shops, restaurants and Media City are superb. On July 29th we made our way off the MSC and back onto the Leeds and Liverpool canal. From here we ventured onto the Leigh Branch of the L&L through to Wigan and onto Burscough, our second visit here. It is now time to head towards our second river crossing. Another pre booked transit across the tidal Rivers Douglas, Ribble and the Ribble Link. This happened on August 6th and went extremely well. So well in fact, that LT and our travelling companion Nb 'Oneiros', which is moored at Hest Bank on the Lancaster, made the link in good time. 4 other boats that left with us were so slow they had to go into Preston Dock, stop overnight and then up the link the following day. The link takes us to the Lancaster Canal, the only way to get there. On August 7th Andrew returned home by Enterprise hire car to collect Holly, our 7 year old granddaughter, who joined  us for a few days. Her first experience of actually moving on LT without parents. Of course we spoilt her and we all had a wonderful time in her company. We spent 18 days on the Lancaster canal. The further up we went the nicer it got. We went all the way to Tewitfield, where the navigation ends. We then took a bus to Kendall and found the original canal terminal. It was a shame the day we went, it poured with rain all day. On August 19th and 20th we travelled the Glasson Branch and moored overnight in Glasson Dock. Once again my bike came in useful, until I got a puncture! Unusual design, the paddles on these locks and very difficult to open and close. There is also plenty of weed in the water and weedhatch visiting happens frequently. Apparently not many boaters venture down here, which is shame, it is worth the effort. On August 23rd we travelled back to The Rufford Branch of the L&L and then back to Wigan but this time took on the famous or infamous Wigan flight. We were grateful for some help up this flight, thanks Ian. 23 of the most difficult locks on the system. Fortunately, there is a pub at the top. Well, we had to have just the one, or two! We visited Haigh Hall and Chorley and as lock 55 was closed to traffic for 8 days, we were forced to stop at Riley Green. We took the opportunity to travel to Blackburn and Burnley by bus and Andrew used the bike quite a lot and LT got some extra polishing. On September 8th, lock 55 was finally repaired and open again and we made our way to Reedley Marina, Burnley, where LT is spending the winter. In the end, the closed lock only cost us 4 days and we returned home, again by hire car on September 9th.

6 months and 8 days or 27 weeks 3 days or 192 days or 4,608 hours or ......... We were not on board all that time but the bits we were, were just brilliant. I don't think there was any of the canal's visited that were disappointing. Highlights, Mersey Crossing, Ribble Crossing and Link, Lancaster Canal, Liverpool City and the Link, Salford Quay and Media City, parts of the Leeds and Liverpool, I could go on. A total of 791 miles and 542 locks. Roll on next year. Leeds, York, Lincoln, Nottingham, Boston, The Wash........Check in to follow cruise 2014.

Some links you might enjoy, simply click on them.

Complete Map with stopping places

Photographs, lots of them
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when the photo's page opens, click on the
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Video of our Mersey Crossing

Video of our Ribble crossing Tarleton to Preston

Video of our Ribble crossing Preston to Rufford