Saturday, 2 August 2014

Consolidation, then onwards in very variable weather.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)
Retrospective post for Saturday 2nd August.

We spent the night aboard "Chalice" in Overwater Marina, near Audlem, having arrived there by train and taxis the previous evening.

Now modern marinas are a thing about which boaters have very mixed opinions, some thinking them the best thing since sliced bread, others never wanting to enter one, (ever).  However where I think you would probably find more consensus, is that if you consider the sheer numbers of leisure boats now on our canals, many of which rarely or never move, if they were all moored bank-side along the canal. you would spend most of many days doing nothing but passing mile after mile of moored boats, (if often feels like that anyway - but that's a different story!).  So the spread of modern marinas has taken large numbers of boats of the canals themselves, and made cruising a lot more pleasurable than I believe it would be if they did not exist.

Good to see this bridge at Hack Green locks has been rebuilt since last here.
I have to say that if I did ever take a berth in a massive modern marina, on the face of it Overwater would take some beating.  It really is a very attractive setting, and, in as much as you can, a lot of effort has gone into landscaping and natural features to blend the boats into their background.  It is certainly far less austere than many of the new ones, some of which rather blight their surroundings in my view.  It is also immaculately kept.  We were able to enjoy hot showers, and to process large amounts of washing in a pristinely kept facilities block, and could even enjoy comfy chairs and coffee whilst waiting for the washing to complete.

All that said, after only half a day, I felt my usual wanderlust, and couldn't wait to set off on the next part of our journey.

The day that followed was certainly an odd one, as the weather repeatedly quickly altered from brilliant sunshine to very heavy showers, only to quickly toggle back the other way, each time.

After the storm - still in rainwear, but not needed here.
As we progressed further up the "Shroppie" you could never predict if you were going to need heavy waterproofs, ot a tee shirt.  After we turned off the "Shroppie" main line at Barbridge Junction, and started heading along the Middlewich Branch, things got a whole lot more dramatic.  Torrential rain would set in, accompanied at times by lightening and thunder, where we calculated the storm was close enough that Cath banned use of my umbrella, in case it acted as a lightening conductor.  The back deck of Chalice has large gaps in the cants and should drain more or less instantly, but at times I was in about an inch of water.  We worked through at least one of the deep locks like this, only to have the rain stop, and the sun return minutes after we had done so.

After very good progress, often in adverse conditions, we moored above Wardle lock, nearly at the end of the Middlewich Branch.  Because we had arrived on "Chalice" after a week away, we had few supplies, so I knew a heavy supermarket shop was unavoidable.  Even if the Supermarket doesn't seem that far when you walk to it, it always seems a hell of a lot further back, if you are lugging several very heavy bags!

Overwater Marina to Middlewich
Miles: 18.6 (Chalice), 0 (Sickle), Locks:5

Total Miles: 378.3, Locks: 194

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