11 months ago, (September 2020) we huffed and puffed our way up Heartbreak Hill, which is the affectionate nickname for the 31 locks on the Trent and Mersey canal between Middlewich junction and Kidsgrove.
It’s only a 12 mile stretch, the enthusiastic hire boaters can do it in a day and still call it a holiday. We took three days. Since then we travelled down to Northamptonshire, where we overwintered and locked down around Market Harborough whilst we had our hull zinced and blacked, then made our way back up north via Leicester, the start of the Trent and Mersey, with a pleasant detour onto the Caldon, up the Macclesfield, to Whaley Bridge on the Peak Forest and back down onto the Trent and Mersey. Which is approximately 360 miles and 240 locks and according to ACC canal planner can be done in 26 days……
This time we are descending the flight, and not having a deadline, have taken our time. We started at Kidsgrove by refilling the larder at the newly opened and very convenient canal side Lidl.
Although for the first mile we thought we could feast upon tomato soup directly from the canal, perhaps not, who knows what other contaminants are lurking in that iron stained water.
Traffic seemed quite heavy on our first day, and we were lucky enough to benefit from some convenient crossovers.
We felt quite sorry for the enthusiastic hire boaters, negotiating the queues and etiquette of these locks on a very damp day. Although it was mainly mild drizzle, I got caught out in proper rain shower whilst Eric sheltered below a bridge waiting for me to set the next lock.
We had had enough after 3 miles and moored up in Rode Heath. Our next day was drier, but this time Eric was suffering from wind…..
So after 2 miles we tied up at Hassal Green and enjoyed a pleasant evening accompanied by the constant hum of the nearby M6.
It might make for a noisy pair of locks but once we were under the bridge the noise quickly settled and we were back in the countryside.
The section to the next obvious mooring (for fickle snails like ourselves) actually feels like the end of the flight, despite there being another 5 to go. Wheelock bottom lock, lock 66 is the last/first of the twinned locks.
Over the past 3 days we might not be heart broken, but we had broken the backbone and had completed 26 locks over 7 miles. That called for a treat, aka a fish and chip supper under a pretty sunset.
I had wanted to walk into Sandbach, but the footpath was so overgrown I gave up as not being entirely safe with the wet ground. Instead I walked south to the Wheelock farm shop and stocked up on some local produce, and a Cheshire farm ice cream.