The Macclesfield canal starts at Marple Junction. It leaves the Peak Forest canal and travels 26miles south to Kidsgrove. The route of the canal was given permission by an act of Parliament in 1826, surveyed by Thomas Telford and construction was engineered by William Crosley and finally completed in 1831 at a cost of £320,000.
There are some beautiful bridges that curl around onto the tow path. They’re known as Snake bridges and were designed where the towpath crosses to the opposite side to allow the horses to cross over without being untied from their barges. (Information taken from the Macclesfield canal website)
we’re moored just after bridge 2
Despite the grey and miserable weather, the boat is so nice and snug, we’ve changed the duvet from the winter 10.5 tog to our brand new 4.5 tog. I kept a blanket close at hand in case we were cold overnight but no, the lightweight duvet is just right.
And finally a bit of colour, Eric went out to buy some wiring supplies and came back with flowers for me.
After leaving sunny Suffolk, and 6 hours and 5 trains later. With the occasional highlight of sitting next to a pearl dealer, a family going to the science museum for the day and beautiful bronze sculpture.
I arrived back in a grey and drizzly Stockport. At least it was a warm welcome even if only because we have discovered the ventilation around the generator isn’t sufficient to keep it as cool as hoped. But every cloud has a silver lining and not only does the engine room now make a good drying room, the warmth from the generator keeps us warm whilst cruising. Sadly we’ll have to do something about this as its compromising efficiency too much.
Eric assures me that he’s made good progress over the past week, but he didn’t need much encouragement to pack up the tools for a well earned day off today. I wasn’t impressed with how clean he’d kept Firecrest although I think we’re fighting a loosing battle against the mud.
He’d moored at High Lane but, the village itself doesn’t hold much excitement for adventurous boaters like ourselves so today we drew in the ropes and cruised up to Marple. The small town we had walked to a few weeks ago.
I was keen to take a turn at the tiller, if only to build my confidence having had so little practice. I’m pleased to say I made it through more bridges cleanly than Mr Bump would have done. Everyone assures me, it’ll become instinctive eventually but right now if you see me at the helm I suggest a wide birth.
Unless that is, you happen to want to come aboard for a cuppa which is what Kate and Dave, fellow Braidbar boaters did when they saw us passing. Just as I said to Eric, that looks like….. Kate stuck her head out of the hatch waving and saying “it is, it is them, they’re afloat at last”. Luckily we had just reached Marple and were looking for a mooring spot. So they hopped aboard and came for a short cruise and a cuppa, generously letting us take the spot they were about to vacate as they travelled south.
Its a lovely feeling knowing that we have friends afloat. People that we don’t know well but it’s good to pass the time of day with and share our experiences. And if we’re honest to show off Firecrest to.
Sorry for the lack of posts this week. We have had a few days off the boat to tie up some loose ends on land.
But having enjoyed a relatively mild winter it seems to be becoming a habit that we should drive back to Firecrest in snowy weather.
Thankfully Braidbar had turned our heating up so it wasn’t too long before the boat was cosy again. But far too cold for a cruise.
We’ve enjoyed having the family on board, Heather staying over using the dinette made up as a bed
and Tim joining us by train from his nearby home. Sausage casserole and mash for tea, followed by couple of rounds of Boggle.
The plan for the week is that Eric will continue fine tuning the wiring although the boat is now self sufficient running on battery power only. I’ll be returning to Suffolk with Heather for another few days to let Eric get on undistracted.
There’s always something to do on a boat. Can’t think why I ever worried about getting bored living on a boat. So Monday has become “Maintenance Monday” or Pipes and Plumbing day.
Although we’ve not cruised far, and had the luxury of shore power for cooking etc, the central heating boiler has been guzzling diesel for the past month. And as Firecrest sits better in the water when she’s got full tanks we thought we’d take this opportunity to fill up.
Diesel in at the stern, Water in the bow, and the urh hum removed from the middle.
We found it very useful when other boaters posted their running costs to help us estimate our own budget so with any luck we’ll be able to generate some proper statistics of our own to help the next generation planning their dream.
We’ve been using the boiler for approx 6 weeks, it’s been a mixture of cold but not frozen in and relatively mild for January. We’ve used about 95 litres diesel at 75p/l (that’s about £71). It might not be the most economic way to heat a home but we haven’t skimped on using the boiler and I reckon £11 a week keeping warm is worth it.
And having Andy from Bailey’s trading post right next door to the yard is a good opportunity to fill the tank.
Water is supplied through CART stand pipes situated regularly (or should that be irregularly) along the canal and they are funded through our annual license fee. As it takes nearly 2 hours to completely fill our tank so it’s politer to use Braidbar’s tap than to hog the water point for that long. We reckon it took about two weeks to drain our tank but that was without economising on usage. If we get the warning that ‘winter is coming’ and we fear we’ll be frozen in then, that’ll be the end to clean clothes and showers the biggest use of water. We’re aiming to keep our tank full most of the time to help keep the boat trim and balanced.
And now for the middle. Well you don’t really want photos of me emptying our toilet, do you? (Or filling it for that matter..) Some boating chores are there to endure not celebrate. We have opted for a villa seperata waterless toilet. We haven’t had it long enough to have come across any problems so I’ll leave it at that. You can visit the Eco toilets website if you want more detail.
We’ve been chatting to some of the local boaters, who were all surprised at the theft of our ariel. They assured us that this is usually a safe and pleasant canal to be on. They recommended contacting the non emergency police service on 101 to report it just in case there’s a trend that no one hasn’t realised yet. But then a really lovely gesture from someone who had a spare identical ariel that they were no longer using. It’s now mounted on our roof, what a gem, thankyou. And no it wasn’t ours being returned. Now I can watch pointless. And hope and pray that this one doesn’t go the the same way.
The winds are forecast to reach 40mph here tonight. I hope we’re still around tomorrow.
not everyone is lovely. In the past two weeks we have had three items stolen. 2 whilst in the yard itself, the bunged hooks to hold open the back door have had the bungs pinched twice. Apparently you can’t just buy a replacement bungs, so light fingered chancers tend to think that boat yards can afford to replace the whole hook on boats in build.
And yesterday or today we lost our TV ariel.
You could say it’s our own fault for leaving it out on the boat, but who wants to go outside to bring the ariel in at the end of an evening. We have wifi and radio ariels on the boat as well. All designed to be unscrewed easily to allow easy passage under low bridges. We’re going to have to chain everything down.
Its left a nasty bitter feeling after a lovely afternoons cruise, but I’ll leave you with a photo of us cruising past the old Goyt Mill going into Marple to show the day wasn’t all bad.
We decided to treat ourselves to an easy day today as Tim, our son was coming to visit and we were still reeling from a stormy windy night. The morning consisted of completing small jobs like wiring a car radio into the galley so we can have music on the move if we want, though I can’t imagine anything sweeter than the bird song.
We walked up the Middlewood Way to meet Tim at the train station, and on the way a cyclist stopped to ask us for directions, in those few minutes we discovered she was a medalist for team GB at Rio, I apologised for not recognising her but it was a real thrill to be able to thank her and tell he how much I’d enjoyed the games and had cheered her on during the road race.
We’ve met some fascinating people this week, all with interesting stories to tell. Yesterday I spoke to the anglers who appear regularly by the boats, apparently the fish enjoy the bits that get flushed out of the boats with the washing up water. And far from disturbing the anglers here, they seem to catch more just after a boat has passed by, Not sure if all anglers share this sentiment but it seems a harmonious arrangement to me. They are after the pike at this time of year.
And the bird watcher who helped me identify the chiffchaff that I’d seen in the bushes. I thought it was a willow warbler but apparently they are migratory birds and on their holidays in January.
Tim hadn’t seen the boat complete before, not many people have. Boat life isn’t for him although he made appropriately impressed comments when pushed. He’d come to take advantage of Eric’s soldering iron to make himself a keyboard. Like father like son. Why buy ready made when you can custom build your own.
Looks like we’re set for another noisy night this time from rain lashing the boat rather than yesterdays wind.
We’ve made our maiden voyage, our shake down cruise. Words can’t describe how good that feels
The day dawned crisp and bright, and Eric was confident that the batteries were charged and we had sufficient cooling power to allow us a few hours without concern. We’ve both walked and cruised this section of the canal several times so we were familiar with the easy cruise up to the winding point at High Lane (that’s ‘wind’ as in the weather, not ‘wind’ the clock, where the canal widens to allow a boat to turn around. Don’t ask me why!)
Being Sunday we had a plentiful audience enjoying the day, non of them any the wiser as to how nervous we were. Thankfully Eric reversed us out of the Braidbar yard without hitting anything and off we set. Of course this being our first cruise meant that neither of us was prepared to leave the boat to take photos although we were snapped by several of the walkers.
We cruised for about an hour and half, it was a crisp and clear day and although we thought we’d wrapped up warm we were frozen by the time we moored up. We hadn’t credited the difference it would make between how warm we felt when out walking and how chilled we got standing at the helm. Guess I’ll be adding some thermals to the shopping list but please don’t hold out any hope of seeing those on a future blog.
We moored back up on the Braidbar spot on the canal, and Eric’s still tweaking the wires and we’re getting closer and closer to gaining our independance.
We put aside the chores this morning in favour of enjoying the sunshine, as we still hadn’t seen the magnificent views from the top of the cage at Lyme Park
We chose a longer route than usual going through Ryles wood towards the main park gate on the A6.
We gained a bit of relief from the steady incline by turning around to gaze at the view, looking towards Bollinghurst reservoir.
The Cage was built as a hunting lodge and banqueting hall in the 16th century. It later became a prison for poachers. We weren’t able to look inside.
We couldn’t help but turn back for another look at the cage as we continued onwards towards the house.
The house was closed for the winter and there were a number of vans parked outside so no photos of the great house yet, but I believe it was used in the filming of the BBC’s production of Pride and Prejudice.
The cafe was open and the NT knows how to make good soup so we had an early lunch before our final decent back home
Today we ran out of water, quite deliberately, as we wanted to measure the tank capacity and get a feel for how the water gauge relates to the amount of water we have left.
Our water tank is in what is usually the Gas Locker. For none boaters that is the very bow of the boat. This means it has a complicated shape which is small at the bottom and large at the top.
As we filled the tank I measured the voltage from the water sensor every 5 minutes and noted how full the tank gauge read.
It turns out that when the gauge says we are half full we are in reality a quarter full, and when the gauge reads a quarter full we are very close to completely empty. To give you an idea of how extreme this is, the gauge read nearly a quarter full after filling for 5 minutes but it took 1 hour and 50 minutes to fill the tank.
This graph illustrates how quickly we run out of water once the gauge shows a quarter left.
Of course, the aim is never to run out of water, so todays measurements will help us manage our water supply and to plan when we stop at water points to take on more water.
Water points are distributed along the canals and clearly marked on canal maps. As we intend to continuously cruise (move on every few days) we should be passing water points every few days as we go.