To Bollington and beyond

We had the good fortune to be approaching Bollington at the same time as the weather forecast was predicting 4 days of thunderstorms and torrential rain. We had the even better good fortune to find a space on the aqueduct in time for us to hunker down and watch the world go by.

The Bollington Aqueduct and embankment


Bollington is a largely unspoilt little place that grew out of 3 small farming communities into a thriving, but small victorian mill town. Nestled in the foothills of the Pennines, on the edge of the Peak district, the canal straddles the wooded valley of the River Dean on a 60′ high aqueduct and embankment.

Palmerston Street below the canal


Perhaps not the most spectacular on the system, but one of my favourites because there’s mooring and a wide towpath, and an interesting town below to explore.

The Spinners Arms,

We had the added benefit of being joined by Sapphire, another Braidbar boat and it’s always good to share cruising notes, especially over a pint. No wonder it is also known as Happy Valley.

Firecrest and Sapphire

The Macclesfield canal was completed in the 1830’s and provided the incentive for local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Macclesfield silk and cotton trade. Several mills were built, but only Clarence and Adelphi mills are still standing, both as residential and creative hubs with cafes, perfect for gongoozlers. Bollington seems to attract good food, and the day we arrived we only just missed the Hairy Bikers filming at the Indian Goat for a Christmas special. Needless to say we also had to sample the menu, not once but twice.

The Indian Goat, street food worth having.

To compensate for our excessive gluttony, we also took advantage of some great walking trails. The Middlewood Way, (from Marple to Macclesfield) runs through Bollington, along the disused railway line. Just like the canal, straddling the valley also required some skilled engineering. The west side of town is dominated by a long stretch of arches. The weather was against us completing the full trail although it’s one of Tim’s favourite cycling routes.

The Middlewood Way, above the playground

The other local landmark is known as the White Nancy, found on the Kerridge ridge. It’s a folly built in 1817 to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Apparently it used to have a door into a single room inside, but that’s no longer there. And at certain times of the year, it could well be dressed up as father Christmas, or sporting various other commemorative symbols. One year vandals painted it pink, can’t think why….The views from the top are spectacular, even with the cloud, we could see over to the Welsh hills, Merseyside, and the Peak District. We could even see Sapphire moored on the aqueduct. And we could see the White Nancy from the aqueduct.

The White Nancy

All in all we managed to avoid most of the heavy showers and the canal didn’t quite overflow. We are once again heading south.

Heading south towards Macclesfield, hope the blue sky comes too

Cheshire, Derbyshire, Wimbledon, France,Tokyo…. where have we been?


I’m not the fittest or most energetic of people and I’m certainly not sporty, but with one or two exceptions, I love watching live sport on TV. I even watched the penalty shoot out at the Euros. So instead of keeping up to date with our meanderings, I’ve been unpicking the intricacies of cycling competition, modern pentathlon, tennis tournaments and boxing bouts. But in between the joy and despair shared with various athletes and the extremes of British summer weather, we have continued to cruise the Macclesfield and Peak Forest canal.

We moored on the Braidbar spot for a few days, filling in James and Donna with our adventures of the past 4 years, whist asking James for his assistance to channel in some news wiring for our ever increasing Solar panels.


Tim and his friend have taken advantage of our close proximity to their homes and cycled out on several occasions to join us, and to share a birthday cake.

I’ve hopped on the train to visit my mum up in the Lake District

And Eric has dutifully returned back to Suffolk to complete some emergency repairs on our Bricks and Mortar. Leaving me with time to explore the walking trails around New Mills and to reaquaint my friendships with Kate, Annie and Martyn who run the Wiseheart and Wild creative Studio in New Mills, Furnace Vale and Disley.

We’ve worked hard in Bugsworth Basin, where we fixed the last two possible solar panels on to the roof.

And we’ve made friends with many boaters as we have taken the opportunity to moor for several days in the same place.

We had thought we would cruise onto pastures new, by continuing down the Marple flight, and through Manchester onto the Bridgewater canal before heading towards Chester. However there have been on going issues with some of the locks on that route, so we revised that plan and are now heading back south down the Macclesfield Canal and have a coin ready to toss when we get to the next junction.

Dallying around Derbyshire, (and East Staffordshire)

It’s always nice to meet up with friends on the canal and we took the opportunity to spend some time together. Eric was offered a ride on the stern on NB Tenacity as we cruised in convoy for the day. Eric and I both commented on the water levels on the river Dove aquaduct. The top photo was taken earlier in the week and we’d laughed about having to duck to get through those arches. We’d had some heavy rain but only for a few hours so hadn’t thought it amounted to much. A week later we’d still have struggled due to lack of water. There’s no pleasing some folk. Fortunately the T&M hasn’t suffered to the same extent as the northern canals. Our bridges still remained navigable and pretty as everBack in Burton there’s some good mooring by Shobnall Park. And we took some time to stretch our legs and raise our pulse by climbing up Outwoods Hills.Burton itself was dominated by brewerys. But the view was panoramic and great reminder of the vastness of our countryside. Unseen from this angle is a vast new housing estate being built behind us.Back in Burton, Burnt Oak with John and Martina cruised by, so they moored up next to us. Martina and I had a serious discussion about our spinning exploits as we are part of a team raising money for Air Ambulance through a spinning marathon. (More about Britspin later) I’m not sure if John and Eric are having a serious discussion or not, but it was either about rope or beer.

A Hectic Week

Cheryl has been off the boat so I could have a quiet week working.  But this is boat life, and my social life this week has been hectic.  After a very enjoyable day helping Jo and Laurence down the Atherstone flight, they picked me up as they passed through Rugby hoping I’d help them down the 3 Hillmorton locks as well.  Jo was only a few hours from her new home so keen to get going so left Laurence and I chatting, it was nearly sunset before I arrived back on Firecrest.

Then I met Malcom and Barbara from Ampere, on their way to Crick to represent the Electric Boat Assosiation .  They kindly invited me to a BBQ, something Cheryl and I used to enjoy regularly when we were land based so this was a real treat. The next day I saw Laurence again.   Continue reading A Hectic Week