Quite an eventful day. We set off from Middlewich at 7am in order to descend the five locks before other boats were on the move.. In fact this worked well as we passed through the fourth narrow lock at 7.30 and then picked up another boat to share the Big Lock with. Our aim was to make as much distance as possible which we hoped would get us onto the Bridgewater Canal. Two attempts were made to prevent us achieving our target.
As we approached Lion Salt Works and realised we would have to forego a visit to this site which we first visited 30 years ago when it was derelict, a boat pulled out ahead of us heading in the same direction. It then proceeded as such a slow pace we could not keep our engine in gear but had to keep idling it. This went on for over two miles by which time we had decided to hail him to let us pass.
We also met a novice boater who was (apparently) trying to turn her boat around. We only know that because she told us. Her maneuvering gave no clue to that intention. Her technique, which remained unsuccessful for the time we were around, involved getting off and on the boat and then steering the stern into the centre of the canal before returning to the bank and repeating the whole process. All this was being carried out ten yards past a winding hole.
Eleven years ago, on our very first trip down the Grand Union to our old stamping grounds in the Chilterns we were looking for a mooring in Bulborne. By the time we reached the Wendover Arm we realised there were no spaces long enough for our 58ft. As we debated what to do a guy with a Gecko tattoo on his shaved pate emerged from a small boat having guessed our problem. He and I then moved the boat moored in front of him and made a suitable mooring for Gecko.
During our week there we had a number of conversations with Martin, who was a master baker. His boat was named Tegu which is a rather large gecko from South America. Over the past ten years we have seen him from time to time around the country in various boats as he has changed them. We have also seen Tegu with its new owner. We last saw Martin on the Macclesfield canal when we were diverted from Middlewich to Manchester when the breach occurred at Dutton a few years back.
This morning as we pottered along behind the snail boat we were accosted by a guy carrying his shopping. He doffed his cap to reveal the gecko tattoo and we caught up with our life histories in the few minutes available. This is feeling more like a farewell tour each day.
22 miles / 6 locks / 3 tunnels / 2 obstacles