Travelled 7.5 miles, worked 1 lock in a time of 3 hours 45 minutes.
Having enjoyed a peaceful nights sleep, we were awake just after 5.30am, Keith made us a cup of tea, which we drank in bed, I did not bother with stoking the fire because of us going through the tunnel, but neither of us was that cold.
7am we were up and I was off the boat taking Paddy for his walk. We stepped off the boat in the pouring rain. I had heard it raining through the night, so was expecting it to be wet. Whilst I was gone, Keith got on with cooking us Mushrooms on Toast. When Paddy and I got back to the boat a little soggy, breakfast was almost ready. I fed mog and dog and was just about to sit down to my breakfast at 7.45am, when there was a knock on the boat. It was the tunnel keeper, asking if we wanted to go through the tunnel at 8am or wait till 8.45am, Keith said "We will be ready for 8am", so we fired up Hadar's engine to get it warm, whilst we ate breakfast.
8am were were untying our ropes ready to head into the tunnel with the rain still falling, we were followed into the tunnel by some people we had met a couple of days ago, who were on their way to Manchester to set up their boat as a community boat. This was their first boat after a canal holiday and Harecastle Tunnel was going to be their first major tunnel. Yesterday Keith had given them some useful advice about cruising through a tunnel and as they cruised behind us, it was clear his advice had been useful, because they were doing a fantastic job. We were over half way through the tunnel and I was in the engine room enjoying the view when I felt the boat almost stall, which meant only one thing, we had picked something substantial up on the propeller, because normally nothing stops her, not even the odd plastic bag or rope, but what ever it was clearly made her think for a minute, but there was nothing we could do but to keep going. Keith managed to get some of the obstruction off by putting the boat into reverse and then into forward again, but we knew there was something still on there. On exiting the tunnel, the tunnel keeper asked if we were ok, and we explained we had picked up something on the propeller and there was something substantial still in the tunnel. We managed to get to the lock moorings above the Red Bull lock flight, where we pulled in. Keith went down the weed hatch and sure enough we had rubbish on the propeller.
It made up of some tough nylon rope, black plastic bag and other stuff. I put it in a bag and Keith walked back to see the tunnel keeper to show him what we had collected. The tunnel keeper said they had no boats going through tomorrow, so they would go into the tunnel to see if they could find out what the mass is.
By 9.35am, we were leaving the Trent and Mersey Canal and on our way on to the Macclesfield Canal at Hardings Wood Junction.
Although the rain had sort of stopped it was still very wet. We crossed over the Poole Aqueduct and the Red Bull Aqueduct on its way to Hall Green Lock.
After leaving the stop lock, we were out into open countryside, which is glorious.
We had our first glimpse of Mow Cop and its castle to the east. The castle has been there for some 250 years. The village of Mow Cop is an isolated village which straddles the Cheshire, Staffordshire border. It looked very moody with the dark skies.
Apart from the stunning views across the valley, Ramsdell Hall is also very beautiful as it sits along side the canal. The house was built during the 18th century in two phases. For 250 years, Ramsdell Hall has stood looking out over the Cheshire Plain towards Jodrell Bank and the Welsh Hills and was built by William Lowndes. The house is still lived in today and I can imagine they must really love the stunning views.
There were still dark clouds looming and the wind was beginning to really pick up.
Just as we approached Congleton, the sun came out to welcome us to this Cheshire market town. We were luck enough to find a big enough space for us to moor in. After lunch we decided to take a walk down into Congleton, to jog our memory of our last visit. back in January 2008, which was when Hadar got covered by her first snow.
Congleton lies at the eastern edge of the Cheshire plain at the foot of the southern reaches of the Pennine Hills and is a compact market town. We had missed market day which had been yesterday (Tuesday), they also have one on Saturday's. But we did enjoy looking around the charity shops.
There are some lovely old buildings in the town.
As well as some new shops. Congleton seems to be fairing pretty well in this economic climate, there did not seem to be many shops empty. We picked up a few items whilst walking around the town, we also picked something up on the way back to the boat.
On our way down the towpath from the boat, I spotted this grabber dumped in the hedge and said to Keith if it was still there on the way back I would grab it. It was still there and so now we have three grabbers, this one is brilliant because it has no seperate bits that can break like our other two. The only drawback is it is pink and I don't do pink ha ha ha ha. But as they say "Finders keepers, losers weepers".
Even with the much needed rain, I have had a fantastic days cruising and now I am going to enjoy a quiet evening hopefully. I only have dinner to cook, pets to feed, fires to feed, washing-up to do, bed to lay out and probably lots of other things to do before bedtime.
Chat soon x