Sunday, 23 April 2017



IMG_2380With a planned couple of days off from cruising we settled in to life at Bugsworth basin.There’s loads of history here and it all started when work on both the Peak Forest Canal and the tramlines from Dove Holes quarry were completed in the late 1700’s.This enabled limestone to be transported from the quarries by horse drawn waggons, and either be transferred as limestone to canal barges, or burnt into lime in kilns at the basin, and then shipped out.
Once Britain’s largest inland port the basin became dis-used in 1927 as a result of the dominance of the railways.

Thanks to the efforts of the Inland Waterways Protection Society and financial assistance from local councils and the EEC, the basin was re-opened on 3rd August 1999. Bugsworth Basin is classed as an ancient monument.

IMG_2359This is the Navigation Inn that stands at the head of the basin . It’s famous because it was once owned by Pat Phoenix who played Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street and was regarded by many as being the first ever sex symbol on uk TV.

IMG_2391The Moon (well half of it) over Bugsworth Basin.

IMG_2397There is also a small museum which gives a bit of an insight in to the history of the basin.

IMG_2398I don’t think I would have liked working here . With lime kilns chucking out all sorts of horrible chemicals and all the hard manual work it must have been a nightmare.

IMG_2407We soon got friendly with the basin warden who is called Pablo . He really works hard to keep the area in tip top condition . Having had our 48 hours in the basin he said we could stay another couple of days if we wanted to. With Curly loving it here we decided to have an extra day as Carolyn and Curly fancied taking the bus from near by Whaley Bridge to Buxton.

IMG_2409Eventually our time was up and we had to make a move as we are booked to go through The Standedge tunnel . Before leaving we stopped off at the services to top up with water and get rid of waste.

IMG_2383I’ve told Curly that she needs to be competent in all aspects of Narrowboat life and that includes emptying the toilet cassettes . But as you can see by the look on her face there is no way she will ever do that. She told me that it was a Blue job and not a Pink job . I wonder where she got that from Sharon (Nb Oakapple) .

IMG_2425After topping up the cupboards from the Tesco and winding in Whaley Bridge we headed back out on to the Peak Forest canal and made our way past this sunken boat.

IMG_2438We had to laugh at this day hire boat as he had missed the winding hole further back the canal and tried to turn just by this lift bridge. Needless to say he got wedged between the banks good and proper. We did offer them a bit of advice ,but they seemed to know better so we left them alone.

We then picked up a mooring about a mile before Marple. Tomorrow it’s an early start and then down through the Marple flight of locks to the lower Peak forest canal and then hopefully pick up a mooring for the night before we join The Huddersfield canal on the following day.

                                                                                                                      Happy Days

Saturday, 22 April 2017

4 years !



We have now just completed our fourth year aboard Narrowboat Inca . In the last 12 months we have been to London then up the Thames and onto the river Wey from there we went up to Oxford and then to Birmingham . It was then down to Droitwich and up the river Severn to Stourport . From there up on the Llangollen for a few weeks before going up to Chester and Ellesmere Port . We then had another trip down onto the river Weaver .Then it was all the way back down to London again with a few stops on the way and a couple more weeks in the capital. Over the Winter we headed back towards the Midlands and dropped down the South Oxford canal to Banbury where we got iced in for a few weeks. In the last 12 months we have covered 1,231 miles and done 874 locks. Our trusty 43hp Beta engine has run for 1,276 hours and not missed a beat.

Our totals for the four years are.. miles covered 4,544 ( mostly steered by me ) , locks 3,239 ( mostly done by Carolyn )  . Engine hours run 4,320 . Toilet cassettes emptied 653 and every single one done by me. Blogs posted 716 again all by me. Bottles of Red wine consumed by me ???? probably in the thousands ,and I have enjoyed every single one. We are now well in to our 2017 cruise and heading North to explore some new canals that we haven’t visited before.

As you can see we are genuine continous cruisers and are always on the go. Under the terms of our licence we only need to do just over 20 miles a year and move a short distance every 2 weeks ,but it was always our intention from the start to try and see as much of the UK canal system as we could before hanging up our windlasses and moving onto the next phase of our retirement. ( What ever that is )


                                                                                                      Happy Days

Thursday, 20 April 2017



IMG_2283Another early start from our mooring at Bollington and Curly is slowly but surely falling out with me , she just doesn’t like early mornings. We are soon passing Clarence Mill which once again is another mill converted in to flats. Talking to a local yesterday he said that a 2 bedroom unit would set you back about £200,000 although they are very spacious.

IMG_2293At bridge 13 just past Middlecale farm we came across this most amazing outdoor workshop . Although it seems to be just for display it is most impressive.

IMG_2294It might just look like a post , But honest to God when I clicked the button to take this picture there was Kingfisher sat on the top of it.

IMG_2303The end of the Macclesfield canal and this is the junction at Marple . We will eventually head down the Marple flight of locks which is on the left when we exit , But we are going to head right and spend a few days in Bugsworth Basin.

IMG_2305Not something you see very often on the canals and what a well maintained old wooden boat this is .

IMG_2308We went through three lift bridges during our cruise along the Peak forest on our way in to Bugsworth basin and at everyone we met another boat and it ended up with Carolyn operating each bridge. It’s funny how that always seems to happen to us.

IMG_2314Nearly at the end of our cruise and we head through New Mills which is famous for it’s sweet factory . It’s the Swizzles Matlow factory with it’s best selling product which is Lovehearts . As you cruise by you get the scent of the sweets being produced in the factory and it’s always good to get a wave from the people who are working inside .Needless to say Curly wanted to stop and see if she could get a tour around the factory.

IMG_2329After a great near six hour lock free cruise we arrived at Bugsworth Basin .On entering we turned right and went to the end of the basin before winding and coming back to the bottom basin .

IMG_2395We then picked up this mooring (top of picture on the right) in a near empty basin. The moorings here are 48 hours although we have been told if we want to stay a bit longer we could ask the Warden for a short extension. With Carolyn and Curly wanting to stay here as long as possible it looks like we could be here for a few days.




                                                                                                          Happy Days

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Yarn Bombing


IMG_2208With an estimated six hour cruise and a flight of 11 locks in front of us we pulled ropes through rings from our mooring below Bosley locks at 07.50 ,much to Curly’s annoyance as she loves to have a lay in.

IMG_2210Entering the bottom lock and you can see that it’s been Yarn bombed . We see this all over the country on locks it’s also called storming, guerrilla knitting, kniffiti, urban knitting or graffiti knitting and is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.

IMG_2215You just have to admire these beautiful stone built locks as you ascend the flight. Just imagine the amount of work that went in to making these stones and then forming the locks and all with hand tools.

IMG_2220With mitred top and bottom gates Curly comes in to her own as she can now open and close gates and on this visit has become competent in not only lifting paddles but also dropping them.

IMG_2236Nearly at the top of The Bosley flight and as Carolyn brings Inca up and in to the lock where the views are absolutely brilliant.

IMG_2240A rare picture I know ,but just occasionally I do the odd lock or two.

IMG_2251Eventually at the top of the flight and we are at 518 ft above sea level and in to the foothills of The Peak forest . We now have the use of the service block to get rid of our rubbish and waste . Why all services can’t be like this I will never know . It even has showers and washing machines. For what we pay in licence fees to Canal and River Trust it’s about time they supplied more facilities like this throughout the canal network.

IMG_2263What a waste of money this sign is although CRT seem to think it’s funny …The money could be spent so much better on improved maintenance and facilities.

IMG_2271Moving on and we are soon passing through Macclesfield and the marina. With the Sun out what a perfect day for cruising . Next to the Marina is yet another old factory/warehouse that’s been converted in to living accommodation .

IMG_2277After a good six hour cruise we arrived at Bollington and picked up the very end mooring on the aqueduct . With it being so shallow it meant our arse end being out a bit ,but as we could get the front in fairly close we were happy with that.

After a night here it will be another good cruise tomorrow as we want to get off The Macclesfield and then onto The Peak Forest Canal and hopefully make it all the way in to Bugworth Basin at Whaley Bridge.


                                                                                        Happy Days

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Cloud


IMG_2168We pulled pins at 08.30 with a bit of mizzle in the air. Not deterred we pressed on towards a mooring we wanted for the night which was below Bosley locks and with a local hill called The Cloud in the background it has to be in the top ten picturesque moorings on the canal system. One thing that is unusual on the Macclesfield canal is these distance markers . We thought they looked a bit like gravestones when we first saw them.

IMG_2170We stopped mid cruise to pick up some essential supplies ( not wine ) in Congleton and as you can see we are moored opposite the old wharf that has now been developed in to a housing development as have similar old factories and mills along this canal.

IMG_2184I’m not sure what they feed the Cows on up this way but they sure are a funny colour.

IMG_2203After a good three and a half hour cruise in rain ,mist and fog we finally got to our chosen mooring spot just below Bosley locks , Isn’t it strange that as soon as you moor soaked through to the skin that the rain stops and the Sun comes out .our mooring sits below The Cloud or Bosley Cloud as it is sometimes known . At 343 metres (1,125 ft) in height, it is one of the highest hills in the area. Its heather-covered summit plateau is crowned by a trig point from which extensive views over Congleton, Biddulph, Macclesfield, Holmes Chapel, and the Greater Manchester area can be enjoyed. The Cloud sits at the northern apex of a triangle formed by the broken ridge which runs along the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire and the hills stretching south through Biddulph Moor into Staffordshire. The plan was for Carolyn and Curly to have an afternoon climbing to the top and soaking up the views ,but as soon as Curly saw how far away and how high it was she decided against the idea.

IMG_2193What you don’t realise when you moor here is that you are actually floating on the Dane aqueduct which carries the canal at a great height over the river Dane. With Curly having no fear of heights she swings on the railings over the river making my legs turn to jelly.

Tomorrow it will be an early start as we tackle the 11 locks of The Bosley flight. We have done this flight before and as I remember it was a pleasure to do.

                                                                                                                 Happy Days

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Stoke on Trent


IMG_2087We pulled pins from our mooring opposite the Wedgewood factory at 07.10 with the intention of getting through Stoke on Trent as soon as possible .Such a shame yet again that this is another city that has a bad name for canal travellers although I believe that money is shortly to become available to be spent along the canal through the city . Whether this money will be spent to make some safe secure moorings remains to be seen.

IMG_2090The first lock of the day was only about half an hour away and seemed to be a bit deeper than previous locks on this section . Yet again there was the gap in the lock cross over bridge to allow a horses rope to pass through .

IMG_2093Passing the Bet 365 stadium which of course is the home of Stoke city FC.

IMG_2098The canal through Stoke is absolutely hammered with Graffiti . Although most of it is a mess occasionally you see something that you look at and think that’s very good.

IMG_2100Now this is a bit different . Someone has decided to clad their narrow boat . I’m not sure that the idea will catch on.

IMG_2106You know you are in the Potteries when you see these old bottle kilns .Just how good is it to see that they have been retained and not knocked down.

IMG_2103After passing a few local Scoates openly doing drugs we came across this mess in the canal . As always when we see floating crap like this we knock Inca out of gear and coast through as to try and avoid the propeller becoming fouled.

IMG_2111Arriving at Etruia and we pass the old meat rendering works . Good job it’s not operating now as the smell must have been horrendous.

IMG_2126I bet this pottery was a hive of activity in it’s day. A bit of a shame to see it like this ,but I guess it’s time move’s on.

IMG_2121A skip full of pottery . No doubt it never made the grade and has just been chucked …

IMG_2133Arriving at Harecastle tunnel and we were waved straight in and had a good uneventful trip through . We have never been through in this direction before and were surprised at how loud the fans were after we entered and they shut the tunnel door behind us.

IMG_2136Looking back at the North portal as we leave the tunnel and you can see the colour of the water which is a bright orange colour. You can also see the old disused tunnel on the right.

IMG_2143After exiting Harecastle tunnel it’s only a short cruise before we turn left and leave the Trent and Mersey canal and then join the Macclesfield canal.

IMG_2157How the other half live ! . Just past this house we picked up a mooring for the night with exactly the same view that this multi million pound house has .Then tomorrow our view will change as we head North up the Macclesfield.


                                                                                                                          Happy Days

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Christina Collins


IMG_1977We pulled pins from our mooring at Rugeley and soon passed this spot  just outside of the town .Every time we pass this we always mention to each other about the appalling incident that happened here many many years ago . The story was also adapted in to an episode of the TV series Morse .

This is what happened ….. On 15 June 1839, dressmaker Christina Collins, 37, began her journey on a narrowboat from Liverpool to join another canal boat, the Staffordshire Knot, at Preston Brook. She was neatly dressed in a plain gown, a fawn-coloured scarf around her neck and a blue-patterned silk bonnet. Christina was heading to London, where her husband had gone for work – but she would never arrive. Her lifeless body was found in the canal at Brindley Bank by Rugeley Aqueduct on 17 June.

Loutish and uncouth James Owen, 39, was captain of the Staffordshire Knot, which was owned by the Pickfords company. Owen had spent the best part of his life on the inland waterways and he and his equally rough mate William Ellis had worked together for some years. The third crew member was George Thomas and also on board was young cabin boy Isaac Musson, who’d just turned 12. Having loaded a cargo at Preston, Lancs, they set out for London.

They’d also just taken on board a passenger, young married woman Christina Collins. It’s unclear just why she’d booked a passage with such a disreputable crew – she’d possibly chosen the boat as it was cheap, and her husband had only managed to send a sovereign for her passage. However, it seems certain that she was initially unaware of Owen’s rough character. He had a bad reputation among the bargemen as a man who enjoyed getting drunk, fighting, and he was a bully. His two crewmen were no better, and they’d blazed a trail of bad behaviour wherever they went.

Christina arrived at dawn to board and settled down as best she could amid the cargo. The crew, as usual, were still drunk from the night before. The unfortunate young woman had to put up with the crew’s vile language and drunken behaviour until the boat reached Stoke-on-Trent.

There, she went to the Pickfords office and complained to the porters about the language, and the increasing attention being paid to her by Owen. She asked if she could transfer to one of the stage coaches, as she was feeling very uncomfortable in the crews’ company. The London coach was full so, reluctantly, she got back on the boat. The men’s behaviour got no better and, when the barge arrived at Stone, in Staffs, she again went to speak to a canal official.

The checking clerk, although aware of Owen’s bad reputation, said he was unable to help her, instead advising her to report the matter to Pickfords. After the brief stop, the boat set off again, and cabin boy Isaac was ordered to go to bed. Around 5am on the Monday morning, as the boat was about a mile from Rugeley, Isaac was woken by the men and told to take the horses further down the canal while the crew negotiated the locks.

However, during the night, the crew had helped themselves to generous measures of the rum being carried and were roaring drunk – and probably incapable of actually working the lock gates. But it seems Owen had other things on his mind…

The lock keeper and his wife were disturbed by their noise and a woman’s screams. Owen told them the screams came from a drunken woman, travelling with her husband, and they saw a female figure being hurriedly bundled into the tiny cabin. The lock keeper went back to bed.

When young Isaac returned to the boat, Owen told him Christina had ‘gone missing’. The men made the pretence of going back and searching for her but, finding nothing, they continued towards London. At Hoo Mill Lock, Isaac – possibly frightened for his own safety – told the lock keeper what had happened. The keeper, also well aware of Owen’s reputation, waited till the boat was out of sight, and reported the matter to the police.

Isaac deserted the boat and James Owen, William Ellis and George Thomas, after finding him gone, themselves fled abandoning the boat a short distance away.

When the police searched the boat, they found Christina’s bonnet and shoes in a cabin. They traced the route of the boat, and after a dragging a length of the canal, found her body wrapped in a section of chain from the boat. It can only be imagined what terror and pain she endured before her death.

Shocked locals carried her body up the steps at Brindley Bank, and into the Talbot Inn. The police believed that Christina had been murdered and two surgeons were said to have testified that ‘the capital offence of violation had been committed, apparently with great barbarity’ by one, probably all three, of the boatmen. The hunt for the men began immediately, but it would be many months before they’d be caught and bought to justice

James Owen, George Thomas and William Ellis were subsequently charged and found guilty of the violation and murder of Christina Collins. Owen and Thomas were hanged, Ellis transported. The boy Isaac was cleared and released.

Nearly 10,000 people were believed to have attended the hanging of Owen and Thomas in Stafford, with a portable gallows being wheeled out of the jail gatehouse to enable the public to view the execution. It was reported that ‘the pair kicked and struggled for many minutes before life was finally extinguished’ and that their bodies were ‘much convulsed’

Christina’s body was laid to rest in St Augustine churchyard, Rugeley, but perhaps her troubled spirit still seeks peace.  The ‘Bloody Steps’, up which her bleeding and lifeless body was carried to the Talbot Inn, stand to this day – and it is said that, on occasion, as if in some memory of the evil that took place all those years ago, her blood may be seen seeping from the steps.

IMG_1984Passing nb Maid of Oak and I think this is the last ever boat built out of Oak . There is a sign in the window which says it’s up for sale at £65,000 . It’s one of those boats that is very personalised and I think that it will only attract a certaint type of person to buy it, which might explain why it’s been up for sale for so long.

IMG_1993Passing up through Colwich lock and we had to wait while two boats went up in front of us and one boat came down through the lock . It’s getting as busy on here as the M25 ..

IMG_2007We picked up a mooring for the night just before Great Haywood junction and had a walk over this bridge to shugbourough hall near cannock chase . The last time we came here the water level was right down and Hamish went in for a paddle . No chance of that to day .

It should be an early start in the morning as we want to put in a few good hours to get within striking distance of Stoke on Trent . With the first lock not far away from our mooring Curly will have to get up early as well as we always insist that no one is allowed inside the boat while we are locking. Everyone has to be on the lockside or the back of the boat. Unfortunatley we have seen and heard of too many incidents of boats sinking or having problems in locks and so we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

IMG_2020We pulled pins at 07.40 from our mooring and with Curly up and a bout we made full use of her locking skills. I must admit she wasn’t that happy to be up that early complaining that she was on school holidays.

IMG_2052Hitching a ride on Mum’s back.

IMG_2051What a handsome looking beast.


IMG_2064The lock above Aston marina and it’s always good to see that someone has made an effort to brighten up the cut.

IMG_2071Travelling through the town of Stone and we passed this memorial to Christina collins. After a good days cruise we eventually picked up a mooring next to the Wedgewood factory just East of Stoke on Trent . Like other boaters Stoke is not a place we want to stay in and will have an early start in the morning then head straight through Stoke and The Harecastle tunnel and then hopefully pick up a mooring a couple of miles onto The Macclesfield canal.


                                                                                                         Happy Days