I have been down to Bugsworth Basin at the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal. It was a fascinating place, made up of three different basins and various little dead ends where one or two boats can moor. For over 100 years burnt lime was produced here and ferried by working narrowboats. It was said that you could walk for six miles past boats waiting to be loaded up here!
It was a hub of industry all through the 18th century but declined as the railway system slowly took over freight hauling. The basin finally closed in 1927 and was left to moulder until some canal enthusiasts spent the last 30 years bringing it back to life and you can now tour this historic site and moor in it!
End of history lesson. Although it was a really interesting place to visit, I didn’t enjoy it as a mooring site. The A6 runs right alongside the basin which makes it pretty noisy. The old walls of the basin are high and it made me feel quite claustrophobic, as well as being surrounded on every side by boats, so we only stayed one night. The next day (Sunday) I took a ride to the 21st Century in the shape of a Tesco built right alongside the canal (by where the canal splits to go to Whaley Bridge or Bugsworth). Then having topped up my water tank, we set off back towards the Maccy.
This is the first time in two months that we are actually heading in the direction of Fradley Junction – albeit a long way away. It has made me think what it will be like when I settle back into ‘normal’ life. How will I cope with the ordinary little happenings on my home mooring after all the excitements of the grand tour? I’ll have to start thinking about earning a crust, but the very thought of settling back down to the 9-5 grind makes my blood run cold.
I have also found it profoundly normal and comfortable to spend long periods of time alone. It suits my personality as well as keeping my neurotic impulses to a minimum! It has been super to keep in touch with people by phone and email but it is also a relief to be able to turn the phone or computer off! I will have to find a way of preserving that space without losing my friends and relatives!
I do have something to look forward to though. After cruising for three months I rather crave a bit of luxury on shore, so I have organised a holiday swap with some friends back in Devon. They will take ‘Don’t Panic’ for a couple of weeks while Bonny and I stay in their annex in Bradworthy (can’t stay in main house as cats rule!). I’ll be able to visit all the friends I haven’t seen since the end of 2008, whilst knowing the boat will be looked after.
The idea of being able to run a tap and not worry about replacing the water, or to leave a light on even if I’m not in the room is intoxicating! (Lynda, I relate to your New Wine experience – lovely to camp but lovely to get home again! Let me know how you found New Wine – I wondered if your developed theology might struggle a bit with some of the more simplistic teaching you can find there?)
My friends are very good boaters so I know my boat will be in safe hands. This will happen in September so it’s nice to have another treat to look forward to. Meanwhile, I shall make the most of my journey. I had no phone, TV or radio reception at Bugsworth and it was refreshing. I realised that I haven’t been entering into the experience of solitude as deeply as I might have as I have been texting most days and watching TV or listening to the radio most evenings. So, since the reception isn’t great on the Maccy anyway, I shall be turning my phone off for a day or two and listening more to silence!
I’ll leave you with something conspicuous by it’s absence so far – a picture of me on my cruise! This was taken yesterday on the Peak Forest – and yes, this cruise has turned me grey!