I haven’t had any internet reception for the last few days – hence the silence. Mind you I also didn’t want to write anything until I had stopped swearing and throwing my toys out of my pram! I haven’t stopped cursing just yet, but I think I can retain at least some of my toys.
So many boaters, when I said where I was planning to cruise, said ‘Oh you will love the Macclesfield Canal – it’s wonderful etc etc.’ Well, I think I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere because what I have experienced so far is more nightmare than dream!
Now before I utterly slag off this canal, I have to say that I am up to day 55 of my cruise and I am really very tired. Now, with that caveat, let me demolish the reputation of this silty little ditch, masquerading as a canal! My complaints are as follows:
We have had more rain during this summer than ever before and yet I have found it really difficult to moor as the canal is so silted up. I dread to think what it’s like in a drought! To be fair my canal guide does say that due to it’s shallow nature, it is usually only possible to moor at recognised sites. What it doesn’t say is that even the recognised sites are in a real state. One example – the visitors mooring in Macclesfield town centre. I was hanging a couple of feet out on my ropes due to silt and rubble and had to hurdle a barrier of nettles to reach the path. Does British Waterways never dredge here?
The guide highlights some ‘particularly pleasant moorings’ in the northern part of the canal. What it doesn’t mention is that all these moorings are choc a block with, what we who actually pay for a mooring, call continuous moorers. These are people who don’t have a mooring and register themselves instead as continuous cruisers. The definition being that instead of having a mooring, they cruise around the system, only stopping for a maximum of 2 weeks in any one place. Except continuous moorers find a spot they like, usually close to services like water, diesel and pub and set up home on the towpath. You can usually spot them a) by the state of their boats and b) by the amount of belongings they have scattered around the towpath. It means that many of the best moorings are not available to us who are visiting and only want to stop for the night. We have the same issue at Fradley.
So, no moorings to stop at – not even at the top of the 12 lock flight at Bosley when I was shattered after all 12 eleven foot locks were against me and I met nobody coming towards me at all. This lack of mooring was British Waterways doing as they have converted all the visitors moorings into long term mooring – more money for them, but nowhere for a poor, tired boater to stop!
Then there is the towpath. Here is an example…
The canal is to the left as you look at the picture! The undergrowth is so dense that grown men could lose themselves. I doubt BW has cut the vegetation since around the Jurassic Period! And there is mile upon mile of inaccessible towpath.
The only redeeming feature of this canal and it is a significant one, is the scenery which, in parts, is stunning. Mind you with all the growth on both sides of the water, it’s sometimes hard to see it, but nevertheless it’s lovely. It’s just a shame that it is so difficult to stop in order to appreciate it. The notable exception to this is the bottom of the Bosley Locks. Fantastic moorings – cut towpath, mooring rings and no silt. Here is the view from where I moored…
Below us, the River Dane and across the valley The Cloud…
Onwards to the Peak Forest Canal tomorrow! End of rant.