We knew Charlotte, a morris dancer friend of the head gardener, had come oop North to do a boat signwriting course. She liked it so much she stayed, and was apparently living with her partner Jason on a boat on the Caldon Canal. Not far as the crow flies from the Macclesfield Canal, messages about Biggles’ progress had been despatched.
A couple of times over the last few days we’d seen passed the butty Betelgeuse and her tug (who shall apparently remain nameless until a repaint) moored breasted up, and then passing us late in the day. Setting off late on Wednesday morning after the fog lifted from our mooring at Ramsdell, we passed them once again, heading for Congleton.
The canal here consists of long straight sections (no pansy contouring here) and the frequent bridges have an odd elliptical shape, rather than finishing vertically at ground level, like almost everywhere else. They have a narrow channel, and most have a significant ledge on the non-towpath side just at water level, almost invariably hidden by the undergrowth. This makes them an interesting challenge to pass without hitting anything too hard.
The canal takes a dog-leg route of several long straight sections around Congleton, bypassing the town centre by more than a mile. But it goes right by the station (actually, pretty much under the station), where there is a decent pub for a lunchtime Guinness, and a convenience store for milk. So by the time we reached the much regarded moorings just below Bosley bottom lock, it was late afternoon. And warm and sunny. With a nice view. So all things considered, we decided to leave tackling the Bosley Lock flight – 12 deep locks in just over a mile, with no possibility of mooring until the top – for another day, and get the deck chairs out. It really is a nice spot, with great views over the River Dane valley, and a local hill known as The Cloud for some reason.
We’d just settled down to dinner when we saw Betelgeuse and tug passing us again, and thought “Gosh – are they really going up the Bosley Locks at this time of day with an unpowered butty? They won’t get finished before dark…”, and a minute later Charlotte stuck her head through our side hatch and said “Ah, it is you!”. Seems Betelgeuse is her and Jason’s boat/home, and they were heading for some kind of boaters meet at Bollington at the weekend. But as they were both working during the day they could only move the two boats in the evening. Turned out she actually worked at Swanley Bridge Marina, where we’d left Song & Dance to go to Sidmouth. Small world.
And with a “Can’t stop! We’ve organised a gang of lockwheelers to help, and left cars at the top of the flight… hope we’ll see you in Bollington over the weekend… there’s music and stuff…”, she was off.
Well that explains why we keep playing Betelgeuse Leapfrog, anyway!