Monday, July 2, 2012

Ousing floods and Cheshire canals

Outside the Shroppie Fly in Audlem
The great thing about Cheshire if you have a bicycle is that there are very few hills. Undulations, yes, but not many 1 in 4s. Around Nantwich where we were staying last week there are networks of twisty lanes to ride along and, if you plan it right, a decent canalside pub selling good ale. We were drinking Landlord bitter in this one.

Aqueduct Marina

You can't go far in Cheshire without tripping over a canal. There are plenty of canal marinas too, many of them branching out to cater for the apparently insatiable appetite for caf├ęs. I took my parents to the Aqueduct Marina which sits, handily, on a linking section between the Shropshire Union and the Trent and Mersey.

Narrow dogs for narrow boat

It's all narrowboats of course in this part of the world. Lots and lots of them. This one went past while we were strolling around looking at boats.

The other waterway of the trip was to be the River Ouse  in Yorkshire. We were visiting Joe's cousin and her family who keep a boat on a section of the river near to York. We were supposed to be going from their house in Leeds to the boat on the Friday night for a barbecue followed by a gentle cruise into York for a pint, but this was the day of The Big Rain. We'd arrived on Thursday evening in a thunderstorm, lightning crackling  overhead as we ran for the front door, and it rained pretty much incessantly from then on. We had a curry down the road instead.

On the River Ouse
But on Saturday the rain had cleared to a bit of sunshine, so we went to look at the boat at York Marine and have lunch on board.

View from the cockpit

The river was in spate. We passed a huge houseboat (static and for hire) on the way to the mooring which had a ladder up the perilously angled gang plank and a jeep attached by rope to the bow. Not sure what was going on there.

As we stepped onto the boat we were visiting I watched a father and young daughter pass downstream in a tiny rubber dinghy with a small outboard. I wondered would they be able to get back to wherever they came from.

High and brown

We walked along the river to a marina downstream where you could really see the extent of the flood.

You'd need your waders to get onto this boat. Most of the moorings along the bank here were cut off, some with what looked like extensive damage to the walkways.

There's a sculpture on the rather ugly bridge, all made of wire. It was around this part of the river that I noticed the tiny dinghy struggling upstream, occasionally getting twirled by strong river eddies. Walking back to the boat for lunch we overtook it. I hoped they wouldn't run out of petrol.

This lady was on the lawn the evening we got home.

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