We decided to head off on the Monday after the Festival. Big mistake really because everyone else did too!! It took us 3 hours to go up 3 locks and when we arrived at the junction for the Shroppie, we were 4th in line for the lock, in a small crowded pound.
I used to mock boaters with 2 Way Radios. I had an 'Eww get them' attitude, till I got some cheap ones from Aldi for us. I was so fed up with us shouting at each other over the engine noise, running back and forth with info, it really was a no brainer. They prove invaluable when you are up at a lock behind a bridge with a boat coming through, you just squeeze and speak. Which for me is much less stressful. Well most of the time it is, at the Shroppie junction Yogis stress was starting to come through though......
I am at the lock, with all the other 'lock wheelers', behind a bridge helping boater number 1 of 4 through the first lock. We were all chatting about how busy it's been, long day etc etc..when the peace was disturbed by my radio, on full volume....
"Fuck this babe, it's a fucking nightmare, I'm on the fucking bottom, there's no fucking room and nowhere to fucking go. Fuck the Shroppie, let's go back up the Trent & Mersey".
I looked around the sea of shocked middle aged, sunburned faces, some with chins on the floor, others looking at me with very concerned expressions. Who was this sweary man on the end of my radio? Lol. Would I be safe to return to my boat? I knew he was just venting, but they didn't lol. I just smiled and made my way back to the boat laughing to myself, imagining the conversations that were going on behind me. We went through Kings Lock moored up and simultaneously suggested a pint in the pub. Great minds eh :0). After some refreshments we carried on and headed back towards Wheelock.
Pictured above is the river Wheelock which runs through Wheelock. ( Wheelock is derived from an Old Welsh source meaning "winding river" ). There's not much there, there's a big pet food place (overpriced), small local shop for bread, milk & chocolate and a rather good fish and chip shop! The Cheshire Cheese Pub has a good basic menu and a very friendly welcome also.
We also did well there trade wise because it's 26 locks to Kidsgrove one way and 8 locks to Middlewich the other. There is a service point with water, elson and rubbish and a good turnover of boaters stopping for lunch or the night before heading on up or down 'heartbreak hill'.
Pictured above, the Cheshire Cheese pub and what used to be the Nags Head, now an Indian restaurant.
I was secretly pleased we had decided to come back this way as I had wanted to go into Sandbach and hadn't had time on our way to Middlewich so I knew what I would be doing whilst Yogi was tending shop. :0)
Sandbach is a lovely little market town, very oldy worldly and EASILY accessable by bus or alternatively apx 1 mile walk from Wheelock.
There are two massive Saxon stone crosses, elaborately carved with animals and Biblical scenes including the Nativity of Christ and the Crucifixion which dominate the cobbled market square. Aparentley dating from the 9th century, and originally painted as well as carved, they are said to be the finest surviving examples of Anglo-Saxon high crosses. There is little known why they are in Sandbach or where they came from, or why they were made even, but they are pretty impressive even now.
The Stone Crosses in the Market Square
Shopping purchased, charity shops scoured and high street well and truly checked out. We were ready for the track back up Heartbreak Hill to Kidsgrove.
I've just found this fab time lapse video of the journey from Wheelock to Kidsgrove. This was made by another boater in 2011. Excellent stuff!! Really gives you a feel for it :0) and saves me telling you about it again :0)
Some photos of our journey ............