I thought Happy Valley was where the Jolly Green Giant lived or was a race course in Hong Kong. Clearly I was wrong for as we continued our cruise down the Macclesfield Canal last weekend we found that we had strayed into this depression, deep in the heart of Cheshire. Actually we were in Bollington. Heard of it? No, neither had any of us, but it is well-known in the area as the home of “White Nancy”, a folly or landmark that overlooks the small town. It’s a bit of climb up there. I know that for Paul, one third of our present crew, fancied taking a closer look and persuaded Malcolm and I to make the ascent, and that prior to our Sunday lunch in a local pub it would be good to take some exercise.
|The Three Amigos at "White Nancy". The 50 does not refer to our waistlines, but commemorates the 50th anniversay |
of the local arts festival
|White Nancy from the boat|
|View from "White Nancy". The Cat's Whiskers is pointed out, deep in "Happy Valley"|
The views from the top were sensational. Last Sunday was clear and fair, and you could just make out Liverpool on the horizon. The telescope at Jodrell Bank was also visible. We could just make out the boat, sitting between two clumps of trees, as you can make out from the pictures. And who or what is “White Nancy”. Nobody seems to know, though it’s thought it is a relative of the gent who built the structure in Victorian times.
So we didn’t stay for the brass concert in Marple on Sunday and instead travelled down to Bollington on Saturday afternoon. It was a good cruise – no locks – so we made good progress and arrived in “Happy Valley” late afternoon. This really is the name of the area around here, and it is extensively used for marketing purposes, though I didn’t hear any of the locals using it.
|One of the two renovated mills in Bollington|
What Bollington does have is loads of pubs, and two breweries. Not bad for a town of 2,000. Fancy me stumbling on that combination! Put them together and we had our Sunday lunch in the pub attached to the brewery. Behind the pub were the playing fields and we tarried awhile to watch the local cricket club in action, who were having a dad’s versus son match. Very entertaining it was too. And what a scorcher Sunday was. The towpath was overflowing with walkers, dogs, and cyclists. Great to see the canal being so well used after our experiences in Manchester.
|The mill behind me is where Hovis was first made. Now its luxury flats.|
This is about the best view of the canal at Macclesfield I could get. Note the goose poo everywhere.
The next stop was Macclesfield. We were warned there were few mooring opportunities there, and the advice was sound. Two very overgrown 24-hour moorings, in a run-down area. Walk down the hill into the town and it is very pleasant, but I suppose because the canal skirts the town, there is no real incentive, or cash, to improve it. It’s where we said goodbye to Malcolm yesterday morning. I had planned to stay there until the end of the week if possible, but it was pretty dire, so Paul and I carried on, down the 12-flight Bosley Locks into Congleton.
|I don't think ET has antthing to worry about|
First impressions of Congleton are it’s much the same as Macclesfield, for again, the town is a good mile from the route of the canal, but it’s OK and it has an attactive town centre. I am currently moored in a shady spot below the railway station. Paul needed a station to depart from this morning and Pat returns to the country tomorrow and is catching a train from Euston to here. There are some better moorings a little way along, but this will do for now. I expect we will move up tomorrow afternoon.
We will not be leaving Congleton until Monday. This weekend there is a huge Ukulele Festival in Huddersfield and we have tickets for the Sunday. I will finally get to see live the “Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain”, who have to be seen to be believed. I’ve been watching them do their stuff on YouTube, and am very excited about the whole thing. Hope to post some pictures next week.
Finally, and most importantly, here’s a picture of Pat in NZ with a very cheeky Livi and baby Ben, just a few days old. Ahhhhhhh. Can't wait to see them after Christmas.
Toodaloo chums, and "Great Scot", I almost forgot to thank to Malcolm & Paul for their help crewing TCW over the last week or so.