Print this page

Ellesmere Port 2007 (Photos by courtesy of FoS Images)

Ellesmere Port 2007

No! The gates do not leak on the Chester staircase
(ask Dave Newell for confirmation seen here steering Cepheus)

Once upon a Good Friday morning

     Well yes… I know its entitled Good Friday but it starts on a Thursday, we descended the Chester staircase around 2-15pm on Thursday in brilliant sunshine (or at least, in as much of it as was available under the road and railway bridges) making the right hand turn into Chester basin to moor with the other historic boats that were accumulating ready for the Good Friday journey to destination’s end…. Ellesmere Port.

    We decided to walk along the wall of this ancient city stopping for a well earned coffee and blueberry muffin. Retracing our steps to the locks just in time for ‘Stour’ and ‘Cepheus’ to begin their descent of the staircase, we helped out with opening gates, soaking-in the happy atmosphere that surrounded these two boats, taking photos of the occasion. Following on were ‘Minnow’ and ‘Swallowdale’ with an equal happy air.

    An evening meal and bedtime ready for an early start next day, we did not wish to wake everyone too early with the tone of the national engine but as it turned out, we worried in vain as Brian and Anne Marie started the engine on ‘Alton’ and set out a good ten minutes before us (everyone who was disturbed that day now knows who to blame), Sparky on ‘Minnow’ poked his head out of the cabin door and asked when we were leaving and helped us to slip our moorings and edge gently out.

    It was 6-30am. Mist was everywhere and it was taking its time to burn off as we navigated the canal. I sat in the engine room doorway as David steered ‘Swallow’ through the early morn, looking ahead I caught fleeting glimpses of some ghostly boatman slipping in and out of the mist banks as if riding some fantastic time machine…. most eerie…. One moment he was there and the next he was wrapped in a soft blanket, I allowed my imagination to soar (as I am oft to do).

    The mist was thinning and a glance upward at the lattice-work painted on a pale blue sky was enough to restore me to my proper time and place, the vapour trails of jet planes, long fluffy white fingers pointing the way to foreign parts, far removed from our gentle pace, as we approached our destination it became clear who the ghostly boatman was…. We passed Brian on ‘Alton’ who had stopped to sell fuel to a moored boater (I must say he made a fabulous ghostly boatman) and so, to journeys end and a wonderful bank holiday at Ellesmere Port.

Brian from Alton
(my ghostly boatman, perfecting the indian rope trick for his next trip
Ooops! There goes my imagination again)