1976 – 7 Elm and Sycamore

This?????????????????????????????? trip was an attempt on the “Cheshire Ring”, which had just become possible after the re-opening of the Ashton and Peak Forest Canals. It failed due to the weather. On probably the coldest winter for several years the boats encountered ice of increasing thickness on the way up the Macclesfield Canal. The resultant high revving and use of reverse gear in ramming the ice eventually led to the stern glands on both boats leaking badly. We had to call out the boatyard to fix Sycamore’s on New Year’s Eve in Marple, whilst Elm took in so much water that after we had returned from the pub and gone to bed one of the crew burst in to Sycamore to tell us Elm was “sinking”. Sycamore’s crew was not terribly impressed by this which led to the memorable line “Elm is sinking – and you don’t care!!”

The attempt on the ring was abandoned at Marple and the boats turned round only to get frozen in at Congleton. Whilst there, most of us walked up to Mow Cop, including a memorable visit to the “Cheshire View” pub which lies on a road with a 25% gradient. There are some photos of this via the Flickr link. There was snow on the top of the hill and the inevitable snowball fight occurred. Not wishing to walk all the way back to Congleton we were pleased to see a PMT bus. It should have run out of service to another village there to begin a trip to Congleton and the driver offered to take us all, for which he received a tip.

Also at Congleton, Bernard called in to the pub we’d been in the night before one lunchtime to overhear a conversation between the barman and a regular. “Who were those people in the back room last night?, Were they yobbos?”  “No, not yobbos, they were OK – except for the smell!   As the ice showed no sign of melting the trip was abandoned at Congleton, but some of the crew, including Duncan Roberts and Mike Piet returned the following weekend to take the boats back to Middlewich, no doubt to the relief of Willow Wren Kearns!

There was a sad coda to the trip in that Harold Pugh died after going back to Jem and Sue’s after the trip, which put them in the awkward position of having almost a complete stranger dead in their house.


Boats: Elm and Sycamore from Willow Wren Kearns

Crews: Sycamore – Richard and Linda Atkinson(?), Jem and Sue Callaghan,  Jim Davies, Hugh Mowat, Kris and Bernard Jordan, Harold Pugh, Duncan Roberts

Elm -David Evans,  Lily Hopkins, Mike Piet,  Hilary Smith, Grahame Yard and others

Route: – Middlewich – Kidsgrove – Marple – Congleton

Stopping Places:

New Year’s Eve: Ring O’ Bells, Marple (Robinsons)

NYE +1 +2  Congleton


Jim Davies’ and David Evans’ photo’s are on Flickr, here:  Photos on Flickr


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