Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Thursday 6 March 2014

Descending Chester's Northgate Staircase Locks - not a problem

We've been delving into virgin territory, for us, these past few days. Having navigated around 2,000 miles of the Inland Waterway system in 2009 and 2010, there's not that many routes we haven't done at least once!

The staircase locks in Chester are one of them.

Approaching the locks was interesting as there's work in progress on the towpath, making it inaccessible until just before the top gate. It also meant that once I was off the boat I couldn't read the instructions - which wasn't terribly helpful! So I walked down the staircase, checked there were no other boats ascending or wanting to, and figured the principle must be like other staircase locks we've experienced.

Approaching the locks, skimming past the Chester Wall - the bridge in the foreground is where the condemned made their final walk before being executed 

Instructions inaccessible on foot!

The first one needs to be full of water, the next two empty. Check.

In fact, the second one was so devoid of water you could see the bottom of the lock, which was a little unnerving - you wouldn't want that to happen with the boat inside!

But all was fine. Barry cruised in smoothly, jumped out and took a few photos, then disappeared into the depths!

Into the top lock ...

People often comment that it's generally women doing the 'hard' work of the lock paddles, with the men getting the 'easy' job of driving the boat. Whilst they have a point, in general I think women would rather be getting the exercise and not stuck in a dark, dank hole twiddling their thumbs!

Barry and I do share the doing or driving of locks, but admittedly he does more of the latter than me. And it works fine.

The paddles were rather stiff, and the gates heavy, so it was an excellent upper body workout! Barry and I are currently on the 5:2 'Fast' diet, entailing eating only a quarter of our usual calories on two days of the week. We both need to shift a bit of weight, and the deciding factor is the possibility of living longer and with less health problems by intermittent fasting.

And Monday just happened to be one of the '2' days! So rather than seeing it as hard work, it gave me a sense of accomplishment that I was getting lots of fresh air AND exercise.

On a clear day, the view from the locks is magnificent, with the Welsh mountains in the skyline. Chester is such a fine city, we've loved being here in the north west of England.

Quite a view from up here ...

Amusing passing gongoozlers whilst pumping iron ...

oo-er, you wouldn't want to be down there ...

Get back onto the boat now Barry, she's going down ...

Into the second lock ...

All done - hello up there!

We moored for the night opposite the historic Taylor's Boatyard - one of the oldest complete working side yards in the UK, dating right back to 1845. The 48 hour moorings before the boatyard appeared to be inhabited by a number of boats looking most unlike temporary visitors! It'll be interesting to see if the same ones are there when we return - about 72 hours after passing through.

Monday was a fairly balmy evening, with the spring sunlight dancing happily on the water and surrounding buildings, so Barry and I strolled around the area, then sat peacefully on a bench for a while, making the most of experiencing the changing season.

Some rather nice new developments in the basin

And a plaque commemorating L.T.C. Rolt, born in Chester, 11th February 1910

The historic Taylor's Boatyard ...

… with two delightful working boats temporarily moored

Areandare looking happy in the evening sunlight

Look at that blue sky! Gorgeous 

Another view of Taylor's Boatyard

The lock leading out onto the River Dee

'roving' or 'turnover' bridge, originally built  for horses pulling narrowboats to change sides

I love new beginnings, the excitement of watching fresh life emerging in spring, and looking forward to longer, lighter days - and more warmth and sunshine! However, I'm also aware that ...
"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." ~Anne Bradstreet
Next stop Ellesmere Port - another first ... 


  1. oohh.. you've got a herb pot too?
    Elly x

    1. We have indeed! Parsley, chives, sage and rosemary - did have thyme but it dried out when we were away once and couldn't be revived! I love fresh herbs ;-)

  2. The bridge in the first picture is called the "Bridge of Sighs", this was built by Joseph Turner (who was also the architect of the Bridgegate and the Watergate) in July 1793 for the sum of £20 in order to prevent the many, often successful, attempts to rescue condemned prisoners in the Northgate Gaol when they crossed the canal cutting to the chapel of Little St. John and the 'apartment made for prisoners' to receive the last rites of the church before their execution.

    1. Thanks Mike! A font of knowledge, much appreciated ;-)
      Sandra & Barry

  3. So good to see you moving again! I love reading your accounts and Barry's pics are, as usual, stunning :)

    1. Ah thanks Belle, it's good to be mobile once again visiting some of the picturesque places along the waterways. Look forward to catching up with you guys very soon! x