Sunday, 23 October 2016

Beeston Iron Lock Sunday 23 October 2016

Last night was mainly fine and moon light but we did have a couple of showers of rain early this morning, it also turned quite cool almost dropping to freezing at one point

Several boats on the move this morning so we waited till a lull before setting off at 1030 am. even then there was a boat in sight behind us who I am sure felt we nipped out in front of him. At Minshull Lock we caught up with the boat ahead, they had just entered the lock as we arrived and as we entered the boat following pulled in. It was a bit more congested at Cholmondeston lock with a boat turning round in the marina as well, but we were son on our way again heading to Barbridge Junction. This is the limit of navigation for boats travelling on a Bridgewater canal licence, they can also go up the Trent and Mersey as far as Harecastle Tunnel. Likewise boats with a CRT licence can travel for 7 days on the Bridgewater canal.DSCF6242

Through the junction we turned right towards Chester, we are now on a waterway with broad locks, so wide beam boats could travel up as far as Nantwich. The first broad lock we came to is actually a staircase of two and we arrived just as 2 boats had entered the bottom chamber and drawn the middle paddles a few seconds earlier and we could have been going down as they came up. There are some fin buildings by the lock which were being used for boat fitting last time we were this way. I don’t know if that is still the case.DSCF6247 The cill in the bottom chamber could do with some TLC and is well knocked about.DSCF6250 This is what it should look like, a photo taken a lock further down.DSCF6252 Also staircase locks have to be worked in a special sequence so as not to flood them, when you enter the top one going town the second has to be empty and the water from the top one fills it. If its already full due to a boat coming up if you don’t empty it you can overflow it onto the towpath, to help prevent this there are large overflow slots in the side of the lock.DSCF6249 Following this we did a couple more locks before mooring for the night above Beeston Iron lock, as we arrived there were deer on the hills above but by the time I had the camera out they were gone. In case you are wondering why its called Beeston Iron Lock its because the chamber is actually a large iron trough not brick or stone like many other locks.

Today’s Journey  map 8 8¼ miles, 2 canals, 1 junction and 6 locks  in 3¾ hours

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Church Minshull Saturday 22 October 2016

We set off at 1020 hrs with a steady run to Middlewich Big Lock, although we had met a few boats by the time we arrived it had already been turned and a boat coming down. Before they were down there were another two waiting above so we had a bit of help from one of them.
We stopped to do a bit of shopping at the Tesco Express and a visit to the Chemist for more Beecham’s powders. I am sure when I was a kid they dissolved, now its just a poor suspension. I was rather take by this sign when we moored, I wonder if it has the desired affect.DSCF6219 After shopping we moved on a few yards to the old Middlewich Wharf to fill with water, such a shame some use can’t be found for the site. Then on to the bottom lock tucking in just after the Anderson boats. While Diana was dropping the lock another boat came up behind so I pushed out to give him room to tie up, in return he helped Di with the lock which was handy as the next pound was just about dry, no wonder the last boat took a long time crossing it. Between them they let water down to bring the level up. We met another boat at the top lock so that added a bit more water to the flight. Diana walked ahead while I slowly made my way up past Middlewich Narrowboats where in places there is just room for one boat. Just as I arrived at the junction with theDSCF6221 Wardle canal a boat had just turned in ahead of me, but Diana told me there was nothing coming down so as he went into Wardle lock I went under the bridge to wait my turnDSCF6222 I have been lead to believe that the Wardle canal is the shortest in the country.

Above Wardle Lock CRT had an old working boat moored on the towpath side, I don’t think I have seen a CRT one so well loaded before.DSCF6224

A little further on we passed another iconic vessel, the Elizabeth moored on the off side. I had the pleasure of being invited aboard this fine vessel one Christmas in Stoke Bruerne  about 20 years ago.DSCF6226 By now the weather was just grand with no wind and bright sunshine as we chugged along to our planned mooring for the night by Bridge 11 at Church Minshull. The rest of the trip was not quite straight forward at about bridge 14 we caught up with 3 other boats, I turned out the front one was trying to tow the second and the third was stuck behind them, once they cleared the bridge and moored boats the pulled over to let us both pass which was very good of them. The boat towing was shorter and lighter than the one he was trying to tow, so things weren't going that well for them. As we came in to moor just through bridge 11 I luckily spotted wasps entering and leaving their nest in the towpath, right where I was about to moor.DSCF6227

Our reason for mooring here was to investigate access to The Badger Pub without walking along the busy lane from bridge 14. It turned out to be much simpler than we thought it would be, we expected footpaths but there is a metalled road from bridge 11 all the way to Old Hoolgrave Farm and then another road known as Eachus Lane. This comes out almost opposite the pub. The only trick bit is that the farm is private and although the roads both run into farm walkers cant so you have to follow the footpath across the meadow to the right of the farm gate shown in red on the map below. The walk took us exactly 15 map

Today’s Journey  map 7 7 miles 6 locks, 1 junction 3 canals in 4 hours

Friday, 21 October 2016

Croxton Aqueduct Friday 21 October 2016

When I looked out this morning I couldn’t see the other side of the canal, it was all covered in a blanket of thick mist. I still was feeling bad so it was some time before I crawled out of bed, even for me.

We finally set of at quarter past eleven on a clear sunny day without a breath of wind. Just before Wincham Wharf we passed this little boat, i can’t ever remember it not being here and wonder if it a full length one shortened as a work boat or was it built like this for some reason.DSCF6201

The Tata plant was steaming well as we came through, DSCF6207

I had intended to post a photograph of this boat before, I don’t know if he has the same number of panels on the other side as DSCF6210this. There are even panels inside some of the windows and on the front of the cabin facing into the cratch.

There is a new marina planed for this section of the Trent and Mersey canal on one of the flashes to be called Oakfield Marina, today it was home for rather a lot of geese.DSCF6212You may have read that I fancy mooring at Bramble Cuttings, we today wasn’t going to be that day, they had a work camp thereDSCF6214 this weekend so it was a bit full, so we carried on to moor just before Croxton Aqueduct, it seems that this is the third aqueduct on this spot and is now only wide enough for Narrow Beam craft. Once moored we went for a short walk to get my back moving again and found some nice apple trees growing on the old landfill site, this now not only has walks but picnic tables, however the notices tell you to keep on the path and no naked lights, so leave the BBQ at home.

Today’s Journey  map 6 7½ miles in 2¾ hours.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Marston T & M Thursday 20 October

Last night before we went to bed I took a few night time photographs, this is my favourite looking across to the marina, the blue lights of the Indian Restaurant, Bombay Quay and the moon poking through the wisby clouds.DSCF6196   I have had a bad back since we got home after our last trip, but its getting a lot easier, then last night I went down with a stinking cold, cough, and sore throat, so every time I coughed it not only heart the throat but also the back, so this morning we were very slow getting going. The worst thing is sitting about, fine while I am sitting but when I try to get up I have seized up. Anyway enough feeling sorry for me so after a leisurely breakfast and some Beechams Powders we went for a walk along the River Dane, getting back just in time for lunch. Then about 1-30 we set off towards the lift, hoping to get the 3 pm transit. We were lucky as there was only one other boat booked to come up. About 2-30 the lower lift attendant came to see us and tell us to motor in and get tied up. They were still waiting for the other boat, a hire boat who had only come down on the 1-40 pm transit as was going straight back up. I thought I best include a photo of the lift.DSCF6197

The other boat arrived about twenty to three but it was still after three before we went up as they had to wait for the CRT trip boat to come in at the top. Looking up river from the lift the trees are looking splendid in their autumn colours. DSCF6198

Once at the top we went out first as we were on the right and inline with the bridge, also we were turning right whereas the hire boat would be winding to be in Manchester tomorrow.

We carried on along the Trent and Mersey for a bit before mooring on some rings in the middle of nowhere overlooking Upper Marston.

Today’s Journey   map 5

2½miles, I lift, 2 waterways in 2½hrs

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Northwich Wednesday 19 October 2016

Nice peaceful mooring and we woke to bright sunshine. We were away at 1045 am just after nb. Mynytho came down stream, the boat we had travelled with yesterday. We made our way upstream, remembering to remove the chimney and weather station before Newbridge swing bridge that has a clearance of under 2Mt. The Salt Union winding tower was nicely light as we passed but not much activity.DSCF6164

Just passed here there is a huge mountain of what I assume is road salt ready for the winter, it may look like a small bank but its probably 40 to 50 feet tall.DSCF6166

We then met three men (and a boy) in a rowing boat, they kindlyDSCF6169 informed me that a couple of weed cutters were operating round the next bend. These were removing Floating Penneywort, if they had done it a month ago there wouldn’t have been a quarter of the amount to remove. The weed cutting boats are propelled by caterpillar tracks with like paddle plates on them, they not only float but can drive up the banks.

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   As we approached the end of CTR controlled waters we cameDSCF6174 across a fishing match, some were OK but most were the most miserable we have encounter all year.

Arriving at the basin we found it deserted so we stopped by theDSCF6177 water point which had much better pressure than yesterdays and filled the tank. If you use these moorings in the wet take great care, they are clad with decking timber and like an ice rink. Once full we headed back down stream through the fishing match. Its just as well we didn’t want to stop for lunch at the Red Lion as there were three fishermen set up on their moorings.DSCF6180

This bridge has obviously suffered a lot of subsidence over its life time, more so on one edge than the other.DSCF6178

We continued on, without doubt this river has the worst infestation of Floating Pennywort that we have ever come across, I don’t know how many months it will take to remove it.DSCF6188

We stopped where we were moored last night for lunch and to fit a new radio aerial, it was no better than the old one, so we still have a poor radio reception. As we left I rang Vale Royal lock so they could get the lock ready for us, that had had two go down today but non come up.

At one time there were distance markers before every lock, but I have only seen two that are not damaged. One at Hunts and one at Dutton. I guess they are 200 yards from the lock.

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I found the lock ladders in Hunts lock quite interesting as well when compared to the modern access ladders installed beside them. I take it the big hole is for your foot and the small ones hand grips.DSCF6192

We moored for the night in Northwich opposite the marina and went for a short walk looking for places to eat, we found two Indian restaurants and a grill bar, but there were 10 estate agents, I am not sure what that tells you. In the end we settled for the new Indian Restaurant beside Waitrose and it was very good.

Today’s Journey  map 4 8½ miles, 2 locks in 3½ hours

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Vale Royal moorings Tuesday 18 October 2016

To say it rained last night would be an understatement, it chucked it down during the early hours and has rained on and off ever since.

We left at 1020 hrs. heading upstream, almost opposite where we had moored is a row of telegraph poles that still have cross beams and insulators on them, there is even tangles or wire on them (but the photo isn’t that good).DSCF6145

Just before the railway viaduct I phoned the lock keeper at Dutton lock to tell him we were on our way but would be stopping for water before locking up. He replied it would work well as there was a boat 20 minutes behind us. I wouldn’t say the tap was slow but by the time the other boat arrived our tank level was at about half, and its not that large. The wind gave a bit of trouble passing up ropes in the lock as it was blowing straight into the open bottom gates. It turned out that the boat we shared with was the same one we waited for at Saltersford lock coming down and we had also shared the lift with them in the spring. We did all 4 locks with them going upstream as they headed for Winsford for the night.

Passing the old Soda Ash works today there was a man using a pecker to break up what looks like a solid lump of Soda Ash.

DSCF6154 I got a few more shots of the bottoms of the silos as we passed by holding the camera above my head, it was a bit windy to climb on the roof.DSCF6157 

Some people entered the works in June 2015 and took these photos which they have published on the web HERE or follow this link:-

We had planned to stop in Northwich for the night and had told both the other boat and the lock keeper as the lock keepers ring ahead to tell the next lock, but as the sun was shining we decided to push on a bit. Passing the old British Waterways maintenance yard in Northwich it was good to see that at least the old crane was being put to good use by these Cormorants.DSCF6158 We slowed down to wait for the other boat as they had pulled in by the lift to let their dog have a quick run, and they caught us up just as we approached Hunts lock which was just ready for us.

leaving the lock the top end of the lock island had quite a gathering of gulls sitting on it.DSCF6160

The next lock was Vale Royal which was not quite ready when we arrived so we had to just sit outside a couple of minutes, these locks are manually operated by swinging very large windlasses. The is a great deal of floating penny worth growing in the river and the lock keeper dragged large quantities of it from above the top gates to allow us to leave, after this we only went another half mile to moor at the Vale Royal visitor moorings which are not only quiet but also have convenient mooring rings to tie up to.

Today’s Journey  map 3

12 miles, 4 locks in 4¼ hours

Monday, 17 October 2016

Devil’s Garden, Weaver Monday 17 October 2016

Well it may have stayed fine for our journey from the marina to the top of Anderton Lift, but overnight it bucketed down. This morning we were back to warm sunshine and I wandered back to the CRT office under the visitor centre to se if we could get a passage down the lift today. We made the first decent of the day at 10 am. All I had to do was reverse to the waiting area and wait to be called in. At about quarter to ten the upper lift attendant said I was clear to enter the first caisson, he was just looking for a second boat that was booked to go down. Spot on 10 o’clock the bows of a boat turned into the basin and joined us in the caisson. It was a Canal Club boat and the steerer had no shoes on. It turned out they were booked for the next transit, but as the boat that had booked hadn’t turned up they were invited to go early so had to rush somewhat.

It was exactly 10-30 when we left the bottom of the lift and both turned right to head downstream with instructions to ring the lock keeper at Saltersford Lock as we passed the Soda works that was being demolished. This task was entrusted to me which I managed without problem, the only problem was when would we arrive, the Canal Club boat was only doing just over 3 mph.

The old Soda works is well on its way to obliteration, they have even started nibbling the end silo. When we came passed in April they were removing the first sheet of cladding.

DSCF6117   DSCF6111 DSCF6110

This is what it use to look like in April.soda

We eventually arrived at Saltersford lock and not long after we had run our ropes ashore the second boat arrived and breasted to us. We had taken so long to get here that the lock keeper had received a call to say a third boat was on its way so we had to wait for them and in the mean time it had started to rain.
We all locked down, the third boat was stopping at Acton Bridge for lunch, the second boat wasn’t sure what he was doing, but we were carrying on. Being on the inside we were last away. The last one to arrive set off at a good pace, the Canal Club pulled over to walk the dog. he had been told he mustn’t go passed Dutton Lock. It wasn’t till I arrived at Dutton Lock alone I realised that the hire company probably meant Dutton Stop Lock on the T&M.

Just as we cleared Acton Bridge I rang the Dutton keeper to tell him we were on our way, at that point the sky’s opened as you can see from the photo but by the time we approached Dutton weir the sun was back out, the second photo.

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We carried on down stream, the lock keeper advised us that they were dredging further down and sure enough at the mouth of Western Marsh Lock the dredger was manoeuvring away from the bank and hooking up to a pusher tug to move upstream, so we had plenty of room to pass.DSCF6130

On the way a buzzard was getting a hard time from a bunch of crows until he decided it may be best to leave their territory.DSCF6125 We went as far down the Weaver as we could before winding in the mouth of the derelict Runcorn and Western Canal. On our way back we stopped at Western Marsh Lock, another change since we were here last is the wind farm out on Frodsham Sands.DSCF6133 As you can see its getting a bit overcast again, but thankfully no more rain. We did consider mooring by Western Marsh Lock for the night but didn’t fancy being so close to the chemical works.DSCF6136 so we  headed back upstream to Devils Garden. There had been a boat moored here when we came down, but now we have the spot to ourselves. We moored up at about quarter to four, so not a bad days boating.

Today’s Journey  map 2   1 Boat Lift, 2 locks, 2 waterways, 18 miles in 5¾ hours.