A rather unusual alarm woke me early this morning, it was Curlews calling to each other, I wandered down to look out of the side hatch and there was a flock of about 20 using the offside field by the canal. Being early it did mean I went back to sleep so not an early start.
A little further on and the new Runcorn Mersey Gateway bridge towers come into view, unfortunately you cant see the deck, just the towers.We arrived at Preston Brook Tunnel in good time, transited in this direction is between half past the hour and twenty to so we went through at 1230 after eating an early lunch. The tunnel suffered a collapse in November 1981 and was closed for over 3 years while repairs were carried out. While I transited the tunnel Diana walked over the top. The collapsed section is quite close to the half way point and has been repaired with concrete and not brick, eventhough the tunnel is a listed structure. and all the rest of it is lined in red brick.
As I traversed the tunnel a boat entered behind me. I exited the tunnel a few seconds before Diana appeared and she met me at Dutton Lock, as I suspected on the way out, two of us could open the top gate without drawing a paddle, there was only a couple of inches level difference across the lock, even so I walked back and drew the paddle for the following boat.
As we approached the Black Prince hire base at Bartington they had just started to move boats about and one was lying across the canal, however they soon had the inside one away and the other one back against the bank, this was followed by lots of apologies and thanks for our patience waiting. We were now travelling and watching the clock, the transit time for Saltersford tunnel was half past to quarter to the hour, it looked as if we would do it comfortably. Then our next delay, at the last bridge before the tunnel was Halsall's bows and they weren't moving. Lee hopped off with a pole and got the stern out and she levelled up but still novisible progress. I offered a snatch but Lee felt she could be coming free so I pulled back out of the way, slowly there was movement and se was away and this was a very lightly loaded boat, good job they didn't have 15 ton of coal on. We arrived at the tunnel mouth at 28 minutes past two and again Diana decided to walk over. By now Nb.Solong had caught us up and I got quite a nice photo of her coming into the tunnel behind us.
Between Saltersford Tunnel and Barton Tunnel a mother was out with her child and dogs, I don't think I have ever seen a Spaniel get so close to the ground as this one did. He had his eye on a stick. No time constraints on Barton, just make sure there is no one coming the other way which is not easy as there is a bend at each end of the tunnel, so your bows are in the tunnel before you can see the other end. We carried on in the sunshine to moor outside the Anderton Lift Visitor Centre. The ex tar boat Tay was in the waiting area to go down to the Weaver, I asked if they were going in the morning, but it turned out they should have gone at mid day, but the lift is broken.