Sunday 31 March 2019

Northwich Dry Dock

Day : Sunday
Date : 31 March 2019

Well today came hard, as you know we are not early risers, but today Matt was coming to paint the hull, not only that but the clocks also went forward so for us that was a double whammy.
We now have a nice black hull thanks to Matt and his airless spray, not the nicest of job but he has got a nice clean dry dock to work in so laying on your back under a boat is not too bad
This is actually the nicest Dry dock we have been in, there is a good stone stairway leading down into the dock for access and
drainage channels on both sides and down the centre to keep the
floor dry. We have a movable steel staircase for access to our front deck, unlike others where we have had a ladder down or a gang plank from the edge.
Today's Journey zero

Saturday 30 March 2019

Northwich Dry Dock

Day : Saturday
Date : 30 March 2019
Start : 0930
Finish : 0955 Northwich Dry Dock

About 8 this morning we walked over to the dry dock to watch the Duke of Normandy being refloated and leave the dock. I also shot a bit video of the dock gate being lifted.
We had already watched the drydock being refilled via a sluice it the top gate.
Once The Duke was out, she could only go as far as the mouth of the dry dock as CRT have to open the footbridge across the weir stream and unlike us she is to tall to get under it, Matt and Mike

came and worked us up the lock, they have been trained by CRT to do this. Once clear of the lock its hard left and down the weir stream passed the rowing club, luckily they were all up the river today. If you look at the map at the bottom of this post you can see how we doubled back on ourselves. The entrance to the dry dock is just to the left of the sluices, thankfully the flow today was quite gentle.
Once in the dock Harnser was positioned with three ropes and the lock drained down into the river,
leaving her high and dry on the bostocks. Once the mud was flushed away Matt set to with the high
pressure water jet to clean the hull off. I was surprised just
how little black came off, once he had finished the sides he was on his cradle to do the base plate. Harnser's base plate was painted a
few years ago when we were on the Fens so it wasn't to bad.
For some reason the boat always feels much colder when out of the water, it must be the wind chill under the base plate.

Today's Journey

1/3 Mile 1 Lock in 25 minutes

Friday 29 March 2019

Hunt Lock, Northwich

Day : Friday
Date : 29 March 2019
Start : 1015 Am
Finish : 1615 Hunts Lock

It was a splendid evening yesterday without a breath of wind, but

the temperature fell below freezing overnight and at 6 this morning the mist was so thick I couldn't see across the river. Things had improved dramatically by the time we set off at quarter past ten, It was only fifteen minutes down to Vale Royal lock and we arrived the same time as the lock keep even though we weren't booked until eleven. They saw us through and waved us goodbye, we boated down to Hunts Lock and they went in their truck, arriving a little before us.
Hunts lock looks as if it may have settled a bit over the years and the walls been topped up level, just look how the two layers of stone come together at the end.
By now the weather was really nice so we took a very slow chug down to Barnton Cut where we stopped for lunch spotting several Kingfishers on the way.
We had to be back at Hunts Lock for tonight ready for dry docking in the morning, so a slow chug back upstream stopping to top the water tank fully at Northwich services. On the way we passed this Cormorant warming its self in the sun and drying its feathers.

We then called in to have a word with Matt at Northwich Dry dock to find out the plan for the morning. They would float the tug out first, now with a splendid black hull and then come and take us up through the lock and into the dock.

Today's Journey
8½Miles 2 Locks in 4¼ hours

Thursday 28 March 2019

Vale Royal moorings

Day : Thursday
Date : 28 March 2019
Start : 1000
Finish : 1630 Vale Royal moorings

Last night we were moored just by the railway viaduct, we could hear the goods trains rumbling over during the evening but they didn't disturb us overnight. You can hardly hear the passenger trains.

This morning we had Hunts Lock booked for 10 o'clock, at about 9 am the fuel boat Halsall went up, around quarter to ten we could see the lock keepers at work so moved forward to the lock moorings, look who came out.

I had a slight disagreement with a rower above the lock, he was right, I was in the wrong place but his attitude was not the best, still the rest were fine. It will be interesting in the morning when I reverse down past their club where they launch.
Up at New Bridge there is a Chalet park and over time we have watched it grow, it looks as if its now complete with a middle level of very smart chalets.
The river level looked well down so I left the weather station up, the anemometer cleared the under side by less that half an inch, for reference the swivel end of the bridge is half an inch lower, that's the side I passed under on our return trip and just clipped the cups.
There always use to be a building under the end of the conveyor at the Union Salt works, that has now gone and the salt just falls and blows in the breeze, hate to think what its like when its windy. For
some reason the salt they are producing now is a different colour not the normal off whitish pinkish colour.
Just as we approached the sewage outlet there were piles of foam blowing across the rive, maybe all the ladies of Winsford do their washing on a Thursday.
We carried on to Winsford, they now have a notice on the bridge welcoming you, I am not sure what the facilities are that they
mention other than moorings and a water tap. As we arrived the boat that came down the lift yesterday was just leaving, so we were able to moor in their place. After lunch we walked up to Morrison's where not only did we get 6 bottles of wine for £30 but also a voucher for 5p/lt of diesel for the car. By now it was a really pleasant warm afternoon so we untied and took a very slow cruise back to the Vale Royal visitor moorings.
Today's Journey
8 Miles 2 Locks in 3¼ hours

Wednesday 27 March 2019


Day : Wednesday
Date : 27 March 2019
Start : 1045 am
Finish : 1450 Hunts Lock, Northwich.

Last night we had dinner at The Stanley Arms, not posh grub but good home made pub grub, I had a pie made with real pastry all round, not a piece of puff pastry floating on the top of a dish of something.
This morning I moved up to the lift waiting area at 9-30am as there was a boat waiting and I thought we may get to share, but no there were two going down so I had to pull back to the moorings. We had another go a little before 11 just as 2 boats came up and went in almost straight away.
There was bit of a delay before we started to move, it seems a piece of rope was trapped in the gate of the other chamber and it was leaking badly as we could see as it went past. I don’t know how that effected the level in the caisson as there was a boat in it. Once clear of the lift we turned down stream and at Barnton I spotted the first Bluebells I have seen this year. A little further on and the hill side was awash with gores all out in flower. We carried on down to Saltersford Lock which has been closed for repairs for some time. They have finally managed to pump the lock dry after having problems sealing the stop planks at the bottom end. We stopped on the lock moorings and walked down to see what we could see, but you can’t really get close enough with all the fencing around it.
We carried on up to Northwich, CRT have completed installing the new pontoons outside the cinema, they are even accessed by a locked gat, so remember to take your BW key with you. This moorings are for only 24 hours with no return for 7 days. We moored just below Hunts Lock for the night as we are booked to go through at 10am in the morning. Looking over to the dry dock we can see that there is a tug in there having some work done, I hope they are finished before Saturday when we should be going in.
Recently CRT issued an advice notice about Habitat Rafts being launched at Northwich and I wondered what they were talking about, today I found out. We had already spotted one moored to the bank in town, lets hope they don't float away and the tethers are long enough for when the river is low in the summer months.
Today's Journey 6¼ Miles 0Locks in 2½ hours

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Anderton Boat Lift

Day : Tuesday
Date : 26 march 2019
Start :0930
Finish : 1315 Anderton Lift

First thanks to Alf who left a comment on the blog pointing out my water tower is an accelerator and was known as Nuclear Structure Facility.

Last night we ended up with 7 boats moored here and when we set off at 9 30 to catch the 1030 tunnel opening there were only 2 left.
It looks as if the piling work at Little Leigh is almost complete with the towpath to reinstate.
We arrived at Saltersford Tunnel just as the last boat was about to enter, there were 4 of them so Diana followed them in, the engine didn't exceed 600 RPM all the way, that is about 2¼ MPH. The tunnel is quite wriggly but quite wide and as Diana was steering I was able to take a photo from the bows to show the bends.
Barton Tunnel was even better, I was steering this time and we did it at tick over, thankfully no one was waiting to come the other way. Once clear of the tunnel things didn't improve much. I am not sure it this pair of comedians were giggling about us or not.

We stopped at Anderton Boats for a pumpout and then went to the services to fill with water, as the tank was almost empty it took a bit of time. With that out of the way we winded and headed back to the lift to moor for the night, ready to drop down to the river in the morning. 

Today's Journey
5¾  Miles, 0 Locks in 3½ hours

Monday 25 March 2019

Dutton Breach

Day : Monday
Date : 25 March 2019
Start : 1115
Finish : 1645 Dutton Breach T&M

It was 11-15 am when we set off today, Diana went for a walk to Walton Hall for a look round and I tried to book a passage through Hunts and Vale Royal locks for when we are down on the Weaver which I eventually achieved, but spoke to some very helpful people at CRT and even those who didn't know pointed me in the right direction.

I have often wondered what the large tower is at the Science Park and have come to the conclusion its nothing more than a water tower unless someone can tell me otherwise.At Waters Meeting, Preston Brook it was hard right for a run down to Runcorn, it was surprisingly cooler than on the main line for some reason. On our way to the terminus we passed this work platform, complete with outboard engine.

There is now a nice welcoming notice on the wall by the theatre encouraging boaters to stop and visit the town, we have never stop here but have stopped at the very end with no problem.

Now Runcorn has its new toll bridge spanning the Ship Canal and the Mersey, I don't think it was open last time we came down here.

There is great talk of reopening the locks from the end of the Runcorn Arm to the Ship Canal. Most of the chambers are still there and the line can be easily followed, but they were abandoned when the road was built to feed the Silver Jubilee Bridge as it crosses the top lock. It is hoped that with the new bridge this feeder will be redundant, but I cant see this happening soon as they are refurbishing the bridge at the moment.

I don't recall noticing this stone plaque on the face of Doctors Bridge when I have been down in the past depicting sailing ships in Runcorn.

Making our way back up the arm we again passed the work platform, but it had changed slightly and now has a tea room, changing room and toilet onboard, O and it wasnt tied up.

We made our way back to Waters Meeting and again turned right arrived at Preston Brook tunnel at 1525, just right for a passage on the half hour. There was already another boat waiting so it gave Diana a chance to pick a second hand book. I didn't tie up and the bows floated across the canal, boy is it shallow if you get off the line. We followed the Canaltime boat through the tunnel, about half way through I caught something on the rudder so couldn't steer, I chugged on slowly, do I struggle on or hit reverse, this may clear the rudder but it might end up in the prop. In the end I risked it and after a bit of clattering it was all free, probably a lump of sunken branch.

There was a boat waiting to enter the tunnel when we emerged and another waiting to come through Dutton lock, when we finally cleared the lock a third boat arrived heading for the tunnel just in time.

We decided to moor for the night at Dutton Breach, good job there are plenty of rings as there were 4 boats there already, but still room for one more.

Today's Journey 16½ Miles 1Lock in 5¼ hours

Sunday 24 March 2019

Higher Walton

Day : Sunday
Date : 24 March 2019
Start : 1020
Finish : 1730 Higher Walton

We ate at Carluccio in the Trafford Centre last nigh as they are on the lower floor it was a bit quieter that the establishments on the first floor where you come in. The moorings proved to be peaceful and the first disturbance was the rowers going by at about 8 am.
We pushed off at 1020 and I called in at Stretford marina for a pump out, only to find them closed, this was after turning round and reversing down to their services.
As we approached Sale we were just thinking how quiet it all was, then we met the Sale Cruising Club out for a jolly, we met 30 of them all in convoy. As we passed the flats on the left hand side this pulley and hook had me wondering what the person who put it up was thinking.
The Bridgewater Canal Company (BCCC) are doing some work on the Sale boat club moorings, I expect the club is having to pay for it, cutting away the bank and renewing the fencing between the moorings and the tram way.
The rowing club was out in force but the ones on the water were going ahead of us and the others were still by the bank when we passed and then went north so no clashes. The Rowing club put staggered barriers across the tow path each side of the club to slow the traffic passing where that are boarding their boats. In the park next to the rowing club the miniature steam train was taking passengers round the loop.
A couple more shots of the old Linotype works, one showing the new houses going up and the other scaffolding round the old listed building still standing on site.

We didn't catch up to the rowers until they had turned round and were just starting to make their way back after a breather, they all came nicely in single file leaving me plenty of space.
We passed one of the BCCC work boats that has recently been painted up and still looking splendid.
Along this stretch is the old Massy Hall school, now a private dwelling surrounded by private, keep out signs, just to make sure they have a Lion on the lawn and Crocodiles in the pond.
We stopped for a while in Stockton Heath for tea and scones with fellow Cutweb members before setting off again to moor in the middle of nowhere at Higher Walton.
Today's Journey

18½ Miles 0 Locks in 5½ hours