A fine bright morning, but a later start for us. We aimed to catch the 11:30 passage “window” through Preston Brook tunnel, so set off at 11:00. Both Preston Brook and Saltersford tunnels have time controlled passage restrictions. Heading south, you may enter PB on the ½ hour, up to 20 minutes to the hour, allowing a 20 minute passage before northbound boats enter on the hour till 10 minutes past. Saltersford, being shorter in length, has a 20 minute entry window.
The system works well, and saves the inevitable confusion at busy times when boats meet in the middle!
The distance between Preston Brook and Saltersford is just 2 hours of steady cruising, so you generally go straight in without having to wait.
We followed 2 boats we have seen regularly on this stretch, ETHEROW and PILGRIM, through Preston Brook, but they stopped soon after so we had Saltersford tunnel to ourselves.
Queuing for Preston Brook tunnel
Next is Barnton tunnel, no restrictions here, you just have to look to see that the tunnel is clear before entering. Luckily, unlike Saltersford, you can see right through from one end to the other.
On down past the boat lift to Anderton services, where we did the necessaries, then another 15 minutes saw us at our regular spot near Marbury wood.
Locks 1, miles 9½