Saturday, May 24, 2008

Down the Lift and Up the River

We had a good day today. First the trip down the Anderton Lift, then a splendid cruise along the River Weaver, through 2 locks finishing up just upstream of Vale Royal Lock.

The lift itself is fascinating, and justifies the £7m cost of the restoration that finished in 2002. Two caissons or tanks rise and fall alternately, each counterbalancing the other, with the aid of hydraulic rams. Each tank, in water, weighs over 250 tons, and can hold 2 full-length narrowboats. The actual transit only takes about 10 minutes, but the whole operation involving getting the boats in, sealing the gates at the ends, then reversing the process at the bottom took about 30 minutes. A lot quicker and using a lot less water than the flight of locks that would be needed to change height by 50‘.
Lots of info at the official website

Into the Lift
Going Down.
The trip boat at the bottom in the west caisson.
Both tanks level, us going down, the day trippers coming up.
All done, and onto the river.
The lift from the river.
At the bottom we turned left, upstream, and arrived at Northwich shortly after. Shopping is handy, as the river runs just past the town centre. We moored both boats opposite the floating hotel, and the girls went for a spot of retail therapy, while we dog sat. Then on to Hunts Lock, 10 minutes away.

Hunts Lock.
All the locks on the river are manned, and we were through quickly, sent on our way by the friendly lock keepers. The next lock is Vale Royal, and is restricted to timed passages. As can be seen from the picture of Hunts Lock, there are 2 chambers, 1 about 100 feet long and 20 feet wide. This is the one in normal use for the size of boats seen on the river nowadays. The other is huge, designed to accommodate coasters that used to ply up to Winsford for the salt trade. At Vale Royal, the smaller of the 2 is out of commission, and this is why passage is limited. The large lock uses so much water that they try to get as many boats through in one go as possible. We had 3 boats in on our passage, but there was room for several more.

Vale Royal Lock.
Not far upstream from the lock is a pleasant mooring where we chose to stay the night.

Moored in Vale Royal Cut, enjoying a beer in the warm evening.
The river is very pretty and also quiet. There are not that many roads crossing, and none running alongside. This discourages any development along the riverside.

On the river.
There are occasional glimpses of former glory.

Tug “Proceed” decaying at Jalsea Marine
Sunken Concrete Barge near Anderton
Locks 2, Boat Lifts 1, miles 7½.

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