Monday, September 26, 2011

No hassle to Hassall Green

Today saw the start of this spell of settled, warm weather, and our first fairly intensive locking day for quite some time.
We got off reasonably early to give us options for later, and to take advantage of the fine day.

Leaving Middlewich

The fence on the left is a new addition. The stretch here is popular with swans, and every year several were killed by traffic on Booth Lane. Local campaigners raised money to have the fence built and the contractor also contributed.

The first lock of the day was Rumps Lock, followed shortly after by the demolition site where the RHM factory used to stand. This was famous for production of Bisto Gravy and Saxa salt. A sculpture representing The Bisto Kids was saved from the wrecking ball and now has pride of place in Middlewich Library.
There’s a footbridge across the canal, allowing access to the factory from the car park. The bridge is still there, connecting nothing to nowhere.

Bridge to nowhere

The canal continues alongside Booth Lane for a couple of miles, although it changes sides at Tetton Bridge. There are another 2 locks along here, before road and canal finally part company.

Booth Lane Locks

From here there’s a windy section to Wheelock, with just one more lock at Crows Nest.

We passed NB Sandwich just below the lock, and they followed us up. They are a newly-wedded couple, the honeymoon is a fortnight’s cruise around the Four Counties Ring!

NB Sandwich

At Wheelock we topped up the water and emptied a loo and the rubbish. BW are trialing a mixed recyclables bin here, so I’d been segregating all the rubbish, but was dismayed to find that people had thrown general rubbish in the recycling skip. The notice on the front is big enough, believe me.

From this point on the locks come more frequently as the canal climbs up towards the settlement of Malkin’s Bank.

Bottom end of the Wheelock Flight.

We started to meet boats coming down, so it was one in, one out, efficient use of the locks.

Doing the boat shuffle between L65 and L66

We were making good time so option 1, mooring up just above Lock 61, was ignored.

A lot of these gates were replaced during last winter's stoppages.

New gates at Lock 58

Two more locks took us towards Hassall Green and our second option for a stop, but we chose to press on, under the motorway bridge and up the pair of locks at Hassall Green before pulling over.

Lock 59

Moored up above Lock 57.

We’ve had a good day with most of the locks in our favour (a good road as the boatmen would have said). We need to press on a bit as we now need to be at Fradley in a week’s time. Mags has an appointment for her annual MOT at our local clinic a week tomorrow, and Fradley is a handy spot for mooring and getting a motor out of Lichfield.

Locks 14, miles 7½  

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