Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two towers, one tunnel.

Leaving the vicinity of Moore this morning on a fine clear day, the views across towards the Mersey and Runcorn are impressive. Fiddlers Ferry power station (I called it Stanley Ferry yesterday, whoops) glowed in the sunlight, and the suspension bridge across Runcorn Gap was clear to see.
Heading south towards Preston Brook the water tower atop Windmill Hill comes into view….

Victorian Norton Water Tower at Runcorn

And looking over your left shoulder the tower at Daresbury Laboratory rises above the trees like something from a science fiction B movie.

Daresbury Lab tower.

Looking across the valley, I wonder what the Victorian architects would have made of the modern structure.
Innovative, daring? Knowing the Victorian mindset, it was probably “I wonder how that stays up!”
The older tower was finished in 1892 and supplies water to Liverpool through a 10 foot diameter pipe under the Mersey. The cast iron tank holds 650,000 gallons.

The allusion to a science fiction movie with regard to the tower at Daresbury was close to the truth. I always thought it was a water tower, but it was constructed in the 1970’s for nuclear research. Mothballed in 1993, it is now back in use, looking into synchrotronic light sources. Technical details here, if you’ve time!

Just before the M56 crossing we turned into the Runcorn Arm to use the water and elsan facility just down from the junction, then turned around and headed down to Preston Brook Tunnel.

The Water Womble, the Bridgewater Canal refuse boat. Every canal should have one...

We arrived at the tunnel just in time to enter at 11:30.

Into the tunnel at the north end, still on the Bridgewater Canal……

….and out at the south end, now on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

The end to end connection actually occurs a few yards inside the tunnel from the north end.
Out of the tunnel there’s the shallow stop lock to pass, then we’re properly back onto BW waters.

Dutton Stop Lock

The boats behind are waiting for the 12 noon “window” to go through the tunnel.
The navigation here is entirely different to the wide, deep Bridgewater. Shallow and narrow in places, it would benefit from a bit of TLC….

Not so much dredging, even a little pruning might help.

We pulled in between Bridges 210 and 211. There are fine views over the Weaver Valley, but these come with a price. Wind. The hedge alongside is protecting us from a lot of it. It’s been another bright, sunny day, but we’re glad that we’d tied up by the time this heavy squall blew over.

Squally shower.
It didn’t last long, 5 minutes later the sun was out again.

Locks 1, miles 6

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