Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From an Arm to a Branch

With a slight improvement in the weather today we decided to push on a little further. We got away about 10:30, under the main road bridge and past Whitchurch Marina.

Leaving WhitchurchSAM_0002 Leaving Whitchurch
Passing Whitchurch MarinaSAM_0004 Whitchurch marina
Like Wrenbury this is a hire base under the umbrella of the ABC Leisure Group, only this one has a Viking Afloat fleet. There are a lot of hire boats here, like Wrenbury they probably choose not to hire out of season, concentrating on maintenance and repair instead.

With only room for one-way traffic, it was unfortunate that this chap chose this time to come the other way!

Not a good place to meet…..SAM_0005 What a place to meet...
Luckily Carol and Ann were walking ahead and told them we were on the way so they pulled over and held the boat to the bank while the convoy passed.

There are 2 lift bridges shortly after leaving Whitchurch; Hassel No1 and Hassel No2. I imagine they are quite a hassle too, during the season. The girls had decided to walk down to open them so we could cruise straight through.

Ladies-In-Waiting I – Ann at Bridge 33SAM_0006 Ann and Br33

The convoy comes through….SAM_0007 Convoy

Ladies-In-Waiting II – Carol at Bridge 34SAM_0009 Carol on Br 34

I pressed on wanting to get to Tilstone Lift Bridge in time to get it raised ready for the troops, but Carol had other ideas. Yomping along the towpath she overtook us and was waiting with the bridge up as we arrived.

A glimpse of the sun near Dudleston BridgeSAM_0010 Near Duddleston

Looking back through Old Man’s BridgeSAM_0012 Old Mans Br

After Tilstone the scenery changes as the canal emerges onto the flat Whixall Moss. There was a shop here near Platt Lane, The Shop in the Garden, but it looks like it may be no more, with an estate agents sign on the canal side.

This guy must have been shifting to miss the bend……    Surprised smileSAM_0016 Must have been shifting...

Onto Whixall Moss, used to be The Shop in the Garden.SAM_0018 Shop in the Garden.. Closed

The Moss is a raised area of peat bog and is classified as an SSSI, important for it’s populations of rare flora and fauna. The canal changes character across here too. Gone are the meanders as the course follows the folds of the land. There aren’t any here so long straights are the order of the day for the next 2½ miles.

I got my first go at a lift bridge when we arrived at Morris’s, Bridge 45. It took 85 turns of the windlass to raise the blessed thing!

Through Morris Lift Bridge.SAM_0020 Through Morris Lift Br

We moored a little further on, just before the Prees Branch heads off to the south-east.

After lunch of home-made soup and hot rolls we all (bar Mags) set off to have a look down the Branch.

Looking down Prees Branch from the main lineSAM_0039 Prees Branch

The branch actually never reached Prees, it ran out of steam after getting to Quina Brook. So instead of being around 5¾ miles long, it was shortened to around 3½. Now though there is only a bit less than a mile still navigable, running to Whixall Marina. After this the channel is still in water but is un-navigable.

Allman’s Lift Bridge, one of two on the BranchSAM_0026 Br 1 Prees Branch

End of the navigable section at Whixall MarinaSAM_0034 End of navigation Prees Branch

We followed the towpath to Bridge 4, Waterloo Bridge, where the canal has been filled for easier access for farm vehicles.

Back towards the junction from Bridge 4…..SAM_0027 Br 4

….and the channel continues for another few hundred yards.SAM_0028 from Br 4

Walking back we passed a flock of sheep clearing the remains of a harvested turnip field.

Turnip munchingSheep field

Taking a drink from a trough were a group of dark brown sheep, but I got the camera settings a bit wrong…..
Zombie sheep! SAM_0031

Whew, that’s better!SAM_0033

Locks 0, miles 5

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