Saturday, March 24, 2012

The village on the river.

We moved on to Wheelock today, named for the river that runs through it. It’s apparently derived from Old Welsh, and means “winding river”. The inhabitants had a bit of difficulty with the name, it evolved through Hoileck recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, to Quelock, Whelock, Welock and finally Wheelock by 1390.
It doesn’t have much of a claim to fame, but for boaters on the T&M it’s a useful stopping off point. Apart from the sanitary station, there’s a couple of pubs, a restaurant, chippy and a convenience store. Just across the road is an extensive pet supply supermarket. It’s also the last stop before boats heading south and east encounter the Cheshire flight of locks, or “heartbreak hill” as it was known. These 26 locks raise the canal 260 feet in 7 miles, to the summit level at Harecastle Tunnel.

We left Middlewich around 11:00, past the high banks of the slurry lagoons on the offside of the canal.

Retaining walls of the lagoons.SAM_0002 Lagoons
This is just one section of a network of raised bunds which contained the slurry which was a by-product of the salt industry. Now disused, they are dried up, with a sterile grey-white surface. Rich in lime, you’d have thought they could find a use for it.

View Larger Map

Approaching Rumps Lock we saw a boat just coming out, it was NB Ariel, a shortened workboat built in 1935.

Rumps Lock and NB ArielSAM_0003 Rumps and NB Arial

She’s towing an ex BCN butty to Anderton on the way to returning to the Bridgewater. This was waiting above the lock.

BCN joey boat No. 108, built in 1883.SAM_0004 BCN Butty

The remaining three locks today were all against us as we were following a boat out of Middlewich, but it was such a fine day we were in no rush, just enjoying being on the water. I’m surprised there weren’t more boats out and about.

Booth Lane Locks.SAM_0009 Booth Lane Locks

Booth Lane, alongside the canal here, is the main road to Sandbach, and is quite busy. But the canal and road part company just above Lock 68, and it’s quiet again at Crow’s Nest lock.

Crow’s Nest LockSAM_0010 Crows Nest

This was our fourth and last lock of the day, just under three miles to Wheelock from here.

Elton Moss Boatbuilders next to Bridge 160 always seems to be busy. Apart from boatbuilding, they run a shared-ownership fleet from here.

Elton Moss BoatbuildersSAM_0012 Elton Moss

A mile further on and the canal changes character; instead of open views over the post-industrial landscape around Sandbach, it picks up the valley of the River Wheelock, following it’s winding course to the village.

We pulled in at the wharf to do the tanks, then moved around the corner to moor for the rest of the weekend.

Thanks, Val and John. You succeeded in being the first to donate for my run in September. Well done. Now we need a few more….

Locks 4, miles 5½

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