Monday, May 12, 2014

Through the last tunnel and onto the Duke’s Cut.

We woke this morning to a change in the weather. The grey skies were still with us, but gone is the strong westerly, replaced by a much more gentle north-westerly.
There’ve been a few boats coming and going this weekend, when we left at just after 10 this morning there was only one other boat on the mooring at Dutton Hollow.

A last look across the Weaver valley as we leave Dutton HollowSAM_9492
It’s less than a mile and a half to Preston Brook tunnel from here, and we’d left in plenty of time to get there before the 11:00 “window”. Like Saltersford, this tunnel has timed passage to avoid head-on encounters in the dark, but, as this is considerably longer, the window for entry is only 10 minutes, allowing 20 minutes for passage.

Through Longacre Wood as we approach Dutton Stop Lock and Preston Brook TunnelSAM_9498

Dutton Dry Dock always seems to be busy…SAM_9501

The stop lock prevents water loss from the Trent and Mersey in the event of a Bridgewater Canal breach, and the cottage alongside would have housed a toll-collector, taking fees from boats crossing from one navigation authority to another.

Looking back at the stop lockSAM_9503

Southbound NB Bo’Jangles exits the tunnel while we wait for 11:00.SAM_9502

Our turn, into the tunnel mouth
The bore is brick-lined throughout, apart from the middle which was repaired with concrete sections after a collapse which closed the tunnel for over 2 years, from November 1981 till April 1984. Some of the brickwork, like just inside the south portal, has been stabilised with a spray coating of liquid concrete.

One of the ventilation shafts.

The tunnel walls are a lot damper at the north end, making the air a little misty. SAM_9516
Note the miniature flowstone stalactites between the bricks, caused by solidified lime leached out of the mortar.

Out into daylight, now on the Bridgewater Canal.SAM_9517

We made a stop under the M56 bridge for a visit to Midland Chandlers (as you do…) and, as it was raining again, hung on for a bite to eat before taking a left onto the Runcorn Arm and the services.

Under the M56.SAM_9527
A good spot to paint your boat, like those opposite, but I couldn’t stand the continuous “de-dunk” from traffic passing overhead.
We turned under the bridge on the left ahead for the services alongside Preston Brook Marina, before coming back out onto the main line to head towards Manchester.

Reversing to the services after turning in the marina entrance.


 I would normally turn around alongside the services, but with boats moored both sides it could have been awkward. There’s just enough width for a 58 footer.

Back out onto the main drag, preparing to annoy the fishing match…SAM_9533
To be fair, they were generally quite amiable.

Three major landmarks dominate the section between Preston Brook and Moore…

The Victorian water tower above Runcorn,SAM_9532

the tower at Daresbury Laboratory,SAM_9535

and Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, across the Mersey estuary

Signs of spring, a swallow pauses for breath on a boat aerialSAM_9537

ducklings by the score…SAM_9522

…and the early broods of cygnets

We moored for the night just beyond the village of Moore, with it’s useful little shop and Post Office. There are rings nearer, but the road alongside can be a bit noisy at times.

Moored near Moore, Meg’s waiting to play ballSAM_9544
This always used to be standard practice, tie up then spend 10 minutes chasing a ball. But while she was suffering with her arthritis she wasn’t interested. Now she’s feeling better we’re back to playing. I’ve taken her off the Glucosamine that I take, and started her on GLM, Green Lipped Mussel extract. It’s supposed to have really good results in these cases, so far it’s looking good.

After a gloomy, damp morning, this afternoon has turned out quite warm and sunny. The forecast indicates a steady improvement through the week. Good-oh!

Locks 1, miles 6

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