Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Across the Branch to Middlewich

After two frankly crappy days today was a revelation. Long sunny spells, cool in the breeze but it is still March after all. The best day so far this year. And a very pleasant bit of canal to spend it on too.

My half-marathon at Oulton Park on Sunday went well. The weather was dismal, wet and windy, but I managed a respectable time. Of course, this wasn’t the target event for all the training, that is in six weeks time in Manchester. But it was a useful training run.

We had a splendid afternoon over in Wales with friends on Saturday, yesterday was shopping and returning the car to Enterprise in Crewe. So today we were clear to get away.

Reversing out of our berth this morningIMG_3708

We’re out, heading east to Middlewich! IMG_3710

Minshull Lock was about half an hour away, and we caught up with a boat there. It’s been so quiet that this is the only moving boat we’ve seen all day!

Minshull LockIMG_3711Unfortunately they had to fill it before they could drop down, so it took another half hour before we were on our way again. Still, no point in rushing on such a glorious day.

Past Aqueduct Marina the canal passes over the River Weaver, now heading generally north after a long loop south to Audlem.

Over The WeaverIMG_3716
The canal follows the south side of the river valley for a while, giving some fine views out to the north.

Looking out over the valley to Chuch MinshullIMG_3720

There are some fine 48 hour moorings along here, but there’s also plenty of opportunity for quiet, out of the way unrestricted stop-overs too.
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That grey cloud never amounted to anything…

One of the favourite spots is looking out over Winsford South Flash
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A pair of mallards kept taking off and landing just in front of us. I finally caught them on camera…
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Off they go again
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We’d lost our preceding boat as he turned in to Aqueduct Marina, so we didn’t have to turn Stanthorne Lock. In fact it was all but full when we arrived.

Stanthorne LockIMG_3742

Just another 20 minutes saw us at Wardle Lock, the official end of the Middlewich Branch. The chamber and the very short bit of canal, known as the Wardle Canal, to the junction was built by the Trent and Mersey Canal Company in order to retain control of traffic going this way, and, incidentally, to charge exorbitant tolls for the use of this section. When the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal was built (later to become the Shropshire Union Main Line) it provided a faster and more direct route to Birmingham than the earlier T&M. But boats had to use the Wardle Canal to get to the Middlewich Branch and the junction with the Shroppie…

Wardle Lock
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The lock-keeper’s cottage is under renovation.

Junction Bridge
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A bit more info on the other sideIMG_3749

A sharp turn to the right pointed the bow towards King’s Lock, the first lock of our ascent up to Stoke on Trent.

King’s Lock under the bridge, with the pub and boatyard on the leftIMG_3750
We pulled in just above the lock, after a fine day’s cruise. It’s all set to change again tomorrow, apparently.

The chippy across the road is still good… easy tea tonight!

Hi Jennifer and Peter, thanks for the donation, guys. How are things in sunny Tasmania? Are you coming over this year?
Simon, thanks for the donation, mate. Hope you and the youngsters are well.
Carol and Ellie, thanks for your contribution too. How are things? Are we going to see you this year?

We’ve just passed the £300 mark on my fundraising. Next landmark will be £400, eh?

Locks 4, miles 8¾

1 comment:

nb Chuffed said...

On one of our early share boat holidays I was given a timely lesson in safe locking by Maureen Shaw http://www.narrowboatworld.com/index.php/leatest/4226-lady-of-the-lock who lived in the lock cottage. Good to hear the half went well and your training is on track.
Debby