The canal follows the winding valley of the River Wheelock for a mile or so, matching it’s course until the outskirts of Sandbach.
The sunshine made the muddy boot prints and rope scuffs on the roof very visible.
I keep being surprised at the lack of boats at the old Elton Moss Boat Builders wharf, then remembering that they’ve moved to Middlewich, on the arm behind Kings Lock.
There’s a large residential development just back of us, I wonder if it’s going to extend along here?
On the small parking area opposite, is this a Ford?
A bit of research discovered it’s an American Ford (of course) from the 1940s, a Ford Tudor which would originally have had a 3500cc V8 under that distinctive nose. I wonder what’s under there now?
Crows Nest Lock was the first, about an hour after Wheelock.
Another view of our rather mucky roof.
There are two more locks soon after this, running alongside the busy Booth Lane. We weren’t so lucky with the locks today; I had to fill each one before we could use it. At least there were only four…
The top paddles on Lock 68 were very tight, I think a little lubrication would be in order…
After a bit of a dogleg to go under Booth Lane, the canal approaches Middlewich, flanked on the right by the large salt works.
The suffix –wich as part of a town name normally indicates historical salt production in the vicinity. The earliest method of extracting this valuable commodity was by evaporation of sea water using pans in shallow bays, known in Norse as a wick or wich. The name stuck when inland extraction from brine pits and salt mines became the more normal source.
Middlewich has a large population of swans, looked after by a dedicated group of local people.
There used to be regular deaths of the birds on the road running alongside the canal until the group successfully campaigned for a fence to be erected between the canal and the road.
We moored up above Kings Lock, a bit noisy here but I wanted to check out the mooring situation above Wardle Lock on the Middlewich Branch before committing to going up there.
There is actually plenty of room on the moorings above the lock, but we decided to leave it until today.
Down Kings Lock this morning
You might notice that the roof looks cleaner. I had a go at it in the afternoon.
We topped up with water (again!) just before the junction bridge, then I emptied Wardle Lock, and we turned sharply left under the bridge and onto the Wardle Canal, all 154 feet of it, and up the deep lock.
Wardle Lock and Canal to the junction with the Trent and Mersey.
The Middlewich Branch was built in 1833 to link the Shropshire Union Canal (at that time the Chester Canal) to the Trent and Mersey Canal. But it met with opposition from the T&MCC, who were afraid of losing trade on their canal. They insisted on having control of the junction here, so built the short canal and lock to be able to charge significant tolls to boats using the branch. It’s the route we’ll be taking westward after Christmas.
We moored a little way up the branch, still in the town to be handy for the shops, well in time to avoid the wind and rain brought in on Storm Barbara.
We’d like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas.
Don’t get too drunk!Locks 6, miles 6 (2 days)