Monday, October 16, 2017

A run around Sale, a short cruise with friends, a red sun and a singing tower!

I’ve not posted since we arrived on the Bridgewater, mainly because we’ve done this trip many times and I’ve run out of new things to talk about!
So here’s a quick prĂ©cis…

We left Moore on Wednesday morning, passing the south edge of Warrington through the suburb of Stockton Heath.

Thorn Marine is still here, and still under threat of being redeveloped.DSCF1443
We pulled in for a gas bottle and a couple of bags of solid fuel before pressing on while it stayed fine. Wet weather was due to arrive around midday, and we almost made it to Lymm before getting wet.

First thing Thursday morning I was out for my last training run before the Greater Manchester Half Marathon on Sunday, then we were on our way again.

Surprisingly quiet moorings in Lymm

Old canal-side warehouse near OutringtonDSCF1455

A brighter day afforded distant views of the Pennines to the northDSCF1458 

We pulled in on the offside moorings near the Olde No3 pub for the night, to wait for an early morning delivery from Tesco’s. The pub is open again now after being closed up for a while.

The groceries arrived on schedule on Friday morning, and with everything stowed we reversed to the water tap to top up. An interesting manouvre in the brisk breeze…

Topping up the tank

With cupboards and water tank filled we moved just a short distance to spend the night near Dunham Massey.

Over the River Bollin on the concrete aqueductDSCF1464
In August 1971 a major breach occurred here on the original aqueduct, allowing the canal to drain into the river below. The canal in Manchester dropped by over a foot before stop planks where installed at either end to stem the flow. With little commercial traffic on the waterway the Manchester Ship Canal Company considered closing the canal completely, but instead a Trust was formed, consisting of representatives from the the borough and city councils through which it passes, and the canal company, to raise money to bear part of the cost of repair. This was successful and canal reopened after being closed for 2 years.The Bridgewater Canal Trust still meets to discuss policy for the canal.

Pulled in after another short trip.

So, on to Saturday, and a pleasant cruise in to Sale.

Seamans Moss Bridge marks the end of the rural and the start of the urban as the canal heads towards Manchester.DSCF1470

The site of the former Linotype Works alongside the canal is being cleared to allow construction of a new housing estate, but it looks like the gable of the adjacent factory and the office block are being preserved.


Timperley Bridge and the long straight through SaleDSCF1474

The plan was to moor on the towpath just past Sale Bridge, but there was one space on the offside, alongside the pub carpark, so we dropped into that.

It’s just a short walk to Sale Metro Station from here, and three stops up the line to the Old Trafford Cricket Ground and the start of the half marathon.

Pretty in pink…

Yesterday morning I was up at 06:30, breakfasted and Meg emptied, and aboard a tram by half-seven. The gun went off spot on time at 9 o’clock, and I crossed the start line 5 minutes later. I’d put my expected finishing time down as 02:15, so had been allocated a start zone away from the start.
And I was pretty well spot on, coming in at 02:14:40. I’d hoped for around 2 hours, but by mile 9 I was flagging a bit so eased up and took it steady for the last 4 miles. I can’t blame the course or the organisation, both were spot on. And the support from the locals later on the route was great. I accepted a Jelly Baby from a little girl stood with her dad.

I caught the tram back to Sale Bridge and was back aboard Seyella by a quarter to twelve. Meanwhile Mags’ son Howard had turned up to keep her company, and he’d brought a load of mail with him too. He left us mid-afternoon and I got my head down for an hour.

This morning, a little stiff but not too bad, I walked up to the Co-op to get a few bits and pieces before our guests for today arrived. Doug and James, late of NB Chance and now with a place in Manchester, were joining us for the cruise into the city. It’s been a while since we’d seen them, so had plenty to talk about.

The lads, James on the tiller.

Water’s Meeting, Leigh and the Leeds and Liverpool to the left, Castlefield, Manchester and the Rochdale Canal to the right.

Castlefield Bridges


Moored up near the Y
We had lunch before Doug and James left, mid-afternoon. It’s been a really good day.

Soon after we’d moored the sun made an appearance, the orange tint apparently caused by a combination of Saharan sand, and ash from forest fires on the Iberian Peninsula, all carried on the winds of the rapidly approaching Hurricane Ophelia.DSCF1486


From later on this afternoon the wind has steadily increased, and although we’re sheltered here there are some strong gusts rocking the boat. I wouldn’t like to be in an exposed spot tonight.

The Beetham Tower is visible from the basin, and it has a reputation for being a little noisy when it’s windy. Unfortunately the microphone on my camera wasn’t sensitive to pick up the sound when I tried a recording, but there’s a good video on the link here from 2015. It’s quietened down a bit now, just the occasional howl…
Snapshot 1 (16-Oct-17 8-20 PM)

The wind is supposed to die down by mid-morning tomorrow, so we'll head back the way we came.

Locks 0, miles 21

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Swapping canals…

It was a bit grim first thing this morning, damp and drizzly. I got wet through on my run, but by 10:00 it had started to dry up and the day steadily brightened.

It was about 35 minutes to Preston Brook Tunnel, and we arrived at ten to eleven, just time to get
through the shallow stop lock and follow two other boats through the hill.

Foraging for winter stores on the towpath

Past Longacre Wood.

Dutton Stop Lock, six inches deep, just before the tunnel.DSCF1423

Two other boats waiting for the 11:00 passage window.DSCF1424
Like Saltersford this tunnel has timed passages to avoid confusion. But it’s a  bit longer, so you only have 10 minutes to get in there and 20 minutes to make the trip through.

At this end you leave the Trent and Mersey Canal…DSCF1426

…and emerge onto the Bridgewater Canal.DSCF1428
CRT has no jurisdiction here, the operating authority is Peel Holdings, who also manage the Manchester Ship Canal. But a reciprocal agreement between the two allows boats to use the adjoining canals for a restricted period without charge.

Claymore’s hire base on the right and the M56 crossing ahead.DSCF1430

Just beyond the motorway we swung left onto the Runcorn Arm to pick up water from outside Preston Brook Marina.

Under the bridge a young pigeon was looking lonely and confused. I hope it has fledged or else it’ll be easy prey for the local cats.

With the tank filled we returned to the main line, heading past the Daresbury Laboratories with the distinctive tower on the campus.DSCF1438

Across to the west, on the other side of the River Mersey, Fiddlers Ferry Power Station sends a plume of steam into the air.

We pulled in a few hundred yards past Moore. There are rings right opposite the Post Office but it’s a bit noisy there, alongside the road. I walked back to collect the mail, only to find that Tuesday is half-day! Never mind, we’d planned to stay overnight anyway.

It looks a bit wild for tomorrow, we’ll have to see what it’s like before we decide what to do.

Hi Richard. We'll be stopping on Saturday and probably Sunday nights near Watch House Cruising Club's HQ, between Sale and Stretford. From there it's a short walk and tram ride to the start line.

Locks 1, miles 6

Monday, October 09, 2017

A weekend in Anderton and a fine cruise to Dutton.

On Saturday morning we moved the short distance from Marston to Anderton, passing through Marbury woods, now looking distinctly autumnal.DSCF1390

It must be the week for steam-powered boats. After spotting Adamant the other day in Middlewich, today we passed Emily Anne as we approached Anderton.
Emily Anne was built to her owner’s specifications in 1991, in a narrow-beam Dutch barge style. She’s been up and down the network since. Power is from a two cylinder compound engine, rated at around 20HP. More info here.

We dropped the rubbish and recycling at the services, then moored up opposite Anderton Marina for a couple of nights.

This morning started bright and sunny, a good day for a couple of hours cruising, but I decided to reverse the 200 yards back to the services to top off the water tank before we left. That was the plan, anyway. I started up the donk just as two boats arrived to occupy the service wharf, then another arrived to queue up, followed by another. So I gave up that idea and we set off. We’ll turn off the main line of the Bridgewater onto the Runcorn Arm tomorrow and fill up alongside Preston Brook Marina.

Boats waiting to drop down onto the Weaver…DSCF1394

…and one just come up.

It’s likely that we’ll use the lift to spend a week or so on the river at the end of the month.

More autumnal colours as we pass BarntonDSCF1397

We had the two tunnels to deal with today, Barnton and Saltersford. An awkward turn under a road bridge takes you into Barnton Basin…DSCF1398

…with the tunnel entrance just around the corner.DSCF1399
If you keep well to the right here you can see through this one. There’s no traffic control.

Out of the 572 yard long tunnel the navigation crosses another broad basin only a stone’s throw from the Weaver (but 50 feet higher) before arriving at Saltersford Tunnel.
This one is 150 yards shorter, but, due to an unfortunate surveying error, has an S bend in the middle, so there’s no line of sight through to the far end. To avoid the inevitable arguments over who has priority, a timed entry system was introduced in 2008. Going north our “window of opportunity” was the top of the hour to 20 minutes past, allowing a 10 minute passage before south-bound traffic can start at half-past till 10 to.

North of the tunnel the canal runs on the side of the Weaver valley, through woodland cloaking the slope with only brief glimpses of the river below.DSCF1402

But beyond Bridge 206 the trees thin out and the views open up.

The badly-eroded towpath further on is having some much-needed repairs.DSCF1404

They did leave enough room to pass, though.DSCF1405

A bit of a worry, this. Floating Pennywort is a rapidly multiplying invasive species. It’ll only get worse…

Dutton Locks, down on the river

We pulled in not far past Bridge 211, on the moorings that were installed after the 2012 breach was repaired.
Great views from up here.

Dutton Railway Viaduct.

We stopped here in 2013, 6 months after the canal had re-opened. We were traveling with Chas and Anne (Moore2Life), and I remember Chas walking along the hedge line with a watering can, giving the just planted hawthorn bushes a thorough drink. Sadly, he’s no longer with us.

Tomorrow we’ll be swapping CRT water for Bridgewater water. We’ll have a shortish day, stopping at Moore to collect mail from the Post Office alongside the canal. My race number, for this weekend’s Manchester Half Marathon, should be there.

Which reminds me… We’re nearly ¾ of the way to my £400 target for Macmillan Cancer Research. So if you’ve been meaning to add to the pot but haven’t yet got around to it, now would be a good time. And thanks again to all those who’ve already contributed.

Locks 0, miles 6¾

Friday, October 06, 2017

Middlewich to Marston–slowly!

We’ve dropped down the our locks for a couple of weeks, not counting the minimal level change at Dutton Stop Lock. The first four were the narrow locks down through the town on Wednesday, the final one was the broad lock at the edge of town.
Tuesday night we treated ourselves to the excellent fish and chips from the chippy at King’s Lock, and Meg made short work of a jumbo sausage.
Then Wednesday morning we just made the short trip down to moor above Big Lock, to make it easier for shopping.

King’s Lock

Dropping down the Middlewich Locks

Deep chambers, these. Each one is 10½ to 11 feet.

Lots of water coming down the bywashes, tooDSCF1305

Coming in to moor next to the small park above Big LockDSCF1309

A couple of trips up to Tesco topped up the cupboards, there’s not really much opportunity now till we get to Lymm.

I was back in time to watch the steamer Adamant come past.DSCF1311
Although there were several steam-powered tugs built to tow strings of barges, this one isn’t original.
The hull is a late 19th century Birmingham Joey boat, a type of unpowered open general cargo boat used extensively on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. She had a cabin fitted in 1988, then the steam plant, sourced from a technical college in Wolverhampton, installed and commissioned between 1993 and 1995.

As we came down the locks we were told that there was to be an emergency stoppage at Lock 73 to clear a blocked ground paddle. This was from 08:00 to midday on Thursday. So we were in no rush to get going, with no-one due down the locks first thing we thought we’d wait a bit. Then, shortly after ten, a boat appeared, and  thought “Good, someone to share Big Lock with”. But before I could get untied another came past, then another… It turned out that the job didn’t take as long as they thought, then they locked down the boats waiting as quick as they could. So we had several boats come past, all about 10 minutes apart.

So by the time we set off there were four boats waiting at the lock.

Head of the queue now at Big Lock

Below the lock we had another wait before getting onto the water point, but 45 minutes later we were on our way.

Giving way to another boat coming over Croxton AqueductDSCF1316

The aqueduct used to be wide enough to accommodate broad-beam barges but the original was damaged in a flood and was rebuilt to narrow gauge.

Croxton Flash
Subsidence caused by brine extraction is common around here. The canal has overflowed into those depressions, or flashes, located alongside the navigation.

Boats breasted up on the moorings at Brambles CuttingDSCF1324

Through the woods above the River Dane valleyDSCF1327

We had pleasant sunny spells, but the brisk wind was cool.DSCF1328

Our destination was alongside another of those flashes, plenty of room here and splendid views.DSCF1333

A little later another pair of historic boats went past, butty Saturn under tow, but I can’t remember the name of the motor boat.DSCF1335


It was a bit showery in the evening, but the clouds broke up a bit later to reveal a full moon and a silver path across the water.
It was a cool night but a fine morning, and we were away about half-nine.DSCF1350

It’s quiet here, but that will peace will be shattered when construction of the HS2 rail line commences. It’s planned to cross the landscape just north of here, obliterating Bilinge Green Farm as it goes. But that hasn’t deterred the development of Bilinge Green Flash as a small marina.DSCF1353 
Slow progress, though.

The other new marina on this stretch is up and running now, although there’s still some construction going on.

Park farm Marina

Salt has always been a major source of income for the Northwich area, the extensive works just north of Rudheath produces soda ash and sodium bicarbonate, amongst other salt-derived chemicals. Built by Brunner Mond, it’s now operated by Tata Chemicals.DSCF1358

Wincham Wharf

We pulled in just past the Lion Salt Works, once a working salt factory and recently re-opened as an industrial museum.

As we cruised along I tried to get a shot of an elusive stalker who’d been shadowing us. I finally succeeded…


After we’d tied up the antics of the squirrels in the bushes opposite kept us amused for a while.DSCF1382

I’m glad something finds a use for hawthorn berries!

On to Anderton tomorrow.

Locks 5, miles 11, 3 days.