Tuesday morning, after sleety showers overnight we had ice on the towpath!
It was a beautiful morning, but that north wind was cold. We set off at around half nine, once again intending to avoid the afternoon showers.
Jemima protecting her brood from the large, noisy, smelly thing going past.
We’re seeing more and more young mallards as spring wears on. No cygnets yet though.
That’s the Weaver down there.
It gets about, does the Weaver. Rising in the Peckforton Hills near Beeston it heads south, ducking under the Llangollen Canal at Wrenbury, down to Audlem. Here it changes it’s mind and turns around to go north, crossed by the Shroppie main line just north of the village.
Through Nantwich it goes, collecting water from tributaries on the way, avoiding Crewe (not a bad idea) and being crossed by the Middlewich Branch here near Church Minshull. Winding it’s way past the village it heads through two large flashes, a legacy of brine extraction, just south of Winsford. From here to it’s confluence with the Mersey at Runcorn it loses it’s river identity somewhat, being “canalised” for most of it’s remaining length to form the River Weaver Navigation.
At it’s commercial peak the navigation could take 1000 ton coasters all the way upstream to Winsford.
Pretty Church Minshull nestling in the valley.
The open, sunny moorings here are tempting, but beware the “Shroppie Shelf”, a ledge that juts out from the cast concrete copings about a foot below the water. Break out the fat fenders!
It’s good to see that The Badger is open again, after being closed for several years.
A good reason for the walk down to the village?
I‘ve never seen Egyptian Geese along here before.
Converted stables and a lengthsman’s cottage.
The Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company employed several fly boats, fast horse-drawn narrowboats that ran to a strict timetable carrying perishable goods and sometimes passengers. Working long hours, the crews had to regularly change horses and these stables were built to accommodate the “remounts”.
We tied up in another spot with wide views over the valley, this time looking out over those two Winsford Flashes I mentioned earlier.
The wind carried heavy clouds over us through the afternoon, bringing showers and in one instance sleet and hail. But the weather calmed down later and the sky cleared, promising another cold night.
The sun, beaming in through the bedroom porthole, woke me at six this morning, but I pulled the covers over my head and managed another hour before getting up. We’d planned to stay put today, so I was soon out propping up the solar panels to take advantage of the early photons. But after Meg’s perambulation and breakfast I checked the local forecast and it promised sunny weather today, but cloudier with showers tomorrow. We’d both rather cruise in sunshine than in rain so by 10 we were on the move.
On Bridge 22…
…yes, we’re about an hour from Middlewich…
Oh, THAT end!
The HS2 rail line is intended to cross between bridges 25 and 26…
Our first lock, Stanthorne is just a little further on, and with a boat coming up we only had a couple of minutes to wait.
One for Val – recognise the hat?
We left the gates for a boat waiting below and carried on, coming into Middlewich and Wardle Lock.
After the lock we emerged onto the Trent and Mersey, turned left but reversed onto the water point below Kings Lock. We’d just got filled when there was a rush of water from under the bridge as Wardle Lock was emptied, and John, Jen and Rusty the dog on NB appeared.
We’d not met before but knew they were following us down the Branch after Jen dropped a comment on a previous post. We spent a happy half hour chatting before we set off north while they went up Kings Lock, in the opposite direction. Good to meet you all, looking forward to seeing you again when hopefully we’ll have more time.
We had a quick trip down the three Middlewich Locks, a young chap stopped to chat and pushed the gates, then borrowed a windlass to set up the bottom one for us.
Lots of boats at Middlewich Narrowboats hire base…
…in contrast to that of Andersen Boats below the locks.
Under “Pigeon Bridge”, Bridge 172, living up to it’s nickname.
The blur to the left is one of the denizens taking off.
We pulled in alongside the small park a little further on.
It’s been a fine day, and the wind has dropped significantly so it feels a lot warmer. We’ll be stopping here tomorrow now.
Hi Chas, Anne. It's amazing how much difference a coat or two of paint makes! Glad to see you got out and about over Easter.
Hiya Russ, Elaine. Looks like we're heading in the same direction. We'll look out for you.
John, Jen - Did the fish and chips live up to expectations?
Locks 5, miles 3½