Thursday, October 19, 2017

Heading back the way we came.

First off, thanks for all the supportive comments following my half-marathon finish on Sunday. I was feeling a bit disappointed with my time, but you’ve all bucked my spirits up. I’d almost decided to hang up my running shoes, but might rethink that decision…

Good tee-shirt and medal, though.
And on that subject, we managed to raise £330 for Macmillan Cancer Support, thanks to all those who contributed. My Justgiving page will remain active for a while longer, just in case anyone else feels the need to add to the total…

Right then. Yesterday morning we set off from Castlefield, first reversing out into the basin below Rochdale Lock 92 to turn around and head off.

Back out from the Staffordshire Arm, CastlefieldDSCF1495

The day was bright but pretty breezy, cool on the face as we headed west to Water’s Meeting.

The old Hulme Locks, dropping down onto the River Irwell, have long been derelict…DSCF1498

…replaced by the much graffiti-ed Pomona Lock.DSCF1503 

Looking down on the Ship Canal and Salford Quays.

As early as 1660 it was recognised that improvements to the rivers Mersey and Irwell would enable vessels to travel from the Irish Sea into the growing cities of Salford and Manchester. But it wasn’t until 1734 that vessels “of moderate size” could navigate the Mersey and Irwell Navigation, through 8 locks and along several artificial cuts that bypassed tight bends and shoals on the rivers.

By the early 19th century the lower section of the river navigation was made redundant by the construction of the Runcorn and Latchford Canal, with locks 13 feet wide and 65 feet long.

The Runcorn section of the Bridgwater Canal had been completed a few years earlier, and this, coupled with the beginnings of railway competition, made the R&LC less and less profitable. It was sold to the Bridgewater Navigation Company in 1874, by which time it was in considerable disrepair.

The final nail in the coffins of both the river navigation and the later cut was hammered home in December 1893, with the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal. The MSCC had already acquired the canal in order to use part of it’s channel for the new waterway, obliterating much of the higher reaches up to Pomona. The lower sections remained sporadically in use until the 1950s, but it’s derelict now.

Water’s Meeting
We pulled in at Stretford Marina, topped up with diesel and water and bought four 20kg bags of Excel at the very reasonable price of £8 each. Then toddled on, along the long and somewhat boring Sale straight, and back out into the country.

Autumn aroma – the rich, earthy smell of a freshly ploughed field.DSCF1515

Bollington Mill, with Dunham Massey Deer Park beyondDSCF1518
We pulled in at Lymm for the night. A long day by our standards.

So today we set off again, intending to be back on the Trent and Mersey this afternoon.

Blue skies as we set off, but it wasn’t to last.DSCF1522

Under the M6 just south of the impressive Thelwall Viaduct which carries the motorway over the Mersey valley and the Manchester Ship Canal.DSCF1525

Thelwall Viaduct aerial photograph 
Picture from

The Bridgewater Canal crosses an aqueduct a little further along, and is somewhat less impressive…

Thelwall Underbridge
They call aqueducts “underbridges” around here.

We cruised through the southern fringes of Warrington and back out into the countryside at Walton.

Runcorn skyline through the arch of Keckwick BridgeDSCF1531

Preston Brook, a settlement that grew up around the canalDSCF1532

We arrived at the northern end of Preston Brook Tunnel at a quarter past one, 15 minutes to spare before we could go through so time for a quick brew and a sandwich before we passed from the Bridgewater to the Trent and Mersey.

Preston Brook Tunnel, north end

The northern half, until the repaired section midway through, is quite wet in places. This leads to the formation of flowstone drips and mini stalactites.

Out of the other end, with the shallow Dutton Stop Lock ahead.DSCF1539

The difference between the two canals is marked. The Bridgewater is wide, fairly straight, and deep. The Trent and Mersey is none of those!

We pulled in on the breach moorings at Dutton Hollow, the same spot we used on the way up.

I intended to post this last night but didn’t get it finished, so that’s why it’s a day late. Today we’ve stayed put, watching the rain come down and the occasional boat go past.

Over the last two days – Locks 1, miles 26.

1 comment:

nb Chuffed said...

Hi Geoff, please don't stop running yet - your achievements are on the list of things that keep me going. I would have been over the moon with your time by the way! Still hoping to get a marathon under my belt before I hit 70 - only 3 years left .... Debby