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.
Dropping down the Middlewich Locks
Deep chambers, these. Each one is 10½ to 11 feet.
Lots of water coming down the bywashes, too
Coming in to moor next to the small park above Big Lock
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.
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 Aqueduct
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.
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 Cutting
Through the woods above the River Dane valley
We had pleasant sunny spells, but the brisk wind was cool.
Our destination was alongside another of those flashes, plenty of room here and splendid views.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
I’m glad something finds a use for hawthorn berries!
On to Anderton tomorrow.
Locks 5, miles 11, 3 days.