Last Thursday we headed down the canal from Marston, mooring just outside Middlewich.
Passing Wincham Wharf
This boat won’t be following us to Northwich!
Although it could have done before the original Croxton Aqueduct was washed away and replaced by a narrow iron trough.
It was a cool, grey day, but at least it stayed dry.
Tata Chemicals’ Lostock works steams gently in the calm air
There’ll be three marinas in less than ¾ of a mile when the new one at Bilinge Green opens…
Orchard Marina where Seyella was fitted out, then Park Farm Marina with it’s long exposed pontoons…
…and the slowly progressing Oakwood Marina.
We would often break the trip to Middlewich with an overnight stop at the wide open spaces of the southern of the two flashes, but we passed it by.
Another encounter with those reed cutters near Bridge 177
We pulled in for the evening between Bridge 174 and Croxton Aqueduct, and enjoyed a colourful sunset…
…at a quarter to five! It’s getting late early now…
We were up early on Friday to cruise into Middlewich, stopping to top up the water tank and then going up Big Lock before mooring up near the park. Meg had an appointment with the vet at 10:50.
She’d been off-colour for a couple of days, no appetite and no enthusiasm and she’d also developed a cough and a bit of a limp. Individually the symptoms probably wouldn’t have bothered us too much, just something to keep and eye on. But all together was a worry.
Blood and urine tests and a thorough going over didn’t show any specific problems, but a course of antibiotics for what may have been a chest infection was prescribed. The limp on her left fore concerned the vet more, maybe a further spread of her arthritis. A minimal dose of painkillers was to be tried, to see if she could be made more comfortable.
She was up and down over the weekend, although she did seem to improve yesterday afternoon. We’d arranged another visit to the vet for first thing this morning, with an option for her to stay in for x-rays. We both had reservations about this. She’s an elderly dog, and a general anesthetic can be risky. And anyway, we wouldn’t be putting her through the trauma of surgery if the scans did show something amiss. So the vet and I agreed we’ll try a course of stronger painkillers that can be used with her current anti-inflamatories. Tramadol was recommended so she’s on that for a fortnight. But we’ll being going back on the 23rd to review her condition.
She’d not had her previously prescribed painkiller before we went up, so she had a Tramadol capsule when we got back. And she’s been a lot better today. Brighter, more interested in what’s going on, and she’s even been on and off the boat a couple of times as we cruised through Middlewich and back out into the country. And she’s got a bit of appetite back, too. So it’s looking up, but it’s early days.
I made a quick visit up to Tesco’s and then we set off, stopping at the old wharf for water then going up the three Middlewich Locks. With our extended stop-over we’d got close to running out of solid fuel. Just half a bucket left after I‘d stoked the stove this morning. I did have a fall-back option if we’d had to stay longer, Tesco sells 10kg bags of smokeless but it’s an expensive way to buy it. And we’ve all those logs on the roof with nothing to cut them with until I get my saw chains back!
We pulled in at Kings Lock for diesel and half a dozen bags of smokeless before reversing back across the junction and turning in to the very short Wardle Canal.
A canal across to Middlewich from the Chester Canal at Barbridge had been proposed as early as 1772. But it came to nothing until an Act authorising the construction of the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal was passed in 1825. Part of the proposal was to revisit the idea of a Middlewich branch, only this would be to narrow beam specs rather than the wide beam earlier plan.
The Trent & Mersey Canal Company nearly had apoplexy. The more modern B&LJC (now the southern part of the Shropshire Union) is a wider, deeper and more efficient canal than the earlier Trent and Mersey, providing an easier route to the industrial powerhouse of the Black Country. The T&MC management was afraid, understandably, that they would lose trade to the Shroppie via the new link. So they insisted on building the first 164 feet including the bottom lock of the branch, to be able to control the traffic. This is the Wardle Canal, and boats using it had to pay high tolls for the privilege of using it.
The deep Wardle Lock
My Lady Margaret in the foreground, someone else’s in the background…
We went up Stanthorne Lock then pulled in soon after Bridge 26.
Moored for the night.
We’ve been economising on fuel for the last two days, but now we can let rip.
Mags is pleased and Meg is sleepy.
Since the last post – Locks 6, miles 9½