We’ve taken the last couple of days to cross from Middlewich on the Trent and Mersey to Barbridge on the Shroppie. The Middlewich Branch is 10 miles long and runs roughly south and west from Middlewich, rising through 4 eleven-foot deep locks (I’m including Wardle Lock in the count…).
It’s mainly rural, most bridges that cross are accommodation bridges for the scattering of farms that dot the landscape.
Passing the field-side moorings near Bridge 25.
The West Coast Main Line crosses the canal a little further on.
Long straights, arched bridges.
This waterway was one used by fly-boats, fast narrowboats hauled by teams of horses and carrying perishable cargoes and even passengers. Stables for regular changes of horses were built along the routes.
Converted boat-horse stables
An annoyingly persistent buzzing made me duck down to listen to the engine, thinking that something had come adrift. I should have looked up rather than down…
We pulled in between Bridges 13 and 12, overlooking the Weaver valley and the village of Church Minshull.
This morning we were off at around 10:00, with half an hour to go to Church Minshull Lock. The weather has been consistently grey the last two days, calm and cool but at least dry.
Crossing the Weaver on a 50 foot embankment.
Church Minshull Lock.
A boat had passed us while we before we set off, and we’d met no-one, so expected this one to be full and weren’t disappointed.
Another long straight heading towards Venetian Marina and Cholmondeston Lock
The Branch was built by the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, now the southern section of the Shropshire Union Canal, and used the same modern technique of “cut and fill” Rather than meander around the countryside following the contours like the 1st generation of canals, embankments and cuttings allowed for a more direct and faster route.
Hedge laying above Cholmondeston Lock
Permanent moorings both sides as we approach Barbridge Junction.
We pulled out onto the Shroppie main line and reversed onto a mooring just north of the junction.
Poor old Meg doesn’t seem to be improving any, although she’s been off the boat she’s pretty uncertain on her feet. She’s hardly eaten anything either for the last three days, which is a worry. So we’re heading back to the vet again tomorrow, with those x-rays we’d originally planned for last Monday to be taken. We really need to get to the bottom of what’s wrong. Good friend Val is coming across to pick us up and take us back to Middlewich, I couldn’t get a hire car at short notice so she’s stepped into the breach. What a star.
Thanks for all the good wishes, hopefully we'll have a better idea of what's wrong tomorrow.
Locks 2, miles 8½