Well, I hope you enjoyed summer as much as we did! It looks like that’s it for the time being… There’s even talk of a possible ground frost in places tonight!
It’s stayed dry, though, so that’s a blessing. We left our mooring at Paddy’s Wood yesterday, mid-morning. No rush as we intended mooring above King’s Lock so we could check to see if the chippy is still good…
It’s quite pleasant along here, just before you reach the housing estates around Sandbach.
Historically, brine extraction for salt production has been a major industry in this area. This has caused large, shallow depressions, now filled with water and used by local angling clubs.
It also has another, less agreeable, effect on the canal. As the landscape subsided, so the banks of the waterway have had to be raised, forming a layer cake of concrete.
We’d caught up with a hire boat going very slowly before we reached Crows Nest Lock, not a problem though with moorings near Elworth to pass anyway.
Waiting to drop down Crows Nest Lock
From here we leave the rural quiet we’ve enjoyed since Kidsgrove, with the canal running alongside the busy Booth Lane. There are two locks to deal with along here, and the hire boat ahead left the bottom gates of the first one open for a boat coming up.
The boat came into the lock and I closed the gate while a young woman with windlass in hand watched. And continued to watch while I walked to the top ground paddles. I asked if she was going to open them, she replied that she thought I was going to! I made it clear that it was their boat, their job, but I would help! Some funny folk about…
Anyway we dropped down both of these, ducked under Booth Lane at Tetton Bridge and passed the large salt works on the offside.
Booth Lane Locks.
A large pinch of salt…
Rumps Lock, just a mile from Middlewich, was the last for the day, and there was a CRT chap there running water through the lock. He broke off to let us down, then opened paddles at both ends as we left.
They were pumping water up to the reach above Wardle Lock to refloat a couple of boats still stuck below the breach on the Middlewich Branch. There’s a temporary dam in place to prevent any more losses.
We moored above King’s Lock form the night, noisy for a start with the traffic alongside but it goes quieter later. And yes, the fish and chips are still good…
This morning we had another slow start. We waited for a boat coming up King’s Lock to save us having to fill it ourselves, and them having to close the gates, of course.
Just as well, the landing is occupied by the grey boat on the left. Such a good idea to moor there after leaving the lock…
We pulled onto the water point below the lock to top up the tank, and Meg and I walked up to Wardle Lock to have a look. Not much to see, the actual breach site is half a mile further up, and this section of the canal, below the dam, is back in water. Plenty of signs and fences, though.
Middlewich Narrowboats went into receivership late last year, all the boats are sold off now and the site, including the dry-dock between the locks, is now available for lease from CRT.
Coming down Middlewich Locks
Lock 74 has some impressive flora on the lower gates – and very stiff paddles!
We were pleased to see that Anderson Boats are still going strong, although they have had some cancelled bookings due to the breach preventing access to the west. The projected reopening is around next Christmas…
We pulled in just before the small park in the pound above Big Lock. A trip to Tesco’s, lunch and then it was time for Meg and I to toddle off to the vet. She’s due a new prescription for her anti-inflammatory medication, and I wanted them to give her the once-over anyway. It was when we were here last November that Meg fell ill with a bad chest infection. At one point during the treatment the vet went into sucking teeth mode – “She’s an old dog, sometimes you just have to know when to let go…” But we persevered, and she’s still with us. The vet today was amazed at how well she is, no noise at all in her chest, good strong heart, clear eyes and healthy gums. I should be so lucky!
Shopping tomorrow morning to top up the cupboards, then a couple of hours out on the water should take us to the flashes for the rest of the weekend.
Locks 8, miles 5, two days.