Last summer the plan was to head down to Leeds, across to the Trent, spend a little time on the Soar, then have a gentle amble westward and northward, aiming to join the Llangollen Canal in November. Things didn’t quite work out that way, but we finally got here.
After a day off yesterday we set off this morning in bright sunshine, but it wasn’t to last.
Passing Aqueduct Marina.
We had the two remaining locks on the Middlewich Branch to ascend, the first just 15 minutes away. A boat was on it’s way down as we arrived, so we pulled over to wait for a few minutes before negotiating it ourselves.
Church Minshull Lock
The Middlewich Branch was constructed by the Chester Canal Company, who started building the Chester Canal from Chester to Nantwich in 1772. Part of the enabling Act allowed for a 10 mile link from Barbridge to Middlewich, but the money ran out and the Branch wasn’t opened until 1833. It only got funding then because the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal was approved, joining Nantwich to Autherley near Wolverhampton and a connection to the Trent and Mersey would give access to Manchester and The Potteries. The B&LJC, Chester Canal, Middlewich Branch and what we now know as the Llangollen Canal all came under the umbrella of the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company in 1845.
Another half-hour saw us passing Venetian Marina and approaching Cholmondeston Lock. As before we had a boat on the way down, but this time there was also a handful waiting above. It’s getting busy…
Just over a mile later we were approaching Barbridge Junction, to join the Shroppie Main Line.
Boats line both banks up to Bridge 1 and Barbridge Junction.
Heading south from the junction, looking back towards Chester.
The Chester Canal was built to broad gauge to allow barges to travel up from the Dee to Nantwich to load salt. So the locks are wide, as are the bridges…
We turned off the main line after only 1½ miles, heading up the four Hurleston Locks onto the Llangollen Canal.
Mags waiting for me to set the bottom lock.
We had boats coming down so this was the only one we had to turn. After only half an hour we were leaving the top lock where we filled with water before heading on through the fine countryside.
Hurleston Top Lock
We didn’t go far, pulling in on a quiet bit of bank between bridges 2 and 3.
We’ll be here for the weekend now, then on Monday morning we’ll take up a booked berth in Swanley Bridge Marina, just for three nights. Mags has to visit her GP on Tuesday for a follow-up blood test.
Locks 6, miles 5½