Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bright and breezy as we head to Anderton

We had a drop of rain yesterday as we relaxed at the flashes, but nothing of any consequence. I was still able to get a couple of jobs done, one of which was tracing a diesel fuel leak on the feed to the engine. Only a seep, really, but you know how just a drop of diesel seems to get everywhere. Nipping up a union seems to have sorted it.

It was very windy first thing, so much so that we nearly abandoned todays trip. If there had been rain forecast as well we would have, but it was supposed to stay dry so we set off.

Billinge Green Flash, the next one north, was going to be occupied by a marina, but with the Crewe to Manchester HS2 line running right alongside I guess plans have been scrapped.IMG_4174

But the Park Farm Marina a bit further on is now open and taking customers. IMG_4177

Orchard Marina, where Seyella was built, is mainly moorings now, although there was a boat in one of the docks being blacked.IMG_4178

They’re also employing a doorman now…
“Can’t come in ere wivout a tie, mate…”

It looks like the Broken Cross has had a face-lift…IMG_4180

Roughly contemporary with the canal.

We chugged past the boats for sale at Wincham Wharf, then made a sharp left at Wincham Bend. The cottage here doesn’t have road access, and the resident had a small tank-boat built to collect fuel oil for his central heating.IMG_4185

Abandoned and with no name or identification numbers, this will be another one that CRT will have to foot the bill to recover.

This is a pleasant spot to moor, just before Marbury Woods looking out over the fields towards Great Budworth.
We were frozen in here one winter.

A rushed shot of bluebells in Marbury Wood.IMG_4189

We pulled in near the services at Anderton, outside Uplands Marina at about 12:15. Plenty of time to get sorted out then relax to watch the F1 from Russia. I got up to make a brew, glanced out of the window, and…
…spotted these!

The first cygnets we’ve seen this year.

We’re hanging about here tomorrow, then dropping down the boat lift onto The Weaver on Tuesday.

Locks 0,  miles 5½

Friday, April 28, 2017

Good timing…

I was just getting ready to loose the ropes from the mooring rings when this guy came around the corner.

By the time he got to us we were floating clear of the bank, and also clear of the spray of mown grass coming off the blades.
Just a couple of minutes took us to Middlewich Big Lock, with a boat coming up.IMG_4120
I gave them a hand, then we moved into the empty chamber. I was just shutting the gates when a couple of rather battered-looking cruisers came around the corner, so I waved them in alongside. The lock was soon empty and the cruisers set off first, likely to be a bit faster than us.

And they were…

Leaving Middlewich the canal crosses Croxton Aqueduct, over the River Dane.IMG_4122
Originally a wide stone aqueduct, it was replaced by this narrow iron trough after the earlier structure was washed away in a flood. Along with slightly wider than normal (for a narrow canal) bridge-holes, the wide aqueduct and broad Big Lock allowed salt barges to travel this length of canal.

The bridges are also mainly flat-topped, the span supported on iron beams.IMG_4125 
This design, rather than the more normal arch, allowed easy repair in the event of damage due to subsidence. And with lots of brine extracted around here for salt production, there was a fair bit of that.

The ever-popular Brambles Cutting moorings are having another boat length added…

Running along above the River Dane

“Now then kids, listen closely…”

Another of those HS2 Phase 2b proposed route signs is located next to Bridge 180IMG_4143
There are two crossing here, within a mile of each other as the canal loops around north of Whatcroft. The second one, to the right (north) on the map is between the two flashes, and the raised embankment will obliterate both Billinge Green and Peartree Farms.

We pulled in at the southern of the flashes, looking out over the wide water populated by swans, grebes, geese and mallards. The red X on the map above shows where we are.

From the map the line will cross on an embankment about 200 yards ahead of where we’re moored, over that bank of reeds. The silo on the horizon is at Billinge Green Farm, smack on the route. It’s not likely to be operational until 2033 (if ever), so I don’t think it’ll affect us mooring here.

Some of our neighbours…





We’re staying here tomorrow.

Locks 1, miles 4

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Frosty nights, sunny mornings

The meterologogists metrerologists weathermen were right, these last two nights were pretty cold, I hope you boaters with plants on the roof brought them in…

Tuesday morning, after sleety showers overnight we had ice on the towpath!IMG_4071

It was a beautiful morning, but that north wind was cold. We set off at around half nine, once again intending to avoid the afternoon showers.IMG_4073

Jemima protecting her brood from the large, noisy, smelly thing going past.IMG_4075

We’re seeing more and more young mallards as spring wears on. No cygnets yet though.

That’s the Weaver down there.
It gets about, does the Weaver. Rising in the Peckforton Hills near Beeston it heads south, ducking under the Llangollen Canal at Wrenbury, down to Audlem. Here it changes it’s mind and turns around to go north, crossed by the Shroppie main line just north of the village.
Through Nantwich it goes, collecting water from tributaries on the way, avoiding Crewe (not a bad idea) and being crossed by the Middlewich Branch here near Church Minshull. Winding it’s way past the village it heads through two large flashes, a legacy of brine extraction, just south of Winsford. From here to it’s confluence with the Mersey at Runcorn it loses it’s river identity somewhat, being “canalised” for most of it’s remaining length to form the River Weaver Navigation.
At it’s commercial peak the navigation could take 1000 ton coasters all the way upstream to Winsford.

Pretty Church Minshull nestling in the valley.IMG_4081  
The open, sunny moorings here are tempting, but beware the “Shroppie Shelf”, a ledge that juts out from the cast concrete copings about a foot below the water. Break out the fat fenders!

It’s good to see that The Badger is open again, after being closed for several years. IMG_4084
A good reason for the walk down to the village?

I‘ve never seen Egyptian Geese along here before.IMG_4085

Converted stables and a lengthsman’s cottage.IMG_4086
The Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company employed several fly boats, fast horse-drawn narrowboats that ran to a strict timetable carrying perishable goods and sometimes passengers. Working long hours, the crews had to regularly change horses and these stables were built to accommodate the “remounts”.

We tied up in another spot with wide views over the valley, this time looking out over those two Winsford Flashes I mentioned earlier. IMG_4089
The wind carried heavy clouds over us through the afternoon, bringing showers and in one instance sleet and hail. But the weather calmed down later and the sky cleared, promising another cold night.

The sun, beaming in through the bedroom porthole, woke me at six this morning, but I pulled the covers over my head and managed another hour before getting up. We’d planned to stay put today, so I was soon out propping up the solar panels to take advantage of the early photons. But after Meg’s perambulation and breakfast I checked the local forecast and it promised sunny weather today, but cloudier with showers tomorrow. We’d both rather cruise in sunshine than in rain so by 10 we were on the move.

On Bridge 22…
…yes, we’re about an hour from Middlewich…

Oh, THAT end!

The HS2 rail line is intended to cross between bridges 25 and 26…
…somewhere here.

Our first lock, Stanthorne is just a little further on, and with a boat coming up we only had a couple of minutes to wait.

One for Val – recognise the hat?

Stanthorne Lock

We left the gates for a boat waiting below and carried on, coming into Middlewich and Wardle Lock.IMG_4109

After the lock we emerged onto the Trent and Mersey, turned left but reversed onto the water point below Kings Lock. We’d just got filled when there was a rush of water from under the bridge as Wardle Lock was emptied, and John, Jen and Rusty the dog on NB  appeared.IMG_4110

We’d not met before but knew they were following us down the Branch after Jen dropped a comment on a previous post. We spent a happy half hour chatting before we set off north while they went up Kings Lock, in the opposite direction. Good to meet you all, looking forward to seeing you again when hopefully we’ll have more time.

We had a quick trip down the three Middlewich Locks, a young chap stopped to chat and pushed the gates, then borrowed a windlass to set up the bottom one for us.

Lots of boats at Middlewich Narrowboats hire base…IMG_4112

…in contrast to that of Andersen Boats below the locks.IMG_4113

Under “Pigeon Bridge”, Bridge 172, living up to it’s nickname.IMG_4115

The blur to the left is one of the denizens taking off.

We pulled in alongside the small park a little further on.IMG_4117

It’s been a fine day, and the wind has dropped significantly so it feels a lot warmer. We’ll be stopping here tomorrow now.

Hi Chas, Anne. It's amazing how much difference a coat or two of paint makes! Glad to see you got out and about over Easter.
Hiya Russ, Elaine. Looks like we're heading in the same direction. We'll look out for you.
John, Jen - Did the fish and chips live up to expectations?

Locks 5, miles 3½