It’s been an uneventful week, we headed down to Acton Bridge last Thursday as planned, meeting Brian from Four Counties Fuels for some solid and liquid fuels, delivered by van the following day. That loaded we toddled off back upstream to moor below Saltersford Lock, away from the constant traffic over the bridge.
On Saturday morning we were off early (for us) and up Saltersford Lock by half-nine.
Instead of stopping at Anderton we pushed on, through Northwich to moor below Hunts Lock. Although it’s further from the shops in the town centre it’s a far more pleasant mooring than Barons Quay pontoon or opposite the marina.
I had a bag of Amber’s dog food to collect from a Hermes parcel shop in the afternoon, then a few bits and pieces from the local Waitrose.
The small lock at Hunts comfortably takes three narrowboats abreast.
Vale Royal is the same, with the smaller of the two the only one usable. Downstream it swaps around and the large chambers are in use at Saltersford and Dutton.
Yesterday (Monday) we moved the short distance out of town downstream, slotting nicely into a gap just upstream of the boat lift.
Overtaken by Spey before we turned around to moor.
Amber and I had a pleasant walk up in the nature park this morning before we were off again, downstream still to catch the ten o’clock locking at Saltersford. With the current passage restrictions you have to plan ahead a bit.
Winsford Bridge is undergoing repairs to strengthen the structure.
When it was built in 1910 traffic was a lot lighter in both volume and weight…
Approaching Saltersford Lock.
We shared the 237 x 37 foot chamber with just one other boat… Unlike those above Northwich which will take three narrowboats, these two downstream will accommodate 15!
Passing Acton Swing Bridge, pivoting in the middle as the two arms cross the navigation and the backwater moorings used by Acton Bridge Cruising Club.
This is the furthest downstream we’ve ventured so far this trip.
Dutton Sluices ahead, with Dutton Lock around the corner to the left.
Poor old Chica is looking even more forlorn after last year’s floods.
It’ll not be long before the wheelhouse slips off into the river.
Below Dutton Locks the navigation passes the elegant laminated bridge carrying the towpath over the backwater and then under the substantial sandstone viaduct carrying the West Coast Main Line.
From here to Sutton Bridge is the prettiest section of the navigation, passing through meadows and woodland with only the odd farm to be seen.
For the trip back upstream I’d thought about having a night at the quiet rough mooring at Devil’s Garden. But I’m not sure how Amber would cope with the cows…
A couple of changes in the development of the navigation can be seen as it approaches Frodsham. The sharp bend on the river was bypassed early on by the construction of Frodsham Cut and Lock which then rejoined the now-tidal river on it’s way to the Mersey Estuary.
Frodsham Cut to the left.
In 1853 the Weston Canal was completed, allowing vessels to avoid the final section of the river and run down to Weston Point Docks and to the Runcorn and Weston Canal which connected through a flight of 10 locks up to the the Runcorn Arm of the Bridgewater Canal.
Onto the Weston Canal.
Finally, in 1894, the Manchester Ship Canal was opened and the docks connected to the new waterway. Subsequently a further lock was constructed at Weston Marsh to allow vessels to join the MSC from the Weston Canal without going through the docks.
Sutton Swing Bridge, with the railway viaduct in the background.
After passing under the M56 bridge and the Runcorn Rowing Club headquarters the right (east) bank becomes home to a large chemical works which flanks the navigation all the way to the current end of the navigation.
We pulled in at Weston Marsh Lock for lunch and for Amber and I to have a nosey round…
Looking out over the water – The Weaver coming in from the left and the Manchester Ship Canal from behind the spit of land in the centre before heading up to Manchester to the right. The Mersey Estuary lies beyond the far bank.
It’s not easy to see much from such a low elevation, so here’s a satellite view courtesy of Google Maps.
Weston Marsh Lock is in the centre.
Maintenance work on Weaver Sluices, a half-mile away across the MSC.
After lunch we cruised the last mile to the current end of the navigation at Weston Point.
Under the locked swing bridge is Weston Point Docks, now no longer accessible
The derelict entrance lock to the Runcorn and Weston Canal.
The R&W ran for almost 1½ miles to Runcorn Docks and the connection to the bottom of Runcorn Locks. There’s considerable enthusiasm for re-opening the canal and the locks, thereby forming a cruising ring involving the Trent and Mersey, Bridgewater and Weaver Navigation. Unfortunately there’s little funding for a project of this scale.
We returned back up the canal to Sutton Bridge and pulled in for the night.
This has been our longest cruising day for some time, 5 hours, 16½ miles and two locks! Easy trip though.
A day off tomorrow then we’ll head back upriver on Thursday. We’re booked back up the boat lift on Monday morning.
Since last post – Locks 3, miles 24¼