Thursday, 18 August 2011

A lot of queuing

(Boat Chalice - posted by Cath)

Going back up through the three locks
We spent quite a lot of time working out what we were going to do next. We had a vague idea that we would go down the Anderton Lift, and onto the River Weaver again. This time to do the whole length of it, from the docks, up to the end of navigation at Winsford. However, after a bit of thought we realised that we would have to do short days (for us), as the locks can only be operated by the lock keepers, and they have regular hours.  We decided that given our limited time, we would rather set off and spend some time nearer to Birmingham, and maybe do some bits of canals that we hadn't seen before.

Winding was easy, we were no more than 100 metres from the nearest winding hole, and we were quickly on our way back up the three locks that we had come down yesterday, and back to the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.

We knew from our previous experience that Wardle Lock, at the very beginning of the Middlewich branch is a bit of a bottleneck, the reason being that boats are arriving at the branch from both the south and the north on the Trent and Mersey, it is on the "Four Counties Ring", and there are several local hire boat firms with people wanting to go through this way. We arrived at the lock to find that we were boat four in the queue.

Wardle Lock is just after a bridge which is at the beginning of the canal - there is a boat's length below the lock, immediately after the bridge. When we were here before, people were using this mooring to wait for the lock to become ready with boats coming down, this time, for some reason, they were waiting around the corner, on the Trent and Mersey.  Because of this boats were having to leave the lock, then negotiate the narrow bridge, and turn onto the T & M, with other boats passing - it was taking a good five minutes extra per lock, and more boats were joining the queue.

Alan managed to persuade the hire boater in the queue ahead of us to go and wait around the corner, below the lock, so that as soon as it became free he could use it, which speeded things up a bit.

The long wait
At the next lock we had to wait for a few boats, but it wasn't too bad - then we got to Minshull Lock - we were tenth in the queue below the lock. It took over 2 hours to get through - why it needed to take that long I really don't know, but the long delays at the locks knocked our hopes of getting very far. The hirer we had spoken to earlier that day at Wardle Lock had to get his boat back to Brewood by Saturday, and was beginning to think that he would have to go late into the night.

Going into Minshull Lock

Barbridge Junction: Admiral Class - Mountbatten & Jellicoe
The road to Wales - one day.....

Barbridge is the end of the Middlewich Branch, we turned left, towards Nantwich. It was raining intermittently.  We passed the end of the Llangollen Canal, it wouldn't have taken a lot to make me turn that way.

We eventually moored in Nantwich, shortly before the aqueduct, Charlie got a long walk in the gathering dusk.

Middlewich (Trent and Mersey) to Nantwich (Shropshire Union)
Miles: 14.1, Locks: 7

Total Miles: 214.5, Total Locks: 153

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