Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Back On To Territory Familiar To Us.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Increasingly we seem to be tying up in locations that it is not that easy to put a place name to.  The guide showed no nearby town of any size, so "near the Acton Swing Bridge on the River Weaver" is my best crack.  Either way it was a good location, with no disturbances, and once above Anderton the Trent and Mersey seems to see far less traffic than further South, although I'll admit I've not visited enough to prove that theory.

Entering Saltersford Tunnel.
Fairly soon after setting off we were into the two further tunnels on this stretch.  First comes Saltersford, under a quarter of a mile long, but crooked enough you can't see through it, so again timed entry is in use, (you can go in in this direction in a 20 minute window after half past the hour).  Although people make great play of the tightness of Harecastle, (it actually isn't that tight these days), I have not heard the same said of these, but at one point where extra lining has been added the profile of this tunnel means you have to be fairly accurate with a boat with a cabin like Chalice, which is fairly wide as well as fairly high.  The view of the other end through this tunnel simply comes and goes depending where in it you are - all quite odd.

The aqueduct and gates at the head of the Anderton Boat Lift.
Out of Saltersford, there is a short, attractive, and very wide bit of canal, before you are quickly again upon Barnton, longer at 572 yards.  At this one you still can't pass, but it is judged straight enough that you can see if anyone is coming the other way before entering.  In practice another boat was waiting to enter, and for an oncoming boat to come out.  This boat proved to be very slow, and it was hard to maintain good control as I followed them through.  At the other end a hire boat was waiting to enter, and asked me if anyone was following me.  Even right outside the tunnel mouth, I really couldn't see clearly through the crooked bore, so don't envy people trying to decide if it is clear.  Maybe with experience it is obvious, but I can't help feeling that occasionally boats enter this tricky tunnel, only to find they need to reverse out again!

About to pass through serious industry at Northwich.
At Anderton, we were finally back on to territory we have travelled before.  We look forward one day to going down the lift again, and exploring more of the Weaver, but sadly no time is available on this trip, so we simply passed by the lift head.  Our Anderton stopping point was far less interesting- the faclities block to refill  with water, empty the loos, and (particularly!) to get rid of large amounts of refuse we had built up.

Former "Grand Union" "Star" Class butty "Pavo".
Pressing on down to towards Middlewich we noted the converted butty Pavo tied up, and I commented that last time we had been here it had worked ahead of us, and we had shared Big Lock with Pavo.  Its owner stuck his head out, and said "Are you going through Big Lock -  will you wait ?", so by sheer coincidence we shared the one broad lock that exists on this stretch with exactly the same ex working boat as we had done 3 years ago.

In Middlewich we tied up, and Cath and Michael went on a shopping trip.  The heavens absolutely opened - rain was being driven horizontally into our windows by the wind.  I assumed Cath and Michael would arrive back drenched, but it seems that the worst occurred whilst they were in the store.

Working up Middlewich Locks - In the rain again.
As we set off again we queued throughout the three lock flight up to the junction with the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union, and again as we turned through on to Wardle Lock at the start of that canal.  We always seem to queue at these locations, but on this occasion the waits were not too bad - I suspect the indifferent weather was playing its part.

Wardle Lock, Misslewich - Rain stopped for the moment.
We then moved up though one further lock on this canal, (no waits this time!), before mooring up at another of these fairly anonymous locations, (actually "Clive Lane Bridge", (No 24).  Research shows that this bridge places only about a mile from Winsford railway station, with fairly easy train journeys to back home.  Michael has been wresting the dilemma of a choice between a break from the boat, (it is a bit crowded with 4 adults and a dog!), and spending time away from Odin.  Michael has been the one taking Odin to a remarkably high level of training for a 3 month old dog, and I don't think he has confidence that we are quite meeting his exacting standards.  We will try very hard to ensure Odin doesn't take Michael's time away as an excuse for anything less than immaculate behavior!

Above Acton Bridge (on Trent & Mersey) to near Winsford (Middlewich Branch).
Miles: 15.5, Locks: 6
Total Miles: 314.9, Locks: 154 (Worked)

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