Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Leaving Of Manchester

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

Still moored in Manchester.
Well we had only time for the briefest of stays in Manchester, but it was still an interesting experience.  The overnight mooring was quiet, and in the morning Cath and Michael headed back to a few shops, whilst I did some "housekeeping" in the engine compartment, (don't ask!).

I liked these bridges.
You leave either beside, or under some fairly impressive railway overbridges, and our next canal was the Bridgewater.  The Bridgewater is slightly unusual, because it is actually a different navigation authority - it is owned and operated by the Manchester Ship Canal Company in conjunction with the Bridgewater Canal Trust. (Thanks to Adam Porter for correcting my facts on this!)  Your normal CaRT licence allows 7 days on the Bridgewater free of further charge, but we would be on it less than one.

There are plenty of really pretty cottages and houses.
I must admit I had not resaerched this canal before going on it, and it was not what I would have expected.  Being such an early canal, I would perhaps have expected the typical narrowness, and small bridges that go with the territory.  Instead you enter somewhat of a "motorway" of a canal, wide & deep, and initially dead straight for miles on end.  Also there are big, big bridges, not small ones at all.  We found it very fast, and you can easily make 4mph, without using a lot of power.  There are a lot of linear permanent moorings beside, and, in all honesty, it shouldn't be necessary to slow down massively for these.  None the less at one point we encountered someone yelling at us to slow, even though were some way from the boats he was presumably making a point about.  I slowed to the passing speed I would have used anyway, and further along the mooring several people gave us a friendly greeting, so presumably they thought we were passing at a sensible speed, even though the first chap apparently wanted a rant.

Preston Brook Tunnel
Generally other boaters have been very friendly up here, but unusually we have encountered a couple of plonkers, who seem intent on having an argument, when none is required.  I do wonder why such people buy boats, but probably if they fished, cycled, or owned a caravan, they are still the type who can't help behaving this way ?

Well the sign say it is O.K.
I must admit I found the many long miles I steered on the Bridgewater fairly boring.  When you can see what is ahead over a mile away, rather than not knowing what is 100 yards ahead, until you have rounded a bend, it can all get very "same-ish".  Anyway Cath took over for a while, although she at least got the benefit of a slightly more "bendy" bit with the odd feature like an embankment or aqueduct!

I really was not gutted to get on to the Trent and Mersey at Preston Brook - far more interesting in my view.  We have only ever been up the T&M as far as Anderton previously, so from Preston Brook down to there would still be new territory for us.

Acton Swing Bridge - River Weaver
This stretch includes three tunnels at Preston Brook, Saltersford and Barnton, none of which boats can be passed in.  Two of these tunnels, including the first and longest at Preston Brook have timed working - we could enter Preston Brook only in the ten minutes after "half past" each hour.  This ensures you are out before anyone tries to come in the other way, (only from "on the hour" to "ten past".  These tunnels are tighter than I expected, with changes in height where repairs have been made, and none particularly straight, but we would only tackle the firdt today.

David captures these scenes better than I can!
We moored somewhat in the middle of nowhere, but were able to walk down with Odin to a pub near the River Weaver at Acton Bridge, (a massive swing bridge, from the days when the Weaver had much larger boats than generally use it now).  Here Odin met a couple from another boat, but more particularly, (one at a time!), their pair of Black Labradors.  He is not intimidated by dogs that tower over him, but I was somewhat taken aback to be reminded just how big and powerful a male Labrador can get, even if the frequent tendency to being overweight is avoided.  It emphasises the importance of training Odin well now - he is doubtless going to be a big and powerful dog!  This trip could hardly be providing a better way of introducing a young dog to the world - it is going really well!

Manchester (Castlefield) to above Acton Bridge (on Trent & Mersey)
Miles: 27.7, Locks:1
Total Miles: 299.4, Locks: 148 (Worked)


  1. I'm pretty sure that BW/CART have nothing to do with the management of the Bridgewater. The Manchester Ship Canal Company (itself owned by Peel Holdings) own and manage it. There's a big rubbish-collecting boat which goes around all the time, called the Water Womble.

  2. Adam.

    I have now amended the original post - thanks for the correction.