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Monday, 22 June 2015

June Cruise Part 3

After another quite and peaceful night we left towards Middlewich around 10am, passing Crofton Flash then across the aqueduct towards Middlewich locks.
Crofton Aqueduct.
Not as spectacular as some we have been across.

After the Middlewich locks Father hopped of with his bike for a few necessities whilst Gill and I turned on to the Wardle Branch then on to the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.
Wardle Lock Cottage in the Sun.
This branch of the canal is reasonably straight, towpath well kept and neat. Not many kinks in it but we did meet oncoming boats. The rumours from these boats was that Cholmondeston locks was closed.
Oncoming boat.
Caught up but Dad happy to keep on cycling.
Sods law, always meet a boat at a bride.
Class 66 pulling a trainload of Range Rovers.
We carried on to Church Minshull pulling over for a snack and drinks. Finally letting father on board.
We had passed the old stables and house, very picturesque.
Church Minshull.
Canal Stables - Church Minshull.
Moving on again we reached Cholmondeston Lock, as suspected it was closed for replacement of the buffer on the front of the cill, however the foreman informed us that they would be finished within an hour. We pulled over to the Venetian Marina pontoon for water then tea and ice cream from the cafe whilst we waited.
Canal & River Trust staff installing the new wooden buffer in front of the cill.
Once the buffer was installed, after perhaps a 1 1/2 hour delay we where invited to be the first to use the lock, its easy to see how the boat that sunk got caught out, if both paddles are opened at once, as the CaRT guys did for us, there is a pull forward that even masses of reverse gear will not hold, so we where the first to test the buffer.
We carried on in early evening sun, turning on to the Shropshire Union at Barbridge before finally mooring at Nantwich on the far side of the Aquaduct. We wandered into Nantwich for our evening meal at a quiet pub down Welsh Row.
Crossing Nantwich Aquaduct.
Away from the mooring at around 9-30 towards the winding hole the other side of Nantwich, seems quite shallow since we used it last year, we then crawled back through all the moored boats and turned left at Hurleston junction back on to the Llangollen Canal.
LMS Butty Olive at Nantwich.
We passed a couple of downward boats in the locks then called at the services at the top of the locks for water and rubbish disposal.
Father and Son locking up at Swanley Locks.
On the home leg now we completed the Swanley locks and headed for Baddiley Locks, pretty stretch of canal this which which I always enjoy, even though it is the last day of the boating week.
Baddiley Locks.
Father passing a boat between Baddiley Locks.
We moored shortly afterwards for lunch before father set of on his bike for the train at Crewe.
Gill and I carried on to Wrenbury, mooring before Church Lift Bridge then carrying out all our cleaning before returning to Wrenbury Mill on the Saturday morning.
Another enjoyable week, despite not been able to get down Anderton lift and on to the River Weaver.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

June Cruise Part 2

A little bit of heavy wind overnight kept me awake for awhile but it eventually died down. So after a full breakfast we set off towards Preston Brook, at the winding hole before Dutton Lock, we intended to wind, however there was a loose Historic Boat drfiting about just before the covered dry dock. It was the Thomas Clayton Tar Boat Spey, a boat had just entered the lock so they made no effort to tie it up, I pushed it over to the bank, winded, then pulled alongside and found the pulled out pins to hammer back in then tied it up, there did not seem to be anyone about in the drydock where there where a few more Historic boats.
Spey adrift.
All tied up again.
We set off back towards Anderton, passing another Historic boat. We intended to reach the Lion Salt Works Museum, this was not yet open but father had managed to get a preliminary visit via Cheshire Museums where we could score the museum and staff on the experience.
Manchester Ship Canal Company Butty.
With the sun now out we had a pleasant run through the 2 tunnels, watered up at Anderton services, then through Marbury Country Park to Wincham.
Near Saltersford Tunnel, note the bridges here are built with a flat deck, this
is so that if the land subsides due to the saltworkings the deck can be easily
raised with extra brickwork.
Waiting for the timed entry to the tunnel, entry from on the half hour to 10 minutes
before the hour.
Leaving the very crooked Saltersford tunnel, so crooked you cannot see the
light at the end of the tunnel.
We arrived and moored outside the museum in near Wincham in time for lunch, then leaving Gill to relax in the sun we joined the organised tour. The Lion Salt works has had a 10 million pound restoration, and is now a museum to the prime past industry of the area, brine pumping and salt production, info here Lion Salt Works
We found it very interesting, a good reminder of the brine pumping and salt making that used to go on in this area. The staff where fairly clued up on the history, we had to assess them and the museum with scoring to complete after the guided tour. There was plenty of information on offer, old photos, interactive exhibits, old salt pans, and relics of the industry to view. I don't believe there is an entrance fee, it is well worth a visit if passing this way.

Salt Raking Pan.
Seddon Salt Railway Van.
Original Brine Pumping Donkey Engine.
We pushed on after the tour, through the industry of Wincham Wharf, past the Brunner Mond works, now owned by TATA, who don't they own! lovely smell of fresh bread from the bakeries near Broken Cross, then past the Billinge Green Flashes, I expected to moor here but father wanted to moor near the old Clay pits near Crofton.
Billinge Green Flashes
Lovely House near Whatcroft Hall.
Even got a Kingfisher on camera.
Nights Mooring near the Claypits.
Unfortunately we could not get on the clay pit moorings (Bramble Cutting) as 2 boats where already on the 2 available spaces. After lunch we had a walk down to Crofton Flash, then crossed the canal to try to reach the Clay pits but where baulked by nettles and brambles.
Crofton Flash - The flashes in this area are caused by subsidence of the old salt workings.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

June Cruise Part 1

First week in June we had a week on Centurion, starting at our Wrenbury Mill Base,
We left the moorings late afternoon and cruised a few hundred yards to the the other side of Church Lift Bridge, much quieter and peaceful than staying in the Mill basin.
Peaceful Mooring.
The following day we set of down the Llangollen Canal towards Hurleston Junction, it was relatively quiet as most of the hire boats head up the other way to Llangollen.
Hurleston Locks.
We turned left at Hurleston Junction, through Barbridge, then right on to the Middlewhich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. We tied up before Cholmondeston Lock to wait for my father to arrive from York, travelling by train to Crewe, then push bike to Cholmondeston, not bad for an 80 year old. We stayed put here as a boat had sunk in the lock, an Anderson Hire Boat from Middlewich had his bow stuck under the supporting bars for a broken wooden buffer underneath the top cill, the lock here is quite deep and there is usually a heavy wooden buffer here, not sure if the hire boat had broken it or if it was already missing. They where just finishing pumping it out and refloating.
Pumping out the sunken boat to re float it.
The missing buffer the following day as we went down and showing
the metal bars where the water surge pulls the boat forward in the lock when filling, this caused
the hire boat to catch under the bars and sink.
There was quite a queue of boats below the lock waiting to come up stretching behond the railway bridge. Once the boat was removed, which took about 2 hours Canal and River Trust supervised boats using the lock, using only 1 paddle to control the filling, they where still letting boats up at 8pm then locked up the lock.
Queue of boats waiting for lock stretching beyond the railway bridge.
A windy day right from the start and rain forecast, we wanted to use the boat lift at Anderton so set off straight after a nice fry up breakfast. We safely descended the lock under CaRT supervision, next up was Church Minshull lock, another deep lock.
Leaving Church Minshull Lock.
We pushed on to the end of the Middlewich Branch, locking down Wardle Lock onto the very short Wardle Canal to the junction with the Trent and Mersey Canal, turning left after the junction bridge. Always busy with boats here and today no exception even with the wind and the rain that arrived as we locked down the Middlewich Locks.
Wardle Lock Cottage, now in the process of restoration, there used to be a very friendly
 lady here, an ex boater called Maureen who would offer advice to novice boaters
on their way from the 2 hire bases in Middlewich and always spoke to passing boaters.
The cottage is been restored by a young chap and his wife https://twitter.com/wardlelock
Gill taking the turn below the first of the Middlewich Locks.
After the very slow big lock we carried on to Anderton in the wind and rain, we where very disappointed that on turning up for our passage down the lift we found out the lift was out of operation. We stopped on the visitor moorings so we could look around as when we moored nearby we did not get the chance. The museum is OK and the lift looks great with plenty of info and exhibits. Just a pity we could not use it.
Anderton Boat Lift - Top Basin on the Trent and Mersey Canal.
 Bottom Basin on the River Weaver with Saturn, SUC Butty.
Side view of the Anderton Boat Lift.
We moved on once the rain had stopped and a little sunshine appeared, on through Barnton, then a short wait for the passage through Saltersford Tunnel, then along a nice little stretch before finding a quiet mooring near Dutton Hollow.
Barnton Tunnel.
Waiting for the timed on the hour passage through the crooked
Saltersford Tunnel.
Better weather near Dutton Hollow.
After mooring we walked down to Dutton Lock on the River Weaver and where lucky to see a narrow boat use the impressively large Lock Chamber, there are 2 sets of chambers here, but the smaller chamber, capable of been divided into smaller locks by extra lock gates has been out of use for some time.
Narrow Boat arrives from direction of  Frodsham and Runcorn.
Enters Dutton large Lock.
Lot of lock for 1 boat.
Note the sluice culvert, used for letting water out of the lock. the eddies
are from the water filling the lock.
Technique for locking up seems to be to tie to the white bollard
with the stern rope, and keep it in forward gear with a few revs
on whilst the lock fills with tiller pushed over to the right.
Level rising at top top gate.
Top gate hydraulically opens and NB Caelestis motors out.
NB Caelestis heads off  for Saltersford Lock.
We wandered downstream for a while, had a look at the sluice's for controlling the River level before returning to the boat for dinner and another quiet nights mooring.
Below the lock, unused entrance to small locks to the left.
Dutton Sluice.
Quite a flow at normal levels, must be impressive in flood.