A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘trent and mersey canal’

Narrowboat Log – Day 7

Posted by Alan on August 22, 2010

First off we moved the few hundred metres through Wheelock to fill up the boat.  Having not reached Hassall Green, the last day would be longer than planned.  From here we were rushed through locks 66 and 65 buy a really unhelpful boat called ‘Stonewall’ who seemed to think everything was far to slow! So we moored up an ate the sausages bought in Middlewich the day before as brunch and let them steam by.  The rest of the Wheelock flight plus the two locks at Hassall Green were finished in time to have a pint at the Romping Donkey.

Happy Ruth locking up

Happy Ruth locking up

And then the sun came out! And after a quick pint we carried on up the final locks to Kidsgrove finding the Red Bull next to Lock 43.  Excellent food and rather good beer.  By now the light was starting to fall as we hit the last stretch back to the boatyard.  Given our tendency not to rise early, it seemed wise to be as close to the marina as possible.  The last lock, the Hall Green stop lock with just at 6″ rise put us back on the Macclesfield canal and within 15 mins we were moored inside the marina.

Mum working the boat

Mum working the boat

And so that was it – Sunday morning we had to hand back the boat at 9AM, so after some tidying we slept with alarms on for the first time in a week. It was my first boating trip in around 9 years – very enjoyable and Ruth is now hooked.  Apparently if I get rich, I have to buy a narrowboat! 🙂

And so I sign off this series of posts with a very helpful sign on one of the locks: Keep boat forward of cill marker.

Keep boat forward...

Keep boat forward...

Summary

Weather: fair with sunny outbursts

Destination: Heritage boatyard, Scholar Green

Locks: 25 (I think)

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Narrowboat Log – Day 6

Posted by Alan on August 21, 2010

Another late start (oh yeah, love the boating timetable!) we cruised down the Dane Valley to Middlewich where we stopped for some supplies and a chance to walk about. Middlewich is a traditional town featuring a few local shops – we picked up more great sausages from a friendly butchers. However, the 00s disease was not far away – a giant Tesco looming over the town centre plus the additional Tesco Metro about 400 metres further down the road.

The Alhambra, Middlewich

The Alhambra, Middlewich - currently a Chinese restaurant

As well as the plethora of Tesco, the town also has the very modern/60s affliction –  an addiction to motor cars.  Much of the High St was devoted to parking leaving little space for footpaths.  In fact as we wandered down the street a queue built up to the point where people got out of their cars and started chatting to each other!  Never mind, the pork & wild mushroom sausages were well worth it. After the 7 or so Middlewich locks we were back in salt country.

Salt factory

Salt mountain!

Friday was the wettest day, so we didn’t reach our intended destination – Hassall Green, instead mooring at Wheelock and visiting “Liz’s Plaice” for fish and chips where were very tasty (and proper – non of this silly southern skin on fish rubbish!).  More cards and scrabble saw us through to bed time!

Ruth, windswept at the tiller

Ruth, windswept at the tiller

Summary

Weather: Fair to drizzle to miserable rain

Destination: Wheelock

Locks: 9

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Narrowboat Log – Day 5

Posted by Alan on August 15, 2010

A very late start this morning! We dispatched mum and Ruth off for some ‘ retail therapy’ at the farm shop, to which they obliged by returning with some excellent sausages and other treats. Since we were close to a boatyard we opted for pump out – despite extensively using on shore facilities there’s only so long you can last…

Boat and butty, Trent and Mersey Canal

Boat and butty

We followed another boat through the final tunnel and back to the Anderton lift where we stopped for some liquid refreshment at the Stanley Arms, as well as filling up the water tank on Endevour. Mid afternoon we stopped close to ‘Broken Cross’ on the edge of Northwich.  This part of Cheshire doesn’t fit the stereotype at all – everyone seemed to have a fag on, they had to razz around in souped up cars and the pub didn’t seem too friendly either.  So we found a chinese before moving on.

Signets

Even the signets were stubborn!

After tea we sailed out back into the open countryside to find a peaceful spot to moor for the night – mostly to play scabble and cards!

Moored up in the Dane Valley

Moored up

Summary

Weather: Fair but overcast

Destination: Dane valley between bridge 181 and 180

Locks: 0

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Narrowboat Log – Day 4

Posted by Alan on August 10, 2010

Today’s crusing started very gently with the short move back towards town bridge and a walk around Northwich centre to pick up breakfast and dinner.  The town is very much more alive during the day time!  Quality save and M&S brought forth various goodies inc. continental breakfast and anti-pasti for lunch.  Moving on we headed back to Anderton to ascend back to the Trent and Mersey canal and head northwards towards Preston Brook.


Speed is just an illusion

Speed is an Illusion - Barnton Tunnel, Trent & Mersey Canal

This section is the canal winds along the contours and in places is virtually ‘single file’ as a result of the reed growth. There scenery is pretty serene and there’s lots of wildlife – we spent a good few minutes trying to creep up on a heron. Sadly I don’t have a zoom lens yet so it was quite challenging for Ruth to get a photo (I was on the tiller at this point).  Then for some reason there’s an enormous light spot on all of them – not sure how she managed to do that!

Ruth's heron picture

Ruth's heron picture

Once through Dutton Stop lock we were officially on the Bridgewater canal and we travelled through the Preston Brook tunnel to the junction with the ‘Runcorn branch’.   Having a walk around (hoping for a half pint in a pub and Ruth hoping for land based facilities!) we found a spar sitting on a pub sized plot of land and a quiet sleepy village.  Luckily there was a boat yard where Ruth found some facilities (albeit dreadful!) and Dad bought an Anderson lift plaque to add to the collection marking the places Endevour has been.

Dutton Stop Lock

Ruth get stuck into Dutton stop lock - a drop of less than 1' (30 cm)

Giving up on the heady delights of Runcorn, we turn around and it’s now my turn and I take control through the tunnel. It’s hard work – Preston Brook tunnel is around 1mile (1.6km) long so around 20 mins sailing at 3mph. Because it isn’t straight you can’t see the other end, traffic is controlled by entry times – you can enter heading southbound between xx:30 and xx:40 meaning that the northbound traffic should be able to enter at xx:00. You can’t faff about going slowly!

At the tiller

Me at the tiller - not in the tunnel!

We headed south to close to bridge 211, within walking distance of Bartlington and Little Leigh, eventually ending up for a pint in the Leigh Arms.

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Narrowboat Log – Day 3

Posted by Alan on August 8, 2010

Mostly gentle cruising today, swapping skipper once in a while.  This stretch of the canal winds around country estates as well as some heavy industry.  It’s a slow and indirect passage.  In many parts the salt mining industry has caused the surrounding fields to collapse leading to the formation of vast ‘salt lagoons’.  It’s like taking the boat through a lake, except that aside from the actual canal cut the water is hardly deep enough to allow the boat’s passage.  Not that you can tell that from the surface!

Cows drinking from the canal

Cows!

Grey industry

Grey industry - Salt mining can be found over much of this part of Cheshire

Passing boats on the canal (monochrome)

Traffic!

After arrival at the Anderton boat lift, we decided to see how much it would cost to take our boat down to the Weaver Navigation. Just how cool would it be to take our boat down instead of the trip boat? Err… with a cost of £0 for our boat or £7 per person on the trip boat well, the Yorkshire in us won out – decision made!

Anderton boat lift

Anderton boat lift - the view from the Weaver

(I have a ton of boat lift pictures so I will save picking out the best for a future entry…)

Once on the Weaver Navigation (allegedly a river – pretty much a large canal without a towpath) we headed up to Northwich in search of somewhere to moor for the night and some tea.  Our first stop was near Town Bridge – a swing bridge in the town centre, providing easy access to the town centre and The Penny Black.

Town Bridge, Northwich

Town Bridge, Northwich

After enjoying the ‘spoons Tuesday steak club we decided to move a bit further up, just outside of Northwich beside Hunts Lock to escape the ‘bustle’ (traffic noise) of the town centre.

Hunts Lock and Railway Viaduct

Hunts Lock and Railway Viaduct

Despite the incredibly secluded look in the picture above (our boat is just visible in the dusk light – down from the second bridge arch) we were only a few minutes from a large housing estate containing the Blue Barrel where me and Ruth escaped to for cheeky pint!

Summary

Weather: Drizzle/Cloudy morning, clearing to fine by dusk

Destination: Hunts Lock, Northwich

Locks: 0

More photos

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Narrowboat Log – Day 2

Posted by Alan on August 6, 2010

Stobart vs barge - the M6 seen from Lock 58, Hassall Green

Stobart vs barge - the M6 seen from Lock 58, Hassall Green

AM: Awoke to drizzle, so slept in a bit. Carried on down the Cheshire locks through Hassall Green, mooring for lunch in the small village of Wheelock. Found a good pub for some lunch – the Nag’s Head. Not too long after we had finished eating, someone arrived into the pub… “Is your boat called Endevour? In that case I have some bad news…!” We rushed back to the boat to find the stern (rear) adrift – due to inconsiderate traffic roaring past at 4mph (ish – you should really drop your engine into tickover whilst passing moored boats). Luckily we were still attached at the bow (front) and could rescue the situation without any canal wild swimming!

Canal lock gate, with paddle open indicated by a raised winding mechanism

Lock - Paddle open

PM: Weather still mixed as we carried on north-westwards towards the Middlewich flight. A bit of a queue in the other direction caused some confusion – lots of boats heading towards Chester and Llangollen, though it didn’t affect our progress too much.  The final lock at Middlewich known as ‘big lock’ to its broadbeam (14′ ish wide) size rather than the narrowbeam (7′ ish wide) that feature along much of the Trent and Mersey canal. This gives name to the pub we will later grab tea from! We moor just around the corner next to a lagoon caused by salt mine subsidence – a fairly picturesque spot given the semi-urban environment the canal passes through here.

Sunset over the fields near Middlewich

Sunset over the fields near Middlewich

Summary

Weather:         Drizzle

Destination:   Middlewich

Locks:               21

See more photos from Monday

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Narrowboat Log – Day 1

Posted by Alan on August 3, 2010

Arrived at the boat yard around 11.45, close to Mow Cop just north of Kidsgrove, Staffs. The boat (Endevour) belongs to a boat club my dad joined through work. Endevour hasn’t been out for 3 weeks so everything needs checking thoroughly and the fridge needs a proper clean out.

Around 1pm ish Ruth’s parents arrive to join us for the first few miles, first lock and a short diversion to the entrance of the Harecastle Tunnel, one of England’s longest canal tunnels. Apparently our boat is too long to ‘wind’ (turn) in front of the tunnel at 52′ long (c. 16m) so we have to manually walk the boat back to Hardings Wood Junction where we can safely wind and head north west.

Ruth gets a driving lesson on the narrowboat

Ruth gets a driving lesson from my dad as Ruth's dad looks on, worriedly!

From Hardings Wood to our final mooring site that night, it is down most of ‘Heartbreak Hill’ (aka the Cheshire Locks) – 15 locks in total on the first day and we are already well ahead of schedule. This is a great opportunity for Ruth to learn to lock! We finished the day tired from the fresh air and small amount of manual effort… long way to go yet!

Double Lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal

Double Lock - typical on Heartbreak Hill

Summary

Weather:             Fair but cloudy
Destination:       Somewhere between bridge 141 and “Chell’s Aqueduct”
Locks:                  15

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Back to the internets

Posted by Alan on August 2, 2010

Having been on a narrowboat last week, I gave up all forms of electronic communication. I didn’t miss it much – the main thing was being able to look up stuff to answer questions when were tanking along at almost 4 mph (6.4 km/h) or in the pub!

Weather was largely fine – a bit of rain one day but we did go boating in the North West so you can hardly expect endless sunshine. I’ve loads of photos to upload and much stuff to write – having kept a paper log! As you might expect… all of the pubs will be reviewed on my other blog – East London Drinker plus a few others from a recent trip away. The biggest adventure was taking the boat onto the Anderton boat lift…but I’ll save that for a proper entry. For now, here is us on the way home at Hassell Green – taking a break before tackling the second half of Heartbreak Hill.

Us on the boat

Us on the boat

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