Sunday, 23 June 2013

Dutton Breach and onto the Bridgewater

5 & 6 June

My friend David and his wife Emma join me to go back up the lift and we stop for a very nice lunch at the Stanley Arms.  I feel a bit guilty at choosing the mixed grill - it was excellent, thank you David.

The exceptional rains caused the canal to breach at Dutton in September last year.  It cost over £2million to repair and the work was completed ahead of schedule.

A lot of damage

Remedial works are still being carried out.

But at least it has provided some good moorings, rare on this stretch.

With views over the River Weaver, where I have just been.

Short video here

7 & 8 June

I start off towards Preston Brook Tunnel - perhaps one is supposed to phone ahead and find if the way is clear!  Two small tunnels first to practice on - 572 yards and 424 yards.

My longest tunnel so far at 1239 yards but plenty of room and I manage to avoid contact with the sides.  About half an hour to get through.

The tunnel marks the start of the Bridgewater canal.  Unfortunately most of it is not this picturesque.

I find a lovely spot to moor for my evening BBQ.  Bit busy but good company.

James and I go to have a walk round Walton Hall - now a public park and very beautiful.  There is a children's zoo and many walks - we covered quite a few miles.

Azaleas in all their glory

Wedding taking place at the hall while we were there.

Not sure what James made of the wildlife - they were noisy.

 7 miles; 1 lock
TOTAL:  341 miles (44 miles broad, 40 miles river); 159 locks (31 broad); 15 moveable bridges

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Quick Resume Part 5 - River Weaver

1-4 June

My visit to the river Weaver and well worthwhile, although facilities for boaters are pretty sparse.

I stop briefly at Northwich for a visit to the minor injuries unit at the local hospital to have an infected thumb treated.  On a Saturday afternoon I expect it to be busy with sports injuries but I am the only one there and walk straight in.

Northwich, adjacent to the new Waitrose which is being built.  Apparently the pontoons are being restored which will provide much needed decent moorings.

Railway viaduct heading upstream.  There is very little flow on the river although apparently it can be rather different after rain and the lift can be closed to boats.

 The locks were built to take commercial craft. All the locks are manned and I have nothing to do other than pass my rope up.  In the top right the railway type signal can be seen. Used to control approaching boats in rather busier times.

These are the footholds which were used to climb up the lock in bygone days.  Now occupied by mussels imported on foreign boats, they emit a squirt of water when exposed to the air - and apparently they are poisonous so not for tea today!

The two locks going upstream are still hand operated and take two men to operate.  Coming back at 2.30pm on a sunny Sunday I am only the second boat through.  CaRT are paying 6 full time lock-keepers and without more traffic there must be a great risk that the operational hours will be reduced.

It feels very lonely in this lock on my own.

And this is the cargo that most boats used to transport - rock salt.

The oldest and deepest rock salt mine in the country and still very much operational.  Unfortunately the cargo is no longer transported on the canals.

Flat out - at over 6mph!

Formerly a Thames maintenance boat now spending its days on a different river.

Near the limit of navigation at Winsford.

There are a few good spots to moor.

Most of the locks are double locks (the second can just be seen here) - one larger and one smaller but in most cases one of them is no longer operational.

The sluices at Dutton locks, where I spend a night going down and return the next night, showing even in quiet times there is still a lot of water going down.


Took the opportunity for a lovely dawn cruise.

The busy M56 - I'll stick with 4mph.
Impressive viaduct

Massive ICI works.  I measured a mile and was not at the end of them.  If the warning siren sounds, the advice is to check which way the wind is blowing and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction!

As far as I go - the tidal lock onto the Manchester Ship Canal.

Looking out to the Manchester Ship Canal, the Mersey and Liverpool in the distance

And finishing with some shots of the local wildlife.
Anyone for goose?

Nosy neighbours

Make room for another one

WEAVER: 38 miles; 8 large locks
TOTAL:  334 miles (39 miles broad, 40 miles river); 158 locks (31 broad); 15 moveable bridges

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Quick Resume Part 4

29 & 30 May

Spend a couple of days on the Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union, which connects the main branch of the Shroppie with the Trent & Mersey.
Could not resist stopping for lunch at, yep, The Olde Barbridge Inn for another helping of their excellent belly of pork.

TODAY: 7 miles; 2 locks
TOTAL:  274 miles (39 miles broad, 7 miles river); 142 locks (21 broad); 15 moveable bridges

31 May

Beautiful morning so I make an early start.

And find a lovely spot for lunch.

The canals are not all pretty scenery!


Went on much later than I had intended as there was a great lack of decent moorings - even in Northwich.  It seems the folk around here do not want visitors!  Eventually found a spot just above Northwich.  No internet but a decent TV signal.

I was rewarded with a lovely sunset
TODAY: 14 miles; 6 locks
TOTAL:  288 miles (39 miles broad, 7 miles river); 148 locks (21 broad); 15 moveable bridges

1 June

I make for the Anderton Boat Lift to get onto the River Weaver.  It is an incredible piece of engineering.  It is possible to book (£5 fee) but I just turn up and am fortunate to secure a slot on the next but one passage. It can transport two narrowboats (or 4 cruisers) at a time.

Entrance to the lift

Built by Edwin Clark in 1875 to lift cargo boats the 50 feet from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Trip boat going up as I go down

From April to October you can enjoy boat trips through the lift and along the River Weaver Navigation.

Like all great things, the concept is simple: two huge water tanks, each with watertight sealable doors carry boats up and down. The original counter-balanced system was replaced in 1908 by electric operation, but the lift now works hydraulically again.

View from the Weaver


No description can adequately convey the sheer scale of this engineering feat. The lift worked until 1983 when serious deterioration of the structure was discovered. Some £7m was raised to fund the restoration, which was completed in 2002.

The completion of the restoration was followed by the opening of an Operations Centre in 2003. This offers interactive displays, educational facilities, a gift shop and a coffee shop.
More information here where there is a video of the lift in operation.

I set off up the Weaver - it is a lovely river, despite the several salt works.  More of that next time.

TODAY: 8 miles; 2 locks
TOTAL:  296 miles (39 miles broad, 12 miles river); 150 locks (23 broad); 15 moveable bridges