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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Anderton to Wigan and OOPS!!!

Monday 20th June and a bright lovely start and stayed fine till light shower in the evening.

Eating my breakfast I saw the bows of diesel boat Alton alongside the saloon window at 8.30 & popped my head out. They were filling 2 boats that were moored at our bows and I arranged for them to move along to us, and then 2 or 3 other boats called them over so they had a pretty good start to their day. They were a very pleasant couple and were expanding their business pretty well. 125 litres at 82p, with 80/20 split.

Away at 10 and we cruised through the first 2 very twisty tunnels at Barnton & Saltersford and reached Dutton Stop Lock where I was an idiot. Annoyed at the silly width where I needed to open both gates to let Carol out, but they were too wide to step across, so I pushed the far gate open with the boat hook....it slipped....I started  to fall in...decided I could leap to the other gate.....and failed! The water was well over 6 feet deep, but unfortunately I had hit the foot board with my chest and now have a few cracked/broken ribs!! Don't try it. Chap came out of a boat in front & asked if I could do it again as he had missed it, though straight after it had happened I felt foolish & wet but had no pain.
Before the fall above Dutton Lock


Soaking wet
















Carol cruised through Preston Brook Tunnel whilst I showered and we arrived at Preston Brook to look for the services. They certainly were not anywhere near where Nicholson showed being about 200yds along the Runcorn arm. That done & with a full water tank we cruised on to Stockton Heath, mooring along a pretty little street. I took note of the house number alongside Lily, asked the street name & whether they knew of a taxi company when a taxi arrived & dropped a lady off at the house I'd noted!!! Warrington Hospital checked me over, said I'd cracked or broken my ribs & told me to use painkillers!!

Tues 21st  and I didn't sleep too well. I didn't go to bed but set myself up in a reclining chair & foot stool but moving around hurts!! Walked into Stockton for a paper & coffee & found walking hurts & its hell if I try to cough. Stockton is obviously a fairly well to do suburb of Warrington & off side the garden we moored opposite was beautiful, reminding Carol of her old one. Away at 11.30 for gentle cruise on the wide & deep Bridgewater Canal through lovely Cheshire countryside. We spoke to an old friend/customer who lived nearby & arranged to meet her for supper at The Swan with two Nicks at Little Bollington. Lovely evening with loads to talk about as we hadn't seen each other for 10 years. Lovely pub but food only OK, certainly not up to what Nicholson reckoned.

The Swan with Two Nicks


Wed 22nd and we didn't move today as we visited Dunham Massey a glorious National Trust house & gardens just 1/2 mile from our mooring. It had rained pretty hard much of the night but for our visit it was fine which was good because we had a brilliant guided tour of the gardens. It is a place to be highly recommended, especially if you are NT members.

Thurs 23rd and a wet start with a pretty strong cross wind, but it brightened by lunch. We cruised into Sale where I had stopped in digs for 3 years whilst I was at college. I intended to walk to the houses where I had stayed but my ribs hurt too much, so we stopped & watched Wimbledon & went for our Thursday curry fix. So far this week 25 miles and one tiny but eventful lock. We had hoped to meet up with friends who live in Sale but they were in Derbyshire, shame.

Wrecks near Sale


Friday 24th And after a coffee we were away at 11. I had looked at the map as we passed the Kellogs factory (why not a single sign on it?) and said to Carol how good it would be if the Barton Swing Aqueduct was swung, and it was!! Before that we heard over a tannoy " Nice flowers Lily Pad, well done!" and realised that the CCTV system covering the depot we were passing had active monitoring, but a bit of a shock. We were held up for about 20 mins, but the first boat to arrive had a wait of well over 2 hours as 2 boats went down from Manchester before this last one returned. It was interesting to see how it worked & to compare it with Anderton, I hope the videos worked.

Now that's a bit big for most canals


Swing Aqueduct nearly closed
Lily over the Ship Canal
Whilst waiting I asked about sanitary stations to be horrified to hear that the one we were aiming for at Worsley had been closed by vandalism & how various others were shut. Worsley is lovely and is the reason why the Duke of Bridgewater cut his canal as here is where his coal mines were cut into the hill. There was a very smart new housing development alongside the canal with what looked to be very large houses. My ribs precluded a wander, but we'll do this on our return. We carried on a bit further & stopped at a boatyard to fill & empty & then crossed over the canal to tie up for the night. The chap off the cruiser at Barton was there & he told me he had Weils disease about 6 years ago & it was hell to get cured! Just 8 miles.

Worsley


Saturday 25th and it had been very wet overnight. We had to get through a BW controlled Plank Lane lift bridge between 10.00 & 14.00 according to Nicholson (not so according to later reports) and also wanted to watch GP qualifying at 12.00 so we were away fairly early. We got a good mooring for qualifying, but then couldn't find the paracetamol we had bought to control my pain, so decided to move on to Wigan to get some. We were caught up as we cruised by Sue & Peter on Sokai from Saul Jn, their large Lister & big prop being ideal for water skiing on deep canals & rivers. We shared the two locks up out of the Leigh branch & then Helmhurst Lock on the Liverpool branch & breasted up together close by the BW offices & shared a drink & good chat plus they gave me some pills which I'll return when we meet again in Liverpool. The weather had stayed fine all day, though mostly overcast & it was much milder for our 10 miles & 3 locks.

On the services matter, BW Wigan office on Friday told me the Elsan point at Helmhurst was US & that my nearest would be at the top of the Wigan flight, which as the locks are only 57ft long & Lily is 70ft and it would have been over 2 miles to walk, was not a lot of good. I also noted the other station at Butts Basin looked as if it was in service, I'll check on the way back.

Winding mechanism to open Henhurst Lock








Moored outside BW offices with Sokia abreast
Sunday 26th and a lovely warm day & we stopped in Wigan, saw a few bits in the town plus a not very exciting GP. Very cross now as Nicholson says the Trencherfield Mill 5500hp ( I'm sure I read this somewhere ) engine is steamed each day, we heard it blow its whistle at 11.30 but were busy, and then found it only steams on Sundays, we'll have to try to time our return visit appropriately.

Outside Trencherfield Mill

Thursday, 23 June 2011

To the Anderton Lift

Mon 13th June A cloudy start & we were away before 10 to the services below the staircase 3 locks in Chester, moving on up through them to shop at Tesco as preparation for visitors next weekend. Away again seeing a boat just pulling away from the next lock as we arrived; we caught them at the next lock & then shared the remaining 3 with Roger & Helen (but I forgot their boat name). Lovely couple from Swindon, he having an old working boat he is restoring as well as the 57' one we shared locks with. I was very envious of his 1923 Riley that competed at Brooklands as well as on hill climbs. We cruised on until 7, tieing up alongside Tattenhall Marina....what a long day, the weather improving all day!

Lily in front, Beeston Castle behind
Tues 14th and a fantastic day, on with the shorts & off with the shirt at last, though it was so sunny it went back on after a while. We stopped at the cafe by the Iron Lock at the recommendation of Angela whom we had met 2 weeks earlier, having a lovely coffee & meeting her again as she was helping out her friend. Arranged a meeting one evening later in the week with her & Mike, sadly scrubbed as he developed a nasty dose of something horrible from Egypt. Don't know what was going on but we crossed about 10 boats in the first hour, we then cruised on easily to turn into the Middlewich Branch & come to a rapid halt just before the first lock as we met Carol & Tony (from Leics IWA) heading towards Chester. Canalside chat about this & that before we cruised on through 2 locks stopping just before br 12 overlooking Church Minshull in a lovely spot though we couldn't get tight in.
Not a tree but a telegraph pole covered in ivy

Wed 15th Cloudy but warm at first, fine drizzle at 12, downpours from 2 till 4 then brighter, sunny as we moored up, only to start drizzling on the washing after it had been pegged out!

We were away at 9.30 and cruised steadily into Middlewich, stopping just past br 28 to have a look at the town, not worth it! Saw 'Gerald' with Roy & dog Thomas tied up for the weekend's Festival, we haven't seen him since Bulls Bridge 2 years ago & before that at Loughborough a couple of years earlier. I used to meet Roy regularly as I was taking late post to the late post box in Leicester & he was still working as a mail delivery driver. Got drenched as we started off after lunch and whilst we worked our way through the last 5 locks on the Trent & Mersey. Shared last lock with Pot of Gold, a charity boat based at Preston Brook. Fantastic charity, all self funded & they just charge £110 per day for up to 12 guests. They have a good fund raiser & around 90 volunteers. We tied up for the night just before br 175.
A wreck in a flash near Anderton

Thurs 16th Brightish start, showers soon, rain followed, we were off at 9.30 for a steady, lock free, cruise to Anderton, using the very good services block just before the lift, though the washer/dryer had died & they couldn't afford a replacement. We went down the lift at 2.15 by which time it was bright. The trip down is so smooth, taking about 30 mins, we had the caisson to ourselves. We then had a gentle cruise up into Northwich, trying for a mooring on the west bank as was recommended to us, but it was full, so we tied up to the wall opposite to the services block. We were a little concerned about the location just to the rear of McDonalds, but we need not have worried as it shut fairly early & quite a few of the pubs nearby were closed. Car drivers in Northwich know that there are no traffic wardens around judging by their respect for the double yellow lines along the river wall!

First view of Anderton Lift
It was Thursday so guess where we ate! Wetherspoons curry night, and a very good guest ale.

Fri 17th The forecast was awful, windy & heavy rain, so we decided to stay put and walked to the Salt Museum, except it is now called the Weaver Museum on the Brown signs, though still called the Salt museum on other signs. It is based in the old workhouse and is very interesting, though can be noisy with school parties. At £2 (concessions) it was an interesting 1 1/2 hours, and we learnt why there were no old buildings in the town as they had all collapsed or fallen on their side due to sudden subsidence caused by brine pumping. It also explained how in the earlier years of the 20th century, buildings were built on a ring beam foundation so that if they were hit by subsidence, then they could be jacked up to level again.
Reaching the bottom of the lift

Weather....a fine day with only a very short period of light drizzle! Forecasters.......!!

Sat 18th and a better forecast today so we were ready for the off upstream to Winsford, just as the heavens opened, and it carried on that way nearly all day. We didn't move & I spent a fair bit of time moving things around from my netbook into the backup drive, except that when I do the simple "backup" operation, not everything gets copied. As such I then have to spend a long time checking what has been copied & what hasn't. Later on I backed other stuff onto DVD & then cleared space on my hard drive, I just don't fancy storing it all on Picasa lest it gets lost. We also got ready for our Sunday guests.
Leaving the boat lift, I was on the bows

Sun 19th and our friends Stephanie & Geoffrey joined us at Anderton. They had been with us exactly a year earlier in Huntingdon by pure coincidence. Weather was very kind, the lunch & tea Carol made was wonderful and we all enjoyed our little cruise back from Anderton to Northwich & then onto the lift. I had paid £5 to secure the last lift up at 5, but I needn't have bothered as we were on our own. We were told that after we had left the caisson, it would be lowered to river level for the night, which necessitates a big pumping job each morning to bring it up to height: I don't understand why they do this as I'm sure they would be able to keep it up at high level fairly easily.
Our mooring against the wall before swing bridge

Our luck was in for as we left the lift a mooring close by became vacant making our guests' walk to the car park at gone 7 very easy. A lovely day & good to catch up with them again.





BW's very grand offices in Northwich

Salt Museum in Northwich




Obeying double yellow lines
with kerb flashes!













Ring beam on post was Council Houses in Northwich


Us at Anderton. The badge I'm wearing
says I'm the boss, I wore it on Fathers Day
Carol wears it now






Monday, 13 June 2011

Chester to Ellesmere Port

2 Storey Shops


Chester Street

Modern garages aren't like this!

This Georgian building is incorporated into Tesco's car park!

Sign on building within Chester Cathedral complex!




May 29th to June 9th

We enjoyed two periods in Chester, all we can say is you need to visit it, and as the canal passes within a few yards of the city centre & cathedral there is no reason not to do so. Hopefully the photos will give a flavour but what I can say is that whilst the cathedral is interesting, St Johns is wonderful. It used to be the second cathedral in Chester but has been made smaller. It shows wonderfully preserved Normal arches, the stained glass is pretty good, though not as good as in the cathedral, but it also has this tremendous organ.

St John's in Chester
Magnificent Organ
This organ played at Queen Victoria’s coronation when it was installed in Westminster Abbey. It seems the organ in the Abbey was worn out & not good enough & this organ was ready for despatch to Chester, so it was borrowed! Over the road from the Cheshire Taste cafe, & it is well worth a stop for a sarnie.

Brewery Tap Pub
Not too far from there is The Brewery Tap, run by Spitting Feathers Brewery, & after Carol & I had climbed the steps to get in, we both said WOW! Charles 1st stopped here before a big battle, it has been rebuilt a few times, but now is back to being a grand hall. The beer was good too & I gather the chief brewer lives on a narrowboat on the Shroppie. Visit it, it was built in 1620 & deserves a visit.

Cloudy tasty beer
The day before we stopped at what was said to be the pub that has been selling beer longest in Chester, can’t recall the name, & I bought this cloudy beer. It was supposed to be cloudy & was most tasty too. If you have mobility problems Dial House shop mobility close by Tesco give a tremendous service.














Broken Brackets
In between our two trips into Chester we had to be grandparents for our family in Chichester which necessitated a train journey from Chester. It went very well, but we needed somewhere to leave Lily plugged in, so we tootled back to Tarporley marina. It was very good & they had a mechanic who was able to weld back together these two broken alternator brackets. He said he has welded many others from Nanni engines! The power supply was great, except I put my payment card in the wrong slot & all power had gone perhaps 36 hours before we returned, ruining fridge contents but freezer was OK, though I of course was a plonker!

Friday 10th June we set off down the three lock staircase. Incredible building, cut into the rock, just after we passed under Chester’s Bridge of Sighs where prisoners walked across to the church before execution! Note how close the canal was built to the old city walls.
Castle walls on top of lock cutting


Bridge of Sighs. 
Deep staircase lock, note cut rock sides






We stopped by the service station by the locks down to the Dee. I read the blog of http://www.tuesdaynightclub.co.uk/Tour_04/Tour04_11.html  about their trip on the river from the canal but couldn’t understand what they referred to regarding the lock over the weir. Perhaps my photo shows how a slightly greater depth of water over the weir is generated, despite the gate only being about 18” tall.
Weir lock gate

As we set off from the services the weather looked foul, but despite thunder and incredibly dark clouds I only got a bit wet and bright, warm sun was on my back as we headed towards Ellesmere Port. We stopped short just past br 139 to keep us short of the M53 & it was a lovely evening. 2 motorbikes used the tarmac towpath and must have been touching 50mph passing us, I’m taking it up with BW, but I doubt they will be able to do much.

A little restoration project
Sat/Sun 11th/12th and we dropped into the National Waterways Museum, mooring within the museum within one of the top locks, and only charged £4 for mooring. We wondered if we had done the right thing at 2am when a fire alarm sounded for around half an hour with a false alarm. Saturday was a pleasant day and the evening was lovely & sunny, Liverpool looked fabulous across the estuary, especially as the tide came in.

Another restoration project




The museum really deserves a long visit, especially if you want to look at the archive films. Some of the boats are fantastic, but I really doubt that these will ever float again. Interesting too that the original tidal lock gates at the end of the Shroppie are still there despite not having been used for some 130 years.