Tuesday 19 September 2017

Church Minshull

Today' Canals - Trent and Mersey, Wardle, Middlewich Branch

We awoke to a surprise - we were enveloped in a thick mist. Mike walked to the nearby Tesco Express for a newspaper and on his return took the picture below. How many boats can you see? In fact there were at least three that would have been visible without the mist.

We set off and then debated where to stop for water. As we passed through the next bridge where there is a water point with a good place to pull in (this was once a canal maintenance yard but the buildings have been unsold for some time now) As we were just packing away our hosepipe, a hotel pair, Duke and Duchess came through the bridge and passed us.

We caught up with them at the first lock and followed them for much of the day. They worked through quite efficiently so were no more of a delay than with any other boats.

This is us eventually arriving at the top of the first lock - the only reason for the photo is that Christine wants you to see how smart the black paint on the bow still look! However, she declined to steer the boat into any locks today, wanting Mike to be the first to scratch the new paintwork!

In all it took well over an hour to negotiate the three locks and arrive at the junction with the Wardle Canal (just a few yards long - above the next lock it becomes the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union) By now, as the picture pof the last bridge before the junction behind us shows, the mist had cleared and we were in for a wonderful bright sunny day with no rain at all!

However, there was still a queue, as there often is, to ascend Wardle Lock. The former lock keeper's cottage is now in private hands and is making steady progress towards its full restoration. Having cast off just before 9:30, it was only just a few minutes before noon when we started to leave Middlewich.

One of the houses just above the lock has this pair of birds in the garden.

It is not far to Stanthorne Lock where we caught up with the hotel pair as they worked their way through.

Above the lock and under the next bridge we pulled in for a lunch break.

Only one or two boats passed us but two of them were a pair with the heritage boat Gifford under tow - it belongs to Ellesmere Port Museum so presumably it is on its way back.

We eventually set off once more with a long two hour stretch to Minshull Lock, often another pinch point with long delays. However, we were following a boat just a little slower than we might have been - kept us not much above tickover - but this gave us plenty of time to look backwards and enjoy the beautiful views and scenery.

An inevitable shot of the former stables. At one time, the fastest fly boats changed horses quite frequently and company boats had their stables to supply them. Other boats, especially the independent crews, would have plodded along with just their one horse!

Just before the main bridge at Church Minshull we caught up with the hotel boats. We were a bit puzzled as, although they were stopped alongside the towpath, they were obviously not moored. We drifted slowly past them and they said that they were waiting to meet up with someone. However, as soon as we had overtaken them they set off once more and although we could see them under the bridge, they must have moored up immediately as that was the last we saw of them today.

Eventually we passed over the Aqueduct over the infant River Weaver and then the entrance to the eponymous Aqueduct Marina - with today's sky this could almost be a promotional photo!

Shorty afterwards we could see Minshull Lock with a queue of three boats waiting to go up! It was almost an hour later that we cleared the top. By this time (5 pm) we decided to moor up just after the lock landing.

These two shots were taken a little later and show how quickly the sun starts to set now.

And then at the end of the day, clouds cleared and the long low sun lot up the lock quite amazingly.

Hopefully, if we make a prompt start tomorrow, we will be at Nantwich by lunch time and hopefully able to find a mooring for the night at the aqueduct. Our plan is then to do the car shuffle on Thursday, collecting the car from Fettlers Wharf back up at Rufford.

7.8 Miles - 6 Locks

No comments:

Post a Comment