Saturday 16 September 2017

Little Leigh

Today's Canals - Bridgewater, Trent and Mersey

It was another bright morning as we awoke. There was a nip to the air at first but that quickly disappeared, especially when out of what little wind there was today.

This photo is meant to capture a prolific crop of acorns - Christine noticed a couple of days ago that they seemed to be plentiful this year and another blogger made the same remark so a picture was needed!

Daresbury was established as a national nuclear physics laboratory and began its work in 1962. The role gradually diminished and today it is called a science and innovation park. It certainly takes the 'park' bit seriously with its almost manicured grass.

The Norton Water Tower dominates the skyline on this side of Runcorn - we could just make out the two road bridges which are the features on the other side. The tower was built at the end of the 19th century and balance the supplies to Runcorn and Liverpool which come by pipeline from North Wales over 80 miles away.

Also on the horizon is Fiddlers Ferry power station which sits on the bank of the other side of the ship canal. Along with Eggborough which we saw a few weeks ago, this operation was due to have been phased out by now as coal fired generation is being abandoned. However, both are being kept going, almost on a year-by-year basis, in order to provide capacity when others are unable to do so. None of the stations built almost 50 years ago can meet new standards for cleaner air.

Soon we passed Preston Brook Junction where the line to Runcorn continues. Immediately after there is a branch of Midland Chandlers and we called in order to pick up some more Elsan Blue.

Preston Brook tunnel can only take boats in one direction at a time and, as transit takes between 15 and 20 minutes, there is only a ten minute window each hour for entry. Fortunately we only had a short wait.

Out the other end and the weather continued to provide a great backdrop.

The Dutton Stop Lock raises the level just two or three inches but is enough to ensure that the Trent and Mersey does not pinch water from the Bridgewater!

We stopped for lunch on the moorings that were created as a by-product of the Dutton Breach a few years ago. There is a good view down to the Weaver and Dutton Locks there. This photo was taken later when we were leaving.

Mike decided to take the opportunity of a good bank to put some green paint on the side hatch hinge. At a distance it is no longer obvious that there has been an issue! (AKA a repair) It's the lower hinge, in case you were trying to guess.

We passed Emily Anne, run by Daniel who operates the Canal World Discussion Forum. Alas, there appeared to be no-one at home.

Some thought was needed about where to try for a church tomorrow morning as there were few obvious opportunities along the next stretch. We did, however, discover that there is a 9.30 service at Little Leigh, with the map showing a track from Bridge 208. With Christine keen that we should continue the painting work, we took the opportunity of another reasonable bank to pull in and make a start. We had bough a large tin of black paint as this is the most obvious need - narrowboats inevitably get scarred as they are worked through locks, come into contact with unusual shaped walls and moorings and so on. Whilst Christine went to explore the possible footpath, Mike extracted his sander from the less accessible store cupboards and set about the first part of the starboard side, starting from the bow.

By the time Christine returned the first section of black was complete but the news about the footpath was not good. What she discovered was that we needed to walk along a minor road from the next bridge - fortunately there is a good bit of armco and plenty of free space. So we moved on and Mike then went into production mode and completed the whole of that side of the boat. The only issue is what to do about the lower part in the central section of the boat. At bow and stern there is a rubbing strake just above water level but in between the side just disappears into the water with only a strake at about half height. Solving that will have to wait for another time. The other mistake was that Mike forgot to change into painting trousers - alas the ones he was wearing now take on the dubious honour of that role. Christine was remarkably good about it.

The result of all this was that we were moored up for the night somewhat earlier than usual.

Now doesn't that look better! Now have to find time to do the other side but that will need the towpath to be on the opposite bank.

Not too long after we packed up, a short shower arrived - hopefully by then the paint will have been dry enough not to be too damaged in the process.

7.7 Miles - 1 Lock

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