Monday 18 September 2017


Today's Canal - Trent and Mersey

With the forecast looking good for most of the day we set off with a plan. We would cruise down to Middlewich, up the Big Lock, moor to go shopping and then find somewhere to moor an finish of the black paint on the other side of the boat. Well, that was the plan!

In fact the sky was rather grey at first as we almost immediately rounded Wincham Bend.

And then crossed the short aqueduct over Wincham Brook.

Then came the large Tata Soda Ash plant of Lostock. This seems to change hands almost every other time we come here! At one stage it was owned by Brunner Mond but they were bought out by Tata in 2006 but did not change the name here until 2011 or a bit after.

Just after the above photo we noticed that the last building seemed to be rather derelict and wondered whether it was likely to be demolished. Sadly we did not take a picture - only later did we discover that work is just beginning, after almost a decade of planning (and just before Planning permission was about to expire) work has started on constructing a waste to energy power station on this part of the site. It seems that some of the output will probably all go into the adjoining soda ash plant as it  uses a lot of electricity. The remainder will feed into the National Grid as with other waste-to energy plants.

At the next bridge a house has a small boathouse by the canal, together with a patio area on top. We were amused by the number of lifebelts - how many people are they planning losing into the water at any one time?

Then came the new Park Farm Marina. It is gradually being filled with customer's boats but is still far from complete. Only some of the moorings appear to have services to them as yet.

Only a little further south we came to Billinge Green Flash. There are several such open areas of water between here and Middlewich. As they were formed by subsidence they remain privately owned. Here yet another marina is just beginning to be developed. The footings for what will perhaps be a service block, shop or office whilst at the other end piling is underway for the pontoons. A preliminary web site announces that this will be called Oakwood Marina with space for about 90 boats in the first phase. It will be unlike Park Farm (and most other new marinas) in that it will not have a definite entrance. It states that moorings will be available from September 2017 - that does look a tad optimistic. The website also says that their local MP was very instrumental in helping them get a significant Rural Development Grant. That MP? One George Osborne, now turned newspaper editor and government critic!

As we left the flashes behind, the sky was beginning to clear.

Shortly after most of the cloud cleared and we could see this distinctive pattern of con trails in the upper atmosphere.

So far we have seen little sign of autumnal colours in the trees but this house had a lovely backdrop of orange leaves.

So far our day was proceeding according to plan until we approach Bramble Cuttings,once a clay pit that made the puddle lining for the canal. However, in 1998 the Broken Cross Boat Club (Broken Cross is just a little further north than we moored last night) undertook to create this off side rural mooring and picnic site. It looks as if it has had a recent update as well.

As we neared, we both decided that perhaps the bright sunshine and dry weather might not last and with a good firm edge, it might be better to stop now and do the painting. This we did. The first picture shows the bow end before starting painting but after the preparatory sanding done yesterday. The work started and finally this side looked the same as the other side. Well, actually not quite the same as the new paint on the right hand side has already had some of the paint on the rubbing strakes returned to its proper state!

After finishing the painting and clearing up it was time for lunch. When we left we realised that we had done the right thing by stopping now as cloud was already beginning to return.

We arrived at the Big Lock at the start of Middlewich and Christine, going to set the lock, discovered that nb Hallsall, a fuel boat, was finishing topping up a boat just above the lock and so we opted to do likewise once the fuel boat had come down the lock. Doing the operation in the lock made it easier to keep the boats in the right place. As Martin had yet another customer at the moorings below the lock it seems that business is good. We first met him a couple of years ago just after he had started up.

We planned to stop at the moorings in the park just above the lock and we found that there was plenty of room. In the summer it can get quite busy here and space is not always guaranteed.

We walked up to Morrisons - we have been there before and came back well laden. However, by now it was four o'clock and  if we went further it might not be until after 5.30 before we would reach a suitable place to moor after leaving Middlewich and the various locks on the way. So, we stayed put for the night!

The quickly proved a sensible choice as within half an hour we had extended heavy rain.

6.8 Miles - 1 Lock

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