Sunday 18 August 2019


Today's Canals - Shropshire Union, Middlewich Branch, Wardle, Trent and Mersey

When we awoke it was a bright sunny day but by the time we set off just after 8 the sky had taken on a rather grey appearance.

We only had a short distance to go to Barbridge Junction where we left the Shroppie Main Line in favour of the Middlewich Branch.

At the junction, land immediately opposite is being developed for housing and the work seems well advanced.

Oh, in case you were wondering - and we know that you really wanted to ask - the properties will not be cheap! And that is the starting price.

By the time we reached our first lock, Cholmondeston, some sunshine was beginning to break through.

At both this an the next lock we were very fortunate as a boat had just come up leaving it full and no other boats were waiting to go down.

After Minshull Lock there was a level cruise of almost two hours, plenty of time to enjoy the scenery but the canal largely keeps to the countryside. We did include a picture of Minshull Wharf back in May but this time we managed to capture its post front rather than the working aspect.

Trees come in all shape and sizes and we are often struck by their elegance. This group seem particularly interesting.

When we came into sight of Stanthorne Lock, by now mid morning on a bright Sunday, we realised that our earlier luck had just run out. There were at least four boats already waiting, with a steady rate of arrivals in the other direction. Still, everyone was reasonably relaxed and a queue along this stretch comes as no surprise.

There was a queue almost as long when we arrived at Wardle Lock, This was not what we expected as the distance from Stanthorne is not long but it seemed that several had just set off as the boat before us coming down the last lock was already preparing to pass through Wardle.

We were running low on milk so Christine opted to walk into town and aimed to meet us somewhere in the locks after the junction. However, the delay was such that she re-joined the boat just as we were descending Wardle.

Boats waiting to come up from the Trent and Mersey have a problem sorting out how to queue as there is only room for a single boat between the lock and the junction. Fortunately we were heading the other way but it did look a little congested.

At last we left the queues behind and passage through the three Middlewich locks was smooth, passing boats coming up at just the right moments.

We paused to fill our water tank below the locks and then only a short run to Middlewich Big Lock, our last real lock for some time until we start to leave Manchester.

The pub alongside was rather quiet, surprising for two o'clock on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. Perhaps this is why a large sign advertised that the lease is on offer yet again.

The ducks and geese were in a flash!

A few of the next bends were quite tricky as the vegetation has been allowed to obscure not only the channel but also the view of oncoming boats. As it happened, this was about the only bend this afternoon where we did not meet an oncoming boat!

Bramble Cuttings is a delightful mooring, created and maintained by members of the Broken Cross Boat Club. It certainly looked in fine condition today, but sadly we needed to make a bit more progress before mooring up for the night.

We noticed this small housing development at Lostock Gralam just starting back in May and progress seems good but none are yet ready for occupation. We wondered then how they would fit into the small plot between the road and the canal -  snugly, is the answer! (Sorry we did not get a better photo of the whole plot but the camera battery ran flat at an inconvenient moment!)

The rest of the afternoon, jut over an hour, was quite familiar which gave Mike a chance to prepare tonight's meal, including stoning a large number of very ripe cherries that Andrew had bought at his favourite market and which were very much in need of consuming. Cherry pie it is to go with the roast beef.

We made a very brief stop at the Anderton service block, just to empty the elsan whilst Christine walked ahead to establish whether there was mooring space closer to the lift - she phoned back to summon us forward! We ended up in exactly the same spot that we were on in May!

20.6 Miles - 8 Locks

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