Tuesday 14 May 2024

Almost Waverton

Today's Canal - Chester (aka Shropshire Union)

When we first awoke there was rather heavy and persistent rain. The forecast indicated that this might last until lunchtime so we were in no hurry to set off. Eventually, just before 10 we set off when the rain had ceased. Apart from a short but sharp shower later on, it remained dry

The first lock, Beeston Stone Lock, was all of 200m on from our mooring. The small lock keepers hut is looking somewhat forlorn, although still kept properly locked. Several locks from here to Chester have a similar structure.

Close by is then Beeston Iron Lock - only one boat at a time but no-one else was approaching anyway. The posted instructions give detailed directions to avoid boats getting into difficulty in the lock. Built of iron plates bolted together there are opportunities for a boat's gunnel or rubbing strakes to catch at the side and become alarmingly tipped! The restriction on single boats, we think, is to allow each boat plenty of room on either side.

Both Beeston locks seem to have been overlooked in the corporate re-brand - perhaps they dropped off someone's 'little list'.

The railway line between Crewe and Chester runs close to the canal at this point and just below the lock we could see the signal box still controlling this block section of the line. Originally there was a station here, called various times Beeston and then Beeston Castle and finally  Beeston Castle and Tarporley, before eventually falling to Beeching's Axe in 1966. A lot of detail about the station can be found here, and on Wikipedia it is also good to hear that a plan to re-open the station was approved by the government last year (but no indication of a date is recorded!)

A boat arrived at Wharton's Lock and was surprised to find it full as they had passed a boat coming down shortly before. They were about to empty it when they spotted us in the distance and kindly waited, with the gates opened, until we arrived.

From this bridge it is possible to walk across the fields to visit Beeston Castle. (worth doing at least once) We did this in 2017 (see here) but today would not be very pleasant so we carried on . . .

We had a good level run from here, pleasant in the dry, almost sunshine, conditions. Unlike yesterday there was hardly any breeze. We have passed here several times before but never had reason to call at Tattenhall Marina. Looks quite sizable and it has a cafe in the middle.

At the bridge just after the marina we had to hover whilst a community boat turned around. It then ignored best canal manners and made us wait and follow behind them. Clearly they had not schedule to keep and we found ourselves having to come in and out of gear to avoid their stern button.

In any event, we then started the notorious mile and a half of the Golden Nook farm moorings. The first half are mostly residential and the boats not in their youth. Some are double moored and there was one very wide beam boat, looking smart and new, but taking up a large part of the width of the canal. When a boat came the other direction, passing was not all easy and the boat ahead stopped to allow it pass in an especially narrow place.

After the mid point bridge most of the boats were smaller cruisers and only a couple were occupied. Reading reviews on-line it seems remarkable divisive - those who moor, especially those who live, here are very enthusiastic despite the lack of facilities, whilst boaters uniformly are frustrated! That is one of the inevitable contradictions of canal life.

Even when we had passed the last of the moorings the community boat continued at tick over and so, when it was lunch time and we found a reasonable stretch of armco away from the nearby road, we moored up. The road seems surprisingly busy as it is only a narrow minor road and it is not clear from the map why it is popular. No doubt is is a locally-know short cut and at this point straight - un til it comes to a tight bend to cross the canal at Golden Nook. We were far enough away not to be too bothered by the traffic. In the end, we opted to stay here until tomorrow as moorings for some distance ahead are a bit uncertain.

6.3 Miles - 3 Locks

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